Saturday, June 29, 2013

Week 44 - Star of Hope

This is a classic block - I did mine in not-so-classic fabrics. I always have a difficult time with the areas where the triangles meet at the corners of the center square. I paper pieced this for accuracy. I'm happy with the yellow stripe with black dots.  Unfortunately, I didn't foresee how little of the white flowers would be left after the seam allowance was removed.

I really wanted to use that dramatic dark green background fabric again, and it just combines so well with that stripe I used in the parasol block months ago, I had to do it again.

This coming week marks Jeff and Joanna's 35th anniversary - July 1st, 1978. Since wedding ceremonies were among the few times we saw both our grandmothers at the same time, I have several Jeff sent me to use for this post:

Faye, Jeff and Mary

Mary had just turned 77 at this time - her snowy white hair got that way naturally. Faye was 86 and didn't dye hers either.

Dad and Mom are sitting on Faye's left. Joanna's parents are opposite the Grandmothers

What a special moment - Dana's father Carl with two grandmothers on his arms

 Two years later, on July 5th, Roger and Donna were married.  Mom made Faye's dress for this occasion and reworked the fitting on Donna's vintage gown, so this is an important photo.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Week 43 Gentleman's Fancy

The subject that goes with this week's block is an extremely unpleasant one, so I'll skip it and go to my block and family photos.

This is one of those blocks that seems deceptively simple.  It's not. But if you concentrate on my nice sharp points, it doesn't look bad.

This week is the 76th anniversary of my Aunt Alice's wedding to Edward Yarnal.  I posted a few pictures of Aunt Alice as a baby and young child back in December, but l thought it would be fun to see her as an adult.

Alice and Ed met in High School and graduated in 1931 - Alice would have been only 16 at that time - Ed was two years older. But the country was in the Great Depression, so Alice went on to more school at the teacher's college in DeKalb. 
Engagement Photo
 They finally got married on June 26th, 1937 in Elburn.

The newspaper announcement describes their church wedding with Alice wearing a street length dress of white lace with a white hat and an arm bouquet of white carnations and sweet peas.  The attendants were Alice's Maid of Honor, her sister May, in a blue dress with white hat, and Best Man Clyde, Ed's brother.  Alice's brother "Buddy" sang "At Dawning" and "Because." The reception was at Faye and Fielding's home. 

On the back of this next photo, in my mother's handwriting I read "Honeymoon" but I think this photo was taken on their wedding day.

For their honeymoon, Ed and Alice went to Yellowstone. 

On their Honeymoon trip to Yellowstone
Here they are, 25 years later.
25 Years

And finally, two years before Ed died in November, 1983.


A local newspaper reporter wrote an article about Alice in 1999.  In the interview, Alice described Ed as a calm man. The reporter wrote more of Alice's story of her marriage to Ed, "When something was over, it was over. [Alice] remembers seeing him angry only about five times in their 46-year marriage, and it was always at inanimate objects. This came in handy, like the time Alice was discing a field and distracted by a bread wrapper on the ground, ran right into the brand new fence."

Both of them had great senses of humor.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Week 42 Cats and Mice

I completed my first quilt in June 1994, after I signed up for a machine-quilting class at the urging of a co-worker.  The class was taught by Lois Smith at the closest quilt shop to me at the time, Seminole Sampler, in Catonsville Maryland. Here's a photo of it taken maybe 10 years ago, when it was in slightly better shape than it is now -

That sampler quilt contained a 12 inch version of this week's Cats and Mice block -

When I took the class, I was planning to make one more quilt - this one was just practice.  I hope my skills have improved since 1994, because I've certainly made quite a few more since then!

This week was one of those times I just ignored the history and tried to make a pretty block.

Just before I started cutting the Cats and Mice block with a different set of fabrics, I changed directions.  I wanted to use the pretty lemon striped fabric again and these large triangles may be my best opportunity.  There are only seven more blocks in the series.  My setting requires  an additional three after those, but I don't know yet which ones they will be. I spent a lot of my morning looking at fabrics and photos and contemplating the family stories I still have to tell - there are a lot of decisions to go. Time to use the lemons and get one decision out of the way!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Declaring my identity as a quilter

For my birthday, Norris got me a tablet computer that I can read books on or send email from while on the road. Although I have always liked computers, I knew I was not adapting easily to the mobile devices' technology,  I had to concede they have benefits, and thought I could deal with one as long as it had a real keyboard.  We got an Asus Transformer TF700.

I yelled at it a lot the first two days, but Sister Joyce got me to play a couple of games with her (remotely - she's in the Chicago area).  This was not merely an entertaining pasttime, but served to force me to become accustomed to the Android interface.  (I have lost every game, but maybe I'll beat her in the next Scrabble-type game finally!)

What's this got to do with quilting and knitting you ask? I made a clever little carrying case for it this week using quilting fabrics.  The case has a large pocket on both sides.  This side's pocket, under the flap closure, is subdivided into three compartments.

I used a free pattern that I would not necessarily recommend.  Because I have the keyboard which makes the tablet twice as thick, I enlarged the dimensions and that made figuring out what went where a little confusing. The pattern might be great, but it was published as a PDF with a lot instructions to "sew X to Y as in figure Z" type references.  The resolution of the photos in the PDF was far too low, so an instruction that had little explanation other than "as in figure Z" was not helpful.  It didn't say whether you were doing the side seams, the bottom, or what, and the illustration just showed a blurry object.  Well, sometimes the photo was a very close up view so then the problem was, "uhm, that's a clearer photo but just where is that in the grand scheme of the case?"

But I like my little case, which has yet another pretty quilting fabric as the lining, a muslin layer below that, and has both batting and a stiffener so it will hold its shape. When this one wears out, I'll design my own with what I learned making it.

And maybe I'll buy a knitting row-counter app now.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Catching up!

A few weeks ago, we were surprised to learn that Norris' cousin Peggy had a new grandson. I was preoccupied at the time and didn't even think - but last week it dawned on me!! The baby's older  brother got a quilt-- this baby needs his own quilt! So I quickly made one of flannel and got it in the mail on Monday. The Post Office says it was delivered today, so I can post some photos.

 The quilting was done with a classic pantograph called Waterworld.  I had rectangles of flannel that came in a set and added two more fabrics I had that happened to go well with the set. I didn't plan it but the quilt came out square.

This closer view shows the flannel prints a little better.
 A light green swirly print and a darker green binding finished it off.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Week 41 - Contrary Wife

This week's story was not really about a Contrary Wife (since we did the Contrary Husband in week 33) as about two people who should not have been married.

I had been saving the wavy woven-look print for a basket block, but we haven't had one.  Time to  find a different way to use it.  It is one of the several prints given to me by Sherrye and I really like the energy it has.  I also like how it looks with the floral on black which I had not intended to use in this green and yellow quilt, but it went with the dark green and the light cream and green stripe I had used earlier and will work in the setting I have been working on for the quilt.

Nothing to do with contrariness, this week brings us to my grandmother Mary's birthday.  She was born on June 11, 1901 -- 112 years ago.  Thanks to my father and my sister, I can share this next photo of her to mark this occasion.

left to right:  Anastasia (Aunt Annie), Walentyna (Aunt Val), Grandma (Marya), and Helena (Aunt Helen), four of the seven sisters. Missing are: Pearl who died in 1896 at 6 years old, Veronica (Sister Mary Egidia), and Florence (Sister Mary Charissima)
The photo may have been taken sometime near Mary's wedding day in April, 1924 because the style of the dresses looks so much like dress she was married in, but her sister's is obviously not the same. I wonder if the occasion could have been a bridal shower?

These next few photos are from my personal collection, taken the same day as a couple of the ones I posted for Carl's birthday two weeks ago, at a family gathering in the summer of 1981.  Mary looks the way I remember her in these, with her beautiful, naturally snowy-white hair.

standing: Aunt Tenie, Mary, Cousin Kurt: seated, Cousin Amy, Aunt Florence, and Aunt Bernie

Cousin Roy, Mary, your quilting Aunt Cheryl, and Cousin Dan

Mary, Aunt Florence and Cousin Amy
Dana has no doubt seen these last two, but I wanted to include them since I'm talking about Mary and just posted those older photos of Carl two weeks ago.  Just a few years later, and he looks so conservative.

Everyone is obviously having a good laugh at something off camera in this photo from a family shower at my parent's house in Schaumburg Illinois.

And this is from Dana's parent's wedding- Carl, with my parents and both Faye and Mary.

Happy 112th Birthday, Grandma!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Civil War Block of the Month - June 1863 - Dreams of Home

This block is one I have always known as Broken Dishes, but Barbara Brackman thought of the basic pieced square inside a square design as a reminder of wishes to go home.

We've already seen how Shep Whitcomb hoped to go home on furlough. In June of 1863, Shep and the 52nd Indiana Regiment had started to move to Vicksburg, but, Shep explains, "General Hulbert had already written an order for our Regt. when on examining his roster, he found that he had already more troops from this district than was called for so we did not have to go this time."  June 3rd, they left with General Andrew Jackson Smith's expedition into Arkansas to chase Rebel General John Sappington Marmaduke.  The forces battled on June 6th and 7th at Lake Chicot, an oxbow lake formed by the meandering of the Mississippi river.  I didn't find much information about the battle, and Shep doesn't mention it in a letter to Henry and an unnamed sister (not Joanna, as he tells the others to tell her he will write to her soon) sent from Fort Pillow on June 14th.  He does reiterate a recurring theme when he tells Henry, in part "I hope that it is the way you predict, that our country has passed through her darkest hours. We certainly have got the advantage of the Rebels in the South and if the people of the North only became a little more peaceable and united in their efforts, I think we will soon have peace again. Oh! That great blessing, peace! And still how little it is valued by a great many in regard to the freedom of speech. I think it worse than nonsense to try to do away with that principal unless we change our form of government for I don't hope we are to find out where the majority is unless we are all allowed the privilege of speaking for ourselves. In fact, when we are deprived of that privilege, we will no longer have a Republican form of government."

Shep goes on to say that as far as he knows, the soldiers are for waging the war until the Rebels are willing to give up and come back into the Union. Some of his comrades receive letters from home encouraging desertion, but he is thankful not to have received such letters

The 52nd moved to Memphis and would be out on campaign again starting on June 23rd. That is the same day the 82nd, with John and Billy, left Triune to be part of a plan to make General Braxton Bragg, positioned north of Duck River, think the Union was going to attack at Shelbyville, about 30 miles south-southeast. 

From the regimental history, the 82nd moved from Triune via Salem and Christiana, and from there to Henry's Creek  "During the 24th and 25th it rained incessantly, rendering the roads over which we were frequently obliged to travel exceedingly difficult for the passage of artillery and wagons, and not exceedingly food for the army of footmen. We, however, got through, train and all, in very good shape."

On Tuesday morning, June 26th, the 82nd, supported by the 17th Ohio, charged the battery to their front, on Scott's branch of Garrison Creek. They drove the enemy battery and supporting regiment from the hill on which they had taken position. "Although the Eighty-second was in the advance, the Seventeenth Ohio lost the most men in this charge, the enemy overshooting us and the Seventeeth getting the effect of the greater part of the leaden hail. The charge was made through an open field covered with weeds higher than the men's heads." The rebels were now on the run, so the Union troops moved on in pursuit, in the direction of Tullahoma Tennessee, another 18 miles or so to the southeast of Shelbyville.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Week 40 - Art Square

As we approach the last blocks for the series, this one, Art Square, commemorates the unsung women artists who didn't even show up in the art history books.

With such a large square for the center area, I wanted to make it more interesting than any of my prints, so I pieced it to make a medallion motif.

We already looked at some of Alice Bruner's drawing talent earlier in this series, but my grandmothers on the whole did not do the fine art recognized by this block or the exquisite drawing that Alice did.  Rather, they sewed and made needlework pieces --I have quite a bit of it.

This first piece was framed by my Aunt May for me when they broke up Faye's Elburn house to move her into an apartment. Aunt May included the hand-written label stating it was made by Faye's mother Carrie. This is tatted and it is not a large piece.

This one, made by my grandmother Mary came similarly to me after the family moved her out of her La Salle home.

A year or two before my mother died, she brought me a collection of crocheted and tatted pieces, hoping perhaps I would think of something to do to preserve them as heirlooms. When Mom died, I took what she still had that was not designated to go to anyone else.  These doilies and furniture scarves were practical for families in the late 19th and early 20th century.  Even in my childhood, you would see them on furniture in sitting rooms, protecting the upholstery on the arms from wear, and on the backs from the hair pomades used by men.

In some cases,  I may need help deciding if the pieces I have are crocheted or tatted. But this next one is tatted and too small for use on furniture. It may also have been made by Great Grandmother Carrie since Faye did not do much tatting.  It is more elaborate, but not much larger than the one Aunt May framed for me in the 1980's.

These next few pieces are larger, and I'm guessing they were dresser scarves. Placed decoratively on top of the dresser, they protected the top surface from scratches. Some of them I know are crocheted, so probably Faye made them.

 This next one may have been tatted?

This crocheted piece is smaller and I have two of them. They may have been part of a set for the table. I know Faye hosted card parties, so perhaps she brought them out for the ladies' refreshments.

 Then I have several examples of crocheted edging on commercially made items - handkerchiefs, table linens, and, as below, a pair of matching pillow cases - Faye called them "pillow slips." You can see one torn area in the crocheted lace but these pillow cases stood up to a lot of wear and washing. I have had one piece of this lace that Faye had cut away from the case for many years. The matching one showed up with the things my Mother had. The sheeting fabric is well worn, torn at the fold line on one long side. Only the lace on one side and the seam on the other is holding it together.  The handkerchiefs have colored crocheted edging. I assume Faye did all of these.

 Lastly, I have a pale pink fine linen hand towel with a tatted edge, with some of the linen cut away to show off the lacework.

I remember that Faye had patterns in small handwork magazine-like booklets.  Other than the piece Aunt May framed and the one from Mary's estate, I don't know for certain who made which pieces. Obviously, I have not yet fulfilled my mother's wishes and made anything from them. I have a plan for the handkerchiefs at least - they will be combined with printed ones my mother had to make into memory quilts.

I also got two of Faye's crochet hooks, well before she died when she was losing her eyesight and could not do this fine work.  The off-white one, made of bone, is useful to me when I knit. The metal one is what she would have used for some of the fine laces I have photographed today.

I took a closeup of the tips of the needles. The pink one is a U.S. size 6 knitting needle and is what I am using to knit the blue sweater fabric in the background.

I wonder what happened to the tatting shuttles?