Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My May read is now a block

The May read for the Quilter's Book Club was "These is My Words" ... the Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine. 1881 - 1901.

Written by Nancy E. Turner.

When I was a kid, I hated history. To me it was nothing more than memorizing dates and spelling strange and impossible names of people and places.

I do remember the 4th grade teacher reading us "Johnny Tremain" which, though I hated the teacher, loved the story and could hardly wait for the next chapter. I was ever so careful not to do anything that might cause me to be sent to the cloak-room during that time of day. It took many years for me to realize that the stories I loved were history made real.

This book is a dose of history that takes you there. Our book for this month is continuation of the story. Mine is somewhere in the post and I am very much looking forward to it.

I made a couple of drawings of possible blocks but in the end, I decided on this block I found in Jinny Beyer's The Quilter's Album of Blocks and Borders, picked partly because the name was "The House that Jack Built". I had thought of something with a log cabin feeling and though it is rather more simple than other blocks, I was able to use my feature fabrics and add the heart fabric at the center. This is my 16th twelve-inch block and as soon as I find enough space, I want to lay them all out and see how they look together.

If you like the challenge of thinking up a quilt block each month to go with a good read, you should check out Susan's blog. (Even if you don't care to make a block, the suggestions to read are outstanding).

I have had another challenge over the past week through a request coming from someone who found a picture on one of my old posts. If he agrees, I would love to share the story here.

My cacti have been putting on a wonderful show.

Some of them are blooming for the very first time and some are regulars.

These only last a few days but there are buds coming up for later enjoyment.

My step tansu has flowers on every level.

The big red flower was a first bloom.

The white flowers are the second group to open and last a long time. The tall cacti on the left of that one has a halo of tiny red flowers earlier at the end of winter and the spiky cacti on the right is in full bloom now with a promise of more buds to open.

The Easter cactus missed Easter but I am happy it survived the heavy snows of the past winter ...

As it lives all year round out on top of the air conditioning unit on the balcony.

The prickly pear next to it had a rough time and I don't know if it will bloom this year. Usually it blooms nearer the end of the month.

Last fall, I admired a beautiful shrubby plant with white flowers and variegated leaves in a neighborhood garden. This past week, that neighbor called to me as I was passing on my way to the station saying there was a pot of that plant waiting for me to take home and enjoy.

Sure enough, as I returned home later in the day, the pot was sitting just outside their gate in a plastic bag. I am thinking of making a table runner for that couple. I have no idea what their home is like but they must have a table for eating and may even have a geta box in their genkan. I am wondering what size runner would be useful. If anyone has a suggestion, please share with me. I am thinking of something bigger than a place mat but not so big that it might not fit the table. I suppose a small quilt for on a sofa would work but I don't even know if they have a sofa or if their home is more traditional Japanese style.

I think it will be fun to come up with a thank you gift.  That is one aspect of quilting I really enjoy.


  1. What a smashing block for a great book and it is lovely that you have the heart fabric in the centre of it. I, too, am looking forward to seeing all your blocks set out.
    I don't generally care for cacti but when I see them in bloom like yours I am fascinated. If I visit a garden show and see a whole stand of them I wish I could grow them but content myself with just admiring somebody else's green fingers.
    Can I suggest mug rugs as a gift for your plant-giving neighbour? They are small and useful and you can have fun with the designing or there are loads of ideas out there on the www. Looking forward to seeing what you decide.

  2. It must be very rewarding to know the connection between a good read and a beautiful block on a quilt.
    Like Lis, I am full of admiration; I don't think I have ever seen so many flowering cacti at the same place.
    Mug rugs or pot holders could be a good idea if you can consider making something smaller. They would be useful in any home.

  3. I like that block a lot. And the cacti - such wonderful flowers. When we lived in the desert in southern California it was amazing to see the cacti blooming in the wild - such beauty.

  4. I never liked learning dates and facts, but loved history with stories.
    Your cacti flowers are beautiful.


  5. Gorgeous block and beautiful flowers! You are surrounded with beauty. Your neighbor is really sweet and I look forward to seeing what you come up with as a thank you gift. :)

  6. Lovely block design, the paisley goes so well with the reds. A gift, thanking from your hands is a great idea, a friend made a table runner with shaped ends, so place mats could fit into it. oblong centre part, and a triangle at each end, place mats in a diamond shape, so it all fitted together like a jigsaw. But mug rugs are always so welcome, Cheers,Jean

  7. love the block and colours Julie. Great cacti. My uncle worked in the Botanic Gardens here in Dublin for many years and it was the hothouse he worked in on the cacti. Whenever I used to visit him he would bring me to his glasshouse which he had full of all different cacti with the most amazing colour flowers. Everytime I see a cactus now I think of him.

  8. Great idea for the block this month. Love the colour.
    I always enjoy seeing the flowers produced by a cactus. The colours are vibrant and often the flowers are large. Great way to have some colour around.

  9. That's an interesting idea - to make a block for the books you have read.
    How funny! "Johnny Tremain" was my first introduction to historical fiction. From that moment on, I could not get enough of stories about real people. I learned more history through fiction than I did in class. The hard part being to decipher the real from fiction which had me in the library (now online) looking up the historical facts. I would never have done the research if it had not been for the stories.
    Your cactus look amazing! Other than a nursery or a public garden, I have never seen so many bloom at one time. Both of your thumbs are green!

  10. You have the most beautiful cacti! I only have the one Christmas cactus but after seeing yours over the last couple of years I think I might keep an eye out for one or two on the sale rack. I'm reading a "history book" now called One Thousand White Women - it's a novel but reads almost like it's really history. Interesting! blessings, marlene