Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rows F and G finished on my Jane reproduction quilt

It's been a busy week...classes and a small dinner party (I kept it simple-corned beef and cabbage, boiled potatoes and salad with ice cream and homemade oatmeal cookies for dessert) but I did finish two more rows!

Row F was a learning experience-I can now cut sixteenths of inches with my rotary cutter! Not sure that's a skill I'll ever need after I finish this quilt but it sure comes in handy for Jane's blocks. I've also perfected my reverse applique (o.k. these are not difficult shapes :) and I've found I really enjoy doing them-they seem a bit magical.
I'm using mostly scraps and it was really nice to revisit a beautiful fabric that had only a small piece left-just enough for this block.
There's still a bit more of this-a few more 2 1/2" strips so you'll see this one again-isn't it lovely. Its really a salmon rather than a pink.
Row G was not as much fun as F. I just finished the little applique diamonds on block G-11 this morning...
but I did find this beautiful soft homespun in the drawer. Wish I'd looked better earlier, I could have used this for some of the other orange blocks (I'm trying to follow Jane Stickle's colors). Do you remember the Roberta Horton homespuns from the 90s-they were so soft and lovely. This is one of the few pieces I have left-I used it in a quilt for my Mom and it was nice to use it again and know that it will be part of this quilt. I really had thought it was all finished.
Row H awaits but I think I've caught a winter cold so the going may be a bit slower for while.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: Letters of a Woman Homestead by Elinore Pruitt Stewart

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of free on-line vintage book

Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart

In 1909 Elinore Pruitt Rupert, a young widow with a small daughter, Jerrine, decided to leave Denver where she worked as a washerwoman and take a chance becoming a homesteader. She got a position as housekeeper for a Scotsman, Mr. Stewart and began her adventure in Wyomingand she wrote letters to her friend, Mrs. Coney back in Denver. Mrs. Coney liked the letters so much she sent them to the magazine The Atlantic Monthly and they were published in 1913-the book followed in 1914-and aren’t we lucky!

In the first few letters, we can feel Elinore’s thrill at the beauty surrounding her as she writes of her trips off the the ranch-day trips for picnics and overnight camping trips too-always accompanied by little Jerrine.

As she becomes more acquainted with the people, we meet her neighbors (at least a good half day’s ride) and friends. Mrs. Louderer and Mrs. O’Shaughnessy are her closest woman friends and what good friends they are. I really felt that I got to know them.

She shows us her mettle.. .

“If he (Mr. Stewart) put a man to mow, it kept them all idle at the stacker, and he just couldn't get enough men. I was afraid to tell him I could mow for fear he would forbid me to do so. But one morning, when he was chasing a last hope of help, I went down to the barn, took out the horses, and went to mowing. I had enough cut before he got back to show him I knew how, and as he came back manless he was delighted as well as surprised.

and tells us her philosophy-any woman can be a homesteader-just work hard and don’t give up. Take it slow building your homestead and it will be done.

You can download this free audio-book here with a wonderful reading by Lynne Carroll or the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here. You can also simply read the letters on-line here.

Here are some photos of Elinore Rupert Stewart (yes, she and Mr. Stewart got hitched!) and their family.


Mr. Stewart...
Elinore mowing...
The family when the children were young...
Mr. Stewart and the children a little older...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jane Stickle Quilt Reproduction update

I'm finally getting into a rhythm with my Jane quilt...I completed rows D and E this week. Here's row E...and Row D...I know it doesn't look complete-the other four blocks are still in pieces for demonstration purposes at the next class. I wish I could get the lighting better so that the darker fabrics wouldn't look like black!
Here's row B-one block is still in pieces-LOL!-again for the class. I think this was my favorite row so far.
Row C is done but still needs all the little applique "jewels" finished so I'll show that on the next update. I'm machine piecing all the blocks but all the applique is hand applique (I use needleturn) and so I do those in the evenings watching TV.

Now Row F awaits me so I'm off to the sewing room...F1 is sewn and that's it so far.

I'm linking up to Finished for Friday at Lit and Laundry. Since Row E is truly finished I think (hope!) its ok for me to join in the fun. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett plus full length 1936 movie

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of free on-line vintage books.

Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

When I was a kid I used to love to watch Million Dollar Movies. I especially loved the old black and white movies, including Little Lord Fauntleroy-it was like a boy Shirley Temple movie! So when I came across Little Lord Fauntleroy at Librivox and saw that it was written by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I just love The Secret Garden) why I couldn’t resist.

Cedric Error is a little American boy, orphaned young by the death of his British-born father but growing up happily with his mother, who he calls Dearest. He has many friends in his New York City neighborhood-including the local grocer ---as well as all the boys around to play with.

Sudden change comes when a lawyer shows up one day…a British lawyer. Young Cedric’s late father was the third son of the Earl of Dorincourt and now with the death of his father’s two older brothers-both without heirs- Cedric finds himself the Earl in waiting….with the title Lord Fauntleroy. His Grandfather wants him to return with the lawyer immediately. Never reconciled to his son’s marriage to an American, he grudgingly “allows” her to come with her son but she must live in the Lodge alone and not reside in the main house with him and Lord Fauntleroy. She agrees. This is an interesting point-she agrees because she feels the advantages for her son and because she believes her late deeply loved husband would have wanted it- but would he?

The Earl is a grumpy old aristocrat-arrogant and selfish. He likes young Cedric because he is polite and handsome.

“What the Earl saw was a graceful, childish figure in a black velvet suit, with a lace collar, and with lovelocks waving about the handsome …little face.”

He is totally taken by those famous long curls! (more about that later). As he gets to know the sweet, generous hearted boy he comes to love him.

Yes, there’s are a few anxious moments-another heir shows up!- but the book is really about the relationship between the Grandfather and little Cedric and how the love of a little boy can change anyone.

You can download the free audio-book with a lovely reading by Susan Umpleby here or the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here.

Cedric’s black velvet suit with large white collar and his beautiful curls became a smash hit-a fashion fad favorite for little boys in America (and even in Europe)-a fad that lasted from the publication of the book in 1886 (originally in serial form in St. Nicholas Magazine in 1885) until the beginning of the 20th century. Now here’s what I think is the funniest part of this whole fashion fad for a style that is definitely odd to us today-Ms. Burnett patterned little Cedric’s look on that of her own sons. She made them little velvet suits (yes, she was a sewer!) and she curled their hair every day!

My very own Million Dollar Movies! You can watch that lovely 1936 film right here…isn’t You-Tube amazing!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: The Riddle of the Frozen Flames by Mary and Thomas Hanshew

Tuesday Tomes is a weekly book review of free on-line vintage books.

Illustration from the original edition

The Riddle of the Frozen Flame by Mary E. Hanshew and Thomas Hanshew

This full length novel features Cleek, the Man of a Thousand Faces-former master criminal and now the genius detective of Scotland Yard-in an adventure that ranges from bank robberies to gold smuggling to murder on the Fens.

In this 1920 novel, co-written by Thomas Hanshew and wife, Mary E. Hanshew (I think she finished the novel after his death in 1914), two of the usual characters are here: Mr. Narkom of Scotland Yard and Cleek’s boss and Dobbins, Cleek’s young assistant but sadly missing is Miss Elsa-she is only mentioned and referred to but not part of the story. (I really like Miss Elsa and missed her here…but we do get a hint that matrimony may be in her future (with Cleek, of course.)

Sir Nigel Merriton, a decorated soldier, returns from India to the ancestral home, Merriton Towers, following the inexplicable disappearance of his uncle. The house is quite old and not at all modernized and has been in the care of his uncle’s butler for the past few years. Sir Nigel feels it’s quite the proper place for ghosts!

That first night, having difficulty sleeping (the old Victorian four-poster is none too comfortable) he rises and having a cigarette, looks out the window.

“His eyes saw all of a sudden a light prick out like a tiny flame, low down on the very edge of the Fens. One light, two, three, and then a very host of them flashed out…What on earth--? But even as his lips formed the unspoken exclamation came yet another light to join the others dancing and twinkling and flickering out there across the gloomy marshlands.”

What are these? He soon learns that they are the Frozen Flames-and that anyone walking out on the marshes at night never returns!

Poor Sir Nigel-his homecoming is not as pleasant as he expected. A houseguest disappears on the marshes and then a servant and finally Nigel is driven to contacting Scotland Yard, asking for help from Cleek to work out the mystery of what has really happened to all these people on the Fens.

The New York Times review from June 6, 1920 states,” “The Riddle of the Frozen Flame” is a cleverly conceived tale that will idle away an hour most pleasantly.” I totally agree!

You can find my review of the absolutely wonderful first Cleek tale and other Cleek short stories here.

You can download this free audio-book, fabulously read by Ruth Golding, here or the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Outline Stitch-- Hand Embroidery Tutorial

Months ago I said I would post an outline stitch embroidery tutorial...well, finally here it is. I can't believe how long it took me to get someone to take the photos-fortunately DS was up for New Year's week-end and he took the photos...but it was at night so please excuse the orangy color!

I'm starting with separating the floss strands and threading the needle so if you're good with that just skip on down.

I use six strand DMC floss (here its #310 black) and usually use two strands. Cut off an arms length of the floss and spread the floss out between your fingers.

Now - keeping the floss pressed between your fingers - pull on only one strand. Pull it out completely in one draw.
Since I'm using two strands I just pull out a second one the same way. Don't try to pull two at a time-they will only knot up and make a mess.
I next align the two strands together and hold them in my left hand (my non-dominant hand) pinched between my fingers. I hold the needle in my right hand and with the eye of needle visible to my eye- I just aim at the floss.

This works all the pinching the floss or thread between my fingers the floss (or thread) can't wiggle away from the needle the way it can when you take the thread to the needle. This works as well for six strands of floss as two and for any size needle-including little size 10 or 12 quilting needles.

Now that my needle is threaded, I tie a knot at the end of the thread (yes, I use a knot!). And bring the needle up from the back of the marked fabric on the line I want to start on.
Pull the needle through...holding the thread up above the line, put the needle back in on the line.Bring the needle out on the line back towards the floss exiting the fabric...
Take small stitches...always with the thread held above the line and the needle always going in and coming out on the line. Instruction books always say to have the needle come out about half way back towards the thread but I usually work with smaller stitches and the needle comes out almost at the thread...really just a tiny bit in front.

That's the first stitch...
and the second....
and the third! You just keep going...its that simple!
The outline stitch is faster to sew than back also gives a more raised appearance than back stitch.

Hope this has been helpful! I really love this style of embroidery and as you know, use it a lot.

You can download the free hand embroidery pattern Umbrella Girls/Bonnet Girls here and directions to complete a twin size quilt here. The Girls are all done in outline stitch although I did use some Lazy Daisy flowers and French Knots on some of the girls' dresses-just for extra decoration.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Progress on the Basket Embroidery Quilt

I've completed another two hand embroidery blocks for the Basket Embroidery Quilt...I just love this one!...
and the first set of setting blocks.
I've scheduled the outline embroidery tutorial that I said I'd post months ago for tomorrow...sorry it took so long!

I'm linking up to Finished for Friday at Lit and Laundry.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: The Agony Column by Earl Derr Biggers

Happy New Year! Welcome to Tuesdays Tomes 2011-a weekly book review of a vintage book available free on-line.

The Agony Column by Earl Derr Biggers

Could I resist a book entitled “The Agony Column”? Can you?

Mr. Geoffrey West, an American in London in the hot summer of 1914, has breakfast every morning at the Carlton Hote-strawberries and a delighted perusal of the Daily Mail’s “agony column” personals.

“MY LADY sleeps. She of raven stresses. Corner seat from Victoria, Wednesday night. Carried program. Gentleman answering inquiry desires acquaintance. Reply here. LE ROI”

WATERLOO: Wed. ll:53 train. Lady who left in taxi and waved, care to know gent, gray coat?—SINCERE

Ah-and this could be a tweet…”—loveu dearly; wantocu; missu—“ Well, at ten cents a word…

One morning he looks up from his Daily Mail as a lovely young American and her father enter. Offered those miraculous end-of-season strawberries, she defiantly states-absolutely not.

“I hate them! Grapefruit, please.”

Mr. West loudly tells the waiter to bring him a second works, she looks at him.

He keeps looking over..he sees she too is reading the Daily Mail Agony Column…she reads one to her father…he calls it Bosh - she thinks its quite nice.

He can’t stop thinking about her. Does he dare write a note to the Daily Mail? Should he?...would she answer?... Dear Miss Grapefruit…

This book is just full of surprising twists and turns and is quite as delightful as its title. Added joy-it gives an oblique look at London right up to the eve of WWI.

Read by peac, you can download this free audio-book here or the free e-book in pdf. or kindle format here.

Could Mr. West have looked this snappy?

Would one of these dresses been appropriate for breakfast at the Carlton?

I can’t see Miss Grapefruit with a fur muff but I do like the dress and those hats!