Sunday, December 4, 2022

Our Christmas Tree - 2022

 The house is decorated and "it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas." The focal point of our decorating is the tree. This year we opted to purchase a brand new, artificial tree from the National Tree Company. It is well-made, symmetrical and pleasing to the eye. Unlike my home, growing up, we do not use tinsel or garland or even bows. We string lights and add ornaments, each one unique, that we have collected. I enjoy remembering the circumstances in which I made them or bought them or received them as gifts. Some of them are the result of skilled artisans hands, my friends who are artists, quilters or cross-stitchers.

The other day, as I was sitting in my den hand-quilting a queen size, wholecloth quilt, I was listening to music. One of the songs has lyrics that question who will know the meaning of the ornaments on his tree and treasure them as he does when he is no longer here. The thought struck me as rather poignant and it hit home. Who, indeed, will know the names of my friends who made some of the ornaments or how or why they were given to me? As I think of old friends, some now passed away, as I hold the tangible work of their hands, I am brought back to other times in the past, good times of shared camaraderie.

I love Christmas ornaments, it is true! Each one is a work of art in miniature. On my tree are two nutcrackers, each different, made in Germany and sent by my sister when she lived there. She made me an ornament of a tiny wooden spoon tied with a bow, and sent me a polar bear ornament from the Smithsonian, as well as some others, one of which is a red metal heart with an overlay that simply says, "Merry Christmas." With her gone now, these are among some of the treasures she left behind.

There is the folded paper star, made by my daughter-in-law in the Danish style she knows so well! There are many cloth ornaments, some composite ones denoting Santa Claus. I made a Saguaro cactus that is blooming, out of felt and small, artificial blossoms. There is a face sculpted to look like "Granny" with her white hair and folded paper structures, an oven and a church, sent by a friend from Vermont to thank me for being a quilt judge at a quilt show she was assisting. Teddy Bears, in small form, adorn the tree, as well as a few ornaments that come from my family of origin. I could go on and on about the collection but I'd have to write an essay that is longer than you would want to take the time to read!

No tree would be complete without a German pickle ornament! There is a legend that goes along with it that I can't quite remember without looking it up! It has to do with the first person to spot the ornament among the branches. Either he/she will have good luck or will be the first to open presents. Getting older is a challenge sometimes when details are lost and have to be re-visited!

On top of the tree is an angel whose hymnal she holds in front of her light up with the words "Joy to the World." She runs by battery and is a piece I bought from Avon when I was a sales representative for the company. And, of course, I made a tree skirt that is Crazy-Quilted and has large hearts, each decorated with Christmas fabrics of skaters, holly, etc. and "fancy" embroidery stitches.

In the photo above, the item on the left that competes for attention is a Christmas cactus that is more than 25 years old. So far this year, only a section of it has bloomed. To the right of the picture is another Christmas cactus that is a little older than the first and that one has only bloomed once in about six years with only two blossoms! Not sure why it's decided to quit blooming!

With all of the Christmas cards mailed, all of the gifts bought, and plans underway for making Stollen and other special holiday foods, we are in great shape this year. We will be happy to greet old friends and enjoy holiday meals with some of them. Here is wishing you a lovely St. Nicholas Day on December 6, (if you live in Germany), and a very Happy Holiday Season otherwise.

Patricia Cummings

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Liberty is Our Motto

 I had a lot of fun designing and making a quilt that I call "Liberty is Our Motto," inspired by a song title sung by the Hutchinson Family Singers, a 19th century group that hailed from Milford, New Hampshire. The popular family singers traveled the world, even appearing before the Queen of England!

Liberty is something we all hold dear. It is the principle upon which this country was founded. Liberty from oppression and the dictates of specific religions, and liberty for all men and women is important to Americans. With that in mind, I fashioned this quilt. The center block features a traditional pattern known as "Whig's Defeat." (The Whigs were a political group). I chose a red, white and blue theme which makes the quilt appear patriotic in nature. The appliqued hearts feature the words, "Abolition," "Temperance," and "Suffrage," all important themes in the 19th century (1800s) and into the 20th century. 

In the upper right hand corner is a piece of fabric I printed on my home printer. The design features Presidents George Washington and Barack Obama and was designed by Barbara Brackman. I finished this quilt in 2010 and it is hand-appliqued and hand-quilted. I have made very few quilts in this color combination. It seemed appropriate that I post this for the upcoming 4th of July. I took the liberty of adding a "political statement" via the chain sewn onto the border which represents the former bondage of Black Americans as slaves. This is an intensely personal quilt that shares my "values." Butterflies are hand-quilted onto the center block. Butterflies are always free. I hope you enjoy seeing this original design.

Patricia Cummings

Sunday, June 19, 2022

A Tribute Quilt to President Abraham Lincoln

 I made this original tribute quilt to Abraham Lincoln about 20 years ago. It is hand-embroidered, hand-quilted, and hand-appliqued and is one of the few quilts I have ever done in red, white and blue. I still have it hanging in my home and I enjoy seeing it.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Quilt Exhibition at Billings Farm & Museum - 2022

 On June 3, 2022, we were invited to a sneak preview of the 36th Annual Quilt Exhibition at Billings Farm & Museum, Woodstock, Vermont. There are contemporary quilts by Windsor County Quilters and challenge quilts by the Delectable Mountain Quilters. The exhibit will be open daily from June 4 - July 10 at their 69 Old River Road location. 

Here we highlight just a few of the outstanding quilts that caught our attention. As we entered the exhibition space on the 2nd floor of a former barn, we spied "Big Blooms" by Cynthia Dalrymple. It features a striking array of flowers appliqued onto a background of black/white print fabrics. 

Next, I asked my husband (the photographer of the family) to take a photo of "Big Sur Sunset" by Norma Ippolito which was inspired by a sunset at Big Sur, California. The colors are just wonderful!

"Pandemic Pastime" by Charlotte Croft was an effort to use a box of fabrics given to her during the pandemic. The hexagons look rather cheerful and I would say that she used the fabric to good advantage!

"Homage to Ukraine" by Donna Tardiff is a lovely, small, wall quilt. The Sunflower is the symbol of Ukraine, that war-torn country which is in our thoughts and prayers. 

"Familiar Mountains" by Natalie Frost includes the embroidered name of each mountain depicted under each block. Nice work!

Finally, we liked "Lock Down #1" by Sherry Bingham which features both piecing and applique. This is an outstanding quilt that is nicely-quilted. 

The website for Billings Farm & Museum is and their phone number is 802.457.2355. The museum is well-worth the trip any time of the year to enjoy all that is offered. It is a great place to take children to see farm animals and it is also very appealing to adults who love history. I wrote an extensive article about the farm and museum for The Quilter magazine some years ago and we have visited many times now. There is a wonderful gift shop on the premises that among other tantalizing objects sells cheese made from the farm's own Jersey cows. Hope you enjoyed this glimpse of the exhibit.

Happy Quilting!

Patricia L. Cummings

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Ukrainian Embroidery

 In 1997/1998, I had the privilege of taking a group correspondence course through the Embroiderers' Guild of America. The course centered on Ukrainian embroidery. Course requirements were to complete two Samplers and one free-standing rose pattern worked with waste canvas over white cloth in typical colors of red and black stitches (on a white background).

I loved this course and earned a certificate of completion. In the meantime, I collected several books on Ukrainian embroidery which I find to be very beautiful!

Here are photos of my counted thread work and I am including a photo of Sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine. Our hearts stand with the Ukrainian people during this time of great suffering and war. We pray for peace!