Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ocean Waves Quilters Show: a review

The quilt show set up by the Ocean Waves Quilters of Orr's Island, Maine is a delightful one this year! It is being held in an old schoolhouse across from a cemetery that has a long white fence just perfect for hanging more quilts than would fit inside the venue. We hit a very sunny, warm day on the Saturday we ventured up to Maine, a long drive from our home in the capitol city of New Hampshire.

Orr's Island Old Schoolhouse

First let me talk about a few of the quilts hanging inside the schoolhouse. The first is actually a pillow cover that depicts the family dog. It was made by Lisa Burke. The image draws one in and makes us feel as though we wish we could meet said dog.

Portrait of family dog by Lisa Burke

The second quilt that I was taken by shows a penguin family. It was appliqued by Shirley Freeman MacInnes and the design is loosely based on a National Geographic photo. The quilt is for sale.

Penguin family by Shirley Freeman MacInnes

The third quilt I really liked is one that the quilter had fun with, using up her scraps. The quilt was made by Susan Pearson and is based on a pattern by Lynne Tyler called "Flight of Fancy."

"Flight of Fancy" by Susan Pearson

Of course, the many quilts draped over the white fence outside had no provenance attached to them. They were pinned so they would not blow away and they sure looked nice blowing in the breeze.

Quilts draped over cemetery fence entice passersby to stop for the quilt show

One quilt was enchanting because it was made of a flannel cheater cloth that resembles a Crazy Quilt with snowmen.

Flannel cheater cloth quilt with snowmen resembles a Crazy Quilt

Two quilts were particularly striking. One is a pieced quilt and the other has appliqued circles and fabric that looks Japanese.

Pieced quilt - maker unknown

Pieced and appliqued quilt - maker unknown

After seeing the quilt show, we traveled three miles further to land's end and the gift shop at Bailey Island. We always enjoy seeing the statue that is dedicated to all fishermen. The man is holding a lobster.

Statue dedicated to all fishermen - at Bailey Island, Maine (land's end)

Speaking of lobster, I had a hankering for a bowl of Lobster Stew and Jim decided he wanted some Clam Chowder so on the way back we stopped at Cook's Restaurant and had a seat by the water to watch boats coming and going. We both splurged and topped off our meal with a slice of blueberry pie. Then it was time for the long trip home again. Good thing I brought my knitting with me. It served as a bit of a diversion. Hope you have enjoyed this short travelogue!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Flowers in Our Yard

We are very lucky to have a yard that features a lot of perennial flowers that come back year after year. The yard used to be home to Albert Johnson's flower farm which was called "Fairview Gardens." Back in the 1930s, there was a "fair view" of the Merrimack River from here before the trees and undergrowth clouded the landscape. In fact, we were given a photo of a view of the river that was taken from the second floor of the back of our home. Mr. Johnson, who lived in this house until he died at the age of 98, raised flowers such as Iris and Peonies which he sold or gave to the local church, a nearby stone building that is the Congregational Church of West Concord, New Hampshire.

Perennial Sweet Pea 

Each year there are many flowers and flowering bushes that come back. Hydrangea bush, fragrant wild roses, Perennial Sweet Peas, Cone Flowers, Perennial Salvia, Tiger Lilies, pink Lily of the Valley, Iris, Siberian Iris, and Peonies in three colors are just a few. In addition, there is a flowering Crab Apple tree (which the wild turkeys love), a Flowering Quince bush, and wild Trillium that grows out back.

Portulaca (Moss Rose)

We have added additional perennials such as Bleeding Heart, Dianthus, Dyer's Chamomille, Stella d'Oro Lilies, miniature roses, a Sun Rose plant, and portulaca (or moss rose) which re-seeds itself and comes back year after year. In the front yard, we have planted hens and chicks (a succulent that blossoms). We have herbs such as chives, mint, cilantro, lavender, oregano, and sage. We also planted a pollinator-friendly mix that is favored by the butterflies and bees. That consists of Cosmos, Bachelor Buttons and California Poppies and that, too, re-seeded itself from last year's planting.

Dyer's Chamomille (yellow), Cosmos (pink) and Bachelor Buttons (blue)

To that mix of perennials, we always plant marigolds, zinnias, pansies, petunias, silver dust, and snapdragons. We also have a large vegetable garden and some of the blossoms there are interesting such as those of the Potato plants.

Potato blossoms

The yard is a cheerful place to be. In the spring, we have a blooming Rhododendron. Each month there is something new to enjoy outside whether it be the recurring wild Indian Paintbrush, or the wild Dianthus (with its pretty single blossoms), or the Gloriosa Daisies that return each summer season.

Milkweed Blossom and Insect

Milkweed pops up wherever it wants to grow in the yard and we just leave it for the caterpillars that will turn into Monarch butterflies. It has fragrant blossoms. Evening Primrose, a spiky kind of plant with little yellow flowers grows wild, too, and attracts yellow finches who eat the little seeds of the blossoms. Of course, we also have a big yellow forsythia and lilac bushes in three colors:  lavender, white, and a deep purple (French lilac). The lilacs bloom early, about the same time as the lavender Ground Phlox.

Black-Eyed Susans

We are blessed with a variety of flowers that surround us with beauty. The street pedestrians walking by often stop to take a look and have been known to look around and sneakily steal a blossom or two of the Rugosa Roses that line the white fence on one side of the house. This year we planted Dahlias out front, too, and there are four Chrysanthemums plants that have come back for the third year in a row that look promising for blooms in the autumn. A perennial that blooms where it would like is the Black-Eyed Susan. The photo above was taken near the compost bins we have out back to recycle vegetable matter and lawn trimmings back into rich soil.

Tiger Lilies

We only have about 3/4 acre of land but with land on both sides of the house, there is space for raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry bushes. There is also room for Hosta plants which are perennial and bloom with tall, spiky lavender blossoms. And, a small patch of Oriental Poppies seem to return each year. The wild turkeys and deer love our yard!

Lately, we have not seen as much wildlife as we used to see. In the past, we have seen mink and beaver but we still see a lot of chipmunks and squirrels. Unfortunately, we also have voles which live underground and decimate the root crops like carrots, beets and potatoes. We are grateful for all the food we do harvest from the garden (which provides a considerable number of onions, Swiss Chard, peas, green beans, squash, Jerusalem Artichokes, and other veggies. I feel like we live in a little piece of heaven!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Chickadee Quilters' 39th Annual Quilt Show: A Review

We were delighted to see all of the fine quilts hanging in the Chickadee Quilters' 39th Annual Quilt Show in Bridgton, Maine. The show was presented on July 7 and July 8, 2018 at the Stevens Brook Elementary School. There were vendors, a donation table where one could pick up fabric and used magazines; there was food available, and so much more! Of course, we mainly attended to see the quilts!

The Chickadee Quilters' Guild is a busy one! It also offers the opportunity to ANY quilter to show a quilt in their show. Therefore, the quilts are not just from the local community but from other places as well. In this review I have chosen six of the many quilts on display. They all represent a lot of work and expertise!

"Pine Burr" by Pam Hogan

Jim was drawn to the "Pine Burr" quilt that was machine pieced and hand quilted by Pam Hogan. Usually a southern pattern, in this quilt the indigo-colored fabric forms an alternate design. The quilt has a "masculine" look as if it would be perfect for a boy's room or for a man.

"Peace by Piece" by Shirley Hoeman

"Peace by Piece" is a hand and machine pieced quilt by Shirley Hoeman who used the pattern "Hampton Ridge" by Paula Barnes to create this medallion style quilt. A lot of piecing went into the making of the quilt. I loved the multiple borders that seem to set off the quilt in grand fashion!

"Lucy Boston Style" by Anne Debonis

We were particularly drawn to "Lucy Boston Style" which was hand pieced by Anne Debonis. The quilter used the gray fabric to its best advantage, first to form "crosses" in between blocks and again on the first border. Again, this quilt took a lot of piecing and is very colorful!

"The Splendid Sampler" by Cindy Fraher

"The Splendid Sampler" was machine pieced, machine appliqued and machine quilted by Cindy Fraher. The quilt is composed of blocks published by Pat Sloan and Janie Davidson. What a delightful selection of designs! One's eyes keep moving around the quilt to see each new surprise. I particularly like the apron in the next to the last (bottom) row (6th block from the left).

"Pot Holder Quilt" by Jane Bergquist

The "Pot Holder Quilt" by Jane Bergquist is machine pieced, hand appliqued and machine quilted and was made in a workshop at at retreat in Vermont. In this style of quilt, each block is made and finished separately and then all the finished blocks are joined. It is a style that was popular during the American Civil War. We loved Jane's color choices in her fabrics!

"Afternoon Sail" by Dianne Barth

Last but not least, we have "Afternoon Sail" which was machine pieced and machine appliqued by Dianne Barth and professionally quilted by Shirley York. The quilt, an original design, was made to be used as a raffle quilt to raise funds for Bridgton's Rufus Porter Museum. The raffle will take place on August 10th. The quilter states that the center square represents the Rufus Porter school of wall muralists. It will be a lucky person who wins this quilt!

If you have the chance, plan to attend the 2019 show. Contact information for the Chickadee Quilters is simply Bridgton, Maine  04009 or 207.647.3632 and please remember to "like" their page on Facebook!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

My Connections to "The Gossips"

"The Gossips"

Patricia L. Cummings

Years ago I first came across the now iconic image that has taken on the name "The Gossips." It is printed in The Index to American Design. Subsequently, it was re-printed in Woman's Day Book of American Needlework  (1963) with the caption:  "The Gossips, a humorous picture, 11" x 12", appliqued in silk about 1830 by Eunice W. Cook." The photo is attributed to the National Gallery of Art, Index of American Design. That photo is not the original quilt block but rather is a watercolor rendering on paper by Carmel Wilson, a painter for the WPA during the Great Depression. That paper copy measures 14 1/16" x 15 3/16" and was made circa 1938. I will not re-publish that image here as it is under copyright by the National Gallery of Art which charges a hefty fee for publication. The image did appear as a full-page photo in my article for The Quilter magazine.

Note:  Since writing the above paragraph, I noticed that the National Gallery of Art has posted an image of Carmel Wilson's graphite and watercolor image of "The Gossips" online at:

My next encounter with "The Gossips" was when I found a pattern by Jan Kornfeind of Country Appliques when I was shopping at a fabric outlet in Claremont, New Hampshire. Using that pattern, I created a reproduction adding various other elements such as a rug, a cat, and a portion of a lace handkerchief with Eunice's name and the date the project was made.  I added a tea cup rather than a handkerchief. Here is my version.

"The Gossips" reproduction made by Patricia Cummings

I wrote an article about "The Gossips" in the March 2002 issue of The Quilter magazine (All-American Crafts Inc.). According to the book Artists in Aprons:  Folk Art by American Women by C. Kurt Dewhurst, Betty MacDowell and Marsha MacDowell, the original creation has been "lost." Recently, however, that statement has been proven false by a researcher who located Eunice Ware Cook's great, great, great granddaughter who still has the original item. That is good news!

Angular version of "Comic Patchwork" as seen in Eva M. Niles' book. She created a chart related to the numbers to designate which colors to use for a silk patchwork carriage bag patch.

Artists who work in other mediums have also wanted to re-create "The Gossips" and have done so in canvas work, paintings, embroidery, and presumably in making carriage bags if they followed the advice of Eva Marie Niles in her 1884 book that showed a similar, very angular design she called "Comic Patchwork." The book, Fancy Work Recreations;  Knitting, Crochet & Home Adornments was a gift to me by my friend, Virginia Stevens. In studying Niles' line drawing, I discovered that there is a missing line that is critical to the design. I drew it in when I made a copy of the line drawing and the added line is shown in red in the drawing published in The Quilter magazine.

"Mimi's Garden" by Teresa Shippy

Funny how all of these coincidences came into being at about the same time to tell the story of this design. I guess it pays to read a lot and to pay attention to detail! I am proud of my work and findings and the presentation of "The Gossips" to a new audience today. I inspired at least one quilt artist to re-create the design, giving her own spin to it, and calling it "Mimi's Garden". I now own that quilt!

19th century line drawing from catalog, colorized by Patricia L. Cummings

Subsequently, I found a line drawing in a 19th century catalog of drawings for outline stitch embroidery. I enlarged the sketch, cleaned up some of the lines, and colorized the drawing, printing it on fabric and then making it into a small quilt.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief overview of "The Gossips." I have other images but the ones shown give you a good idea of the design and some of the derivative works.