Monday, June 30, 2014

Prairie Quilts and Pioneer Stories 1874--1890

Book Review

Patricia L. Cummings

Prairie Quilts and Pioneer Stories 1874-1890 is not my first encounter with the work of Terry Clothier Thompson, /The book, published in 2000 but "new" to me is a composite of family letters and quilts and quilt blocks for which instruction is provided. The book is Book 1 in a series of three books and is published by Peace Creek Pattern Co.k 15218 W. 83rd Terrace, Lenexa, KS 66219.

At first glance, the many line drawn patterns look very appealing. Some are new "takes" on an old theme and there are enough appliqué patterns to please anyone who loves that technique.

The colors are a consistent brown, black, and neutral beige colors. The family photos are all in sepia tones and are tucked in strategically. The book is a  nice mix of meaningful genealogical history, a celebration of "family," and projects to be enjoyed.

In the future I shall be on the lookout for additional books by Terry Clothier Thompson. They are truly labors of love!

League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Press Release

League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Press Release

Contact:  Carol Fusaro  P: 603-228-0836
Photos available via email     For release:  June 30, 2014
The Gallery at The Craft Center and League of NH Craftsmen Headquarters Hosts Fine Craft Exhibition: 
Circles, Squares & Triangles: The Shape of Things to Come
July 7 – September 26, 2014
Opening Reception: Friday, July 11, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
CONCORD, NH – A fine craft exhibition presented by the League of NH Craftsmen offers a new perspective on the simple geometric shapes that we see in everyday life.  Circles, Squares & Triangles:  The Shape of Things to Come is a multi-media exhibition of the work of 63 master craftsmen – all juried members of the League – that explores the simple and complex shapes formed along the boundaries of imagination. The exhibition features handcrafted jewelry, wood, fiber, clay, photography, metal, glass, calligraphy, prints, and mixed media that depict various lines, shapes, and colors. Some of the fine craft on display include: a handmade quilt that illustrates New England’s springtime light through the placement of squares, rectangles and small circles; a detailed model of a stucco house looks like it is blowing in the wind, taking on a whimsical new shape; a fabric necklace with round beads that represent buttons. Most of the items in the exhibition are available for purchase.
The exhibition starts July 7 and runs until September 26 at The Gallery at The Craft Center and headquarters in the SMILE! building on 49 South Main Street in Concord. All the fine craft items on display are available for purchase, so visitors can appreciate and purchase the work made by juried members of the League of NH Craftsmen (a list appears at the end of this release). The public will be able to meet and speak with the participating exhibitors during the opening reception on Friday, July 7 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. The Gallery is located at 49 South Main Street, Suite 100, in Concord, NH and is open Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, with extended hours on Thursdays until 7:00 pm, and Saturday, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.
“Circles, squares, and triangles are presented in new and different ways based on the inspiration and vision of our juried members. It is a fun and fresh and colorful exhibition that people will really enjoy,” said League Executive Director Susie Lowe-Stockwell.
Always on Display: The Grodin Permanent Collection Museum
The League also displays a new selection of fine craft from its more than 300-lot permanent collection at the Grodin Permanent Collection Museum at the League headquarters. This collection includes craft from the League's early years to the present, including pieces made by some of the world's renowned craftspeople, such as Otto and Vivika Heino and Edwin and Mary Scheier. The museum provides fascinating insights into the evolution of fine craft and should not be missed. Admission to the museum is free.
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 a grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. This exhibition is made possible with the support of The Lincoln Financial Foundation. The Gallery has been made possible through the generosity of Concord Orthopaedics.
For more information about the Circles, Squares & Triangles exhibition, the Gallery, or the League of NH Craftsmen, call 603-224-3375, email, or visit the League’s website at
Participants in the Circles, Squares & Triangles Exhibition
Andover, NH:                   Gillian Smith
Atkinson, NH:                   Paul Wainwright
Barnstead, NH:                Teresa Taylor, Patricia Woodbridge,
Bedford, NH:                    Joy Raskin
Belmont, NH:                   Sharon Lindstrom
Campton, NH:                  John Anderson
Canaan, NH:                    Michael Kraatz
Canterbury, NH:              Jane Balshaw, Scott Ruesswick
Center Sandwich, NH:     Susan Lirakis
Chichester, NH:               Andy Hampton
Concord, NH:                   Robert Dorr
Danville, NH:                   Catherine Falkenburg
Derry, NH:                       Claire Renaud
Dover, NH:                       Betty Lathrop, Karen Parks, Carol VanLoon
Dublin, NH:                      Jane Simpson
Durham, NH:                   Elizabeth Nordgren
Eaton Center, NH:           Linda Sorensen
Exeter, NH:                      Peg Irish
Francestown, NH:            Anne Behrsing
Franklin, NH:                    Jack Dokus
Gilmanton, NH:                Stephen Bedard
Hampstead, NH:              Sarah Bohorquez
Hanover, NH:                   Laura Di Piazza, Paulette Werger
Harrisville, NH:                Hans Schepker
Henniker, NH:                  Heidi Dunn, Gigi Laberge
Hollis, NH:                        Jack Graceffa
Keene, NH:                       Melinda LaBarge
Lebanon, NH:                   Ellen Shaw
Lee, NH:                           Blair LaBella
Londonderry, NH:            Michela Verani
Lyme, NH:                        Michael Whitman
Merrimack, NH:              Tatyana Cherepova
Mont Vernon, NH:           Cheryl Miller, Karen Mitchell
Nashua, NH:                     Mark and Kathleen Frank
Newbury, NH:                  David Ernster
North Swanzey, NH:         Charles Sheaff
Sanbornton, NH:              Tom McGurrin
Strafford, NH:                  Wen Redmond, Elena Wikstrom
Stratham, NH:                  Catherine Green, Barbara McLaughlin
Warner, NH:                    Susan Beere
Wilmot, NH:                     Mary Jane Peabody
Wilton, NH:                      William Schnute
Windham, NH:                 Carol Babineau
Lowell, MA:                     Ann Lee
Northfield, MA:               Thomas White
Orange, MA:                    Lydia Grey
Tyngsboro, MA:               Ritva Ojanen
Eliot, ME:                         Carol Lummus
Kittery Point, ME:            Karen Orsillo
Brownsville, VT:               Becky Howe
Hartland, VT:                   Bill Salmon
Wilder, VT:                      Bruce McAlpine
Berkeley Springs, WV:     Jane Frenke

Sunday, June 29, 2014

19th Century Flags in Flannel

19th Century Flags in Flannel

Patricia L. Cummings

A prized possession is a set of premium cigar flannels given to me by a friend. They are sewn together via the use of bias strips and the edges are embroidered with Cretan Stitch as a decorative and useful way to finish them.

A close-up of three flannel flags in a set given to me

These flannels  stem from the 19th century and were issued to encourage the sale of cigars and tobacco products. The ones that have come to me feature Austria-Hungary, Denmark, Argentina, Bulgaria, the United States of America, and an unknown flag in yellow and red whose writing can no longer be read.

The remaining flags. All six of these are joined together. The one on the lower left is of unknown origin. Does anyone recognize it? Perhaps it is the former flag for Spain? They adopted a new official flag in 1978.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Needlework with a Purpose: Vietnam Revisited

Needlework with a Purpose: Vietnam Revisited

Patricia L. Cummings

For those of us over 60, we have a clear remembrance of the Vietnam war because it was televised daily on television. In fact, it is the final war in which photos were allowed. My recollection of the war can be encapsulated in an essay about the incident at My Lai where an entire village of old people and children were slaughtered and violated. It was a shameful day for the United States and uncharacteristic of how warfare was usually carried out.

Portion of a war scene, the subject of a battle as the Hmong people fled to Laos at the end of the war
Photo coutesy of Jean Devereax

At the end of the war, many Vietnamese people, in particular the Hmong people, sought asylum in camps where they waited for months to be repatriated to the United States or Canada. Some of those people were sheltered by church groups. While waiting in these organized camps, there was little to occupy time. As a result women and men resorted to doing needlework.

This photo clearly shows a plane dropping a bomb .Does the red represent blood? We cannot be sure. Note the helicopter and the gun men differentiated by two different colors of their uniforms

Jean Devereax sent photos of a 33" x 34" framed wall quilt made by a Hmong person. These types of textiles are collectible now. Most men have turned to other activities and the strong emotion of fear has subsided.

The white airplanes stand out against the background of greenery, soldiers, and parachutes

Hmong needlework is in danger of dying out. The "young" people reject the old ways and do not have time to learn traditional skills that only grandmother or grandfather did. The work is very exacting and detailed.

Large canvases such as this one would take a lot of time to embroider in this manner. In the past, I have written a number of articles about the work of the Hmong, including a review of a display of Hmong work at the Rhode Island School of Design. One piece that pictures the war measured more then 8 feet!

The Hmong also make small items for sale such as pocketbooks. They seem to have an intuitive connection to the use of color. The scenes here are sad scenes. Newer Hmong work centers of happier days and motifs. We love Hmong work and hope that folk art tradition will not go away.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wondering about your Love Status?

Wondering about your Love Status?

Patricia L. Cummings

With the hundreds of daisies in the city park next to my house, anyone could have a heyday in trying to determine is "she loves me, she loves me not." Photo by James Cummings

Wondering about your love status? We have the answer!

Jim Cummings took this photo at my request. It reminds me of some Redwork embroidery designs that look as though the little boy is pondering an age old question. As he picks off the petals, he says "She loves me, she loves me not" until all the daisy petals are gone. The one he ends on reveals the truth of the matter.

I love Redwork, the first type of embroidery I ever learned how to do! Books I have written, now available on CD-ROM, are titled: 1)  Redwork Renaissance II, (a greatly expanded version of Redwork Renaissance); 2) Redwork Embroidery and Needlework Traditions in Europe and America and 3)  Antique Redwork Designs from New Hampshire (a compilation of the books Emma's Quilt and Just for Fun Redwork. All of these products are available  For pricing and other information, please write to me at

In the meantime, do pick the daisies, and/or think about embroidery some! A bouquet picked from this field would never be missed!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Please do not sing Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

Patricia L. Cummings

In the more than six decades that I have lived, I never knew until now this bit of news that comes from the department of strange news, Indeed. To read the long story, posted to NPR, click on the following link

Or take my word for it, as repeated from what I learned from a recent guest on NPR. Copyright law is alive and well and demands a fee, yes, money, to any business or corporation that wants to play, sing, record, or otherwise feature or perform what has come to be known as "The Birthday Song."

Yes, like most of us, I have heard various versions over the years - that is, different words put to the same familiar tune. Anyone over 6 years old probably at least secretly resents that song being sung to them.

This new report explains why some restaurants are beginning to offer other ways of honoring a birthday - a free dessert is one of them, a rap song is another.

Since this is still my birthday week, the news was timely. The company that polices the song makes over $2 million dollars per YEAR for permission for a corporation or  person to play or sing the age-old anthem. If that fact would deter people from using it, all the better. We need a new tradition.

Now on to more un-birthday things to do!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sweetheart Pouches from World War I

Sweetheart Memorabilia
Patricia L. Cummings

Military men could draw from a number of options when mailing home a souvenir to a loved one on the home front. Sweetheart jewelry has been popular for years. I still treasure the bejeweled necklace sent home to me from my brother when he was in training at Lackland Air Force Base in the 1960s. The object has “Sweetheart” as a word across the surface. Surely, such an object becomes an even more important memory maker when the person who has given the item is deceased. No doubt, to be remembered in a kindly way is the wish of everyone who has ever walked the planet.

Besides the popular Sweetheart and Mother pillow covers that were mailed home, un-stuffed, but intended to be filled to use as a living room or bedroom pillow, impractical as that may seem now because they were silk or at a later time, rayon or acetate, another Sweetheart or Mother textiles comes to mind: pouches. 

Fold-over  pouch, a type of Sweetheart Memorabilia that often held a letter, a hankie, or silk stockings.
This one is from World War I and is held by the Sharpsville, PA HIstorical Society. Photo courtesy of Ralph Mehler. Photo edit by Patricia Cummings

The words on one side of the pouch say, “The Farewell.” Shown are a man and a woman. The same side (bottom half) depicts an American Flag.

Just this week, I received the following message from Ralph Mehler of the Sharpsville, Pennsylvania Historical Society. His note says:

The pillow [pouch] was donated December 2011. The donor (who has since died) said it was his grandfather's, who was a WWI vet.  Subsequent genealogical investigation shows that he entered the service 26 May 1918, and was married sometime in the prior year (listed as single in his June 1917 draft registration card and first child born 1 May 1918).  He served at Base Hospital 99 which was organized 22 August 1918 at Camp Custer, Michigan, and then took up station in France at Hyeres.

The "ourside" of the Sweetheart pouch, when it is folded, features an eagle and a bunting flag

Fort Custer, Michigan, was named for General George Custer (1839-1876). Custer was killed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, also called “Custer’s Last Stand.”

Three pages of my book Sweetheart & Mother Pillows shows other Sweetheart and Mother pouches. Thanks to Ralph Mehler for allowing us to share photos and information about this historical society’s object.

The cover of my book shows a World War I soldier writing home to "Mother,"
who is seen in the upper left hand corner

My one of a kind, landmark book about Sweetheart & Mother Pillows is available worldwide and also directly from me as an autographed copy. For more information, please write to:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What is a Kilim?

What is a Kilim?
Patricia L. Cummings

Before a day or so ago, I would not have been able to inform anyone as to what Kilims are, where they are made, or how they are used. Luckily, I was given a Kilim as a gift that came with some loose magazine pages saved from Inspired House magazine, Nov/Dec 2003 issue.The short but informative article was written by freelance writer Martha Riedel of Middlebury, Connecticul.

Fringed kilim, a type of wool rug made and collected in Turkey

I looked up further information. Kilims always have repeat designs. Today, they are mainly made in China, India, and Turkey.
Kilims are rugs that are flat woven on simple horizontal frames. They look identical on the front and the back.First made about 5 B.C., they continue to be made today.

Symbols are included on rugs of this type made in Persia, China, and other countries.  One way to identify whether or not one has a true kilim is to hold it up to the light. If open slits appear between colors in the woven designs, then it is an authentic kilim. Camel hair and silk are also used in addition to wool to make this type of traditional rug.

The person who gave me this extraordinary gift was traveling through Turkey more than 20 years ago and at first, being familiar with Navajo rug weavings, mistook the rug for a contemporary one of the American southwest.

A book titled titled World Textiles by John Gillow and Bryan Sentence (London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1999) shows a kilim from Uzbekistan made with wool in natural earthtone colors. That particular rug features “distinctive hooked-weave motifs sometimes called “running dog".” 

Today’s kilims are made with much brighter colors based on chemical dye methods. The one given to me has bright colors. If one were to base an assessment on that, one could believe it to be contemporary, not antique.

An online site shows some of the symbols often woven into kilims. Find more information here:

For fun, I looked up the word "kilim" in the The New Oxford American Dictionary to check its pronunciation. It is not what one would think. The term dates from the late 19th century is from Turkish (from Persian). A kilim, according to that same entry is "a flat-woven carpet or rug made in Turkey, Kurdistan and neighboring areas."

The rug pictured above has me intrigued. I am sure it will provide an opportunity for more study of the designs present on it. For now, it has been added to the decor of my guest room where it will get very little wear or traffic!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Patriotic Dogs" quilit

Patriotic Dogs

Patricia L. Cummings

While you were sleeping, I was making another quilt. The latest quilt is comprised of salvaged quilt blocks that I finished embroidering before setting the squares in a pleasing manner.

 Featured here are five embroidered blocks and four alternate "Victory" fabric blocks assembled into a wall quilt by Patricia Cummings

In assembling the quilt, I thought about light and dark squares; the block that I wanted to be the center of attention; and the concept of "visual weight."

I placed the sailor puppy with his telescope in the left hand top corner, figuring that to be the best place for him. The quilt block, because it has a white background stands out from the rest. If one thinks about it, when reading a newspaper, one's eye goes first to the upper right hand corner. I kept that concept in mind.

I also thought about the concept of "visual weight" when I chose to place the "Ship Ahoy" block where I did. The quilt's theme is related to war, World War II in fact. It is not by chance that the Bull Dog and the flag of Great Britain are dead center in the quilt, for emphasis on all of the collaboration that took place between the United States and the UK at that time.

The quilt is one of a kind. Jim "loves" this quilt and promptly wanted to hang it up and take a photo of it. We certainly are a "team" and I am so happy when anyone likes my work. Hope you enjoyed seeing this one. Now, on to the next project!

Patricia Cummings

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lucky Person to be Given a Quilt

Lucky Person to be Given a Quilt

Patricia L Cummings

Charlotte Croft looking happy in a blouse given to her by a friend

Recently, my friend Charlotte Croft in Vermont sent me a photo of herself and a scrap quilt which will be given to the next person who finds himself homeless. She passed out scraps to a group of friends who sewed the centers using the mile-a-minute method of construction. She added the star settings. The quilt is so mesmerizing in design and colors the recipient is sure to forget any troubles.

Cheerful quilt designed as a scrap quilt finished by Charlotte Croft

Charlotte is frequently making quilts to give to others. She is very generous! I enjoy seeing the photos. Hope you do, too! Thanks for the photos, Charlotte!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Why I Love Mrs. Webster

Why I Love Mrs. Webster

Patricia L. Cummings

We never know what is in store for us! In my case, a chance viewing of a “quilt chart” at an historical society where I was a volunteer, led me 14 years later to search for any and all information related to a set of 162 quilt charts, which both depict and save old quilt designs. I wanted to know more about the lady who made them. Mrs. Clarendon (Ellen Emeline Hardy) Webster used the quilt designs she had gathered from quilts which were already “antiques” during the 1930s period in which she worked to illustrate lectures she presented on quilt history. She was, indeed, New Hampshire’s very own early quilt historian, as I would soon learn.

Clarendon and Ellen E. Webster: wedding portrait

She knew at least one other quilt historian of the same time period personally and was well-acquainted with the books written by others in the newly-emerging field of quilt history.  Florence LaGanke Harris, better known by the pseudonym “Nancy Page,” wrote about quilts in a syndicated newspaper column. Both Webster and LaGanke served together as judges of antique quilts at an annual competition at Storrowton Village in Massachusetts. Most likely that is where the two became acquainted.

An example of one of the quilt patterns "saved" on a quilt chart by Ellen E. Webster
Photo by James Cummings for the e-book Ellen Emeline Hardy Webster (1867-1950): Her Amazing Quilt "Charts," Her Writings and Her Life (Concord, NH: Quilter's Muse Publications, 2008).

Who else but Webster would take the time and effort to undertake such a huge project of carefully drawing geometric shapes onto charts and then applying scraps of old fabrics with glue in order to help her audience understand the history and variety of quilt patterns? But chart-making was one of her least engaging activities. She had first taught school in a one-room schoolhouse, teaching a wide variety of classes. Not surprising is that fact that she taught a lot of classes in math. Ellen’s own math skills must have come in very handy when reproducing the quilt chart designs.

Lucky I was to discover the true identity of Ellen Webster who had been previously referred to as “Emily Webster in print and who had been misnamed by a New Hampshire reporter, and again in another televised program that portrayed her as a ghost-like figure moving in the background. A curious situation had developed.  It took careful sleuth work on my part to learn why the name “Emily Webster” shows up on some of the charts. It was very apparent to me that Emily did not seem to be the quilt chart maker. But what was her correct name?

Finally, after looking at genealogical information, I put two and two together.  A woman named Emily Webster Brown and her sister, Ellen A. Webster, (not relatives to the Ellen E. Webster we speak of here) were the people whose names Ellen E. Webster had hand-written on her charts. The three women were friends. The two sisters, with roots in the community of Bridgewater, New Hampshire, allowed Ellen E. Webster to study family ancestral quilts in their possession and create quilt charts to add to her collection of them. After learning the correct identity, it was like downhill skiing to come up with "proof" that Ellen E. Webster was the quilt chart maker.

A quilt chart by Ellen E. Webster

For a full eight month period, I followed every lead I could to understand the life and the times of Ellen E. Webster (1867-1950). Born just two years after the Civil War ended in 1865, by vocation she was a teacher whose scholarly-bent led her to first teach in a one room school house like ones where she had been taught in rural areas. I was thrilled to have been able to purchase one of Webster’s rank books where she recorded the names and grades of students in four different subject areas:  Algebra, Bookkeeping, Physical Geography, and Botany.

I can safely say that "I love Ellen Webster" as states the bumper sticker I had made

One does not need to look far into the activities of Ellen Emeline Webster to discover a woman of extraordinary talents. A true Victorian lady, she and her sisters and mother dressed in the usual long black dress habitually worn. They were exceedingly interested in Botany and would take to the woods to see which wildflowers were blooming and to listen to bird calls.

Although Webster was born in Hebron, New Hampshire, she was educated at Monson Academy, Monson, Massachusetts. In 1893 she married a prominent dentist and moved to Franklin, New Hampshire where his business was established. The couple contributed much to their community. She was elected as president of the local woman’s club. When one of Webster’s sisters died, Ellen and Clarendon took her child into their home and adopted her.

The flood of information I uncovered led me to write a 355 page book in 2008 that serves as a discussion of her many quilt charts and a survey of her life and genealogy, all rich topics in and of themselves. I found many of Mrs. Webster’s writings, copies of speeches, letters, and best of all her two great nephews who were able to visit me to show me two Victorian Era Crazy Quilts, one made by relatives as a “Crazy Quilt,” and the other made by Ellen’s mother, Sarah Diantha Hardy.

In uncovering all that I found about Ellen Emeline Hardy Webster (1867-1950), I am thrilled.  I have learned so much, I almost feel as though I know her personally.  She was quintessentially a Victorian woman.

Time continues to change and sometimes facts get lost along the way. All it takes is one writer or reporter to misname someone and that mistake is likely going to be carried forward. I am happy to have set straight the name of the quilt chart maker.

My book is a tribute to Ellen E. Webster and all that she accomplished. I learned that Ellen liked to draw humorous little sketches on letters she wrote to serve as illustrations. She was a hiker and a bird-lover, and was a very religious person who became a professor of Biblical studies after her husband died in 1918.

She was a scientist at heart, as well, and wrote a published paper about luminous moss that is now archived at Dartmouth College. One location where the rare moss had grown is now lost. The moss had been growing under a barn but after the barn roof fell in, the new owners decided to demolish the old barn, depriving the moss of a perfect habitat. Photos of the moss can be viewed in my e-book!

The book tells the story of her entire life via such things as her diary entries, a study of her family geneaology, and many other documents, including her lecture brochure. The scope of her work will amaze anyone who takes the time to read the book, offered as an e-book and still available from Quilter’s Muse Publications. The e-book can be read on any computer/ no special device needed. $24.95 plus $3.00 shipping. Contact me for more information:

I love Ellen E. Webster inasmuch as she was intelligent, generous with her knowledge and like me, loved history. Her writings, much of which are shared in my e-book, tell the past of life as it used to be in a rural New England community. I love her sense of humor and her zest for life which set an example for others. I can think of many reasons as to why I love Mrs. Webster. If you read my book, perhaps you will begin to see her fine points.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Miracle of the Garden

The Miracle of the Garden

Patricia L. Cummings

Each year I watch in wonder while Jim carries out the current gardening plan he has spent all winter thinking about. Yes, while the snow flakes were hurling themselves against the window panes and Jack Frost was visiting the same, he perused Burpee seed catalogues and others that arrived in the mailbox from December to February. A good garden requires planning and then a lot of work! Jim has it down to a science, something that is not surprising inasmuch as when he started his college career, he was majoring in Forestry and Botany. A love of growing things is a mutual interest!

Rugosa Roses are just beginning to bloom along the fence. This is a view taken from the sidewalk. The brick lined raised beds have paths of bark mulch to keep weeds at bay. An Iris bed sits on the left in this picture.

Here is a look at the garden from the sidewalk. Everything he has planted is "up" even though one cannot readily see that in this photo.He has place white covers on some of the crops that are prone to various types of destructive beetles. Those will have to come off long enough for the plants to be pollinated when the time comes that they are blooming.

We reap a great deal of food from this little patch of earth. The seedless grapes are putting on a lot of growth where they are planted on each side of the white grape arbor that Jim built. In time they will cover all three sides of the structure, making it a "cool" place to sit on the garden bench.

What appears to be a large bushy plant in the distance is actually Jerusalem Artichoke, a root vegetable that helps reduce the effects of diabetes. The root can be cooked but we prefer to cut it up to include in salads.

The Back Yard

These Blackberries are now blooming and will yield an extraordinary harvest of berries for jam and cobbler. This was a preliminary shot but today, the plant is in full bloom! To the right is the Peach tree

On the other side of the house, we grow Lilacs, Poppies, Blackberries, Raspberries, and Blueberries and a Peach tree.

The Poppies come back, year after year!

This is a side view of our 1821 Federal style home as copied from a history book about Concord, NH. '
The date of this photo is unknown. The Elms were cut down long ago,  no doubt because of the Elm disease that dessimated trees of that kind. The fence is also no longer there, replaced with a new one.

/The Front Yard

The front yard is totally under cultivation. The left side has a Quince bush that yields fruit for jam. The fruit cannot be eaten raw but cooking it dispels its dangerous properties. We have pansies this year in a raised stone bed. Ground Phlox has just finished blooming. Centauria, a huge Bleeding heart, and Hosta are planted on that side as well.

The Centauria are in bloom for only a short time

On the right side is a miniature Rose plant that was given to me as a gift. After blooming (inside the house), the plant shed all of its leaves and was looking pretty unhappy. I planted it outside and it has come back every year for three or four years now. I heard that planting a Chive plant nearby will have benefits iinsofar as the smell of Chives is an insect deterrent.

The right side of our front "lawn" area is not a lawn either. Hosta lines the back. Jim has made paths of bricks on both sides of the two front areas for easy walking to pull weeds. The Semper virens or "Hens and Chicks" cacti are going to bloom shortly. A few times we have seen grass snakes curled up on top of the cacti taking a siesta. We have two large Stella d' Oro lilies, another type of Bleeding Heart, Coreopsis which returns every year, and the new addition this year is a bed of petunias to help keep the hummingbirds happy.

Jim built shelves this year on which we have placed two window boxes of "wave" petunias. Since he took this photo a few days ago, the petunias seems to be about twice this size! Soon they will be cascading downward. The hummers love petunias or any other open-throated flower!

Well, that is all that is happening in our garden so far this year. Each flower blooms in turn. There are many other flowers such as Mrytle, Siberian Iris, Daisies, Black-eyed Susans, Trillium, etc. Is it any surprise to learn that a gardener owned this house. The place was known as Fairview Garden. At one time, when there was less foliage, one could see the Merrimack River from the 2nd floor of the house.

"May your days be sunny and bright," in the words of an old Christmas tune. Summer is too short. Let's enjoy it!

Saturday, June 7, 2014



Patricia L. Cummings

On Friday's trip up north I picked up a set of printed note cards. They were made by Carolyn E. Guest, Saint Johnsbury, Vermont whose website is: The notecard seen here is in a low res size just so you can enjoy seeing it. There are videos linked from the page listed above where you can see Carolyn at work using her sheep shears to create her amazing scenes.

I always enjoy seeing work of this kind but do not plan to add it to my list of things to do any time soon. The notecard image represnts a lot of hard work. I really enjoyed seeing her work and having the opportunity to purchase the notecards.

Paper cut design by Carolyn E. Guest offered as a printed notecard
 for sale at Harman's in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lupine Festival Activities Includes Textiles

Lupine Festival Includes Textiles

Patricia L. Cummings

In recent years, we plan a trip to northern New Hampshire to go to the Lupine Festival in June. The event has been going on for a week now...but without the Lupines! One of the women we met today stated that it is believed that the severely cold winter has delayed the plants. We saw but one Lupine growing in a field!

A photo taken in 2011 is representative of Lupines in Sugar Hill, NH.
Where are they hiding this year? The hardy plant loves the cool nights of the mountains

Exhibit of Children's Clothes

An exhibition of textiles from Childhood titled "Once Upon A Time" was available to view at the Sugar Hill Historical Society. All kinds of needlework including fine pin tuck, eyelet work, appliqué, smocking, knit goods and other items were on display. Jim Cummings took a photo of a dress I really like. Behind it, to the left, is a pair of bronzed shoes. Seeing them made me feel sentimental about my son's first shoes, long ago given away.

Adorable dress has pin tucks in the front, a French style and is further decorated with tiny bead-like stitches, probably done with silk thread

I purchased a fascinating book about rocking horses in the museum's gift shop.
This photo shows a doll and other artifacts of childhood

The barn held even more textiles with a considerable number of them displayed on walls.

Beautiful exhibit of even more clothes made for children which someone lovingly made by hand and which were preserved over a long period. The exhibit was quintessentially Victorian, an era in which children and childhood was much celebrated.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief summary. The Historical Society is open tomorrow and will be holding a sale of some type at that time. The North Country of New Hampshire is beautiful. We enjoyed the day and took the opportunity to visit the store "Sugar Hill Sampler" and Harman's (which sells unique gift items and cheese.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Small Egyptian Panels

Small Egyptian Panels

Patricia L. Cummings

For the past 10 years now, small Egyptian panels have caught my attention. No doubt made for the tourist trade, many of them come from the 1920s. The panels, usually made by men who do appliqué for a living mainly by making tents, the panels celebrate the mythology of ancient Egypt.

Egyptian sun worshiper seen on small panel sold for the tourist trade 

Just last week, another small panel was found to be for sale in an antiques shop and it followed me home. The image is of a young boy with raised arms facing the sun. I wanted to find out more about the Egyptian sun gods and learned that there are actually three gods. "Ra" is perhaps the most well-known. He is depicted as having a Falcon for a head, and a solar disk in a position above the head. See a photo of Ra online.

Ra is in charge of the noon sun and is known as the bringer of light and the god in charge of bringing everything to life by whispering secret names. Every night he descends into the underworld and has to fight with a serpent named Aposis in order to be able to return to earth again. Khepri is the Egyptian sun god in charge of the rising sun. Atum is the third sun god and he is responsible for the setting sun.

It is always fun to learn and I realize that I would like to learn more about Egyptology topics!

As always, I love to see photos of items collected by other people. Send any images to me at  Thanks!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mystery Redwork Design

Mystery Redwork Image

In the past I have led two online groups related to Redwork Embroidery in which members and I shared information and resources. I am writing this essay today in the hope that someone who was a part of those groups could solve a mystery. A piece of Redwork was mad that is based on a photograph which says "1918" and signed "love, Vergie." Ofcourse, 1918 was a war year. The first World War was taking place. The photo shows a woman standing while holding a large "Mother" pillow.

Source for a Redwork design made by unknown person

Someone on that list apparently used the photo to come up with a Redwork design which she posted. I do not know that person's name. Her online name was "cactus_pearl."

"In Memory of my trip to the Hawaiian Islands" says
 this photo of a silk pillow cover, framed and under glass.

My book Sweetheart & Mother Pillows was published in December 2011. My book shows that the pillow covers made during World War I were exceedingly larger than those made during the following World War or the years of the C.C.C.

Adapted design based on the images above, drawn by unknown maker

This is a piece of Redwork that I made.

 I thought it great fun to combine two of my major textile interests together: Redwork and Sweetheart & Mother Pillows. I would still like to know who was responsible for sharing these images on my list. I would love to hear the story that accompanied them, again. My e-mail address is

June 16, 2014 Update

A miniature quilt with a handkerchief pocket, "bees," and a photo of a portion the original postal card.
Here is the finished piece I made, front and back.

Photo of the back of the mini-quilt I made

The back of the mini-quilt looks like this. I made this little quilt to preserve the image which is just so charming! Someday I hope to reconnect with whomsoever posted the image to my yahoo list on Redwork.
What a fun little project on a summer's day!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tribute to Lea Stark

Tribute to Lea Stark

Patricia Cummings

Yesterday, in reading the Concord Monitor newspaper, I learned that a friend, Lea Stark  has died. There is no obituary ever written that is long enough to encapsulate all of the activities of a relatively long life (80 years) that she lived. I hope to fill in a little bit of information so that you will get to know her better.

I met Lea during the early 1990s when I joined the local (NH) chapter of the Embroiderers' Guild of America. She hosted many area meetings at her house, a large yellow home that sits across from the old Dewey School near White's Park. She once told me that during a Bridge party she was having there, a bat entered the room and began swooping here and there. Suddenly, her husband appeared on the scene and a shot rang out. He had grabbed a gun from his antique gun collection and inserted a blank. The loud noise interfered with the bat's radar, disabling it long enough for him to get a broom and sweep the creature off a small balcony of their home.

Oftentimes, when EGA meetings were held out of town, Lea and I would carpool. She really disliked paying a toll to get from Concord to Manchester via the super highway. She said she knew her father would not have succumbed to such nonsense. For that reason, we would take back roads instead of going through the toll booth.

Oriental scene by Lea Stark featured in the book Straight Talk about Quilt Care

Lea was frugal to say the least! It was an ingrained Yankee attribute. She once announced that she had never "worked a day in her life." Of course, I know what she meant, that is she did not work for hire for someone else. I would have to disagree that she "never worked." She worked very hard everyday, rising with the birds to do her embroidery and then take herself for a brisk walk. She held many leadership positions in a number of organizations, including being president of the E.G.A., if memory serves. She once was a NH state legislator.

After a trip to China, she began making scores of embroidered figures with silk thread on a silk background, surely collectors' items now that she is no longer here to make more of them. When I wrote my book Straight Talk about Quilt Care, she provided information and the photo pictured above. Lea was always one to encourage others and support them in their endeavors. In fact, I believe she must be one of the most positive people I have ever met. I spoke with her just recently and she seemed chipper as ever.

 We will all miss Lea Stark who left a legacy of service to others in all of her volunteer work which included transcriptions of old documents at the New Hampshire Historical Society. A memorial service will be held at the Society on June 12 from 2-4 p.m. Rest in peace, Lea. We all love and miss you.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Dogs of War

This Vogart block made it into my military themed quilt today. This must be "the Bugle Boy from Company C"
"The Dogs of War"

Patricia L. Cummings

Anyone who knows me also understands that I love dogs! Today I amused myself by putting together a quilt top using some quilt blocks that I had collected. Some of them are from Vogart and the source of others remains a mystery. I thought it was time these dogs met each other and kept company. I cut them all to be 15 inches large and then assembled them into a quilt top by using yardage the depicts "V for Victory," Pin-up girls photos, and simulate news headlines from war years.

A good place for dog watching is the beach! This photo by James Cummings was taken at York Beach, Maine

Sailor Dog is now part of my quilt top

I would be hard-pressed to say which block is my favorite. The quilt top has not yet been photographed. I am having fun. What else matters?

Update on 6/2/2014

After posting this yesterday both my husband and I took the time to look up the term "dogs of war." He tells me that I might want to reconsider the term as a name for the quilt I am making. Apparently, in medieval times, "unleashing the dogs of war" meant giving clearance to soldiers to rape and pillage after a victory. No, that was not quite what I had in mind.

Jim had also recognized the term from its use in "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare. Again, it was the name of a movie/ The term is used as a "simile" in chapter XIV of the musical play Les Misérables. I knew nothing of all of these mentions! I had just heard the term without realizing all of the possible connections. However, I will have to come up with a new name for this quilt in progress!

Mystery Quilt Gave Hint

Mystery Quilt Gave Hint

Patricia Cummings

Friendship Quilt made in 1989 and purchased in New Hampshire. If the print fabric
looks out of place, it is because it is a replacement quilt block

The clues are there, if only one notices them. The clue I mention here is that present on a quilt in which all the blocks were embroidered except for one...which was a piece of printed cloth. It was only after the article I wrote about the quilt was published in a magazine that I learned the truth. The dealer's wife, thinking that the quilt would not sell, took off the block that was present and replaced it. I am grateful for their honest approach if only after the purchase.

The quilt block is eerily similar to a painting titled
 "American Gothic," a story unto itself

Though the removed block was oil cloth and kind of grundgy, we love it!

The quilt was cleaned at the conservation lab at the University of Rhode Island under the apt guidance of Margaret Ordoñez, co-chair of the department of textiles and fashion design. The article I wrote did not uncover the makers of this quilt nor whom it was made to honor.

As in life, never take anything for granted. Everything has its own story to tell and it is amazing what facts can be uncovered with a little bit of sleuth work.Yet, no matter what, there are some secrets that neither other people or the grave are willing to divulge.