Quilting, Farming, Variety

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quilt Beginnings, part 2

Another repost:

When Mama retired from the job in town, I got to spend more time with her. My husband and girls were back in school so I would go over, spend a few hours quilting with her, and eat the wonderful meal she always prepared; delicious, baked sweet potatoes were always waiting for me. I knew my stitches were not as neat and tidy as hers, even though her fingers were knotted from arthritis. She never complained about my stitches, but rather encouraged me to continue.

By this time she was entering quilts in the county fair and most always won blue ribbons. One of the most tedious tops she pieced was called Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors. It was made from melon shaped pieces, each one from a different fabric. Can’t you just imagine what a chore it must have been to get perfect points where those melons joined? She had developed her own technique of using a little gathering thread to draw them together. This is a picture of one of her Joseph’s Coats.

Now I had pieced a few tops myself and did machine quilting but was never really pleased with the stitching on them. I believe the first top I pieced was a Drunkard’s Path; I was a teenager at the time. Each block was made from a different print and the solid parts were made from feed sacks that had been dyed a light blue. That quilt, all faded and tattered, is now in my husband’s tool shed, used to cover things in cold weather. I went on to more difficult patterns such as the Double Wedding Ring, made from scraps given to me by my husband’s grandmother. It became one of the first quilts I quilted by hand.

Daddy made some quilting frames for me and soon I was laying out lining, batting and top on the carpet, pinning and rolling it all up. That was such a chore for me and became even worse as I aged. So, sometime back, my husband made some new frames for me; they have three rollers and now I can put up a quilt in a jiffy, by myself, standing up, and the whole thing is neater and smoother.

These are my frames: no fancy additions, just very workable; also a nice cabinet for storing completed quilts and tops. (The quilt is called String Bars, from the book, Liberated String Quilts by Gwen Marston.) I'll have to learn how to put the pictures in the right place. For some reason they want to load in front of the script.

This is my sewing area, with cabinets also made by my husband, from oak harvested from our own land. It was supposed to have doors on the upper shelves, but I’ve come to like the open look. My machine is a simple Singer; I like the control I have over the speed but it drives me nuts when it comes to unthreading the needle unless I have the needle positioned to come down before cutting the thread.

Next post I will continue the quilting saga. Have a good day!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quilt Beginnings

We are in the process of setting up a new computer; I don't have access to my pictures yet, so this is a repost

It seems, had I been born in the winter, I would have been born under a quilt in frames hanging from the ceiling. That's how quilting memories began for me. Mama's frames were four simple wooden strips, held together at the corners with nails and hung from the ceiling with cords. As she progressed with the stitching, the nails were taken out of the holes in the corners, the strips rolled, and the nails replaced. At night, when we were all inside the small room, the cords were wrapped around the ends of the strips and the quilt was raised high enough for us to walk under. If time permitted, the quilt was let down the next day and stitching started again. My aunt came on some days, and her little boy and I played under the quilt while they stitched; the room was so small there wasn't anywhere else to play. I'm sure we caused many a finger to be stuck with the needle when we stood up and shook the quilt.
Mama started quilting at an early age. I have a postcard on which she wrote, when she was a teen, "I have quilted three quilts this winter." Off and on, as I grew up, she pieced tops, but it wasn't until she retired from her "town" job that quilting really became a passion of hers. She made one quilt after another, and soon began selling them. Some went to states far away. When her heart began giving her trouble, and the doctor told her not to do anything, she gave up quilting the tops; however, the morning after she passed away, we found a little basket of blocks she had been working on, at the end of the couch.

So, it's no wonder that I took up quilting. I don't claim to be a wonderful quilter; I see all my mistakes. I especially enjoy making scrap and string quilts because of the great color variations. I make all sizes: bed quilts, baby quilts, and doll quilts.

The picture is my second attempt at making a doll quilt which I gave to my granddaughter, Lily. I will post about others in coming days.

Have a good day! Charlotte

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgivings Past

As Thanksgiving approaches, I always remember the way my family spent the day. I don't remember eating turkey, probably until I was in junior high school, and that would have been at school. And I don't remember ever having beef of any kind except an occasional hamburger at town, until Mama took a job in town in the early 50s, but we did have pork. The day of butchering was usually on Thanksgiving. This is a story of the day the hog was butchered; if you're squeamish, don't read.

...As Thanksgiving Day approached, Wanda was glad to have a few days off from school. One night at supper she said, "We had turkey and dressing for dinner today. Boy it was good!"

"What's a turkey taste like?" asked Charlotte. "A turkey tastes sorta like a big 'ol baked hen. You probably wouldn't eat it though; you won't eat anything," said Wanda. Charlotte was tired of the plain meals they had to have now. All the fryers had been used; there had been very little fresh meat to eat with the vegetables since then. Now and then Daddy brought home a squirrel for Mama to fry, but there wasn't much of it and sometimes it was tough to chew. "If the weather stays this cold, we'll kill hogs on Thanksgiving Day," said Daddy.
On Thanksgiving morning everything was white with frost, the skies were clear, so Daddy got ready to butcher the hog. He built a fire under the big iron wash pots and the water in them soon began to boil. Uncle Dewey came to help kill the hog and hang it; they filled buckets with the boiling water and poured it over the hog, then took their sharp butcher knives and scrapped the hair off the hog, and dressed the meat into various cuts: shoulders, bacon slabs, tenderloin, backbone, and hams.

Mama and Aunt Leola rubbed the hams, one shoulder, and the bacon slabs with a mixture of salt and sugar. It would preserve the meat and help keep flies off if the weather turned warmer. Daddy took the pieces to the smokehouse and hung them from the rafters with strings of wire. The next day Mama would put the meat from the other shoulder through the meat grinder, add salt, pepper, and sage and shape it into sausage patties. Then she would fry them and can them in her pressure cooker. Now there would be meat to last until spring. The little scraps of fat would be cooked until they were crisp and the liquid (lard) was poured off to be used in cooking.

Charlotte felt content tonight; the lamp flickered and cast familiar shadows on the walls. She and Wanda brought their flannel gowns to the heater to warm them, then dashed into the cold north room and snuggled down into the feather bed. Mama pulled the blanket and quilts up over them, kissed them both and said, "Sweet dreams, girls."

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! Charlotte

As a child, I was very finicky about what I ate and I remain the type who eats to live rather than living to eat. The meat from the backbone, boiled, was always my favorite; better than any turkey!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Little Things Stuffed Away

Sometimes it's nice to find a box or jar, filled with little things I've stuffed away, and spill them out for a look. For instance, this jar held marbles from my childhood, jacks, a rolling pin from my girls' play set, a little top from an unknown source, and a sweet, tiny doll in a little metal bed.

This old canning jar was filled with antique sewing supplies: wooden spools still holding thread, several packages of needles, old buttons and thimbles, wooden cases filled with machine needles, small balls of crochet thread, and two, slighted rusty crochet hooks. Don't you wonder what was made with these items?

Do you stuff things away?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

From a Basket of Strings

Another little doll quilt, made from strings thrown into a basket, set off by red strips and an antique button in the middle.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tumbling Blocks

Dixie, from MAIDA Today, invited us to enter a doll quilt we had made, to share with readers. This is my entry, Tumbling Blocks; hand pieced blocks, appliqued onto the background, and hand quilted. It measures 17" x 20", a good size to cover a doll.

I'm showing this one just for you: Scrappy Spools, hand pieced and hand quilted.

I like to make my doll quilts by traditional patterns if possible; patterns that one might find on a big bed.

Enjoy, Charlotte

Friday, November 11, 2011

Porch Prayer

This was sent to me in an email and thought it worth sharing:

There was a little old lady, who every morning stepped onto her front
porch, raised her arms to the sky, and shouted: 'PRAISE THE LORD!'
One day an atheist moved into the house next door. He became irritated at the little
old lady. Every morning he'd step onto his front porch after her and yell: 'THERE IS NO LORD!'
Time passed with the two of them carrying on this way every day .
One morning, in the middle of winter, the little old lady stepped onto
her front porch and shouted: 'PRAISE THE LORD! Please Lord, I have no
food and I am starving, provide for me, oh Lord!
The next morning she stepped out onto her porch and there were
two huge bags of groceries sitting there.
The atheist neighbor jumped out of the hedges and shouted:
The little old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shall We Call It "Charlotte's Web"?

This is my next quilting project, a string spider web, now known as Charlotte's web. The top has been pieced for a long time and since I'm trying to get caught up on works in progress I thought it would be a good thing to work on this winter. I'm in no hurry to get it done; will just take it as it comes. However, the chickens will go out next week, and most growers are being out longer now, so I may get a lot done (if my shoulders can hold out for the few days left working in the chickens; after all, the shoulders are on an old woman and the work is beginning to drag me down somewhat, as bad as I hate to admit it).

Getting a quilt top in the frames is no quick fix; I've worked on the lining all afternoon and hope tonight I can finish putting the batting and the top onto the frames. The batting is cotton; I'm sure I haven't used cotton batting in at least 49 years when I made quilts for my first little baby girl. It feels like a soft warm blanket, so with the top and lining it should be a nice quilt.

There is still a certain doll that needs to be finished and dressed too; she just keeps getting pushed aside. Remember the one with the black eyes?


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What Is It?

Do any of you blogging friends know what this little glass object is called? At first I thought it was made to hold a pincushion because I had seen something similar in a quilting magazine, and it was obviously made to hold something. Could it be a salt cellar? The salt cellars I viewed online were a lot larger than this. It looks like something that came in Quacker Oatmeal as a premium. Or, is it just an ordinary "what-not'?

This was the view from our back porch this morning. Around noon it started to rain; we got three inches by the time it was over. That's the most we had had since the end of May. Now the pond is finally full. The tree colors must be at their peak.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


We attend church in a small assembly; twenty faithful people most Sundays. Sometimes it's a struggle for me to go, to be among people. We're always greeted at the door with multiple handshakes. The services are simple; no need for a Power Point screen to be lowered in front of us with the notes and words of hymns, really no need for hymnals, for in my case, the words of these songs have been written in my heart a long, long time.

Amazing grace - how sweet the sound - ...

Rock of ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee ...

Wonderful story of love: tell it to me again ...

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus, sing His mercy and His grace ...

The words slip from my tongue in praise; they come natural and I feel the presence of God in them.

Blessings, Charlotte

Friday, November 4, 2011


Are you old enough to know about what-nots? That's what we used to call little ceramic or glass figures (aka dust collectors). You may recall your grandmother having a collection of these little objects sitting on a table or shelf, or maybe on a corner rack such as this:

This one is filled with my collection of little what-not piggies.

I just happened to think of the word "what-nots" this morning and wondered if anyone uses it anymore. Do you have what-nots and if so, how do you display them?


Thursday, November 3, 2011

To Market, To Market

The truck rolled onto the farm this morning before daylight to pick up our calves to take to market.

We took out a few replacement heifers and left these to sell. Clouds began rolling in before we finished sorting and feeding them, and rain fell during the night. There's always a sense of pride in sending off good calves, but a little sadness too. Mead, my bottle calf, got to stay here this time; before he goes I'll have a talk with him about greener pastures, but leave out the part about the future. sniff, sniff, Charlotte

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Hunt

It was beginning to seem more like winter every day. The white oak had lost most of its leaves and on some mornings the chickens' watering pans were covered with a thin layer of ice. Old Pudge, the hunting dog, lay curled up in a ball next to the back door, out of the wind. The air had the smell of wood smoke coming from the pot-bellied heating stove.
Daddy started hunting at night now. He took down the carbide lamp, cleaned it, and filled it halfway with small gray carbide pellets. When he added water, the pellets sizzled inside the lamp, forming a gas that ignited when he put a match to it. He clipped the lamp to his cap and it gave enough light for him to see how to get through the woods.

Pudge wagged his tail and barked, excited to be going on a chase. He was a fine dog; Daddy had been offered $100 for him, but good coon dogs were hard to find. A good dog meant there would be more hides to sell; 35 cents for opossum hides, and skunk hides brought $1.00 each. Raccoons were the animals Daddy liked best to hunt because their hides brought $2.00 to $3.00 each.

Uncle Dewey came after dark with his hounds and the two men left, the dogs straining at their leashes, eager to be freed. At the foot of Turkey Mountain, Pudge picked up a coon's trail. He let out a shrill bark and Daddy turned him loose. The men walked carefully through the thick undergrowth of briers and vines. They heard the dogs in the distance. Daddy recognized Pudge's bark; he was treed!

When Daddy and Uncle Dewey reached the dogs, they were barking with every breath, at the base of a big sweet gum tree, and clawing, trying to get to the animal overhead. Daddy aimed the light from the carbide lamp up into the branches of the tree; the animal turned one eye to the light. "It's a coon alright! A coon will always turn one eye to the light! Get him Pudge!"

He raised the gun to his shoulder, took aim, and fired. The coon ran to the other side of the tree and jumped. He ran; the dogs gave chase again, hot on his trail! The coon took refuge under a rock ledge along the creek. "I believe we've lost this one; we might as well head on back home."

The next morning, Daddy skinned the two opossums he had killed the night before. He stretched the hides over boards and hung them on the wall of the smokehouse to dry. Two hides meant only seventy-five cents, but the excitement of the hunt had been worth much more.

Daddy and the hunting dogs

Thank you for the comments you have made about my stories. Some have suggested that I put them in a book. Well, actually, they are from a book I wrote for my grandchildren, titled, "In the Shade of the White Oak". I wanted the kids to know what life was like for us in the 40s and early 50s, the first ten years of my life. Right now they aren't too interested in the stories; older people, who remember these things, have seemed to enjoy it though. Other parts from the book may be found under the label "family". Charlotte