Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Look at the Quilts of Donald Munsey

Donald Munsey, Quiltmaker

Patricia L.. Cummings

This is a photo of Don Munsey. Known as a man of science, he exuded personal warmth and is remembered best for his "dry" sense of Yankee humor as well as his keen intelligence. Yes, he was a quilter!  Photo courtesy of Sandra Munsey

This past winter brought the sad news that Donald Munsey is no longer with us. In 2008, inspired by the quilts made by his wife, Sandra, a long time quilter, Don made his first quilt. The small quilt was in the "Chinese Coins" pattern. He proudly entered it into a show at the Libby Museum, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where Jim and I enjoyed seeing it. Signs were there. He had caught the "Quilt Bug" and decided to make a quilt for each of his daughters and granddaughters. He is remembered by the following photos taken by family members at the Narragansett Bay Quilters Association in North Kingstown, Rhode Island last Friday.

Overview of quilts made by Don Munsey

                                                            A quilt for granddaughter, Leah

The Rhododendron Quilt Guild mounted a memorial tribute to Don in this year's show. Sandra sent me some photos and I share them with you here. Before I continue though, I must share a few personal recollections of Don. He was a person with whom one felt "comfortable" in his presence. He was a good listener but when he did speak, his words mattered and were well-chosen and significant.

I loved his sense of humor, and in particular, the message he recorded for the couples' answering machine. Don loved to sing and performed in a number of choral groups. He also really liked the folk music of Bill Staines, a trait that he, Sandra, and I had in common. If Don set his mind to a task, you could bet that he would complete it.

This colorful patchwork quilt was made for his daughter, Carol

This quilt was made for daughter, Suzanne

This quilt was finished by a machine quilter. Don did not live to see it completed. The quilt is intended to be given to Chris and Audrey as a wedding gift and is a bed size quilt.
Saying good-bye to a friend is never an easy task. Jim and I are thrilled to see Don's quilts which are such treasures and valued by family members.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fabric - Can't Get it Off of My Mind

Within the last month or so, I became aware of a certain fabric offered at At the time, I did not buy any but had it in my mind that I wanted to buy some yardage for an as yet un-designated project. Today, I could resist no longer. I ordered two yards of the fabric, one of my favorites in a very long time. It is whimsical. The person who designed it stated that no language was used in the captions inasmuch as it was desired that the fabric have universal appeal. The fabric shows two praying mantis', a male and a female. The male is thinking of romance; the female is considering food:  a brutally honest view of the hierarchy of important matters. Anyhow the green and pink colors are great and that insect is one of my favorites!

Spring it the time for whimsy. Today, I painted my fingernails mint green. Why? Because I could! Meanwhile, my better half was in the garden planting carrots, onions, potatoes, and leeks, and I was indoors making a new cacti garden and potting a miniature Kalenchoe into a ceramic "fox" container. I am slowly adding more houseplants. I love them and in this house, we grow M.O.N.S.T.E.R. plants.

The mail brought a huge piece of hand-dyed Aida cloth so I can get started on yet another counted cross-stitch project that will be exhaustingly huge. In the quilting department, I plan to bring a wholecloth pre-marked quilt to a machine quilter so that it can be basted. I plan to set myself up in the den with that project and have bought pink thread with which to hand quilt the entire project.

In the publishing department, the article we wrote about the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, is in print and a few advance copies were sent out. The magazine will be available by May 12 on newsstands and sooner, if you are a lucky subscriber. Each time we have visited the site, it was a memorable and enriching experience. Cannot wait to visit again very soon!

Already, my editor is hard at work on my next article and has already had a glimpse of the two articles that will appear in the magazine after that (special features written by me). No, I have not gone away but I am taking a break from website publishing, at the moment. We might even be heading to a quilt show near you, soon! We love to see what new quilts are trending and the vast repertoire of recently-fashioned quilts.

So, these are the things that fill my head on this not-winter, cold, and almost-spring day: flowering plants, new beginnings, quilt and needlework projects, the garden, and all of the articles I write and have written about museum-held historic artifacts that were made by real people in their own, often folksy manner.

Stay tuned. Rumor has it that another quilt show is happening nearby this week. Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning, and nothing could be better than to be in New Hampshire during maple-sugaring season. Stay happy, think positive, and seize upon those things that make you the Spoonflower fabric I ordered. I have fabric, therefore I AM.



Saturday, April 26, 2014

Springtime in New Hampshire: Quilts are Blooming!

Springtime in New Hampshire

Patricia L. Cummings

For those of us who have suffered from Cabin Fever and were stuck at home with no place in particular we wanted to visit in cold weather, Spring has come and more opportunities are opening up to see lovely quilts in quilt shows across the state of New Hampshire and further, in New England.

Daffodils in our Yard - photo by James Cummings

On Friday (April 25, 2014), Jim and I visited the Hannah Dustin Quilters Guild's Annual Show for 2014.
As always, there were some memorable quilts. Here are a few photos of quilts that were our favorites.

he 54" x 54" wall quilt features a center-medallion style that originated in England, historically-speaking.

"In the Time of Toile and Trouble" is the name of a quilt made by Betty Goldstein that was hand-pieced and machine quilted. The toile fabric with birds attracted me to look at the quilt more closely. Inspired by one of Froncie Quinn's patterns, the quilt utilizes appropriate fabrics. I can see that the judges felt the same way I did. Several ribbon awards are attached to the quilt which to me was "Best of Show."

"Amish with a Twist II" is a quilt that features vibrant and fully-saturated colors. The pieced borders are a nice touch!e 

Jim enjoyed seeing "Amish with a Twist II" by Betty Day. The quilt was hand pieced and machine-quilted and is a Sampler Quilt that features traditional quilt blocks.

This quilt is best viewed in person and close-up  The snails are wonderful! 

A quilt that had us both enchanted is called "A Trail of Snails" and is a fun take-off on the Snail's Trail pattern. The original quilt was designed and made by Susan Schiff who embellished the quilt with silk ribbon embroidery. The quilt is machine pieced and machine quilter.

This happy quilt would make anyone smile. Note how one of the flowers is reaching across the sash to try touch another flower. We really enjoyed seeing this quilt. Love the border fabric, too!

"Fanciful Circles" by Colleen Leach, was hand appliqu├ęd, machine pieced and machine quilted. The cheerful colors made me think of the Modern Quilt Guild's color palette which often includes the color Turquoise.

Challenge Quilts - "Just Solids." This is a view of some of the quilts entered into the challenge quilt competition. As you can see the variety to such a theme can be endless!

Of course, there were many other great quilts in the show. Thanks to all who participated! Luckily,  we had very good weather to travel in yesterday. Today, it is pouring. The show ends today at 4:00 p.m. It is set up at the Hudson Community Center, 12 Lions Avenue, Hudson, New Hampshire. Admission is $6.00 each.

Be sure to visit the following link to see some of the fine quilts from the Pilgrim/Roy collection now on exhbit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and to hear Gerald Roy's comments:

Patricia Cummings

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let it Be

Let it Be

Patricia L. Cummings

This morning I am thinking of the words to the song, "Let it Be": "In my darkest hour, Mother Mary comes to me / speaking words of wisdom / Let it be." In certain religions, including Catholicism, Mary, "the Mother of God, is celebrated. Over the centuries, Mary has been depicted in many different ways by paintings.

This morning, I came across a letter semt to me (undated) about a year ago.

"Angel Keeper," an embroidery by Tamara Shpolyanska (photo taken in 2003)

My friend, Tamara, in Germany, engages in many other needle activities other than quilting. The photo above shows a work in progress at the time she sent the photo in 2003. She was working in a series of three: including Christ and Mother Mary.

She used the Gobelein stitch to re-create these Russian icons. Over the many years that she and I have been pen pals, we have shared many bits of information as well as photos of our current projects, all thanks to a small ad in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine where I saw that she was seeking a correspondent. I responded at a time when Internet accessibility was still very limited to home users. The rest is "history," as they say. Today, Tamara is a certified "Master Quilter" by the International Quilt Association, and she teaches quilting techniques in Germany. I am happy to be in contact with such a beautiful lady who makes such lovely pieces of embroidery and quilts!

Be sure to check out Gayle Pritchard's blogspot "Uncommon Threads":

Patricia Cummings

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beautiful Day

When one celebrates the every-day-ness of every day, it is possible to enjoy the little things. Aren't the little things always part of a greater whole in this thing called LIFE? Today, I took a walk. It mattered  not that when I reached my destination, the store was closed because it is Easter Sunday. The purchase of eggs and milk can wait for another day.

Still feeling tired because of a respiratory infection that is now moving out fast, I had a chance to work on a project that I started yesterday. In addition, I hand-washed two large Basket blocks that are "old." I'll have to consult some books to see if I can match the fabrics and date them. Whenever I come upon stray orphan blocks, I have to wonder if their "sisters" are out there somewhere, or if one or two is all the quilter had time to make. So much of what we buy on the antiques market is not linked to any name. It is as if the blocks and quilts have descended from outer space or the great Quilting Bee in the sky.

On a personal note, I continue to lose weight and fit into clothes that I have not worn for years. While 64 pounds sounds like a lot to lose, I am still carefully choosing foods. For the first time in years, I weigh less than 200 lbs.!

For a change of pace tonight, we decided to eat at McDonald's. We both ordered a medium decaf coffee, a "quarter pounder," and an apple pie  and a small fries (to split). While I would not like to make a habit of eating that way  routinely, I did appreciate not having to do dishes, and the meal was tasty.

Today, the Daffodils near the house were blooming, as was a white Hyacinth, and a bunch of periwinkle (myrtle). Spring has surely come to New Hampshire.

My stay at the hospital was very helpful. The information I learned will be invaluable to combat several chronic diseases which constantly prove to be challenges.

I already have a check list of things to do tomorrow, including orderring Joe Cunningham's new music CD. His guitar playing is awesome! Feeling happy and content tonight. All is well in my world. I am always happiest when I concentrate on doing things that make me happy. One of those "things" today was using color pencil to color in an Amish coloring book with quilt patterns. I was happy to give myself permission to be a "kid" again. Try it!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spring: A Time of New Beginnings

Spring: A Time of New Beginnings

Patricia L. Cummings

The past few weeks, I have been slowly and methodically taking down tons of previously published work on the Web. My husband also terminated his blog about vintage cooking. Our website was huge, a monster, in fact. We created it in good faith and it has served a purpose but now, we must turn to other activities that are fun. Maintaining all of the interfaces on FB, the blogs, and the website just became too overwhelming, too much of a "chore" rather than a pleasure, and activities that were supported by us alone. I was very grateful for the one contribution of about $20 dollars that we received a few years ago. But then, I never expected nor did I demand any donations from readers.

Seems as though we can better use our skills in a different way and will continue to see God's plan for our lives as it unravels.

The good news is that the 5 page special feature that Jim and I collaborated on for the next issue of The Quilter will begin to be distributed next week. The topic, you ask? Why, none other than President Calvin Coolidge's quilt as well as other quilts and textiles owned by the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch, Vermont! We were blessed to have been able to photograph the items placed on exhibit something that will not occur again in "our' lifetimes.

Happy Easter 2014
photo by James Cummings
Vintage  hand-quilted quilt, pillow by Renate, and small stuffed rabbit

If anyone knows the name of this particular Black and White rabbit, we'd love to hear from you.

My editor at the magazine has two additional articles that I've submitted already, so you will probably be seeing my name there for at least a while longer.

Quilter's Newsletter magazine asked for my opinions a short time ago and I sat right down for three hours straight to write answers to their questions. That information is scheduled to appear in one of their summer issues.

The quilt show circuit beckons and so you may see us at some of those (in New England). Yes, we are "around," even if our Internet work will be diminishing.

I am looking forward to more time for enjoying life in a more laid-back way while working on creative projects. For now, I'll leave this blog in place. I appreciate everyone who has told us that they enjoy our work. Tonight, I am feeling tired, yet resolved. I like the words "semi-retired" and I suppose that is our goal. We have worked very hard for so long, for so little, it is a wonder that we did work that hard. Yet, it is in my blood to write as well as to quilt, knit, crochet, paint, etc....

Sending our best for a Blessed Easter and a Happy Spring!

Patricia and James Cummings

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Quilt of Valor photo from Charlotte Croft

Photo of a "Quilt of Valor" sent by Charlotte Croft

Charlotte Croft participates in a group in Vermont that makes quilts for the VA Hospital. She wrote this about this patriotic quilt that features flags.

Here is our latest Quilt of Valor. Edith Artz passed out the flags and white fabric and asked each of us to add a blue. We did a 9-patch and two sides of the sashing. We're submitting it to the Billings Museum for their quilt show and then it will go to the VA to be given to one of our wounded soldiers. Edith is on the right of this photo. Happy stitching, Charlotte

Thanks, Charlotte, for being such a caring person.