Tag Archives: textiles

Turkey and Quilts

1 Oct

Happy October First!  The Morning Glories were glorious indeed this morning.  There were more than 45 blooms.  Perhaps they sense their time is just about up?

Jay went turkey hunting this first morning of the season and returned with a nice hen he met on the edge of the cornfield.

Hawthorne was very excited by the arrival of the bird.


Ellie and I went to the perennial county quilt show.  There were about 10 Civil War era quilts on display there from the county history museum which were made in this county.  Here are two:

This was made by a member of the Treman family of Trumansburg.  Lots pf striped fabrics. 

Incredibly beautiful.  And below, a silk quilt, perhaps made by Quakers since it is backed with the same drab brown cotton they used to line their silk dresses.

The docent from the museum who shared a bit about these quilts said that the silk in this quilt came from Paris and was of higher quality than Victorian era silks and thus had not shattered.  I asked what the difference in the silks was.

It seems that silk from China was sold on a weight per pound basis and to make the fabric weigh more the element lead was added during processing.  It also gave the silk the nice weight and rustle when used in dresses. The lead, though, also caused the premature decay (shatter) of the silk itself.

French silk, on the other hand, contains no lead.  It also does not rustle.  It shsh’s.

Straw into Gold

23 Sep

Sunday Ellie and I spun flax in the fiber to cloth booth at Judy’s Day. We both wore linen.  Another man spun wool on a walking wheel.

Kathy had spent a long time planning the activities children were able to do: breaking, scutching and  heckling flax.  The breaking board was so loud we removed a tent wall behind us so alleviate some of the noise.

We had an almost constant stream of watchers who asked all sorts of questions.  It was surprising to me how many people did not know that linen was made from flax.

And that the process of spinning is what changes flax into linen.  As the flax leaves the distaff, goes through my fingers, and is wound onto the bobbin, it becomes linen thread.

Over four hours of spinning.  The resultant thread weight: 24 grams.  Thank God for the industrial revolution.  It measured 308 yards.

That is about 2912 yards per pound, plied.

Perhaps  enough to knit a lacy washcloth?

PS:  Earl and Merl are doing very well.  They are living in the bunny hutch and are drinking milk from a pipette only once a day.  Eating nuts, some fruit, corn, veggies on their own.  Pictures tomorrow.


Thoughts on Alexander McQueen

14 Jun

At the Met we went to visit Savage Beauty, the exhibit of clothing from Alexander McQueen’s collections over the years.

The high level of skill and technique in the sewing, tailoring,  and use of various textiles was inspiring.  Lots of beauty.  Lots of perversity.  Lots of silk tulle.

McQueen clearly loved God’s Creation. And he recognized the results of sin. Yet he did not see himself as subordinate to or working with the Creator. From much of his body of work it seems he neither acknowledged that the world was God’s  nor that it is created. Fed through his mind’s eye like a camel through a needle, McQueen’s creations came out similar to that camel: broken reflections born of an unregenerate love; beauty covered with gore, bloody and twisted, at times almost unrecognizable.

His last collection was a marine-themed futuristic full-circle riff on Darwinian what-if’s:what if global warming happens, what if the seas rise, what if we evolve to live in those seas.

You know those old monster/horror flicks?  The ones where it seems obvious in retrospect that mixing nuclear bomb tests with ant nests, or dinosaurs, or tomatoes, was not such a good idea?  There is always foreshadowing in those movies; indications that all is not as it seems or that something more is happening than is evident.  The characters involved in the plot don’t see the hints, but we, the watchers from outside, do.

Where did writers get the idea of foreshadowing?  Dickens and script writers did not come up with it ex nihilo.  They got it from where we all get all our ideas: from creation itself.  The old rerun “Attack of the Killer Migraine” played here last night.  Did I catch the foreshadowing?  Nope.  Though in hindsight it clearly was there. It was not that my glasses were dirty that I had trouble seeing all yesterday.  Those nasty moles on my brother’s back?  dum-dum-DUM.   They hinted that something else was going on.  I think Mr. McQueen didn’t see the foreshadowing either, until close to the time he chose to end his life.

The disconnect between his years of training followed by the ongoing thoughtful effort to imagine, design, and produce unique, beautiful, excellently tailored clothing collections and a worldview of random destructive happenstance must have worn down his psyche.  When one devotes one’s life to creating lovely intelligent work at some point it becomes clear that nothing “just happens”.  How difficult to maintain competing world views!

McQueen, it has been reported, had a line from Helen’s soliloquy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream tattooed on his right arm : “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.”

CS Lewis’ poem As The Ruin Falls  may be of use in explanation.

“I talk of love –a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek–
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.”

He saw his self-imprisonment.  He saw his lack. He came to the chasm.  Did he finally see the clues all around him about the bridge God made in Christ and chose immolation instead of submission to the head Creator?  Or did he miss the foreshadowing speaking to him from all the created world and despair?  Or did he want his own will to be done, rather than God’s,  and got it?

Cotton Boll and Birds in the Air

4 Mar

The next two Civil War Quilt squares.

Linen Movie

25 Feb

Vimeo has some great small videos.

This is one of them. Be Linen

Piecing tips and flying squirrel

22 Feb

For those of you not busy with trigonometry or learning Chinese, those of you who like me are inside at 9AM on a sunny morning waiting for the temp to rise to the double digits before walking the dog, I found a quicker way to make the curved pieces for the new quilt squares that are like unto a double wedding ring.  The whole idea came from the lady who writes comfortstitching.  she calls this a pickle dish pattern.  But it is not, really.  More on that later.

Her directions have you piece widthwise cut trapezoids onto the curved paper.  I am not very good at it, as you can see.  This morning I discovered it is much easier for me to sew nine pieces together and then pin the pattern (I cut mine from newspaper ads that came to our home by mistake) on the pressed section and cut.

By 9AM I had cut trapezoids from several new colors and sewn and cut the next eight curves for the next block.  Without having to piece little bits here and there to make up for edges that did not meet.

Oh, and played with the visiting flying squirrel. Didn’t you know?  We offer some of the finest flying squirrel accommodations in town.  This is Rocky.  You remember him as a baby last fall, right?


Tracks, Bread, Squares, Sonnet

17 Feb

Yesterday Hawthorne and I both could walk a few feet on some areas of the snow crust.  Not this morning.  He could walk, gingerly, but attempts to run were quickly abandoned after his hind end dropped through up to his belly.  Me?  I mostly high-stepped it until we reached the snowmobile trail.  Which was at the end of the walk since I reversed yesterday’s course. A couple deer have followed that snowmobile track, too.  A coyote has crossed the alfalfa waste back and forth.  What was funny were the crow tracks that followed my mostly wind-blown snow hidden yesterday trail through the field; I think they were searching for evidence of rodent activity.  Yesterday there were small rodent, squirrel, and rabbit tracks coming out from the hedgerows into the fields or woods. Oh, and this from Monday:  Some small bird was harvested by a bigger bird.  An owl?  A hawk?  I picked up a wing feather (4.5 inches, gray with white edge) and two smaller breast feathers (gray with reddish brown edge) wondering if i could figure out what kind of bird was eaten.  It is already in the mid-40’sF now.  woo-hoo!

Photos for Kirsty of the bread that is similar, but still not as good as hers.  It crackles as it cools.  It has a wonderful crust.  But still a bit damp inside.

Finally: all caught up and on-time with the Civil War Quilt Squares:

Seven sisters and Log Cabin.

And lastly, but not least, this poem by CS Lewis that I have been thinking of with regard to events in my life and around the world:


Dieu a etabli la oriere pour communiquer a ses creatures la dignite de la causalite. –PASCAL

The Bible says Sennacherib’s campaign was spoiled

By angels: in Herodotus it says, by mice–

Innumerably nibbling all one night they toiled

To eat his bowstrings piecemeal as warm wind eats ice.


But muscular archangels, I suggest, employed

Seven little jaws at labour on each slender string,

And by their aid, weak masters though they be, destroyed

The smiling-lipped Assyrian, cruel-bearded king.


No stranger that onmipotence should choose to need

Small helps than great–no stranger if His action lingers

Till men have prayed, and suffers their weak prayers indeed

To move as very muscles His delaying fingers,


Who, in His longanimity and love for our

Small dignities, enfeebles, for a time, His power.

C.S. Lewis

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