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


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, . 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 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

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.
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,, 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, or visit the League’s website at


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.

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!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Our Artists Date Today

Our Artists Date Today
Patricia L. Cummings

Today was a day for recreational shopping and touring the countryside. We had heard that a Hobby Lobby shop has been established in Manchester, NH where Filene's basement store used to be located. That was the main reason for the trip. I found odds and ends of everything I had been searching for plus more! Of course! It was a fun experience and one that was accompanied by softly playing Christian music and hymns, a refreshing change from the loud music that bombards us at other stores and restaurants. The aisles are wide and the shelves are well-stocked.

On the agenda today was also to visit some antiques store locations in southern New Hampshire. Three of the four that were listed online were not open any longer. One store sells mostly "primitives" decor items. That store, an old house was purchased from the college where I used to teach Spanish more than 30 years ago and today I learned that the college is out of business and is busy liquidating its assets.

The color yellow dominates our front yard at the moment

After a long day, we headed home. Our yard is a profusion of blooms. We went a little overboard with petunias this year but they smell fragrant and draw the hummingbirds.

Happy petunias! are beginning to cascade

Jim has been busy this week with another project, re-setting stones in the driveway that, in time, had sunken.
It was hard work but now the task is finished!

Part of the driveway project!

Summertime, and the living is easy. Watermelon, cherries, plums, blueberries almost ripe, the smell of newly-mowed grass, the sound of motorcycles once again, the green, green grass of home - all of these are a delight on a summer's day. I hope you are well. I have project galore swimming in my head, especially after our "artists'" date on this fine day. I can't sing Hobby Lobby's praises enough. There is word that they might open a store in Concord, NH. Sounds like a good plan!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Featured in Quilter's Newsletter magazine

Featured in Quilter's Newsletter magazine
Patricia L. Cummings

It was my pleasure to have been asked some questions about how to price quilts for sale. Of course, it is a deep subject that depends on many factors, as one can well imagine. The magazine arrived today and my answers to the questions posed appear on page 40 in an article by Gigi Khalsa titled "What's Your Quilt Worth?"

I can remember one June when I was thrilled to meet Helen Kelley, a past contributor who had a regular column in the magazine, and who has now passed on unfortunately. She and I were at the Vermont Quilt Festival and struck up a conversation outside the lunchroom. She graciously asked me to sit with her at the table reserved for teachers. Every time that QNM appears in my mailbox, it was her column to which I would turn, charmed by her keen sense of humor.

Is it even possible that Quilter's Newsletter has been published for 45 years? I have been quilting for 30 years and widely-published for the last 15 years. Time flies!

I am honored to be a part of the magazine in this issue. The magazine, having been the first one totally dedicated to quilting and quilts, has made its mark. It has meant a lot to me over the years as it has for many quilters. When it arrives, I stop whatever I am doing and set aside all other tasks to see what is "new" in the quilt world. Not all quilts are created "equal" as you probably have guessed if you are a quilter. I am sure you will enjoy reading more about this topic and will enjoy hearing the opinions of some other quilt professionals.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Are You A Hoarder?

Are You a Hoarder?

Patricia L. Cummings


This morning we went grocery shopping a little later in the day than when we usually shop. We like to get there early so as to avoid all the people who drag out of bed late or have to organize children to take with them. Add to confusion of children treating the store as their personal playground, running up and down the aisles, there are the employees who are busy stocking shelves. They are in the way or the customer is in their way. Often we bypass purchasing products because we simply cannot reach them. Sometimes, we hear something amusing that makes us smile and stays with us the rest of the day.

At the end of one aisle was a middle-age couple. She said, “Why are you getting that? We have five at home." “He” said, “Well, in my opinion, you just can’t have enough. It is good to stock up.” At that, the significant other decided not to argue but I heard her say in a stage whisper, “Yes, but when does stocking up just become hoarding?”

Hoarding sounds like something dreadful, like a kind of disease for which one would seek psychiatric intervention. In my profession, I meet a lot of hoarders. These people would better be termed “collectors” and if nothing else, they have a number of collections.

The onset comes at an early age. Some people collected postage stamps on the chance they might become “valuable” someday. Children of the 1970s collected PEZ containers. Oh my, but there are many, many things to collect. More than one of anything could be called a collection. Personally, I collect fabrics as if they will stop making them tomorrow. I collect them to “have” them and find it difficult to cut them up and add them to quilts. Likewise, I collect spools of thread, different types of needles, and items made by myself AND other people.

Then again, if one lives long enough, they may collect all the family photos. Sometimes, no one even knows who is in the picture but feel they must keep it anyhow. Sometimes we unwittingly end up with collections of dishes. In my case, I have enough dishes to feed an army of hungry people. The challenge would be in getting enough food to place on the dishes.

Another type of thing, in a similar vein, are all of ceramic figurines collected by my mother which I was given directly by her, or indirectly, when she moved to a nursing home and the objects had no place to reside except for our home, since we were cleaning out the estate so the farm could be sold. They were near and dear to her and there was no way I was going to willingly give them up.

Recently I told a friend that I would like to get to the point of only having just the material goods in my home that I wanted to have and nothing else. To do that would require major downsizing. Of course, when it comes to textiles, I am hopeless in wanting to hang onto everything, especially items I have made that I feel no one would ever appreciate as much as I do.

The question remains, “Are you a hoarder?” If so, is “hoarding” a bad word for which I should now go wash my mouth out with soap for even thinking of it or reminding you of it? Needless to say, you do not have to answer me, even though I would be curious to hear your answer, and your justification for keeping collections of old jewelry, old calendars, or whatever you have an abundance of that you either bought or had foisted upon you. I prefer to think of myself as a “collector” yet the lady in the grocery store hits it right on the money, “When does “collecting” become “hoarding.” I shall leave it up to you to sort out this thought. As for me, I am headed to the nearest antique shop to see what little goodies might follow me home today. 

Whatever you do, be happy! Pat Cummings on 1-20-2014.

Patricia Cummings maintains a website "Quilter's Muse Publications" at and this blog where she posts about history, textiles, and the antics of other people!