Monday, June 29, 2009

Old Glory

As you make your plans for the upcoming Fourth of July, enjoy this thrifty quilt. Barbara's Encyclopedia traces these names for this block: Shoo Fly, Eight Point All Over, Triangles and Squares (KC Star 1952). I've owned it for 10 years, it came from an antique shop in Ottawa, Kansas where I've found many of my favorite quilts. Measuring 76" x 83", it is about 100 years old. It's hand pieced and hand quilted.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Being Very Quiet in the Holiday Inn Express

When we travel to a town my husband works in regularly in South Dakota, we always stay at the holiday inn express. It’s like a mini-vacation for me. It’s quiet and nice. We eat their breakfast, then he goes to work and I work on my laptop in the hotel room. We have lunch together then he goes back to work and I work on a sewing project. It’s a lovely routine. I haven’t let much distract me this week and have gotten a lot done.

This afternoon something was not normal. The family from hell was in the room next door. The children seemed to not be told to keep their voices down as they came and went frequently, slamming the door. Loudly! I stewed. What to do? Complain? Ignore? I couldn’t stand it anymore so I slammed our room door a few times. I don’t think they noticed.

I decided to go to the pool to escape. It seemed to be full of the family from hell’s relatives: mostly children with a few odd adults in attendance. I gamely got in the pool and swam a few short laps. The water was nice and cool. The hot tub was empty so I climbed into it next. Then a VERY large man came toward it bellowing, BELLOWING that he was getting in the spa. I watched the water level to see how much it rose as he got in.

As soon as I could politely exit, I did. I sat at a table to read and dry off a little. A plump little girl, probably about 8, wearing a bright bikini and a somber face, approached.
“I threw up in there,” she said, gesturing toward the pool. She did not look like she was joking.
“You did?” I said, being equally serious. “Did you tell anybody about that?” She mumbled something I didn’t catch and walked away.
Eeuuuwww. I stopped by the front desk on my way back to the room to shower. I told the very pretty smiling clerk what the little girl had told me. “I thought you might like to know,” I said. “You know, add lots of chemicals.”
“Chemicals, yes!” She nodded and kept grinning, a bit determinedly.

Now I know there are worse things than listening to the family from hell next door (perhaps swimming with them). I’m going to be very quiet now – it’s almost Friday….
I’m reading a fun book this week: The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson. It often made me laugh out loud (even at the pool BEFORE my conversation with the little girl…) and any book that can do that is recommendable. Another very pleasant thing about being here is the morning delivery of the Writer's Almanac by Garrison Keillor on the local NPR station. Hearing Garrison read it is best, you can do that here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Funnies

We are on the road. We stopped at one of those fantastic-ly odd quick shop type places in Nebraska City. The signs on the restrooms read:
Those must be homemade signs, don't you think? Made by somebody in the back room that didn't consider that men and women are already plural?
Another highly recommended Monday funny: google keyboard cat, he's all over Youtube. He is our melodramatic artist of the day! (credit for this goes to Betsyboo....)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Five dollars of fabric entertainment

My husband and I have a summer hobby. We take a bike ride every Saturday morning and when we come to a garage sale, we stop and take a break. Sometimes kids sell lemonade and we like that. We take backpacks along, which limits the amount of stuff we can purchase. Well, we had to make an exception to that yesterday. I noticed a raggedy comforter pieced with feedsacks at one stop - for a price of $5.
The garage sale hostess scowled and said, "Guess why that quilt is so beat up? My husband put my kids AND THE DOG on it and pulled them around the yard." I had to ask the burning question: "Are you still married to him?" "NO!" she replied.
"Oh dear," I said. "Well that looks like $5 worth of fabric entertainment. I'll take it." She said that would be a relief for her, that someone would like it.
I returned with the car to haul it home, it was a very well-stuffed comforter. These pictures were taken as I began to take it apart. The cotton inside nearly filled our garage trash can. I washed it gently in the tub with Orvis twice and then realized the only way to get it clean was the washing machine.
It's brighter now. I'm taking the worn backing off it next. It will be fun to see what happens with this one.....

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'll be Talking about Sonie

Sonie Ruffin has a wonderful solo exhibit of her quilts at the American Jazz Museum from now through August 2.

She's invited me to speak Wednesday, June 17 at 2 p.m. about editing the books that showcase her work: Opening Day: 14 Quilts Celebrating the Life and Times of Negro League Baseball and and The Soulful Art of African-American Quilts, both published by Kansas City Star Books

It all takes place at the American Jazz Museum, 1616 East 18th Street in Kansas City, MO. The talk and the exhibit viewing are both free: the exhibit is on display Tuesday - Saturday, 9-6 and Sunday noon-6. It's closed Mondays.

These photos are from the exhibit opening. The ladies looked like they planned their outfits to match Sonie's jazz quilt. Above is a photo of Sonie and I.....we've enjoyed our collaboration.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thrift Shop Quilt #2 - Ottawa Housetop

This quilt is one of my favorites. Two-sided, it large center blocks surrounded by strips in a log cabin or housetop design on one side.

The other side is wide vertical strips, bordered at the top and bottom. I found this 11 years ago in an Ottawa, Kansas antique shop.

It's hand pieced and machine quilted in a grid onto thin batting. There is no binding. The quilt measures 73" x 84" - we estimate it was made circa 1900.

By the way, happy Flag WEEK!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Garden, swallow update

I promised a garden update. Look at it! We've been eating salads with fresh lettuce and radishes for weeks. This weekend we'll feast on yellow squash, zuccina (as Grandma always used to say), and swiss chard. The tomato, bean and pepper plants are going wild too. will my next report be about being overwhelmed with produce? could be....

We are also about to bid farewell to our first nest full of baby swallows on the front porch. They are getting big and will fly away soon. Here they are waiting for their next snack. And here is one of their hard-working parents, providing it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

1800s thrift

Maggie Bonanomi shared this quilt top with me yesterday. Maggie lives in an 1841 home in Lexington, Missouri so this quilt fits right in with her furnishings from that period.

A few of the 16-patch blocks all have the same fabrics, but most mix and match with abandon. It's the same block Barbara Brackman and I used in our c. 1840s Lincoln Cabin Quilt, a reproduction of a quilt that might have been used in the Lincoln family frontier cabin.

What I like most about this quilt is the many, many pieced squares. The fabrics are gorgeous. Thanks, Maggie!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Thrift Shop Quilt #1 - Sweet Strips

My plan is to regularly post photos of quilts I've collected here in the Midwest.
I found this two years ago at an antique shop in Hutchinson, Kansas. I couldn't leave it behind, it's so impulsive and cheerful. And it had a thrifty price.

Five sections of horizontal strips make up this quilt. The section widths vary from 12 1/2" to 14". Strip widths vary from less than 1" to 3" which makes this very scrappy indeed. There is a wide variety of fabrics used. They do repeat but not too often.

The quilt measures 68" x 71". It's tied with yarn about every 3". The backing is 2 different pieces of soft striped pink and blue flannel, which turns to the front to bind three sides (the last side is stitched and turned, not bound).
I hope some little child got to sleep under this quilt.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What editors ponder

One of my more inquisitive authors asks: what is the correct spelling of rick rack?
I responded r-i-c-k r-a-c- k.
Ya-ha! She exclaimed. Xyz fabric company is spelling it Ric rac….

Oddly, the same question also came up at a recent quilt book editors meeting I attended.

I explored a little. Web sites with the name included abound. The names are catchy but they’re not necessarily about the product:

Wrights makes it, they call it Rick Rack.
But if you spell it ric rac it goes so nicely with nic nac and bric a brac. Try saying those names quickly in succession…..
Our consensus: there is no right or wrong way to spell this. Pick your favorite and be consistent….
Note: I found the little rick rack flower pot in the picture on an antique shop dishtowel....

Monday, June 1, 2009

Poppies in the final days of May

In 1991, my brother died on May 26. My mother had a poppy plant in her backyard flower garden, which my brother had often tended. It had never bloomed.
The morning of Bruce’s funeral, it bloomed. As we all dressed, we took a minute to go out and see it. And most of us reported having a little conversation with that poppy (mostly saying yoo hoo and are you really in there?).
When we came home from the funeral, all the petals had dropped off the flower. The bloom was gone. Again, we took turns visiting and saying our farewells.
I have a red poppy plant on the north side of my house. Because of the low sun exposure there, it blooms late, usually around May 26. Here it is this year, we can all say hi Bruce. We miss you.
Special thanks to Trapp & co for the continuing graveside flowers. They don’t forget….
Click to read more about poppies.
Poppies have long been used as a symbol of both sleep and death…