Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Will Martha please sit down?

I don't exactly know how but somehow I wandered onto Martha Stewart's blog. Some quilt images caught my eye so I clicked on them. These photos were taken at the huge American Antiques show last week in NYC and of course, Ms. Stewart was there to lend support. Okey, dokey, here's the press snapping away at Martha as she smiles beautifully. I know, her coat "matches" the quilt....

Another picture showed a wooden thing situated against a bright cheddar, red, green, and white quilt. I think the quilt pattern's called New York Beauty. Her comment follows, " The tassle of carved wood is a pleasing detail." Oooooh, the quilt, tell us about the quilt!

Finally here's a Baltimore-esque applique quilt that Ms. Stewart calls 'her favorite.' Down in front, please ma'am--I wanna see the flowers!

Nothing against Ms. Stewart (her recipes are right on the money) but how long do you think before this beauty (the quilt) appears on mugs, placmats, and other tasteful home accessories. K-Mart will be thrilled!

My mother was astonished that I didn't subscribe to Martha Stewart's magazine as soon as it became available. She even scolded me for not being a Martha devotee but honestly, I could never measure up.

This is the vase, usually filled with dead flowers, that hangs on a cabinet in my kitchen.
Nuff said.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

NRQR (not really quilt-related) or Edward Finds a Home

A couple of weeks ago, my niece Julia lost her young kitty Apple Blossom to kidney failure. She wasn't going to get another cat...

As fate would have it, her mama was at the vet's two days ago and a fine blue-eyed boy named Edward needed a home. Thank the Lord for I-phones! Here's the photo she sent to her daughter Julia "auditioning" Edward. He got the job!

My sister wrote about the situation, "She really wanted an older cat, neutered, still possessing claws, micro-chipped and with all its shots - for real cheap - like that was going to happen! Thursday I took Yoda [her cat]to the vet and there were cages set up in the waiting room with several cats up for adoption. One great big four year old guy with blue eyes and a sweet disposition caught my eye. His previous owner had to take a job truck driving and had to put up this big boy for adoption. I took pictures and played with him. Ed, or Edward, as he was named by his first family, now lives in Cincinnati with Julia. Last night I called to find out if Ed had decided to come out from under the bed and explore the apartment. Why yes, in the span of one half hour, he was in her lap and nuzzling her face. Smart guy - he knows a good deal when he sees it!"

And like all our family cats, one of their main tasks is testing quilts...

Don't you love a happy ending?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cracker Crumbs or Ocracoke checks in.

OK-here's the pop quiz question from last week: where's Ocracoke Island? Answer: Find it in the middle of the map at the bottom of this blog.

Quilt history is fun and last week's blog entry on the Cracker pattern, a favorite of Ocracoke quiltmakers, got some response that I wanted to share with readers. Amy Howard, a quilter from Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, sent me a picture of one of her Cracker quilts. She writes that the Ocracoke Quilters now meet at the Deepwater Theater on the island. So if you come to Ocracoke, be sure to stop by the Deepwater Theater and catch a performance of Molassas Creek, the local band with the big sound. Amy adds, "I hope you like the quilt. Usually the triangles are a more solid color, but I really like the textured look." Joyce Reynolds was the photographer.
Amy's Cracker proves that quilters can't help but tinker with their patterns. Nothing about quilt patterns is writ in stone. "No, you can't do that! This quilt is always made this way..." gets my hackles up. Maybe you've heard the term the "quilt police." That's the person who insists there's a right way and a wrong way to make a quilt and voices their opinion, loudly, on the subject. Don't you know it, quilters are independent sorts and experimentation is always appreciated-good on Amy and let's hope she makes many more quilts!

The Ocracoke map is here and by the way, if you plan on traveling to eastern coastal North Carolina, get an up-to-date map. Translation of 'picturesque byway' is: small curving road through swamps. How do you get to Ocracoke? You take a ferry! See this website for more information.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Going Crackers

There's a whole species of quilt patterns called strip-pieced or string-pieced. These patterns usually used strips of leftover fabric and were sewn over newspaper. The paper backings were torn away after the top was completed and just prior to quilting. One pattern called Cracker seems to have taken root in my area of the country, eastern coastal North Carolina.

Down the Atlantic coast of North Carolina, stretching from the Virginia border to just below where I live in Beaufort (that's under the 'o' in Morehead City on the map) is a string of islands known as the Outer Banks. And on one island, Ocracoke (see center of the map) the Cracker pattern has become the official quilt pattern. On Ocracoke, locals make the Cracker with four bars in the middle and one of the bars must always be red.

Quilt historians recently speculated on the Quilt History internet chat list that the title 'cracker' came about because the block somewhat resembles Christmas crackers, those old-fashioned party favors that pull apart with a bang! and out drops a little toy. Popularized in the late 19th century, Christmas crackers were a rage here in the States in the 20s and recently, as with all things paper, have come back into vogue.

In December I re-drafted the Cracker to resemble a real Christmas cracker and to also be a signature block. The writing is saying 'Merry Christmas' in different languages. I gave this Cracker block away at my quilt guild's Christmas party this year.