Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sheet Music Covers

My mother and grandmother made sure I took piano lessons starting at eight years old. I liked playing but not necessarily practicing. Then my folks moved and the piano did not move with us. I found myself in a strange school far from my friends and cousins I missed my piano exceedingly.

In Sixth Grade music classes I wanted to touch the piano, but was too shy to ask. Then m my grandmother bought me a used upright piano, painted white. Mom painted it a light green, a trendy color in 1964. I resumed lessons. In 1966 I had six months of guitar lessons, then dropped lessons all together. But I continued to play, teaching myself.

I have an antique quarter sawn oak, planck front music cabinet full of sheet music. The oldest pieces were given to me when I was a girl: Deep Purple and Symphony. In the early 1970s in Philadelphia we came across a collectibles shop that sold sheet music and I started collecting it. I do play the music. But sometimes I buy it just for the cover art.

Exotic women abound

 Fashion trends

War and music seemed to hand-in-hand in the last century. That kind of musical patriotism has vanished.

 Couples are a perennial theme.

 What great art

 I even love the fonts used on the old music, like Dromedary

More girls

If a famous singer performed the song it is likely they appeared on the sheet music.
Sometimes the gal became famous later.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jane Austen Family Album Update

I am just about caught up with the Jane Austen Family Album weekly blocks. I did Lucky Pieces for Jane's Aunt Leigh-Perrot.
I laid the finished blocks on a bed to see how they look. I can't wait to get a design wall up! I have really missed one. 

The colors really are not showing up very well. The fabrics are French General, mostly Panier de Fleurs fat quarters I picked up a year or so ago. I added the red stripe and several greens and a cream background fabric from my stash. The gray background of the prints show up greenish in the lighting.

Hopefully before the week is over I will do block 17 and be up-to-date. There will be 36 blocks in all. Of course I have no idea yet what I will do with them! But I am having great fun working on a sampler quilt.

Work is nearly over with carpet tiling the finished basement, and the IKEA Hemnes bookcases are all up. Another week and that room should be settled. THEN we can work on the unfinished side, which now is piles of boxes all over. And when we dig out the corner with the fuse box we can call in the electrician. We have taken five more trips to the thrift shop with things to donate. 

Retirement so far seems to be  hard work! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quilts of Love, a Series of Christian Romance Novels from Abington Press

I read Grand Design by Amber Stockton and Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Wellborn, my first foray into Christian romances or fiction.

Grand Design is set on Mackinaw Island at the Grand Hotel, which the author makes sure the reader knows was the setting for the cult classic film Somewhere in Time staring the late great Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour. Alyssa wins a honeymoon prize for two weeks at the Grand Hotel. She is single and pretty much afraid of men so she takes her best friend. Turns out she spent her childhood summers on the island with her grandmother who still lives there. But it has been 15 years since the 29 year old Alyssa has been back. Of course she meets the perfect guy (Scott) before she sets foot on the island. Both are shy, reluctant to try their hand at love again, and share mutual values. They have a definite physical attraction.

Quilting has little to do with the main story line and could have been left out without changing the book. Alyssa collects quilt blocks from Grandma's old quilt group and the blocks turn into a quilt. All this in two weeks.

I found the book lacking in suspense and formulaic. The main character's crisis could have been suspenseful with better handling. I had real problems with the love interest using violence to save Alyssa from a masher. There is no repercussion for his actions. And when Alyssa and Scott are accused of theft, their word alone is all it takes for the police to go after the man they accuse of the set up.

Religion has little active role other than the aunt takes the young folk to church. A young man realizes that church was not so bad. Mostly, the conservative attitude towards courtship is shown, not told, as Alyssa's love interest shows great restraint and respect towards her. For me, this book is for a young reader or an older person who dislikes to be ruffled.

Disappointed, but curious, I turned to the second novel.

Masterpiece Marriage is set in Philadelphia in 1871. Zenus is a textile mill owner who needs to save his business. He travels to his Virginia aunt to beg one of her quilt designs so he can manufacture quilt kits. The aunt has just arranged to help Mary, who is an aspiring botanist under a deadline to prepare her research on tomato plants for publication. Zenus and Mary both need auntie's help and want to get the other out of the way. Sparks fly. The sparks become attraction.

The aunt is a famous quilter and during the story women work on an embroidered crazy quilt. Again, quilting does not figure predominately in the story, but is a plot devise to get Zenus and Mary together.

They struggle with serendipitous events, wondering if coincidence or providence is behind life's happenings. Does God arrange specific events for specific people? But then life's pain would be God's handiwork, too, and a loving God would not do that. The balance falls in favor of divine providence.

I enjoyed the Philly references. Textile mills thrived across the city, including in Kensington, once home to thriving factories like Stetson Hat and Quaker Lace. We lived for a time not far from the empty Stetson Hat factory.Kensington was where America's first textile printing factory was built by John Hewitt. Read about him here and on Barbara Brackman's blog post here. Early American quilts used his textiles for Broderie perse quilts. Read about Kensington and Fishtown's mills here.
One of the empty factories in our neighborhood in 1979/80. Nothing much has changed since we lived in Kensington.
Zenus does show a rare concern for keeping his women mill workers employed so the children did not starve. Very commendable and Christian. he and Mary even think about some kind of support to help them, one indication that their marriage will be based on more than sex appeal.

Textile mills were horrible places. (
The noise of the machines, the heat and humidity, the lint in the air, the long hours (up to 14 hours a day), the monotonous work and limited breaks lead to accidents, disease and poor health. Children workers equaled the number of adult workers, and women predominated the workforce. Children under 12 were limited to 10 hours days in 1849; those over age 12 could work 12 hours a day or more. Pennsylvania tried to limit or end child labor, but it was not successfully banned until 1913. The state's first factory safety act was passed in 1889.
Mt Pisgha Church was off the main roads, amid rowhouses
In 1980 we knew an 99 year old Kensington lady who told of her mill working days. Her husband died when they were young and she went to work at a lace mill, which my husband recalls was near Erie Avenue. She arose before dawn to walk to the mill, put in a long day, walked home in the dark, had a dinner of cold potatoes, and went to bed.

She lived in a Father, Son and Holy Ghost house  consisting of three rooms on three levels. About 14 feet wide, with hardly 100 square feet a story they were built to cram as much living space in the city as possible for the vast number of workers needed for industry.

The Quilts of Love Series has many titles with diverse plots, from the Underground Railway to crime mysteries. These books were definitely romances in the secular sense, with physical attraction the basis of "love". I would like to see Christian romance give more attention to a deeper base for marriage, where values, empathy, and faith figure more predominately in the attraction.

Grand Design
Abingdon Press
Amber Stockton
Publication August 19, 2014

Masterpiece Marriage
Abingdon Press
Gina Wellborn
Publication December 16, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

King's Crown Block for the Prince Regent

Jane Austen had a fan in the proliferate Prince Regent, who sent word that he wanted her next book dedicated to him. The book was Emma. Barbara Brackman's Austen Family Album block of the week includes King's Crown to represent the Prince.

It is hard to tell, but I used a subtly shaded light green print for the background.

One more block and I will have caught up!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jane Austen's Brothers Quilt Blocks

I am catching up with Barbara Brackman's block of the week quilt Jane Austen Family Album. Yesterday I made the quilt blocks representing her brothers who served in the Royal Navy.

Waves of the Sea is for Francis Austen, who became Admiral of the Fleet and married Jane's friend Martha Lloyd.
Crosses and Losses is for Charles Austen who became a Rear Admiral. He brought his sisters Jane and Cassandra amber corpses and gold chains, a gift forever immortalized in Mansfield Park. I changed the layout a bit to suit my fabrics.
Today I made the Comfort Home block for George, a brother who suffered from some kind of limitations that required him to live in a special home.

I have been using the green fabrics for all the quilt blocks for the men. Just because.

I am so glad to be catching up on at least one project!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

As Bad As It Gets?

My sewing area has several heavy duty extension cords for power, some overhead fluorescent lights, cement floor and concrete walls and no ceiling. Still, the dehumidifier keeps it very dry, the new glass block windows keep the spiders and critters out. The insulation we had installed last year. keeps it warm. I have all kinds of miscellaneous storage for my collections. I forgot to take a pic of the other corner with all my quilting books on a rickety old bookcase.

Fabric is in the cabinet, with fat quarters in the shoe box storage to the left, and vintage fabrics, embroidery pieces, upholstery fabric in the bins to the far left. On the right are boxes with thread, scraps, patterns, and other stuff.
A desk area that usually I use for design and planning. Underneath is a bin for my Love Entwined and underneath hand dying supplies and a bin of shirting fabrics.

My Bernina 830 Record, which I bought two years ago when my original 1974 one died from overuse. It is the same model, same year, but was owned by a gal who did not do a lot of sewing. And of course, next to it is Mom's 1950s ironing board!

My original table for my original Bernina 830 fell apart several years ago, and I am using my mother-in-law's sewing table. It does not really work for my machine, I have to slide it out to change the bobbin.

I want a real, permanent, functional room. No more fitting into the extra bedroom and dealing with the constraints of living in a house you don't own and can't change.

I want great lighting, a dropped ceiling, drywall, carpet tiles, and hopefully a wall between me and the laundry room/furnace room area. I want better storage with great visibility.

I have Mom's 1959 Colonial Maple hutch. I can't part with it! I hope to incorporate it into my storage somehow.This is how we used to use it, displaying heirloom Blue Flow and Milk Glass and other things. Note: dog toys not dead animals on the floor!
I suppose I could put books on it, or folded quilts (which not have no place to be, but are in pillow cases in boxes still). There are three drawers and two shelve underneath behind the doors. And two small doors above.

First we have to clear out enough stuff so the electrician can actually get to the fuse box. That mean unpacking boxes, which means hubby needs to get all those Hemnes bookcases together for our library, DVDs and CDs. We also need to get carpet tile for the floor, to cover the 1972 vinyl tile Dad put down. Thi will be a very long process.

I have worked in worse rooms. One basement parsonage had the worst light ever. I did not get much done while we were there. Another house I had a tiny room, perhaps built for a nursery back in the early 50s, too small for more than a twin bed and a dresser and nightstand. At least I know that we are working on creating a good work space that I will have for a very long time! At least a long time for me, as I have not lived anywhere for more than 10 years!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

When Dreams Came True: The Apollo Lunar Landing

About twelve years ago I made my quilt When Dreams Came True, celebrating the special moment in time when humanity accomplished an amazing goal. I had grown up with the Space Race and I have several scrapbooks full of newspaper clipping from the early ventures. I was in high school when man walked on the moon. It was a time when we still believed that we could dream big dreams and work hard and make them come true.

 "On July 19, Apollo 11 neared and went behind the Moon. At 1:28 p.m. EDT, it fired its service module rocket to go into lunar orbit. After 24 hours in lunar orbit Armstrong and Aldrin separated Eagle from Columbia, to prepare for descent to the lunar surface. On July 20 at 4:18 p.m. EDT, the Lunar Module touched down on the Moon at Tranquility Base. Armstrong reported "The Eagle Has Landed." And at 10:56 p.m., Armstrong, descending from Eagle's ladder and touching one foot to the Moon's surface, announced:"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

To design the images I used copyright free NASA photographs. I printed copies of the photos and traced the outlines with a black marker. I projected the image onto large paper and traced the outlines. For the portraits of the astronauts I used a copier to enlarge the image even more.

Using the enlarged copies I cut out the outlined pieces to make templates. I also traced each image onto a large clear plastic sheet so I could check for correct placement. I used fusible applique, thread work, and machine quilting. It was my first time to try these techniques.

Read about it at The First Lunar Landing  as Told By the Astronauts:

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Mysterous Joan

A search for female warriors from history will always include Joan of Arc, or Joan the Maid (La Pucelle) as she called herself. She also appears on the lists of canonized saints in the Roman Catholic Church. There are plays and movies about her life and numerous paintings. We have her trial records and the retrial records. And yet we understand nothing of her. Joan does not fit into any of our expected categories: a saint who lead armies into battle then cried over the dead; a "simple" uneducated provincial girl who answered interrogators with cogent and intelligent answers; a teenager who believed she was the instrument of God's will but was burned at the stake as a witch; a virgin who bivouacked with her soldiers who saw her undress and felt no carnality at her beauty.

Kathryn Harrison's new book Joan of Arc, A Life Transfigured uses every lens possible to endeavor to understand her. Literature and cinema interpretations are offered side-by-side with historical account; the myth and legend appears next to the flesh-and-blood girl.

First throw out any ideas of Joan being simple, ignorant, delusional, unstable or pure fiction. Her folks were pretty important people, and Joan could sign her name. She definitely knew her religion and faith. If  her visions were a side effect of illness, how could she have been so cogent and well spoken?  You can read the trial of Joan here. This is not fiction.

Harrison goes to great length to compare Joan to the Synoptic Gospel accounts of Jesus. It is sometimes disturbing, leaving me wonder if we are to think that Joan, a product of the Medieval church, knew the Gospel so well she could purposefully imitate Jesus? Is Joan's story redacted to appear more like that of the Christ? Can we twist any history through a lens and see what we want to see? I leave that up to you to decide.

What we can know is that Joan inspired the common soldier to do things he would never have done without her, pushed a reluctant Dauphin to claim the throne of France, and routed the English from Orleans. Then the king and leaders found no more use for her. Joan was left aimless without an army or battle to fight, eager to finish routing the English off the continent. Her love of male finery was her undoing: a soldier grabbed her fine cloth of gold cloak and pulled her off her horse. She was imprisoned for a year before her death at age 19, the man she gave his crown unable or unwilling to raise ransom money. For a Catholic who expected a bodily resurrection, the destruction of her body by burning upset her more than death itself.

Joan grew up wearing a homespun russet gown that laced up the front. When she responded to her voice's call to lead France against the Brits she bobbed her hair and adopted male attire. This was against Biblical law. Joan became quite foppish. A fashion explosion was going on in Europe, one only the upper crust could legally indulge in. Rich new fabrics and style innovations abounded. At at time when available virgins flaunted their hair, Joan's short cut was at once a requirement for war but also a statement that she was not available.

Part of her insistence on men's wear may have been the chastity belt aspect: Joan's tight leggings were attached to the short puffy pants with forty cords that were triple threaded through holes. Inconvenient for a women's needs, but also for a would-be assaulter. Virginity was part of her power and mystic, a requirement to live up to the old Lorraine legend of a maid rescuing France, and a statement of not being an evil sexual woman. Females, after all, were known to be the devil's tool to bring down virtuous men. The worst thing Joan's accusers could do was call her a wanton slut.

She wore armor, sometimes for days, and her soldiers were impressed that she could stand it. She had a quilted and padded top under the armor, but still it weighted a lot, and sleeping in a metal shell meant aches and bruises. But unlike the paintings you find, she had no long partial skirt under her armor.

Joan's cloak of gold had to have been a remarkable gift, as the fabric was worn by high church officials and kings and queens. See an example of a cloth of gold dress, made between 1403 and 1403, and worn by Queen Margaret here.

For centuries we have been fascinated by Joan. We don't get answers in this book. We see what we want to see in Joan. Then perhaps it is Joan's very mysteriousness that keeps us fascinated generation after generation.

Joan of Arc, A Life Transformed
by Kathryn Harrison
Publication date: October 28, 2014
ISBN 9780385531221

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sewing Again!

Today I got my sewing machine plugged into an electric outlet and started to catch up with the Jane Austen Family Album weekly block that Barbara Brackman has been offering. This is Friendship Square to represent Catherine Knatchbull Knight, Edward Austen's adopted mother.

I decided to fussy cut the center per the instructions of Barbara Brown, but with my own twist. I used a neutral stripe and then appliqued motifs from my fabrics in the boring parts! Then I photographed it wonky, as I mean the bird to be at the top of the block.

Getting power to my Bernina 830 and iron was not an easy task. The space I have for my sewing room has no electric outlets...yet. This is what it looked like before we moved in.
My hubby had to get a heavy duty extension cord from an outlet in the finished basement side, over the hanging ceiling, into the unfinished basement side...where it is plugged into another extension cord. 

We went to IKEA in Canton, MI yesterday and picked up five Hemnes bookcases.We had thought we'd get the Billy bookcases, but the white and natural wood were out of stock! Rather than make another trip, we upgraded to the solid wood Hemnes line.

Self serve is a lot of work.
But the real work is ahead, putting together the bookcases. Then we can take our library out of the boxes.
HEMNES Bookcase IKEA Solid wood has a natural feel. The shelves are adjustable so you can customize your storage as needed.
I just loved these chairs and table. I want something like this in the family room for laptop compuers, crafting, or to sit with a book sipping tea.