Tuesday, June 28, 2016


HOME by John Ruskin 1819-1900 (exceprts)
(Ruskin was the  foremost English art critic,writer, poet,  watercolourist of the time.)
"Summer is delicious" he wrote. Aye. That it is. This week I've been reading some of his work. His own home of Brantwood, Cumbria , is a place of peace, and as I learned, open to the public......very cool.
This is the true nature of home, it is the place of Peace; the shelter, not only from all injury, but from all terror, doubt and division.
 If a hostile society of the outer world is allowed to cross the threshold......
 It ceases to be home.
 It is then only a part of that outer world
 which you have roofed over, and lighted fire in.
 But so far as it is a sacred place, a vestal temple....
 a temple of the hearth watched over .......
 Before whose faces none may come but those whom they can receive with love.......

 Roof and fire are types only of a nobler shade and light.
 Shade as of the rock in a weary land.
 Light as of the lighthouse in a stormy sea.

 So far, it vindicates the name, and fulfills the praise of Home
 This home is always around her (wife)...
 The stars only may be over her  head.
 The glow worm in the night-cold grass may be the only fire at her feet.

 But home is wherever she is.
 For a noble woman it stretches far round her.
 Better than ceiled with cedar,
 Or painted with vermilion,

 Shedding its quiet light far.
 For those whose else were homeless......  (excerpts  from "Home" by John Ruskin, found in  the book 1000 Beautiful Things, 1948)

 John Ruskin's ambitious parents always thought their son would take Holy Orders and become the Archbishop of Canterbury.Well, that never happened.In 1839 he won the Newgate Prize  at Oxford, for Poetry. This is were he met the great William Wordsworth.
 Ruskin was considered a fine water colour artist, as well as a writer, and he also  was a philanthropist, donating art work in England and later on in the states. He also designed stained glass windows, and other architectural features.He was an artsy.
 Ruskin was also a lecturer, educator, traveller, was mentally devastated ,in the latter part of his life, after losing the love of his life. She wouldn't marry him. In fact, there were a few future Mrs. Ruskins that never could make up their minds.  I think there was one actual wife, at one point, but the marriage dissolved.In time he settled at Brantford, where he lived out his life. 
     Beatrix Potter was said to have met him, and thought he was comical looking with his old clothes and long beard. But, Tolstoy called him remarkable.Brilliant. Belonging to the world.
                         "Let every dawn be to you as the beginning of life....."                                                                          (John Ruskin)
Photographs: Michelle McConachie Woods

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Civil War Quilts

 "I LOVE quilting, and have plenty of material witnesses."
 When it rains here, it pours. When it pours I quilt. In the 3rd and 4th quarter of the 19th Century, the Log Cabin Quilt became popular  when people started roaming more after the Civil War.  The lattice bars became to signify the idea of the Log Cabins  built by pioneers. Little House on the Prairie and all that sort of thing.
 Just finished two large quilt tops. So much left to do. Like backing. Batting. Stitching.

 Decided to do the quilts in my favourite style of all; civil war . The first was a Log cabin pieced around an orange red centre. The reddish centre speaks of hearth and home, and the dark and light pieces signify the dark and light of life in the family.
 Some of the fabric was reproduction,some was not. Most came from my downstairs stash. Then I dunked the entire panel in tea and coffee and let it steep. So to speak.
 "Good friends are like quilts. They never lose their warmth."

 The blocks for the Log Cabin I did in alternate colour schemes. One earthy, one in a dull blue civil war theme. I kind of ran out of the  dull blue, so at one point had to introduce a lighter blue,but I liked it a lot, especially once it was soaked in the tea and coffee.
 It's good to try and use up as much of the  fabric you have lying around in boxes. Makes it challenging when trying to find enough  fabric, but since I am somewhat a hoarder, there seemed to be plenty of fabric to go around.
 "Friendships are sewn one stitch at a time."
 Then the finished Log Cabin panel  took on a darker, smoother overtone after sitting in its bath for half the morning. Older Log Cabin quilts were done with scrappy fabric pieces on foundations to make them stable.
 The colours tend to give off a radiating pulse.....optical illusion.....I love the Log cabin block. Has many ways of being set.There are many variations on the design of log cabin. Barn Raising, Sunshine and Shadow, Straight Furrow, to name a few. This particular design I found was called "Independence".
 "April 14, 1861. Civil war has finally been declared....first gun of rebellion was fired at Charleston"- from the diary of Rebecca L. Richmond ( Civil War Diary Quilt). Many quilts were made of silk, wool and cotton pieces and were incredibly elegant and used to raise money for the war effort at the time.
Both northern and southern women made quilts for the army and their families.
 "My soul is fed with needle and thread."

 It became important for the army  men to have warm quilts in the hospital cots. The women of the country sewed quilts, using their stash of fabric to make many quilts . The basic nine patch quilt design was used quite a bit.
 Stripes, woven fabrics were used the most.

 "We should have nothing in our houses, which we did not either know to be useful  or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris, the Beauty of Life, 1880

 "May your bobbin always be full."
                                                         Civil War Sampler

 Civil War Log Cabin                                                 Helpful Bo, my sewing buddy......