Thursday, June 23, 2016

Growing Old Isn't So Bad After All

I recently had a birthday, one of those big ones. Fortunately the Queen has a birthday in June too and as she gets a public holiday I make the most of the long weekend.  We traveled to Ballarat along with grandchildren and their parents to celebrate the event (my birthday that is, not the Queen's).

I knew something secret was being organised.  No one had asked me, what do you want for your birthday, and when I did offer some suggestions I was told my input was not required.  What was being planned, and would I like it? I just had to wait and be patient.

All my guesses were wrong, this was my amazing birthday present.  A signature quilt from my family.

This is truly a labour of love, a quilt made by people that don't normally make quilts.  It was about five months in the planning and involved choosing fabrics in my favourite colours and sending them around the world.  The process involved grandchildren drawing pictures that could be translated to material; hidden blocks in a shared suitcase on an unexpected trip to the USA; missing seam allowances: a move to Switzerland and back with the materials chasing the signer; patchwork novices who thought, how hard can it be? and discovering the answer; whether some imaginative spelling should be fixed or left as a humility block (it was left); and contacting the Two Bits Patches webmaster to get a download of the central block from the Chester Criswell Quilt without mum finding out.

I am still overwhelmed, each time I look at it I think of the giver, truly an example of the sentiment:

Remember Me When This You See.



While the family was at Ballarat we took the opportunity to visit Sovereign Hill, a reconstructed gold mining town built on the original gold mines.  

Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

Quilters don't take the same photos as other people, do we?

A brick form to make wagon wheels

Door lock

Church detail, Ballarat

This week's CCCQ Revisited block is Block 31 John and Martha Dickey.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Twin Quaker Quilts Discovered

Late last year I posted about a signature quilt that I had purchased online.  I found that although it was from Texas the families involved were originally Quakers from Indiana.

Original post : A New Family Soap Opera

A few weeks ago there was a discussion in a Facebook group about quilt blocks with an 'H' shape.  Janette posted a picture of a quilt she owned.

I added a photo of my quilt and asked where Janette's quilt had come from.  She replied that it was a signature quilt made for a Maria A Jessup, age 70, and that one block said Rachel E Reeve, age 9, 1916.

Now it was getting a bit spooky.  One of my blocks was signed Grandmother Reeve, and one of my dates was 1916.   A flurry of posts followed and we found both quilts were signed by women named Reeve, Hadley, and Schlenker.

I spent an afternoon on and was richly rewarded. 

Dr. Maria A Jessup was a Quaker and an obstetrician practicing in Indiana.  Her biography is included in an article Pioneer Women Physicians in Indiana and I found her photograph.

Janette's quilt was made for 'Dr. Ria' for her 70th birthday in 1916.  Maria Jessup had no children of her own and the names on the quilt appear to be extended family and friends.

My quilt was made in Texas in 1938.  Grandmother Reeve was Ethel Hadley Reeve and her mother-in-law was a Jessup.  My quilt names are a cheerful confusion of families with ten children, half brothers and sisters and cousins marrying cousins.  I don't know who the recipient was but I identified one row of the quilt by using the information from Janette's quilt. At least two of the matrons in my quilt were young women in Janette's quilt.

So, two quilts made in two states twenty-two years apart with the same families and the same block.  Both quilts ended up with the same online seller and two people each bought one quilt.  So where did the quilt end up?  

One in the county, one in the city, about three hours drive away from each other.

In Australia.

What are the chances of two family quilts ending up on the other side of the world and being connected because the new owners are in the same group on Facebook?  Social media can be a force for good.

This week's block for the Chester Criswell Quilt Revisited is Block 30 Elizabeth Crosby.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

CCCQ The Final Stretch

We have had some wintery weather.  It is wet and windy, the first snow flurries are on the peaks and the vegetable garden is expecting the first frost.  It's a great time to be sewing the binding on a big quilt.

The Chester Criswell Quilt is nearly finished.  I do the hand quilting in the evenings while the television is on.  I will have the quilt completed sometime next week so I have to hurry and get another project ready for the evenings - perhaps some knitted hats for the grandkids.

I'm not much when it comes to housework, and we don't have a lot of visitors (after spending all day behind a shop counter we prefer a little peace and quiet at home).  As a consequence the level surfaces in the house tend to accumulate this and that.  If visitors were to arrive I would have to clear the couch.

This week's CCCQ Revisited block is Margaretta Harris Block 20.

The original block is not as round as my reproduction, if I made it again I might go for the wonky look.

Last week was Block 7 William and Harry.

And the week before Block 29 Maria Criswell

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Antique Orphan Blocks

My Mother's Day present (which I chose for myself) was a few dozen quilt blocks, all very old.  I love checking out the different fabrics and finding patterns that don't appear in the books or BlockBase.  Here are a few of my current favourites.

Eight point star, excellent workmanship and a few squares pieced from smaller squares.

Another star with the last of the brown striped fabric

9 patch, with an interesting brown stripe and purple on black.

Another 9 patch - Fireside Visitor / Arrow / Broken Dish / London Roads

Same block, different light and dark

9 patchwork - some sort of Snowball?

Autograph Block in pastels

Spot the difference

Ohio Star - by a beginning seamstress

Friday, May 6, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to you all - and if it isn't happy I hope you have some happy memories.

I am very pleased to say that the last row of quilted blocks has joined its friends.  I still have to quilt around each block in the two bottom rows and add the binding but it's nearly there.

This week's Chester Criswell Revisited is Block 19.  You can see it third row down on the left hand side.  In the original quilt it looks a bit like this.

Same pattern, all in red - well, it use to be red.

Not quite what it used to be - but at 160 years old, what do you expect?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lydia the Dealer in Purple Cloth

This morning at church the Bible reading was from the book of Acts, when Paul sails to Macedonia and meets Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth.  I started to think about purple cloth and wondered what was involved in Lydia's business 2000 years ago.

I know that, once upon a time, purple dye came from murex seashells.  When I need to find out something about seashells I never bother to google.  My husband is a very keen shell collector, and also collects books about seashells and the sea.  I'm quite pleased with my own quilt history library, but hubby's books on shells take up four times as much space as my quilting books.  So I asked, how is purple dye made from shells, and after glancing through four different volumes I can now tell you.

Tyrian purple dye was made from murex brandaris, commonly called the Mediterranean snail.

The Phoenicians perfected the dye process and had a monopoly on the colour purple from 300 BCE to 150 CE.  The high cost of purple dye was due to the hours needed to collect the thousands of shells so tyrian purple was reserved for royalty and the wealthy.

So, how do you get the dye from the shells?  Well, you don't use the shells, you use the secretions from the snail itself.  First, gather the snails from the rocky shoreline.  Then break the shells up to get out the snails inside.  Next soak the snail bodies in salt water for three days, then boil.  Ewww.

At the same time in the British Isles the nucella lapillus or dog whelk was used as a purple dye for illuminated manuscripts.

Enough of  seashells.  I went to my own smaller bookcase and found Natural Dyes and Home Dying, a Dover Publication.  Purple dyes in the 18th and 18th century were made from orchil, a dyestuff derived from the lichen Rocella. 

 Lichens were soaked in fermented urine (?) or slaked lime for about three weeks.  To get the right shade of purple you added either an acid or an alkaline - orchil was not only a dye but was the stuff that litmus paper was made from. If you want to learn more click here.

Once the coal-tar dyes of the industrial revolution were created orchil's use gradually declined.  One of the first of the new chemical dyes was mauve, Queen Victoria was quite amused.

from the blog Chromatic Notes

This week at the Chester Criswell Quilt Revisited - Reuben Stubbs' Block 6.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Duck, Duck ... Brown Goose

Do you remember this signature quilt?  It's my second favourite antique quilt and it was featured in an article in Down Under Quilts in 2013.

Malaga, Washington 1937

It has been a bit neglected but I have returned to the documentation of the blocks and the women who made the quilt in 1937. I have unearthed some more fascinating material about the quiltmakers and their families (but it's a bit of a secret still).

I have also been researching the block patterns.  Last week's search was for the name of this block.

Gussie Herr's block

My block

I tried all my books and BlockBase; the closest name I found was Brown Goose.

Brown Goose or Double Z

It doesn't look the same, does it?  But just turn around the corner half square triangles and the blocks are the same.  I don't think Brown Goose suits my blocks so I have called them Hourglass Star.

Last week's CCCQ Revisited block was Block 18 Mary McKissick and this week's is Block 28 Mary McDowell.

Mary McKissisk

Mary McDowell

 If you don't want to miss out on each week's CCCQ Revisited block you can put your name on the mailing list.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Stash Sale and How About an E-Book

What are you doing next Sunday?  Our patchwork group is having a sale.

We all have stashes and we thought it would be a good idea to clear out our cupboards and try to sell/swap/giveaway some of our no-longer-needed fabric.  The idea has grown like Topsy - there will be twenty-six tables of quilting goodies, included stock from some quilt shops that are no longer trading.  Bring your husbands too; they can go to the Sunday Variety Market while you spend some time with our tempting tables.

I will be in attendance with I Spy fabrics from the Two Bits Patches website. and I still have some Twisted Stitcher Quilt Block socks as well.

In one of the Facebook quilting groups this week the topci of quilting e-books came up.  Do people buy e-books about quilting, the question asked.  Yes, was the answer, lots of people favour e-books because of price and space limitations.  Some folks try out the e-book first and then buy a print book if they like it.  Both Kindle and pdf books are good - Kindle is easy to download if you have a Kindle, and pdf files are usful because you can read them on any device.

I was very pleased to follow the conversation, because I offer my e-book as both a Kindle book on Amazon and a pdf e-book from my website.

You can get it as a Kindle book at Amazon.

Or you can download as a pdf from Two Bits Patches.

This week's Revisited CCCQ is Block 5, the Crazy Nasturtiums.  So you can read about it in the e-book or go ahead and make it from the pattern.

Or you can come to our stash sale and just say hello - I'd love to meet you.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

There and Back Again

My flying trip from Australia to USA and back is over.  Due to some unforeseen circumstances I was delayed in Los Angeles for an extra two days, but I'm back now and over the jet lag.

I was able to do something that I was looking forward to - rummaging through stacks of quilts at the antique malls.  I must say that there are a lot of unattractive quilts for sale and for a while I thought I might have to bring home an ugly duckling.  But I found two that I am very pleased with.

This is a scrappy Tree of Paradise. It's machine quilted and the binding has been replaced.  The fabrics have a lot of variety, I think 1890s for the materials.

I bought a redwork cot quilt too.  It is hand quilted with little or no batting - just right for the bottom of a suitcase.

My cousin showed me her own embroidered quilt made by her other grandmother.  She was a little concerned that I might try to fit it in my suitcase as well, but I assured her that all a needed was a photo.

John's (guinea) pigs

Back to reality.  This week's CCCQ Revisited block is Block 27 Susanna Criswell.  I christened this one Floral Medley, it's a bit of this and that.

Bother reality.  Here's some holiday snaps. Enjoy.

St. Pete's Beach, Florida on the Gulf of Mexico
Santa Monica Pier, California on the Pacific Ocean
Tiled shopfront in Hollywood
Art deco tiles
More ugly ducklings