Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cinnamon Pinks and Dobby Fabrics

What a sweet little find. It's a hand-stitched 9" square piece with a plain muslin backing. The squares are 1 1/2" and sewn together with tiny stitching neatly done. I do believe it was used as a doll quilt even though it is not quilted. The backing is sewn to the front all the way around the piece so I don't think it was intended as a pillow case. It's too thin to be a pot holder. I'm going to stick with doll quilt.
 I cracked open two of my books on dating fabrics to help me get a sense of its age. I'm not going to determine decidedly, but I'd love to write down what I learned. "Dating Fabrics A Color Guide 1800-1960" by Eileen Jahnke Trestain is a great field guide. It's spiral bound and can easily fit inside a tote bag. My other favorite is large and heavy - it's jam-packed with great photos and info- and deserves a place on your bookshelf if you're at all interested in textiles. This gem is "Textile Designs Two Hundred Years of European and American Patterns Organized by Motif, Style, Color, Layout, and Period" by Susan Meller and Joost Elffers. After my digging I can say that my little quilt is composed of double pinks and dobby fabric. I learned that double pinks were popular on both sides of the Atlantic from 1860-1920. The Americans dubbed the double pinks as cinnamon pinks. Cinnamon pinks are printed with two layers. The bottom layer is made up of fine pink lines creating a background. The design layer on top is made from the same ink but since it's more concentrated in areas it appears darker.

  Until I held the doll quilt up to the light I thought the striped fabric was regular shirting, which I love. Not being one who
gets into pink, it was the striped shirting that attracted me to the piece. I learned from my reading that the shirting fabric is not just any shirting but dobby shirting. Dobby was intended to mimic the more expensive dobby-woven cloth. At the turn of the century as more farmers and laborers turned to work in an office or in manufacturing they needed better looking clothes for their jobs. Dobby shirting was one of the solutions. It is designed with a subtle geometric shape added to the basic stripe. My example represents a common dobby with the geometric being printed in white but it can also be done in the same color as the stripe.
Fabric has been around a long time and even though reproductions are sought after now, it isn't the first time in history. Manufacturers were reproducing fabric designs way back in the 1800's. I can't say if my cinnamon pinks or dobbies are original. I do know they are pieced together by hand and that could be an indicator of age, but not really since there are always those who love to stitch by hand. There's even a resurgence of that now with the slow-stitching movement. I'm just going to enjoy the piece for what it is and for the education it inspired.

I'm not sure how I'm going to display my little doll quilt but it sure has been interesting to learn about it. If I only knew the maker and her story. Now, that would be awesome.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hens and Chicks

Hens and Chicks

       Hens and Chicks? These are the quieter and more well-behaved variety. No squawking, no scratching in the yard, no pecking baby green tomatoes, no messes on the brick walkway. No eggs. No feathered friends to come rushing when they see the feed bucket. I miss my chickens. Someday I hope to have a new flock. For now, a plant with an endearing name will have to do.
        When I was a kid, my mom had hens and chicks growing in a pot next to the porch door. This little brood in a clay pot were handed down to me from her garden. I never thought I'd care to have them. Of all the plants my mom grew, these were my least favorite. In fact, the only thing I liked about them was their name. I didn't understand the attraction. When the succulent craze started, I shook my head. But as it happens sometimes with plants, they've worked their way into my heart. I love watching the new chicks "hatch" out from under the hens and they do great in the heat. So for now, they can stay.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Strawberry Patch

    My third son loves strawberries. Always has. Back when he was a toddler our strawberry patch occupied the lower portion of a significantly large garden. He toddled down the hill to the garden every morning hoping that the strawberries were ripe. He'd sit in the dirt and walk around in his bare toes talking to the plants, waiting. One morning I brought down an old chippy paint chair and put it at the edge of the strawberry patch so he could watch the berries from up high, and more importantly to the crop, in one place. Oh, he was so excited to have his own chair! I loved watching him sit on that chair as he talked to himself or the worms and kept watch over the berries.

     Recently, I designed a chair pad after an old wooden butter mold that had been decorated with a strawberry plant. The whole time I was hooking it, the memory of the chair in the strawberry patch and the brown-eyed boy who held vigil over it kept coming to my mind. It's one of my favorite gardening memories.

The PDF pattern is available in my Etsy Shop.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Walking in the Snow

   It's nearly midnight and I just shook the snow off my boots and hung my coat up by the fire to dry after a walk in the snow. Walking at night in the snow is one of my favorite things to do. Stella is upon us and I am looking forward to being snowed in by morning.
    Vintage photo, maybe 1966, of my brother and I walking up our driveway in Chester County, Pa. The car was at the bottom for sure. I've been walking up snowy driveways my whole life. Swapped one hill as a kid for another as an adult. Bring on the snow!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Old Blue and White

Old blue and white on the clothes line with fresh March snow all around. The coverlet isn't antique or even vintage old but it's been around for quite awhile. It's a beautiful wool reproduction from Family Heirloom Weavers. They do beautiful work and this coverlet is no exception. I love the pattern and the hand stitching that binds the two panels together.

Not to be out done by my much loved gray blue agate pail with wooden. Now this is very old. I picked it up years ago in an antique store. It has hung by my door on a wooden peg filled with clothes pins for many years. It's one of the reasons I like to hang out the laundry.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Flock of Robins

Every year it happens and today was the day. Once again a flock of robins flew in and overtook our hillside. Not just one, two, or three to let us know Spring is on it's way. A whole flock.

 I've been expecting them.

Several years ago, their arrival inspired a new rug hooking design.

Because the pussy willow bushes are always open when they come, I included a few branches in the design. However, the rug is centered around a beautiful orangey-red over dyed wool perfect for a robin. I finished the rug as a pillow but it will also make a nice rug. 

The pattern is available through my Etsy shop in both in paper format and hand drawn on
unbleached primitive linen.  I'd love for you to stop by

Friday, March 3, 2017

March: In Like A LIon

Here in Berks County PA we have made it to March without any significant snowfall. I'm lamenting a winter without snow but it's time to move on with the year. Of course, there's always hope that a March snow storm will hit. March came in like a lion yesterday with the wind kicking up and branches swaying. The birds might have even been flying sideways!

The hooked lion is from a new Sunday Rug that I designed. It tells the story of Daniel in the Lions' Den. The story reminds me that in the face of uncertainty, even death, God is our deliverer. We can trust Him!
On a lighter note I'm reminded of the old adage "in like a lion out like a lamb". If it holds true we should be in for a milder end to the blustery start of March. The daffodils are up and ready to open, the lilac buds are pushing out, and the larkspur volunteers are already up and growing taller, all due to the extremely mild winter for it's quite early for those things to be happening already.

I wish my grand daughter lived closer so she could come and touch the cottony softness of the pussy willows growing out back. I showed her via FaceTime a bouquet of pussy willow branches that I had gathered. She picked out her favorite branch so I'm going to box it up with a few extras and send it to her. I remember my grandfather bringing me pussy willow branches when I was young and being mesmerized by their softness. I love that I get the chance to do the same for my grandchild even if it means sending them through the post.