Friday, September 16, 2011

Yo-Yoing Along

And I'm back on the waggon again, having made something like another fifty of the things this week, bringing the total up to 328, this close to a full third.

Wandering around the internet the other night I checked back in at the home of the Great Yo-Yo Along, Sew Take a Hike, to find that the deadline has been extended because the blogmistress herself is behind with things. Well, then. It can happen to the best of us. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Civil War Quilt Block Thirty-Seven—Confederate Rose

Okay, I know I said that I was going to do these in order. However, this week's block, published today, was just so lovely I had to skip to the end for a bit. It's here, and is called the Confederate Rose.

Now, the original block is pretty complicated, and since we're doing these at an eight inch size block, Brackman gives a simplified version of it that's basically just the center part. But I really liked the complicated version, which she also posted.

So I did the complicated one, which, because it was complicated, is designed in a grid of five by five, not something that works very well with an eight inch block. So I drew it out as a ten inch block, and photocopied it down to 80%, i.e. an eight inch block. I just cut the pieces out of the photocopy then and didn't bother with any math because I just wasn't going to even deal.

So here's my complicated version, which is a little wonky and not-quite-straight, but good enough:

My only complaint is that I'm not sure I like the pinkish triangles in the corners of the center square. They don't really show up enough against the fabrics around it, being too close in color. I'm not sure what I'd put there, nor am I sure that I want to rip the seams out and put new triangles in. We'll see, I guess. Overall though I'm pretty happy with it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Civil War Quilt Block Eleven—London Square

Brackman uses this block, London Square, to talk about Great Britain's role in the American Civil War. And to do this she writes of Fanny Kemble, an English actress of the time who married an American slaveowner and moved to Georgia with him to his rice plantation. Kemble had been opposed to slavery already going into her marriage; but seeing it with her own eyes made her even more bitterly opposed to it. She wrote a journal in the form of letters to a friend in which she talks about her experience on the plantation, as well as her git of a husband.

Brackman links to a Google Books version of Kemble's diary, which I sat down and devoured a good deal of one night last week. When Brackman says that Kemble does not pull any punches she is not kidding. She had a Clue, that Fanny Kemble.

It was very interesting for me to see, couched in nineteenth century prose, some very modern ideas, the sort of things I have heard talked about in the activist and feminist communities. She is acquainted, for example, with white privilege, though of course she does not call it such, as the term hadn't been invented then; she also quite cannily understands that the 'inferior' demeanor of the black slaves wasn't anything to do with natural ability (or lack thereof), like pretty much everyone of the time argued, as she'd seen the same sort of hopelessness and lack of education among poor, oppressed, white groups like the Irish of the time. She is a really good argument against excusing evil in history as just the times and what the people thought then. Because here was a woman who saw through all that, and recognized the pro-slavery arguments of the time as rank bullshit.

I really like her, Fannie Kemble. I haven't finished her account yet, and I have to say I don't really like reading things on the computer, not only because of the eye strain, but because I found it disorienting to not know how far from the end I was! Especially given that it's a journal from a real person's life, and so doesn't have a plot, or beginning middle and end. I read something like 250 pages and don't know if it goes to 800 or 251. Weird. I should get back to it. It was strange, also, reading it (though she is careful not to say bad things about her husband, at least as far as I've read), knowing that she would in fact divorce the guy later, as Brackman says in her post.

I thought it interesting also that at one point Kemble mentions that before she got married, when she had her career as an actress, she had no problem making money. The implication being that she knew she had a safety net to fall back on, and was not ultimately dependent on her husband's wealth. Not many women of the time could have said that (some can't even say that now given the way things are still set up for women), and I think it gives her a clarity and independence of thought. Though she also quite clearly understands how powerless she is in a lot of ways to improve the lot of the slaves on her plantation. She does try, but is thwarted by her husband, who of course had the ultimate say-so.

She does not shy away from telling of the living conditions of the slaves, especially the women slaves, who were required to go back to hard manual labor only three weeks after giving birth; she also does not hide that many of the children born to the slave-women were the product of rape by white men.

Though she felt pretty powerless at the time, and could only act as Witness, she did ultimately have a great deal of influence. For when her journal was published in England (she returned there after the divorce) it did a lot to turn sentiments in England against slavery, such that Great Britain stayed neutral for the Civil War.

So after all that, here's my version of London Square:

Civil War Quilt Block Ten—Lincoln's Platform

And on to the next block, Lincoln's Platform, the block usually known as Shoo-Fly. Brackman uses it to commemorate the anniversary of Lincoln's inauguration, and to talk a bit about poor Mary Lincoln. From what I remember of that First Lady, she would have greatly benefited from those modern inventions, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. She lost a lot of children and had a terrible time coping, poor thing.

I ended up doing this one twice, because I didn't like how the paramecium-shaped splotches (they do look like single-celled organisms, don't they?) on the dark brown triangles broke up the edges. I have since retired that particular fabric from this quilt, because it just doesn't want to play nice. Here's the first version:

So I did a second, which I like a bit better, but I'm still not all that happy with it. Unhappy enough to redo it again? Don't think so. But I wish I'd thought to line up the white leaves in the blue strips so they were all the same. Right now it looks a little random around the middle:

Yes, more blurriness. I've got to figure that out one of these days.

I've been hanging out on the Flickr group for this quilt-a-long and it is such an inspirational place. We are, I think, encouraging each other in a really wonderful and creative way; I keep seeing such beautiful blocks that I'm inspired to try something different. Which is how these things should work. I've gotten to the point now where I want to love each of these blocks I've made, and if I don't, I may just redo them until I do. Ooooh. There is such a good atmosphere there, the best kind for art and beauty to flourish.

Civil War Quilt Block Nine—Birds in the Air

So this is what I have been doing, because I do have the cloth for it. Week number nine's block in Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilt-a-Long was Birds in the Air, which Brackman uses to remind us of the Abolitionist Societies in the northern states. It was a tricky one, though it certainly looks simple, because it is divided into three, while the blocks are (supposed to be) eight inches square, which isn't very friendly to being divided by three.

Here's my version:

I used that blue as background thinking it was blue for the sky; then I thought oh the white dot-dash lines could represent rain, so that works. But then I thought, well it doesn't usually rain out of a blue sky does it? Anyway the brown with flowers worked well for the fertile Earth.

I gotta say I love love love the quilt by Deborah Coates (made somewhere around 1830-1860) she uses to illustrate the Birds in the Air pattern; the colors are just gorgeous, I think.

She also includes an anti-Abolitionist ad, I guess you'd call it, from a paper dated 1837. I'll try to get the formatting close to the original, because it really gets kinda ridiculously shouty about the whole thing:


Fellow Citizens,

of the most revolting character is among you, exciting the feelings of the North against the South. A seditious Lecture is to be delivered
at 7 o'clock, at the Presbyterian Church in Cannon-street.
You are requested to attend and unite in putting down and silencing by peaceable means this tool of evil and fanaticism.
Let the rights of the States guaranteed by the Constitution be protected.

February 27, 1837. The Union forever!

See now here's the thing. I'm pretty sure I've heard the same kind of bullshit arguments about states' rights being used in the present day to further other varieties of bigotry like say outlawing or refusing to even consider gay marriage. Funny to see the same old same old, you know? They really don't have any better arguments.

And I mean, honestly? Wanting to free the slaves was 'evil'? That was said with a straight face?

I know, I do know better. People say all kinds of bigoted things and believe it comes from a place of love. It is, obviously, nothing new.

Yo-Yo Uh-Oh

Oh dear. I sit here in the middle of the road with a bruised backside, watching the waggon I have fallen from go plodding off into the distance...

I didn't get any yo-yos done this week. I am still in need of fabric for them, and haven't gotten out to get some yet. I suppose I should see if I can press some other fabric into service.

Richmond Redux

Well I ripped out the center which was as I had predicted a right royal pain in the arse; but I like it much better with the darker indigo. The star reads as a star now:

Sorry for the blurriness of the picture. I'm a fairly crappy photographer, though I'm uncommonly talented in plenty of other artsy areas and in fact went to art school back in the day. I've just never got the hang of photography...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday Yo-Yo Blogging

And just a quick check-in with the yo-yos I've been doing. I am behind, now, it's true, but I'm up to 275 of them, which is 27.3% of them, more than a quarter. Of course there's only a couple months left, so I gotta get going here. Thing is though I'm running out (or have run out) of cloth from my stash in the correct colors, so I'm going to have to go and buy some.

The yo-yos, however, are now numerous enough that they are beginning to overrun the decent-sized box I put them in. This thing is going to be really, really, heavy, isn't it?

Civil War Quilt Block Eight—Cotton Boll

And on to number eight, Cotton Boll, in honor of that all-important Southern product, cotton, which is also, of course, what this quilt is made from.

At first I thought this block kind of boring—it's pretty simple, after all. But after looking at all the wonderful pictures on the Flickr group, I thought I'd try to fancy it up by fussy cutting it:

And so I really, really, like it now. It is, in fact, one of my favorites so far, simplicity or no. And it's giving me all kinds of wonderful ideas about what else I might be able to do with these blocks.

Civil War Quilt Block Six—Richmond

And backtracking to number six in Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilt-a-Long, the block called Richmond, after the capitol of the Confederacy in Virginia.

I am really liking this color pallette, with its limited range of values; the lightest light is really a lightish medium, while the darkest dark is only a middle dark. But it's finicky; sometimes it can end up a bit of a muddle:

I may unpick that center block and the points of the star in the middle, and replace it with one of the dark browns; I think it would read much better that way.

Sounds like a pain in the ass, though, so it may be a while.