Friday, 19 April 2013

Beginning the Farmers Wife Quilt

 
The Farmers Wife is underway! This is a totally different quilt to any I've made before. This is a sampler quilt. Each block will be unique and is from the book The Farmers Wife Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird.
There is a story behind this quilt pattern. It has its origins in the US in the 1920s. This was a time of exciting changes - the advent of radio, the movies, the car. The difference in the pace of life between the city and the country became more pronounced and the commonly held belief of city dwellers was that to be a farmer's wife was a poor and miserable existence. "The Farmers Wife", a popular magazine of the time, challenged this perception and asked its readers to write in and tell them whether they thought their daughters would be better off marrying a farmer or living a city life.
Samples of the letters they received are matched up with pairs of block patterns in the book.
I've started this quilt for several reasons.
Firstly, I've been fascinated by sampler quilts for a while.They are a good skill builder. Historically children learned the necessary skillls by making samplers. I'm sure you've all seen antique embroidery samplers in stately homes, museums etc.
It's a good process to go through.
 I chose this one because of the social history of the accompanying letters, and maybe I've been thinking a lot about how distanced the food on our plate is these days from the farm it originated from. They may have been written almost a 100 years ago, but I believe I'll find that the wishes and concerns of the 1920s farmers wives were not that different to the wishes we have for our children today.
Secondly, this is slow quilting, a process to be savoured - one block at a time. It is for no one in particular, it has no deadline. It won't be finished next week, nor next month, nor probably in six months time, but that doesn't matter. It is for quiet moments, when I can just relax and enjoy the process - like eating at the Ritz (not that I ever have!) instead of McDonald's.
The pieces are cut using templates, and some of these pieces are tiny! It is totally different to how I normally work. I'm sitting at my desk with a small cutting mat and small rotary cutter instead of slicing through fat quarters on the dining room table.  No width of fabric strips and cutting mulitple layers here, just small pattern pieces, small scraps of fabric, short seams and delicate 6" completed blocks. It feels good!

 
I completed two blocks today (one is at the top of the blog - the other just below) I deliberately took myself slightly out of my comfort zone. Although I'm using lovely Liberty fabric, I don't usually turn to reds and blues, but this will be good for me.
 
And the letter that accompanies these blocks? Here is an excerpt:
"The good things I desire for this daughter are peace, a love of nature and  time for quiet, happy thoughts. Can they be had by any other class of working people as easily as by the woman on the farm? She doesn't rush to finish her work that she may spend a day bargain huntinh - a day of hurry, worry and "me-first" thought; of spending money she shouldn't spend and gazing at things she wants, but can't have. No she may sit on the front porch a bit while she sews or mends........"
Still relevant today? I'll leave you to your own conclusions (I just hope there aren't any farmers reading my blog today!


Finally, a bit of an update on my 2013 Stashbuster Project - I'm trying to knit 52 items, one for each week of the year for Greenfields Africa. using only the oddments that I have in my stash.
By my reckoning we are coming to the end of week 16, and I've just added items numbers 17 and 18, so I'm doing OK :)

 
Just a basic little cotton DK hat. The pattern for the flower is in my Knitting Patterns page at the top of the blog.

A little cotton cardie (sorry about the horrid grey shadow over it - it didn't look like that in Photoshop!!). I had quite a lot of this Debbie Bliss Eco Baby yarn, so this should fit a toddler.
It looks as though we're going to have a spring like weekend here in the West Midlands, so I'm hoping to get a lot of gardening done. Hope you all have a good weekend too............Julie
 

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful work,a beautiful thought and your quilt is going to be stunning

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  2. I've seen quite a few of the farmer's wife blocks on blogs but didn't know the story behind them. Thanks for explaining. You've made me fancy having a go too but I don't trust myself not to make a few and then not continue.
    Your knitting project sounds fabulous, you must be a fast knitter.

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