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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas

The Christmas story is a triumphant one which centers on poverty. The parents of Jesus were so poor they stayed in a lowly barn surrounded by barn animals giving off the only heat in the place via their breath. The shepherd, guarding his flock by night, was poor money-wise but enriched by the sight of the newborn King. The Magi, the Three Kings, arrived from afar to pay tribute to a "King" who would ultimately be scourged and crucified as the "King of the Jews." Don't forget that Jesus was Jewish!

Today, we often overlook the roots of Christmas a day celebrated since the 4th century on December 25 when the then Pope set that date to compete with the Winter Solstice activities of the pagans. In those dark days of the year, we long to see light and color.

What does Christmas mean to you? To some it is office parties, or getting drunk, or shopping to excess with credit cards. To others, like me, it is a time of solemn reflection of the year just past and a questioning of just how "good" I have been throughout the past year. To some it is all about getting gifts and for others, giving them. We often weigh and ponder for months beforehand just what items would bring pleasure to our friends and relatives and then set to work either making those gifts or making phone calls to vendors.

I like the pause, the break in the hustle and bustle, as we ponder the Christ child in the manger. Ultimately, the holiday is about him, not about our own greed or preoccupation with material goods. There will be time in the ensuing days after Christmas to try to return clothes that were not the right size, candles that were not quite the right color, or duplicate items that we really wanted so badly, we may have told more than one person.

In the midst of all of the commercialism, the new electronic "toys" etc., I hope that you will take the time to think of the words of "Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem," a peaceful and peace-giving song for the ages. It is fun to give presents, a tradition of Christmas started by the Magi, after all. But there is more to celebrating the holiday than eating rum cake and drinking egg nog.

I wish you a very rich Christmas steeped in the traditions of your own family. While listening to "Holly Jolly Christmas" please take a moment to realize once again that Jesus is at the center of the celebration and a message of peace. The jolly old man has to take a back seat. In fact, the Santa tradition, the Christmas tree, and many of the ways we celebrate the holiday stem from practices started in the 19th century.

However you enjoy the holiday, we hope that this Christmas day is the happiest ever for you no matter where you are or how much or how little you may have materially. Joy and peace are the gifts of the season and the message of Christianity: that a savior was born into the world to save all sinners and bring eternal life. No greater gift could be given by anyone.

Best wishes to my Jewish friends in their celebration of Chanukah - the Festival of Lights, and to all other people in the world who observe holy days during this time of the year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Newly-Published Book Perfect for Fireside

Wild Hen Turkeys are never "in season" in New Hampshire


Happy Thanksgiving! We have been celebrating all week with specialty foods of the season like egg nog, cut-up-veggies and various dips. While the rest of the crowd is on the road to somewhere tomorrow, we will be in our cozy abode cooking a turkey and watching the snow flakes come down. Looks like our area will get at least 8-12 inches of snow, if not more.

When we go into hibernation mode, that is the time to find a good book to read. My pick of the week is Quilters Questions: A Book of Curious Queries by Kyra E. Hicks (Black Threads Press, 2014). The back says that the book "is perfect for quilters of any age or skill level. Paced with delightful, humorous, and thought-provoking questions, this engaging read will provide hours of fun and conversation. Explore topics ranging from quilter identity, creative inspiration, collaboration, legacy and more!"

There are 322 questions and some blank pages for the reader to write in their own questions. This book is a lot of fun! Admittedly, I have only had time to look through about 1/3 of the book but one of the great features is that the reader can come back to the book at anytime without a sense of interruption. The size of the book would make it a great stocking-stuffer for the holidays. If I have not convinced you to purchase a copy yourself, perhaps you can drop a hint to a friend or family member who is seeking gift ideas for you -- the quilter of the family!

We are feeling blessed by friends and family this year. From our home to yours, best wishes to you that you enjoy the holidays.

Pat & Jim

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New Exhibit and Other Things

These days, the quilts of Gerald Roy are getting around. At the moment, one can view his doll bed/quilt collection at the Warner (NH) Historical Society from Nov. 1 to Dec. 7, each Friday and Saturday, 10-4 p.m. and each Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

At the moment I am thrilled to have discovered a local musician with a lot of talent. He writes and performs his original music scores. His name is Craig Werth and his name came to my attention via the Deerfield (NH) Forum that was advertising an upcoming coffeehouse event where he will perform. After listening to a couple of his songs online, I was hooked and ordered two of his CD-ROMs. I am always looking for good music to play while I am hand quilting that enormous white wholecloth quilt I have been working on. When I am done, it will have thousands of stitches!

Jim is harvesting what remains in the garden. The carrots he will store in sand along with the Jerusalem Artichokes and beets, too. On this chilly night, he has prepared Leek and Potato Soup. The potatoes are "Fingerling" potatoes which are tiny and very tasty.

I am feeling joyful as I write this blog and so blessed with the happiness that this time of year seems to bring, a kind of closeted feeling of "batting down the hatches" and enjoying the simple things of life. I can structure my time any way I wish, a blessing of not having to go "out" to work. Since losing my free-lance work with The Quilter because the magazine declared bankruptcy, I have taken time off from writing. I am, however, reading, the latest book a gift of a dear friend, is called The Telling Room. I love the author's style of writing. He is very descriptive and the book drew me in from the first page.

I count my blessings via friends I have made and creative activities in which I engage every day. I hope you are enjoying the autumn as much as we are. Frequent trips to the nearby orchard help to fill our days with happiness. There is nothing like a freshly-picked McIntosh apple.

My writings may be sporadic but I am still here and will post when something exceptional is worth drawing your attention. Stay tuned. Be happy!

Patricia Cummings

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Color Orange Takes the Day!


"My Jubilee" by Regan Martin won Best of Show!

One of the first quilts that we saw when entering this year's quilt show by the Cocheco Quilt Guild was an orange and white quilt. I love that color combination. It reminds me of Creamsicles! The quilt made by Regan Martin won Best of Show 2014 and well it should have. "My Jubilee" measures 84" x 71" and was assembled and machine quilted by the maker.


The surprise came while viewing the back of the quilt. We certainly hope that the winner helped herself to some Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milk to celebrate the win! Wonderful quilt!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Shelburne Museum Visit

This week we drove up to the Burlington, NH area to visit relatives and to see the quilt exhibits at Shelburne Museum. The first one we visited was a large hall filled with quilts, textiles, and clothing related to the Civil War. I enjoyed seeing a havelock, in person, having read so much about them and how the soldiers hated wearing them. A havelock is a white headgear that was supposedly going to help northern soldiers in staving off the sun's beating heat of the south.

There were a lot of costumes and other things in the exhibit. I found the signage to be a bit too small to read even though my eyesight is 20/20 when wearing corrective lenses. The roping around the quilts, etc. also made it difficult to get close enough to actually read the signs. I recognized some of the quilts (like the James George quilt) donated to the U.S.S. Sanitary Commission; and one of the so-called "gunboat" quilts that served as a fundraiser in the south. It was a nice array of Civil War artifacts gathered from many lending institutions.

Pat Cummings at Shelburne Museum


In the same building, downstairs, is an exhibit of Amish star quilts. The Amish do not celebrate the individuality of people, probably the reason no signage was in place to reveal the makers of the quilts.

From there we walked over to the hat and fragrance shop. In front of the building, the herbs were smelling intensely-fragrant as it had just stopped raining. Inside we viewed quilts from the permanent collection, a guest exhibit of Nancy Crow, and some other really interesting textiles. No photos were allowed of any of the special exhibits.

It was a very fun visit. The October foliage is, of course, gorgeous...even in the rain! We found a great place to stay and also enjoyed our visit with family. Had intended to go to a quilt show the next day but were not able to do so due to a chronic health condition (arthritis in my feet). We came home as happy campers who actually spent some quality time away from home on our vacation.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Holiday Weekend

Patricia Cummings stands among quilts made by Gail Wilson in a special exhibit (a room full) of Wilson's quilts at the Monadnock Quilters' Guild, Peterborough, NH, October 12, 2014


This weekend we were able to attend two quilt shows in two states, Vermont and New Hampshire. Both of the shows were relatively small as shows go these days but each was very enjoyable! The trees were in full color as is usually the case on Columbus Day weekend. We could see tour buses loaded with tourists taking in the scenery, cameras in hand. Jim was no different. He would pull off the road here and there to take more photos. He was busy at the quilt show, too, taking photos of quilts he liked. What a glorious time! Those who only drove north to see leaves missed some colorful quilts!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Biblical Thoughts about the "Virtuous Wife"

The Virtuous Wife

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband
safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
She also rises while it is yet
night,
And provides food for her household
And a portion for her
maidservants.
She considers a field and buys
it:
From the profits she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
and strengthens her arms.
She perceives that her
merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out
by night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.

She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands
to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for
her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
She makes tapestry for herself:
her clothing is fine linen and
purple.

Her husband is known in the gates.
When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments
and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the
merchants.

Strength and honor are her
clothing:

She shall rejoice in time to
come.
She opens her mouth with
wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law
of kindness.
She watches over the ways of
her household,
And does not eat the bread of
idleness.
her children rise up
and call her blessed:
Her husband also, and he
praises her:
"Many daughters have done
well,
But you excel them all."
Charm is deceitful and beauty
is vain.
But a woman who fears the
LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise
her in the gates
.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dolls Remembered

Today I am thinking of the book Dolls Remembered to which I contributed a chapter in 2009. Happily, I wrote about a doll from my childhood and her importance in my life. Jim Cummings took a photo of "Miranda" for the book by Madonna Dries Christensen. Still available on amazon, the book has received all five star ratings by reviewers. One hundred per cent of the proceeds of the book go to support a Down's Syndrome facility located in Northern Virginia.

Doll from childhood, quilt designed by Patricia Cummings, photo by James Cummings

Do little girls play with dolls any more? The one shown here was "on display" on top of a tall bureau in her bedroom. She had no clothes but the sweetest, enchanting face. As an adult, I made the dress she is wearing. The quilt is one that I designed and made, inspired by an antique quilt. I allowed The Appliqué Society to publish a pattern for the quilt. I hope you enjoy seeing this photo. It certainly makes me smile. It was fun to find the dog bone fabric that I used for the borders.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Autumn: The Best Season of the Year

Autumn: The Best Season of the Year

Patricia Cummings

This photo shows a lovely autumn scene in Vermont of leaves blanketing the grass. Photo sent to us by Charlotte Croft



"The autumn leaves drift past my window; the autumn leaves of red and gold" are the words to a song that I sang in Glee Club in high school. Due to dry conditions, the leaves are showing a lot of early color and the rain and wind are sending them to the ground.

We love autumn and are looking forward to the quilt shows in New England. An exhibit not to miss is currently displayed at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. The title is "Homefront and Battlefield: Quilts of the Civil War." Some of the best quilts from that period are on display. If you missed the book written by Lynne Z. Bassett and Madelyn Shaw on this topic, hurry to find a copy. It is the best volume written on the subject.

Autumn is the season to take frequent trips to the orchard to buy those crispy MacIntosh apples, right off the tree; apple cider, and baked goods including Apple Crumble Pie. It is the time when folks who heat with wood are taking the time to split wood. Others (like us) are working on the exterior of the house. Today's efforts by Jim were to do some minor repairs to the front porch and wash everything, preliminary to painting tomorrow.

The cooler air is wonderful! So are the passersby who stop to say they like the new "look" of our house. In yellow, I suppose it makes a statement. In fact, I know that it makes a statement! I was so happy to learn that yellow was its original color.

As for me, I have been hand quilting in my den. I am working on a queen size quilt that was pre-marked. It will take forever to finish but I cannot wait for it to be done. Meanwhile, I am listening to Bob Dylan, Mozart, Paul Rausch, and other favorites while I stitch.

Outside is another story. The chickadees, winter birds for us, have arrived. I heard but did not see a Pileated Woodpecker. Those dinosaurs make a hearty sound when they start drilling for insects in wood surfaces. The Jerusalem Artichoke plants are probably 8 feet tall by now and are blooming, finally, with their sunflower-like petals. All is right in my world.

Monday, September 29, 2014

In the Mood for Yellow

In The Mood for Yellow

Patricia L. Cummings

Yellow and Green Hmong textile / photo by James Cummings


Yes, the house painting is coming along. It will be yellow! The house was always gray for as long as we've had it and long before that but it was fun to discover that it was first painted yellow. In my mind's eye I can picture the nice little family that first occupied it. The owner, who built the house, was a "Timber Reeves" and a mill owner. After living in Henniker, NH for a time, they moved her when the house was built and when their child was an infant. The builder was Abel J. Baker, Jr. His son became quite famous as a politician, newspaper owner, governor of New Hampshire, and during the Civil War, he served as Adjutant General in Iowa. I love this old house and all the secrets it holds within its walls.

Our home a long time ago when Elm trees dotted the countryside before succumbing to Dutch Elm disease.


The trim of the house will continue to be white and the new shutters will be green. The color certainly livens up the neighborhood. Passersby are stopping to say, "Looks great!" - music to the painter's ears. The color is gorgeous. Mostly, I love the name "Mark Twain" yellow.

A Yellow Treasure Quilt

Today, thinking about the color yellow, I added a file to my website about a "yellow treasure" (quilt) for which I have created a pattern. It is a beautiful rare quilt with quite a story. I hope you will take the time to read it. Previously, the tale was published in The Quilter magazine. The pattern is for sale as a downloadable pdf file.

I never realized how fond I am of yellow. I just ordered a yellow sweatshirt that has Cardinals and Chickadees on it. It looks cheerful!

This week I have been adding additional files to my website. If you have time, check out what I have been up to at Quilter's Muse Publications  http://www.quiltersmuse.com
I have lots of plan and now that Fall is here, I have more time to implement them. Stay tuned!

Happy Trails!



Friday, September 26, 2014

Anne of Green Gables: a refreshing story

A short while ago I became intrigued with a PBS series, a televised version of the (print) book titled Anne of Green Gables. The story takes place on Prince Edward Island and centers around a young girl who is too skinny, funny looking, and has long red braids and freckles. She is an orphan who has lived with this one and that and is adopted permanently from an asylum by an old maid, Marila, and her brother. Anne (with an "e") is a chatterbox and is a challenge to be around.

I have been reading the story in a book I picked up at a used books stores. It is charming! One part I really enjoyed was when Marila told Anne that she could not do anything else unless she finished her assigned "patchwork" for the day. Anne complained that sewing straight seams (by hand) was boring and she didn't like to do it.

If you are over 90 years old, you might recall having to do "stints" of sewing. "Stint" comes from olde English and refers to a prescribed length of time to engage in a task. In the "olde" days, young girls were required to accomplish their stint of sewing every day as part of chores. This is the first time I have heard of the practice in a written source (this novel geared to juniors).

The number of surviving schoolgirl Samplers are testimony to the fact that embroidery was also required and used to teach letters, numbers, and somber religious sayings that often mention death or the hereafter. Betty Ring was the consummate U.S. collector of Girlhood Samplers and wrote a number of lengthy and well-illustrated books about them. She died earlier this year and her collection was auctioned.

Sewing and embroidery would appeal to the more quiet types. "Anne" was more rambunctious and enjoyed being outside, picking flowers, making up little stories and names for everything in her environment. I can understand how happy she was to finally have a home. She was learning life's lessons at the hands of two old people who had never had children of their own yet had the patience to instruct her in the path of righteousness.

Interestingly enough, I switched on the television the other morning and saw an animated version of Anne of Green Gables. I am about half way through the (thick) book and really enjoy picking it up. Thought I'd share this information with you.

Throughout the book there are references to quilting:  carrying patchwork in one's apron to work on in spare moments; returning a quilting frame to Mrs. Lynde, etc. All of the descriptive phrases of nature are scrumptious. The book seems to really capture the scenery of Prince Edward Island and make one wish to visit there!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On the Death of Presidents

This past week we were able to view Ken Burns' series about "FDR," one of the country's greatest presidents. He was a true leader. Most everyone except for his own close personal friends and assistants did not even realize that the polio he'd contracted had left him totally paralyzed. He walked with someone on one arm and by jostling along, hurling his body forward with the assistance of a body brace. It was a Herculean effort for him to stand at a podium and give a speech. He had to choose his words carefully and he gave us words to remember "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." He lived those words.

In speaking with a dear friend this week, she recalled that she was just 19 years old when the news came of the president's death. She broke down and sobbed at the kitchen table. Her Dad told her to cuss instead. I am sure that when death visits anyone, it would be a normal human thing to express grief in more than one way. She recounts that her mother, who lived to be over 100 years old, had developed quite a litany of possible cuss words over time. Sometimes, nothing else will truly serve the purpose or address the intensity of emotion. To cry is to seem beaten down by life or by a circumstance.

The words are coming to me now: "Hell no, we won't go," the chant of draft dodgers in my generation during the Vietnam War.

I remember my own terrible experience of learning the news of the death of President John F. Kennedy. I was in the 7th grade. Our teacher pulled a TV set into the room and we learned that the president was rushed to surgery and then, the awful words that still ring in my head, "The president is dead." The fear that accompanies such a pronouncement is profound. There is a unsettled feeling of being at risk and in high personal danger, at such a time.

The two presidents shared many common attributes.

I so appreciate the work of Ken Burns. He just continues to make American history an intimate experience for Americans through his film making. My friend and I agreed that the series about "Teddy", Eleanor, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt is one that is worthwhile. As information has continued to be gathered over the years, these pivotal figures on the American scene are somehow made more accessible. History teaches us who we are and who we were, and those unfailing precepts of Democracy that holds our American system together. The 8 part program can be purchased via PBS.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Another Case of Fraud

The Internet can be a fun place to be, or not. Today, I was notified that a company by the name of bakebooks.com has stolen the contents of my print book, Sweetheart & Mother Pillows, has digitized it and is offering it IF the interested party provides their credit card number.

MY book is offered solely in a print format by the company that published it: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. The book has never been offered as a free download or in a digitized format.

Please be wary of thieves and never, ever provide a credit card number in trade for something advertised as "free." Thieves seem to be very abundant on the Internet these days.

If you would like an autographed copy of my book, please contact me at my e-mail address - pat@quiltersmuse.com The price remains at the retail price set by the company who published the book: $24.95 plus $3.00 shipping. Thank you for reading this message. I hope it helps you to stay safe online. To learn more about my book, check my website www.quiltersmuse.com and the "books and patterns" page.


Ellen Emeline Hardy Webster - New Hampshire's Own 1930s Quilt Historian

Ellen Emeline (Hardy) Webster
(1867-1950)

Her Amazing Quilt "Charts,"
Her Writings, and Her Life

a book on CD by Patricia Lynne Grace Cummings
and James Cummings


This book is about an extraordinary New Hampshire woman who was a professor of Biblical studies, loved antique quilts and wild birds, and was a fan of History, Mathematics, and Science. Her life and her discoveries have been researched by quilt historian, Patricia Cummings, and are chronicled in this massive document that consists of 355 pages and 340 photos. The book is sold on a CD-ROM disc and can be viewed on any computer.



This book is a must-have for anyone who is fascinated by life in the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth century. Cummings transcribed all of the notations on the quilt charts and researched the meanings of the penciled notations found there. James Cummings served as photographer/photo editor for the book. The author relied on many sources to gather a complete picture of Mrs. Clarendon Webster's life. This book has something for everyone!

Testimonial about this e-book shared with permission of the author:
1-1-11: With Gloria Nixon's permission, I am sharing her happy note about the e-book, Ellen Emeline Hardy Webster (1867-1950): Her Amazing Quilt Charts, Her Writings, and Her Life by Patricia and James Cummings.


The book arrived yesterday, safe and sound. I started reading it while waiting for the new year to roll in and after catching a glimpse of the charts, didn't take my eyes off the screen until 3:00 a.m....WOW!  I was so anxious to see the quilt "charts" and was not disappointed. Your research is impeccable, Pat. The story entertains as it flows so easily from one subject to the next. I planned on doing a quick skim of the book but couldn't stop reading and reading and reading some more.
What a surprise to learn of Ellen's quilt lectures and her link to Florence LaGanke Harris! Jim did an outstanding job on the photography, too. Saying it is beautiful does not do justice to his work. A very impressive job from the both of you. Thank you for sharing the life and work of Ellen E. Webster with the quilt history world!  [...]. Thank you again, my dear Pat.  I love your book!

I always appreciate hearing from happy readers. It was my privilege and joy to learn more about Ellen Webster's life. She had been forgotten for a time by History and even presented as a shadow/ghost like figure in one television documentary. I was happy to be able to locate her true name and then the rest of my research flowed. Her name was not (ever) Emily Webster. That name had mistakenly been associated with her work. Her friend was Emily Webster Brown and her friend's sister was Ellen A. Webster (neither of the sisters were relatives to Ellen Emeline (Hardy) Webster). Her life is an intriguing tale. The book is laced with wonderful information and old photos. If you love history and that of New Hampshire/New England, you will love this book.

Sale price until October 1, 2014 is $19.95 plus $3.00 shipping. Order your copy today by contacting pat@quiltersmuse.com

Friday, September 12, 2014

Underground Railroad "Story" Continues

Dismay and disdain continue to plague me whenever I see yet another so-called "Underground Railroad" quilt hung in a show; another woman duped by an untrue story about how slaves were helped along the Underground Railroad by seeing quilts hanging on a line or by following a "secret quilt code" that did not exist until the late 20th century when it was concocted by a retired lawyer, Ozella McDaniel Williams. Oh, but who cares about the details? Certainly not the people making quilts to celebrate how clever Blacks were back "in the day" when they took their plight into their own hands, attempting to escape their bondage.

My words about the matter appeared extensively in print and have been referenced in a Black journal.

Just so you are not mistaken, this is not a Black v. White issue. Rather, it is a matter of history and in particular quilt history. To my dismay, on March 19, 2015, somewhere in Iowa, a talk is scheduled called "Underground Railroad Quilts." Oh my! I am so happy that I am not attending. I wouldn't be able to stand sitting there in my seat, squirming and wanting to scream, "No!" Unfortunately, a friend is attending. She plans to listen and not make a peep as she is suddenly "shy," new to the group, and doesn't want to make enemies.

I had files on my website and at one time, a recorded message. I have replaced all of it with the sentiment that I "feel sorry" for anyone who believes this new American myth. It is just one more example of how history has "changed" and how facts get lost because they are not pleasant.

As a quilter, don't you like happy things like color and design more than a pack of historical lies and misinterpretations? I do. To that end, I have been quilting more and online less, having given up Facebook and most other social media. If it doesn't matter what I have to say about the "secret quilt code," I do not care to continue to share details on my website. I know the difference and so do a whole lot of others. It seems to be the charlatans that are most into reciting the "code" and interpreting. They fail to realize that the author of the book, Hidden in Plain View, called his book "pure speculation." I have heard tales of the extremes to which speakers take the misinformation.

Other News

Today is a windy day and sunny. The air is brisk and fresh and hints of the cooler nights. Just for fun yesterday, we took a trip to Keepsake Quilting. I wanted to buy a number of things I saw in the catalog and it was a misty/rainy day. One of the items I'd been wanting for awhile: an assortment of Aurifil 50 Mako thread. I love it! It is a multi-use thread for hand piecing and hand quilting. and machine quilting. I actually wanted two assortments but the store was out of the other, the Darlene Zimmerman thread collection. Today, I called to order the second assortment. They will be great for larger projects that I have going.

Just for fun I ordered a kit for a Christmas quilt with (real) lights that kept catching my eye in the catalog.

"Mark Twain" Yellow - A New Look for an Old House

A while ago, Jim discovered that the earliest paint applied to the outside of our home had been yellow. Who would have guessed? We decided to upgrade from a completely gray house to a yellow one and began looking to see what was available. We found some "Mark Twain" yellow paint at Lowe's. Today, Jim began painting with the yellow. It is rather "eye-popping' but pleasant and certainly quite a change! The house was gray for several hundred years.

I am feeling happy these days in my semi-retired state. The Quilter magazine and other magazine titles by All-American Crafts, Inc. no longer exist, although I have not received any official news. I have turned to a scholarly project with the intent of having it published. It is a topic that is fun and one that you would love! Stay tuned until next year!

Now, to get back to my projects! Enjoy the weekend!

Patricia Cummings
Quilter's Muse Publications


Friday, September 5, 2014

"Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep": A Discussion

An antique store find
Above you see a portion of an embroidered Sampler which says "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep / I Pray the Lord My Soul to Keep / Guide Me Safely Through the Night / Wake Me With the Morning Light."

I remember a similar prayer that had me terrified as a young child. The first prayer I ever learned was, "Now I lay me down to sleep / I pray the Lord my soul to keep / And if I die before I wake / I pray the Lord my soul to take." After carefully reciting this poem, I would lay awake for hours wondering if I was going to die and if so, if my soul would be taken and to where (also wondering what a "soul" is).

Curiously, a Sampler with the "other" similar poem was also for sale at the antiques shop. I could not bring myself to purchase it. This Sampler, on the other hand, is unfinished. It was sold by NeedleMania Inc. and is Article # 8122. I wish I knew more about all of these companies that produced Samplers to stitch at home. Someone should write a guide book. No, not me. I believe it would be difficult to track down information.

I hope to finish the Sampler you see here in some manner. I like the idea of peacefully waking to the morning's light, an experience that does not happen for many in the world who are without freedom and without sunshine in any level of their lives. I feel so happy and so thankful for the special people in my life who are my sunshine.

My Dad and Mother in 1931 when they were dating


So saying, I recall my Dad always singing to my Mom : "You are my sunshine / my only sunshine / you make me happy when skies are gray / you'll never know dear / how much I love you / please don't take my sunshine away.

Wishing you sunshine all the days of your life. :-)

Patricia Cummings

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Changing Times: The Internet - Slow Killer of the Print Industry

Changing Times

Time was when I would purchase a news magazine such as Time and it would actually have many more pages than now. Today, the print is so small in some magazines that I can barely read them.

When I first started to quilt, quilt history books were very few. Quilt magazine titles were scarce, the main magazine being Quilter's Newsletter magazine. The American Quilt Study Group had a small roster of women. The program to certify appraisers was just beginning. Today, every state of the union has at least one certified quilt appraiser. To say that "things have changed" is an understatement.

When I wrote a comprehensive book about quilt care, there was very little posted online about the topic. Meanwhile, everyone and their uncle became a sudden expert and in some online articles that were a thinly-veiled repeat of what I had written, information was shared, some of it true and some (additions) to it false.

There has been a whole series of books written about medieval quilts. Quilt retreats abound and big prize money is available to quilters who win awards. The American Quilt Museum is filled with prize-winning quilts for which their makers have taken a cash prize in exchange for the museum keeping their quilt in perpetuity.

Bob Dylan was prophetic when he sang the words, "The times they are a-changin'."

The Internet seems to have taken over. Everyone (except me, I imagine) owns a Smartphone or an Ipad, or uses a Wifi connection). Everyone (except me) "texts" - What happened to talking with people in real time?

The Internet is killing the market for quilt shops that used to give classes, and for print sources that could be purchased (books, etc.). I have been guilty myself of providing detailed written information and lots of photos...for free...on my Internet site (www.quiltersmuse.com), a site currently under my review.

Today, old patterns are treated as though they are fantastic "new" discoveries. Online entities provide directions for hexagons, and the latest craze/phase of quilting involves using lots of (white) background areas so that more machine quilting can be done on quilts in the "modern quilt movement." As far as I can see, the quilts take old patterns and use large scale fabric but there is really nothing terribly "new" or "modern" otherwise about the quilts. I suspect that the "modern art movement" is a set of words to help young people think that they are "hep" and doing something totally different than making Grandma's quilts.

It is all good except for the fact that print magazines are suffering and going out of business. That has been a problem for the past 10 years. If people do not buy a magazine or take a subscription, the print material goes away forever.

We are changing. It is true. However, I have lived long enough and suffered enough losses to say that I miss a lot of what was "good" in the past. Yet, I realize that we must embrace the future and the new capabilities that technology provides. I already feel like a dinosaur by not being a Smartphone user or text-er. From what I hear though, that very fact may keep me out of trouble.

People my age who have been in on the quilt revival since the beginning and have saved magazines now find ourselves with the dilemma of downsizing some of them. To me and to others who love print sources, it is a joy to pick up a new magazine and hold it in our hands. I hope there are a few more dinosaurs around and that print publications can survive the latest onslaught of "free" information online. Long live printed resources!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stories

Stories

Patricia L. Cummings

Stories. We all love them. We all repeat them and find them a fascinating link that reveals human behavior. We often repeat stories that tell a cautionary tale. Often, we do not know or cannot prove that a story is true or not, especially ones from the distant past outside of our experience and our own life spans.

Personal Experience with Stories

As an observer of human behavior, I love stories, especially funny ones. Stories can also be upsetting when they are not truthful. Someone, okay...a close relative who either does not know me well or chooses to just make up her own version of my life has repeated constantly that I live in Boston (never did); and that I possess a master's degree in Spanish (at one time I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in Spanish but did not follow that path, opting for building a family instead. The thing is...the story could be true! I had majored in Spanish, lived in Spain, and had earned 48 credits in Spanish when only 32 were needed, and graduated with honors, in Spanish, and in general! The story seems to ring true that I might have pursued an additional degree.

Challenge to Researchers

You can imagine how difficult it is for researchers to find out whether or not something really happened. As stories go, they can become more and more embellished as they are repeated again and again. Oral history is important but cannot be totally relied upon.

The Mayflower v. the Angel Gabriel

When studying a quilt that reportedly came from the Old World to the New World in 1635, lots of conflicting "facts" emerge. The quilt was called "The Mayflower Quilt" yet, it did not arrive on "The Mayflower" ship. I tried my best to piece together the pieces of the puzzle as they emerged about this quilt that is now owned by a museum. The style of the wholecloth quilt appears to be one called trapunto and I was told that it was an "indigo style" quilt. I assured the owners that indigo is the color of a thread, not a quilt style. They are not quilt specialists and clearly were relying on written provenance records in the museum.

Pemiquid Lighthouse and Museum that set high above Pemiquid Harbor. They are
                  administured by the U.S. Coast Guard. The park itself, a state park, is accessible by admission


Wrong Location

Only after we had gone to Maine to take photographs of the area where the quilt is reported to have been carried ashore did we learn that the location we assumed had been the correct one was not. The area is 3-4 miles south of Pemiquid Point. The galleon that brought the quilt and members of the Cogswell family (and others) was named Angel Gabriel. The year was 1635 and the great ship was headed from Bristol, England to a land area called Bristol (in what is now the state of Maine). After the galleon was anchored in Pemiquid Harbor, the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 came up the coast from Narragansett, Rhode Island, smashing the ship to smithereens. A few crew hands and cattle were lost but the terrified pilgrims who had already been transported ashore via canoes and rowboats  met with an horrifying act of Nature.

More Questions

There is much more to know. We have only a story upon which to rely, one passed by family lore. Was the quilt truly aboard the Angel Gabriel? Was it made in England or was it an import from an Italian or French atelier? Was the quilt owned by the Cogswell family? If the story is fictional, why was it made up? Oh, I can think of many other questions to which there are no ready answers.

Women's Work

Textiles, often the work of women, are so common, their story is often lost, the same questions that I ask in my research: Who made the item, why was it made, when was it made, and how did it come to be passed along over many years. Often, too, textiles are procured outside of family hands when it is time to downsize or someone decides they have owned a quilt or other textile long enough. As a quilt historian, I try to save the "facts," a problem that is elusive when no clear facts are there to find.

Spin a Tale / Life is but a Dream

We can only enjoy what "seems" to be true. The value of any story, as I have learned, is its reflection on human activity. Yes, to a degree, stories belong to the "dreamers." As a Spanish writer, Calderon,   once wrote, "Life is a dream."

Wrong Location

Only after the article I published was in print did I learn that the two markers at Pemiquid Point, placed by family members, are not physically-located correctly. The Point is not where the pilgrims came ashore but it is the only location where permission could be obtained to place the two plaques. An old fort south of that area is flat and has a beach area which was suitable for the disembarking adventurers who sought religious freedom and monetary gain in the New World.

The Quilter magazine - Out of Business

I wrote about the quilt and showed photos of it in a recent article in The Quilter magazine. As an update for those who do not know, the magazine, owned by All-American Crafts Publishing, Inc., is now out of business as of 8-8-2014, having declared bankruptcy.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bluebirds, Nothing but Bluebirds

Bluebirds, Nothing but Bluebirds

Patricia L. Cummings

A favorite quilt pattern is one that features appliquéd Bluebirds. I have spotted it in three of my quilt books, two of them offering photos and one of them providing a pattern to make a miniature quilt. Mini Quilts from Traditional Designs by Adele Corcoran and Caroline Wilkinson (Sterling Publishing Co., 1995) offers a pattern. The quilt was again published in The American Quilt Story: The How~To and Heritage of a Craft Tradition by Susan Jenkins and Linda Seward (Rodale Press, 1991). One of the "just pretty pictures" book, America's Beautiful Quilts by Zaro Weil lists a date of 1952 and states the quilt shown was made in Tennessee and is in a private collection. I recall reading (somewhere) that this is a 19th century  (1800s) quilt design.



Miniature Bluebird Quilt made by Patricia Cummings. Photo styling by Patricia Cummings and photo by James Cummings


Here is a miniature quilt that I made. The repeated blocks are about 4 1/2"  square. I made this one exactly according to the book's directions and enjoyed the process.

Like rainbows and butterflies, bluebirds can be a symbol of hope as well as a sign on an impending summer. Though out of season at the moment, the mere thought of bluebirds makes me feel happy at a time when sadness crept into my life with the demise of The Quilter magazine, my main outlet for published feature articles.

Signs are present that autumn is coming soon. Moose are ambling about more freely during this, the "rut" season when they seek a mate. We saw a moose this week on a trip to the Colebrook and Pittsburg NH area. Underfoot, whenever passing under Maple trees, tiny colored leaves are strewn on our path. The nights cool off to the point of pulling up a second bed covering, and the garden is producing more vegetables and berries to the point that it is difficult to keep up with processing the harvest by canning and freezing.

Every season has its own advantages. In New Hampshire, the only hope of seeing a bluebird is in late spring or during the summer. They prefer to nest in boxes near farms. By making a Bluebird quilt, I can enjoy the birds year 'round. Just looking at the quilt I made a number of years ago makes me feel happy. Wishing you rainbows, butterflies, and bluebirds in your life and anything else that makes you happy!

Our minds are keen! We can visualize that which is not present and remember song lyrics such as "Bluebirds, nothing but bluebirds from now on."



Monday, August 11, 2014

The Demise of The Quilter Magazine by All-American Crafts, Inc.

I am extremely sad tonight to report that the final issue of The Quilter magazine was published and it was to be the last. On Friday afternoon, operatives at The Quilter magazine shut their doors to future business leaving unpaid bills and unhappy workers who have given beyond their "all" to the company.

As a free-lance writer, I contributed more than 90 articles since September 1999. I wrote steadily for 15 years, coming up with ideas that enchanted my editor, Laurette Koseroski. Now, she is no longer my editor, just my friend in a deep friendship we forged over time in working together. The pity of the situation is that I just wrote what she deemed to be my best article ever. I signed the contract and now, the article will not be published in The Quilter. My husband and I worked very hard and had a large outlay of time and money for the two-part article. With publication grinding to a halt, it will not be published.

There is no doubt that I am of retirement age and my editor is the same age as me. I am not sure what is next. I have some writing projects in mind as well as some quilt projects. It does seem that whenever a door closes, a window seems to open. Like someone told me today,"If you give up hope, Pat, you might as well be dead." I have not given up hope. I am a self-starter who is always busy and I find plenty of work to do, paid or unpaid.

I want to thank Laurette for being such a fan of my work and strong supporter (and friend). I am thankful for the thousands of readers who have read the pages of the magazine on a regular basis. It is always hard to say good-bye. In a sense, I am happy to have this blog and my website (yes, it is still there) and will share information and my quirky thoughts as they happen. Thanks for being along for the ride.

Patricia Cummings
www.quiltersmuse.com

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fascination with Toads

Fascination with Toads

Patricia L. Cummings, 8-10-2014

Today on my daily walk, I passed a stone wall that abutts the new sidewalk courtesy of Concord, NH. At the bottom of said stone wall, I saw something move at the corner of my eye and when I looked a little closer I saw it was a baby toad. This is a good year for toads. I see them in our user-friendly yard probably because Jim does all the mowing by hand not by electric means which results in less attrition of amphibians in the yard. He even build a little toad house in the garden when they can find shade and water. Can you tell we love Nature?

This is a ceramic (salt and pepper) shaker), one of my favorites.
Photos by James Cummings


I have been fascinated with toads since I was a child. Now I wonder what they eat and how they stay alive, being so close to the ground. My guess is that they eat insects, maybe with any luck, they eat ticks. Thinking about toads after seeing one today has renewed my faith. After all, "God" or whatever you call a Higher Presence is keeping the little toad alive. It was so like neighboring twigs the same color, it is a miracle I spotted it at all.

Surprises in the Garden

One time, at the end of gardening season, I was pulling up spent flowers and spotted what I thought was a rock. When I went to reach for it, it moved. The object was a Granddaddy Toad who had burrowed into what he thought would be a good place to overwinter. At that point, I left him to his own devices and left plenty of foliage around him to assist him. Nearby, there was a yellow and black Garden Spider, a spectacular sight. I did not attempt to kill it, such as beauty that it is, and harmless to humans in spite of its intense color that would make anyone think it is poisonous.

We are Part of the Greater Plan

We are only part of NATURE. Take a walk and look around. There is all kinds of inspiration. Today, I saw that the Mullen plants are tall and full of yellow blossoms which will eventually attract yellow goldfinch to its seeds. The Concord grapes along a patch of the sidewalk has ripening grapes that are beginning to show a deep purple color. Our garden is filling our table with abundant and healthy vegetables of all kinds.

Plant a "Promise" in the Ground

"It's a time to reap, a time to sow." The earth is blessing us with abundance all for planting a "promise" in the ground (as a folk song's lyrics say). If we take care of Nature, Nature will take care of us. Home gardening is fun, even if it is pot gardening, if you have an apartment.

A Time to Reflect

Today I really enjoyed my brief stroll up the road. It is always fun to check in on the neighbors and their attempts to beautiful their landscape by adding garden ornaments or by changing the configuration of plantings in their yards. I can say that at least for the moment all seems "right" in my world. I hope that you will take the time to explore Nature in your own backyard. There is room for us all.




Saturday, August 9, 2014

Where Woodworking and Quilting Intersect

Not surprising, there are many men who quilt today. It is not surprising because quilting and woodworking have a lot in common. Boards have to be mitered so that corners will set just right. Today, I watched PBS, a show that showed the assembly of a unique rectangular, upright box in which a light bulb was secured. Glass units were made that were melded together at 1500 degrees. They were diamond shapes and by using three different colors of glass the effect is "Tumbling Blocks," just like the quilt pattern made by President Calvin Coolidge when he was a youth. (Read more about that in a recent issue of The Quilter magazine.)

Today, there is less obsuring of the lines of what activities are acceptable for both sexes. Women are becoming engineers, and men are serving as fashion designers. There is no limit when it comes to choosing a satisfying career. The problem is that 18 year old children simply cannot make good choices.

We ask our children to decide what profession they would like, at an early age, before they have tasted the world and explored a lot of possibilities. As for myself, I thought I would enjoy being a Spanish teacher. I found that I liked very much being a secretary/word processor. Once introduced to quilting, I found I liked that even more - that, and of course, writing about quilts and their history; writing patterns, articles and books. We never know where life will take us. In our case, life has taken us all over New England and to meet people that we would not otherwise have met, had I not become a quilter.

I find it curious that if you speak with many quilters, they will mention that their husband either "taught shop" or are active woodworkers. The two activities, quilting and shop work, seem to go hand in hand. I can think of two items that were given to me. One is a key chain composed of different colors of wood. The other is a free-standing lined box and has a top in the shape of a quilt block. Both are beautiful! I do not have photos to share with you at the moment as my photographer is busy. Soon...

Patricia L. Cummings

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It's All in the Words We Use

This morning, lacking nothing to do that was pressing, I switched on the television. Since the last show I watched (last night) was about Mark Twain, the channel that came up was Channel 2, WGBH. The current program was Sesame Street. Wow! The show has really changed considerably since I last watched it with my son in the early 1970s. My take-away has enchanted me all day. Two characters were discussing problems and how to get rid of them and one told the other that it is important to "twinkle think."

The word "twinkle" is a curious one. We speak of Santa Claus with a "twinkle in his eye" or apply the same idea to a young man who smitten by a young lady. Twinkle-think connotes using magic, entertaining many different ideas, and having fun finding a solution. I could suddenly see that I had been "twinkle thinking" when I turned on the television. My problem of "what to do next" was solved and I now have a new set of words to add to my own thought processes.

I have to admit having been in love with Kermit the Frog from the first time I ever saw him. I especially loved the song "Rainbow Connection" - "for lovers, and dreamers, and me."

This afternoon, wanting a small dose of politics, I tuned into a segment on MSNBC's "The Cycle" program. I usually enjoy watching shows like that when I have time. A guest who has written a book was talking about how, in past times, people would talk to each other in neighborhoods and communities. Now, it seems to him, people congregate on the Internet in groups that line up with their religious interests, specific hobbies (like quilting!), or other common factors such as family. There is simply not much time for socializing with real people in person.

It is true. The Internet can suck up hours of time, one reason I deleted my personal Facebook account, and have not been spending a lot of time online. As a person who loves thoughts, it was refreshing today to be able to watch two different shows that clearly gave me some things to consider.

Wishing you time to enjoy the fast-passing summer days and to just spend a little time twinkle-thinking. May all your dreams come true.

Patricia Cummings


Friday, August 1, 2014

Billings Farm & Museum - Fun with Quilts!

These days seem like the lazy days of summer especially when the heat and humidity do not inspire us to do much. Yet, we do what needs to be done anyhow. Jim just picked the first quart of Blackberries for the year and hastened to make a Blackberry crisp. He is so resourceful. The key to a happy life is using what you have and not wasting a thing.


Covered bridge in Woodstock, Vermont not far from the Billings Farm and Museum


Yesterday was special. We were once again invited to the opening of the quilt exhibit at Billings Farm and Museum. The number of quilts seemed fewer this year but it was clear that the quilters all took great care in their work for this juried exhibit which awards ribbon prizes for the winners. To enter, once has to be a member who lives in Windsor County, Vermont.


"Dance of the Dragonflies" by Cynthia Dalyrmple is my favorite this year. It is machine pieced and machine quilted


Among the many compelling quilts, the one I liked the best was made by Cynthia Dalrymple. The pastel background colors are very pleasing and the theme is a fun one. I believe the signage stated that this was from a pattern. She added beads for the "eyes" of the dragonflies. The borders pick up the same colors of turquoise (so "in" this year) and purple. Pinwheel blocks are situated in each outer border's corners.

I enjoyed picking the colors for this Dresden Plate quilt pillow I made.
Here it is seen sitting on the loveseat in my den where I have a "books" throw cover


I have not been idle. A week or so ago, I made a Dresden Plate circular pillow. I have set aside some large hand quilting projects until fall when I'll feel more like working on them. Happy Quilting! Enjoy the little things. They are all little things that make up the essence of life!  Pat


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Beginnings for an Old House

New Beginnings for an Old House

For as long as I have lived in my present home, it has been gray with black shutters. Recently, my husband said that he needed to paint the house this summer. He also said that it was originally yellow. That was all I needed to run to Lowe's to check paint colors. We have chosen a "happy" yellow and will add green (aluminum) shutters that will never need to be painted. This will be a major improvement for the exterior of our home.

Our house as it appears in an old history book about Concord, NH
Exact date of photo unknown but pre-1930s



Of course, we considered many variations of the color yellow and have settled on a "Mark Twain" house color of that historic home. Today, after spraying hornet's nests galore last night, Jim embarked on scraping pain on the north side of the house. He gave away all of the old black shutters the other night, deciding that he had patched them often enough.

I am very excited about this project. It will be like living in a new space and will be a cheerful accent to our neighborhood, we hope, along with the view of the many flowers and plants that we grow here.

Color makes all the difference in the world when it comes to one's reaction to something. For example, I am attracted to pastel color tee shirts and am turned off by black ones. I avoid looking at red ones, too. Black and red are colors that I associate with danger (for some reason).

Both Jim and I are constantly working at some project or another when we are not resting. As we get older, we both have to pace ourselves and do work a little at a time. Yet, like a slow turtle crossing the road, we eventually get to the other side. I am sure we will provide a photo of this latest project as soon as it is complete. What fun as we bring this home into the 21st century, yet celebrate its original color, too, as best we can.

Patricia Cummings

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Personal Quilt HIstory

Personal Quilt History of Patricia L. Cummings

7-26-2014

Yankee Magazine is one of my favorite magazines for a number of reasons. I love their column "Mary's Farm," I have gleaned some pretty terrific recipes from that source over the years, such as Topinambour Soup made with Jerusalem Artichokes of which we grow many, as well as Tres Leches cake, a super delicious cake! I have enjoyed their landmark stories such as an account of a murder at the Isles of Shoals, and the fact that the magazine is PURE New England from maple syrup to maple leaves and a few cows in between.

With that unpaid advertisement for the magazine, I shall throw in one more: in the advertisement section, I recently discovered "The Other Guy Recording & Sound" business, theotherguyrec@msn.com . The ad was brief and I responded right away. I have a VHS tape recording of the very first video my oral presentation "History of Quilts." The talk was given to the Embroiderers' Guild of America, our local Northern New England Chapter on 8-14-1991, yes, almost 23 years ago now! Business owner, Alex Kiddie, gave my request to duplicate the tape his undivided attention, converting it to a DVD disc. I received a copy in the return mail. What fun! He can be reached at (603) 905-9123 and stands ready to help with any of your duplicating needs.

It was quite fun to revisit the day. I gave the talk undaunted by painters rattling their ladders and walking through a hall at the left side of the room and airplanes overhead. It is somewhat unsettling but pleasing at the same time that the camera caught folks I have not seen in a long time because they have either died or are in nursing homes. In fact, that is the case of most of the people who attended that meeting, sobering, indeed.


Sometimes I am not sure which I love more: quilting or folk music!


What comes through loud and clear is that my skills as a professional speaker have increased exponentially, yet, the presentation was heartfelt and representational of all of the information I knew at that time. I am out of grade school now, in regard to quilt history information, and know so much more! This was a fun look back to a special day. In the meantime, I have presented many more talks about this beloved subject, the last major effort for me being to give a one-time presentation of Civil War quilts that involved a major research project for me from 2010-2011, that talk also being given in August (2011).

I have made hundreds of quilts of every size and shape imaginable. My favorite methods are hand appliqué, hand quilting, Crazy Quilts (Victorian style), and miniature quilts. In the video, quilts are shown that I no longer own. The beginnings of a Country Bride quilt, now given to a cousin, can be seen, as well as a "Kissing Geese" tree skirt I gave to my (late) brother. There are garments that no longer "fit" me, one of which I gave away. The fact that certain items have been passed along is not unlike the practice of others, I believe.


"Country Bride Quilt" made in 1991 by Patricia Cummings, designed by
Rachel Pellman who wrote a book of instructions for this quilt


To the talk, I had brought the cover of the Yankee Magazine which said, "Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without." I am still a subscriber to both the magazine and the practice of that saying.

I want to encourage others who would like to create a quilting business of some kind. "Rome wasn't built in a day." Take small steps, always with an eye to expanding your knowledge. Share that knowledge wherever and whenever you can. Let others know that you thoroughly enjoy being a quilter and how much quilting means to you. Even non-quilters will "catch" your enthusiasm. Personally, I am grateful to those businesses that support what I do. So saying, I am thinking of the DVD now in my possession. As an added service, Kiddie keeps copies of tapes he re-creates. I am well-pleased.

The video catches a glimpse of a much younger me with straight brown hair (now it is long and gray). Yes, I have earned the gray color. Meantime, I've written a song about quilting, poems about quilting, and attended as many quilt shows, shops, guilds, and museum exhibitions as is reasonable in one's lifetime. My writings have been published in Japan, Canada, and Australia (etc.), and my last book, Sweetheart & Mother Pillows has been distributed all over the world. Yet, I still LOVE it all! Just thought I'd share my happiness with you!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Create Beauty

Unexpected sightings add to our delight daily
photo by Charlotte Croft


Only God can make a tree according to poet Joyce Kilmer. Only man can decorate said tree in a pleasing manner by inserting flowers in the bark. This blog post features a tree adorned by flowers by a woman named Tina. Charlotte Croft sent the photo from Windsor County, Vermont.



Shop, Learn, and Have Fun at the 81st Annual League of NH Craftsmen's Fair

CONCORD, NHThe 81st Annual League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair is the place to see and shop for fine handmade crafts—and learn how craft is made. The Fair takes place at the scenic Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury, NH from Saturday, Aug. 2, to Sunday, Aug. 10. The longest running annual crafts fair in the nation—drawing some 30,000 people each year—will feature the contemporary and traditional work of 350 craftsmen, along with daily craft demonstrations, workshops, and entertainment for the entire family.

“The League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair is the perfect way for the whole family to get an in-depth look at the world of craft making. The Fair is a rare, interactive opportunity where visitors can talk to a range of craftspeople (all juried members of the League), take a workshop, watch a demonstration or just browse the myriad of exciting and intriguing craft booths,” said Susie Lowe-Stockwell, executive director of the League of NH Craftsmen.  “Many of our craftspeople have been participating in the Fair for 30 years or more and every year they relish this opportunity to present new and inspiring creations. I also love seeing the fresh talent of our newest craftspeople as well.”

“The Annual Craftsmen's Fair—it is where we show our work and interact with friendly and educated fairgoers,” added Robert Burch, who has been working in blown glass since 1971, making vases, perfume bottles, paperweights and sculptural pieces. Robert and his daughter Caitlin, who also works in blown glass, are both juried members of the League. “It is a pleasure to talk about the design and process of our work and to connect with other craftspeople.”

Craft Demonstrations, Workshops & Family Fun
There are many options for learning more about fine craft. Take a leather working workshop with Grant Taylor to learn how to cut, edge, smooth and prepare small leather items, such as bracelets and belts. The leather working workshop will take place on Saturday, Aug. 2, and Sunday, Aug. 3.
Craft demonstrations at the Fair are educational and entertaining. Watch wood carver Bill Schnute as he demonstrates how to use carving gouges and mallets to form an intricately carved wooden piece. Schnute will provide demonstrations all day on Sunday, Aug. 3. On Tuesday, Aug. 5, and Wednesday, Aug. 6, basket maker Lynn Goldberg will show visitors how to make a basket from birch bark using a plaited weave and zigzag borders. 

And on Friday, August 8, special guest, ceramic artist Jon Keenan, will demonstrate his technique and give a presentation about his work and inspiration. Visit www.nhcrafts.org for a complete listing of workshops and demonstrations.

This year’s Craftsmen’s Fair will have even more activities for families, with special craft workshops and demonstrations geared toward children and teenagers, including a pottery school and woodworking activities. Roving performances featuring oversized puppets, magicians, mind readers, and musicians will wander the grounds, creating a festival atmosphere.

“We have families who have been attending the Fair together for years,” Lowe-Stockwell said. “The Fair offers a variety of fun and creative activities for all ages – it’s a great way to enjoy New Hampshire in the summer.”

Special promotions & events
Brand new this year is the “Collectors’ Sprint” on Saturday, August 2, where guests can pay $50 to enter the Craftsmen’s Fair an hour early at 9 a.m. and have exclusive access to all craft booths, exhibitions and The Shop At The Fair. Collectors’ Sprint patrons also receive a tote bag with a limited edition 2014 Ornament, premier parking and refreshments.

For those who can’t make it during the day, there will be a special Thursday night event on Aug. 7 called “$5 After 4,” in which the Fair will remain open three hours later until 8 p.m. and admission will be half price after 4 p.m. Visitors can enter a contest to win free tickets for the Collectors Sprint and Late Night Thursday at www.nhcrafts.org/faircontest.

Additional features of the Annual Craftsmen Fair
  • Fairgoers can purchase the League of NH Craftsmen's 2014 Annual Ornament. This year's ornament is Whispers of Spring, a hand-formed cast pewter birch branch by Kristine Lane and Paulette Werger, both juried in metal by the League. The ornament costs $23 and is numbered and signed by the artists. 
  • Visitors can learn how to collect fine craft by attending a Collectors Seminar on Thursday, Aug. 7, from noon to 1 p.m.
  • Learn more about your favorite craft by taking a Tour with a Master.
  • Picture your home with a piece of handmade furniture, wall hanging or basket from the Living With Craft Exhibition which showcases room settings with a creative fusion of handmade furniture and decorative items.
  • Try on one-of-a-kind handmade fashions and accessories at the CraftWear Exhibition, which displays stylish “art-to-wear” clothing, jewelry and accessories.
  • Walk through the Sculpture Garden and enjoy a breathtaking display of landscape sculptures and garden ornaments. Last year, this exhibit was one of the most talked about at the Fair, and will be expanded this year.
Photos
League Fairgrounds: The 2014 Annual League of NH Craftsmen's Fair will feature more than 200 craft booths, craft demonstrations, workshops, and three craft exhibitions, including the Sculpture Garden pictured here.

Richard Foye: Pottery maker Richard Foye, a juried member of the League of NH Craftsmen, demonstrates his method for creating unique and beautiful pottery. The Annual League of NH Craftsmen's Fair showcases the latest handcrafted work by the juried members of the League. Creative, one-of-a-kind clay, metal, glass, wood, fiber craft and more are on display and available for purchase.

Annual Craftsmen’s Fair Ticket Information
The 81th Annual League of NH Craftsmen Fair will be open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, rain or shine, from August 2-10. Admission is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors, students, active duty military (with ID), and groups of 20 or more. Admission is free for children 12 and under. A ticket includes admission to all exhibitions and demonstrations. A ticket for a second return day is available for an additional $5. Visitors who purchase their tickets in advance on the League's website, www.nhcrafts.org, will receive a $1 discount, plus no convenience fee. This discount will be offered until August 1. Having tickets in advance is a great way to avoid the long ticket lines at the gate. Parking is free.

Picnic areas, as well as a food tent, indoor cafeterias, and an outdoor Garden Café (serving adult beverages) are open daily. Parking is free. Please leave pets at home; only service dogs are allowed on the fairgrounds.

About the League of NH Craftsmen
The League of NH Craftsmen is a non-profit, craft education organization. Its mission is to encourage, nurture and promote the creation, use and preservation of fine contemporary and traditional craft through the inspiration and education of artists and the broader community. The League represents the signature of excellence in fine craft, through the work of its juried members, and its rigorous standards for self expression, vision, and quality craftsmanship. The League of NH Craftsmen is supported in part by grants from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information about the Fair, or the League of NH Craftsmen, call 603-224-3375, email nhleague@nhcrafts.org, or visit the League’s website at www.nhcrafts.org.


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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Civil War Quilt

Civil War Quilt

Patricia L. Cummings

We took a trip to Montpelier, Vermont this past week and one of our stops was at the Vermont Historical Society. I hoped, beforehand, that a quilt with which I am enchanted might be on display. I was not disappointed. The quilt is one that was made and donated to the Vermont branch of the U.S. Sanitary Commission. A few years ago, I made a reproduction of the quilt with the help of a purchased pattern devised by Donald Beld who since then has co-written a book about Civil War Quilts with Pamela Weeks. I relied on my own method of making the design and the inkings were wrought in Pigma Pen. I had the resources on hand to correct some of the inscriptions. Then and now, spelling is often a challenge. Here is a photo of the quilt I made and the additional stand-on-its-own cloth photo of the maker of the quilt, Caroline ("Carrie") Fairbanks, Brandon, Vermont procured from a great-great grandson.


Reproduction Quilt (made by Patricia Cummings) of the Civil War Quilt made by Caroline Fairbanks
 for the U.S. Sanitary Commission  /  photo by James Cummings



The quilt is very important because it is one of only a few original Sanitary Commission quilts still in existence. This quilt was made by me, Patricia Cummings, in Spring 2011. The original quilt re-used pieces of a brown calico dress that she recycled for this purpose and it the white background appears to be recycled sheeting.

Alternate quilt blocks contain religious inscriptions from Biblical sources that were inked on with permanent ink in the maker's own hand writing script. The "new" quilt is inked by Patricia Cummings but the placement of verses is changed, in part due to faulty information provided at the time of the quilt's making, and in part because I had not seen the quilt in person but relied on the reports of others. No matter. The quilt was made as a tribute to Caroline and her efforts. 

Caroline married Luke B. Fairbanks, a Union soldier, on Christmas Day, December 25, 1862 when he was on leave after being shot in the arm. The quilt was not made for him but rather, it was given to the commission to distribute to anyone in need. The exact date the quilt was made is not known.

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,
Do good to those that hate you,
And pray for those which despitefully
Use you and persecute you.


It is heartbreaking to realize that an estimated 250,000 quilts were made and distributed over a four year period and less than 10 of those given to the U.S. Sanitary Commission have been identified so far. Every able-bodied man marched off to war and or exited the north by train to join the fight. Fairbanks and his five brothers were no exception.

According to Donald Beld, this is the only known surviving soldier's quilt made by just one person working alone that was donated to the U.S. Sanitary Commission. Many quilt were the result of attendance at quilting bees. Presumably, the comfort of being with other women in the same predicament was an important part of the bee. 

The Fairbanks quilt is now owned by the Vermont Historical Society and was acquired when a museum in Pennsylvania decided to de-accession it. As always, it was fun for me to be in contact with a relative when searching for more information about this quilt and its maker, and to be sent family photos by him. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Last Hours of the Titanic

The Last Hours of the Titanic

Patricia L. Cummings

The movie about the Titanic brings to mind the fact that in the final moments before the ship sank, the bandmaster, Wallace Hartley, directed his band to play the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee." Clearly, he realized that death would soon come to many of the passengers very soon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCEfqj9pDAI

Turning to God, whatever we perceive God to be, seems like a natural human tendency but most especially when danger is upon us.

In the slow lane, quilters have a medium in which their faith or beliefs can be preserved. A Bible quilt that features the Lord's Prayer is one that I saw about 10 years ago at a special exhibit of quilts which belong to area museums near Wenham, Massachusetts. I have appliqued a number of extra-large Biblical quilt blocks that features the "Rose of Sharon," a rose that is referred to in the Bible. The following is a Crazy Quilt block that features some of the things my mother loved in life, including the Virgin Mary.


I added an image of the Virgin Mary in this Crazy Quilt I made as a memory quilt of my mother. Photo by James Cummings


I am sure that if I looked through the resources I have on hand, I would find more examples of this genre, one of sharing one's faith in creative works.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Life is in the Details

Life is in the Details

Patricia L.Cummings

While taking a walk today, I noticed the new plants used to landscapr a neighbor's lawn. The house just sold to some new homeowners and they have been fixing up the interior and exterior of the home to suite themselves. While they spread loam which I suppose will be a lawn area, I noticed five large ant hills. The ants have been busily bringing sand to the top of the loam. The activity is made incredible by the amount of effort exerted by each ant.

Though they are very little, ants seem to be quite strong. Have you ever seen an ant carrying a "comrade" that has died in combat (with a human)? One ant will begin the process and soon others will try to help to bring the ant (somewhere?). Is there a special ant burial ground we do not know about?


Ants love anything that smells sweet as does this Peony bud. / Photo by James Cummings


Ants of all sizes are running around my kitchen area. They are finding plenty of ant bait which they bring back to the nest and eventually, we see less or nothing of one kind and then a larger set of ant appears. Like everything under the sun, ants are game for depicting on a Crazy Quilt. I did.


Close up of a Crazy Quilt by Patricia Cummings shows "ants" fabric and two ants made with silk ribbon and embroidery
Photo by James Cummings
Until next time, may your days of summer be ones of fun! Winter arrives too soon. The ants are seen no more in the colder months. Do they hibernate? In the meantime, we shall have a distant memory of them, enough to add them to quilts, unless they reappear in person. This weather seems to be bringing out a multitude of flying insect creatures, too. "To everything there is a season..." and life is in the details!