February 29, 2008

ruth's choice

Well it is another beautiful spring day here in the Sierras. The weatherman says we are experiencing April averages so thoughts of flowers and planting and my mom keep coming to mine. She had the kind of green thumb that could put two sticks together and a plant would grow and be blooming in a week. I did not inherit that gene but I try.

So flowers, especially pink flowers always bring my mother to mind. So I have started working on a quilt to remind me of her and her love of flowers. I have a prodigious stack of solid fabrics mostly inherited from her and am going to try to work as many of them in the quilt as possible.

Here is what I would like the quilt to look like although I will probably set it on point:

It is a combination of the Father's Choice and Home and Hearth block so I am calling it Ruth's choice because those yellow centers remind me of flowers and my Mom.

These are the fabrics I am using, yes there will be green flowers. I am using a Kona Black for the background. George has gallantly stepped in to show what the fabrics would look like on a black background. That purple, green and black will be the border and I am going to use the pink for the cornerstones.
While I was laying this out to photograph, I looked up and my yard art was looking back in my sewing room window.

I have got all the centers and background cut out and most of the dark solids. I am off to make a whole bunch of HST using triangles papers. then set the blocks together.

Happy leap year to everyone by the way. If any of you subscribe to Garrison Keillor's daily newsletter, "The Writer's Almanac" you have already seen this but I thought it was interesting to know the following about Leap Year from his post today:

"Today is Leap Day, the extra day that we tack on to February every four years to keep the calendar in time with the seasons. We do this because the Earth does not orbit the sun in a nice round 365 days, but rather in 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds.

Ancient peoples based their calendars on many things, from the movements of the stars to the activities of plants and animals. The Greek poet Hesiod told farmers to begin the harvest when the constellation Pleiades was rising and to begin plowing when it was setting, and to sharpen their farming tools when snails began climbing up plants. Most early calendars were based on the stages of the moon, with lunar months of about 29 days each. But the problem with the lunar calendar is that it's about 11 days short of the actual year, so instead of having to add a leap day every few years, you have to add a leap month. The Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to develop a calendar with 12 months and 365 days. When Julius Caesar rose to power, the Romans were using a calendar that was so faulty they often had to add an extra 80 days to the year. In 46 B.C., after his affair with Cleopatra, Caesar chose to adopt the superior Egyptian calendar, and this became known as the Julian calendar. In the first version of the Julian calendar, February had 29 days most years and 30 days in leap years. Caesar named the month of July after himself, so when Augustus came to power, he decided he needed a month too. He named August after himself, but he had to steal a day from February in order to make August as long as July.

The Julian calendar worked well for a while, but in the 13 century, a sick old friar named Roger Bacon sent a letter to the Pope. He had calculated the actual length of the solar year as slightly less than 365.25 days, and he pointed out that the Julian calendar was adding one leap day too many for every 125 years. The result was that Christians were celebrating holy days on the wrong dates. Bacon wrote, "The calendar is intolerable to all wisdom, the horror of astronomy, and a laughing-stock from a mathematician's point of view." Bacon was eventually imprisoned for implying that the pope had been fallible, and his writings were censored. It wasn't until 1582 that Pope Gregory XIII hired a group of Jesuits to fix the calendar, and they came up with the complicated system of omitting the leap day at the beginning of each century, except for those centuries divisible by 400. When Pope Gregory made the change, the calendar was about 10 days off, so Gregory deleted 10 days from the year. People went to sleep on Thursday, Oct. 4 and woke up on Friday, Oct. 15.

At first, the Gregorian calendar was only accepted in Catholic countries, and even there people were uncomfortable about losing 10 days of their lives. It led to protests and financial uncertainty, since people weren't sure how to calculate interest or taxes or rent for a 21-day month. Protestant countries didn't adopt the new calendar until much later, and this meant that for a long time, if you crossed the border of certain European countries, you had to set your clock back or forward by at least 10 days. When Great Britain finally accepted the Gregorian calendar in 1751, 11 days had to be deleted from the year. The change led to antipapal riots, because people believed the pope had shortened their lives. Mobs gathered in the streets, chanting, "Give us back our 11Publish Post days!" When the British colonies in America made the change the following year, Ben Franklin wrote in an editorial, "Be not astonished, nor look with scorn, dear reader, at ... the loss of so much time. ... What an indulgence is here, for those who love their pillow, to lie down in peace on the second [day] of this month and not awake till the morning of the fourteenth."

The Gregorian calendar has since been accepted everywhere as the standard. It is so accurate that we will have to wait until the year 4909 before our dates become out of step with the Earth's orbit by a full day."

Good sewing to you all, Mary

February 26, 2008

math challenged

Well this month is almost over so I better post something to make a feeble attempt at being a blogger. My excuse was a dead and unable to hold a re-charge camera battery. I sent off for two new ones. My camera is three years old, which according to the salesman at Best Buy makes if nearly from the Archean era. The new batteries do not seem to hold a charge either so I may have a camera ground issue. Another story.

This has been a month of travel and illness. I caught a cold while traveling for business which I have done three of the four weeks this month. While home on the weekend recuperating, my darling husband gave me the alternate version of the cold which he had caught from our handy man. So three weeks traveling and two weeks of cold do not add up to much quilting time.

I had grand plans of finishing two tops by the end of January. I only finished one and it was this month. I have to say as an person holding an undergraduate degree in Mathematics, it is embarrassing to subtract forty two from forty nine and get SIX. I needed to add another row to the green and purple top I had shown you here. It was six by seven blocks but to get it to fit a queen bed it needed another row to be square. I did the math in my head, made six more blocks, sewed them on and had the longest narrowest queen quilt you have ever seen.

One night when recovering from the cold, it came to me in a dream what I had done and I got up then and ripped off the too long row, made another block, sewed the row back on to the right side. I had the borders which are checkerboard, done long ago. I had used all those four patches as leaders and enders using Bonnie Hunter's principles. So the rest went together quickly.

It is off at the quilters now. I forgot to take a picture of the top before it left but will post one when it returns. Here is one before the borders, unpressed, nothing.

It is beginning to look like spring here. Daffodil leaves are beginning to show their heads, so I may have to do some spring garden clean up before much quilting gets done. Although I did notice a huge stack of Amish solids, I think an inheritance from my mother that I am toying with a pattern for. Something based on Home and Hearth or Fathers Choice. More soon.

Hopeful for spring, Mary