Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spinster Quilt

If you are a fan of the internets like I am, you've probably heard about the quilt-alongs for the book, Farmer's Wife Quilt.  There's a flicker QAL and a Yahoo group dedicated to making all 111 of the sampler blocks in the book.  Yes, this is a great opportunity for me to say that I'm going to join a QAL and then either stop it part way through or change my mind and never start it.  But, it is a sampler quilt and my thinking is that I will do a few blocks between projects and use the scraps from projects as I go along.  Rather than finishing at the two block a week rate recommended by the QAL, I hope to finish by the time I hit retirement.

But, you might ask, what is the Farmer's Wife Quilt and what is the deal with 111 sampler blocks? Well, gentle reader, I will tell you.

It's a quilt you can make from this lovely book.  The book comes with a CD containing templates for all the patterns; there are no measurements in the book.  Also, if you read the very grumpy Amazon reviews, the templates on the CD are made one to a page so you have to print out 106 pages to get the templates for all the patterns.  Seriously, people are very grumpy about this issue.  Luckily, the Yahoo group is way ahead of things and have created some very handy files.  There are charts of each block with instructions on which templates to use, one woman put all the templates into a single 15 page document, and another put them all together into paper piecing instructions. Since I have never done paper piecing, this is the way I've decided to do mine.  Actually, I think I can measure and cut a substantial amount of these blocks, but I will definitely be paper piecing some. 

Why call it "Farmer's Wife?"  From the Yahoo group: "In 1922, the very popular "The Farmer's Wife" magazine held a contest asking a simple question: 'Do you want your daughter to marry a farmer?'  Author Laurie Hird has excerpted 42 of the top letters submitted to the magazine editors for the contest and has selected 111 traditional 6" quilt blocks and created a tribute quilt to the contest."

Now, let's review this statement.  The editors of the very popular "The Farmer's Wife" magazine held a contest asking a simple question: 'Do you want your daughter to marry a farmer?' First of all, very popular?  Okay,  I'll let that go.  Second, "The Farmer's Wife" magazine? (Motto:  We really are a magazine. No, really.)  Third, "The Farmer's Wife" magazine asked them if they wanted their daughter to marry a farmer.  This would be like the editors of "Quilter's Home Magazine" asking their subscribers, "Your only daughter is expecting her first child.  Do you plan to make her a baby quilt or just buy one at Target?"   

Anyway, the question is basically do you want your kid to marry a farmer or a person from the city? I don't think they got a lot of responses stating they wanted her to marry someone from the city because they are tired of getting up at 5:00 am trudging out to the cold outhouse to take care of nature, making breakfast on a iron stove and then starting chores immediately (and don't get me started on how hard laundry is to do on one of those ringer machines).  Oh, and there is manure everywhere, the husband tracks it in constantly and he snores, and the kids have to walk to school (literally have to walk miles to school, not like the running joke of the future) but we won't keep the kids in school for long because there is work to be done.  And, it's the 1920's so you're basically property of your husband so there's that.  Hope he's nice ladies! Am I right?  (Note, I'm sometimes tired of how we romanticize the past, ignoring the racism, sexism, and general ill treatment of each other and animals. Yes, I'm guilty of it too when I picture life in the Court of King Henry VIII, when I ignore the lice, fleas, body odor, bad teeth, bad breath, sewage being thrown from above into the streets, and their unique forms of capital punishment.)

So, no I don't think they got a lot of those responses.  Well, they probably did, that's why the editors of "The Farmer's Wife" didn't publish all the letters they received.  I wonder if they got any responses stating, gee, I hope my daughter only marries when and if she wants to.  Probably not.  Being a spinster wasn't an option then (and you were probably a spinster at age 25) so that probably wasn't something a parent would push.  But, I wonder how many of those daughters dreamed of a life of their own.  For those dreamers, I've decided not to make The Farmer's Wife Quilt.  "What?" you ask.  "You've just rambled on for pages to tell use all something that you are not going to do?  Great.  Thanks."  

No, I'm not going to do a Farmer's Wife Quilt. I'm doing a "Spinster Quilt" for all those women who for one reason or another didn't get married.  It's for those who instead of choosing from column A or column B, chose column C.  (This also gives me leeway to not make all 111 blocks, because spinsters don't do what society tells them to do - much like James Dean, they make their own rules. I'm taking the term spinster back, by the way, like hipster, but for cool older women who wish the kids would just turn down that music.)

After all that, I hope I make at least one block.  


  1. lol! Pat Sloan is starting a quilt a long on Facebook, and is naming hers 'The Farmers Mistress'. I would guess that mistresses don't do what society tells them to do either.

  2. Too funny! I will never be able to read a book or watch a movie about Henry VIII without thinking YUCK! Can't wait to see your "Spinster Quilt"!

  3. This was a great read! Thanks for sharing, and I like the name of your next quilt!

    ~ Ronda

  4. LOL - I love your attitude! I'm married - but didn't until my 30s and now have six kids and therefore have not followed society's "Wheaties Box Family" rule.....I figure the willingness to be different is what makes the world go round:-Excited to follow your blog:-)

  5. Hehe. Love this! I'm 33, single, with no care if I stay that way or not - I'm happy and don't understand the need for a husband to complete oneself. So far just the one cat, but one day I'll have more. And some malamutes. One day I'm sure I'll be known as that crazy cat lady in the house with the wolves, lol.
    So, that was just my long-winded way of saying I like the idea of a spinster quilt. And I I think it should be accompanied by beer/wine/cocktails and a toast to the women who decided to have their own life instead :)