Recently Barbara of Folkways Notebook [see side bar] showed some scarecrows which reminded me of this lady who might possibly have been called a scarecrow until she was disrobed about a month ago. For two years I've been passing her standing rather enigmatically in an untended lawn of a house that seemed occupied. She wore a skirt and blouse and a very long strand of plastic beads. Naturally the weathering she endured left her clothing in sad disarray and more and more tattered as seasons passed. But now, while her hair-do stands up to wind and rain far better than mine does, she reveals her severely anorexic body and I long to see her clothed again. I drive past her several times a week and keep an eye on her. I"m sure the house behind her is occupied but the occupants are not into gardening as nearly all of their neighbors are.
When quilting, everything takes longer than you think it's going to take. But this quilt is finally finished - except the label. I'm not sure what I'll name it. Those who look at this blog over a long period of time have seen all these stars before -- months ago. At last I'm glad to have it finished. I'm even wondering if there is a wall in my house wide open enough to hang it for a while. Perhaps ...
I truly loved using Carol Doak's paper pieced Mariner's Star patterns. And I loved choosing the colors, the specific fabrics for each star. I had a number of false starts. Even when I thought I was done I decided one star block just wasn't doing it for me and made another. It's the great variety of colors and fabrics that pleases me most. It was an exercise in color and mostly I'm pleased. So, hurray! On to the next.
[PS - changed the photo because I was able to have someone hold it up outdoors so I wouldn't have to stand on a stood and shoot it on the floor which inevitably distorts the dimensions.
My father died over 30 years ago. It was an unusual highway accident. About a year before my father-in-law had died in a freak accident. Since then I have believed firmly that accidents happen and there is absolutely no reason; they happen to good people who in no way cause those accidents. Both men died almost instantly. Both men had recently retired and were enjoying a more leisurely life than they had ever had before. Neither were very prosperous but both had sufficient income to feel comfortable with their means since neither lived in any way extravagantly and planned to continue their frugal lives with their wives of many, many years. They died too young, both in their early 60s and both healthy. Their widows were devastated but lived on within a community that supported them. I won't relate the accidents which were in no way their fault and could not have been avoided. Deaths at that age were not unusual, women often had examples in the community for how to cope with widowhood. And they did. Grown children were in the period of building their own careers and families and they did so.
My father had worked hard all his life. He stopped going to school after the 5th grade in order to be of use to his parents. He was the second of seven sons, of which only four lived to maturity and one of them died in his twenties of tuberculosis. He came of age in the Great Depression in a part of the country where being a farmer was a way of live where there was enough to eat. You and your wife had a garden, you had pigs and cows and chickens. Perhaps you did not have much else; but nobody around you had much either. There was no disgrace and, within the rural white Protestant community of the eastern Midwest where a couple of generations past the emigrant experience, not many set their sights on success beyond having a well tended farm and a decent house.
Many years later when I tried to explain to the a son of a European immigrant that my family did not teach me ambition, I was met with incomprehension. I believe my parents were content with what they had achieved; I believe they truly loved one another and their children -- although this particular one they did not understand. As one grows older, the maturation of the seeds of early lessons, especially the lessons of example, are seen in all their importance. My father and mother were honest people, they worked hard and they were content. There was no drama in my family, no alcoholics, no outlaws, no naked ambition, no raw sex, no aextremism of any sort. How very odd such a family seems today -- and what a gift to a child, even a somewhat rebellious child who had other ideas and wanted to leave, wanted to see the world, wanted to achieve a different kind of success. Their example, solidly American WASP, solidly Midwestern, strangely brings me closer to Buddhism than anything else they could have taught me. Ego was not very important and emotions were often repressed as if they were extraneous ... and often they are, it seems to me.
So on this Father's Day I remember my semi-illiterate father visiting me when I lived in a big house and had a big library of books. He chose to read what I remember as (incorrectly I think) J.W. Cash's Mind of the South. A book of literary criticism, a subject of which he knew nothing. I supposed "south" caught his attention. He read with his lips moving. It filled an hour or two of a dull afternoon. Had he had an education, been a different person in a different milieu, who might he have been? It doesn't matter. He was a good, honest man, he worked hard, he loved his wife and children, he died too soon.
Sharks don't inspire pity, as a rule, but this little sand shark, washed up on the beach and partly eaten has a very, very sad look on his face. I can imagine him as a wailing ghost haunting the seashore at midnight. It was a bad day for these little harmless fishies, there were two of them on today's walk.
On the other hand, my short drive to the beach has been glorious for a week or so since it's rhododendrun time here. This is just one home set behind it's riot of rhodies.
Stash busting is a major agenda item for the summer. So I pulled out a batch of blues -- light and dark and some in-betweens -- and started a quilt. I figured I'd make 6 inch blocks until I ran out of stuff that would work. I've got a light blue gingham [print not a woven one] and a dark blue that are the outer strips with three others inside. As you see in the picture. I really had no idea how big the quilt would become but thought it would probably be throw size.
So for four days I've been cutting and sewing in an ad lib sort of way. I really enjoy this, making decisions at almost every minute -- what will go next to what but within the general plan. If i get very philosophical, which is prone to happen when I'm sewing for a few hours I get philosophical. I see that I love freedom within a structure, that's the simplistic answer. It will do although I natter on in my head about how that's worked within my life and so on and so forth ... pretty boring to anyone but me.
So as of this afternoon I've got 72 6" squares, they've been ironed and neatly cut to exactly 6". So when they are sewn together they will be 5-1/2 inches. which will be a nice throw size quilt, considering that I will add at least 3 inches of border and I've decided to put about a 1 inch stripping between each square - which will be a rather deep crimson. This will cut the slightly cloying and monotonous blueness -- besides it will use up some red I'm happy to get out of the stash as well. There will be a semi-interesting back but I'm not dealing with that yet. In fact, at this point I'm setting this project aside to get on with putting together the multicolored paper pieced stars [Carol Doak patterns] that will be the show quilt I will have for the Bayberry Quilter's show in early August. More on that anon.
herefore the title, a WIP [work in progress] now on hold. I"m a Gemini, I like to work on more than one thing at a time. I get bored sticking to a single thing for too long. I have two other show quilts to work on as well, one small enough to take only two days the other problematic enough that I sometimes worry that I ought to throw in the towel on it. But I'm not ready to do that ... quite yet. More on that anon also.
The more things change the more they stay the same, or perhaps they inspire a counterrevolution. The magazine of the American Quilter's Society came a few days ago. I must congratulate the editors on their open minded approach. This national organization, headquartered in Padukah, Kentucky produces three [maybe four now?] big competitive shows a year. The winning quilts are somewhat "traditional" in style, that is to say they are not "art quilts". Rather they celebrate consummate skill by individual quilters. The July issue is fat with pictures of prize winning quilts. As I look through them I feel, as I've felt at quilt shows lately, that quilters aiming for prizes are making more and more baroque quilts. The complexity of design, quilting [whether hand, home machine or mid/long arm machine] is sometimes stunningly complex. Many are lavishly embellished with crystals, metallic threads, and three dimensional work. Near the front of the magazine is an article about a new nationwide quilt organization with local guilds called The Modern Quilt Guild. Go to their website themodernquiltguild.com. The photos on this post are by their members and give you an idea how UN-baroque they are. The pink is by Heather Jones and the green one is by Marylene Burns. These are young women, mostly in their 30s who have been quilting a short time in most cases. They chose to produce what they think of as a "modern" simplicity. Their quilts often use a great deal of white and solid color fabrics with extremely simple geometric designs. They seem popular with the shelter magazines for I have seen similar quilts both advertised and used in decorating rooms in such publications as Elle Decor.
I find this a refreshing change. I've been a watcher of changes in the quilt world since the early '70s. I am sometimes distressed by the "baroque" quilts although more often awed at the skill. I love the strong statements of these modern quilters. They remind me of my oldest books of "new quilts" that were printed in the '80s with strong designs not so very different. Didn't someone say "what goes around comes around"?
This strip quilt made a nice dent in the accumulation of pink and lilac fabrics I have and found rather blah. I like them better sewn together like this. For the base of the rectangular blocks I used drier sheets that I had accumulated for quite a few months [used less than 2/3rds actually. I had to press them as most were somewhat wrinkled. The scent is gone, at least as far as my nose can tell. The back also used up a couple of rather odd ball dotted fabrics, one blue with large yellow dots, the other a lot of close-packed pastel dots.
I'd like to make a few quilts about this size -- larger than crib size, suitable for a child's bed or as a throw. I'd like to continue the stash busting process for a bit. I've been cutting pieces today for a quilt that will take quite a few more than what I've cut so far. Before that one which will be a lot of small squares, I'll do a blue one of squares in squares -- perhaps some of the center squares will be rectangles and maybe even a few circles. I've got a lot of blues I'd like to make a dent in and after that there's green and then brown. I have these mental spells of ambition that do not always translate into action.
This little quiltie is about 11x11, it's for a swap. I am trying new things with each of the monthly "quiltie" swaps. In this case I finally cracked open the a box of watercolor crayons I purchased at a quilt show in March. Can't tell? No, but I can.
The background fabric was a decorator fabric swatch. The floral pattern was of the barely there sort, just hinted in very pale pastel. I attacked it with my crayons, following the lines already in place but deepening everything. Then I appplied the water and brushed it so that the crayon lines mostly disappeared into an impressionistic floral picture. It's much more interesting than originally.
Then, of course I added the embellishments: the two fused butterlflies, the purple flower shaped buttons and the two bees. Oh, and I didn't mention that I had quilted it onto thin cotton batting before starting this process. Then when I ironed the coloring to make it permanent, the typical quilted puffiness flattened, and even more so when I ironed on the butterflies. Lastly I added the border and backing which is another green print. My feeling is that it's on the blah side but I didn't want to add more embellishments. I wanted to suggest a quiet summer day with a faint drone of bees and maybe some crows in distant treetops and the sun on the flowers. It will be mailed to it's recipient tomorrow.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!