I’ve been listening to an audiobook about Nelly Ternan, who was Charles Dickens “secret” mistress, called The Invisible Woman By Claire Tomalin. Not much is known about Nelly and her relationship with the writing legend as letters between them were burned and those who knew about the affair refused to speak or write about it. Until recently, that is.
We all know that even “good girls” can mess up and find themselves in a terrible situation – perhaps accused of committing a couple of murders, like our gal Grace. While trying to find more information online about Nelly I found a great blog called “Scandalous Women” (tagline: “Well-Behaved Women don’t make History”) by author, actress, and amateur historian Elizabeth Kerri Mahon. It’s a fantastic trip into gossip, scandal, brutality, and lies.
While Nelly Ternan had her secrets kept for her for decades, not everyone has the luxury of having their misdeeds protected from public eyes (or prosecution). I found a site that that mentions both women and men behaving badly (possibly romanticizing them in the process – the writer’s intended consequence or not) and they have written about Grace Marks: Murderpedia.
Is there a website or other resource out there that indulges your appetite for scandal? Maybe HuffPo or TMZ or some magazine rack crap from the local store? I’m more of a historical scandal-reading person myself, but I’d love to know what you’re reading to find out all the juicy gossip.
They will be publishing a new pattern every weekday for 25 days, including the “This Is The Way New Patchwork Quilt Will Look When Complete” article. This resource is much more recent than my own Great-Grandmother’s Ladies Art Co. 1914 quilt pattern book but it will come in handy to compare my own piecing techniques while creating patterns for this site.
From the finished quilt it looks like there will be fans, baskets, trees, flowers, crosses and ferns to make. There are also a lot of curves and intricate pieces to sew together, and a few appear to be in Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, so I hope you too will find this a valuable resource when you are hand-piecing (or figuring out ways to modernize) your own historic quilt.
This resource is quite new and not yet complete – the paper has only recently began contributing to this archive section, but you can catch all of the ones that have been posted so far by going to the Archive’s library tags. Enjoy!
If you’re dealing with snow at all this season, by now you’re probably sick to death of the white stuff and are dreaming of bright colours and springtime. And nothing says colour like a gorgeous barn quilt.
Here are a few recent news items about barn quilts and quilt trails that will get you out of the winter doldrums and believing again that warmer seasons do indeed exist.
- Each block has a story to tell:
“Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail gains Covington block“
- Project took months to create:
“Ohio couple’s barn quilt is a real piece of work“
- A project that brings together visitors and locals!
“Off the Beaten Path: North Dakota Quilt Trail“
- By summer 2013, the downtown Kingsport walking Quilt Trail will include almost 20 murals and “Guide by Cellphone” in the works
“Quilts go up, new trail laid down“
- Boone County woman felt the quilt board had great curb appeal – or “farm appeal”
“Barn quilt adds ‘farm appeal’“
- The Quilt Barns of Missouri: 3 new barn quilts added to the “clothesline of quilts” across US
“The Quilt Barns of Missouri“
- Be part of a local barn quilt movement! Volunteers, sponsors, committee members needed
“Nonprofit Barn Quilts of Kittitas County mark 12th barn quilt design“
Want to read more articles about quilt trails, barn quilts, and quilting in the news? Follow me on Twitter – I like to share all of my finds there
Remember the War of 1812 Quilt Challenge? The Great Lakes Seaway Trail has announced its newest challenge and theme, Beauty of the Byways. I spent my summers growing up at a small cottage on the St. Lawrence River, so this project has a certain air of romance that appeals to me (I’m such a sap). The deadline for registration has already passed, but you can keep up with the show by reading the show’s blog at Beauty of the Byways Great Lakes Seaway Trail Quilt Challenge.
Speaking of byways… by the way, the War of 1812 Quilts are on a 2-year traveling exhibit tour with the top quilts from the 2012 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Quilt Show. The next event they’ll be appearing at is the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Williamsburg, VA between February 21-24 then it’s off to New Jersey. Get new dates as they are listed on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail quilting site.
When I see more news about movie in my travels I’ll be sure to share it here. And if anyone knows how to get in touch with Sarah Polley (or can do it directly) please remember I’m the perfect gal to write the music for this movie.
At our house, our televisions are mostly silent – we’ve given up cable and use Netflix or online viewing (and only very rarely). Because this form of entertainment uses up costly bandwidth we read a lot more or play games or listen to audiobooks and music. I recently was able to get a digital version of The Civil War Love Letter Quilt borrowed through my local library and thought that my visitors might find it as interesting as I did.
The American Civil War was fought between 1861 and 1865, which correlates with the time that Grace Marks would have been in jail and (hypothetically) making the quilt blocks in the Atwood book. As quilt block patterns then were mostly passed along from friends and family the designs, if not the names, would have been similar throughout North America. The Civil War Love Letter Quilt uses letters sent from men engaged in battle in one form or another to their loved ones back home, and takes a phrase from each letter to name a quilt block. The blocks are traditional and contemporary but the names all seem to be new.
It’s a fascinating read, because it features letters from men who are instructing their families from afar, dealing with death and disease themselves, some of whom die before reaching their loved ones again. One fellow signed up for battle and didn’t even go home to say to tell his family and say goodbye – and later died on the battlefield. There are various instances of men’s ideas of what women were supposed to represent at the time: fragility, flightiness, home-serving, pure. It’s not an ideal pattern book if you are looking for modern-day sewing patterns but if you have some reproduction period fabrics and like to create quilt blocks the old fashioned way, this book will be right up your alley. Any of the blocks would be fantastic in any fabric design, though – there are 121 patterns to be foundation pieced or pieced by hand or machine and I can picture them in the fabrics from Grace’s time or modern batiks.
These love letters from a distant era are a great way to get into the Valentine’s Day spirit and get acquainted with life as a Civil War soldier, with the added bonus of dreaming of the quilts you’d make with the blocks from each featured letter.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!
How To Do Your Own Snow Dyeing
- Prepare all surfaces by covering with plastic (best) or several layers of newspaper. Powdered dye flies everywhere so don’t be afraid to really extend your work area protection.
- Thoroughly wet the cotton or cotton-blend fabric you’ll be dyeing. Squeeze out excess water until just damp; drape and arrange as required in plastic tub.
- Prepare your dye – mine is a simple “just add water” brand. Bear in mind that the more dilute you make the dye, the weaker the colour will be; the snow will make it even weaker. Choose colours with care or wild abandon. I’ve had success with using red/blue/purple and blue/green/yellow together but also using a single colour of varying dilutions. To use the latter start with a single bottle of strong dye, use until about half done, add water and repeat.
- Pack the bin that you’ve placed the fabric into with snow. No need to remove the fabric to add the snow. Just put it on top and cover the fabric.
- Apply dye as desired. Swirls, lines, it doesn’t matter as you can’t really control the results. Allow to sit in the protected work area for several hours (probably four to eight hours, depending on the temperature of the work area and how much snow you’ve used).
- I like to periodically drain the water and dye from the bottom of the bin every half hour or so. Alternatively you can leave it (which may affect the finished effect) OR you can set up a rack over a sink to allow it to drain itself. I don’t include this as more than an option to consider as it carries its own risks, advantages, challenges, and results.
- Once all snow has melted, or you’re happy with how the dye has saturated through the fabric (remembering the colour will appear darker when wet) carefully remove fabric from the bin and rinse. Wring out and wash without detergent separately from regular laundry or as directed on the package of the dye you used. Remove from washer and test for colourfastness – I like to wet the fabric and wring it over a white paper towel. If any colour appears (I’ve never had this happen) another rinse is in order, but if the water never runs clear the piece is not colourfast and not suitable for most quilts.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial for snow dyeing! It’s a fun, fantastic way to get some beautiful and unique fabric for your quilts using our frigid, annoying, fun, Canadian winter season as inspiration. Have fun!
Here are some of the results: