Category Archives: history

Posts with historical information or old materials, etc.

Some More

When I was in Cairns, Australia last summer, I bought these pants…

 

Actually, they’re not quite pants. They’re sort of a harem pants/skirt hybrid. Sometimes wearing them makes me feel like a genie, other times I feel like a total dork and can’t help but be reminded of Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed and her gaucho pants…but they’re not really gaucho pants either.

All that really matters in the end is that they are incredibly comfortable. They’re soft, swishy, and allow all the free leg movement of a skirt, but all the ‘coverage’ of pants (meaning I can bike in them, sit cross-legged, pop a headstand if I’m so inclined). I love them.

So this Saturday, while it thunderstormed outside my window, I decided to make some more of them.

I made a pair out of my Jay McCarroll Germania knit:

 

And another out of this fun, paint-swiped fabric that I bought at Mecca for approximately $2:

 

And then… I made three more.

 

It probably goes without saying that these are incredibly easy to reproduce. And I now have a lifetime’s (or close to a week’s) supply of genie pants. How marvelous.

Speaking of some more of a good thing, when I was put in charge of dessert for our Mother’s Day dinner, only one thing came to mind. Summertime meals in the Eccles family are all about outdoor grilling and this often followed by roasting marshmallows over the remaining coals. However, I decided to step it up a notch this time and make the s’more ingredients myself.

First, I whipped up a batch of graham crackers from this recipe. Quite easy and loaded with cinnamon:

 

Then I tackled the slightly more daunting task of homemade marshmallows.

Whenever I’m going to make a recipe that intimidates me, I read through it several times—often over the course of a few days—so I know exactly what to expect. This is helpful, but can also exaggerate the difficulty of the task. Making marshmallows did require some attentiveness—I diligently watched my thermometer for about 8 minutes until the sugar-water mixture was exactly 240 degrees—but it wasn’t rocket science.

And the result, if I do say so myself, was pretty divine:

 

Fluffy, sweet, soft…delicious. And even better when roasted.

 

In case you were wondering, you can also roast a marshmallow over a regular old candle. I may have experimented with this on Saturday afternoon—you know, just to be sure these babies were really truly marshmallows.

And while I bought Hershey’s Dark chocolate for the s’mores (I figured making 2 out of 3 of the ingredients was good enough), I did make some other chocolatey treats this weekend.

Friday was a crazy busy day at work, so by the time I got home I was craving some comfort food, nothing complicated or fancy. In fact, I really just wanted one flavor. The solution could only be chocolate pudding:

 

No words. Really, there are no words. All I can say is that whatever comes in those individual Jell-O cups is not even remotely the same dessert. Fresh, warm chocolate pudding is like eating a bowlful of the gooey middle of a piece of warm chocolate cake—which is the best part anyway (and we all know how I feel about warm chocolate cake). Oh, and if you’re thinking that warm chocolate pudding topped with roasted marshmallow would be as close as your taste buds can get to heaven, you’d be right…

My only two alterations to the recipe would be this: I found that I didn’t need to use a sift, and the only way this would amount to 5-6 servings was if you have the willpower of the gods.

I also made dark chocolate-covered espresso beans for my Dad’s birthday (which is today):

 

Basically, there’s always room for some more chocolate.

Progress on my latest quilting project has been a bit more modest. Those of you familiar with traditional patterns probably recognized my sketch of a Double Wedding Ring Quilt. Yes, I decided that in light of my recent engagement, I had to make one of these quilts—I’m an art historian at heart, after all, and I love the quilting tradition as much as I love its contemporary counterpart. I figured that using my own multi-colored dyed fabrics would allow me to put my personal stamp on it.

So far, I’ve managed to cut nearly all the necessary pieces:

 

But have only gotten through this much actual piecing:

 

Turns out, I’ve taken on a very ambitious project—methinks that this pattern was invented at a time when young brides-to-be had nothing to do but sew (hey, no judgment; I often wish I had nothing to do but sew). So far, the process is slow-going and finicky, but hopefully it will start to come a little more naturally. Either way, I’ve committed to this project and I’m determined to succeed. It will be hard work, but worth the effort—not unlike a successful marriage.

And if Kyle this quilt ever really starts to stress me out, at least I’ve got lots of leftover marshmallows and a bowlful of chocolate pudding in the fridge.

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Dressing like an Elf and Sewing in the Snow

Very often, people look at my outfits and say something along the lines of “I could never pull that off,” which is usually followed up by a quick, “but you definitely do.” Truth is, pulling something off is 95% about just wearing it. The other 5% is in enjoying the fact that you’re wearing it, embracing the bemused, surprised, admiring, or even bewildered looks that you may get. One of my most recent projects, velveteen patchwork pants, are good practice for this:

It’s probably worth noting that I’m fairly tall (5′ 11″) and long-legged, so these equally long pants stand out quite a bit, even more so than my usual colorful attire. But—and I know I say this about nearly everything I make but that’s the beauty of the homemade—I love them. They’re perfect for the holiday season, and wonderfully warm. This is the third pair of pants that I’ve made using very rudimentary self-made patterns (that consisted of one shape cut four ways) that looks roughly like this:

I realize it’s not a very sophisticated approach, but it works. One of these days, when I have more time to spare, I’ll probably try to figure out some slightly more subtle shaping—at the same time, I rather enjoy this straightforward approach. As if these weren’t eye-catching enough, I wound up with quite a bit of leftover fabric (discount fabric stores are deadly; I buy yards and yards when it only costs $1.99 a yard to begin with) so I decided to make a matching hat:

You should never be too cool or grown up to wear a Santa hat around the holidays, but naturally I couldn’t let mine be just any run-of-the-mill red-and-white version. I wouldn’t normally get too matchy and wear both the pants and hat at the same time, but sometimes the Christmas spirit is strong, and when you’re spending time with friends and family who know you well and love you unconditionally, why not?!? So yes, I wore them both together this past Sunday when Kyle and I went to pick out our Christmas tree at Wilson’s Farm and I think I was mistaken as a Christmas elf by one or two little children.

It also snowed this weekend, and it probably goes without saying that there are few things I love waking up to more on a December morning than a beautiful layer of the white stuff outside my window. There are many reasons for this, but one of the biggest is that a chilly, snow-covered day is the perfect excuse to stay inside and sew (not that I need excuses), which I did quite a bit of this past weekend as well. I was in the middle for something small but different, a new technique that would expand my sewing repertoire. Fortunately, I work for a quilting magazine (Quilting Arts Magazine, in case you’re a bit behind) and the newest publication to come out of our office, International Quilt Festival: Quilt Scene, is loaded with contemporary sewing techniques (I realize this is a bit of a shameless plug, but really, check out this magazine—I promise you won’t be disappointed!) One of them is a “Mini Hexagon Quilt,” by Malka Dubrawsky.

Remember that lovely antique beauty I bought at in Concord Center last year?

Well it planted the yearning to do some hexagon piecing of my own long ago, but I hadn’t found an appealing approach until I read (well, edited) Dubrawsky’s article which describes a machine piecing technique. Anyway, I made a mini hexagon quilt of my own:

It’s roughtly 12 by 18 inches. Most of my quilts thus far are large, functional bed quilts, so I was surprised and delighted by how much I loved doing this. Completing a quilt top in an afternoon? Fabulous. And I have more free wall space than bed/sofa space these days anyway. I can’t wait to quilt it, bind it, and hang it up.

This week’s nine-patch? Snow-inspired, but of course:

I’ve also come up with a quick-and-easy holiday fool that I thought I’d share. To me, white chocolate and cranberry is a distinctly Christmas flavor combination. It’s also delicious: super-sweet white chocolate and bitter cranberries balance each other out nicely. A mild whipped cream backdrop is just right.

White Chocolate and Cranberry Fool

1/4 cup milk

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups cranberries

16 oz. whipping cream


Warm the milk in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the white chocolate and stir until melted. Add the cranberries and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook until the cranberries have softened, about 5-8 minutes, stirring continuously. Immediately remove from heat and let cool completely but not too far past this point or the mixture will begin to firm up a bit. About one hour should do the trick.

Whip the cream (using a KitchenAid unless you are very patient/strong-armed) until it is thick and holds its shape as the whisk passes through. Fold the cranberry and white-chocolate mixture into the whipped cream and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or longer; I find overnight is best) before serving.

Truth be told, I most often eat my fool out of oversized mugs, but for a slightly classier affair, serving it in cocktail glasses is far more elegant.

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At Home and Down Under

Where to begin?

Let’s just say that the prospect of three quilting-free weeks has sent me into a patchwork frenzy- yes, even more so than usual. On Wednesday I leave for New Zealand and Australia and my only crafty companion will be my knitting, which is currently the Neutral Domino Scarf, already half complete:

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Since sewing projects don’t travel quite so easily I’ve made a particular effort to make some serious progress on my tablecloth and Essay Quilt. In terms of the former, I finished making all 45 of the nine-patch blocks and now just need to sew them together:

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As you can see, even when I try to infuse my typically improvisational work with a little bit of method, it manages to veer toward madness nonetheless. I’m fine with this. The navy blue squares don’t exactly hold it all together in the way I originally anticipated, but in the end I prefer this totally scattered, deeply patchworky look- at the very least, I’m resolved to the fact that my work is bound to be a bit more on the unstructured side of things! Even my adherence the red-blue-green-yellow palette turned out to be pretty loose.

As for the Essay Quilt, I managed to finish writing on all of the blocks and they too are now waiting to be joined together:

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Trust me, you don’t really know a fabric until you’ve tried writing on it. Not all are equally conducive to this: some were smooth against the pen while others caught on it endlessly and had to be held taught. Furthermore, I included some fabrics which are a little darker or more patterny so the writing doesn’t pop out quite as clearly. I’ve decided that these harder-to-read areas are equally intriguing, like little secrets embedded within the quilt. I’m sure I’ll forget what they say at some point, but I’ll always know that I’m intrigued by every passage that’s been written onto this quilt. Some of the quotations I found are seemingly random or just quirky and odd, while others are quite moving. There are even some that I don’t entirely agree with but included because they at least managed to get me thinking. I added a few books along the way, including D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love and The Rainbow, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Daniel Mason’s The Piano Tuner, and Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice. Here are a few random examples:

“As it is, we must hold to other things, because Death is coming. I love Death- not morbidly, but because He explains. He shows me the emptiness of money. Death and Money are the eternal foes. Not Death and Life.” (EM Forester, Howard’s End)

“I’ve spent so much time these last years wondering what I’m supposed to be… I’m just a slippery antevism– betwixt and between- a student on the ever-shifting border near the wonderful, terrifying new.” (Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love)

“This experience convinced me that there was something that I could do that was really worth while, and it I was not doing it justice by coming around with cameras and recording equipment, as I had on this trip. The Pygmies were more than curiosities to be filmed, and there music was more than a quaint sound to be put on records. They were a people who had found in the forest something that made their life more than just worth living, something that made it, with all its hardships and problems and tragedies, a wonderful thing full of joy and happiness and free of care.” (Colin Turnbull, The Forest People)

“In the fleeting seconds of final memory the images that will become Burma are the sun and a woman’s parasol.” (Daniel Mason, The Piano Tuner)

“Who turned on the lights? You did, by waking up: you flipped the light switch, started up the wind machine, kicked on the flywheel that spins the year. Can you catch hold of a treetop or will you fly off the diving planet as she rolls?” (Annie Dillard, An American Childhood)

In the end, this is really more of a Story than Essay Quilt, though it does combine both fact and fiction. Either way, it’s meant to capture the power of words in their written form, whatever the subject may be. Making this quilt has also given me the rare and wonderful opportunity to search through books that I have loved in the past and rediscovered the ways in which they touched me.

Aside from these more ‘typical’ patchworking endeavors, I’ve expanded beyond my usual interactions with fabric to create baskets. While in an antique store in Concord Center, I came across a woven fabric basket and, naturally, fell in love on the spot. It always seems silly to buy something that one could conceivably make on one’s own, so I took a picture and emailed my grandmother, who is both a quilt-making and basket-weaving expert. She replied that I had stumbled upon ‘rag baskets’ and explained that they are made using strips of fabric, coiling card, and sometimes hot glue. Between this email and some quick web-browsing, I came up with these:

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The first one is most truly a ‘rag’ basket since I only used strips of fabrics that I already had, but I bought some new fabrics for the second and third. I tried out different shapes and it’s hard to say which is my favorite, but I’m rather fond of the oval. Apparently rag baskets have been around for a long time and are a relatively well-known creation. I’d never seen them before, but I’m completely in love. They’re relatively easy, not too time-consuming, and wonderfully functional. It’s even sort of meditative work. My one struggle has been finding the coiling cord; I’ve been using rope from the hardware store instead which works just fine though it’s a little less malleable. Sadly, most of our local fabric stores are disappearing (I miss you Fabric Place!) so I may have to get this online.  

I strayed even farther from my typical craft endeavors this week with another little project. Part of the cleansing and cleaning of these past few weeks has been getting rid of the mounds of change that have accumulated in my room, primarily in a hollow ceramic pig. Before organizing my American coins into rolls, I separated out all the foreign/otherwise-interesting currency, only to discover that I had rupees, francs, Australian dollars and even a few coins from the Bahamas. (Since many of these coins are from places I’d never been, they must be hand-me-downs from my Dad’s business travels).  Anyway, I decided I should do something with these ‘special’ coins and as a sort of tester project, I came up with this:

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Coins seems to lend themselves to a mosaic-like setting, so I used an old wooden frame and some crazy glue (which is scary stuff, by the way) and arranged the coins inside. I was considering using it as a trivet but, as my mother pointed out, the coins themselves would get very hot. In the end, I may hang it on the wall of my new apartment; not everything has to be functional after all! I have many more coins (and my Dad just added to the collection since his return from China) so I’d like to make one larger one. Sorting through my collection, I’ve been rather surprised at how beautiful currency can be, including everything from pictures of sailboats to dragons and multi-colored metals. Blending them all together into a single piece feels like a hopeful gesture that brings these different locations and cultures a little closer together.

It’s no coincidence, of course, that the Australian dollar coin is in the middle; my mind has been very much on my approaching travels. However, at the same time, my heart is still rooted to home, especially given the patriotic aura of the 4th of July holiday weekend. Naturally, this week’s nine-patch is in honor of this day:

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I have also cheated a bit and made the next three weeks’ nine-patches ahead of time since, as much as I love quilting, I don’t want to lug my sewing and fabric supplies across the globe with me. One of these patches is a rather obvious tribute to the continent I will be visiting. The Australian flag is also red, white and blue so this patch might look a little familiar, but the central square is cut out of Australia from a fabric that shows a map of the world (the continent is actually labeled “New Holland” on this map; apparently that’s another name for Australia):

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The other two patches are in honor of two very important men in my life who will be accompanying me on this journey; my brother, Gordon, and boyfriend, Kyle. Gordon’s patch is a sort of mini-version of his plaid quilt, while Kyle’s uses the kinds of classic blue and striped fabrics that he tends to wear (basically, he balances out my proclivity for a wardrobe that is full of as much color and pattern as possible):

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My final patchworking project of the week is also in honor of both home and abroad, but above all else family. Encouraged by my last successful bread-making effort, I decided to try a recipe for Swedish Rye bread (­­­­also known as Limpa ) that has been in my family for many generations. I got the recipe from a book made for my mom by her mother, but it originally comes from her Swedish grandmother (Grandma Dahlberg) and therefore my great-great grandmother! My grandmother wrote the recipe out by hand in a beautiful recipe book so the whole bread-making process felt that much more intimate:

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It’s a very interesting recipe that calls for beer (though my great-great grandmother apparently didn’t use this), molasses and orange rind, and results in this lushly rich, dark brown bread that’s moist and delicious:

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One of the loaves is brushed with water and corn syrup for a softer crust which explains the color difference.  It’s an amazing feeling to carry on a tradition that has been passed down between the women in my family for so long. I can only hope that my own favorite recipes (not to mention my quilts) will one day wind up in the hands of my great-great granddaughter.

It is in this state, anchored to my home and family but excited to take in somewhere entirely new, that I leave for what is hopefully an amazing trip. Yet it goes without saying that my patchworking, in mind and in practice, is never far behind.

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Home is Where the Quilt Is

As anticipated, this has been a weak of cleansing. I’ve officially moved back home, cleaned and organized every inch of my bedroom. It’s an incredibly gratifying feeling. Of course, part of reintegrating myself into a new (well, not really new, but somewhat neglected) space and feeling settled involves surrounding myself with quilts/quilt-related objects. For instance, my bed-area is now a lovely conglomeration of patchwork items, including two quilts made by each of my grandmothers (one on the wall, one on the bed) and my own giant pillow:

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I also decided that the doorway to my bedroom should represent its inhabitant so, naturally, I covered it in quilts. Finally, I’ve put some of the weekly mini quilts to use!

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Which brings me to this week’s mini quilt (already hanging on my door).  In honor of this week’s cleansing return to my home, good old Wellington House (named in honor of its first owner in 1840, Augustus Wellington), this week’s mini-quilt is of my house:

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Per usual, I took the scrappy approach, no measuring involved. This explains the slanted, ramshackle look. But this piecemeal approach also gives the quilt character and, believe me, my house has lots of character.

I didn’t anticipate having much time to quilt while performing what felt like a total overhaul on my living space. I’m pleased to report that I was wrong. In fact, life these days has consisted of a lovely balance of practical and pleasurable; mornings spent quilting, afternoons spent cleaning.  The result? I finished piecing together all of the 35 squares for my Essay Quilt and have written on six of them!

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I have to admit, I’m not used to my quilting time consisting of a sharpie pen and piles of books, but I love it just the same (I’m also undertaking numerous side projects that enable me to get my sewing fix). I love flipping through good books and picking out random passages. Sometimes they’re meaningful, other times just interesting or odd, even funny. So far, these are the books I’ve chosen from:

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The Forest People and The Mountain People by Collin Turnbull, The Red Queen by Matt Ridley, What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula, Howards End by E.M. Forster, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, An American Childhood by Annie Dillard, Quilting Lessons by Janet Catherine Berlo, and Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar. These selections have a lot to do with availability, books that I could actually track down, which means many of them are relatively recent reads. Though at first I was going to stick to non-fiction, I couldn’t resist sneaking in Howard’s End and thus Water for Elephants was also admitted. The Red Queen might seem like an odd choice (it’s about the evolutionary history of sexuality) but you’d be surprised by the fascinating passages imbedded in there. A couple of the books reveal my flirtation with Eastern philosophy. I hesitated about letting in Eat, Pray, Love since it’s a little trendy, but I can’t deny that Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey truly struck a chord the first time I read it. I also wasn’t sure about Quilting Lessons since I thought a book about quilting was rather obvious, but in the end it was too good to resist. I may add more, but for now this is what I’m working with.

This ‘pleasurable’ time also involves relaxing evenings of wine and movies… and thus plenty of knitting. I tried to sway myself into an entirely new project, but domino knitting has a strong hold on me right now. So, I put my brother’s fabulous graduation gift (a gift certificate to Woolcott & Co.) to good use and bought every shade of brown, grey, white and black Cascade that I could find. The Neutral Domino Stole has begun. However, I couldn’t make it too neutral so I’m spicing things up a bit with differently-patterned squares. Some are solid or done in garter stitch, some have thinner or thicker stripes. I’m keeping things interesting:

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Now, I pretty much always use circular knitting needles regardless of the size of the project. I find your work is much less likely to slide off in transportation and by now my hands are so used to the way they feel, straight needles are slightly awkward. So imagine my utter delight upon receiving my grandmother’s graduation gift of Denise Interchangeable Knitting Needles:

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These are simply brilliant. I tend to be behind the times on fancy knitting gear (I spend enough money on yarn alone) but did anyone else know that these exist?!? You chose which size needle you want, then snap on the cord in between, choosing from multiple lengths. Like I said, brilliant. Of course, I’ve been using these (with the smallest cord insert) on the Neutral Domino Stole, therefore putting both graduation gifts to good use at once. Another long, companion project has begun.

Though Welllington House is and always will be my number one home (since I was around eight months old), I’ve also been looking for an apartment starting in the fall. Lexington is wonderful, but it’s also great to have somewhere right on the T and close to downtown Boston (Davis Square is our current goal). This means that part of my home cleanse has involved raiding the family basement for old dishes, cookware, tablecloths, etc. for furnishing my own place. I’m ending up with a wonderful patchwork of items such as random mismatched coffee mugs and napkins. I’ve also uncovered a few treasures and so far these top the list:

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My heart basically skipped a beat when I saw these beautiful quilted placemats made by my grandmother! They’re exactly the sort of thing I want in my own home, even better that they come from family and already have a history of their own. I can’t wait to decorate a kitchen around their lovely blue and red hues. Basically, whenever and however I can integrate patchwork into the space around me, I feel at right at home.

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To Tassel or Not to Tassel

It turns out that when you graduate from Harvard, you spend $40 renting your Commencement ensemble (which, you are informed, will stain your clothing  if it starts to rain) and all you get to keep is your cap and tassel. I’m not really complaining; black isn’t my color so I certainly wouldn’t find much use for the gown. And the cap actually makes for a funny little souvenir. Since this past week was completely taken over by my college graduation (quite literally; Harvard Commencement involves several full days of activities) I couldn’t quilt about anything else. This week’s mini quilt is therefore an hommage to this rather momentous occasion:

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Personally, I wouldn’t have minded a little more color in our graduation ensembles (a touch of crimson would have made sense) so I made up for it with my colorful graduation cap quilt. To make the tassel, I followed the instructions in Vivian Hoxbro’s “Knit to Be Square,” since the giant scarf that I’m making actually calls for two tassels on either end. This brings me to my latest patchworking dilmena. Somewhat shockingly, even for me, I have completed my scarf already. It’s amazing how a few minutes here and there can accumulate to some seirous productivity. However, now I can’t decide if I’ll add the tassels or not.

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I haven’t been so excited by a new knitting technique in quite some time, nor have I been so pleased with a finished product. At first I was a little nervous because after spending what felt like forever knitting four rows of ribbing on the 900+ stitches that I picked up around the edge (using six sets of circular needles), the scarf seemed to curve in a bit around the edges. But what a difference a good blocking makes! I laid it out yesterday and let it try out tonight; this morning, my lovely scarf (its really more of a scarf/blanket hybrid) lies perfectly flat. Yet, like I said, I can’t decide about the tassels. It hardly needs more embellishment on top of all these wonderful and randomly assorted colors. What I do know is that I’m in love with Domino Knitting and I’m not done with it yet. I’m planning on a ‘neutral’ version of the scarf, maybe trying out a hat. Being out of the dorm and back home means 5 o’clock happy hour and therefore lots of time for knitting…

Now, I’ve hardly lost interest in my quilting but I have to admit that amidst all the graduation madness, followed by the equally time-consuming process of moving out of the dorm and back into my room, no significant progress has been made on my Essay Quilt. This may be the case for another week or so as I attempt to organize my life (it’s easier to fit in knitting since it’s portable and more conducive to doing little bits at a time). Fortunately, my love of quilts has been satisfied in another way this past week. My Grandma Kay gave me the best possible type of graduation gift. I’m sure you can guess what it is.

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It’s a sample quilt made of different types of blocks, each one meaningful with regards to our relationship. I don’t remember all of their formal names, but the upper central block depicts waves which represent our trips of Sanibel Island, Florida. I believe the upper right block is called Grandmother’s Fan, whose meaning is pretty self-explanatory. The middle right block is Around the World, the pattern of the quilt she gave me my freshman year of college. I can’t remember the name of the middle left square but it’s in honor of my fondness for color. Some of the other squares are related to my own patchworking projects (grandma is a faithful follower of my blog) such as the flannel square, the Log Cabin, the patchy upper left block and the central blockwhich stands for my entrelac scarves.

I can’t think of a more touching gift to receive on the day that marks such a huge shift in my life and my entry into ‘the real world.’ It’s an honor to have these aspects of my life captured on a quilt, a beautiful reminder of both my grandmother and myself conveyed through my favorite medium. I also love it, quite simply, for aesthetic reasons, the contrast and compliment between the ‘mismatched’ blocks. Yet another method to incorporate into my own patchworking at some point in the near future. So you see, even when I can’t fit in the time for my own quilt-making (though I’ll admit a one-week break is hardly momentous), quilts are never far from my heart.

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Marking Milestones

Quilts store memories. They’re in the fabric, the pattern and the time that goes into each little stitch. This natural characteristic can be taken advantage of and some quilts hold even more memories than others. For instance, the little quilt I made for my parents’ 25th Wedding Anniversary which my family celebrated by spending Saturday night at the Boston Harbor Hotel and dining out at Hamersley’s Bistro in the South End (this restaurant’s card made it into the billboard quilt for sure, it was fabulous: http://www.hamersleysbistro.com/home/). The quilt is composed of 25 squares, naturally, on which my siblings and I wrote our fondest childhood memories. It was hard to choose- from summers at Wingersheek beach to Drumlin Farm and reading Twas the Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve. The result: a quilted container of our parents’ 25 years together (or at least the bit that we have been a part of)!

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Let’s just say the majority of my peers aren’t hardcore quilters so this was a fun way to get in some communal quilting- having my brother and sisters over to the dorm to write out their memories, ending up with something we all pitched in to create. Yet another wonderful thing about quilts; they bring people together. This was my first time putting pen to fabric for a quilt (good old black Sharpie) and I like the look- especially how the combination of hand writings really capture each person’s own recollections. I’d actually consider doing something similar on a larger scale. And I’m very fond of quilted ties these days (here I used bright orange to match the back fabric); I may have to use them on my Log Cabin with a Twist Quilt.

I almost let this count as this week’s mini quilt but then I realized that Sunday was Easter. My family never neglects the holidays, even if we celebrate them in a low-key way (this year we spent the day napping, cooking, and in my case quilting). Easter always has such a hopeful undertone, the promise of a fresh springtime beginning. I simply couldn’t pass up the chance to make an Easter Egg Quilt!

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I’ve always wanted to try making a quilt with curved borders. These ones aren’t particularly well-done and I certainly need more practice (there’s probably a more refined technique that I’m not aware of) but it’s not bad for a first shot.

So it was one of those weekends- celebrating milestone, new beginnings and hopefully the approach of Spring. How lovely to have it all captured in quilts.

 

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Filed under history, quilting

…but Bigger can be Better!

A marvelous ad dition has been made to my quilt collection. This patchwork masterpiece one is truly exceptional. It embodies everything I love most about quilts. First of all, it was made by my grandmother, and I love how quilt’s offer a sense of history and family ties, how they’re passed down through the generations (the quilts themselves as well as the love of quilting which I clearly inherited)! Then there’s the fact that it’s made from scrap fabrics- and it’s just stunning. Sometimes I feel like those are the best quilts, the ones where you’re making the most of what you’ve got, and as a result end up with the most unexpected combinations. Finally, this quilt is huge, easily king-sized. As I pulled it out of of the big brown cardboard box that my grandmother shipped it in, my breath was simply taken away. And my first instinct was to wrap it around myself- exactly the impulse a quilt should encourage! Naturally, getting it all in one photo was no easy task but I took a few shots to try to capture as much as possible:

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I love the star design, all the contrasting colors and patterns. I even recognize some of the fabrics from quilts my grandmother made for me and my siblings when we were younger. It’s a little hard to see but there’s also a lovely, simple  border of strips around the edge. Of course, I emailed my grandmother instantly to learn more about the story behind this one and she described the quilt-making process so wonderfully, I’m going to quote her directly:

Yes, I  made it several years ago from scraps I had when I was heavily into quilting and learning to do paper-piecing.  On this particular quilt I was working on joining the points on stars.  I always make my quilts long enough to go all the way to the floor, so they are comfortable as a comforter on top of a blanket.  Sometimes this means adding two to three more rows of Seminole edging, or whatever pattern grabs me at the time. This also adds length so they easily cover the pillows when the bed is made and covers your toes when you’re sleeping.  Also, I seldom back my quilts in white, because I like the contrast pattern when the quilt is turned down.  Quilts are so open to whatever strikes your fancy at a particular time. As you use them and look back at all the memories of fabric and pattern selection, it’s like you just made it.

That pretty much sums up all that I love and admire about quilts- that they should be large and comfortable and full of memory. Clearly, I’m inspired. And apparently this quilt gave me the motivation to finish the top of my Log Cabin with a Twist quilt. Let’s just say I spent my Sunday churning out log cabin squares, and all of Monday morning piecing the different blocks together. I just lost myself in a quilt-making rhythm, totally absorbed and loving every second of it. Upon finishing the original design, however, I realized that it wasn’t quite long enough- and my grandmother’s words about a quilt covering your toes while sleeping were reverberating in my mind! So I added a simple square border to the top and bottom. Now it drapes beautifully over all sides of the bed. Once again, it was hard to capture in one shot but I did my best to get a few different angles:

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I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. The juxtaposition of circular and geometric motifs is precisely what I’d imagined. And thanks to my grandmother, it’s just a little bit bigger- which I’m sure will make it that much better. Of course, it’s not ready to be slept under quite yet. I’m awaiting the delivery of some flannel fabrics for the back. Which means I found myself with a few free hours yesterday afternoon, and not wanting to start on my next big quilting project quite yet, I continued my log cabin obsession on a slightly smaller scale- proving that bigger isn’t always better, as is the case with this 16 inch pillow:

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I dug into my (ever-diminishing) fabric stash for this one and pulled out my soft flannels and corduroys so it’s soft and homey. I like the contrast between the patterns, and between the front log cabin square and simple patchwork back. And, since I’m all about spreading the joy of patchwork, this is on sale in my Etsy store!

With my Log Cabin with a Twist quilt at least nearing  completion (never underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete the final stages) I’m getting ready for my next full-size quilt. I’m even considering working on two at once- yes, this my idea of Senior Spring heaven! One will be using the antique fabrics that I got for my birthday- old feed sacks that are still in their original bag-like form. I’m in a quilting frenzy these days and it’s no exaggeration to say I fell asleep last night contemplating different designs- since these fabrics are remarkable enough on their own, I’m imagining something simple… I’m a little indecisive, but confident that I’ll know when I’ve found the perfect design! That’s another wonderful thing about quilts; when they hit the spot, there’s no doubt about it.

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Filed under history, quilting