Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Every Marguerite should have a Marguerite!

Laura asked me to share this story, and it's a fun one.

Everyone knows that once Elias Howe introduced the sewing machine, and Singer introduced marketing, it quickly became a necessity. There were as many brand names and models of sewing machines as there are cars today. Many left the market place at the time of the Depression . . . except every quilt maker's favorite, the Featherweight, which was actually introduced at the height of the Depression at the Chicago World's Fair . . . but I digress.

Our friend, Marguerite happened upon a table made from a treadle sewing machine base, the brand name of which was Marguerite. She was a student, without any expendable funds, so taking it home wasn't a possibility. Over the years, she always looked for another, but never saw one. Knowing that flea markets, auctions, and antique shops are an irresistable draw to DH and me, she told us about her quest. We made it a habit from that point to look at any vintage sewing machine, just in case.

We saw many old machines, but never a Marguerite, until one Labor Day weekend in Rossville, Illinois. We were in an antique shop that we had visited many times before. I saw a machine cabinet stacked with things on top, and a flower basket on the treadle. I wandered over and bent to read the name on the front of the wooden top. Of course, you know, it was Marguerite, both ironwork and woodwork in beautiful condition. I was speechless, and I grabbed at DH's arm, stabbing the air frantically, pointing in the general direction of the machine. He gave me the usual husband answer . . . a short tempered, "WHAAAT?" We moved the stuff off the machine to look it over more carefully. The iron work had the name Marguerite cast in both the ends, and the foot treadle. DH set off to negotiate, and shortly, returned with two high school boys to cart the treasure. The vehicle we were driving that day was a full-sized conversion van, and the boys heaved the machine in the side doors, and we were off for home.

As we were driving, DH suggested we phone Marguerite's. I said I didn't want to . . . that I would be tempted to blurt out the surprise. We got to our house, and found a message from Marguerite with a quilting question. She closed with the comment that they would be home all evening. I was so excited. I told DH, let's just go out there. So, off we went.

They were a little surprised to see us, without notice, but very cordial, as usual. We chatted briefly, and then said, "Come see what we bought . . . it's in the van". In our own little "Price is Right"-style presentation, I opened one side of the twin doors, and DH opened the other. There sat the machine, with one side of the iron-cast Marguerite in clear view. Our Marguerite had a similar reaction to my initial discovery in the antique shop . . . she couldn't speak, but just started jumping up and down, clapping and laughing. Somehow, we got it out of the van, and into her home, where it has an honored position just to the left inside the front door.

I love it when I find something that another will enjoy (and won't be offended by the fact that it is old or used). Our friend, Marty, is an avid golfer. One summer Saturday several years ago, I found a golf-bag shaped planter (in green, her favorite color) at an auction. I made the opening bid, which went unopposed. Every spring, when her garden begins to bloom, Marty announces what fresh-cut flowers she placed in the planter that day. A few weeks ago, she introduced me to one of her Florida friends, identifying me as the person who gave her the golf bag planter. It's nice to have a silly little friendship gift so well-received and enjoyed.

A few of the gals in our group are auction fans, too. That can be dangerous. Mary J. and I were at a sale and planned to bid on two identical relish plates, so each of us would have one. At some point, I went to the concession stand, and she wasn't in her seat. I started back to sit down and the relish plates came up for bids. I heard the opening bid of $1, and I bid $2 . . . only to discover that Mary had the opener, and I had just doubled our costs!

Last Saturday's treasures? Four boxes of tailor's chalk, with 36 pieces, in each . . . my husband brought that home to me, purchased for a mighty $1. Also, a 1930's era Turkey Tracks quilt with one torn area, but it will be easy to repair, and a vintage book of needles for my collection. (When I have to go to "The Home", my needle books and thimble collections should be small enough to go with me!)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Daylight "Savings" hasn't helped.

After it was voted out more than 30 years, Indiana has once again joined the Daylight Savings movement, kicking and screaming all the way. The promoters made many promises in favor of the change. Two strike me as particularly ridiculous:
1) Adding another hour of daylight. Not really, just pushing it to another place on the clock.
2) Reduces crime: If that is true, let's move the clock back enough hours to eliminate crime all together.

One thing for sure . . . there are never enough hours in the day to accomplish as much on my quilts as I would like. A block of time never stretches quite as far as one would like, and worst of all, I always manage to underestimate the quantity of time required for any effort. Last night, I sat down at my little antique sewing table to listen (with an occasional glance) to television as I cut fabrics for perfume bottle blocks. I cut 25 "bottles, bottle-necks and stoppers" before I was worn out. There must be 40 fabric combinations still waiting for attention. Fortunately, they stitch together rather quickly, and they are so cute! I suppose that is what makes them so addictive. The pattern came from a BOM at about six years ago. It was designed by Debbie Kauffunger in a larger scale. These blocks finish at 6 inches, which is a nice size for working with scraps.

My sister-in-law, Jan, was looking something to use her Benartex squares from several years accumulation in Mr. B's Fabric club. She used a limited palette of yellows and blues, with a small rescale of the bottle portion of the block to make use of those 4" squares. So, we will both have a Perfume Bottle quilt, but its always amazing to see how differently fabric choices impact a design.

True confessions: I started making more little basket blocks, too, using only Christmas fabrics. And, it even crossed my mind to make some using prints with sewing items . . . you know . . . sewing baskets! I think I'll try to train myself not to worry about UFO's . . . it seems my practice would indicate that one can never have too many!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Going . . . Going . . . Gone!

Thursday morning is a rush for the newspaper to scout the auctions for the weekend. Not many choices this weekend, but one of our favorite auctioneers has a sale at the fairgrounds on Saturday. I always hope for sewing and knitting things.

A couple years ago, DH was driving and I commented that I dreamed I bought knitting needles at the sale we were to attend. He just gave me the customary husband grump. After parking, as we walked into the building, I was rubbing my hands together and I said, "I just can't wait to see my knitting needles". His response was, "Get ready to be disappointed, because there is nothing in the sale bill." We always like to arrive a little early to look things over. I was at one table, and he at another, when he turned to get my attention, giving me a very disgusted look. Sure enough, it was a box with scrap yarns, and lots of knitting needles. When the sale started, I asked one of the ring men to bring the box up for bids when possible. I opened at $2 and was the successful bidder. I found a chair in the back of the room, and started looking through the items in the box. This lady had been a knitter after my own heart. She understood the value of caring for her tools because she restored each pair of needles or circular needle to its original packaging. When I got to the bottom of the box, I told my husband, "There are four circular needles around here somewhere, because I found the packages in the bottom of the box." I went back to the tables, and started rooting around in the boxes on the floor. Bingo! Another box with scrap yarns contained the missing needles. Another $2, and they came home, too. I admit to having an extraordinary collection of knitting needles, but when I teach someone to knit, I always give them as complete a run of needles and notions as I can put together. I think it is an encouragement to keep trying.

Eight weeks ago, my DH and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We're rather low key people when it comes to celebrations . . . so, we went to an auction. Always scouting the tables, and corners, I found a box with several pairs of good scissors (Wiss, some Fiskar snips, and 8" Gingher shears in a box), knitting needles, a tatting shuttle . . . wonderful stuff. I vowed to take it home, and subsequently did for $25.

Before they started selling on that side of the room, I continued wandering around the tables looking in the boxes. There was a box with some plastic candy molds, and two little wall shelves designed for thimbles. I picked those up and looked at them, and underneath were lots of plastic and aluminum advertising thimbles. I pushed them around in the bottom of the box, and sure enough, one thimble caught my eye. I picked it up and examined it. One of the two auctioneers was nearby and I rushed over to him handing him my find. I told him, "You need to sell this separately. It will bring more money that way." He just took it, and said, "Yeah, we'll sell it." He handed it to his ring man, Jim, who displayed it on his uplifted pinkie, and the auctioneer on duty announced, "We have a thimble, and I'd like to have $5". Needless to say, I threw up my hand . . . I practice throwing up my hand now and then, just to keep my quickness. His efforts at any additional bids were for naught . . . and I brought home a 14-karat gold 1880's Simon Brother's ten-panel thimble. It even fits perfectly! What a cool anniversary gift!

Clearly, we are regular auction attendees, and we have made many friends at auctions. You learn what is the favorite purchase of others who attend regularly, and you might comment, "there's a box over there under that table." My friend, Sandra, loves aprons. If she misses a sale where we find aprons, we try to gather them for her. She gets the cutest little grin when you give them to her. I was chatting with her at a sale, when another auction acquaintance walked up to join us. Sandra told me to show him what I bought. When I started digging in my sewing box, he commented, "I might have known it would be something for sewing." This fellow has a prominent position at Purdue University and is an auction bum infrequently. All I could think was, how strange that he remembers what I buy with all the responsibilities he has in his job! Can't wait to see him again . . . found an old piece of sheet music, the title of which touches a place in his heart . . . "Why, oh, Why, oh, did I leave Wyoming?"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Irv . . . Clean up on Aisle 5!

I looked around my studio last night, and what a mess. There's a stack of gold "frosted" designer fabrics for perfume bottle blocks, a partially assembled a strippy quilt of 12-inch basket blocks with a chintz-type fabric for the alternate stripes, a box of triangles destined to "leader and ender" their way to a scrap quilt, my funny little tea cups (one pattern from Mary Graham's Quilter's On-line Resource:; and four patterns from, strips for my Quilted Diamonds draped over an antique spool rack, my Millennium blocks partially sashed for assembly into a top (hopefully before the next Millennium . . . I'm way ahead on that one), two quilt tops waiting for borders, one small quilt sandwiched up ready to baste, and one that is basted and ready to start quilting. I've got to stop and "rake" before I can do anything else.

I want to work on everything at once, and my mind just whirs with new projects in my imagination. That's probably why I'm a good person to come up with and follow through with theme ideas for our Guild Retreat. So, of course, thinking only of getting samples ready for Camp, and testing patterns, etc., I am ready to launch another quilt top. Or, perhaps it has already been launched. Does actual sewing have to commenced or is cutting two or three blocks adequate?

The next question is, when does an idea become a UFO? Is a UFO any project uncompleted, or just one that has been put aside? If one is excited about a project, and works through from start to finish, has that quilt ever actually been a UFO? Maybe I need to review my UFO Journal and sort them into categories by degrees of interest, or probabilities for being finished. Now, this subject could actually make a statistics class interesting!

Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome. I hope I can live up to the "media hype" of my friends!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I'm on the committee which plans our Guild Retreat in September each year. This year, our theme will be "Snowbound" . . . with a focus on scrap quilts, the type of quilts which one might make if confined to home during a blizzard, forced to use what is on hand. I have a notebook full of ideas, and some hand-outs already written. One favorite that I have nearly forgotten is the postage stamp basket block, based on the 1978 postage stamp. Yesterday, taking my sewing box, I went to an auction, deciding to stay, as I appliqued the handle of a left-over basket block, and completed a tea cup block . . . another UFO. When both were done, I thought about how "cute" they are, and realized I have an addiction to little blocks.

I recently finished assembling my Dear Jane top, the center portion of which was a collaborative effort with friends several years ago. I have all the fabrics selected to commence on Linda Franz' Quilted Diamonds, dubbed, "Dear Jane with Attitude" by my friend, Marguerite. I've been working on little perfume bottle blocks, made with florals and abstract fabrics with gold on them. I have 4 pieced mitten blocks made, and a stack of fabrics to continue that theme. The tea cup blocks are all cut from small scale florals to resemble china cups.
I completed the choices in my sewing box as I watched and listened at the auction, even tossing out a "sympathy" bid a few times. Anyone interested in a blue carnival glass punchbowl, 12 cups with the "S" hooks to suspend them from the side of the bowl, and a blue ladle?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Jumping in with both feet.

I never really thought I might become a blogger, but I stumbled upon the blog of a dear friend in my quilt group, and so enjoyed reading her comments. Laura is so humble and modest, she never really reveals all the wonderful things she does. I wanted to post a comment about her, so here I am!

Laura has mentioned the fun our quilt Lafayette, Indiana quilt group has. They are a wonderful group of gals. We all work together on the annual Guild retreat. I usually name a theme, and round up patterns, etc. Then, we all brainstorm to flesh the ideas out. Occasionally, I will launch an e-mail with some idea that popped into my head, and at first, the others will say, "You're out of control!" But, Laura is always ready to take the idea and run . . . laughing all the way, while she throws gasoline on the flames. I admit to testing ideas on her first, in case they have gone too far afield.

I mentioned my quiltmaking. Present project is to finish a quilt with alphabet blocks colored by the kindergarten class of my grandson, Drew. I have to finish it by next Wednesday morning.
It's all layered up and I will machine quilt the grid, but hand quilt the alphabet letters. This is a fun thing to do with ones grandchildren. This is my third one . . . just one to go, with Ben, who is now 3. I'm anxious to get this one done, so I can work on the other UFO's in my stash . . . which I was foolish enough to list in a journal recently. I'd rather tell my age than how many quilt tops I have going, trying to get them into my quilt top collection.