Sunday, October 30, 2011

Block 35 ~ Flower Basket

I am wondering if I need throw my hat into the blog?  Many days, weeks even, have passed since I last posted.  Excuses?  None.

Block 35, Flower Basket should have been easy had I kept the stitching momentum up.  First I traced the templates onto the right side of the fabric, then forgot to cut the handle on the bias!  I guess the price one pays for absence is lost time.
Flower Basket is a joyous block as one can imagine the lady of the house, be it mother or daughter, wandering around the garden in the early morning choosing a few flowers to brighten the home.  No matter where we live, or how seemingly barren the landscape, a few carefully chosen flowers, for there are flowers for every corner of the world, lighten and brighten the landscape and the home.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Block 34 ~ Flock

When I first looked at this block my imagination went into overdrive.  Was the flock sheep, a flower, or birds?  Reading back to the letter this block pertained to I found the explanation ...
"I have more genuine enjoyment in caring for and breeding up my flock of beautiful White Rock chickens; ..."
and immediately felt an empathy with the farmer's wife of early last century.  You may have noticed I chose as my blog header some chickens, not White Rock, but Rhode Island Reds  that belonged to my late brother, on whose farmlet the photo was taken.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Block 33 Farmer's Puzzle

Farmer's Puzzle caused some worries, not because of its difficulty, but because I could not find a suitable fabric for the 'puzzle' in my stash.  Nothing stood out.  In the end a trip to the fabric shop solved the problem.
I found the letter that related to this block endearing.  It's author lived in the country, moved to the city and had an education, but fell in love with a farmer.  She moved back to the land, despising everything except her husband.  In an effort to reconcile her dislike she listed the Pros and Cons of country life.

  1. Husband interested and contented.
  2. Independence, and so many hours together.
  3. Higher moral tone than city life.
  4. Abundance of room and fresh air.
  5. Fresh eggs, milk and vegetables.
  1. Mud.
  2. Inconveniences.
  3. Lack of money.
  4. Lack of water.
  5. Lack of society.
  6. Lack of beauty.
  7. Monotony of diet.
  8. Monotony of thought.
  9. Untidyness of everything.
  10. "Early to bed, early to rise".
She did reach a compromise!  Remember this was in the 1920's, but whether then, or today, compromises need to be made whether living in town or country.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Block 32 Farmer's Daughter

Farmer's Daughter is a pretty block, pink with a pale grey flower fabric that may represent a blouse, the floral the skirt, and the plainer pink a pinafore to cover the feminine garb whilst attacking chores around the farm. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Block 31 ~ Evening Star

Block 31, Evening Star brought to mind the strange pale light that shines upon the earth when the moon is simply a pale sliver of gold that barely allows us to glimpse into the shadows. 
It was easy to choose fabric for this block.  Imagine the great outdoors in star light ... the flora is a mysterious shadow with some plants standing out, while others hide in the shadows of darkness.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Block 30 ~ End of Day

The meaning of this block came to me in an instant.  We can all identify with the end of a day with the sun setting in a golden orb in the west and casting shadows over the garden.  There is a feeling of inextricable peace before the darkness of the night descends. 

It only took a few moments to extract the fabrics I needed from my box of stash ... picturing the garden in shadows I chose the gold to represent the setting sun, the light print for the sunshine area of the garden and the darker print for that part in shadows.
As my journey along the Farmer's Wife Quilt meaders along I find myself becoming immersed in what each block represents, and wonder who invented each block and why.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Block 29, Economy

How wonderful it would be if I could achieve the impossible!  Make a block a day, but being realistic I realise this is but a pipe dream.
Block 29, Economy, was economical in the use of my time!  The block is simple, but simply effective, as I guess are most matters of economy.  Sometimes we go the long way round when a simple, and economic, solution is there before us.  Perhaps Block 29 should be my ideal as a life journey?  If the result of that life journey is as effective as this block in its simplicity the challenge would be worth taking.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Block 28 ~ Duck and Ducklings

I loved constructing Block 28, Duck and Ducklings ... there were no template 13's!! 

The colour choices are similar to The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird, and I have no inspiration as to why the pink was chosen.  Yellow representing fluffy ducklings would have been a more logical colour, but the pink and brown do make for a colourful block.

The completion of Block 28 marks the ¼-way block to the top of the quilt ... a milestone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Block 27 Darting Birds

After catching up with other projects once again I am working on The Farmer's Wife quilt.  Block 27, Darting Birds is another that has more than its fair share of template 13, which is perhaps why I took so long!

At first I puzzled on the choice of colours as depicted in Laurie Aaron Hird's quilt, and it wasn't until I had it completed and ironed that it dawned ... well perhaps dusk is the correct word?
I could easily decipher the dark shadows of birds winging into the golden glowing sunset and it made me think of our tawny frog-mouth family that is at present nesting in the gum tree just above the rooftop.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Block 26 ~ Cut Glass Dish

Block 26, Cut Glass Dish was a slow block to construct as it has [too]  many template 13s, but as time goes by I am finding matching the tiny pieces is becoming easier.  Careful stitching is required! 
I think these fabrics illustrate the beauty of a cut glass dish which would have been a prized possession in the 1920's.  Trifles laced with sherry and covered in whipped cream with luscious strawberries picked from a patch not far from the back door would appear on the farm-house table at Christmas and other family celebrations.  Reflections of the feast would reflect in the faceted cut glass.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Country Path and Cups and Saucers

After time staying in the city now I am home again the inclination to stitch is once more taking control.

Country Path, Block 24, in spite of appearing difficult, was in reality simple.  Perhaps the fact that I am using a tiny very sharp needle has something to do with it?  This block needs no explaining ... a country path is easily discerned.
Block 25, Cups and Saucers, while looking easy, didn't prove to be.  I undid part of this block twice in an effort to match the corners.  It looks OK now, though for a while I did wonder if I would need to start from scratch.
As I am endeavouring to keep more or less to the original colour ways I do wonder at the dark colours of Cups and Saucers and came to the conclusion that day-to-day crockery would have been sturdy and drab in colour.  Back in the 1920's dishes did not get thrown out once a plate or cup was chipped or broken; dishes lasted a lifetime. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Country Farm

Block 23, Country Farm was a delight to stitch.  The verdant green of the paddocks in spring, the golden corn stretching to the corner of each paddock just prior to harvest; the red?  Perhaps the rooves of the homestead and the barns, and the delicate lavender/silver a symbol of the peace that is 'living on a country farm'?  That was my interpretation of this block. 
Part of the letter that inspired block 23 from The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird reads: "We farm women of today need no pity.  We have as many conveniences and pleasures as city women and we make use of our opportunities."   Now isn't that still today a true fact? !

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Corn and Beans

After a break from constructing blocks for The Farmer's Wife sampler quilt, once again I am back on the job.

Block 22, Corn and Beans was more fiddly and time-consuming than difficult, but with thoughts of rows of tall corn competing for green beans on wigwams for the summer sunshine, my mind was completely occupied while my fingers stitched.  I remembered The Waltons, a television programme of last century and pictured Grandmother and Mother in their massive farm kitchen canning home-grown produce. 

I do not know if corn was preserved, but canned beans are popular all over, even today.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Churn Dash and Contrary Wife

Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt block 20 was Churn Dash, one of the simpler blocks to do.  Memories of 'winding the separator' to make cream which my mother turned into luscious fresh butter ... in the good old days when I was young!  I am trying to keep to similar colours to what is in the book, The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird; the rich gold in this block does remind me of home-made butter.

Block 21, Contrary Wife is bright and 'contrary'.  The letter pertaining to this block catalogues the differences between a country woman and a town woman, to the detriment of the town woman!  I chose barely matching colours in an effort to show that perceived gap between town and country.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Block 19, Checkerboard conjures up images of a family, settled down for the evening, with a checkerboard on the kitchen table, the family enjoying a simple game and pleasures that sadly have so often today been usurped by the 'box in the corner'.  Junior, no doubt, tries a little cheating, but is quickly drawn into line ... valuable lessons of how to conduct oneself learned from familial competition of a game of Checkers.

This block was a joy to stitch.  I have decided, after the frustrations of Cats and Mice, to draw not only the inside of the template, but also the outside.  Result?  Accuracy! 

There is something pleasurable about sitting in a comfortable arm chair, light over my shoulder to give a working brightness, listening to 'my football team' finally winning a game, and a gentle heat from the pot belly stove, fired with wood gathered on the property and sawn into suitable lengths, warming the room.  I could almost be back in the 1920's!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt ... Blocks 17 and 18

Block 17 ~ Cats and Mice looked easy and as I had just the right fabrics I began this with great enthusiasm.  Sad to say I ran into problems; problems that caused me to put this block aside.  A week later I looked at it again, unpicked a little, but could see no way of correcting the mistake, though I dare say there was ... I had a mental block for this block!  In fact it would be true to say the cats and mice block was playing a game of cat and mouse with me.

Block 18 ~ Century of Progress created no problems.  I began and completed this rather striking block in one evening.

Being determined not to let one block cause me futher angst, and no way was this block going to be put off until the last, I cut out the pieces, and stitched again.  While this block is not perfect I am [almost] satisfied with it.  It is complete!  I know the main reason for the mess I made and have determined that any further blocks with 'template 13' in it will be attacked with a determination not to let it beat me. 

By the way, template 13 is the little triangle, in Cats and Mice, with emphasis on little!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Calico Puzzle ~ 16

Block 16, Calico Puzzle, caused no problems ... apart from the fact that I stitched the top row to the centre row upside down, because I wasn't paying attention!  'Check before you stitch' would be a motto worth following!

The letter that inspired this block has an interesting reference to calico.  'The farmer's wife had never dreamed of home conveniences.  The home and grounds were unattractive.  In those days the country woman almost always wore an ugly calico "wrapper" and her one "Sunday dress" was worn for years.'
Those few words paint a picture of drabness and hardship. 

In choosing fabric for this block I deliberately placed that comment to the back of my mind; instead I focussed towards today and chose pretty feminine colours; colours that the farmer's wife of the 1920's would have loved.

I well remember those 'wrappers'.  I am not old enough to remember the 1920's!  Nor did my Mother wear such a garment, but dimly, from the back of my mind, I had been at houses where the morning working garb of the housewife was similar in style. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Buzzard's Roost ~ Block 15

This block was a little slower being completed; mainly because I have been busy sewing other things.  While the original colours in The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird, were a murky-grey contrasted with a mainly-white-and-a-little-grey block after much searching through my 'box of fabric' [which incidentally is now tidy], I eventually settled on shades of lavender. 
I imagine any buzzard flying the skies looking for it's nest would do a double flip at the sight of a purple nest.  The nest would certainly stand out. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Butterfly at the Crossroads ~ Block 14

Butterfly at the Crossroads ... doesn't that conjure up a delightful mind picture?  This block has taken longer than anticipated, mainly because I completed my Gum Leaf quilt leaving me a clear conscience thus allowing me to progress uninhibited with The Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt.

I chose delicate colours for Block 14; butterflies fluttering at the crossroads, or anywhere, are delicate by nature!  In my mind's eye I see attention being drawn to this block, simply because of its colours. 

As I make each block I recite to myself the numbers and names and wonder if at the end of 'the making' I can actually remember them all!  I think that this little mental exercise must be good for my grey matter.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Posting Problem Solved

After indulging in a little detective work I found the reason why it was impossible to leave a comment ... Problem fixed!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Block 13 ~ Buckwheat

Quote ~  ~  "Although commonly thought of as a grain, buckwheat actually comes from a herb plant. Buckwheat, which are triangular seeds produced by the herb plant, have a distinctive nutty flavour and can be cooked and served in a similar way to rice or also milled to make buckwheat flour. "

As I stitched Block 13, Buckwheat, I wondered exactly what buckwheat was.  My Other Half suggested it was the stronger version of Doewheat, and I must admit it took a minute or two for that to sink in ... I rejected his suggestion!

This block is in shades of pink/beige, and when I looked for pictures of buckwheat it became obvious why these colours were chosen.  While this block did take longer to stitch it was not difficult, though this may be because a kind person suggested I glue sandpaper to a board to hold the fabric when drawing the template.  I carried that suggestion a stage further ... I set the pieces out on the sandpaper sheet; they stay in place, and I keep calmer.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Broken Sugar Bowl ~ Block 12

All this broken crockery! I imagine that in the 1920's when these letters were written to The Farmer's Wife magazine a piece of broken crockery would have been of concern.

Broken Sugar Bowl should have been simple. For some reason this block took too long, with too much unpicking ... just imagine how my patience would have been tried had I used the sewing machine! At least with hand-stitching unpicking is quick ... but still disappointing. Why it took so long I put down to trying to fit other things into my day. The old adage "More haste, less speed" rings so true.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Broken Dishes ~ block 11

Yesterday was Monday, wash day! The result ... less time to sit and stitch.

Block 11, Broken dishes was another easy block. Half the fun is sorting through my stash for fabrics, bearing in mind I am trying to keep more or less to the colour scheme in Laurie's book.

Envisage my floor ... the contents of a plastic container lying on the lid while I search for a suitable fabric. Why I don't sort the next two or three blocks I am not sure ... perhaps the exercise of looking helps me get into the mood for a particular block.
Reading the letter connected to each block often sends me back in time leaving me to wonder just how much things have changed, yet remained the same.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Block 10 ~ Bow Tie

Block 10, the Bow tie was a breeze! Almost too easy, but welcome after the memory of Birds in the Air!

As I make the template [this one from an old Ryvita packet] and draw the shape onto the chosen fabric there is a feeling of complete relaxation. No machines to play up [machines and I are still dancing around the lines of friendship], just a needle and thread in hand; as long as I follow the order shown in the book all works out exactly correct!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bouquet and Box

Yesterday was damp, welcome rain fell causing the brown dry countryside to whisper green. Instead of tackling chores, which can always wait when enthusiasm rules, I drew templates, cut fabric and completed two of the 111 blocks needed for the Queen size quilt I intend to make.

The downside to this quilt is the fact that there is only template to each printed out page is rather a waste of paper ... the Other Half suggested I amputate the spare paper and make it into scribbling pads. I might; but not today.

Block 8 is Bouquet, giving me the opportunity to use a pretty piece of yellow fabric with little pink roses. Very pretty.

Block 9, simple to cut and stitch, I powered through, listening to the football on the radio as I joined the pieces together.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Birds in the Air

"Birds in the Air" resonates with me as our locality is home to a myriad of bird life; the most exciting in my view being the tawny frog mouth pair that have made their home close to our home.

But ... Block 7, Birds in the Air, was not a breeze. The template was small, tiny in fact, causing some problems when drawing around its perimeter on the fabric. My fingers were continually in the way! This encouraged me to complete other sewing tasks, which I will admit was a method of procrastination. This morning I completed the block ... now I can look forward to the next one! The background colour is in reality a brighter shade of gold than this photo shows.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blocks 5 and 6

The weather has turned cooler; how pleasant it is for a little stitching, especially when there is nothing but sport on 'the media'. Don't get me wrong; I don't dislike sport if I can do something constructive whilst listening [we don't have a TV, which is a good thing, as stitching and watching are incompatible!]

Bat wings, Block 5 appears pale and insipid. When laid against the others it gives a whole new perspective to them, and it.

Block 6, Big Dipper, was fascinating to construct.

Fascinating? I am being positive! The centre seam I had to unpick back to the middle. Success! The points became points, and I was satisfied with the result.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Basket Weave

It took me a day or two to realise the blocks are in alphabetical order in the book!

Yesterday Blogland was down. Block 4, Basket Weave was completed early in the morning and there I was, unable to post. Major frustration. Today I am smiling; Blogland is alive again.

Basket Weave was a welcome reprieve from the difficult 'Basket' ... and I whistled through it. Perhaps some of the impetus came from the fact that I purchased a few fat quarters, something I had no intention of using in this Farmer's Wife quilt. My original idea was to use fabrics from my stash ... oh well . I love the colours! And if one finds beautiful fabrics why should one deny oneself a little pleasure?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Basket

Block Three, Basket, has caused a few problems. The handle!!! When I began I failed to look ahead, which is a bad habit of mine [I too often forget the old adage; "a stitch in time saves nine"], and I blithely sailed, or sewed, ahead, quickly realising I had forgotten to stitch the handle in place. Oh, that was easily fixed, though it did hold me back a little.

It was 'rounding' the handle that made me a person not quite so nice to be near ... well until I worked out a way to do it. As I am hand-stitching this handle was exasperating enough, but glory be, had I been machining the block I am sure my hair would be standing upright, if still in place. However I prevailed. Block Three, the basket is completed.

Four looks easier! The photo makes the block look skew-wiff ... blame the photographer! ''Tis I."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Beginning

Several weeks ago I discovered a site about The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt. I was interested. At that stage I had other projects under construction, and being a daughter of my mother, I knew one must not bite off more than one can chew. I waited ... patiently, all the time stitching and knitting frantically the UFO's.

Before Easter I could see the road ahead clearer ... I ordered the book, which is written by Laurie Aaron Hird. Easter fell in between ordering and delivery. The excitement grew. A few months ago I would never have dreamed of attempting such a huge undertaking, but now ... the journey ahead was not at all daunting.

Yesterday my conscience was clear ... one quilt completed; one needing only a border, quilting and binding, but first I need fabric. That can wait!

Last evening I cut the first block, Attic Windows, trying to keep more or less to the colours in the book, as I feel they are 'country' colours. For this quilt I am choosing to hand-piece for two reasons; one ... I do not have to bother with the sewing machine especially as machines are I are not always the best of friends, and two ... I can sit in the evening in an armchair and quietly stitch. There is a certain peace with this method ... a calming at the end of the day.

This morning, the second block, Autumn Tints, is complete ... and ... now I wish to share my journey.

Is there anyone out there wanting to come along? It promises to be a major undertaking, and as long as I stay focussed, and excited about the end result, the journey should be a fun affair.