Friday, January 31, 2014

Threads of Memory - Civil War Block of the Month 2014 - Portsmouth Star

Barbara Brackman is posting her 2014 Civil War Block of the month on the third Saturday, but I was out of town. I just made my block today -

It is a modified version of the Ohio Star - the new part being the little split squares in the corners. Mine are made of the red and gold floral and the aqua triangles. I liked the way this block looked with the framing effect of a large stripe and used all I had of this one to do it. These blocks are 12 inches.

Shep with the 52nd wrote to his sisters Joanna and Carrie on the 17th of January and tells them "we have just received orders to be in readiness to start day after tomorrow. We are going down the river sure enough." He speculated they would be seeing more of the "sunny south" - though not by choice. 

Billy wrote to his brother Henry from Chattanooga on January 23rd, 1864. He is happy to report "The cars coming to town caused great excitement and of course, I, like any other little boy, have been looking at, and riding on them every day since they commenced running here." He is living in a little house near the big depot as he has been all winter. He jokes, "I heard that the Rebs were advancing on Chattanooga again, and sure enough, they are, for they are daily and hourly coming in and taking the oath." He reports 4-12 and sometimes 25 of them. He talked to some that day and wonders "if our men were deserting and going to the Reb lines as fast as they are to ours, I should think that we were played out."  They finally have plenty to eat and he is very glad that they stayed there and held what they gained, "... instead of falling back on our supplies, we held our gain and let the supplies come to us."

Billy jokes about having had his photo taken, thinking he would send it to some girl next month for a Valentine, but "I don't know who there is that I would wish to boar so dam bad as that. If I had an enemy that I wanted to spite, I would do as above stated."  He concludes asking Henry to speak a good word for me to the girls back home. "We very frequently see young ladies when we are outside the lines, but there is not half of them that know putty. They still say Pemberton can still hold Vicksburg as long as he wants and that Bragg is coming back here to whip us before long. We ask them why he didn't whip us while he was in his fortifications at Talahoma, "Wal you'uns ware a gitt in behaind him."
Federal Encampment at Chattanooga, 1864, from the Library of Congress collection

Two days later, in a letter to Joanna, Billy says, "... as for slavery, I didn't come out to fight for nor against it, I came out to fight Rebels and traitors to there country. It is the Rebels themselves that are destroying slavery and a great many of the deserters from their army say that slavery is dead anyhow and it will not make the war any longer one way or another. Well, I have seen enough of this cursed institution with my own eyes."

In a letter to his brother Charlie on the 31st of January, talking about reenlisting (the men of the 82nd are not yet eligible as they are still serving their original commitment) Billy says "I will finish my term and go home and let somebody else fight awhile. If I can't get a furlough without paying for it, I will not have one at all. You spoke of men all going to the gold territory. Well, I hope, by jing, that the Indians will surround every one of them and about two-thrids starve them. Then, I guess, they would know how soldering goes."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Coral Belle

This sweater was originally called "Silver Belle," from the 25th anniversary issue of Vogue Knitting where it was one of a celebratory feature of designs in silver/gray. The designer's yarn is still available. I wound up finding a discontinued color and buying it because I wasn't getting gauge in yarns of the same weight.  I never did get the right gauge according to the directions, so I didn't actually expect I'd get a sweater that would fit me.

It's made of 17 balls of yarn - at 50g each - that's nearly two pounds of yarn!  The textures make for a  bulky sort of fabric and I really didn't expect I'd enjoy wearing it, thinking it would be unflattering.

But it's not a bad fit.

I doubt I'd pack it to go on any trips, but I may enjoy wearing it anyway. I had put it on my list of project to make it mainly because I was attracted to the fun combination of cables and interesting construction.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A different kind of project

Since our weather turned so wintry overnight, it was a good day to start on a project I've had in mind for a couple of years.

This box was one that my grandmother Faye had and gave to my mother. It now belongs to my oldest brother, but I took it from my father's house for the time being. (The stencil reads C.M. Dunn & Co. Booksellers, Stationers & Jewelers, Cincinnati, O.)

The box contains letters and papers of Faye's father's - my great-grandfather Calvin.  The box was one of three or four my grandmother moved from Indiana to Illinois in 1928. She had them stored in the attic of the Elburn bungalow when I was a child - no special climate control or preservation, so some of the letters are very faint and difficult to read.

This photo shows the lower tier of letters - I had already taken out the top level and started to sort them.

Calvin lived from 1845 to 1923. What I'm doing so far is organizing the materials by date - when I can determine it - except for letters from Calvin's first cousin on his mother's side, Eli W. Hause.

So far I have found mostly letters from the 1860's to the 1880's, with a few from the 1890's and one letter that I believe was sent to Calvin's grandmother, dated 1806.  The paper is all still good - they didn't use acid in paper-making in those days, so I can still take the letters out of the sometimes very tiny envelopes to unfold the pages without the paper tearing. I don't have to remove all the letters from their envelopes: Although the early postmarks do not include the year, Calvin often wrote the dates he received and answered letters on the envelopes, sometimes including the year. In cases where Calvin had not made his usual notation, sometimes my father, who examined and cataloged the stamps on the envelopes, wrote in pencil what the date of the letter was.  These notations are a huge help with this initial sorting.  The strings and rubber bands you see in the above photo grouped the letters by the stamp and its condition, rather than by subject or year. But that stamp information occasionally helps me to make out the often obscure handwritten two-digit year on the letter inside.

This picture shows the fist level sorting job about two-thirds completed as of this evening.

The 1860's letters from Cousin Eli are being culled out because he served with the 52nd Indiana Regiment (the same unit Shepherd Whitcomb served with), having joined up in early 1864 at the age of 18.  I learned that Eli joined up against his father's wishes - and like many of his fellow Civil War soldiers, he's very interested in the cause of preserving the Union but would rather the slavery question not be part of it. Eli enjoys winning at cards with his fellow soldiers and seems to tell Calvin about any of the young women that catch his eye - though it appears he is too bashful to speak to them.  I'm very interested in young Eli's first hand experiences, and plan to use his letters to continue the family history I'm telling along with the Civil War Block of the Month quilt.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

First Hat - knitted

I have made a hat before, but it was for a Halloween costume for a Princess and was not knitted. So this is the first hat I've knitted.

It was strange for me, after knitting so many sweaters, to have a project come off the needles in less than a week. 

I bought the yarn in Georgia on that recent trip and had only one skein - and ran a little short - the hat should have been a little longer, more ribbing turned up. But in this dark color it's hard to even see the design and it will probably work o.k. for Norris.

He wouldn't let me use any bright colors, but maybe with the next one, I can find a lighter shade of  blue or gray so my work will show up without needing brilliant sunshine.