Monday, November 30, 2020

Men who Quilt #1


I've known for some time that men enjoyed quilting.  British soldiers sewed while recovering during the Crimean War.  I think this fellow photographed might be one of them. A few years later, some disabled Civil War soldiers sewed quilts as well.

I have a fairly large folder on "Men Who Quilted" in my files.  If memory serves me right, I remember being amazed at all the articles I found on men who quilted in my area.  I thought I would do periodic features because they are interesting...and fair.

This is one of my favorite articles and I marvel at this little guy from Knoxville, TN.  He taught himself to sew at age 3!

Then there is my least favorite quilt man.  My husband had some choice words for this fellow that I can't write here.  😉

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, November 27, 2020

What to Do With Leftovers and Flower Friday

 What to do with leftovers...aka scrap quilts!  I wanted to share with you that I found a neat scrap quilt pattern and it is free!  It is called "Plaid-ish" and is offered at Kitchen Table Quilting here.  There are actually a lot of free quilt patterns on the website and a few for sale.

Today is Flower Friday and Betsy was kind enough to send the last of her fall flowers.  A clematis and her mums:

Lorraine sent a happy photo of cotoneaster bushes with bright red berries to help us feel season!

I still occasionally find a few flowers while walking my dog Scout:

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

Today we are grateful for our family and friends--including my dear friends that I have met through blogging!  Thank you for your friendship!  You've made this year more bearable!

Today we are celebrating Thanksgiving alone.  A family member is sending over a meal for us and we will talk to the kids later in the day.  I'm hoping you are all isolating and staying safe. 

This quilt is called "Horn of Plenty" and is from the 1950s.  It was a kit quilt offered by Paragon in 1954 and 1955.  I love it for this time of year!

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday!  Thank you again for making 2020 a better year!


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Different Kind of Batting

 On Monday I shared a story about collecting funds for the Red Cross.  I mentioned that when I first saw the headline, I thought the money was actually sewn in the quilt.  

The reason I thought this was because of a different local story that I found published in 1910.  I don't think I'll ever look at my collection of antique and vintage quilts quite the same way.  Yesterday I was refolding quilts and yes, I kept checking the batting for what might be in there!  😁

Have a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Tuesday Tidbits

Brad is recovering but it will be a while before he is 100 percent and not a fall risk.  When you are caring for a loved one, I recommend two different kinds of sewing:  binding or embroidery.  Both are portable and don't take much thought.  It's a kind of sewing that I find calming.  While I care for Brad, I've been binding.  I have one quilt left and then I will probably switch to embroidery.

This lap quilt was finished shortly before his surgery and it's for my oldest friend Linda.  She also wanted a table runner to match and since I had a few extra blocks, I was happy to oblige!

I think the most impressive part of the quilt is Terri Trotter's quilting.  Often I let her choose what she thinks will work best for a quilt.  We are old friends and I trust her judgement.  She's never let me down and I love this pattern on the quilt.  It takes it to a whole new level!

Some other things to share with you are comments or emails you shared with me.  First off, Libby wants to know from Sue P. :  "Please share your secret for getting such wonderful garden photographs!!!" (like here).

Kathie L thinks (and I agree!) Libby's mother was ingenious in whipstitching the Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt featured on Friday (here).

Well I'm off to care for hubby!  See you tomorrow and stay safe!

Monday, November 23, 2020

Quilt Revenue: An Old Tactic

This is a quilt that I suspect is from the early 20th century.  It is made primarily of silks and a few other fabrics and has a an interesting binding made of ribbon:

Quilts have been used to raise revenue for worthy causes.  During World War I, one quilt was auctioned to raise money for the Red Cross in Decatur, Illinois.  What made this article stick out to me was that I thought when I read the headline, that money had been sewn into the quilt.  Au contraire!  Enjoy:

Have a safe and happy day!


Friday, November 20, 2020

Flower Friday: November 20, 2020

 Hi all!  This is about the latest I've ever posted but my husband requires a lot of care and this is when I get around to catching up my things!

Thanks to all of you for your kind thoughts on his recovery and especially for sending lots of images this week!

Alice was first.  She was raking and found this lovely rose still blooming.  Roses in November are a real gift and I love the color of hers!

Then Libby emailed a lovely quilt her grandmother made!  It's a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt and just lovely!  

Libby wrote:
I'm attaching pictures of my Grandmother's Flower Garden, the last quilt my mother made before she died.  Each hexie is a mini quilt, machine stitched and turned potholder style, then quilted by hand.  The hexies are whip-stitched together by hand.  The quilt is reversible, prints on one side, and solids on the other.

Here is the whip stitching!
Libby also wrote:

Here's a close-up of the whip stitching.  That floral pastel is from an Easter dress.  I don't think Mother ever threw away a scrap of my fabrics.  The cathedral window quilt she made me, also totally by hand, has fabric from the first little dress she ever made me!

Funny story:  When I remarried in 1981, Daddy Bill asked me what I wanted for a wedding present and I replied, "the last quilt The Mama made that's in a box under your bed."  He had no clue it was there!

Lorraine still has a few flowers left in her garden and she mused that these might be the last of the year.  Well there is only 120 days until spring Lorraine!

Blue Lobelia
Mum's on a wonderful table runner!  Wow!
And finally, a surprise this time of year!  Lorraine has a lovely iris blooming!

Again, thanks for all your well wishes and have a safe and happy weekend!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


 Hi All!  Just a quick note to tell you my husband made it through his surgery yesterday.  He is home and I'm caring for him because he sure is weak right now.  It will be a while before he is independently mobile. 

Thanks for all your good wishes!

Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Why of Inspiration--this week.


Why do we look for inspiration?

The past few days, I searched for inspiration as an avoidance of sewing what I thought I should be doing.  It all started this weekend when I grew frustrated with a piece we will call Top A.   It was nearly assembled but I found it just lacked any charm for me.  It annoyed me and I threw it to the other side of the room.   

I have a bin full of scraps that would probably make one or two (or more) donation quilts but I can't seem to address that either.

I participate in a weekly list from bloggers called "To-Do-Tuesday" most of the bloggers know each other fairly well (via internet).  During these hectic times, we often do not achieve our goals and everyone is supportive and sweet to each other.

The pressure of should be doing is put completely on myself and I'm wondering if you do that as well. 

We all know that anxiety and frustration creates mistakes.  

Throwing Top A to the other side of the room was actually a way of preserving it for now.  I'm just now sure what to do with it.  I need to put it in a drawer until I can look at it with fresh eyes.

Sometimes you just have to pause and give yourself the kind of advice you would give a beginning quilter: 

 "Put the top away for now.  Be kind to yourself.  Remember this is supposed to be fun and an escape from the daily stresses."

At the beginning of the pandemic, one the things I resolved was to Keep it Simple.  A homemade quilt is a homemade quilt no matter how elaborate or basic the pattern ends up being.  Do what fulfills you right now.  

Some people like a really elaborate pattern to take their minds off of things.  I find that I make too many mistakes when I am stressed.  So I am keeping it simple.

No one has ever rejected these antique and vintage quilts because of the simplicity of the patterns: 

Fortunately, I have quilts that need binding so I focused on those projects instead.  I also spent most of the last few days surfing the internet and finding some new sites and patterns.  

Here are some websites I enjoyed:

The Creative Blog by Art Gallery Fabrics and the 
Fat Quarter Gang posts via that site.

I'm truly unsure of how much posting I'll be doing this week.  My husband's surgery is scheduled for tomorrow and hopefully he will feel some relief afterwards.  I'll post when I can with updates on our situation and I hope that you all remain safe and have a great week!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Flower Friday: November 13, 2020

 It's Flower Friday!  Today we share any floral image we can to start the weekend off right!

Nann sent a photo of a flower she saw while hiking in Illinois last weekend.  No, that's not a filter she used on her camera--her flower had actually turned silver!  Isn't it neat to see what comes through the seasons?

From Libby, her amazing Christmas Thanksgiving cactus has begun to bloom!

Sue sent a photo of garlic chives with praying mantis. 
We just love that photo she got of the praying mantis!!! 
Sue said her garden had tons of them this year!

Also from Sue, Coneflower with butterfly!

Thanks to Nann, Libby, and Sue for participating this week!
Have a safe and happy weekend!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Bloom Quilt #1: The House on the Hill

 There's no image of Janet Rutherford Marshall on the internet.  There isn't even much about her story but she was the impetus for my first Bloom Quilt.

"Blooming Where We're Planted" has a specific meaning to me.  It means using my quilts to relay a particular story, memory, or emotion.  In July of this past summer, I was touched by the story of a lady who lived in a hill.

When I was a child, my family made regular treks "uphome" to the coal regions of Pennsylvania where my maternal grandparents had grown-up.  As we journeyed, we passed through Carbon County--the "slate belt" region at the edge of our valley.

Everytime we made the trip, my brother and mused about a landmark that most people around here call "the house on the hill."  

The mansion was a great but forlorn beacon on the hill.  My brother thought it was haunted and not even my father could tell me who lived there.

Across from the house, past the road we were on, and across the river was even more startling.  We called it the dead mountain. The surrounding area and particularly the dead mountain was devoid of any vegetation.  Not one speck of grass grew there.  

In truth, the mountain was dead!  Run-off from the zinc mines in the area had killed everything.  Scientists in the 1970s found that there was not one single living thing on the dead mountain--not earth worms or even micro-organisms.  The top of the mountain:

The region became one of the early EPA Superfund sites.

In July, the house on the hill came up for sale.  A friend flagged me on it and I could finally see the interior of the house.  Do you want to see it?  Hit here.  Photos #68-69 show the rejuvination of the hill across from the house.
Janet Rutherford was only 23 years old when she met Elisha Marshall in 1873.  She had grown-up in a wealthy and cultured family in Jersey City, NJ.  Elisha Marshall was a 44 year old Civil War veteran who had lost his first wife shortly before they met (you can read about his military career here).  He courted the wealthy heiress and two years later, the couple were married.

It's unclear what Marshall did for a living or what kind of fortune he brought to the union.  When Marshall was only a boy, his father committed suicide after severe business losses.

It is most likely that her family money funded the building of the house on the hill and their lifestyle.  Janet's father was one of the founder's of the "paint industry" in Carbon County (among other businesses).

The house was completed in 1881.  Newspapers reported a year later that once the couple had moved into the house, "Marshall had grown tired of his beautiful wife, who had not blessed them with a token of their union, and he became irritable."  It was reported that he used "the foulest language towards her and struck her repeatedly."  When the abuse escalated, she fled to her father in Philadelphia and the family filed for a divorice in 1882.  The situation was widely reported in newspapers.

Marshall apparently followed her to Philadelphia and took a job as a civil engineer.  The divorce did proceed and eventually Janet returned to the house on the hill where she lived as a recluse.  She became known as "the hermit on the hill."  She finally left in 1911 to make funeral arrangements for her brother.  She was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1911 in New Jersey.

After her death, one newspaper reported about her life after the divorce:

It's a tragic tale.  Even in death, her story continued to make headlines.  She had left an estate estimated at a worth of $24 million in today's market.  The settling of her estate dragged on for years because states like Pennsylvania and New York wanted to claim her as a resident and therefore profit from the inheritance taxes.  For decades and even probably until today, most folk and especially children thought her home was haunted.

But as sad as this tale is, it's not why I made this quilt.  I was just plain annoyed.  In 2016 when the house was up for sale (again), an article on "Marshall's Hill" was published in the newspapers.  It was one of those nice feature stories focused on local history. The article discussed Marshall's gallantry in the war and mentions, "he could have easily been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder."  There was no discussion of the trauma that had incurred to Janet.  

I can accept that in 1882 a newspaper would report a sublimal message that the abuse occurred because Marshall was frustrated that they didn't have a child.  It was not uncommon to blame women for infertility.  But in 2016, I would have expected that her trauma be discussed (you can read the article here). 

After she returned to the house on the hill, another local article reported, she had bars put on the windows of the house.  We know she had dogs to protect her.  How much evidence does one need?

I had purchased the fabric for this quilt to complete another quilt, a pattern I had seen in a magazine.  I think it was called Pane by Pane.
The pattern didn't suit my mood.  I wanted something more grim and with only black sashing surrounding the trees.  When it was finished, my machine quilter Terri Trotter asked me how I wanted it quilted.  "Nothing literal," I told her.  "No trees, no snowflakes."  Terri lives in Palmerton where the house on the hill is located.  I wonder if somehow she instinctively knew what to do with it.  She chose a pattern called Spooky.

So this is my first "Bloom" quilt.  It's a long story and a sad story but I sewed my frustration out while making it.  Sometimes that's just what you have to do.

I probably won't be posting tomorrow as my husband has more tests.  If you wish to submit a photo for Flower Friday, please email me at

Have a safe and happy day!