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Monday, November 20, 2017

Late Fall Musings

Winter is almost upon us. My husband Jim has put the garden to bed for the winter, removing all spent flowers and foliage and cutting back the raspberry canes to the ground. Almost every day wild turkeys can be seen meandering through our yard. They discovered the crab apple tree several days ago, perhaps remembering it from last year. This year the blossoms were beautiful and the fruit abundant.

This beauty wandered into our yard in 2008


We have not seen deer in the yard for several years now. Just as well. The only attraction for them in dead winter are the very nutritious rose hips that cling to the rosebushes that line our front fence. They will wade through the deep snow to get at those. Mostly, in the winter, deer stay together in small areas in the woods where there is browse available such as hemlock trees, a favorite winter food for deer.

The other day I was upset to see a video on Facebook which showed deer eating fruit from a table set up for them. It is best NOT to feed deer or wildlife in the winter. Their digestive systems have already adjusted to a lesser food supply and they can actually die from a sudden change in diet. Also, it is best to leave them alone and not make them reliant on human sources for food. They do better if they do not have to expend energy in traveling.

Christmas quilt by Patricia Cummings / design by Marti Michel


I once made a Christmas quilt featuring deer panels in a Double Irish Chain setting. I gave the quilt away and now wish I had it back as it was one of my favorites! The designer of the quilt is Marti Michel and I found the pattern in a quilt book.

With Thanksgiving just several days away, now is the time that my thoughts turn to the holidays. I have a quilt that needs to be pieced. I have the parts cut but have not taken the time to make it. With that particular quilt (a tee-shirt quilt), which involves fusing, I have procrastinated successfully for two years now. Somehow, I do not believe that that quilt will make it under the tree this year either.

I read today that millions of people have given up quilting. This may be a trend. It may be associated with so many quilt magazines going out of business, The Quilter included and also another favorite, Miniature Quilts. I have kept all the back issues of the latter (and of course, all of the 92 articles I wrote for The Quilter). I do miss writing for the magazine!

Bird seed wreath attracts junkos, chickadees and other small birds


With winter closing in, I will be in my den continuing to hand-quilt on my big hearth hoop. I am still working on a queen size, all-white, Welsh design, wholecloth quilt. I listen to music as I quilt. This week it has been Andrea Boccelli and Paul Pasch. The den is really quiet otherwise, removed from the sound of traffic that passes by my home daily (30,000 cars). The room faces the back woods where a stream attracts wildlife and birds. Soon I shall make my bird seed wreath which hangs too high for bears to reach. I will wait until there is snow on the ground and the bears are safely hibernating in their own cozy dens!



Here's to a wonderful Thanksgiving for you and your loved ones as we give thanks for all that is in God's world and our many blessings!






Monday, November 13, 2017

Sweetheart & Mother Pillows

Last Friday night I was invited to present a program on the topic of Sweetheart & Mother Pillows (also the title of my book) at the Capital Quilters Guild in Concord, New Hampshire. I was thrilled that there was a good turn-out for this event. I provided a brief background about how I came to collect so many pillow covers and write about them and then I showed 30 slides of various examples of pillow covers from World War I, World War II, and the years of the Civilian Conservation Camps. I ended by showing a pillow quilt composed of 20 pillow covers.



After my talk, many people came up to congratulate me and say how much they enjoyed it. Some purchased my book. I feel very grateful for such an outpouring of warmth and appreciation. I had not given any talks in quite awhile, the last one being in my home town of Deerfield, NH (on this same subject). Someone asked me if I was now going to "do the circuit." Hardly. I came out of "retirement" to provide this program.

In preparing for the presentation, I must have re-read my book about five or six times, learning more each time I picked it up. The captions, though tiny, are packed with information. I suggested using a magnifying glass. I know mine comes in handy, even though I have 20/20 close-up vision with glasses. Even if someone did not want to "read" the whole book, the 247 beautiful color photos are a compelling reason to purchase it. Each photo represents a piece of history.

Souvenir de France:  two soldiers march victorious through the
Champs de Llysses in Paris. This is hand-painted silk with ribbon
work. Collection of Patricia Cummings


I did a search online to see who else was selling my book. I found one person in Australia that is selling it for $80 plus dollars including postage. Someone in Portsmouth has it listed for over $100 dollars and there are many other prices in between, depending on where one looks. I still have copies of the book available and can customize them for holiday giving by signing them. My price is the original retail price of just $24.99. Of course, I do charge $3 dollars for shipping. To inquire, please write to me at quiltersmuse@gmail.com

The books serves as an historical document with anecdotes and descriptions of generals and enlisted men alike. It is also a price guide, providing a suggested range of price for each pillow cover. There is a chapter on care and conservation of these historic vintage and antique textiles. No one else has ever written a book about them so my book is a landmark study. It truly is beautiful and honors all branches of the military except that I could find no U.S. Coast Guard pillow covers until after the book was published. Even the Merchant Marines under the U.S. Maritime Service are included.

My sister standing next to a carved bear at Mancos State Park in Colorado


Recently I lost my sister, Barbara. She was a cheerleader for all of my efforts in writing. I sorely miss her but you know, as I gave that talk Friday night, I did feel as though an "angel on my shoulder" was helping it to go smoothly. As I was remembering the brave veterans who sacrificed so much for our country, I was also thinking of her, a veteran of life who had overcome so many storms until she met one that was too much to surpass.

"Pride of Nation" wool pillow cover from World War I. Please disregard
the url for Quilter's Muse Publication website page which has been discontinued.


I am thankful for the opportunity to share the story of some of the beautiful pillow covers I have collected. I really do enjoy presenting, which hails back to my training as a teacher of Spanish  (and quilting). Maybe that is the last time I shall do anything like that or perhaps not. It is always hard to predict what life has in store for any of us. We must seize the day (carpe diem) and make the most of all that life has to offer!

Patricia Cummings