Late April 2021

Continuing my neighborhood walks: After the cherry blossoms, the pink snow,

IMG_3287

We go from pink trees

IMG_3313

to pink sidewalks in a week’s time.

And find them all through the neighborhood.

Dogwood trees and other flowers bloom,

IMG_3283

Dogwood

Interestingly cracked concrete catches my eye…

We went on two more hikes with amazing wildflowers:

Tom McCall Trail, OR, April 23

When we hiked here on March 11th, the slopes were covered with purple grass widows. Today, the balsamroot is the star!

DSC06726

Starting up the trail with friends.

DSC06730

Lower cliffs, balsamroot and lupine in full bloom!

DSC06736

DSC06737

Eastward view.

DSC06747

Every blade abloom under the oak trees.

DSC06748

Open slopes of balsamroot and Mt Adams.

DSC06760

Continuing up.

DSC06766

Paintbrush in bloom on the upper slopes.

Views from the top:

IMG_3290

West to Mt Hood.

IMG_3289

North to Mt Adams.

IMG_3288

Northeast, to the Cherry Orchard.

More views on the hike down:

DSC06788

Rowena Plateau.

DSC06792

Paintbrush! and the Memaloose Hills, with their yellow backs.

DSC06807

Parsley Alley….

DSC06810

And a few more flowers, for the day.

Bitterroot Trail, Catherine Creek, WA April 26

Aptly lived up to its name – the earlier blooming flowers have faded, but the bitterroot is just getting started today!

DSC06844

We began near the fairy ponds – now filled with camas lilies; the adjacent rock outcrops hosting glorious bitterroot flowers.

IMG_3296

Lewisia rediviva

DSC06862

Sprinkled across the basalt; bicolored cluster lilies speckle the meadow beyond.

We wind our way up the slope:

DSC06864

Eastward.

DSC06870

Camas lilies and shooting stars.

DSC06874

Death camas and purple camas lilies

DSC06883

Turn left at the balsamroot, while admiring the windswept views east,

DSC06885

and west…

DSC06889

We drop down the Rowland Wall trail,

DSC06890

One of the largest clusters of bitterroot buds I have seen…

DSC06894

buckwheat

DSC06898

A giant clump of cliff penstomen surprised us!

DSC06919

More bitterroot scattered across the rocky surface along our return trail.

DSC06918

This is their time to rise up!

Meanwhile…

We finally had a chance to see the heritage American Chestnut Tree in the Sellwood neighborhood. It dwarves the house, and there is an enormous stump of another chestnut tree behind it.

DSC06932

Rare American Chestnut, Sellwood, Oregon

DSC06933

Leaves just budding out.

Knitting

Quilting

IMG_3339

I’m making progress on the baby quilt.

Repotted plant report from Washington DC:

IMG_3302

Commentary on the verdict, and the path forward:

.

Blooms of early April 2021

The crabapple tree in our front yard finally bloomed during the second week of April. This tree was in full bloom the day we moved into our house in mid March almost 30 years ago.

IMG_3203

April 9th

IMG_3207

April 11th

IMG_3254

April 15th

Other garden blooms:

And some cupcakes for a friend’s birthday:

IMG_3195

Hikes:

April 2nd, Memaloose Hills, OR –

DSC06216

Begin at the Memaloose Overlook…

DSC06253

Today’s star is balsamroot!

DSC06232

Buttercup carpet in the woods.

DSC06243

Balsamroot all the way up Chatfield Hill.

DSC06254

Looking back.

DSC06272

North view from the top – Mt Adams, paintbrush, yellow parsley.

DSC06283

Columbia River, Columbia Desert parsley, balsamroot

DSC06294

Mt Hood to the west.

DSC06304

Willows and bees near the spring on the return hike.

DSC06310

Popcorn flowers on Marsh Hill.

DSC06313

View from Marsh Hill back to the Memaloose Hills.

More wildflowers:

 April 8, Coyote Wall, WA – Our first hike with friends in more than a year! We are all fully vaccinated!

DSC06322

Starting up The Old Ranch Road.

DSC06337

Service berry in bloom on the Little Moab Cliffs.

DSC06344

The edge of the Coyote Wall, yellow parsley.

DSC06357

And balsamroot, eastward view.

DSC06358

Southward view.

DSC06364

And we are going higher!

DSC06372

Upper cliff edge view.

DSC06378

A nice meadow near Atwood Road, as we loop eastward before hiking down.

DSC06392

A day when every blade of grass seems to have a bloom!

DSC06397

So many flowers!

DSC06398

Desert parsley along Old Hwy 14 cliff, return hike.

And more flowers:

Knitting

Some progress on two projects:

IMG_3216

I finished the yoke on this bamboo cardigan, and it is way too big, despite careful swatching, so this one is in time out for a while.

IMG_3213

A mystery project for a gift…

Quilting

I am starting a baby quilt for a new family member!

Begin anew! January 2021

January 20, 2021 –  So far 2021 has not brought much change to our daily life, but the relief of having a new president casts a hopeful light on our future! We celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary this month, with homemade Indian food and leftover Christmas chocolate. We continue in pandemic lockdown mode, staying home unless doing essential shopping, going on neighborhood walks, or weekly out of neighborhood hikes. Vaccines are seeping into the community, mostly to health care professionals and long term care facilities. My husband has temporarily unretired and will be helping with vaccinations. Thus he was able to celebrate inauguration day doubly, as he got his first dose today.

Hiking: We have been on three hiking adventures so far. The first, on January 7th, was our annual trek to see the bald eagle nesting area along the Klickitat River near Lyle, Washington. We saw at least thirty birds, many of them juveniles that still have brown plumage. 

DSC05313

Bald eagles flying across the Balfour-Klickitat pond.

DSC05336

One eagle stayed perched in a tree nearby.

DSC05337

Closer view.

DSC05342

Many more eagles in the trees across the pond.

DSC05343

Zooming in, even more eagles can be seen disguised in the foliage.

DSC05359

Another dozen eagles were out on the sand bar where the Klickitat River flows into the Columbia River.

DSC05357

Two adults, one juvenile bald eagle on the sand bar.

DSC05369

Osage oranges along the trail here.

DSC05371

They are a curious fruit.

DSC05384

We walked a couple of miles along the Klickitat River trail.

DSC05396

Downy woodpeckers were in the bushes nearby.

DSC05404

This is a converted rail trail with a nice even tread.

DSC05421

We turned around at the Fisher Hill Trestle.

DSC05413

View down the Klickitat River from the trestle.

DSC05407

A side stream cascading into the Klickitat River.

DSC05424

On our return walk we saw a congregation of a couple of dozen eagles circling overhead.

On January 14th, we walked around Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Portland. The blue sky was reflected beautifully in the water, and we saw cormorants, herons, and a barred owl near the trailhead.

DSC05445

Blue sky.

DSC05456

Reflections in the marsh.

DSC05485

Winter foliage.

DSC05490

Muraled Mausoleum across the marsh.

DSC05498

Oaks Park on winter/Covid hiatus.

DSC05522

Cormorants and herons, Downtown Portland.

DSC05513

Cormorants.

DSC05548

Barred owl.

Back out at Catherine Creek, near Lyle, Washington, on January 19th, we found the first grass widow of spring, then hiked a long loop up Atwood Road, across the top of Sunflower Hill, then down the Desert Parsley Trail back to Rowland Wall, thus completing some of the gaps in our map there. It was a beautiful day – chilly, but conducive to hiking up hill at a steady pace to see the eastern gorge spread below magnificently.

DSC05557

First grass widow of spring!

DSC05560

Catherine Creek waterfall set in the winter landscape.

DSC05572

Mt Hood to the west.

DSC05574

The arch from Atwood Road.

DSC05578

An old stove near Atwood Road.

DSC05580

Lunch view from the top of Sunflower Hill.

DSC05590

Oak tree, Mt Hood, noonday sun.

DSC05602

Looking up at our guide Ponderosa from The Desert Parsley Trail.

Knitting: So far this year I have finished knitting a sweater and a gnome, I’ve started a blanket and a new pair of socks:

IMG_2511

Farallon Cardigan

IMG_2470

Here We Gnome Again

IMG_2641

Habitation Throw, using my “advent” yarns exchanged with my knitting group

IMG_2587

Artists Garden Socks

Quilting: I finished my Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt, a companion piece to my Plaid Applecore Charm quilt.

IMG_2564

Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt

IMG_2571

Companion quilts.

A New Day! After a long, satisfying hike yesterday, I got up way too early (for me) to watch the inauguration celebration. I felt some trepidation, due to the recent insurrection. I am very relieved to report that all proceeded beautifully. The participants were diverse, eloquent, hopeful, forward looking! I cried as I witnessed the swearing in of our first female vice president! The singing, the president’s speech, and the prayers were relevant, meaningful, beautifully delivered.  I adored the young poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, and the firefighter who signed as well as spoke the Pledge of Allegiance. The outgoing vice president was gracious in the transition. The colorful wool coats of the ladies brightened a blue sky day, when the Capitol, unfortunately, had to be surrounded by military lockdown, as the previous occupant never really conceded to his violent, deluded followers. I am disappointed that my daughter, sitting in her apartment about a mile away from the proceedings, could not witness the day. She assured me they remained safely within, while the din of helicopters continued above. Perhaps, going forward, the domestic terrorists will withdraw and think about the bill of goods they were sold, the lies told, the violence fomented by a greedy, disappointed narcissist who was only ever out for personal profit and aggrandizement, with no concern for the common good, no interest in public service. Good riddance! Meanwhile, executive orders and initiatives are already putting to right some of the damage, and asserting to the world that we want to participate in finding solutions for global problems.  

IMG_2624IMG_2626IMG_2623

 

Knitting/quilting update and some holiday cheer.

December 10, 2020 – I have been both knitting and quilting away, as the days get shorter, the evenings longer. We usually watch one program in the evenings, and have made our way through the latest seasons of The Crown, The Great British Baking Show (including the holiday edition with the Derry Girls), and The Queen’s Gambit. Some of these require full attention, but the Baking show is pretty relaxed, so I can get a lot of knitting in.

I finished my Dissent Socks and another Ridge Washcloth.

IMG_2074

Dissent Socks, pattern by Tiina Kuu

IMG_2090

Ridge Washcloth, pattern by Hannah Maier

I joined the AdventureGnome Mystery KnitALong, and am also making one of her earlier released gnome patterns, just a little knitting on these every day.

IMG_2234

Adventure Gnome, pattern by Sarah Schira

IMG_2237

Here We Gnome Again, pattern by Sarah Schira

I am making good progress on socks and a hat that are holiday gifts.

IMG_2238

Rafa’s Hat, pattern by Joji Locatelli; Artists Garden Socks, pattern by Tif Neilan

And I finished the quilting on the Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt. I just need to add the binding.

IMG_2150IMG_2155

Holiday Cheer – My knitting group, which has become an online knitting group during the pandemic, cleverly set up a holiday exchange, beginning last summer. Three of the 15 members collected twenty 10 gram mini-skeins of leftover fingering weight yarn from each member, and set up what were were promised as a Solstice Surprise, Advent Calendar, Hanukkah Miracles, or Pagan Pockets (to be ecumenical about it). They really outdid themselves, and we have been assured that they had a lot of fun doing it – despite having to collaborate remotely. I was expecting a bag with twenty balls of yarn, but instead was presented with this magnificent gift -bearing banner. Gifts in pockets, and ribbons with tied-on but hidden yarn balls. It has been so much fun to open one every day and see what my surprise is. I believe the plan is to save the banner and fabric squares for reuse in future years – so it is also a wonderful, reusable item. I am so grateful to these knitters, who I get to see twice a week on knit chat meetups, for helping  to pass the pandemic time so productively and supportively.

IMG_2124

My yarn “Solstice Surprise” banner.

IMG_2241

10 days of surprises, so far!

I have noticed lots of cheerful decorations around the neighborhood on my walks. We lit candles for the first night of Hanukkah tonite, joining our son remotely. Our Christmas tree is up and lighted – I have yet to unpack the ornaments – that will be next.

IMG_2117

Giant ornaments

IMG_2115

Lawn reindeer

IMG_2139

Roof reindeer

IMG_2122

Star Wars heroes

IMG_2141

Porch nutcrackers

IMG_2183

A beautiful sunset –

IMG_2229

reflected in the window.

IMG_2244

Menorah

Today, the first Covid vaccine was approved – we can begin to hope for the end of the pandemic – that is probably the most uplifting thought of all!

Breathing (and quilting!) again…

November 11th, 2020 – Well yeah!!! Biden and Harris won the election! We will have a new administration in January! Action will be taken on the pandemic, on climate change, on humanitarian treatment of every person, with intelligent, informed, common sense in decision making.

Image 11-10-20 at 2.26 PM

And, our new vice president Kamala Harris represents the breaking of the glass ceiling for so many underrepresented and often abused populations of people! What joy!

IMG_1107

Halloween was  celebrated in a subdued way.

My neighborhood trees have gone through their beautiful color change cycle. Just today I walked through red, yellow and orange paved sidewalks. Rain is turning leaf piles to mush. The city clean up trucks are coming tomorrow.

For me, now that I know that our current president will be replaced by someone with decency, I can feel my stress levels decreasing. So many events this year involving breath – the coronavirus, the smoke from wildfires, the political morass…I am beginning to breathe more freely again!

Another thing I can do again has to do with my crafting. I love quilting and sewing, but for me it is a different sort of creativity than knitting. And for me, all the stress of the past four years has found its best relief in knitting. I am grateful, and I will keep on knitting. But on Friday night, when my son told me I really did have reason to be optimistic, I got the notion to pull out a languishing quilt top. Quilting is a different creation process to knitting, and not nearly as immediately satisfying as picking up needles and frantically knitting until I calm down a bit. I have already basted the quilt, and am making decisions about thread and pattern, so soon will be stitching.

IMG_2024

Plaid Rectangle Charms quilt

IMG_2035

I finished my Rio Calina scarf (Cat Bordhi).

IMG_1933

I made a tiny Mochimochi Gnome.

I have no delusions that our national way forward will be easy. Almost half of the nation voted for our country to stay on the same path. I believe that people are allowed to believe whatever they want, but there should be a wall that separates church and state. White supremacy is wrong.  I and more than 75 million other Americans, not to mention millions of global citizens, have been holding our breath these four years, knitting frenetically in my case, waiting to be able to breathe again. When all the law suits and the recounts and the lame attempts at coup are done, we will all be inhaling deeply, exhaling freely, back on the path of decency, with many long hills still to climb, but a worst scenario overcome.

IMG_1792

Amish Rainbow Balloon Quilt

Quilt Story 4: Amish Rainbow Balloon, 1995

After taking several quilt classes, I was ready to create quilts on my own again. My youngest son, then age 2, was a big fan of both rainbows and hot air balloons. When I saw this fabric at Fabric Depot (my main source of fabric until it closed just last year), I bought a few yards and let it take me on another quilt journey.

DSC01723

Rainbow Balloon, 36″ x 42″, Margaret Klute, 1995

I found instructions for the Sunshine and Shadow quilt in a library book about Amish quilts. I decided to make the stripes as rainbows, and spent a good long time choosing my rainbow fabrics. I assembled the six-stripe strata, then cut the triangles and sewed them to the background balloon fabric.  I decided to make the border and binding also reflect a diagonal rainbow.

DSC01725

DSC01726

The red star fabric is still a favorite – wish I had more!

DSC01727DSC01728DSC01731

DSC01733

Stitch in the ditch quilting, machine stitched binding.

I believe I used a rather thick polyester bat in this quilt, though I can’t remember exactly why just now. Maybe the little one said he wanted a thick quilt? It is quilted in the ditch around the blocks and triangles. My son was happy with the result.

Quilt Lessons: Nine Patch Quilt and more

Quilt Story 3: Nine Patch and other Daisy Kingdom class quilts, mid-1990’s

While finishing my Log Cabin quilt, I discovered the world of quilting resources available through library books, TV shows, and local classes. (This was still pre-internet!) In the mid 90’s, I took a series of classes at Daisy Kingdom, a fabric and creative sewing store near me in old town Portland, Oregon. The store was a wonderland of fabric and original design home sewing creations. I learned a variety of quilting skills from local quilt teachers in their upstairs classroom.

DSC01734

Nine Patch quilt, 38″ x 50″, by Margaret Klute, 1994

Nine Patch: In the Beginning Quilting class, the teacher helped us find a focus fabric and two complementary fabrics, and then make a basic nine patch quilt. I chose this musical print, as my young son was particularly fond of musical instruments. We learned about value as a key to fabric selection and placement, also strip cutting and piecing, sewing accurate seam allowances, and many tips and tricks about assembly, basting, quilting and binding.

DSC01737DSC01741

In the Hand Quilting class I learned about pattern transfer, and stitching techniques.

DSC05358

Hand Quilted Wallhanging, 16″ x 16″, by Margaret Klute, 1996

DSC05362DSC05366

The project for the Appliqué class was this small heart appliqué quilt. I chose to set the hearts with scraps of the same fabrics, and then hand quilted the wall hanging.

DSC05372

Heart Appliqué Wallhanging, 15″ x 15″, by Margaret Klute, 1995

DSC05379

In the Foundation Piecing class I learned to make stitch and flip blocks on tearaway foundation or paper. I turned my little blocks  (two to three inches wide) into Christmas tree ornaments by blanket stitching them together with gold metallic thread.

IMG_7540

Foundation Paper Pieced Christmas Ornaments, by Margaret Klute, 1990’s

I learned precision piecing skills while taking the Feathered Star Table Runner class. I also learned later the cruel lesson of not prewashing fabric. The red fabric has bled into the background, despite the use of color catchers in the washing machine.

DSC05396

Feathered Star Table Runner, 15.5″ x 45″, by Margaret Klute, 1995

DSC05405

DSC_0575

Photo taken before the table runner was washed.

Some of the projects took me years to finish. I don’t remember the teacher’s names, but I know that I was lucky to have such a wonderful resource available to me. I was so excited at the time to be immersing myself in quilting. Although Daisy Kingdom is long since gone as a business, its legacy lives on in many creations by former customers like me.

And just for fun: I still have these items in my stash purchased from Daisy Kingdom way back then that are waiting for inspiration and time. Mary Englebreit and Elinor Peace Bailey were two of the Daisy Kingdom fabric designers.

DSC05383

Mary Englebreit panels

DSC05387

Elinor Peace Bailey fabric and panel

(outro music by Joni Mitchell: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til its gone!”)

Log Cabin Quilt

Quilt Story 2: Log Cabin Quilt, 1976-1993

After finishing my first quilt, the Sunflower Sue quilt, I wanted to make another quilt. I was home for a couple of weeks during my first year of college, and saw a Log Cabin quilt in one of my mother’s magazines – McCalls, maybe. This was 1976, the bicentennial, and a period of revival of quilting in the national zeitgeist. The magazine quilt had a log cabin center, a piano key border, and was very scrappy. I made construction paper copies of the templates printed in the back of the magazine, and raided my Mom’s and neighbor Sally’s scrap fabric boxes again. Over the next year or so I cut out with scissors up to three log sets of different sizes from each fabric. I may have sewn one or two blocks together at this time, but mostly I left them stashed for the next few years as college activities took over my time.

DSC05047

I still have the original templates with my pattern files.

One summer (1982?) I was staying in San Francisco with Danny (future husband) while he was in medical school. I pulled out my log cabin strips and sewed them into blocks, one block a day. When I tried to put the blocks together, I realized that they weren’t exactly square – there was up to a half inch difference in some of the blocks, due to both inaccurate cutting out with scissors and templates, and variably estimated quarter inch seam allowances. So that was a problem waiting to be solved. The blocks got tucked away again for a few years while I finished grad school, got married, moved to the Portland, Oregon area, and had our first child. My poor baby was rather colicky, so poor us, it was nearly impossible to imagine leaving him with a babysitter. At this point, we realized we might never leave the house again so we bought a television and VCR to watch movies in the evening. We hadn’t had a TV for years. One day, while home with the baby I noticed a quilting program on the Public Television channel. I watched in fascination while Eleanor Burns of Quilt in A Day started slicing up fabric with what looked like pizza cutter. Squaring up blocks! Based on my son’s age, this would have been 1990 or 1991. I was amazed, enchanted, and immediately called the number on my screen to order a rotary cutter, a mat, and acrylic rulers!

DSC05053

I still have these original Quilt in a Day tools.

I squared up my blocks! I played with the layout, finally deciding on a color wash/barn raising setting, with the light and dark value halves of blocks creating concentric squares.

DSC01598

Log Cabin, 1993, 66″ x 86″, by Margaret Klute

Around this time we moved to our current home in Portland, and I remember laying the blocks out, piecing them, then going to the nearby Fabricland store to buy border and backing fabric and batting. I basted with safety pins, as modeled by Eleanor Burns, and then I minimally quilted the quilt by machine stitching in the ditch along the block seams.

DSC01602

Upper left

DSC01603

Upper right

DSC01605

Lower left

DSC01604

Lower right

I made the binding by pulling the backing fabric to the front.

DSC01609

The backing was turned to the front and machine stitched down to create the binding.

DSC01611

Close up of hand stitched signature.

I was very happy with the final quilt. I had used a thin cotton batting this time, so the quilting was easier. I learned by my experience, and by watching Eleanor Burns, the importance of consistent seam allowances. I still loved the idea of scrappy quilts, but I was beginning to get the concept of controlling the color palette. My next quilts would be made from a more limited fabric selection, with guidance from taking a few classes and using pattern books.

The Log Cabin quilt kept us warm for many years, and I was able to retire the now worn Sunbonnet Sue quilt. These two quilts share many fabrics in common, so I was able to continue to enjoy the scraps from my past as I used this quilt.

 

Two wildlife refuges, Indian Heaven, and trying to keep up with fall colors, Sept-Oct 2019

It has been a busy couple of weeks – a quilt show, a fiber festival, hikes at two wildlife refuges and Indian Heaven Wilderness. Meanwhile, the Mac hard drive is off at the Genius repair shop. I am learning blog work-arounds via iPad.

Friday, September 27 – I attended the Northwest Quilt Expo, admired all the quilts and photographed many. This vintage Tile Friendship Quilt (circa 1900, maker unknown) from the Latimer Quilt Museum, was very interesting. Seemingly random shapes are appliquéd to a plain background, each signed by a different maker in true Friendship Quilt style. It looks very modern, but it is old and entirely hand stitched!

I bought a few fat eighths to add to a batik quilt in my mental UFO list.

Sunday, September 29 -I visited the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, Oregon, just long enough to buy a lighter weight spindle and more fiber to practice drop spinning.

Then we went to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, our first visit there, and walked around the perimeter. Not many birds have arrived yet, but there are great overlooks and a nice winter trail for future visits. (Hike#44, 3.6 miles)

Great Blue Heron

Hawthorne berries

Looking across the refuge – soon this will be flooded with water and birds.

Great Blue Heron on the return trail.

Saturday, October 5 – We went to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington during their season closing bird fest. We walked the Kiwa Trail and part of the newly opened Carty Lake trail, and also went inside the Chinook Plankhouse to look around. (Hike#45, 3.2 miles)

Turtles

Sand Hill Cranes

Sand Hill Cranes in flight.

Great Horned Owl

Carty Lake

Chinook plank house

Inside the plankhouse.

Chinook Salmon trap

Sunday, October 6 – We joined friends for a hike in Indian Heaven Wilderness – from the East Crater trailhead to Junction and Lemei Lakes. Late fall colors, thawed mushrooms and blueberries, very pretty. (Hike#46, 8.8 miles, 1000 feet)

East Crater beyond one of many small lakes along the trail.

Junction Lake

Lemei Rock

Lemei Lake

Neighborhood walks – Meanwhile, in Northeast Portland, the days grow shorter, the light angles lower, the leaves more colorful.

Katsura trees

Sumac

Neighborhood witches hunting…

More witches…

Ash trees reflected in nearby windows.

Rain chain shadows

Knitting – I am making progress on my Meris cardigan….

Sunbonnet Sue Quilt

I started this blog two years ago with the goal of writing about my quilting. Instead, the blog has become more of a hiking and travel journal, with a side of crafting. Here, at last, is my first quilt story! It is a common lament in the quilt world that many quilts are unlabeled and their stories are lost to history. My first quilt story, which includes a bit of my history, is about my oldest, my first quilt.

DSC01576

Sunbonnet Sue   68″ x 82″   by Margaret Klute 1975

Quilt Story 1: Sunbonnet Sue, 1975

My childhood best friend, Susan, moved from Minnesota to our neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley of southern California in the early 1960s. Her Mom, Sally, often gave us projects to keep us busy – everything from polishing their family’s antique whaling lamps and silver, to baking bread and cookies, to making candles, macrame and clothing.  Sally showed us how to make Sunbonnet Sue blocks when we were about 14 or 15 years old – this would have been about 1970 or 1971.

DSC01587

The dress on this Sue was a scrap from a blouse I wore in high school.

We began by cutting templates out of construction paper. Then we raided our family’s overflowing scrap boxes for fabric.  Both of our moms sewed, and my sisters and I also made some of our own clothing.  We had fun choosing fabrics for the dress, bonnet, arm and shoe patches.  We sewed the pieces onto white background fabric, possibly from an old sheet, using an overcast hand appliqué stitch. We each created a stack of blocks but then lost momentum. My blocks sat in a drawer for a few years.

DSC01582

In 1975 I wanted a warm quilt to take with me to college in northern California.  I made additional Sunbonnet Sues using scraps from recently made clothes, but did not have enough blocks for a bed-sized quilt.  I raided both families’ fabric stashes again and cut out 5 inch squares from a wide mix of scraps.  I sewed the squares together with half inch seam allowances, and determined a layout that would float the Sunbonnet Sue blocks between rows of patchwork.  I found a backing fabric at the discount fabric shop, and I also bought a roll of 2″ thick polyester batting.  I finagled a quilt sandwich with straight pins, and somehow managed to force the quilt under the foot of my Mom’s sturdy Kenmore sewing machine, stitching in the ditch around all the squares.  I found fabric for the binding, again from the scrap box, and attached it by hand.

DSC01588

Backing fabric, which I always thought of as batik saw blades.

I brought the quilt with me to college and continued to use it for a good 20 years. I patched it and restitched much of the appliqué, and eventually the batting flattened down to about a quarter inch thick.

DSC01594

Front binding close up. These fabrics include cotton, polyester, and wool; both prints and wovens; and light to heavy in weight. The edge of the middle faded pink spotted patch shows the bright original color along the seam allowance.

DSC01590

The binding on the back was much wider, and hand stitched. I only added the signature recently!

Construction commentary: This quilt represents to me a big chunk of my youth – and also, I love the audacity of youth that this quilt reveals.  I finished Sunbonnet Sue in a way that made sense to me at the time. I remember thinking I didn’t need the full 5/8 inch seam allowance used for garment sewing – 1/2 inch should be plenty.  I also had  the idea that a patchwork quilt should not be made of new fabric, and should have as many different scrap fabrics as possible – though I did have the option to not use fabric that I didn’t like. There were no blogs or online tutorials – we had one Dover quilt book. I consulted my Mom, but she had never made a quilt, though she had made curtains, bed spreads and cushion covers as well as clothing. (She could also knit, crochet, tat, and change the oil and spark plugs and adjust the carburetor in an automobile engine while single handedly feeding and clothing nine children – but that’s a story for another day.) The wide seam allowances, thick batting and wide binding are not what I do today, but they worked to complete my quilt.

DSC01586

The orange dress print is leftover from our Shasta travel trailer curtains. The streaky red, white and blue fabric reminds me that both tie-dye and pre-bicentennial patriotism were part of the pop culture of the time. The pink striped floral fabric is a pillow ticking weight fabric.

DSC01595

The uppermost flowered patch, now needing a patch, was another favorite blouse fabric. The middle patch is an example of the psychedelic graphics of the time.

I love the personal history of the fabric in this quilt – I see mine and my sisters’ and my friends’ childhood wardrobes, with many fond memories of people, place and time. I also love that this quilt reflects what I considered at the time to be the true spirit of patchwork quilting – making something from the scraps of both material and memories. This was during the early seventies anti-establishment/anti-war/back to the land movement, which defined the paths that I and a few of my siblings would choose as young adults.  We went to war protests, dug up our lawn to plant a garden, joined a food coop, and eventually moved out of the city to northern California or Oregon. Susan never finished her quilt, but during a visit a few years ago we enjoyed looking at all the fabrics and remembering when and where we wore them when we were young. I wish I had photos of us in some of the clothes, but alas, I do not. Just the patches in this well worn quilt.

DSC01583