The Working Woman’s Quilt

Back when I first entered the workforce I can remember having a brief obsession with quilting. I was doing a lot of crocheting in that time but after doing a couple of afghans I was ready for something new. With my first paychecks, I bought a quilting magazine and wore it out flipping through the pages again and again. Eventually I began to buy materials to make a quilt. I bought the expensive calico fabrics in hopes of creating a decorative quilt.

I can remember asking grandma Arelia to help me make the quilt. She thought I was nuts for buying all that expensive new fabric just to cut up. Especially since I had no clue what I was doing. To her quilts are meant for using.

Grandma proudly pointed to her bed, at a quilt she had made. It had assorted rectangular shapes all cut and sewn in bright colors. It was obviously a true scrap quilt made from old polyester clothes. Sounds cute right? Well my teenage mind could not  appreciate all that polyester fabric sewn together. I wanted a new quilt not an old one. After a few failed attempts I put the quilt dream away without ever finishing one.

Fast forward twelve years. I finished my last day with my company and headed to the library for a special visit by Sisters of the Cloth Quilting Guild. They are an African American Quilting Guild in Fort Wayne Indiana. The event was a bed turning in which the members showed off the quilts they made. One in particular made an impression on me. The Gee’s Bend style quilt. It reminded me of Grandma’s!!

A few weeks later I went to visit my eldest uncle. I told him about the quilt I saw. He said just wait until you see my quilt. Great Grandma Mattie had made him a quilt back in the 80’s.  It was most likely one of the last one’s she made perhaps in her late-70s. The quilt was pieced from cotton scraps and hand quilted. Made to be used.

Quilt Great Grandma Mattie pieced and hand quilited for Uncle Martin before she moved from Arkansas

Quilt Great Grandma Mattie pieced and hand quilted for Uncle Martin before she moved from Arkansas

Feeling all inspired I decided to try making a quilt again. This time I would take grandma’s approach and use what I had, a bunch of my worn women’s work clothes. As I got to cutting the shirts apart it hit me.  POLYESTER.

As I cut out the pieces it dawned on me. Most of my work clothes were polyester or polyester blends just like grandma's

As I cut out the pieces it dawned on me. Most of my work clothes were polyester or polyester blends just like grandma’s!

Jadin (9) and Rylen (4) came over and helped layout the Working Woman's Quilt

Nieces Jadin (9) and Rylen (4) came over and helped layout the Working Woman’s Quilt

Most of the fabrics were made from the same material that I turned my nose up at as a teen. I’m sure Grandma is shaking a finger at her Sweet Pea from heaven right about now. Oh well, this has been a fun adventure so far, mom and my nieces even helped. I plan to finish this one.

Almost done piecing my quilt made from my worn work clothes

Almost done piecing my quilt made from my worn work clothes

My Cotton Crop is In…Indiana

That’s right,
There was a cotton crop growing on the side of my home in Northern Indiana this summer. I planted some seeds in my kitchen this past February and 17 plants survived. I transplanted them outside in June and Eureka! I’ve got 1.75oz brown and 2.75oz white. Never mind the small yield, I grew some cotton ya’ll!! Now I have to get it carded up and ready to spin. I’m not sure what I’m going to make yet. We’ll just have to see.

First cotton crop grown in northern Indiana

First cotton crop grown in northern Indiana

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white cotton boll and brown cotton boll

So how did this all begin?

I bought some cotton roving about 2 years ago and found it rather finicky to spin. I kept at it. I would spin mostly sliver in the colored cotton because I thought it was cool. I started to crochet the cotton handspun in the round and by the time I felt like I’d gotten the hang of it I had made an eclectic looking throw. The throw shows my progression from the overspun recycled blue jean cotton to the thick, lumpy frustration skein to finally my consistent, I’m sooo In Love with you Cotton, lace weight yarn.

Crochet throw made from various colors of handspun cotton

Crochet throw made from various colors of handspun cotton

…And I’m growing cotton because

Once upon a time, I visited Island Weaver shop in Winona Indiana and was thrilled to pieces when I discovered they had 2 cotton plants with cotton bolls attached growing outside. The owner gave me a boll. The hand picked and processed fiber was much easier to spin than sliver. It is much like cashmere or camel down. I got 21 seeds from that one boll.

handspun single boll of brown cotton and 21 skeins. Background, grandma Arelia's embroidered  wall hanging.

handspun single boll of brown cotton and 21 seeds. Background, grandma Arelia’s embroidered wall hanging.

The stats:1 brown cotton boll 26 seeds 12.83 yards 32 WPI 2 Plys I used the yarn to crochet a rose

The stats:1 brown cotton boll
26 seeds
12.83 yards
32 WPI 2 Plys
I used the yarn to crochet a rose

Single boll yields a 2 ply skein about the size of a candy cane

Single boll yields a 2 ply skein about the size of a candy cane

 

crocheted rose from 1st cotton boll

crocheted rose from 1st cotton boll

I wanted more so I searched out a supplier for handpicked white cotton and ordered a (very expensive) pound to spin up. More seeds. So I decided to plant some seeds and see what happens. They grew.

My first cotton plant growing in the kitchen..who needs the table and chairs anyway:-)

My first cotton plants growing in the kitchen..because who needs the table and chairs anyway:-)

The End

What I learned: Aphids attack cotton plants in June. They thrive even with neglect and aphid attacks. You can harvest the bolls before they open if you live some place where the snow shows up before they open in November. Just open them up manually and let them dry out.

Overall thoughts: Happy, will plant again.