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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:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porgy_and_Bess

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 forever...today! 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:  http://historicsites.vermont.gov/exhibits/new

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 (http://www.quiltersmuse.com) 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


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Koshukdon from Mongolia

Some time ago I collected a few small textiles from Central Asia from a seller in Uzbekistan. Among them is a "Koshukdon" Yurta Bag, part of the Nomadic tribal traditions. The decorated bag is made of wool and silk adras and measures 29" x 20". It was made to hang inside a yurt on a wall to hold eating utensils.

Koshukdon


This particular Koshukdon was made in the 1910s, according to the seller and comes from Kazakh, Kirghiz, Karakalpakstan, Mongolia. He states that every Nomad's articles, even small bags or pendants always had their own practical function. He further states that Nomadic culture rendered a great influence on Uzbek Applied Art.

While I find this kind of thing to be interesting, some will have just learned a new Crossword puzzle answer!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Celebration of Lupines

During the month of June, it is a good time to visit Sugar Hill, New Hampshire and its surrounding communities. After days of cold and rainy weather, the sun actually came out last Wednesday (June 7) and we headed north, traveling beyond the White Mountains. It is a pleasant drive up Route 93 from Concord, New Hampshire and in a few hours, we found ourselves in the community of Sugar Hill just in time for the "Celebration of Lupines."

Lupines growing near Pearl Lake in Sugar Hill, NH - photo by James Cummings


First we stopped at the famous "Polly's Pancake Parlor," known for milling all of their own grains (except for white flour which they purchase from King Arthur); and for making their own sweet Maple syrup and Maple sugar. The menu has a memorable selection of different gourmet pancakes one can order. The dining room is spacious and was not too crowded on a weekday. The food was delicious. In fact, it was so good, we bought some pancake mix to bring home, along with some bacon! Good thing we remembered to bring the cooler!

The Sugar Hill Sampler - photo by James Cummings


After that late breakfast, we traveled a little distance away on the same road to the "Sugar Hill Sampler," a gift shop, and a museum of artifacts that have been in the care of the Aldrich family who settled the acreage 7 generations ago! I always enjoy looking in the gift shop, even when I am not enticed to open my wallet. Actually, I did purchase a couple of little things that struck my fancy.

Just up the road from there is Harman's Country Store. Jim went in and bought some cheddar cheese (which we had planned to do beforehand and which is why we had brought the cooler in the first place). There is a small post office next to Harman's should anyone want to mail home a postcard or two to friends or family.

Bird on a Lupine plant - photo by James Cummings


Of course, the main draw this time of year are the Lupines of Sugar Hill. The flowers can be seen in four hues:  pink, white, lavender, and deep purple. They grow wild along the roadsides, in yards, and in meadows. In fact, the Sampler sells seeds for the flowers. They do not bloom the first year. It is only in the  second year that blossoms appear. They also do not grow well in hot climates, preferring the cool mountain air. We planted some seeds one year and the plants did not withstand the heat of central New Hampshire.

Someone has written a poem to "Lady Lupine"


Sugar Hill is the postcard-perfect setting with views of the White Mountains. At the Sampler, there is a field of Lupines which features a walking trail that has poetry and inspirational thoughts on markers along the way. A day in the mountains was just what we needed to feel refreshed. If you are looking for quiet entertainment, Sugar Hill is the place to head during the week. If you wait until the weekends, there are concerts, talks, and wagon rides through the Sampler's field.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"The Little House and Tall Pine Tree" Quilt

My birthday gift package from Germany included a photo of a new quilt by Tamara Shpolyanska titled "The Little House and Tall Pine Tree." It measures 47" x 57" and was made in Chemnitz, Germany, finished in May 2017.

Tamara Shpolyanska holding a flower

"The Little House and Tall Pine Tree"


She had suggested the quilt as a project for her quilt group in Chemnitz in November 2016. In June 2017, there is an exhibition of the group's quilts at the "Citicenter." I love the cheerfulness of this quilt and the use of orange and blue, complementary colors. The "tree" motif is repeated in the borders. I always enjoy seeing Tamara's work and it is no surprise that she continues to inspire her quilting students!



Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day - A Time of Reflection and Remembrance

Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember our war dead, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their "last full measure of devotion," in the words of Abraham Lincoln. It is a day for parades, patriotic music, and flags.

U.S. Army Color Guard stands at attention for the playing of "Taps"


We were very lucky in Concord, New Hampshire. The rain held off in the morning and did not start until well after the parade down Main Street was over and the speeches and music were finished. There is something about seeing the flag and hearing patriotic music that brings tears to my eyes. The Concord (NH) High School Band and the Rundlett Jr. High School Band performed wonderfully-well! To see young people exhibit such musical skill is inspiring!

Concord High School "Crimson Tide Marching Band"


Besides the bands, there were many Color Guards and other marchers on foot. "Caring Paws" participated in the parade and I would like to know more about what the dogs do. The Cub Scouts marched - and it was such a long way for them to go. The youngsters looked so cute in their uniforms. Someone put a lot of work into the floats that were present including the "Religious Freedom" float by the Concord Christian Academy. The Marines drove by with a replica of the Iwo Jima statue in the trailer behind them.

Replica of Iwo Jima statue


Someone was distributing free American flags that have the words to "Taps" attached to the "flagpole." When it came time to play "Taps," the bugler first played it loudly and boldly and then played the tune softly, as if heard at a distance.

Float by the Concord Christian Academy


We have not gone to a parade at any time within recent memory and this event was a real treat for us! It is nice to feel part of a greater community of patriotic citizens. I hope that you have taken time today to consider those who have lost their lives while fighting for (your) freedoms! In addition, I hope that you have enjoyed a day off from work and have spent some quality time with those you love.

Wreaths were laid at the monument in front of the NH State House. Photos by James Cummings



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Gifts from Germany

Although my birthday is not until June, my friend in Germany has sent early birthday gifts already! While I am delighted with the contents, I was also dismayed to see that the package had been tampered with. She did not seal the package. It was easily opened. I suppose that Customs, either here or abroad, was responsible for tearing the foil off of a chocolate bunny that was hollow and breaking it into little pieces which were then stuffed back into the package.

Plush pig sent by Tamara Shpolyanska in Germany


The good news is that the stuffed pig, that was either sent un-stuffed or had the stuffing removed by Customs, did not get stained by melted chocolate. The package was not crushed and there is no accounting for the devastation wrought to the chocolate (Lindt) bunny other than human interference. In fact, there was a second chocolate bunny in the package that was unharmed except for a little foil being ripped off.

The pig is stuffed via the nose opening so I was able to add polyester stuffing and then sew on the circular yo-yo type closure with silk thread. Luckily, I had thread that matched the silk she had used.

I was going to call the pig "Petunia" but in the meantime I learned that her name is "Lila the Pig." That works for me. Of course, there were other goodies in the package not the least of which was a personal note card that contained a photo of the latest quilt made by my friend who is an extraordinary quilter and a master craftsman in quilting, certified by I.Q.A.

It is very special to receive a gift from a pen pal overseas. We have been writing to each other and exchanging small textile gifts since the 1990s. Tamara is a very special friend. She teaches quilting to a group of eager quilters in Chemnitz, Germany and her work is often featured in exhibits of art quilts. I am very lucky that she is my friend!

Happy Quilting!

Patricia Cummings




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

More Thoughts about Happiness

Awhile ago I published an essay about "Happiness" and what it means to me. Today I came across a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt that says a lot about the subject in just a few words:

"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of the creative effort."

In terms of quilting, whenever I have attempted to do something I have never done before, such as making a miniature "Double Wedding Ring" quilt, and have succeeded, there is a certain "joy of achievement." Anything difficult or new is worth trying. We all have our own learning curve and are on our own journeys as quilters.

"Double Wedding Ring" miniature quilt


I was thrilled when I succeeded in making a final quilt for the Embroiderer's Guild of America's "Master Craftsman Program," a testing program, not a class. The creative effort I put forth was great and was a reward in itself for the "thrill" of knowing I did a good job. I was very excited in the year 2000 when I received an e-mail with the coveted word, "Pass" for my quilt "Sunset Serenity at Mt. Fuji." Just one word of praise was sent but that was enough. The long nine year journey toward seeking the title was over!

One does not have to be a quilter to find fulfillment in achievement. Tonight on the television news there was word of an octogenarian who is going to receive a college degree shortly. She had started college but had quit due to becoming married. It was always in her heart to finish and now she will get her wish.

Life is always about starts and finishes. Tonight I am feeling happy to have finished writing a memoir about my own life. There were troubled and turbulent times but I never gave up and never gave in and have had much success in quilting, writing and publishing.

Achievement takes a lot of hard work but achievement is at the heart of happiness. We do not have to measure success in grand terms. Baking a fantastic cake can be as satisfying as climbing a mountain.

Franklin D. Roosevelt knew a thing or two about achievement and the happiness that it brings. Just look at his record of "overcoming" his handicap to be one of the greatest presidents America has ever seen! He lifted America out of the Great Depression in the 1930s and used his creative imagination to establish the Civilian Conservation Corps whose work we still enjoy in the National Parks system.

Doing a good job is what life is all about. Sometimes we are paid for our creativity and work and sometimes we do work just for the satisfaction of producing something tangible that is ours alone.

I hope that you will think about happiness and what it means to you. If you have any ideas you want to share, please feel free to comment!

Happy Quilting!

Patricia Cummings


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Nubble Lighthouse

From York Beach, Maine one can see the Nubble Lighthouse at the end of land jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. One can drive out to the Lighthouse and it is beautiful in any weather. This week, on a sunny day in April, we took the opportunity to drive from New Hampshire to Maine, stopping at Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine, a famous restaurant of ours for years now. It was a grand day!

The Nubble Light / photo by James Cummings


In 1994 I took a photo of the Nubble Lighthouse in the winter and made a miniature quilt with a photo transfer.


The Nubble Light in Winter / a quilt by Patricia Cummings



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Poem: You Know that You're a Quilter

You Know that You're a Quilter
a poem by Patricia L. Cummings

You know that you're a quilter
When your home could be a shop
So filled it is with notions
and cloth from Fabric Hops.

You know that you're a quilter
When you need a live-in-chef
To remind you of the need to eat
When you'd rather just be left...

To mark and cut and piece and quilt
And sing the whole day through.
You know you are a quilter
AND the things you like to do!

Your children sleep under quilts
that you have made with care.
Your husband wears a quilted vest
Even though others stare.

Your toaster sports a cover,
Quilted with your two hands.
As you work on finishing a quilt
yet another one you plan.

The world is prettier still
Due to quilts that you have made.
They adorn every surface
in homes that are humble or grand.

Doll quilts, wall quilts
And bed quilts, too,
Greet visitors and loved ones
And they're all made by you.

To all quilters now we say:

May your blessings be many,
And your troubles be few.
Take time today to celebrate
All that you do!


###

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Calico Garden

One of the most favorite quilts I ever made is called "Calico Garden" and is a reproduction of a quilt made by Florence Peto in the 1950s. She was a quilt dealer from New Jersey and a quilt historian who was a consultant for the Shelburne Museum when that museum was amassing its quilt collection.

"Calico Garden" 39" x 49"


The quilt took me a year to make. It is pieced, appliqued, and hand-quilted. I used the pattern provided by Hoopla, a company owned by Froncie Quinn. The swags and border flowers are made from chintz fabric and are much larger than the ones on the original quilt that is now held by the Shelburne Museum. I did submit documentation and a photo of the quilt to the museum for their records. A documentation sheet came with the pattern. I finished this quilt in September 2001.