Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving At My Place

No turkeys are being roasted by me!
The first Thanksgiving since moving permanently into our very own home finds us without a usable oven and with visitors from Finland!

We ordered a new oven but it arrived without racks. A replacement was ordered but the company lost the order! They are now shipping racks and other missing items to us, to arrive by early December at the latest. No baking pies or roasting a turkey for me...And my husband wanted one of those Pies Men Like I blogged about!
No pies will be baked by me!
Luckily we were invited by my aunt to come dine with her and my cousins and their families. Aunt Pat was married to my mother's brother Dave, who was in the navy.
Our exchange student daughter from Finland is back in the states to study and she and her husband came to visit us for the holiday! Marianna lived with us about 17 years ago. Her mother Elina was my exchange student sister in 1969-70! It has been fun catching up.
Marianna and Kimmo
Me, Elina, and my Grandfather Lynne Ramer Christmas 1969
Today I am thankful for:
  • Having a home of my own and having the finances to make it ours.We got another bid for the kitchen remodel. I think it will happen early next year!
  • Family, those who surround me and those who went before and made it possible for me to live in this country and enjoy the freedoms and security it avails. Our immigrant ancestors were brave people with great hope for a better life. Some of my ancestors wanted religious freedom. Some were escaping war, some persecution. 
  • Our two doggies who bring us laughter and love, and make us go on walks when we don't want to.
    Our two girls
  • The creative possibilities that quilting has brought into my life. I am researching for a Great Gatsby quilt right now.
  • The ability to connect with people all over the world because of Internet.
  • The wonderful books I can read, bringing me understanding and widening my world. Thanks publishers for NetGalley books! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Clever Mill Horse by Jodi Lew-Smith

In 1810 twenty-one year old Ella Kenyon needs to keep her promise to her grandfather and finish designing the first flax mill to strip raw flax into the silky fiber used to weave linen. The invention will provide for her family and assure the entire town of Debroahville in Upstate New York steady employment. But can she trust the man who wants to help her file her patent? The path to Washington, DC is fraught with danger. Just when her dream seems within grasp Ella must make the ultimate decision between familial love and success and fame.

The Clever Mill Horse is historical fiction, a mystery, and a melodrama romance. Jodi Lew-Smith has done impeccable historical research into the places, times, and material culture of 1804-11. I was interested to follow Ella and her companions as they travel down the Susquehanna River to Wilkes Barre, into the Pocono Mountains, down the Delaware River to Camden, to the New Jersey Pine Barrens, to Glassboro, into Philadelphia, and finally to Washington City where President Madison was in office and the Superintendent of Patents Latrobe was designing the Capital building. Having lived in and around Philadelphia these are all familiar places to me.

The story is full of action, suspense, and horrible events. The early part of the novel reads like a book for younger readers, but things turn very dark and Ella suffers kidnapping and physical abuse that gives the book a PG13 rating. Yet I think the story would appeal to many readers.

The first law of writing is "show, not tell." I was frustrated by pages and pages of being told, the author missing opportunities for action. Like many mysteries, one reason why most don't appeal to me, someone has to explain the whole background story to clear up the unknown. Much of the character insight is through long passages of being told their thoughts.

Strong women characters with masculine activities or abilities are trendy right now, the Action Hero Warrior Woman showing up in film, television and movies. I do have trouble with such characters placed in historical settings where they are not 'probable.' The characters act like 21st century thinkers. Some historical fiction captures the time and place with characters that are of that time. As I am finding, some uses the historical setting but tell a more modern tale.

And yet the story does not read modern. The 'Perils of Pauline' aspect of Ella's journey was too much for my taste. Many will love the roller coaster ride of twists and turns. I personally like something deep and transformative to happen as the character grows and struggles with a problem.

The author is horticulturist with a lifelong interest in books and writing. The Clever Mill Horse is the first book about Ella's adventures. Read more about Jodie Lew-Smith at

I received an e-book copy of The Clever Mill Horse through NetGalley and Caspian Press for a fair review.

The Clever Mill Horse
Jodi Lew-Smith
Caspian Press
Publication August 15, 2014
ISBN: 9780991341207 paperback
ISBN: 978-0-9913412-1-4 e-book

Saturday, November 22, 2014

1990s Amish Made Quilts

Dianne recently came across a local estate sale that included a quilt collection. She was able to purchase a number at rock bottom prices. The quilts had labels with their provenance. They were predominately hand pieced and hand quilted.
This Mariner's Compass from Scottsdale, PA was labeled as Amish made in  1990. The label called this a "designer quilt," likely because it used one of the early designer border prints.
 The Medallion style quilt's many borders!

 Here you can see the hand stitching in the compass center.
  Another Mariner's quilt variation with a Broken Star setting.

 This Flying Geese in Cabin was marked "Amish." 

 An interesting Carolina Lily variation from Scottsdale PA.
The sashing is a designer border print.

Two floral appliqués. The first is Country Love by Rachel Pellman. Her Country Bride quilt sparked a whole series of new appliqué patterns that appealed to the Country decorators in the 1990s.
 I saw this quilt in these colors on Pinterest, pinned by Amish Country Lanes .

The second looks like another Rachel Pellman pattern but I have not been able to identify it yet.
The 1990s colors of mauve and dark green predominate in these quilts. I assume the colors were chosen to coordinate with the decorating colors of the era, the quilts meant for actual use. Lucky for Dianne, these were unused and unwashed, in original condition. Quilt marking lines could be seen.

An Amish made Whig Rose is dated 1989 from Evansville, IN.

An unusually large reverse appliqué Hmong quilt was stunning.

 It was found in St. Louis.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Two 19th c Nine Patch Quilt Tops and Two Early Toiles

Two Nine Patch quilt tops, one a baby quilt, are in Dianne's collection. 

This baby quilt top has nine patch blocks and an eight pointed star block. A red background foulard sets the blocks. The outside border is a deep double pink, and chrome yellow is used for a narrow inner border.

 This quilt top had the Nine Patch blocks on point and set in strips.

A close up of the fabrics shows a dark pink or red narrow stripe and an unusual print that looks like a mill engraving.
 A conversation print with bad-mitten rackets and balls. Also note the little rose bud print on brown.
Dianne also has two antique copperplate print toile fabric pieces. The first is made of several pieced pink toile fabrics, likely used a bed hanging. There is fading on the side panels.
 A Chinoiserie print and Arborescent print are included in the hanging.

 The piece is bound off with a lovely blue printed fabric.
 Dianne also has a blue printed toile showing romantic pastoral scenes.

My hometown in Western New York State has been deluged with snow! Every winter school would be cancelled because of the snow. I remember one winter when Dad had to use the second floor window to get out of the house, then had to dig his way to the door. Dad's memoirs included this photograph showing his --and my-- childhood home in the background:
I have the Western New York State folk in my heart during this record breaking snow storm.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Poison And Other 19th c Greens

Dianne has quite a few 19th c quilt tops with green as a predominant color. Certain 19th c greens are called "Poison" Greens as explained in Barbara Brackman's post here.

This unusual two color quilt's baskets have a 90 degree handle. The solid green was more blue green.

This basket looks like the 1850 pattern no. 662.5 in Brackman's "Encyclopedia of Pieced Patterns". Note the base of the basket is a whole square not a half square.
This quilt had a great border of tree shapes. No two trees were the same!

This Carolina Lily variation has a more yellow, or Poison, green in the border and a blue green in the pieced block.

 Here you can see the two different greens, as well as the interesting checkered floral print.

This block is almost a snowball variation, but set on point and with alternate blocks it loses the balls.

Various yellow greens were used with the double pinks for the blocks. The border is a more blue green print.

A row of green pops in this Blazing Star center. The setting blocks have been removed; the needle holes and bits of thread were still evident in the seam allowances.

 I do love all those polka dots!

Here are some interesting articles on green dyes in the 19th c.:

Snippets of fabric samples illustrate the article at