Sunday, September 17, 2017

Squanicook Colonial Quilt Guild Presents Show

We were lucky enough to attend the Squanicook Colonial Quilt Guild Show yesterday which was held at the Hawthorne Brook Middle School in Townsend, Massachusetts. The show had something for everyone and a wide variety of fine quilts on display! In this quilt show review, we feature some of our favorite quilts in the show.

We love the juxtaposition of red Maple leaves with the Redwork blocks

The first is a Redwork quilt, "In Memory of Mother" by Lou St. Onge. The quilt, machine-quilted by Lisa Teichman of Garden Gate Quilting, was hand-embroidered and machine-pieced and quilted.

"Lucky Lemoynes" by Melissa Hays is inspired by Deb Tucker's "Lucky Lemoynes." The colors used are eye-popping!

"My Mini Sewing Splendid Sampler" was hand appliqued and embroidered by Ginny LoDuca and machine-pieced, appliqued and quilted as well. This hangs in the quilter's sewing room when it is not displayed in a show!

Close-up of blocks in "Feathered Star" quilt

"Feathered Star" by Barbara B. Seney was the result of Hoopsisters' Block of the Month program. The quilt is machine-pieced and embroidered and is truly a work of art!

One quilt that caught our eye is "Granny Squares" by Mary Lou Sanborn, quilted by Dan Russell. The quilt was offered as a pattern in American Patchwork & Quilting, October 2010.

The more one looks, the more there is to "see" in this quilt, "Seasons of Wolves"
I just love "Scavenger Hunt Challenge" with its quilts hanging
on a fence, cows in the pasture, and loons on a lake!

Two different quilts by Dorry Swain are memorable. "Seasons of Wolves" and "Scavenger Hunt Challenge" are hand-pieced and machine-quilted.

The show offered 200 quilts on display, vendors, raffle baskets, demonstrations, a boutique, a scrap table, and refreshments. I bought a beautiful new pocketbook that is quite pleasing and was able to chat with my friend, Cary Flanagan, author of After the Storm, who was vending. All in all, it was a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning!

For more information about the guild, go to:

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Heartbreaking News Coming Out of Houston

Although the people of Texas had ample warning, many of them decided to stay in place and weather out the storm. A group of people seen on television were drinking beer as they made the pronouncement that they would not be driven away by the storm. I wonder what happened to them.

The most startling image I have seen was a room inside a nursing home where residents sat with water higher than their waists. I since learned that they were successfully evacuated. My heart goes out to those with medical problems or who have small children or pets. During Hurricane Katrina, thousands of pets perished. Already, people have lost their lives as a result of this natural catastrophy.

An official on television said they are not even counting the dead. Instead, all of the efforts are geared toward saving the lives of the living and getting people to safe havens. With thousands of phone calls coming in to 911 lines, I would hate to be the operator who has to decide how to prioritize requests.

Evidently, Rockport, TX suffered a tornado as well as flooding. I believe it is true that it will take years and billions of dollars to rebuild the damage done by Hurricane Harvey.

In the midst of the storm, other storms were brewing in Washington. I want to weigh in as being totally against the presidential pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He was very mean and acted in a very bigoted fashion toward the prisoners under his care in Arizona, subjecting them to inhumane treatment that may have led to the wrongful deaths of several of them. Believe me, even if a Mexican were stupid, he could understand the words "stupid Mexican." Another favorite term for illegal immigrants was "wetbacks." Arpaio was found to be criminally in contempt of court for his continued racial profiling since 2011. Yet, he continued on his dastardly mission of terrorizing the Hispanic community. He was not even yet sentenced when Trump issued the pardon.

There is injustice in this world, some coming from a Higher Source, and some coming from our current administration. There is just a lot wrong with the way some people think! It is probably a very good thing that Trump is going to wait to go to Texas. He can add nothing but confusion, and expense for such a trip.

It will be a long time before Texas gets back on its feet. The storm itself will be around until next Thursday. The storms in Washington are also ongoing as political games are played by a petulant president who will do anything to get his own way (and he thinks, get re-elected). I hope that the country can come to its senses and realize the game being played of "divide and conquer." Trump's world is one of "us" and "them." Even while he is denouncing hatred, his actions tell a greater tale.

I do not usually veer into politics on this blog but the recent events have caused me to speak what is in my heart. I will continue to wish for the best for all Texans and others caught in the storm and I will continue to pray that we can one day have a president whom all can respect for his fairness, his benevolence, and his charity toward all.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

"Queen City Quilts" Exhibit Celebrates Amoskeag Mills

Today we traveled to Manchester, NH to visit the Millyard Museum which has a new exhibit "Queen City Quilts," a collection of quilts from the Manchester Historical Association. Upon entering the hall where the quilts are on display, one first sees a beautiful quilt made by the Amoskeag Quilters Guild of Manchester. I grew up in Manchester and so I remember some of the (former) business establishments whose names were embroidered in gold metallic thread:  such as "Pariseau's," a dry goods store that sold clothing, "Ferreti's," my mother's favorite place to do grocery shopping, and "New Hampshire Fire Insurance," where my sister worked. The quilt is like a walk down memory lane and the quilters certainly did great work!

The quilts show great variety in their construction and their coloration. A Friendship quilt that was signed by parishioners of a church is actually made with a counterchange of solid red and muslin patches in a pattern commonly known as "Drunkard's Path." Then, in red, green and white is a quilt sometimes called "Peony" or "North Carolina Lily" - although it is not an exact replica of either pattern and the configuration is quite delightful. The tiny green leaves appear to have been "stuffed" for a trapunto effect.

One of the "stars" of the show is a cigar band quilt common to Victorian times. Some of the cigar bands are from the Sullivan Cigar Company where my aunt's husband worked for a time when he was quite young and was an immigrant from the Netherlands. I'm sure that was before he entered the U.S. Army and accompanied Admiral Byrd on two expeditions to the Antarctic. He was in charge of the sled dogs. But, I digress.

There is a Log Cabin quilt, unusual in its construction which included black sashings. Some beautiful floral embroideries grace four of the inset triangles on the edges. The Crazy Quilts included in the exhibit are from the late 19th century (the heyday of the Crazy Quilt was in the 1880s). They are in excellent condition with only minor areas of shattered silk. I was enchanted by one of the Crazy Quilts that features an embroidered motif of a girl, in purple, sitting on a fence, the same design that is presented on the cover of my book Redwork Embroidery and Needlework Traditions in Europe and America.

Then there is a ruffled, monochromatic quilt that depicts the portrait of "The Hermit" of Manchester with an alternating block of "The Brook." The quilt was done with a photo transfer process called cyanotype (??).

A quilt with 44 examples of different "delaine" fabrics (a combination of muslin and wool), produced at the Amoskeag Mills, is also on display, as is a doll quilt in a Nine Patch variation that was supposedly made by a five year old child - a statement that is hard to believe due to the expert piecing of it and fine hand-quilting. Her name is "anonymous."

One quilt that has everyone perplexed as to its construction method is a bed size quilt made of strips of fabric prints. The quilt is very "busy" and colorful.

It was fun to re-visit the rest of the museum as we had not been there for awhile. I enjoyed seeing the textile exhibits, including a fabric gingham sewing bag that had Sunbonnet Sue figures embroidered on it. The fabric matches some buttons also produced by the mill. In the textiles area, there is a video about the mill workers and their various ethnic groups. Manchester was certainly a melting pot of various groups drawn to work in the mills. The names of streets and monuments around the city are testament to the ongoing influence of them.

The quilt exhibit will be in place until October 21, 2017. Be sure to visit it, if you can! With all of its other fine exhibits, the Millyard Museum is worthy of a visit. It tells the story of early Manchester, settled by Indians, via extant artifacts. On display is also a miniaturized version of the statue of Molly Stark, wife of General John Stark, that is located in Wilmington, Vermont. A swatch of Molly's wedding dress is also displayed. There is so much more but you can discover all of it for yourself when you visit!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Summer Rewards

We have been putting up with days and days of hot and humid weather but today it is raining, a nice respite. The greatest joy of the summer is our gardens. We think that the yard out front looks exceptionally nice this year. It is planted with a mix of annuals and perennials.

Front of our 1821 home that has a variety of garden flowers

We have had good luck with plants re-seeding themselves. The Chrysanthemum plants came back and are doing well, promising fall blooms. The portulaca (moss rose) has gone crazy, spreading everywhere.

Portulaca that has spread with wild abandon, growing among Argeratum

The Gloriosa Daisies are blooming once again. The Geranium we over-wintered is spectacular. The other day I counted 30 blossoms on that lone plant with many more buds!

A perfect orange Zinnia

Of course, we love Zinnias and do not know why we do not plant them more often.

The vegetable garden is going great guns, too. The Pollinator mix which consists of Cosmos, Dill Weed, California Poppies, Bachelor Buttons and other flowers is doing its task of attracting beneficial insects to the garden. I learned this week not to disturb eggs that are laid in a triangular shape under squash leaves. Those are the eggs of a beneficial killer wasp.

Our vegetable garden

Jim has been busy grating Zucchini for use in recipes this winter (chocolate zucchini cake is my favorite). He made pickles. He is freezing Blackberries galore and we have our winter supply of Rhubarb all cut up and stored. The other night Jim made an enchilada casserole with Zucchini and Summer Squash. It was delicious!

Wasp enjoying a Blue Globe Thistle blossom

Some plants we add just for fun. The Blue Globe Thistle is one of those. Our yard is a haven for bees and butterflies. If we were courageous, we would be bee-keepers. Bees are so industrious during the summer. I guess, like us, they earn a long winter's nap.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ice Cream and Hot Summer Days

This has been an exceptionally hot summer with temperatures in the 90s and high 80s for several months now. When it is hot, I think of ice cream! There is an ice cream map available that tells the favorite places throughout the state of New Hampshire to get the "best" ice cream. Some of the places make their own. Others sell Gifford's ice cream. The stand closest to our home (and very handy) went out of business altogether before the start of the season. The two places in Concord that we like are Arnie's (on the Heights), or else, following the country roads, Beech Hill Farm and Ice Cream Stand in Contoocook. We also love Blake's in Manchester and The Goldenrod in the same city.

When my mother was still living (and she died in 2005), she bought an electric ice cream maker. She brought it to our home and one year we made strawberry ice cream. The maker is still in the box it came in and we decided to drag it upstairs from the cellar where it is stored to see if instructions for ice cream making are still intact. They were! Since I seem to have developed an allergy to strawberries and since we will soon have a large crop of raspberries to process, we have decided to make raspberry ice cream!

The next step was in finding sodium chloride (called "rock salt" or "ice cream salt") that is necessary for the process. We are also filling up our big freezer with frozen ice cubes we are making. The recipe calls for 17 lbs. of ice. The only rock salt we could find to purchase came in a 50 lb. sack! We should be able to make more than one batch of ice cream with that much!

I can't wait to make ice cream! Jim is already scouting out other recipes. The one for Maple Walnut ice cream requires too many steps and too much handling to suit us. With foods, we always enjoy experimenting. I don't always want to try to the results of the experiment but Jim is game for trying many new fried radishes! Of the two experiments, I shall opt for raspberry ice cream in lieu of fried radishes any day!

Someone suggested frozen popsicles. Those may be fine but I try to limit the amount of pure sugar and/or juices. At least with ice cream, there is the benefit of calcium. I am happy not to be lactose intolerant. In the colder months, my craving for ice cream may slow down a little but it is a wonderful food, especially on a hot summer's day "when the living is easy"! Wish us good luck in our experiment. Now we just have to watch for the berries to ripen!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

31st Annual Quilt Exhibition at Billings Farm and Museum

From July 29 (today) until September 17, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., visitors at the Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, Vermont will be able to view the 31st Annual Quilt Exhibition featuring quilts from Windsor County, Vermont.

We were invited to preview the show at the grand opening on July 28. James Cummings took a few photos of quilts that struck our fancy for various reasons. We will share those photos with you but urge you to visit the show itself to see many other quilts worthy of your attention!

"Spring Tulips" by Adelaide Johnson uses Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

"Ella's Garden" by Carla Good presents a cheerful garden of Iris 

"Bits & Pieces" by Charlotte Croft is a comfort quilt made for
the Covenant House in NY and is a tied quilt.

"Ferris Wheels" by Dona McKenzie was professionally-machine-quilted.

"My Sudoku" by Dru McKinley was made using Cathedral Window blocks.

"Lost Socks" by Emily Schank lends a comical element to the show

"Elizabeth" by Sarah Canterbury is a multi-color Log Cabin quilt named for
her mother who loved color.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Kalocsa Embroidery

Round doily in Kalocsa work. Collection of Patricia Cummings

Hungary is known for its Cross Stitch, Outline Stitch Embroidery with sayings, Lacemaking, and Folk Embroidery. One of the most beautiful of the types of embroidery done is Kalocsa. Its name is derived from the city in the Great Plain region where it originated. It is said that the bright colors of the buds and flowers symbolize the life and growth of a woman. I have collected a few pieces of Kalocsa and find it to be a very inspiring type of needlework. Here are some more examples.

Typical doily though some are even more elaborate. Collection of Patricia Cummings

Child's Apron. Notice the fine details of the edges! Collection of Patricia Cummings

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Musings on a Summer's Day

One of my favorite songs is "Summertime." It is from the musical "Porgy and Bess." I just know that I like the words:  "Summer time and the livin' is easy/ Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high/ Your Papa's rich and your Ma is good lookin'/ So hush little baby, don't you cry." See the Wikipedia file about the history of the musical here:

Summer is here with its heat waves and threats of thunderstorms. Today, Jim picked the first Blackberry of the season and we are currently making plans for having an ice cream making party when the Raspberries are ready to pick. It looks as though we shall have an abundant Peach crop this year so perhaps we will be busy making Peach jam when those are ripe.

Yesterday I announced on Facebook that my main website will be going away! So far, it has not been removed by the host company.

I'll continue to share information on this blog re:  quilts, embroidery, and musings. At one time, our website was one of the largest on the Internet and unfortunately, we were hacked. We had to take the computer to be completely cleaned out and rid of malware, spyware, and a Trojan virus. It was a very trying time.

Colorized version of a design from the Cunnings catalog

Today I am thinking of a cartoon-like scenario that appeared in Cunnings catalog, circa 1886. I enlarged the design and colorized it and then printed it on fabric. The scene very much reminds me of "The Gossips," a 19th century (1800s) appliqu├ęd picture in silk that was documented in Florida in the 1930s and never seen again. The theme is the same (two ladies with bonnets, sitting in chairs, visiting). I love whimsical motifs and this one tickles my fancy!

The work of the past is always fun to re-visit. I even enjoy re-reading my own published articles. They contain so much information, I could never possibly commit all that to memory! I find myself referencing my own books at times. It's all fun!

Enjoy the summer! As much as we complain about the heat, it is much better than having to shovel snow! So long for now. I promise to stay in touch!

Patricia Cummings

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It's the Little Things

To enjoy life is to savor the little things. As we were driving up to Bridgton, Maine on Sunday to attend a quilt show there, we decided that we should stop at Reny's, a store in that town that has just about everything one could imagine from clothes to canned goods, stationery, and home decor items. I had just mentioned to Jim that I was in the market for a new table runner and that I had thought of stopping sometime at one of the NH League of Craftsmen shops. Well, knowing how expensive a proposition that would be, he was delighted when I found an alternative solution at Reny's. I spotted a hand-braided, hand-painted, 36" table runner with fir trees. It is perfect for my needs.

Beautiful hand-painted Piggy Bank sits on my new table runner

Once home, I placed my new Piggy Bank in the center of the runner in my den. The bank was a birthday gift and is hand-painted with owls.

The quilt show was a delight! I knew the quilters there would be friendly as I had taught a workshop for the guild years ago and really enjoyed the experience! Quilts were numerous, and vendors offered a variety of unique items. Demonstrators were on hand, there was a snack area to sit and relax, and an offering of many used books and magazines in a "rummage" area. For the fun of it, I purchased a book, How to Make an Amish Quilt, which offers 80 patterns and Amish history. I have some "Amish" solid-color fabrics left over from my trip to Amish country in 1999 and could be inspired to use it!

Jean Simoneau chose Batik fabrics for making "Sweet Ride"

On the way home, we were surprised to see two fawns leaping across the road in front of us. Good thing we were driving slowly! On the way up to Maine, a wild turkey was in the road and finished flying across it. Wild turkeys are prevalent these days. Yesterday, there were three hens and five baby chicks in our backyard, poking around.

All in all, the quilt show trip was very pleasing. The day could not have been more perfect with sunny skies and fair weather clouds. I take nothing for granted these days. On the way to the show I remarked that I realize that the days of life are like sands falling through an hourglass (Anyone who has ever watched "Days of Our Lives" would know that is the theme). At our age, there are less grains of sand available to pass through that hour glass so we might as well enjoy all the concerts and quilt shows that we can. It was a great day! It's good to enjoy the "little things!"

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Look Pleasant, Please!

We found this embroidered textile in an antiques store and although it was in a soiled condition we decided not to pass it up figuring it could be washed. I like the message:  "All the World is a Camera. Look Pleasant Please!"

It is not only important to "look pleasant," it is equally important to "be pleasant." We are not seeing many people on television looking pleasant or being pleasant these days. It seems that all we hear about are the latest crimes, drug dealers, and angry politicians.

I told Jim that I long for the days when I used to know some pleasant old people who have now passed away. No matter what ache or pain beset them, they were always "pleasant." I enjoy mellow people who do not have an ax to grind or an agenda to push. It is becoming more and more difficult to find such folks. I know they must exist. I just do not know them, personally.

We could all take a lesson from the embroidered piece above. "Look pleasant, please!"

More Flower Photos for Inspiration

The third owner of our 1821 home was quite a gardener. In fact, he supplied flowers (Peonies, Iris, and others) to the local Congregational Church which is just a stone's throw away up the street. Consequently, many of the flowers that he planted around the yard are perennials that come back year after year. The man actually had a business that he called "Fair View Gardens." In the 1930s, one could actually see the Merrimack River from the second floor of this old house (and someone took a photo from there). Meanwhile, the undergrowth and trees have obscured the "fair view."

We maintain many of the perennial plantings even though we have moved some of the plants around the yard from time to time. In addition, we plant annuals, especially in the front of the house to fill in where the perennials leave off.

I thought you might like to see a collection of photos taken around the yard yesterday by James Cummings. With all the rain we have had, the pansies are still going great guns and have not dried up like other years.

California Poppy, a plant good for beneficial insects

Daisy-like flower, name unknown

Mullen plant with a spike-y yellow blossom

Pansies with rain drops on them

Perennial Sweet Pea growing near an old railroad tie

Rugosa Rose with nicely-camouflaged insect!

Stella d' Oro Lily just opening

Tiger Lily which some people call "Road Lily" 

White Rugosa Rose, host to a Bumblebee

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Presidential Site to Celebrate July 4

This year, as in other years, the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, will celebrate the 4th of July. The president is the only U.S. president to have been born on Independence Day! Their event is one that is sure to be enjoyed by the entire family. Among other features is a chicken barbecue, and a parade led by the Vermont National Guard (Color Guard) to the final resting place of the president which is nearby. There will be a birthday cake, live music and much more. Currently, there is a textile exhibit in place and possibly there will be craft demonstrators on hand. We have attended this event in the past and liked it very much.

For more information, please visit:

4th of July Parade in Plymouth Notch, VT

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Little Sunshine; A Little Rain

Here in New Hampshire we are in the midst of summer, a favorite time of year when flowers are blooming and the garden is giving forth its bounty of fresh vegetables and (soon) berries. Change is in the air though, although I do not mean outside. Since we are now both "retired," we have decided to "downsize" our online presence. The blog that you are currently reading will remain in place but our main website ( will be going away forever on July 18, 2017.

Patricia Cummings, ready for sunshine or for rain

Why am I telling you this? There are plenty of articles there worth reading, if you have not yet taken the time. Once, it was a mammoth site but since it was hacked in 2011, it is a shadow of its former self, if not still large. The site was in place from 2002-2017, a span of 15 years, a long time to be paying big bucks for something that amounts to just a public service. In retirement, we need to be more frugal. But, it was certainly fun to share my knowledge and new findings, not to mention many photos of quilts and embroidery, with readers!

We will still be attending quilt shows, especially ones in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine and will continue to post quilt show reviews to highlight quilts that have a special appeal.

I really do miss writing articles for The Quilter magazine which went out of business in August 2014. All good things must come to an end. The trouble was that none of the employees or associates saw the "end" coming!

The quilt world is changing, that is for sure. There is more sophistication in making quilts, more use of high-end, expensive long-arm machines, and less emphasis on antique quilts (or so it seems). There is a niche group of avid historians who cling to the past and really enjoy seeing and studying old quilts but there is definitely a trend toward transforming vintage textiles and quilts into updated, machine-quilted items.

Whatever type of quilts or quilting you enjoy, it is a worthwhile pursuit. We say "Happy Trails" to you and may we meet along the way!

Patricia Cummings

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Material Girls Quilt Guild Show 2017

Yesterday we decided to head down to Leominster, Massachusetts to the Material Girls Quilt Guild Show. The day could not have been more gorgeous as we traveled many back roads on the way there and saw corn growing, garden centers, and people out in fields picking strawberries. It was a perfect June day and a very warm one at that! The traffic was not bad at all, even in the city, and we found the location without too much trouble (we'd been there before).

In this blog, I'll be showing you some quilts that really struck our fancy. Call it a quilt show "review."

First of all, I really liked the three thread-painted quilts of Barbara Beaumont.

"Barnyard Beauties" by Barbara Beaumont features thread-painted
animals within Churn Dash blocks

This quilt by Barbara Beaumont has thread-painted dogs
that are charming! The blocks are set on point.

"Home of the Brave" by Barbara Beaumont

I was enthralled with the large hand appliqued and hand quilted quilt by Diane Crusco with motifs designed by Jeana Kimball. Diane calls the quilt "Love Applique - Love to Quilt." Many hours went into making this quilt!

Diane Crusco's handmade quilt with floral motifs

The "My Dear Jane" quilt by Rita S. Ciliano is a work of art that took many hours to complete. It is a labor of love and is based on the now famous Civil War quilt by Jane Stickle of Vermont that is now in the Bennington Museum (and is on display every September).

Reproduction of Jane Stickle's quilt by Rita S. Ciliano

The "Calendar Quilt" by Lisa Ari Macomber is a very fun quilt that celebrates the months of the year. It is machine pieced and machine quilted and has what appear to be original designs.

Whimsical "Calendar Quilt" by Lisa Ari Macomber

Two quilts by Kathryn Amadon caught my eye. The first is called "Love from Above," a design by Keri Duke. The second is titled "Olde Town" and has a folk art "feel" to it. Loved seeing both of these quilts!

"Love from Above" by Kathryn Amadon

"Olde Town" by Kathryn Amadon

Finally, one very eye-catching quilt is the one made by Janice Quejo titled "Grace's Quilt." This large quilt is very colorful and cheerful-looking. It was machine-pieced and machine-quilted and features many applique designs.

"Grace's Quilt" by Janice Quejo

We hope you enjoyed seeing these special quilts. All of the quilts in the show were special in their own right and we really appreciate the efforts of all the quilters who made this show happen! If you are in the area this afternoon, June 24, 2017, there is still time to see the show!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Garden Inspirations

This year we have had plenty of rain and the gardens are loving it and rewarding us with more growth and more blooms than ever. The perennials have been grand and the annuals are flourishing with a gusto unsurpassed. Jim asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I can never think of any requests but then when we were in a garden center, I spotted a lovely, little bunny rabbit made of resin that I thought would look cute in the herb garden. So, it came home with us. We'll call that my birthday gift along with a chocolate-y ice cream cake!

Here are a few garden pictures I thought you might enjoy seeing.

A resin Bunny Rabbit, permanent resident of the herb garden

Indian Paintbrush, a New England wildflower

A Peony touched by raindrops

I call this flower "Pinks," not knowing their true name. They seem to be a wildflower
 and a relation to Dianthus.

Lone Poppy

Another wildflower that looks very delicate. All flower photos by James Cummings