Wednesday, November 25, 2009

As I count my blessings today,
know that you are among them.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Fondly, Diane

Monday, November 23, 2009

Indian Summer

Indian Summer has come at last. Two glorious days of warmth and sunshine lured my husband outside, to complete his autumn yard clean up (and snap a couple quilt photos).

If you grew up in the Chicago area, Indian Summer may have a special significance to you. As kids, we'd look forward to the official pronouncement of the season by the Chicago Tribune. When the air turned hazy with the smell of burning leaves, we’d start scouting the newspaper for Injun Summer, the classic story and cartoon by John T. McCutcheon.

This little quilt evokes Indian Summer with its autumn colors and harvest inspired name. I call it "Spinach and Squash" because of the fabrics I used - the green and gold of early Pennsylvania German quilts.

It was pieced and quilted entirely by hand. Sounds tedious, I know, but it was easier to stitch a couple triangles together in the spare moments of my day, than it was to find time to sit at the sewing machine. Besides, the slow process of hand sewing is calming and relaxing to me. There's a kind of romance to the process, a daydreamy, contemplative quality, where I can let my mind wander, while accomplishing something with my fingers at the same time.

The small half square triangles finish at 1" and the large ones are 3".

Spinach and Squash Sawtooth
15" x 18"
 hand pieced, hand quilted
© Diane Burdin, 1990

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Replica Quilts

Like many of you, I was first drawn to quilt making by antique quilts. It wasn't the fancy ones that caught my eye, as much as the humble utility quilts, made for hard wear and everyday use. To me, their scrappy "make do" patchwork and simple block designs have more "soul" than their pristine counterparts.

This Scrappy Star quilt is a copy of one featured in an old Country Living Magazine. My friend, Mary Radke, a real purist when it comes to replicating quilts, matched it block by block and fabric by fabric, from the picture below. 

The maker of the original quilt was resourceful with her scrap bag. Even though she pieced each block from the same Variable Star pattern, look how different they turned out because of fabric placement.

We can only guess why the quilter broke pattern as she stitched this quilt. Was she tired of piecing star after similar star? Did she run out of fabric and have to make do? Whatever the reason, it's these "renegade" blocks, those that "break rank" with the others, that make this quilt so interesting to look at.

So, how did I come to own this quilt? Mary made it as a sample for a quilt talk she used to give on the history of quilt making. When she decided to sell off pieces from her collection, I was lucky enough to buy a few of my favorites. I hand quilted it with an all-over fan design, typical of old utility quilts.
Scrappy Stars
30” x 42”
machine pieced by Mary Radke
hand quilted by Diane Burdin

Friday, November 6, 2009

Attitude Adjustment

This autumn has been so dreary! Twenty-two days of rain in October gave me sinus headaches and now, with the time change, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) has kicked in. These waning hours of sunlight really influence my moods. How about you?

My husband has noticed my increased irritability and tells me that the only peace he gets is while I’m sleeping! As much as I hate to admit it, he’s probably right. An attitude adjustment is in order.

Several years ago, when Sarah Ban Breathnach's books were all the rage, I made a half hearted attempt to keep a gratitude journal. The timing was all wrong and I only lasted about a week. But the exercise has merit. The act of focusing on simple, everyday blessings is a healthy practice. I’ve recommended it to others who suffer from depression. Now, it’s time for a dose of my own medicine.

I've got my gratitude journal ready. It was made by Wanda Hanson of Exuberant Color. The last time Wanda visited me, I cleared out her stock of journals by buying one for myself and several for friends. They make great gifts. Wanda has written a tutorial for making journal covers, if you'd like to give it a try yourself. 

I promise not to gripe and grumble too much through the dreary months ahead. As far as blogging goes, “no news” from me is probably news you wouldn’t want to hear anyway. Wishing you sunshine!