Country Mouse v. City Mouse

So, in my last post, I pointed out the obvious – I had once again failed to complete a 30 day project. I failed at 30 days of Faces, 30 days of index cards, 30 days of lists, 30 days of whatever. I did succeed at 30 days of not blogging. Frankly, 2 weeks into the listing thing, and I just thought it was stupid. The truth is, I’d rather be doing the things on my list rather than making the list. And so, for the past month of failing at blogging, I’ve been crafting up a storm – sewing, quilting, knitting, keeping up with Project Life – all of these things are a success – so I’m not too upset I failed at listing the projects before I started the projects.

Most of my projects start with a google search – I’m interested in x, I follow a link, then follow another link, and then all of a sudden, I end up interested in Y – a place I never expected to be in the first place. For instance, I was interested in making an Amy Butler Weekender Bag. I read many a blog that convinced me that the Weekender is not only above my pay grade skill wise, but above my pay grade pay wise – that darn thing is super expensive to make. So, I started looking for simpler, cheaper alternatives. That lead me to Sew Sweetness, and her Purse Palooza. But not only does Sew Sweetness host the Purse Palooza, she hosts the City Sampler Sew-Along. What is this? I thought, and started clicking through those links. I ended up buying the Tula Pink City Sampler  book, and I’ve got it in my queue of things to start. And, while I was looking at blogs who were doing the City Sampler QAL, low and behold, these same blogs had quilted along to the Farmer’s Wife Quilt-a-long.

I then started looking at Farmer’s Wife Quilts, the Flickr group, and eventually the Yahoo group. I bought the Farmer’s Wife Quilt Book a few years ago when I was taking my quilting class at the now defunct Spool, and I was thinking about jumping on the Farmer’s Wife QAL bandwagon.  I was fascinated by all of the little blocks, and how they came together like a puzzle. But, then I read the book – and I was just appalled. In 1922, Farmer’s Wife Magazine asked their readers if they had a daughter, would they want their daughter to marry a farmer. The answers inspired blocks, the blocks make up the quilt. Ok, I know it’s 1922, but the answers were so myopic, and the limited nature of the dreams they had for their daughters was disheartening. By 1920, I had hoped that the famer’s wife wouldn’t still want to keep her down on the farm, not after she’d seen Paris – but the truth is, that’s just a song, and they hadn’t seen Paris, and the only world was the farm, and the people they knew – which to me was so exclusionary – certainly not welcoming or openminded to people of color or, like me, who was reading the book, of a different religion. So, the text of the book turned me off, and also, this is probably just me, but some of the blocks look like swatikas. Now, I know that the symbol itself has ancient origins, and was traditionally viewed as a symbol of good luck. I’m not faulting anyone, or judging anyone for it being in a quilt, or a fair isle design, or anything – it’s been a crafting motif forever.  But to me, I just don’t want to look at it. And, if a block resembles one, I don’t want it in my quilt. And the blocks in this book, they’re not swastikas, they just resemble them, and that’s the first thing I see when I look at them.  That’s just me – not anyone else who’s made this quilt – just the way this symbol imprints on my brain, and that’s it.  No judgments – just not for me.

So, why am I back to the Farmer’s Wife? Again, it’s the blocks . . . and, as I followed links, and looked at blocks – it’s the paper piecing, or foundation piecing – when you sew your fabric onto the back of a pattern (the paper, the foundation), and eventually remove the paper to reveal a perfectly pieced block, with perfect points and seams. Voila!  It’s awesome.  It may just be my most favorite quilting technique I’ve learned in my internetting journey.  And the best thing – no cutting!  You can just use your scraps – as long as the scrap is big enough to cover the block in the template, plus a quarter inch seam.

So, do I want to make an entire Farmer’s Wife Quilt? Maybe, I don’t know. I love the blocks, but I still have a hard time reconciling the theme. On the other hand, I do feel kinder towards the Farmer’s Wife than when I bought the book several years ago. It was 1922 after all, and it is a slice of Americana history. And, I feel there’s balance – because I definitely want to make a City Sampler, and it’s nice to work from both ends – traditional v. modern, farm v. city. I like that dichotomy.

Boy, I really am over thinking all of this, aren’t I?

Again, maybe – if quilts are about storytelling, my story is not down on the farm. But, recognizing that, I guess, is part of the story. And, I am grateful for the food that’s on my table every night, and certainly, in this economy, the farmer’s plight couldn’t be more relevant.

Enough babbling – let’s look at what I’ve done – because if nothing else, the Farmer’s Wife Quilt is excellent practice – and I don’t have enough fabric, even scraps, to make it at this point.

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What’s that owl doing in there! I’ll get to that in a sec.

The three traditional blocks are from the Farmer’s Wife – the Attic Window (Block 1), Autumn Tints (Block 2), and the Bat’s Wing (Block 5). You may ask what happened to Blocks 3 and 4. 3 is Joannie’s basket, and requires some applique – one technique at a time – I’ll pick that up later if I end up doing a whole quilt.  Block 4 was one of the windmilly ones that looks like a swastika, so I skipped it. And block 4 is totally NOT a swastika – again, it just reminds me of one – it’s just a basketweave. Block 4 is probably one of the ones I could get over, and throw it in – but since I was just practicing I moved on to 5, I liked it better anyway.

Now, what about that owl.  Well, of course I went looking for paper piecing tutorials.  And, the best one I found was on Bubblestitch Quilting’s blog , although the tutorial is by Connecting Threads.  Anyway, while on her site, I found my way to her craftsy patterns, fell in love with the Owl, and with three Farmer’s Wife blocks under my belt, I felt confident enough to go for it (even though my Autumn Tints block is a wreck – that’s certainly nothing more than a practice piece):

 

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How cute is this owl! Now, you can see from my photo, I screwed up a little – I didn’t realize the pattern already had a quarter inch seam allowance built into it, and when I cut my head out, I added one – oopsy – but I don’t realy care – I’ll make another one. I don’t think I’m going to do a whole quilt or wall hanging with them – I think I’m just going to add a 2.5 inch strips around the block, and stick it in an embroidery hoop to hang on the wall.

And what about my City Sampler? I have the fabric – Denysce Schmidt’s Florence, with a stack of solids, put together by Pink Chalk Fabrics.

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But, as much as I’d like to start working on it – I started a quilt for my niece for Hanukkah – and since Hanukkah is just about a month away, it’s the priority sew at the moment.  I had a really hard time picking fabric because I wanted something easy peasy, so I wanted a precut – because cutting is the biggest struggle for me.  She requested hot pink, lavender, and zebra print.  Sheesh.  So, I found Summersville Spring (I linked to Red Pepper Quilts instead of a store because she has the fabrics all laid out) which has a print that sort of resembles an animal print at least and has the requisite colors.  I’m making Jenny Doan’s Alternate Square layer cake quilt (from her Craftsy class, Quilting Quickly 1) – one layer cake is cut into four patches, the other, half square triangles, and then the blocks alternate – the diagrams are on the back of the Moda fabric label when you get your layer cake.

 

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But, once that’s done, and I can’t imagine its going to take too long – I’ll be off to the City. Or maybe the Farm. Or maybe a different farm, Jane’s Farm – I found the Dear Jane quilt on my linky travels, too.

But that would just be too crazy.

Right.

Anyway, I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced, which I also found in my linky travels. 

 WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

 

And if you’ve stopped by from WIP Wednesday, thanks so much for popping in!

3 Comments

  • Jenn

    October 23, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    I have the Farmer’s Wife book as well, but I have found it fascinating. The blocks are great!

  • Valerie

    October 23, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Wow! I came over to see your blog since you were good enough to visit mine. I’m a little exhausted now. You might just think too much about this stuff!

    I decided not to do The Farmer”s Wife quilt. I don’t really like sampler quilts. I also didn’t care for all the swastika-like blocks. I did buy the book, though, to read the farm women’s answers. I live in a rural area and, while I was raised suburban and never lived on a farm, I really admire the strong women who do. It’s funny, but I think we’ve come forward to the place where co-operating a farm is a feminist choice. I feel fortunate here to have some great sources of local food and to have met many of the (female) producers.

    I like your Summerville Square fabrics for your niece’s quilt. I love quick, spontaneous quilts.

    I’m a Little Women fan, too.

  • Sarah

    October 24, 2013 at 2:16 am

    What an adorable little owl!

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