Monday, April 27, 2009

My Great-Grandma's Quilt

This is a beautiful quilt that my grandmother had on her own bed for a number of years:
It was made in two sections. The sixteen middle squares looked very old, and were made of what I now know is "mourning prints" and black-and-white "shirtings:"
Then, in 1972 (as the back of the quilt is marked), my grandmother put a row of squares around the outside in what I am sure was an attempt at matching, but were of [horrid] polyester prints:

I am very afraid I judged her. And I had only just begun to learn to sew, and didn't know much about fabric myself! Of course, all-cotton prints were quite rare in 1972, the new "age of perma-press" and, my grandmother's *other* favorite fabric: Polyester Double-Knit. Now I know that it was the very best "match" she could find at the time.
Here is a close-up of the older portion. As you can see, the fabrics are fraying (grandma let us sit on her bed, etc. and the quilt shows the ravages of heavy usage):

I have to show you the back, as well. Grandma loved "novelty" fabrics, and she gave that love to me, as well. I have one of her quilts that is backed with a fabric with the words Sneak-ease all over. Later, I owned a pair of sneakers that were lined with that same fabric!
Here we have The Jungle Book (from the original movie release era). This fabric is repeated all over the back:

I received this quilt from my mother, who got it when Grandma broke up housekeeping. This is what she wrote:
"center section made by Great-Grandma Lee before 1955 [the year of her death, and my birth]. Outer border made by Grandma Plasterer 1972."
I had no idea that anything survived that was made by my great-grandmother (for whom I was named, as well!) I was thrilled beyond words to have this heirloom.
When I laid it across our bed to show Charming, he wanted to keep it there. He really liked the geometric black-and-whiteness of it. But the center section was fraying, and I knew we'd lose it entirely before too many years passed. So I told him that I would reproduce it sometime.
Fortunately, by then, quilt shops were carrying many reproduction prints, and I was able to get a number of them that are literally almost exact matches to the originals. As is typical of *me,* I usually have more ideas "cooking" than I have time to do. The fabrics I bought have dates from 1996 to 2000. But Now is the Time for me to begin this project.
I'm piecing this quilt by hand, as the original is. I have finished two squares:
I am Extremely Pleased with the results. This is going to be Fun. I will piece these squares as I am able, at home or while "waiting" for kids. It will probably take me several months to finish.
One more thing I wanted to share about this quilt. I looked up the pattern, and it is called Barbara Frietchie Star. Do you remember the poem? "Shoot if you must this old grey head/but leave your country's flag, she said." Read about her here.
My great-grandmother's name was Barbara. My name is Barbara. So I am going to name my quilt "Barbara Star." And I have let my children know that if any of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren are named after me, she will get the quilt.
But no pressure, kids.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Makin' Rosebuds

I promised you yesterday that I would show you this top:

It is the Rosebud Quilt from Quilts from the Quiltmaker's Gift. I bought fabrics similar to one of the versions in the book, oh, about five years ago. Somehow, when I took them out last week, I was not-so-enamoured of them as I was when I bought them. Maybe it's because I have made a number of quilts in the last five years, and maybe my taste/style/whatever is evolving.

Not to say that it isn't pretty, and like I said yesterday, I have "takers" for this, if I don't keep it. Here is a little bit closer up:

And I'm doing a little-bit-fancier thing for the border, which will maybe be a little-more-exciting, as well.

(you're not looking too closely at my points-matching technique, are you? Remember, my Quilting Motto is Finished is Better than Perfect....)

More later on this one!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is There Any Old Business to Discuss?

Finished: my little doll quilt inspired by the fabulous department store in our town when I was growing up,W&D's:
and, from the Unfinished Projects File, this apron:
I had bought the fabric, thinking I'd make an apron celebrating Violet's college graduation. Yeah, that was

I had decided at that time that I wanted to make an apron for moi instead, so I stored the cut-out pieces and the bias-strips for the binding. For. Twelve. Years.

And, as most things like that work out, it just took me a wee bit o' time to finish it!

I have also finished the squares for a quilt for which I bought the fabric about five years ago. After "finding" it again, I decided that I wasn't as enamoured of the fabrics as I was then. But naturally Forget-me-not told me that she would "take it off my hands," if I can't find another recipient. (Forget-me-not is always willing to take a quilt off my hands, whether I want it or not!) I'll be putting the squares together this evening, and will take a photo of the top tomorrow, 'kay?
Hmmm. What next? Well, I don't know, but fer sure, there are a Number of Old Projects from which to choose!

4/21 Club Meets Today

Quick: Are you ready for the meeting of the 4/21 Club?

Alas, I am not a member. I can only look longingly from the sidelines.

The 4/21 Club is my family's sort-of-exclusive "club" for people born on April 21st. That would be, first of all, Charming's sister Katie, who is 52 today. Next comes my brother Mikey, coming in at 48. Next is my own dear son, Joe Hardy, coming in at the magic ***30***. Next, my brother Mikey's son, also Mikey, at 24. Finally, my great-nephew Connor, turning 5 today.

If you happen to be eligible to be a member, let me know. I'd love to add your name to the roster.

and, by the way, happy, Happy Birthday to my dear ones!

(now, off to Facebook all of them!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rest in Peace, Chuck.

I heard yesterday of the passing of a dear neighbor and friend, Chuck Crockett. (and yes, he was a direct descendant of the Davy-man.)

He was one of the pillars of the church--he was into his sixth decade of teaching Sunday School. For as long as I have known him, he taught fifth-graders, including four of mine. I have several friends in their forties who sat under his wonderful teaching.

He retired as a vice-president of a local bank, then went back to school to do what he really loved, landscaping. He had many contracts around town, and also cared for a gorgeous orchard with many heirloom fruit trees. He gave garden space to a number of families every year. We were invited often to pick apples and make cider.

His only son was born when he was sixty-four years old. Andrew is seventeen now, and, because of the blessing of homeschooling, he has worked side-by-side with his father since he could walk. Not a moment was wasted; his father had a *lifetime* to teach him how to be a godly man.

We thank the Lord that He let us know this man, one of the Greatest Generation. Not so many of those left in the church. It is a great loss for us, but Chuck ran his race so, so well, and now is Home.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Edited to add: I found out that Chuck was out at the barn in his orchard, working. When he sat down for a rest, he just Went Home. When our pastor asked his son Andrew if he had spoken to his father that morning, Andrew said yes, at family devotions. Isn't that the way we'd all like to go? What a blessing!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Today's To-Do List

Today is quite an ordinary day, for the most part. School, laundry, church tonight. But one thing on my to-do list is Extraordinary:

Pay off the car.

We bought this car for cash, but several years later, we mortgaged it for a portion of its value to pay for "part" of our daughter's wedding and "part" of our son's college expenses. (We almost made it through that wedding for cash. But you know how people say, "a lot of unexpected stuff comes up at the last minute?" Well, it does.)

Oh, yeah. One more thing to do today:

Redeem that car from the mechanic's, where it's been since Thursday. You know the joke about the car breaking down just as you have it paid off...

Have a blessed day!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday--Old School Style

I have been thinking about the Good Fridays of my childhood. I think it is because thunderstorms are predicted for today: my father told me that it always rains on Good Friday, in honor of what happened on that day. Sure enough, there have been just a handful of sunny-all-day Good Fridays in my memory.

Back-in-the-day, almost everything was closed from 12noon to 3 pm. All the stores closed. All the factories shut down for three hours. Almost everybody was in church. After church, we could play quietly or read, but we had to stay at home, and the tv and radio had to be off.

Contrast that with today. Johnny Tremain (our resident public-school teacher) says that this is the last school-year that public schools will even be closed on Good Friday. Stores are having last-minute Easter sales. Well, you know how it is today, I don't have to explain it to you.

We have been watching the seven-hour made-for-tv miniseries Jesus of Nazareth this week for school. At the time it came out (1977), there was a brouhaha about the possibility of the network sponsors pulling their advertising, because of the religious content of the miniseries. However, it was a smash hit, showing in two parts on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday nights.

Watching it over four days this week, I have been steeped in the Life of Christ. Seeing an actor saying the familiar words of the gospels has put them in my mind in a more vivid way. Some of the familiar sayings of our Lord got a new "punch" seeing them in the context of the scenery and people in the film.

We'll be going to our church service, and I'll pick up a few forgotten things for the weekend at the store (but Not between 12 and 3!). My kids will complain about having to be home for three hours With The Tv Off. But we will think about the Lamb without blemish, provided by our heavenly Father so that He could reconcile us to Himself. It is too, too awe-some to think about.

Hope you are thinking about it today, too!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

New "Little" Project

I started a new, little project:

It's going to be a doll quilt. I love doll quilts--you can use a technique or pattern you might not be wantin' to execute in a full-sized quilt.

This little one was inspired by something from my past. (for my sister Janny: does this remind you of something?):
Do you see the little vintage jewelry box? It is from an old department store here in my town, Wolf and Dessauer (called locally, "W&D's.")
Now, maybe you are old enough to remember a store like W&D's. It was several stories high, in the middle of downtown. In those days, you wouldn't think of wearing pants to go shopping downtown. Ladies in their "street" suits or dresses, with gloves and hats. You may be sure that they had checked their stocking seams to make sure they were straight.
No need to push your own buttons in the elevator--there was an operator, who called out the "departments" as you went up: Second floor--ladies shoes, children's wear. Fourth floor--housewares.
If you went up the magic escalator, you would reach the Tea Room, with snow-white tablecloths and napkins. From somewhere below, pleasant music would provide a peaceful background to your lunch. Then, back to shopping!
Maybe you were getting saddle shoes and plaid school dresses. If you were lucky, your Mom would be stopping at the Hat department. So many elegant offerings, but you weren't old enough yet to try them on. Everywhere, even at the hosiery counter, salespeople would exhibit their wares to you--no "self-serve" here!
Perhaps you had such an elegant store in the town where you grew up. But W&D's was different in a number of ways. Each November, the "street-level" windows were curtained, and an air of expectancy began. On the night before Thanksgiving, the curtains were removed, and a Christmas Wonderland was revealed. Window after window with magical scenes. Mechanical figures of animals and people, each window its own Christmas vignette. People would line up on the sidewalk five deep, waiting to see the windows. Inside, lines were long, waiting to see Santa in his own WonDerland. There was even an area where children could shop--no parents allowed.
W&D's closed in 1971, a victim of the new Shopping Malls. Dress codes for shopping had relaxed. Food courts replaced the Tea Room. And, of course, hats were relegated to weddings and such.
Somehow, I don't think that we "progressed" all that much. A kindler, gentler time that we most likely will never see again. But I will have a little quilt to remember them by.

Edited to say: I don't know why my paragraphs all disappeared whenI posted. I went back to edit them, and it happened again. Sorry.