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Homespun Charm

Bedroom in the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Museum, Arkansas. Shows hand made quilts on and iron bed. This photo of Johnny Cash House is courtesy of TripAdvisor

This photo of Johnny Cash Boyhood Home is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I was really moved by this photo of a bedroom in Johnny Cash’s boyhood home (now a museum in Arkansas) that I stumbled across earlier this week. The simple beauty of sunlight falling through the window on to the rose patterned rug made me long for warmth and maybe simpler times. I don’t mean ‘easier’ of course, I’m under no illusion that life on a 30’s farm in the middle of nowhere was easy; we all know that life was difficult and full of drudgery. I suppose what stuck a chord was really seeing the beauty in simple things, without the clutter of consumerism and the incessant noise of today’s lifestyles. Seeing farmland through the windows, the scrubbed, natural wood walls and floors, the humble furnishings, the useful but beautiful quilt – it made me feel that life’s so full of unnecessary stuff and that it’s so much easier to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings without it getting in the way. I started to wonder what I can do to make my home simpler, what (else) I can get rid of. (I tend not to keep lots of things, but I wouldn’t call my life minimal.) I thought about Deb’s Frugal Little Bungalow too.

It took a while for the penny to drop but I realised that the simple nine patch quilt I’m making is a kind of nod to that aesthetic: homespun charm in small space living. I’ve been diligently hand quilting this week and have made good progress. I hope you’re not bored of seeing this quilt by now?

Hand quilting the sashing of a patchwork quilt © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Last week’s progress

I’m conscious that I show it virtually every Sunday. It’s my main focus at the moment and although I don’t want to rush it, I do want to see it finished sooner rather than later. That sounds like an oxymoron, but I mean I don’t want to rush the stitching, I just want to work on it more often than I have been so far, so that I can get it done. I’d love to notch it up as a finish by the end of April, but we shall see…

The week before last I was procrastinating over whether to quilt the sashing or leave it and get the quilt finished up quicker. You convinced me I should quilt it, and I’m so grateful you did – the more sashing I stitch the more I realise I’d be bitterly disappointed in myself if I hadn’t! Earlier in the week I managed to carve out some good blocks of time and got a fair amount done in a few sessions. My index finger’s full of holes as a result, but I’m so pleased with how it looks! You can easily see the difference between last week’s progress and this week’s (the colours in last week’s photo are much more accurate, the light was terrible this morning when I took the photos below) and the texture’s wonderful.

It’s a very warm quilt too, thanks to the 100% cotton wadding I think. I discovered this because my bedroom heater broke during the week – it was freezing in there (and still is)! Hot water bottles and several quilts on top of the thinning feather duvet made all the difference. In fact it’s so snuggly it’s been difficult to drag myself out and get dressed in the cold – I’m not as hardy as I used to be, if ever I was. Is it sacrilege to use an unfinished quilt? Bah, it’s filthy anyway and I really needed it to keep warm. I wonder how many of us say that these days – that we need a quilt for warmth rather than purely for it’s beauty or comfort, or even nostalgia? That’s the kind of thing I’ll no doubt be musing on when I do some more hand quilting in the sashing this evening.

Hand quilting the sashing of a patchwork quilt © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

This week’s progress

Hand quilting the sashing of a patchwork quilt © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Detail of the sashing so far

Before I head off to link up with Kathy for this week’s Slow Sunday Stitching, I’m just going to drop another reminder about a post from last week – a chat with the passionate hand quilter Audrey from Quilty Folk. She shares her thoughts and ideas on how to make the most of our quilting time – and what makes her tick. Pop across and have a read, I’d hate you to miss it. I’ll be posting a follow up article later in the week, so I hope you’ll look out for that too.

Graphic: cHow to Make the Most of Your Quilting Time, with Audrey Easter. A conversation with Stephanie Boon, 2016. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Enjoy your slow stitching until next time!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

28 replies
  1. Karen Goad
    Karen Goad says:

    Thanks for mentioning this place Stephie – believe it or not it is about 2 hours drive from me and I have never heard of it although I knew Johnny Cash grew up in Arkansas – Arkansas is where I live too. One day hubby and I will need to take a drive and see it!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Oh Karen how amazing! It’s funny how these things escape us sometimes isn’t it? It sounds like a great place to visit – if you do visit you’ll have to take lots of photos to share, I’ve got zero hope of ever getting there…boooo!

      Reply
  2. Pam
    Pam says:

    I saw this reference to Johnny Cash’s homes this week too, though regrettably I forget where. I must say that my quits kept us warm this winter too. I even used a a smaller quilt for a footer and it made such difference. A creative way to get back to basics!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I think I saw it on Facebook somewhere Pam – I was so intrigued by it I went off on a magical mystery tour around the internet looking for more information! Dorothea Lange’s incredible Depression era photos came to mind and it was fascinating to see Johnny Cash’s family home from a different point of view.

      I love your comment “A creative way to get back to basics!” – just perfect, succinct and oh so true!

      Reply
  3. Linda Dutch
    Linda Dutch says:

    I enjoyed reading your post, lovely quilt pic… an everyday quilt, well used & loved. I too, have put an unfinished quilt on the bed! Not for warmth though, it doesn’t get really really freezing here in NZ, but more as a kick to get the binding finished ASAP!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      That made me laugh Linda! Don’t we just need those kicks up the backside sometimes!!! Good luck with that binding 😀 Doesn’t it get cold in the mountains of NZ? Or are those areas not really populated? I’m so ignorant it’s unbelievable really! If it does, I assume you don’t live there?!

      Reply
      • Linda Dutch
        Linda Dutch says:

        Ah yes we do embrace the cold here! We have awesome peaks & volcanoes, skiing/climbing popular! I live in Auckland, and while the weather can be variable- we often experience ‘four seasons in one day’ – our winter is milder, and we don’t experience the extremes of temperature like areas further south.

        Reply
  4. Pat in WNY
    Pat in WNY says:

    Your quilt is progressing beautifully. It looks as if you will be finished before very long. Yes, we have used an unfinished quilt for years! Back in the day I used to put the binding on right after basting the quilt well, so it was about 2/3 done for quite awhile and we needed it, and used it! Those simpler times seem awfully inviting in this day and age. Our younger generation are missing out on a lot of the simple freedoms we took for granted growing up.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I’m amazed that I’m not the only to sleep under an unfinished quilt! Although, as you say, needs must sometimes! I look around me here in the UK, which always feels pretty densely populated, and you mentioned freedom which reminded me of the freedom to roam I had as child, even growing up in London (I left when I was 19). Kids these days just don’t have that, there’s so much more traffic it’s unbelievable. My street used to have a few parked cars on it and as pretty young children we could play outside safely, now it seems every house has ripped up the front garden to make way not just for one but several cars. So sad. Open spaces just seem to be disappearing before our very eyes. I feel so lucky that I escaped to rural Cornwall (in the very foot of the country), although with that freedom comes much more poverty than just about everywhere else in the country. Still, I’d rather have the wonderful surroundings any day 🙂

      Reply
  5. Cathy L in IA
    Cathy L in IA says:

    Hah! Are quilts supposed to be for anything other than warmth (or for giving)? My old farmhouse has wood heat and no air conditioning. The wood fire usually goes out during the night or day if my retired husband goes somewhere. Brrrrrrr. (That’s why my quilts are usually big enough for a bed or a nice lap quilt that I sometimes need while at the sewing machine!) Hey, I even have a bowl and pitcher like in Johnny’s room – but I use mine for a very large vase and not for cleaning up. I actually do have a sink with running well water (when the electricity isn’t out).

    Your quilt is looking good, btw!

    Reply
  6. Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow
    Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow says:

    I love that shot of his room ; I am glad that you found it. You were right….adding stitching to the sashing is making a lovely difference. This quilt has come a long way with so many lovely stitches in it and I for one am not tired of seeing it! 🙂

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      It’s such a wonderful photo isn’t it Deb? There are more to see too. I’m actually enjoying the stitching the sashing – I can almost sew in a straight line nowadays, haha!

      Reply
  7. Chantal
    Chantal says:

    Never bored of seeing your quilt. I love the colour used in this one. I think the cornerstones really brings everything together beautifully. Your pictures are awesome too as they show the quilting so well. LOve the Johnny Cash’s room picture too. I think it was easier time because it was easier to get away from the city and the commercials who tell you what you need, and you don’t look good if you don’t get that product and so on. Now everyone has a phone, city busses come to my little village with their ads on the sides, billboards everywhere. It harder to get “away” and find peace. I do understand that it was hard work but it was easier on the mind. Anyway, my two pence. ;^)

    Reply
  8. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    I do so enjoy reading your blog! Thank you for opening my eyes to the Johnny Cash homesite…I love to visit places like that. I can say I visited the Elvis birthplace in Tupelo, MS and it too was a very simple place. Interesting that two such complex men arose from such humble beginnings. I agree we have entirely too much baggage today (as I sit here pecking away on my smart phone). I should be using this time to quilt, finishing up a DWR that I’ve been dragging around hand quilting since last SEPTEMBER! Talk about a dirty quilt!

    Please keep posting the pictures and entertaining us with your musings!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Sharon! I’m so glad you enjoy reading it and I’m touched you’ve said so too, thank you 🙂 Ahh Elvis, he takes me right back to my childhood – I used to love watching his films on tv (and playing my mum’s records)! Lucky you to have been able to visit. I have to say I now have an image of you pecking away at your smartphone with your nose, hahaha!!!!! (Chicken keeper here!). And talking of dirty quilts, I was going through some old posts yesterday and my word did Summer Blues look pretty when I started it and it was clean and fresh – I can’t wait to get it in the washing machine now 🙂

      Reply
  9. Bossymamma
    Bossymamma says:

    Whoopee! You’ll have the quilt ready for me when I return from visiting my sister in Australia! Ha ha ha! Well, we all know how much you dislike your Summer Blues! 🙂

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Going away for a long time then are you Dina, haha!!! I’m so glad to hear that you’re making out there, something positive to look forward too x

      Reply
  10. Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home
    Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home says:

    We just saw your blog and want to thank you for mentioning us. One of the things we love about this restored home is that it is not just about Johnny Cash, but it evokes so many memories for visitors who grew up in those simpler times or who remember visits to Grandma’s house. For younger visitors, it’s great to see their reactions to the quilt frame that is raised to the ceiling in the living room . . . or the ice card in the window that lets the ice man know how many pounds to drop off . . . or the battery operated radio. . . .or the wood-burning stove . . . or so many other things that are just hard to imagine today. Different times, indeed.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thank you so much for coming to say hello, I’m honoured! I wish I could visit, it looks like such an interesting place – not just the Cash home, the whole project sounds exciting. That era in US history is so well documented photographically, but it must be wonderful to experience a tangible glimpse life as it was. I’m sure many people are drawn because of Johnny Cash, but it’s definitely the social history that caught my eye. And it sounds like this little post might have got you at least one other visitor in the future, eh Karen?! Thank you again, and for making your atmospheric images available too 🙂

      Reply
  11. audrey
    audrey says:

    Great to see this quilt coming along and yes! It really will fill the ‘homespun charm’ criteria you’re looking for. It’s something I’ve been trying to capture for years and years with my own quilting!

    Reply
  12. Quilter Kathy
    Quilter Kathy says:

    It’s such a beautiful quilt… I’m so glad you are falling back in love with it and appreciating it’s charm again!
    I have often slept under half quilted quilts… I always do at quilt camp… it’s like a christening process 🙂
    Hope you enjoyed your slow sunday stitching!

    Reply
  13. Louisa @ Sewmotion
    Louisa @ Sewmotion says:

    Your quilt is beautiful, all the more so for the time and love you’re sewing into it! I do like the sound of the Slow Sunday stitiching, I’m going to have to look that up! Believe or not I do use my quilts for warmth, with just a thin duvet, I like the feeling of the weight on my legs, 🙂 Hope you warm up soon, although maybe not… x

    Reply
  14. Kate Heads
    Kate Heads says:

    To me your quilt is very real, to doesn’t have the fancy blocks and quilting but it’s the sort of quilt that stays the distance, never goes out of fashion with a timeless beauty and is well loved. I understand what you mean about making your home simpler. That’s what I have been doing for a while now, not as a conscious process and I still have a way to go, some things are easy to part with but things that belonged to my Grandma’s, things my children made, quilts and embroideries, these are the things with memories I can never part with. What I do need is to clear my UFP’s and WIP’s so I’m trying to start one quilt and finish two. It’s so hard.
    Smiles
    Kate

    Reply
  15. Lorna McMahon
    Lorna McMahon says:

    Oh yes! Quilts should be made for using! So happy to see this beauty has been keeping you warm even though you are still in the midst of quilting it. Looks like you two are bonding in every way!

    Reply
  16. Kaja
    Kaja says:

    I find the photo of the Cash house really moving: I am in a ‘paring back’ mood to and it speaks directly to that feeling of simplicity and honesty that I am drawn to. Thanks for sharing it. Your quilt is lovely, so it’s nice that you can see that again; makes it so much easier to keep quilting!

    Reply
    • Kaja
      Kaja says:

      Oh, and I live with someone who is saving the planet one kilojule of energy at a time (that’s a polite way of saying he won’t use the heating), so all my quilts are for keeping warm!

      Reply
  17. Ann
    Ann says:

    I used to travel to Arkansas frequently but never visited the Cash homestead. I’ll put it on the list. We all seem to be thinking about simplifying. Those photos highlight some of the benefits.
    Summer Blues is always pretty; how nice that it’s well-loved already. I’ve slept under unfinished quilts. And I pile them on in winter, with an extra for my cold feet. 🙂

    Reply

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