Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!
We have a tradition of toasting the New Year around a campfire in our back yard. Not sure that's going to be carried on this year. We've shoveled a path to the firepit and dug out the ring (three times so far, as a matter of fact) but it may take a bit of work to get a fire going on the wet ground. Regardless, we'll say farewell to the 'naughts' and welcome 2010 with good friends, good food, and great wine.

This year we have the rare opportunity of toasting a Blue Moon on New Year's Eve. This occurance happens only every 19 years so it is definitely something to celebrate and the perfect drink for this is called a Blue Moon. You pour 1 1/2 oz. Bombay Saphire Gin with 3/4 oz. Blue Curacoa and a splash of Contreaux over ice in a shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Add a twist of lemon. Enjoy!

The year 2009 celebrated a great occasion in my family. My Aunt Alice turned 100 years young in August. Aunt Alice lives by herself, cooks her own meals to make sure they are healthy, and plays pool with "the boys" in the afternoon. She is a real lady, but plays a mean game of pool. Her advice for a long life is to eat healthy, stay active, and be happy.

Time to start cooking for company. Have a safe and sane holiday. Catch me next year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Curiosity gets the best of me

This past week hasn’t left much time for blogging, what with Christmas and a foot of snow. There’s nothing quite like sitting in front of a fire wrapped up in a quilt with a nice cup of tea after shoveling snow on Christmas. But after three days of snow it’s time for a bit of excitement.

Curiosity has gotten the best of me. That’s right. I’ve started to unveil the hidden quilt. This isn’t always an easy decision to make. Most quilts that have been recycled as batting are worn beyond repair and often taking a quilt apart to see what’s inside will ruin the outer quilt. But in this particular case, the outer quilt is tied so it can be removed without damaging either the outer or the inner quilt, making the decision to see what’s inside much easier.

I began by removing the binding from one corner. The binding was attached in the typical way -- machine stitched on the front and hand stitched on the back. Only this one was hand stitched with heavy thread -- buttonhole thread or crochet thread. Every stitch had to be removed individually. After a few inches I could see that the inner quilt was bordered and bound with pink fabric that was thin but in good shape. A few more inches of removing the binding revealed some pink and white flannel that had been attached to the edge of the quilt. This could mean two things. One, this was the top of the quilt and the flannel had been attached to project the edge, a common practice in the past. Two, this was the top of the quilt and the edge was so worn from pulling on it that they had to replace the edge with another piece of fabric.

That is when I realized I would have to remove some of the ties in order to see the block and check it for signs of wear.

So, I undid the binding for about 12 inches on either side of the corner and removed the nine ties from the same corner. I peeled back the corner and squealed with delight as I discovered the block underneath. The condition of the block is great. The colors are a tiny bit faded, but not worn. The quilt appears to be hand pieced and hand quilted. I must check out the rest of the quilt.

Only 290 inches of binding and 310 ties to go before the entire quilt is revealed!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

First things first

When I looked at the quilt at the sale I thought I saw a red stain on the back, nothing that stopped me from buying it, but something worth checking. Upon closer inspection I discovered that the “red” wasn’t a stain. Rather, it was a shadow of something underneath -- not a shadow from the quilt top, but from something in between the top and the backing. Could it be? Could this be that magical item we quilt collectors are always looking for? A quilt within a quilt? I held the quilt up to the window and, yes! There it was -- the backlighting revealed the subtle but undeniable shapes of another quilt! Oh my, now what?
But, first things first. One thing you should always do when you bring a new quilt into your fold is document. Whether it is a quilt that you made, received as a gift, or purchased, you must document it. Take photographs of the quilt, both whole-quilt and details, and put in writing everything you know about the quilt. Easily done if you are the quiltmaker; not so easy when it’s a found object rescued from a sale or thrift shop. This particular quilt has no name or date on it, nothing to offer any information about the quilt. So, first, the photographs. Next, the dimensions. Then, when and where I purchased the quilt. It was an estate sale so I have the address and can find the name of the last person to live at that address. I know the sale also included other quilts and a sewing machine so it is possible this person was the quilt maker. Look at the pattern -- is it representative of a particular period in time? Look at the fabrics contained in the quilt. Do they reveal when the quilt was made. Barbara Brackman’s Clues in the Calico and Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns (plus her new Encyclopedia of Appliqué) are good resources for researching fabrics and patterns so I’m off to the library for a bit of research.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hidden Surprise

I love estate sales and look for those advertising quilts and linens. This story is about a quilt I found at an estate sale in Kansas City.

It's a simple quilt -- a scrappy 4-point star pattern with a white background and what appears to be a bedsheet for the backing. The fabrics appear to be from the 40s and 50s, although I'd have to do some research to make sure. The quilt is tied; the crochet thread ties are spaced about 4 inches apart and knotted over and over. Whoever made this quilt did not want the ties to come undone. The quilt is in excellent condition. No wear whatsoever, and very clean. It's heavy, even for its size (82" x 63"). Perhaps that is the reason it is so clean. It may have been too heavy to be comfortable. It isn't a "great" quilt, but I like the fabrics and the overall look is appealing because of the design and colors. Someone put a lot of work into this quilt and I'd hate to see it put in the trash or the dog kennel, as I imagine happens to quilts that don't sell.

It's the last day and last hours of the sale. This quilt needs to be saved so I decide its a steal at $12.50 and take it home.