Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ta ta 2009

My last quilt of 2009 is another rescue.
I found it in an antique mall two years ago in Macon, Missouri, a town on route 36.

It was too grand in former days to risk leaving for someone to cut up. It features techniques I can't imagine mastering, mostly wonderful trapunto hand quilting.....

There are justifications for acquiring a quilt in fragile shape like this.
You can admire and replicate the pattern.
You can study the incredible quilting.
You can note how the fabric aged.
You can marvel at the cool fabric - I love the flower center at the top.

I truly enjoy writing this blog. A reporter in a former life, it seems I still have the urge to report. I am "easily entertained" (as a co-worker I did not click with once opined) and delight in things people say and things I see. I love thrift, I love quilts and I adore good writing. All come together in the simple title hung on this blog quite quickly last March. I find it remarkable I can share what I enjoy and hear back from others with the same sentiment in Canada, and England, and Kansas City. It's satisfying and most of all, fun.

Happy New Year! See you in 2010......

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Green & Red Log Cabin

I hang up this Log Cabin every December. It measures 72" x 78". I found it at the antique mall in Ottawa, Kansas in 2003. For $15, how could I leave it behind.

The Log Cabin block centers of blocks are red wool with the exception of the 3 red cotton centers in the middle of the quilt. The green logs are wool also. Blocks measure 12” — there are 36 total.

The quilt's condition is fair. The fabrics are fragile—you can see through some but that is valuable because you can see that some blocks of this quilt were foundation pieced (the foundations show through) - others were not. It is hand pieced.
This quilt is tied with red yarn. Note that some of the red yarn color faded to white on the log cabin side but is red on the backside.
The front of this quilt is brought to the back to bind this quilt. I love the backing, it is such sweet fabric.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas past

Our family Christmas celebration was delayed this year because we were snowed in. The snow plows finally got here the day after Christmas so everyone came over and celebrated, then celebrated again today.

Here are some Christmas past pictures from the family album.

This picture is inscribed Preparing Xmas dinner. That is my Grandma Anna Gehlbach in 1954.

A candid shot of Grandpa and Grandma Gehlbach surveying the gifts under the tree in 1954.

 My cousins in 1955. It looks like Philip is holding a puppy.

Our family in 1963. Note the tree on the table -  away from baby Gregg.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A snowed-in Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Luckily, ace stringer Roseanne got this festive photo BEFORE our big snow arrived yesterday. Today, these little beauties may be buried in snow drifts. They are a much-admired holiday display in her neighborhood.

We are enjoying a white Christmas! It's delayed the family dinner a day or so......drifts are almost 2 feet deep in our yard. Merry Merry!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas miracle

This is the season when I venture in to retail stores.

Because I go there rarely, I am astounded at the things I see. Look what I discovered at our Gap store yesterday.

It's presented as a scarf but you will see it's yardage! This scarf is cotton plaid, as so many of us store a great deal of in our homes. It is long and unseamed so they had to use the length of the fabric. The ends are either cut tapered or straight across and the edges are raw, so they fringe a little. There are shirts in the same fabric nearby.

This might just be a christmas miracle for thrift shop regulars. I am off to rip up a few last minute gifts.
Merry Merry!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Hat for Tom (Happy Birthday Betsy)

You might remember I make toothbrush rugs. They fill several needs for me: to use up fabric, give my hands something to do, and play with color and texture.

I visited my cousin Tom in LA (Los Angeles, not lower Alabama) last spring. It was cold as we flew out of the Midwest so I wore my toothbrush hat. I learned to make these last Christmas - we saw one downtown and my daughter Betsy wanted one. Here she is wearing her hat. My friend BB played with the photo and wondered if this could also be a bowl......
Tom liked the hat AND he had a favorite old flannel shirt he was being nagged to let go of. We agreed the shirt would make a nice hat. Tom tried the hat on when he was home for Thanksgiving and I just finished it up. He asked for part of the shirt too so I made up this little blankie to go with the hat. It's ready to go in the mail this week.  Merry Christmas Tom! Don't go koo koo and burn the blankie, Van! and Happy Birthday today, dear Betsy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Good Week

It has been a good week, one that has left me a little visually overstimulated, as you will see.
I am lucky to have friends who like to shop creatively. We walk through innovative shops and admire their creative merchandise. Then we have a good lunch and hit the thrift shops (for items we can afford).
Here are a few items we admired, courtesy of the wonderful Anthropologie shop on Kansas City's Country Club Plaza.

The coolest chairpad ever (made from old sweaters).

Applique on a felted wool throw.

Folded ribbon adorns a jacket.

A button star on a Christmas tree.

We exclaim that we could make that often (but we don't get around to it). It is a treat to see such creativity.

I also got to help with a photo shoot in Bennington, Kansas for an upcoming Star book. I don't want to give away much of it now but suffice it to say, Lynne Hagmeier wins. I do believe she has the most quilts and most interesting antique collection I have ever seen. And displayed so well.  Stay tuned for an upcoming book showcasing both! Below you'll see Star photographer Aaron Leimkuehler shooting a portrait of Lynne.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hearts & Gizzards

Here's a dandy red-and-white quilt, found in an antique shop in Bethany, in northern Missouri.

In Brackman's Encyclopedia, the block has many entries (#1500), names like Hearts & Gizzards, lovers knot, hearts & flowers, wheel of fortune. The pattern dates listed are in the early 1930s.

This quilt came with an envelope attached (sewn to the quilt with yarn). The outside read: Inside Red Ribbin 2 place sept 2000 Calamity Jane Days. Had got red once before at C. J. days, Labern Curtis quilt. (I wonder if they meant Lavern.)

They were asking only $30 for it so I could not pass it up. It measures 65" x 85". It is hand pieced and exquisitely hand quilted - look at the detailed quilting in this red detail shot (I count 10-12 stitches per inch. There are 56 blocks plus a row of 7 half blocks at the bottom. If you break the quilt down into this simple block, here are 238 of those blocks total.

The quilt's red fabric has faded and the quilt has been used, evidenced by the wear around the edges. The muslin back has worn thin in several spots. At first I didn't think there was batting inside, it is that light. But there is a very fine batting used, almost like a light flannel sheet.

The Calamity Days ribbon is from Princeton, Missouri. which is 28 miles east of Bethany.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Barkley's Birds

My friend Barbara Brackman is a dog person, as am I.

In our middle-golden years, we have both acquired dogs that remind us of a beloved childhood pet. Hers is a dachshund with the clever name of Dottie Barker. Dottie is a great snuggler with an unfortunate need to dominate other dogs. Mine is a dear little terrier mix named (aptly) Barkley. He too is a great snuggler with a need to bark and bark, often at the wind or an imagined noise (at first, I thought it was just at birds).
BB entertains us with creating photos of our pups in exotic spots - check out Barkley above taking in the bright lights of Las Vegas.

My quilt named after Barkley is on Barbara's web site this week and since it's a red-and-white quilt, i'll show it here too.  Barbara describes things so well, she writes:

Barkley's Birds, by Deb Rowden, 2005, Lawrence, Kansas, quilted by Lori Kukuk.

Deb took an old pattern named "Path Thru the Woods" or "Hill and Hollow" and added an applique border with birds inspired by antique quilts. Her dog, aptly named Barkley, loves to bark at the cardinals in her yard all winter.

For more about birds on antique quilts click here to see Julie Silber's blog entry for November 28th: "Birds on Quilts".

Deb again: do check out Julie's birds, she has the best quilts of all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Guest photo of an old face

Oh dear I've been trying to make this more tasteful lately but this newly-submitted photograph will put an end to that.

I enjoy referring to this as my personal newspaper (which shows my age). People who submit things for use in newspapers are called stringers (history lesson). Stringer Carol Jones took this picture on her iphone yesterday at stitch group and isn't it unique. Terry Thompson and I compete to buy these face potholders. Terry just snagged this one in Hutchinson.

It is one of the older ones I have seen. The very observant B Brackman noted it had to be after 1920 because of the colored thread.

We would hesitate to call it a beauty but I thought you might enjoy seeing it for yourself.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A red and white wedding gift

I like to get out my red and white quilts in December.

This one was given to me by my friend, Maxine Olson Burner. It comes with a sentimental story.

Maxine received this quilt in 1945 when she married First Lt. Sherman French. Maxine's mother asked a neighbor to make the wedding gift. Sherman, a pilot, flew into a typhoon near Iwo Jima and was declared missing in 1945, then officially dead one year later.  But our story has a happy ending. Maxine met Elton Burner several years later. They married in 1949 and were together until Elton died last year. Maxine's son Jeff had this quilt for a few years but when she found out he was using it for picnics, she took it back and gave it to me for safekeeping. And I'm keeping it safe.

This quilt measures 63" x 74". The pattern is similar to the Wheel of Time block (#1796, probably in Comfort magazine) in Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. There are 30 of these intricately pieced (the small triangles are only 3/4 inch long) blocks in the quilt, which is hand pieced and machine quilted.

Behind the scenes: Maxine called our house when my daughter Kate was little. Kate answered and reported "Backseat Burner" was on the line. "Everyone's favorite date!" declared my husband. We have called Maxine "Backseat" ever since, to her delight.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I decorate with quilts

I'm no Martha Stewart, for sure. Erma Bombeck is closer to my housekeeping and decorating style.

 But I do pull out some seasonal quilts to enjoy this time of year.

This is an oldie but goodie, one of my first garage sale finds. I bought it in the Broad Ripple neighborhood of  Indianapolis when we lived there in the mid-1980s. I loved it so much I added a border and backing. It's in fragile shape, with some shattered silks, but I love the vibrant colors. The block measures 19" x 19". Most of the year I store it carefully wrapped around a cardboard tube.....

We have some lovely photos of Christmases past, thanks to my dad's sister Marianne who kept them carefully in albums.  Here she is, posing in front of her Christmas tree in St. Louis in 1954.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Sougan

Time for another quilt.
We've been sleeping under this one all fall. I made it and it's a rarity for me because:
1. it is made out of all purchased quilt store fabrics.
2. it mostly follows a pattern with no improvisation.

I made it as a sample for a Sunflower Pattern Cooperative book, Calico Cowboys. We wanted to show another colorway, the quilt in the book is darker, with off-white stars. My brick fabrics are all flannels, as are the stars. The stars are appropriate: sougans are tied comforters used by cowboys camping on the range.

It measures 72" x 80", a nice fit for our queen-size bed. It was fun to make because it went together quickly. Lori Kukuk went wild with the quilting, it is gorgeous.

I appliqued my initials and the year onto the top before it was quilted, I wish I thought to do that on my quilts more often.

I'm reading the best book about cowboys and more now. It's Half Broke Horses, Jeannette Walls' new book. I'm having a hard time putting it down. Click on the book name above and you can see a video of Walls talking about the book!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Behind the scenes with the Tile Quilt Revival

We are all in for a treat soon. Our friends Carol Jones and Bobbi Finley have a new book that will be out in January. It's called Tile Quilt Revival: Reinventing a Forgotten Form. It's been fascinating to learn about this style of quilt and to try it myself. I made a small tile quilt and it will appear in the book gallery. And I can tell you a little about the author photo. We shot it a year ago when we were in Cleveland for the American Quilt Study Group conference. We were looking around town on a lovely fall afternoon and came upon this beautiful garden! The owners might be stockholders in a miracle grow product, we marveled at the very large and lovely plants. I shot this author photo of Carol (on the left) and Bobbi there. Aren't they cute?

If you can't wait until January to try a tile block, you're in luck. There is one to start on now in a special issue of Quiltmaker,  100 Blocks from Today's Top Designers, that should be on newsstands now. Their block is called Winding New Ways, it is block #3.

Here is my tile quilt. I used a drawing my daughter Kate made when she was 5. I've always loved it, Kate titled it Hot Mama. You can't improve on that name, can you?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

John Brown is Alive and Well Here

I read in this morning's New York Times that this is the 150th anniversary of John Brown's death by hanging on December 2, 1859. The author, David S. Reynolds of the CUNY, opines that John has been consigned to the loony bin of history.

One very good thing about living in Lawrence, Kansas is that history is quite lively and far from forgotten here. We remember John Brown's exploits often. We do know he was a wild man and did things that would get one into trouble.

To celebrate this, we drink a beer named after him! We wear t-shirts with his famous image (the original 18 1/2" x 29" mural "Tragic Prelude"  by artist John Steuart Curry (1937-1942) hangs in the Kansas State Capitol - they sell a poster of it there too). I have a car plate with his image on it.

Sports events between Missouri and Kansas teams are often referred to as border wars. At last year's basketball game, KU students unfurled a huge banner with John's famous image on it - clutching our national basketball title trophy in one hand.

To learn more about John Brown and form your own opinion, read Reynold's article. Is a pardon due?