Wednesday, May 30, 2007

(Great-Great) Grandmother Daugherty's Quilt

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a big history nerd. A lot of people feel disconnected to past events and think that 100+ years is a way long time ago, too long ago to feel a connection to anything. To these people I always tell this little tidbit of family history: even though I'm only 37 years old (ack, I should have written this last week when I was only 36 years old), my grandmother's grandmother watched Lincoln's funeral procession in 1865. Sure, if I had referred to her as my great-great grandmother that would make her seem farther removed from me. But my point is this: my grandmother, a woman I knew and loved, had a grandmother, a woman she knew and loved, who was old enough 142 years ago to remember that train passing through Ohio. That she had a connection to my grandmother makes it seem as if she lived not very long ago.

So it may surprise you that it wasn't until last week that I really took a good look at this quilt, made by that same woman. In my defense it has been packed in a cedar chest for at least 50 years, maybe more, until recently.

So, last week I asked my mother to tell me the story of the woman who made it, Grandmother Daugherty (how she was always referred to by my grandmother). My mother thinks this was a wedding present for my great-grandmother in the late 1800's, because that was when these quilts were all the rage. This quilt was sewn by hand and has a beautiful amber colored backing. I learned she was a seamstress; the individual fabrics were scraps from various sewing jobs. There are scraps of silk, velvet, cotton, embroidered fabric... every variation of fabric you can think of is in this quilt. My mother and I spent some time that night making up stories about the fabrics: which ones ended up as short jackets with leg of mutton sleeves, which were dresses, which were slips, etc.

We also talked about the difference between creating for fun and creating for necessity. Here was a woman who had to sew to put food on the table, yet in her spare time managed to create this lively and joyful quilt. Grandmother Daugherty had twelve children, the youngest of whom was my great-grandmother (called Baboo by my mother). Her husband died soon after Baboo was born, which meant Grandmother Daugherty was forced to provide for her family by working as a seamstress. She was determined that Baboo would never have to work as a seamstress; to ensure this she refused to teach her how to sew. Consequently Baboo couldn't teach my grandmother (Grammy) to sew, which meant that my mother, who actually wanted to sew, had to learn in Home Ec class in high school. See how the actions of long ago can still affect someone? So far I'm in the Baboo/Grammy camp; I can barely reattach a button.

The joy of crafting seems to have skipped Baboo, unless there is some undiscovered piece of knitting or embroidery still to be found (unlikely since Grammy saved everything). I don't blame her if she associated sewing et al with her mother's struggle to provide for her family. I wonder if she passed that lesson learned on to Grammy. Grammy never had much interest in it until later in her life, but once she started she really enjoyed it. She knit this afghan. I remember her teaching me to needlepoint when I was little. She liked to needlepoint Christmas ornaments.

My mother has been studying the quilt. She created these pillows based on it. (She wants you to know that she's going to resew them so the lines face inward and make a square). At various times she has learned weaving, knitting and making wreaths. She always comes back to sewing.

I almost went the way of Baboo, the non-crafter, but for a 50% off sale at Jo-Ann's and a very patient mother who taught me to knit on a whim a year and a half ago. She untangled and tinked my mistakes for two days, then on the third declared that if I was going to learn to knit correctly I had to start fixing my own mistakes. She's been watching my knitting progress in amazement ever since. She's half impressed and half amused that I've fallen in love with knitting and that I've managed to stick with it for so long.

I'd like to think that everything the women in my family create is connected somehow to my great-great grandmother's quilt, created, in my mind, not so very long ago.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I was tagged a few days ago by Laura to do the 7 random facts. I've been editing this for days and I'm honestly a little stressed out about it. I don't want to post secrets on the internets for the whole world to see. What if some weirdo finds me by googling "likes to have tea parties with dogs"?! On the other hand, how trite is too trite? Here is my happy medium.

Here are the rules:
Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs the 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.

7 Random Facts about me

1. I've played the piano since I was eight. I should be better at it than I am.

2. I have ADD. Not, OMG I lost the car keys I am so, like, ADD tee hee. I mean I was tested and diagnosed when I was 21. After 15 years of treatment, I still have to work really, really hard to keep my life organized and focused. I have a cleaning person come once a month just to force me to organize all my crap. I don't usually tell people I have ADD; I mention it because of my knitting. I think one of the many reasons I love to knit is that it's something I have control over. I can hyper-focus on my knitting projects and *gasp* actually finish them.

3. I think Heinz ketchup is one of humankind's greatest accomplishments.

4. I have a BFA in photography. Not that you'd know it from looking at the photos on my blog. My senior year I took landscape photos of gravel pits. The local aggregate company let me on their property at night so I could stand on the edge of an enormous pit (there are underground named streets at this pit) and take photos in the dark.

5. I have a paralyzing fear of heights.

6. I am sloooowwly restoring my home: a 1919 bungalow. It's my first home. I've always wanted to restore an older home, so when I went house hunting one of the requirements was that it be in good enough shape to live in but still need lots and lots of love. I thought it would take 6 months (what did I know?!). That was 4 years ago and it's still not half-way done. (For those of you living outside of Florida, a home built in 1919 is considered really old here.)

7. I get my news from The Daily Show.

The rules of the game say I have to tag 7 people. Oh dear. Leslie, Sean, Phoebe, Christy, Alyson, Opal and Megan.

PS: Sean wrote an awesome post about the joys of shuffleboard. He's a natural shuffler, that guy. One by one I will have all Florida knitters hooked on shuffleboard! *wrings hands in evil Mr. Burns fashion* Mwah!

My two favorite worlds collide even more this month! The May issue of Jane magazine (with Kirstin Dunst on the cover) has articles on both knitting and shuffleboard. On page 79 there's an article on my beloved St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club. On page 80 there's an article about knitting. This prompted a friend of mine to ask, perplexed, "You're becoming cool?".

Monday, May 14, 2007

Got my mojo working.

After a month of knitting, frogging, knitting, frogging... you get the idea... I finally have my knitting mojo back. I finished the pair I'm about to show you late last week. Since then I've been in a frenzy of knitting, matching my yarn stash to patterns I like, and dreaming of future projects. I'm back, baby!!

The smoke has cleared, for now. I think St. Petersburg might get a little more smoke from the fires, but hopefully nothing like last Friday (pictures in my previous post). That day we had the worst air quality on record for St. Pete. It was like being trapped in an unventilated smoky bar - all day. It was nasty. Sunday, finally, we could see blue skies.

In the last post I promised you a finished object, some WIPs and the most awesome stitch markers - ever! Here we go...

Let's start with the most awesome stitch markers. The photo and thanks are long overdue; Sean made these and gave them to me weeks ago. But because of my knitting malaise I haven't been keeping up with the blog. So without further ado:

The photo is a little blurry (no macro lens) but its the best I've been able to do with my camera. Aren't these the most perfect stitch markers for me? Little dog stitch markers (and a tiny sock keychain)! Thank you, thank you, Sean! I love them so much. Right now he's selling them at Needles & Knobs in St. Pete, but I hope he makes them available online, too. Maybe if you visit his blog and ask him, he'll sell you some.

Finally... drum roll, please, my first knitting photo in a month. I made these for Mom for Mother's Day. Ahhh, she gave me life and I give her socks:

Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt from IK's Favorite Socks. I used Louet Gems in Aqua. I am becoming a huge fan of Louet Gems, the colors are gorgeous. As for the sock pattern: if I made them again there are things I'd do differently. I tend to knit from patterns just as they're written. I must have been a lemming in a past life. So when the pattern said to do two rows before joining in the round I thought, well, must be part of the design. Now I have a notch at the top of each sock (and not in the back where you think they'd be. They're on the side.). When it said to cut the yarn after turning the heel, I thought, well, there must be a reason, and off the cliff I went. Twice, because I wanted the socks to match perfectly. Live and learn. I think she'll like them: she likes this color and I think the leaves are sunny and spring-like.

This weekend I started two new pairs.

I started my first pair of Jaywalkers - a right of passage for knitters. The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill in Life's a Beach. I bought this yarn when I was in a particularly sunny mood (I get all crazy for bright colors maybe once a year). The colors may be a bit too strong for me, but I hope it'll make for an interesting sock. These may end up being gifted or at least saved for my next bright color day.

The next day I started this sock:

This funny looking thing is the Child's First Sock from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. This is my first Nancy Bush sock, even though I have three of her books. I wouldn't have thought about knitting this particular sock because the photo in the book isn't very appealing. Then I saw the socks made by Christy and Terhi (both of these ladies are always working on amazing stuff) and I knew I had to make them. As you can see, this sock is progressing faster than the Jaywalkers. I love this pattern; every so often the pattern changes so I never get bored. I love this yarn (J Knits Supersock, color Indiana), I love the way it's knitting up; from what little I can try on so far the sock already feels as comfortable as my favorite pair of jeans, even with the 25% nylon content. Love. It.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Not fog. Smoke.

I have actual knitting photos to show you - as soon as I can take them. Right now my little corner of the world is a little smoky and not conducive to photo taking. The smoke from the wildfires (over 100 miles away, mind you) came in very suddenly about an hour ago. I had all the windows open, plus the back door was open for the dogs. It is now hazy inside my house, too. I hope my finished but damp from blocking socks, mom's Mother's Day present, don't smell like a campfire.

Here's a view near me. I was going to walk to a more picturesque area of my neighborhood, but after 30 seconds of being outside my eyes were screaming, "It burns! It burns!!!"

Sasha, cooped up inside until the smoke clears, is bored after being in the house for 10 minutes. This is what I call her "summer pose": cooling her belly and in general not looking lady-like at all. I can tell from her expression that she is planning and plotting some sort of sabotage to be revealed later in the day.

Coming tomorrow (if the smoke clears): knitting! I have finished socks to show you! Plus, new WIPs and the most awesome-ist stitch markers - ever!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Hi there!

Betty here! You may not have heard about me. Apparently "middle child syndrome" applies to dog families, too. My older brother, Jackson, is considered the perfect angel around here so he gets mentioned a lot. My little sister, Sasha, is so obnoxious that it's difficult not to pay attention to her. I'm the quiet one in the middle. Good thing I'm quiet, the rare times I do bark mom tells me my bark could shatter glass. Anyway, I'm a pretty good girl, unless there are children or air-conditioning repair men around. Or cats. Or vacuum cleaners. Or those little plastic lambs people put in their yards at Christmas. I hate those - they could come to life and attack at any moment. Oh, and I can be mean and growly to Sasha but I promise you she brings it on herself. She is not a good girl like me. Sasha spends her days filling her tummy with mulch, twigs, lizards, bugs, and...

What? Mom says wrap it up nobody wants to hear how I feel about Sasha and her eating habits. She says this is a knit blog for crying out loud.

I'm really here to tell you that mom has been too lazy busy to post. And that really there's been nothing to post about (except: shout out to my sock pal!). She's lost her knitting mojo. She's spent the last two weeks...what's the term...tinking, and... something about frogs. Playing with frogs? Playing Frogger? Frogging? Ripping? Something like that. Anyway, she's not posting anything until her mojo comes back and she "adjusts her attitude".

I hope she gets her mojo back soon. She spends her free time cradling yarn when she should be petting me. Okay, anyway, that's it! Have a great weekend everybody!


PS: I learned how to blog from Max!