Thursday, October 6, 2011

Civil War Quilt Block Seventeen—Comfort Quilt

And with this one I'm caught up, by which I mean caught up posting the ones I've made, not caught up to the ones posted on the blog itself. By that standard I'm only on April's blocks. So I guess I have some more sewing to do!

The next one is called the Comfort Quilt, because the pattern looks like an old overshot woven coverlet pattern. Brackman uses it to tell the story of the nurses of the Civil War, who comforted the soldiers. And it reminded me that even now, there are drives to make quilts for soldiers so that they have something to comfort them when they are stationed overseas.

I fussy cut the squares in it; however I think my version may be a bit too plain. It would have been nice to have a stripe, maybe, where the burnt sienna brown is:

I am getting a little bored with my fabrics; also I'm starting to get low on them. I guess that means fabric shopping is in my future! Oh no!

Civil War Quilt Block Sixteen—White House

And still catching up with the Civil War Quilt-a-Long blocks I've been making. The next one is called White House, and it symbolizes the White House and presidency of the Union.

Brackman gives a simpler version of the block, but mentions that sometimes there is some patchwork in the outer blocks. So, because I'm an overachiever or something, I tried some nine patches:

But I didn't like how it came out. I was worried about the nine patches being too small, plus I was dividing up a two inch square into thirds, which will never be even; so I made them a little big figuring I'd cut them down. But I found out that while that works just fine for a four patch it doesn't work with a nine patch, as then the center square is too big, and the outer squares aren't even square. So I tried it again:

I like that much better, though it's simpler.

My Dyeing Day

So I woke up one day last week, a day I had off, and I wondered what I wanted to do with said day. Did I want to do some quilting? Perhaps some dyeing? After all I'd picked a bunch of sumac and I wanted to mordant some cotton cloth, something I'd never tried before, as it's much easier to get natural dye colors to stick on protein fibers such as wool and silk. Or did I want to knit? Or work on some of those yo-yos?

Then I remembered that the sumac berries had been soaking in a pot on the stove for a couple of days and I probably ought to get to them before they went all gross. So then I thought to myself, I thought, Perhaps today IS a good day to dye!


(Picture shamelessly stolen from The Agony Booth,
one of the best time-wasters in the history of the universe.)

So with Worf as my new dyeing mascot, I set about boiling that sumac finally, and while I was at it I threw in my Seven Stars Civil War quilt block because the white was just too white. (It came out much nicer and just how I'd hoped; I haven't gotten a picture of it though; sorry.)

I like to dye little skeins, because I can have more fun with them, and so I came up with this project that is knitting a lot of little squares in a leaf design, to sew together into a sweater. Meaning each little skein, in this lovely soft silk and wool blend yarn, can be its own little tie-dye experiment. Last year I dipped some in black walnut; and the other day I tied some off and put them in the sumac, which gives a soft yellowy-tan.

When they were done I spread them out on a towel on the kitchen table to dry a little and so I could see what I'd got. I had to leave the room then for a bit for some reason (probably had to pee), and when I came back why what did I find?

Left to right that's Ratty, Aleister Meowley, Maurice, and Danny Lyon.

I mean I'm not surprised. On the one hand we have kittens, and on the other yarn. But you can hopefully see, beneath Ratty's little white front paws, some of the skeins I've got half-done.

I also got three yards worth of cotton broadcloth fat quarters mordanted with alum and sumac leaves, which have tannin in them. I didn't do the whole usual alum-tannin-alum method, though I did scour the Hel out of the cotton first by boiling it in detergent for like three hours, as per Liles's instructions. It came out a nice mellow light gold, which will I think make a nice base for whatever I'm going to put on top of it, probably more tie-dyeing or if you want to get all Japanese about it shibori. I haven't done any of that since art school.

As far as the yarn goes I am going to try some black bean dye next; I hear it makes a marvellous blue if you do it right...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Civil War Quilt Block Fifteen—Fort Sumter

And on to the block for the fort itself, called naturally enough Fort Sumter. It's a rather abstract version of the fort in the harbor (the real one being five-sided) being fired upon. See:

I did the lines of fire in red because it seemed the traditional and appropriate thing to do; now I don't know, though. Compared to the rest of the blocks I've done that's a bit too much red. Also I'm not sure about the other colors, though the blue water is okay enough. If I redo it I think I'll make the red artillery fire lines narrower, like seven-eighths of an inch, an inch wide.

And yeah, one of these days I'm going to figure out how to take a picture that isn't blurry!

Civil War Quilt Block Fourteen—Fox and Geese

And with this block I'm caught up to the first week of April. That's only six months behind!

It's called Fox and Geese, and Brackman uses it to talk about the start of the Civil War, when Confederate troops took over Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina in April 1861. South Carolina had been the first state to officially secede from the Union, in late December 1860, when James Buchanan was still president. Though he maintained that states didn't have the right to secede from the Union in the first place, he pretty much left it up to his successor (that would be Abraham Lincoln) to do something about it.

I put the little geese on a blue background to represent the sky; the larger foxes are in foxy shades of red-brown.

Civil War Quilt Block Thirteen—Little Blue Basket

And here's another block in five, not a happy number to divide an eight inch block by. It's called Little Blue Basket, and I have to say I've never been a fan of this sort of quilt block. A little too twee for me I guess, though maybe I just haven't seen it done in a way I really like.

Brackman uses this block to talk about the mess that was the border of Kansas and Missouri in the Civil War, where Confederate guerilla fighters hid in the area around the Little Blue River. Their sisters, mothers, and wives brought them food there, and enabled them to live that life by also doing their laundry and mending their clothes.

I added a handle to mine because it just didn't look right to me without one. I'm not sure about how it came out; while I really like that paisley print it's a bit distracting and overall I find it a bit hard to read. Also, it came out a little on the small side. So I may do it over, and if I do, I think I'll do it with the stripes on the diagonal so they look horizontal to the basket, like woven strips.

Civil War Quilt Block Twelve—Louisiana

Now to catch up with a bunch of the Civil War Quilt-a-long blocks, from Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts blog. The next one is the twelfth, called Louisiana, and Brackman returns to the story of Sarah Morgan, whom she had written about in block three, Seven Sisters. And at the time, reading about young Sarah, I thought, What a little snot.

But then I felt bad, because after all I was judging her on only a little bit of information. So I went and started to read her diary, which Brackman links to.

Not only did I not change my mind about Morgan, I found my instincts very much confirmed.

Now, I know, pretty much everyone is an idiot at age nineteen, and even more so if there's also a bunch of privilege thrown in (like being a rich white upper class girl in the slave-owning South of the United States). And it's true, I didn't read all the way to the end; but I found her diary just so tedious. I kept waiting for her to get a clue, to learn some empathy, but so far (and again, I read it on Google books, so have no idea how near the end I was!) I see no evidence that she has—she's still doing stupid reckless things that put herself in danger and she hasn't seemed to cotton on to the idea that the slaves are actually, you know, human and stuff. I do know that towards the end of the war her two brothers would be killed, so maybe that will serve to open her soul up a little, I don't know. And I suppose I really ought to go read all of it before I judge. I just don't know if I have the patience for it.

Because, seriously, What a little snot.

At any rate I liked this block; I'm a sucker for pinwheel variations I guess. They have such nice feel of movement to them.

Here's mine: