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:

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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Civil War Quilt Block Seven—Log Cabin

Now, though the power came back on within a day or so (though, alas, not quickly enough to save the food in the fridge, well, except the ketchup which I never realized does not actually need to be refrigerated), the internet stubbornly stayed away till just last night.

I know, I know, oh the horrors of the modern age! Whatever shall I do!?!

Turns out I got rather a lot done without that habitual mindsuck. Funny, that.

But I couldn't look up the next block in Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilt-a-long, though I knew it was called Richmond, and that it was complicated. I sketched a picture of the way I remembered it, but I wasn't sure (turns out I had it just fine, actually). So I skipped ahead a bit, because I knew there was a Log Cabin coming.

She connects the Log Cabin block with both Abraham Lincoln (it was his birthday week when the post was originally run), and with Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which was instrumental in fuelling the Abolitionist cause.

I changed my Log Cabin block around a little, as the version Brackman gives is a little too simple for my tastes. I made the center looking-down-the-chimney-at-the-fire-in-the-fireplace block smaller, though it is of course still the traditional red (sorry, Santa—not safe!). I also made it into a Courthouse Steps version, as I thought the usual half square triangle Log Cabin would look kind of odd and unbalanced all by itself. I guess I think of Log Cabin blocks more as pieces of things than things themselves.

Anyway, here it is:

I decided also not to do the usual light and dark, but just went with blue and brown, both about the same in value. I'm really liking this darkish color palette, and may have to adjust a couple blocks to fit. I guess we'll see.

Civil War Quilt Block Five—Kansas Troubles

The next block, number five, in Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilt a-long is called Kansas Troubles. She links this design with the tensions in Kansas when it was admitted to the Union; the voters there had a choice to pick whether Kansas would be a free state or a slave state (they chose to be a free state). Though the design goes back to before the Civil War, she points out that the name itself is only found in print from about 1890.

I stitched the first of these two a few days ago. But when I got it done I didn't like it:

The thing with sawtooth borders is that the two fabrics have to have sufficient contrast to work. In theory the dark brown should have shown up against the reddish medium brown just fine, but with the little paramecium spots on the dark brown it looks like little bites have been taken out of the teeth and it just doesn't read well. So I made another.

The second one I cut out by the fading daylight on Sunday, during the hurricane when we had no power. There isn't anything wrong with my handwork, and in fact I rather like sewing by hand, but since I'd done the rest of them on the machine I waited till the next day when the power was back to sew it, as I want them to all look consistent.

Here's the second version, which I like much better:

Contemplating this pattern it reminded me rather uncannily of another pattern I'd been seeing around the last couple of days:

So I wondered if maybe the original 'Kansas Troubles' referred to a tornado? The sawtooth border looks rather like the little flags meteorologists use to indicate a cold front, don't you think? They're even blue. Which I guess means my little quilted tornado is rotating counterclockwise, just like the real things.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Civil War Quilt Block Four—Texas Tears

And here's my version of the fourth block from Barbara Brackman's Civil War quilt-a-long, Texas Tears. I guess TTTT is for Texas. They think big down there, so I hear.

This block was complicated enough that I spent most of my brainpower trying to make sure it went together correctly. It mostly did, though I wish I'd caught the two swapped dark triangles; it would have been nice if the wiggly lines of the black were all horizontal. Oh well. Also I'm not sure about the colors. I mean I like the block itself, but I'm not sure it's going to match the indigo and black walnut color scheme I've sort of fallen into, and which I really really love.

If I were to do it again I think I'd cut some of the little triangles differently so that the right angle sides to them were on the square, not the bias, as it's just so easy to get everything wonky with that many biases in the thing. Still, though, I like it, especially the way I cut the stripes in the center square. I might try it again with the stripes the other way to form concentric squares.

Doing these blocks, while keeping the information Brackman provides in mind, has reminded me just how much I don't know about some things. Like Texas. Rattlesnakes, Houston, Mike Nesmith, Twisty Faster: that's about all I know of the place. And I suppose, to be honest, I hadn't missed it, up here in Massachusetts, where, though we're not dinky little Rhode Island, ho golly no, still, things are properly small and cozy here.

Although I guess that's not true. I have heard of Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day. It commemorates the day, June 19th, 1865, when Texas finally got wind of the Emancipation Proclamation, given by Lincoln on September 22nd, 1862, and which officially went into effect on January 1st, 1863. Yeaaaah. Bit of a gap there, I notice. But I'm sure it's just that those nice nice Texas slaveowners simply honestly forgot to tell anyone, what with the one thing or the other. Slipped their minds, sure.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Civil War Quilt Block Three

And now the third in Barbara Brackman's Civil War quilt-a-long, which apparently had more than a couple people gasping because it involved—quelle horreur—appliqué. Fetch me my smelling salts.

Now I'm not saying my appliqué is perfect, though, really, I'm not sure how anyone can get those points pointy enough; but it looks nice and handmade, I think. I cut the backing square a quarter of an inch larger and then trimmed it, as I know that appliqué (especially just done in the air and without a hoop, like how I did it) can gather up the fabric a bit, and I didn't want it to be too small. I did end up trimming it a little.

This one is called Seven Sisters, and is based off an early flag for the Confederacy, with the seven stars representing the first seven states to secede: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.

I assume that the title 'Seven Sisters' also references the Pleiades star cluster somewhere along the line. In Greek myth those stars were literally seven sisters, the daughters of Pleione, one of the Okeanids; their names were Maia (the mother of Hermes), Taygete, Asterope, Merope, Alcyone, Electra, and Kelaino, that last name shared with one of the Harpies. It is an old motif, certainly.

So as I stitched it I thought about each state in turn, and was surprised by how much I didn't know about them. Though I'm guessing that three of them—Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana, were actually named after kings, which is kinda funny given how anti-monarchy the colonies turned out to be.

And I thought of the story Brackman tells about nineteen-year old Sarah Morgan in Baton Rouge, and how she sewed and then wore a Confederacy flag as an act of rebellion when the Union occupied the city; and I thought, What a little snot. I mean, okay, nineteen year olds aren't generally known for being mature, I suppose; and yeah, it's what she knew, but still. What a privileged, entitled, little snot.

Civil War Quilt Block Two

So here's my version of the second block in Barbara Brackman's Civil War quilt-a-long, North Star.

This post to go with this block is about the Abolitionists in the North, as well as the North Star, Polaris, which surely must have provided a guide for escaping slaves.

There are a lot of people joining in with this quilt-a-long. There is even a Flickr group, which I plan to join when I can figure out how on this old browser. And at first I planned to alternate one block from the beginning with one block from the end, back and forth, so that I could at least kept up with the others in some way; but now I'm thinking that the order in which these are made is important, too. Because I know storytelling when I see it.

In making this second block, North Star, which Brackman is linking with the Abolitionists, right after the first one, Catch Me If You Can, which she uses to highlight the stories of escaping slaves, I found myself thinking about my own opinion of the Civil War. Now I like history; but the type I've usually been most interested in has been ancient history, like that of Rome, or of Egypt, or the Etruscans or Celts.

I'm a northerner, myself, a born New Englander, and I live in a two hundred and fifty year old colonial, the kind with the great central chimney. When I think of local wars, the Civil War isn't the first one that comes to mind. It's the Revolutionary War, or even King Philip's War, some of which took place very locally to me. So I haven't thought much about the Civil War. There are no Civil War battlefields anywhere near me that I know of. But I know which houses in the central village of my town were Tory houses, and I know that the garrison in Swansea, just over the river from me, was burnt down in King Philip's War.

So there's a distance to it. And, it is true, that distance means I think about it in rather simplistic terms. As in, my side, the North, was the right side, and theirs, the South, was the wrong side.

Now I don't actually believe that isn't true, complicated reality or not; for me it does boil down to South = slavery, North = doesn't. When I was in eighth grade, I think, I was taught that the primary reason for the Civil War wasn't necessarily slavery, but was economics; at the time I just said, Oh, and nodded, thinking that it was more complicated than it seemed; now, however, I know that calling it the very distant and sanitary-sounding 'economics' really makes no never mind when the economy of the South was based on slavery.

I think, actually, it is important to judge some things. An abusive person's version of an incident is not to be given the same weight, the same benefit of the doubt as what his victim says to be true; nor, I think, is it right to just say, Well that's how people thought at the time. Reading Huckleberry Finn in high school, I, like everyone else in my nearly all-white class, assumed that the copious use of the N-word in that book was simply reflecting how the word was ubiquitous at the time. That is true, I think, but my further assumption that since it was just what they called Black people at the time it was morally neutral was not true. It was as racist a word then as it is now. I think it is important to not lose sight of things like that.

I had no idea making a quilt would spark such musings. I really like this.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Civil War Block

Yeah, okay, I know, I'm real late to this party. But for some reason this week I found myself looking at Civil War reproduction fabric and falling in love with the designs. To modern eyes they just look so quirky, and not what I would have thought 'old-fashioned' fabric would look like at all. Also I'm in love with the colors, having done some natural dyeing myself. Oh, not that the reproductions are actually madder or indigo (or, thank the Gods, some of the literally poisonous dyes), being modern versions of the colors, which means they don't have that incredible depth that natural dyes give; still, they're just gorgeous.

So I've decided to join in on Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts block of the week quilt-a-long. I know, it's August now. Yes, she started in January. I have a bit of catching up to do. But one mustn't argue with the Muse.

So here's my version of the first block, Catch Me If You Can:

I really like that she is using these quilt blocks to tie together tales from the Civil War; she uses this first block, with its evocative (if somewhat modern) name, to remind us of the slaves who escaped, or who attempted to escape. It strikes me as proper, and honorable, to start a quilt about the Civil War with that: with centering the experience of the slaves.

I found I was very mindful of the stories of the slaves as I was making this block, and that is a good thing. This is going to be interesting.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Yo-Yoing Along

Just a quick note before I give the kitten his meds and then collapse into bed. I got another twenty-one yo-yos done tonight, bringing the total up to an even 250, which makes 24.8% of them done.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Yo-Yo Along Progress

It's that time of the week again! That's right, it's yo-yo time! Yo!

Now despite the fact that I am up to my ears in kittens—seven at last count, all of whom are currently being fostered in my dining room, which has been renamed the Romper Room—I still managed to get a decent amount done, and am still ahead of my total. Though like I said I'll be away for the next couple of weeks, so I expect I'll fall behind.

So as of just a few minutes ago I've now got 229 of them done; that's 22.7% of the total of 1008, and more than a fifth of the way there.

Not bad!