Thursday, July 21, 2016

Knitting Anxiety? Try Glove Making

Are you familiar with the Farm Life Quilt competition that was run in Australia in the 1930s?  The Adelaide Chronicle printed a weekly pattern from Ruby McKim's Farm Life quilt and the finished quilts were judged at the Adelaide show.

I was browsing through the online newspaper looking for the Farm Life patterns when I got distracted.


Change From Fancy Work; Handy Gift For Motorist

All women, no matter how busy they are, rather like having a small piece of "fancy" needlework on hand which they can pick up at odd moments when a friend calls in for a chat. Busy women do not always feel inclined to bring out the family mending basket on these occasions yet they are not happy if their fingers are idle.

Winter afternoons and evenings are more conducive to industry than the summer days. The woman who loves knitting is never at a loss - there is always a half-finished sock on hand to click accompaniment to friendly chatter about "the sponge (cake) that would go blistery" or "the jelly that refused to jell" and "What can I do about it?"  But there are many women who cannot knit because the ceaseless working of the fingers or the anxiety in fear of dropping a stitch affects their nerves. These women prefer the soothing plying of needle and thread. 

Today I am giving you a suggestion for odd moments when you do not always feel inclined to finish that corner of the drawn-thread design in the tray cloth, or perhaps the light is not quite good enough for shading the wools for the half completed tapestry square.

 Ingenuity And Practice 

Try your hand at glove-making. The pattern shown in the sketch is simple and with a little ingenuity and practice the average needlewoman can evolve her own paper pattern from the sketch. I saw Miss Maude Priest, the artist, making a pair for herself the other afternoon, and she very generously told me how it is done. The pattern is in three pieces—the band, fingers, and wrist in one piece, the gusset (for joining the fingers) and the thumb. The last named looks a funny shape, but it fits easily and neatly into the scheme of things.

These gloves are made of chamois leather or doe skin. A whole skin is required to make one pair, costs from five to seven shillings, and can be purchased at any of the large shops. When choosing the skin, be careful to pick one that is of even texture throughout; many are apt to be thinner in some places than others. Do not cut out the pattern until you are ready to make up the glove, otherwise the skin is liable to stretch out of shape.  When cutting the pattern on the skin, be careful to get the “pull” going across the hand, or you will find that the fingers will stretch to twice their length.

It is quite easy to make one glove in an afternoon or evening, for when once the pattern is cut out the rest is simple sewing, and there is only one seam at the side.  The hand and fingers being cut in one piece requires that the pattern has to be reversed for the left hand.

Black Thread for Smartness

The stitching is all done by hand on the right side, using a good black linen thread to give a smart touch. It has the appearance of ordinary running stitch, although each stitch is worked through and back again singly, and best results are obtained by using a tailor's needle. 

The make-up is all plain sailing - there is nothing to remember, really. Before folding the pattern to join the one side seam, stitch the thumb first, and secondly do three lines of stitching on the back of the hand, about three inches in length. Then stitch in the three gussets between the fingers, and after that sew a narrow piece of elastic on the inside of the wrist, and then join up the side seam.

It is not absolutely necessary to have the decorative fringe as shown in the sketch, but if you like the idea, cut two strips of skin about one and a half inches wide and sew in when joining the seam. Cut the fringe after you have inserted the strip in the seam. 

These gloves are ideal wear for motorists, because they are soft and warm, and will not stick to the driving wheel. Furthermore, they are splendid for night driving, being of a light color, which makes the hand signals easily seen by the motorist behind. Ordinary wear and careful washing will give several years of service.

What more do I need? Homemade gloves and crocodile shoes.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

One Sue, Two Sue, Old Sue , New Sue

After many years of quilting I have finally made my first Sunbonnet Sue block.

This Sunbonnet Sue is very much a country cousin.  This is my Malaga 1937 friendship sampler quilt.  On the left is Mary McWilliams's block and my copy is on the right.  I have been putting off making this block but when I had no others left I had no choice.  It actually was a quick block to make.

Sunbonnet Sue is an old girl; embroidery patterns for a sunbonnet girl existed in the 1800s.  The design we know as Sunbonnet Sue probably came from a popular children’s illustrator in the early 1900s, Bertha Corbett.

In 1902 author Eulalie Osgood Grover and artist Bertha Corbett teamed up to create a new series of learning to read primers called The Sunbonnet Babies.  Babies May and Molly and their friends Fisherman Fred and Suspender Sam became very popular and the characters appeared everywhere.

The babies grew up and, somewhere, somehow, became Sunbonnet Sue.  The pattern was well known in the 1920s and stayed popular through the 1930s and 1940s.  Sue was bright and cheerful and she had no tricky face to applique (although her hands proved to be slightly challenging).

This Sunbonnet Sue may be hiding a secret.  Don't look under her bonnet, judging from her skeletal fingers she may be one of The Undead and her bonnet may be hiding a zombie.

Miss Mabel Taggart and Mrs. Sam Boswell are, very wisely, keeping their hand in their pocket. 


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.