Archive for the ‘handmade’ Category

My mother is a quilter, as was her mother before her. Some time ago she showed me this book, The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird. The subtitle reads, “Letters from 1920s farm wives and the 111 blocks they inspired.” Hird shares the story of the contest offered in January 1922 by a women’s magazine of the day, The Farmer’s Wife. Apparently times haven’t changed much, as there was a perception in the city of the drudgery of farm life, especially for the women. Thus the magazine endeavored to dispel said perception by offering cash prizes for letters from readers answering the question: would you want your daughter to marry a farmer? The responses (over 7,000!) were overwhelmingly positive, with 94 percent answering yes. With these letters for inspiration Hird designed 111 blocks, 6 x 6 inches, representing various aspects of the life of a farmer’s wife. My mother is also a retired history teacher, so her interest in this project was no surprise to me. However, I am of a preoccupied nature and luckily missed a very obvious point, which I discovered Christmas eve at my parents’ house when we exchanged gifts. I am also a farmer’s wife, and that quilt was made for me.

Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt by Jennie Johnson

Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt by Jennie Johnson

Incidentally, those pillowcases were also made by my mother, gifts from a previous Christmas. Our bed is queen sized, so she added to the border to make it a bit wider; this is the first quilt we’ve had that truly fits the bed when turned the right way. She attached a handwritten tag naming the giver and receiver, the date, and the details of having 111 blocks and over 2500 pieces. The fabrics are all reproduction vintage patterns, such that a 1920s farm wife could have had access to similar fabric. I love the colors, the small blocks, and the symbolism of each one. She also gave me her marked-up copy of the book, knowing I would want to study it to memorize the meaning of each block. Some I find easier to visualize than others, with names like maple leaf and hovering hawks, corn and beans and kitchen firebox. Others are more abstract: friendship, four winds, homeward bound, silver lane. All are so beautiful, and I feel so blessed to sleep under this. Thanks, Mom. Merry Christmas.


Read Full Post »

Occasionally the farmer gets a break from the farming. Winter provides the most breaks, even with calving and late-harvested soybeans, and Brad did manage to finish our new bookshelf-slash-entertainment center for the living room. It took three men to bring it into the house, and could have taken four:

It is just over seven feet tall and six feet two inches wide, with shelves for even our tallest books, and compartments designed exactly for the television and the stereo and speakers we are still saving for. Brad built it from barn wood salvaged from his old mill shed that a tornado knocked down a couple of years ago. He trimmed out all the front edges so all the surfaces would be the same rough-cut wood. I was terrified throughout the process of getting it into the house, filling it with all it could hold, backing it up to the wall… waiting for a child to climb its front like a ladder, waiting for it to topple over somehow and crush someone or even just something. It did not; they did not. It does not quite hold all our books, but it comes close, and it is just what I wanted it to be: a job very well done.

Postscript: while I am giving these kudos to Brad, add more for the oak floor you can see in the photo. He installed that too, before we moved in.


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: