Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Farmhouse Quilt Bordered

The blue and white quilt didn't look finished so I auditioned two simple navy blue fabrics for a narrow border.

A navy print and a navy ikat are tested as a border.
Possible borders for Ohio Star and Log Cabin farmhouse quilt top

The stripe was the hands down winner. I will probably cut it down a bit further when binding.

Alternating blue and white Ohio Star and Log Cabin blocks with a navy ikat border
Ohio Star and Log Cabin farmhouse quilt top

Although our vacation is over, I'm including these photos because they are giving me ideas for quilting.

The final stop on our Gold Country tour was Sutter's Mill, aka Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, original site of the '49 gold rush. We stopped at the Marshall monument (the man who actually discovered the first gold) to soak in the scenery from the top of the hill. It looks so peaceful it's difficult to imagine the crowded conditions when thousands of miners displaced the natives.

A panoramic view of the site from a nearby hillside.
Sutter's Mill/Marshall Gold Discovery site, Coloma, CA

A few years ago Stephie at Dawn Chorus Studio and Kaja at Sew Slowly discussed walls and Stephie mentioned the two-toned walls in her area (Cornwall?) so imagine my surprise at the wall here. The words are made of lighter-colored river rock embedded in the darker and larger stones. They both made quilts based on the idea but I can only find Kaja's now.

We don't have much hard rock in Texas so while there are a few retaining walls, fencing is used more frequently. What skill it takes to build this wall and embed the contrasting stones so precisely.

This chest-high stone monument marks the location on the American River.
Original site of Sutter's Mill
The original lumber mill washed away years ago and was rebuilt nearby on slightly higher ground. But the monument struck me. How do we notice and then translate ideas from the real world into fabric? Literally? Figuratively? What sparks our ideas if they don't come from another quilt or quilter? And how did that person come up with the idea that strikes us all so strongly?

Slightly uphill was this outcrop where for millennia, Nisenan women ground acorns as evidenced by the chaw-se (mortar holes.) Look at the grouping? Most are close together but a few are further away. Of course, the rock itself created some boundaries but I wonder who sat where? Were the smaller holes used by young children learning the work? Did higher status women sit further away or in the middle of the tightest group? How would this translate into art?

Two collaged photos show indentations in the granite outcrop where generations of Native Americans ground acorns for food.
Grandmother Rock with chaw-se for grinding acorns

Of course, you know I'll include some geology. Although the Man Lee building originally housed Chinese bank and hardware stores it currently displays an excellent exhibit of the progression of mining. From placer to water wheel to hardrock mines and later highly mechanized operations requiring huge capital outlays.

Walking through this museum visitors walk through the history of California gold mining, including a sharp turn in an "underground" mine tunnel. Excellent!
Two collaged photos show the outside of the building and the entrance to a mockup of an underground mine inside.
Gold mining history exhibit in Man Lee building

California published Geologic Gems about the geologic features and history of their state parks - an excellent resource before visiting any of them. The final line in the pamphlet on MGDHP says, "The park provides a sociological case study of how the distribution of earth’s mineral resources has influenced the establishment and demographics of societies."

Miners from every country in the world rushed to California in the 1850s, displacing the few natives who survived the onslaught of disease that began in the 16th century. They in turn were displaced as mining operations required larger capital inputs. So individual claims amalgamated into large companies with few {distant} owners while the miners became hourly wage earners with little to no opportunity for that huge payoff.

Even more important gold claims were the water rights. In fact, water is so valuable that the rights throughout the west are generally established by precedence of arrival rather than closeness to the source. Mining required lots of water, causing downstream flooding and legislative action to hold companies responsible for their actions. Those economic consequences closed many of the mines, turning the area into a ghost town.

When the Museum opened we visited to see the films and enjoy the exhibits. My favorite was this small one of dolls used by children of different cultures. The china doll overpowers some of the unique examples behind it, including the duck head and the baby with corn husk clothing.

A Native American duck head on a stick and another of a stone with corn husk skirt bound around it are placed next to a porcelain doll with a painted face and cotton dress.
Dolls from various cultures in Coloma, CA

Not only is this area is rich in history, they have thoughtfully preserved and explained both the positive and negative aspects.  I plan to visit again next year and hope you will sometime, too.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Farmhouse Quilt Top

I forgot to take process photos this week but managed to get the top together. The split Ohio Stars alternate with some easy Log Cabins. Their strong light and dark sides make the furrows highly visible. The log cabin blocks sewed up quickly and the quilt went together like a snap. What a relief after futzing with those split Ohio Stars.

I'd like to consider it done but a narrow border might be better.

Alternating split Ohio Star and Log Cabin blocks in blue and white prints form this quilt top
Ohio Star and Log Cabin farmhouse quilt top

A few miles north of Jamestown is Columbia State Historic Park, a gold rush town integrated into a living town. The proprietors and docents dress in period clothing to share a vision of life: mining, blacksmithing, cooking. There are two hotels and several restaurants. We watched blacksmithing, families riding the stagecoach...

Tourists line up to ride the stagecoach
Stagecoach rides at Columbia State Historic Park

and took a turn in the one lane bowling alley.

A wooden bowling alley with pins that must be reset manually.
Single lane bowling alley, Columbia State Historic Park

Why did this house look familiar to me?* In 1940, the McConnell's bought and restored James Wilson's 1876 home, living here till their deaths. They petitioned the legislature to create a state park commemorating gold rush life - partly to keep the hotel across the street from turning into a brothel.

The white clapboard house sits behind a white picket fence.
Wilson-McConnell House

*It was Gary Cooper's home in the movie High Noon. Although I shouldn't be, I am constantly surprised to find so many classic movie locations around California.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Few More Blocks and Railtown 1897

Setting up more Ohio Star blocks was all I completed this week since we are vacationing. If I had laid them out sooner I might have cut different amounts of each fabric; however, this is all of most of them. That's good from the point of stash reduction but not as good from the point of layout. Still it looks like the scrappiness will work well.

Blue and white blocks laid out on the design wall
Split Ohio Star quilt block progress

We finally toured some of the Gold Country of California. Cleverly, the state highway running through it is 49 and we only traveled the middle section. I've been around the mining towns of the Rockies most of my life but had never made it to this region. The California rush preceded Colorado's by about 10 years but many of the mining techniques and railroading needs were the same. And Californians really embrace their history. Many of the sites are maintained {or at least enriched} by groups of retiree docents who work tirelessly to inform, improve, and assist at these fabulous state sides.

We started at Railtown 1897 in Jamestown, a steam locomotive maintenance and repair facility. The trains were originally established to move supplies up to the claims and gold down to Sacramento. Visitors may tours of the buildings, including the roundhouse, as well as enjoying train and cab rides and special events throughout the year. We enjoyed the informative tour that included many engines and cars before our ride.

Because the stack can easily be changed to mimic steam engines, this "movie star" train has appeared in more films, documentaries, and television shows than any other. Credits include Back to the Future 3, The Virginian, and Petticoat Junction.

A docent in denim coveralls with a red bandana and a railway cap stands with his foot on the rail as he talks about this engine.
The movie star locomotive at Railtown 1897

This unusual looking engine is a three truck Shay. With gears on the right, the locomotive is not symmetrical but it does make sharper turns.

Three truck Shay locomotive at Railtown 1897

The #19 Hetch Hetchy was originally furnished as an ambulance car and used on the Hetch Hetchy dam project. Later it was used for track inspection and to transport VIPs.

#19 Hetch Hetchy ambulance car at Railtown 1897

After the tour we watched the engineers switch #28 before climbing aboard for a delightful ride.

Engineers move the engine to the opposite side of the passenger cars.
#28 locomotive at Railtown 1897

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

SIL Quilt Begins

My SIL requested a “farmhouse quilt”... several years ago now so I'm only a few years overdue. I had to ask her to explain since I’d never heard the term and had no idea what it meant. Turns out it’s a casual, countrified, blue-and-white quilt.

Lacking many blues in the shades she prefers, a shopping trip was in order. What fun to spend an afternoon at a quilt shop with SIL. And boy, is she serious about blue and white! Upon returning home I went through my stash for a few more fabrics to add a bit more variety.

The stars pieces are all cut. The split Variable Star reminds me of the split Nine Patch. They both accentuate light and dark furrows when sewn. But the pressing is a pain. There is no way I’ve found to have all the seams flat. So a few will be opened. Not my favorite choice.

Here’s where the project stands today.

The first three blocks in a variety of blue and white prints laid out on the design wall
Split Ohio Star quilt blocks

We drove over Slumgullion Pass the weekend. Don't you love that name? It's been raining a bit almost every day adding so many beautiful shades of green; not as common this late in summer.

A green pasture with hills in the distance and heavy clouds.
On the road to Slumgullion Pass

Many herds grazed along the way: Deer in velvet in the middle distance;

The deer are feeding in a meadow near Slumgullion Pass in Colorado.
Deer in velvet
A moose with her calf closer to the roadway;

The female and her calf feed near the road to Slumgullion Pass in Colorado.
Moose and calf
But elk kept their distance. No good shots of those.

Last month I dusted and polished the bookshelves, then organizing a shelf of all the books I have yet to read. Do you buy books that sound interesting and then fail to ever read them? I never thought that was a habit of mine but half of a shelf is laughing at me. The plan is to read or donate them within the year - sort of like turning the hangers backwards and donating unworn clothes after a year. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World was the first finish, a very intriguing look at the Mongals who brought so many innovations to the world.

Enjoy the day, Ann