Quilting, Farming, Variety

Monday, December 31, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR ```and Thank You

Peace, goodwill, and happiness to You and Yours
As this year ends, I want to thank all my blogging friends who stop by to read about my simple, everyday  life, and leave encouraging comments.  And please know how much I enjoy reading your words of inspiration, whether they be in poems or journals or words from the Bible;  the works of your hands: dolls, needlework and quilts; your wonderful pictures of sunsets, barns, flowers and woodlands; trips to thrift stores, your collections, and places I'll never see.
God bless,

Thursday, December 20, 2012


from the farmer and me.
May the season be bright with the spirit of Christmas.
No snow here, but we did have some rain last night, much needed rain, and today the wind is howling from the west, so we know winter is coming tomorrow.
I finally got the Christmas tree put up, fake branches fluffed out and old decorations hung around it.  But this year it has a little something special added:
a circa 1940 train set,
with signal lights and barriers.  I added three little village buildings, a fence with cattle, trees, and children playing in the snow.  Can't you almost hear the train whistle as it rolls through the countryside?
There is a story about this train, similar to the story of the country mouse and the city mouse.  When the farmer was a boy, and the fields along the creeks were plowed each spring for crops, he and his brother could always find really nice arrowheads in the turned dirt.  They saved them until there was a small bucketful.  Meanwhile, their city cousin had this train that he no longer played with, and when he saw the arrowheads he suggested that they could be traded to him in exchange for the train.  It seemed to be a wonderful idea to two country boys who had only dreamed of ever having a train set!  So, the trade was made, and I can only imagine the hours of fun they had with the train.
The farmer looks back now and thinks it might not have been such a good trade on their part, but I'm glad he has the train.  Of course the electrical part doesn't work anymore but it's a great connection to his boyhood and I'm glad he brought it out of storage for our Christmas.  But -- don't tell the American Pickers we have it!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Maybe you can help me

decide what to do with this quilted piece:

Are you familiar with whole cloth quilting?

Whole cloth quilts are created from one single piece of fabric; unlike patchwork, a whole cloth quilt is not pieced at all.  The design across the surface is made entirely from quilting stitches.
They were traditionally made by women who had money enough to purchase wide pieces of fabric.
From Day Style Designs, "This really is an amazing quilting style that deserves a try at least once in your quilting journey."
O.k.  Now I don't know what to do with it since it is only about a fourth of a quilt top.  It makes me think of a recipe: I've tried it; don't care for it; won't do it again.
But, it was too much work to throw out; any suggestions as to a use for it?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Doll Quilt

My latest finished doll quilt, in the traditional Courthouse Steps pattern.
Paper pieced and hand quilted
Approximately 16 inches square
I'm slowly making progress on the works in progress list.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Time For Santa Letters...

and it seems Santa is already busy, reading and filling those requests.  Our local paper tells us, "Kids, it's time to start making those lists and getting those Santa letters in so they can be published and Santa and his helpers will have plenty of time to start filling those Christmas orders."
I don't remember writing letters to Santa, but I think I will write one now:
Dear Santa Claus,  I know you read my blog; I've seen you sitting at the computer, smiling at my words and stories, my Christmas memories of years gone by when five dollars worth of presents were under the tree for me.  My how times have changed!
I have tried to be good this year, with the exception of my yelling at the abandoned dogs, and in spite of my "old" age, I've continued to do my share of the farm work and  gave of my quilting time to open and close gates and shuttle the farmer back and forth between tractors while we feed cattle.
I'm not asking for big things, nor things that money can buy;  I already have plenty of "stuff".  Instead I'm asking for things that come with the price of that precious possession you have, called TIME.  So, here is my list: 1)Trim around the window and door in the bathroom; it's already painted. 2)Hang curtain rods and the little shelf in my bedroom. 3)Put glides on my closet doors; they've been swinging for three years now. 4)This request could cost money: either fix the potty or buy a new one to stop the screaming it makes when flushed! 5)How about a trellis for the clematis vine?  The lattice board was bought years ago.  I won't ask that you paint the bedroom because I know you don't like to paint.
Now Santa, if you don't have time or energy to spend on doing these things, perhaps you know of an elf who would.  Since you don't eat many cookies anymore, how about a baked sweet potato?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December ~~ Little Quilt

December's little quilt is actually a little quilted wallhanging, made up in redwork embroidery and patchwork.
Designed by Cindy Taylor Oates, the pattern was featured in the December, 1999 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.
Another of my works in progress, finally finished.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Kitchen Quilts

Perhaps the fact that I grew up in a home where every penny was pinched is the reason I like to take care of the things I have.  I guess we always knew that once we got something nice we'd better take care of it, because it might be a long time, or never, before another could be bought to replace it.

So, even though the saleslady said the table had a tough finish on it, one that could withstand hot bowls and scratches, I still felt better to put some sort of protection under them, and a lot of the time that protection came in the form of a magazine which was close by.

When the December, 2001, issue of American Patchwork and Quilting came, there was an article about kitchen quilts, another name for the ordinary potholder.  To qualify as a kitchen quilt, a potholder had to have a flat fabric top -- whether whole cloth, pieced, appliqued, or embroidered -- be layered with batting and backing, and be quilted and bound.  One of these would look much better on the table than a magazine! 

Two appliqued kitchen quilts,
two pieced kitchen quilts (the one in front isn't quilted yet)
Now whether it's a bean pot,
or a tea pot, the table is protected from heat.  And they look much better than a magazine, don't you think?
These measure approximately nine inches square.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November ~~ Little Quilt

Here we are again; we have the beginning of a new month, and the eleventh little quilt of the year is ready.  Where has the time gone?  It's cool enough now to need quilts on the bed, especially if you're like Teddy,

who seems to have a sore throat and fever.  He drinks hot tea and then snuggles all the way up to his chin underneath the warm quilt.
I even made new flannel sheets and a pillowcase for his bed.  Doesn't he look comfortable?
I made the quilt from a pattern in the book Liberated String Quilts, by Gwen Marston.  I do my string piecing on a paper foundation, rather than cloth, since I hand quilt, and it means one less thickness of fabric to stitch through.  I like the Scottie dog print for the backing; the quilt could be reversed if Teddy thinks baskets are for girl bears.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Baby Bed

Primitive?  Maybe ordinary you'll say.  Seventy eight years ago, Daddy made this little bed for my sister, and then 6 1/2 years later, I slept in it.  He made it with hand tools, splitting the cedar and gluing the posts and rails together.  Of course the bed wouldn't meet today's safety standards because the rails are too far apart; but we didn't fall out or get our heads caught between them. 

I don't know where the bed was during my growing up years; perhaps it was loaned out.  But sometime it came back to my parents house, and with a shortage of space there, Daddy tried to take the bed apart; it refused to be taken down.  It finally came to live  with me.  I made bumper pads and fitted sheets for it, and grandchildren slept in it.  After there were no more babies to use the bed, it became a place to pile stuffed toys and extra pillows, etc.

Last week I decided to give it new purpose, so I moved it into my bedroom and put some of my new quilts in it.

I like the way it looks!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

October ~~ Little Quilt

Fall is definitely here!  We're having much cooler weather and good soaking rains.  The leaves of the elm trees are turning yellow.  October's little quilt is a good example of all the beautiful colors of fall.  It was paper pieced on the machine and hand quilted.

The pattern is called "Wild Goose Chase", and was inspired by this big quilt in the book Quilts, Quilts, Quilts, by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes.

Teddy loves to wrap up in it and wait for the wild geese to come honking across the fall skies.  Actually, we don't hear many geese anymore just in the fall; we have them all year round on the ponds and in the pastures.  I miss hearing them fly over; it was always a sure sign that cold weather was right behind them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wordless Wednesday ??


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Quotes From Farm Wives

"I have done all the usual things -- chickens, garden,canning, cooking for hired men and so forth.  I have also milked, picked corn, shocked grain and run nearly every machine used on a Western farm.  We have dried out, drowned out, hailed out and burnt out.  Always we drew together, looked in each other's eyes and whispered, "Tough!  But we have each other and the children.  We'll make it."
                                                                       Mrs. W. R.
Hutchinson County, S.D.
"...I have learned that true happiness is best found in doing real God-service.  This the farm woman finds in raising fowls, making butter, curing meat, planting a garden, canning, drying and preserving.  I find real joy in doing these worthwhile things that need to be done because the world needs the fruits of my labors."
Mrs. M.H.M.
Charlotte County, Va.
"... of all the restless world, we, from the beauty and tranquility of the country, the knowledge of our use to the world and our independence, have in our souls the peace and content that money cannot purchase.  That surely is a wonderful gift."
Mrs. I.G.
Sauk County, Wis.
These quotes were taken from the book, The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt, Letters from 1920 farm wives.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Failed Experiment

I don't know when I first learned that glass could be melted; perhaps there were pictures in a science pamphlet Wanda had brought home from school.  I was amazed, and wondered if I could melt glass.

I had a little piece of broken glass, and while Mama was busy, I took the box of matches from the kitchen and ran down to the hen house.  If I worked on the east side of the hen house, she couldn't see me.   After the glass was placed on a rock, I carefully took out a match, struck it; the flame went out, as it did several more times.  Finally the weak flame inched its way up the match stick and I held it under the corner of the glass; nothing happened.  As the heat from the flame came closer to my fingers I had to blow it out and start over.  Two, three, four, five matches -- still not a sign that the glass even thought about melting!  My experiment had failed!

So I gathered up the box of matches and went back to the house.  Now to go up the steps, carefully open the screen door, step inside, and -- I tripped a little bit, dropping the matches which scattered on the floor.

Mama came quickly and of course wanted to know why I had the matches and then told me what a dangerous thing I had just done.  "You could have set the hen house on fire!"  Punishment?  I'm sure there must have been!  My guardian angel was getting to know me, and oh how many more times would she have to save me from my experiments in life?


Monday, September 24, 2012

Sisters ~~ Different Lives

Last week my sister had her 78th birthday; I don't think she minds me telling her age;  she's still in good health and sound of mind.  For some reason I began thinking of the different paths our lives have taken.

We were both born in the same room, in the little gray house on the rocky hillside farm; as Daddy used to say, "Wanda was born on one side and Charlotte on the other side of that room."  She was almost 6 1/2 years older, much more outgoing and made friends easily.  The word Daddy used to describe me was "timid", but I always had a smile.  As we grew up I know I pestered her too much, especially when she began dating a Marine and received letters from him; letters I wanted so much to read.

She met her cousin's brother-in-law and married him the summer after she graduated from high school .  He had just come out of  service and in about a year they moved to Michigan where he worked in the Buick plant.  As the years passed, they had four children; one sweet little girl died at age five.  She worked in various plants and at Wal Mart because now her husband had become a Baptist preacher.

I met my husband at college; he was a farm boy and that appealed to me.  We married and  moved away from our community; he taught school and worked first on a master's degree and later on his doctorate.  I went to college one more semester then dropped out to become a mother of three girls, and a full-time housewife.  We bought a small place and began our farm; he taught during the week and farmed on the weekends. 

So now she was a preacher's wife and I was the wife of a college professor/farmer.   She attended church functions, I worked cattle and chickens. 

She and her husband recently moved into a retirement center.  He is disabled and the upkeep of  the house and yard was too much for her.  This made me stop and think: could I live there and be happy?  Right now the answer is "no".  Even if the meals are prepared,  the rooms cleaned, and no grocery shopping, I believe I would feel imprisoned, isolated more or less, no place to go where there were no people. 

Here we are, ten years ago, sisters with different lives.  Yes, I'm the one with the white hair! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Trip Around the World Quilt

Just how large do you think this quilt is?  Pictures can be deceiving you know.  Actually the quilt is about 11" x 9", just right for a Barbie doll, and is called A Trip Around the World.  Did I sew these tiny blocks together?  Well, yes and no.  This type of quilt is called a postage stamp or watercolor quilt.  There are a few steps to making it successfully and rather than take a chance I'd confuse you, here is a website with a tutorial explaining how it is made:

Go to Google, and type in "Tutorial for making watercolor quilts using fusible interfacing", then scroll down to Elizabeth's Fabric Focus ~ Quick-Piece Tiny Squares << Sew Mama...

I have interfacing; may try another with larger squares this time.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Baby Quilt ~ Scattered Dots

Will you believe I do other things besides complaining about the weather?  Actually, the drought has taken me from the fields and given me time to quilt more this summer.

This is a baby quilt made from a pattern tutorial on Amy's blog, www.duringquiettime.blogspot.com .  You may remember, I made a doll quilt by the same pattern.  For the baby quilt I simply made the strips longer and wider and the dots larger.  The binding is made from pieces of fabric like the dots.

Now I think I'll let the frames stand empty for a while and get out some WIP things, such as a topsy-turvy doll and a crochet project, maybe even another apron.  Can't let this old mind go idle!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Is It Time to Just Give Up?

We've just come through one of the worst summers we can remember; hot days, dry days, no grass for the cattle.  The haying equipment has stayed in the shed since May; we bought hay for the first time in our lives.  We sold the calves which were big enough and kept on with the others, hoping each day for rain and a chance to cut hay one last time before winter.  And each time the radar showed rain coming our way, the clouds parted, like the Red Sea, and went north or south, east or west of us, and the grass browned and died.  We began feeding grain, and the dust almost hid the cattle as the hungry herd rushed to the troughs.

To make the hay go farther, we bought a grinder-mixer, grain, hay, troughs, tubs; the list went on and on.  When the ponds went dry we bought water for the cattle and had the big pond cleaned out.

The little rains finally came, first from tropical storm Isaac and later from a cold front moving through.  Not a great deal of rain, but it fell slowly, and the parched earth drank it in.  We were hopeful again; would the meadows have time for the grass to grow?  Would the cattle have grass to graze on until frost?  To help replace the lost grasses, Popa bought grass seeds and planted for two days until...

They came: army worms, the larvae of  small, brownish gray moths who had slipped in under cover of darkness and laid their eggs on the grass stems.  We know what the worms can do: we've seen them strip an area clean in a matter of days, and when they finished with that area, they moved in hordes, or "armies", eating and destroying vegetation as they moved.  Their meals are taken at night or on cloudy days and since they hide under the grass the damage can be done before being discovered.  Insecticides applied to nearly mature larva that have completed their feeding is a waste of time and money.

So discouraging; maybe it is time to just give up, or take the attitude of "Que sera, sera".


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Blue String Stars Quilt

In April I wrote about this quilt and how I had to piece a strip to make the lining long enough.  Then I put it in the frames, so it took me almost five months to finish it.

It's a really long quilt ~ why I ever thought it needed to be this long, I have no idea, since no one in my family is this tall!  I remember thinking it would take me all summer to finish it, and it did, even though the drought kept me from the hay fields.   But finally, it's finished!

I turned back one corner of the quilt so the row of lengthening strips can be seen.  Since the inner border of the quilt was a red print, I added red prints to border the strips and also for the binding; gives a real punch to the blue.
The quilt was machine pieced and hand quilted.  You gotta love blue to like this quilt!
We've been without chickens for about two weeks now, and won't get anymore for a few days, so I have a baby quilt in the frames, hoping to finish it before going back to work.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September ~~ Little Quilt

September's little quilt, Underground Railroad, was made from the pattern in Kathleen Tracy's book, American Doll Quilts.   In searching through my quilt books I couldn't find this pattern, but as Ms Tracy says, "... (it) may represent the network of safe houses for slaves on their journey to freedom."

September also means it's "readin' and writin' and arithmetic time for Teddy (he's home schooled, you know) and we plan to include a little history of the Underground Railroad.
 Excellent sources of information about this subject are:
On Google ~~ Underground Railroad Quilt Code, and
Did Quilts Hold Codes to the Underground Railroad
Maybe you'd enjoy joining us in a history lesson?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Warm Weather Wrap for Baby

Although summer is almost over, this is a good project to make ahead for next year.  A baby needs a little wrap for sleep time whenever the air conditioner is on, and a blanket seems too fuzzy and hot for covering during summer months.  This warm weather wrap is made from a fabric with crinkle; we always called it "plisse" and it was used a lot for summer pajamas or gowns.  I like it because it can be washed time and time again without needing to be ironed, and stays soft and cuddly.

I buy about two yards of fabric if I want a 36 inch square cover, two and one half yards if I want the cover to be 40 inches square, and enough eyelet to go around the entire wrap.  This allows me to double the fabric, enclosing the eyelet around the edges.  I baste the eyelet to the right side of one square, raw edges even, with the eyelet turned to the inside so it is caught inside the seam when the second square is placed, right sides together, onto the first square.  I sew around the square, following the basting threads, and leave a few inches open for turning right side out, then sew the opening.  Rounded corners make for an easier finish.

This wrap is made from double fabric and the edges are enclosed with bias tape.  Both of these just happen to be prints suitable for a baby boy.
These make nice shower gifts for a mother-to-be who appreciates home made items.
Hope my instructions made sense; pictures of each step would have been helpful I know.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Something Else New to Try

Well, here I am again, diving headlong into a new craft, one I know very little about in fact: making a doll with a sculpted head.  I'm the kind of person who learns best by "hands on" instruction, so even though I've watched a lot of tutorials and received good advice from an accomplished doll maker, there's just still something lacking in my attempts.

This doll has been in the making for over a year; she sat in the cupboard a long time, waiting to be finished, and now here is Ify (pronounced E-fee), with her chubby, lumpy face and her big eyes and funny mouth:

She has a cloth body, just like an ordinary cloth doll, but her head is a mixture of sorts; first I tried paper clay, but wasn't satisfied.  Next I made a mixture of paper mache clay, using lint as a filler; that's when she got the lumps!  I was never able to sand the surface of her face down to a smooth texture.  Several times I threatened to remove the arms and legs and start over ~ maybe I should have, but she had become Ify by then.

I wanted her to have a good profile and was fairly pleased with it.

Her hair is made from crochet thread glued in place with a paper mache paste.  I fixed a little place in the back so she could wear a ribbon.  I learned this technique of making hair from Mary @ColonyMountainStitcheries, who makes the most beautiful dolls!

So, there you have it!  She'll go sit with the other dolls in the old rocker and soon we'll become close friends and I'll overlook her blemishes because I'm not beautiful either.  I almost didn't write about her, but hey, you gotta start somewhere; I may try again after learning a bit more about the process.  By the way, the dress she is wearing was one for my dolls, about sixty years ago.

Feeling very shy,

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's So Easy ~~ It's Simplicity

Most of my days go like this: breakfast, housework, chicken work, snack time, fix lunch, etc., then in the afternoons I try to find a little time to work in the sewing room, either quilting or doing a little machine work, before starting the evening chores of feeding and watering.

I love to make aprons; don't like to wear them, just make them.  Recently I bought this pattern,

ordered this fabric from Connecting Threads (www.connectingthreads.com),

and this week I made the misses' size apron.

It's called an "adjustable" apron because the neck strap and the ties are all one continuous piece, allowing the neck strap to be adjusted to fit the person wearing it.

The ties go through a facing on the sides of the bib.

It's a big apron with plenty to cover the sides of your clothing and there are two large pockets on the skirt.  It was easy to make.

I'm sorry not to model it for you; I look hideous in an apron :(

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thirty years ago I saw this quote in the neurosurgeon's office:

"When you've come to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on."

The knot has been tied.


Edited at 5:13 p.m., Thursday
It's RAINING, nice sheets of rain!
God heard your prayers!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dealing With Water Shortage

The old pond reached an all-time low: only a circle of green, stagnate muck.  We had never seen it this low.

So it was time to bring in the big equipment to clean out the soil which had settled in the pond over the years.  It is going to be very deep and will hold a lot of water, but it frightens me.

It's unbelievable that all this was cleaned out of the pond.  Now the inside of the pond is being packed down with good red clay soil; then we'll wait for rain.  It will be about a year before all the dirt which was cleaned out can be worked and smoothed out.

We're hauling water to another pasture where the cattle depended on creek water and pond water to drink.  I can only imagine how good the fresh water must be for the cattle.

At least the temperatures are lower, which will help us get through the last week with this flock of chickens.