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
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 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 - 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.

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

Ellen Emeline (Hardy) Webster

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.

The price of the CD-ROM is $24.95 plus $3.00 shipping. For more information, please contact

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