Just look at these ribbons! My local guild is preparing for our upcoming quilt show. My friend Tess has been making award ribbons for this show since 2008. A cherished award in any show, a ribbon from our quilt guild is a work of art in itself.
Last week I visited with our local Queen of the Ribbons. Her quilts have won many prizes, and her sewing room is overflowing with awards. This photo shows the ribbons she has made for this year’s show. A first, second, third, and honorable mention in several categories makes for a dazzling array. The log cabin blocks on point (those are tiny logs) are all painstakingly pieced. And the design each year is unique, Tess choosing an element of the show’s raffle quilt each year.
Tess has an amazing assistant (her husband) who puts his engineering skills to work to create the graphic design for the wording on the ribbon and for a label for the back of the quilt block. With the tiny quilt blocks, glue gun, and miles of ribbon, Tess astounds us anew every show. Maybe that’s one reason we are willing to work so hard to prepare for our biennial show…the hope that one of those ribbons will ride home on one of our quilts.
And, if you noticed the rosettes that go to Best in Show winners, there is a show pin in the center. Tess designed the show pin, as well. She is a gem in our guild’s crown. And, she will likely get to keep at least one of those ribbons because her quilts are fabulous, too.
This gentleman is Mr. Luther Glaze, a peddler who sold fabric to my husband’s grandmother, Zelema, in the 1920’s and 30’s. Once a week, Mr. Glaze arrived in his truck, his wares protected with a canvas cover. “Granny Zee” never paid him with money, but with butter and eggs from her farm.
The quilt here, “Granny Zee’s Scrap Baskets,” is one I made in 2007 using fabrics left from some of Zee’s sewing. Her daughter, Sadie Belle, was my mother-in-law. In her twilight years, Ms. Sadie found a large bag of scraps and offered them to me to “use in a quilt.” I washed, ironed, and sorted some 69 different prints. Many of them were from feedsacks, some were fabrics Ms. Sadie recognized as being a school dress for her or an apron for her mother. The remnants I had were often the negative space that resulted from cutting pieces for clothing; a shirt front, a sleeve, a collar from a child’s dress.
I delighted in the fabrics and thought egg baskets to be an appropriate block. Using a solid white fabric as the background, I pieced the entire quilt using Zee’s scraps. I made a wall hanging and worked quickly to complete the quilt, knowing Ms. Sadie’s memory was fading every day. She treasured it and shared memories from the fabrics every time we looked at it together.
Ms. Sadie had some moments of anxiety and anger with her dementia, but my sewing basket seemed to calm her. As it always calms me.
One might question, as I did, why the family had a framed photo of the peddler. Asked, but not answered.
The books are here!
After a year of stitching and thinking, “this could become a book,” while never really believing it, big boxes are here at my house filled with copies of my words. And photographs of my stitching. My designs. My life.
I had an idea. I began stitching. I developed a journal format to write details as I went. I wrote more details about the thought process in another journal. All just in case this really worked.
With the help of a friend who gave form to my raw material. It did.
On Saturday mornings, my Daddy would go to the filling station in Sycamore and meet up with some of his friends. Mama said there was more gossip spread there than at any beauty shop.
One day a newcomer to our rural way of life came to the station and asked about “those white birds I see with the cows in some pastures.” He was told that “those are government birds. They eat flies and protect your cows.” Oh, he wanted some of those for his bovines. “Go on down to the ASCS office – and tell them we sent you. They’ll ask how many cows you have and issue you one bird per cow.”
The regulars kept their composure as the city slicker walked back to his truck to speed to the office of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service to put in his requisition. As he drove away, the knee-slapping laughter ensued.
I don’t remember any follow up to the story regarding when the new fellow realized he’d been taken for a ride. But from that day on, any time we rode past a pasture with cattle egrets among the grazing cows, my Daddy made reference to the government birds.
My latest quilt is based on this story and on a photo a friend took a few months ago. Based on his photo, I drew this scene using colored pencil, then transferred it to silk fabric and added some details with quilting.
Silk fabric, Cherrywood hand dyed fabric, commercial cotton, and Moda linen were used. Lots of raw edges! Dream Wool batting. Kimono silk thread and variegated YLI cotton thread based on Cherrywood colors. Finished size is 20″ x 19″
After more than thirty years of journaling, in different notebooks of all colors, shapes, and sizes, scribbled on bits of paper, and on my beloved laptop, I made a journal quilt in cloth. And I wrote a book about it.
So let’s see where this journaling venture goes.