Friday, May 30, 2014

Diaries - June and July, 1910; 100 Years and We Still Don't Care for the Metric System

Two of these entries are pretty disgusting. One is like a scene out of Sinclair's "The Jungle." Slaughterhouses always freak me out anyway.

The other one; well, let's just say that I am posting these unedited and in no way support all of the attitudes expressed in these diaries. I'll leave it at that.

(Edit: I was about to edit out the offending entry, but then I noticed the entry above it that sings the praises of a "good Christian influence at home" and thought the juxtaposition between the two was worth leaving it in.)


            Fort Worth--  I came to Forth Worth last Wed morning June 22, to attend the summer normal. Am taking the first grade work, I had a time getting redy to come as I had all my sewing to do in a little over a wk. I had just been out in the country chopping. It was the first work in the field I had done in over two years, but I hadn’t decided I’de go to the normal and didn’t have any thing specially to do at home so I decided I’de go out in the country and chop cotton a while and get me a little spending mony of my own.
            I chopped cotton for a family I knew and just had bushels of fun. But that is wandering from what I started to tell. This is the first time I have gone to any size City by my self, but I got along fine. There are 225 students enrolled here. About 75 girls are boarding here at the “Ladies Home.” They are all jolly and don’t give any one time to get lonesome. Every evening after supper we all take a walk. I am rooming on the second floor with the jolliest most mischievous girl in the home. (June 26, 1910)

            I went down to the store the other day and got me a hair net. All the style now is to fix your hair in a turbon on the back of the head and put large hair pens in the sides, the hair net keeps the hair from blowing and being so easily torn up. 6/26 1910

            To day in physics class the Prof spoke of the centigrade thermometer being much handier than the farenhight thermometer, althoe the farenhight is used more. The centigrade is gradually coming into use. He said; “The school boy of 60 years ago, didn’t have to learn the metric system at all; but the school boy of today has to learn both systems. English and metric.” As the metric system is easier and becoming used more and more he thinks it very probable that the school boy of 50 years from now will have to learn the metric system only. The metric system is used very little now. Papa didn’t study the metric system when he was a school boy. Most of the text books have changed lots in the last few years. By the way, I’m about to find me a cute little fellow here. He has black eyes, black hair and is low and fleshy. How come us to ever get started; I was a little late at physics class one morning and there was a vacant seat by him so we got to talking and I just built to him. So he has come around and set by me several times in history class since then. That is all we’ve talked but I think it won’t be the last time. He sure is a “sporty old kid.” (July 1st, 1910)

            Yesterday eve Mrs Pinnington, the dean hear, ask my self and another one of the girls to go car riding that night with her so we went and stopped in town at a picture show. When we got the Mr Hunter (my black eyed fellow) and another normal boy were there. They left before we did but it just happened they caught the same car going home that we did. When we got out of the car the boys walked with us up to the house. (Mrs Pinningtons little girl was with her.) When we got here we sit down in the swing and talked a while. (July 2, 1910)

            To day is July 4th. I haven’t done a thing but sleep and study to day. But there was two picnics in town. Mr Hunter and my self went out the “Lake Como” yesterday eve and didn’t get back till 10.30 oclock last night and I was up till twelve the night before so I decided I’de rather sleep part of the day than go to a picnic. My, we had a “time” at Como. It is about 5 miles the other side of town. The lake is pretty and they have boats to of on the lake but we didn’t go boat riding. We stopped at the lake and ate some cream and listened to the band play a while and then went out into “Dream L and Park” It was well named I think for it was a lovely place to dream, we sat down in the Park and stayed till dusk and then came back to the lake and took a street car for home. The street cars were all fairly crowded but we did get a seat but all got in that could get standing room and then half couldn’t get on that wanted too. To day is four years a go I was at Stephensville, they had fine boys races. (July 4, 1910)

            To day a crowd of us girls we would go through the “Packing House.” The packing house is several miles (about 8) from here on the North side. One of the normal boys went to chaperone. There was four Polytechnic came to the <Union> depot and then went the rest of the way on the Stockyard car. When we got to the waiting room we had to wait 15 minutes for a guide. Finally the guide came and we started, there was about 30 to go through. We went up several small flights of stairs: and finally passed into a room where some of the meat was kept. Meat was hanging up all over the sealing, and the floor was lined with ice with some sawdust sprinkled over it. When we passed into the room we were prespiring we were so warm but before we got through we were so cold we were wishing for our cloaks.
            The men that work in those ice rooms, for there are several of them, wear over coats. But the awful sight was in the rooms were they clean cattle and cut them up. There was cows hanging up in that room all the way from cows jest knocked in the head and hung up, to the meat cleaned and redy to cut up and salt. The room floor was a pond of blood all over and men and boys by the hundreds, I guess, working in there skinning cows, cutting their throughts and so on.
            We watched them work a while and then passed on to the most cruel sight of all. In this part they were just killing hogs and calfes.
            The hogs would have a chain to their hind feet and that fastened to the sealing. They were knocked in the head and then drawn up by the machinery and a man stood there just sticking them. Some of them were kicking and the blood fairly flying some were already nearly dead. They were then dropped into a big vessel full of boiling water, some times before they had hardly quit kicking.
            Hogs squeeling, calves balling, the sight of butchery and blood and the roar of the machinery, all make a feeling of awe and horror came over one. It is wonderful the vast amount of meat they put out at that factory. They kill 5000 hogs an hr, 1750 sheep and 2000 cows. In some places we couldn’t hardly breathe for the bad scent in the air. The work was all carried on very nice thoe.
            Several girls were working in this factory. I have heard about girls working in the factories in the large cities, but I never had seen it before. I don’t see how any body can live in such a sickening degrading atmosphere as that must be.
            We went through both building the last one had an elivator in it. That was my first time to ride an elivator.
            We stopped by and saw five of their fine horses. They were bought from Germany. They asked all the way from $2000 to $5000 apiece for them, but they sure were large, and were perfect beauties. We certainly were tired when we got home, for we left about 1 oclock and got back a little after five. (July 11, 1910)

            They have prayer meeting here on Wed night just across the side walk a piece. I’ve always been used to going to the Wednesday night prayer meeting. So last Wed night when they began to sing, I just couldn’t study it made me think of home so much. I said I sure was going to quit my studying and go to the next prayer meeting and so I did. I enjoy nearly all the Christian services and am thankful for the good christian influence at home. (July 20, 1910)

            There was a prize fight in Nevada on the fourth of July, a white man, Jeffries and a negro Johnson, the negro whipped and they say the negros have given the whites trouble in several parts of the state since then. (July 1910)

            The election day seemed more exciting this year than usual. The main issue being “state wide prohibition.” The anti Gov was elected thoe. (Colquitt) (July 1910)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Diaries: April and May, 1910

"I always did like to be with boys that were a little fast and inclined to flirt (not too fast thoe)"

I guess some things are just in the genes :-) 
In this block she passes her teaching exam, flirts a little, and tells a questionable story about an "infadell."


            To day is my 19th birthday it doesn’t seem possible to think I am 19. I went to the Ladies Foreign Missionary Society this eve. As it was a business meeting and I am secretary. We took Korea as a study and there was several good places, read about the work the missionaries are doing there. They are working to get 5,000,000 of the heathen brought to Christ this year and have set apart the 20th of this month for all Methodism over there and in America to spend in prayer. (April 11, 1910)

            An old lady was here to day taking the census and I learned some thing’s I didn’t know about my ancestors.
            My Great Grandfather Gray was 81 years old when he died. He was born in North Carolina. My Great Grandmother Gray lived to be 63 years old and she was born in Tennessee. My Great Grandmother Wheeler was about 70 when she died. My Grandmother Wheeler was born in Tennessee, she is 71 years old now. Grandpa Wheeler was born in Alabama, he died at the age of 69 with parylasis. Mama was born in Tennessee and died when I was eight years old at the age of 32. Papa was born in Missouri, he was just about 3 or 4 years old when the Civil War came up I think. Grandma can tell lots of things that happened during that war that seem most unreasonable for human beings to be cruel enough to treat one another that way. I don’t know much about Mother’s people as they nearly all live in Tennessee and Mississippi and she has one brother living in Florida and a Bro and Sister in Texas. Her Bro in Texas is the only one of her folks I’ve seen, he is my favorite Uncle. (April 15, 1910)

            I believe I’ll tell a story here. Once while there was a big camp meeting going on at a certain place. Three or 4 boys out of a community about 12 miles distance, decided to go up to the camp meeting just to be going and have some fun. So they went and stayed two or 3 days but during the time some of the boys were converted. One was a boy whose father was an infadell. The news reached his home before he got there, that he had been converted. He knew he would have trouble when he got home; and sure enough when he went in home about dinner, he saw 5 or 6 big switches over one of the doors in the gun rack; and he knew at once what these were for. He went to the field and worked that evening, and when he came home at night, he went out in a little plumb thicket close to the house, to pray for the Lord to help him bare the whipping he knew his father would give him. While he was praying his father came up with the switches, and began to whip him. He took his whipping and that night at bed time, he asked his father if he could get the Bible and read a chapter and pray in the family. His father sullenly replied he didn’t care how much he prayed. So he read and began to pray and while he was praying he mother and one of her sisters was converted. After prayers his father went and got a lot of his infadell books, and put them in the fire saying there was a greater power in that than John.
            John made a preacher and this John was my Great Great Grandpa John Wheeler, his son, my Great Grandpa was a preacher and my Great Grandpa Gray was a preacher. (April 15, 1910)

            Three years ago to day the school was out at Duffman. We had two days and nights for the closing. The closing was conducted in the Tabernacle and it was a larger one. All the people couldn’t get under the Tabernacle that were there that night. I said a great long speech (prose) about a boy and girl taking in the garden they were fixing to <  > away and marry and the girls father was dead and their fathers and mother were fixing to marry too, but didn’t know it. The title was “The Garden Plot.” That was the last time I’ve recited. On Sat every body came and stayed all day. It was a regular picnic day. There was lemonade and icecream stands on the grounds and there was 16 of us girls played Bascet Ball in the eve, 8 wore red waists and white skirts and 8 wore blue waists and white skirts. I never saw such a crowd at a common picnic I don’t believe, as there was gathered around that ring to watch us play ball. The ball couldn’t get out of the ring any where with out bouncing over the people’s heads, the people were so close together. Prof Branlet our teacher, empired. I was a “blue.” The reds beat us 2, we had 6 and them 8. But the professor said he would let us play 40 minutes, but he didn’t let us play but 30, he said we were getting too hot. Most every body thought thoe he was afraid the Blues would beat. After our we got through Mr <Herring> treated us all to ice cream.
            One of the Duffan boys and me went driving that eve. I liked him the best of any of my fellows then, but papa didn’t want me to keep company with him, so it was exactly a year from that day till I saw him again on May 17 the next year was Sunday and he was at church at Duffan and walked home with me. We quit being Sweet Hearts a good while ago but are just good friends, and I got a post card from him today. May 17, 1910

            I took the May exam this year and passed. That was Bralley’s first set of examination questions. I also took the last set of question <Couserrs) made. I had quite a time studying for examination as I had all the work at home to do and couldn’t get to school. I learned several rules in spelling and several topics in history by reading them over when I’de start to wash dishes or washing clothes and learn them while I was busy. May 9, 1910 <19>

            Hally’s commet can be seen now. All the news papers are full about it. They say this is the first time the Earth has been in it’s tail in years and years. Some man also said it would go through the Earth on May 18 and burn the world up, but I see it didn’t. (May 27)

            One of the boys I met at the normal last summer, Cephas Thompson came down on the evening train Sunday eve and stayed till Monday morning. He taught school last winter and as I’m preparing to teach of course, we had an interesting time talking of school affairs. And I showed him the questions that were on the last examination.
            My! He’s about to capture me althoe he is not trying very hard. But I do think he is very hansome and manly.
            He had on a little straw hat, patten leather slippers, a light suit and had a ring on his little finger. He looked pretty good to me.
            I never will for get what I thought of him the first time I saw him. He started to the normal a wk or two later than nearly every one else. There was a vacant desk a cross the isle from where I was setting and he came in and sat down in it. I looked him over and said to my self: “He’s pretty good looking I wonder if he is married, I guess so thoe, very few boy’s as nice looking as he is escapes being captured till they are grown.” But I didn’t think about him ever going with me. In fact, I didn’t think any more about him, till one of the boys began to tease me about him, along toward the last of the normal, and said, he said I was the best girl going to the normal.
            It wasn’t long till he told that boy to ask me if he could take me to a concert at the school building. And so that was the first time he went with me. That night he carried my fan off in his pocket and the next day I ask him if he didn’t carry off my fan and he said “yes, I thought if I couldn’t get you I would take your fan.”
            But what made it so funny my old chum’s fellow and Thompson were bording at the same place; and he went with her to the concert and carried off her fan too, and when she said something to him about her fan he said exactly the same thing too her, and we never knew they had it made up.
            I didn’t suppose I would ever see of hear tell of Mr Thompson any more but when the normal was over he wrote and came to DeLeon once before his school began last fall.
            But he is a little bashful. I always did like to be with boys that were a little fast and inclined to flirt (not too fast thoe) But I know they are not the most sensible boys nor they are not so apt to make a success in life. Grandpa says I won’t like a boy that has any real worth about them. (May 23, 1910)

            To day Bro Evens (the Methodist preacher here) had an “Old Folks Service.” There was quite a number of old folks there. Several were there whose silvery hair, bowed form and tottering step tell they are bordering the edge of the grave. I love old people. I guess it is because I was mostly raised by my grandma and grandpa. Bro Evens closed the prayers and got out the old hymnbook and conducted the service in the “Old Fashioned Way.” Bro Evens would read two lines and then they would sing them. They sang “Amazing Grace” and “I am bound for the promised land” and so on. Those old people enjoyed the singing; thoe their voices were some of them broken they nearly all sang. Grandma said after we got home, she did like the bishop. She “joined in tune or no tune.” It is strange how custom will change, even in worship so much in so short a time. The way he conducted that service was quite a sight to some of us younger people. Then he had a regular old time experience meeting in the evening. It did everybody that was there good to hear those old people testify. And so many spoke of how they enjoyed the morning service. (May 29,1910)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Diaries Jan - March 1910; Just the right kind of weather to be lonesome...

I come from a looooooong line of Methodist ministers on this side of the family, and though I wasn't raised Methodist, we had the same tradition of calling other members of the church "Brother so-and-so" and "Sister so-and-so." If there is no name after Bro or Sis, she's talking about her actual siblings. And, I failed to mention that Irene's mother passed a few years before this; thus her closeness to her grandmother. She never makes a big deal out of it, but it obviously affects her (as it would anyone).


Genoa came today to stay and go to school (Jan 21, 1910)

            Bro and myself went to the Baptist church to night was a week a go to hear a man lecture on the Holly Land. The house was cram full. (Jan 23, 1910)

            As I am fourth Vice President in the League here and to day was missionary Sunday. I led the League. Ruby Hancock encouraged me a great deal by coming by the other eve to get me to help her on her part. She said she had heard so many talk of how good they thought I could talk in the League. Well I wrote some and she just copied mine off and didn’t add anything to it. I think if you hear any thing good about any one they aught to go tell them of it. It encourages any one and scatters sunshine. (Jan 30, 1910)

            This is Feb 1st. We had a business meeting of the League at Bro Evens, after the business was transacted we had a debate - affirmative, Syllamin Evens and Martie McCain - subject was resolved that Georgetown is a better place to educate our young people than Polytecnic - negative, Joseph Paterson and Kate Greer. Negative wins. The debate was fine. After the debate refreshments was served (chocolate and sandwiches) I was one of the commity on refreshments. After supper <Vertna> Lambert recited. There was 34 present all reported a nice time. When we started home it was dark and thundering and lightening and sprinkling rain. We ran part of the way and got home before we got wet but we were quite breathless.

             To day I sent a Valentine card to my best old fellow --- I believe it was the prettiest I ever saw. It had the picture of two little angles on it sharpening arrows. And this verse - Oh grind dear Cupid. Grind your dart, And strike my Darling, Through the heart. (Feb 13, 1910)

            To night is 3 years ago there was a Washington play at the school house at Duffan. A young man (------) went home with me from the play. He was my first real Sweet Heart. I had gone with boys before but didn’t care any thing for them. (Feb 22, 1910)

            I have just finished reviewing Texas History this afternoon. I think it is very interesting, especially toward the last. I believe Governor Sayers, Gov Lanern & Gov Cambel are my favorite Governors. (Feb 25, 1910)

            Yesterday Papa and Grandma went to Proctor and left Bro and me and Genoa (my cousin) by our selves. So we declared we were going to sleep this morning as long as we wanted.  As we have been busy studying, we would sit up till 10 or after every night and get up at five so we were always sleepy. Well we did all the work we could Sat night for Sunday so we could sleep late and then get up redy for Sunday - school. Well we did sleep till about 8 oclock and when we got up we all decided we felt worse than we did when we got up early. (March 6, 1910)

            This eve we went to League. There was a large crowd of young folks there but we didn’t have any program. So Bro Evens took Joseph in the old testament as a subject and brought out the good things in his character. He said one thing was that Joseph had dreams of what he would be in the future, and he said every young person aught to have ambitious dreams of what he was going to do in the future. It has always been the height of my ambitions to get a good education and have a good Piano and be able to play anything I wanted.

            Maud Hail has been here and spent Sat and Sunday with me again. Papa and me took her home or rather to the school house where she teaches as there was singing there this eve. So we started in time to be at the singing. (March 13, 1910)

            Well I have just gotten back from the depot. Genoa went of on the train. Every thing seems pretty still and lonesome, and it is cold and cloudy, Just the right kind of weather to be lonesome any way. I certainly will miss her, for she has been here about two months studying. Any girl that hasn’t any sister or any other girl in the house their size sure do get lonesome. It is strange any one will find little faults and failures in their friends and loved ones, that seem very great while we are with them, but after they are gone they seem very small. Yesterday Bro was running around with his shoes on without any stockings on; all at once some one knocked at the door, Bro started to run in the kitchen but the only way out of the room was to go through the hall and the front hall door was glass on top. So he jumped behind the room door and pulled the door back. It was the Methodist preacher, Bro Evens, after a while a little nabor girl that was here began to hunt Bro and pulled the door back. We all began to laugh and Bro Evens did too. I never saw Bro so badly gotten away with hardly. (March 16, 1910)

            I have just been copying off on a sheet of paper, some good saying that I found in a chapter in “The Royal Path of Life.” There was some sentences that impressed me more than others, and some that I thought would be a help to me, so I copied them off. One of them is, “You can do anything if you will only have patience.” another - “Knowledge is power, but it is one of the slowest because one of the most durable of <gericies>.” and several others as good. I think I shall read them over every day, especially when I am inclined to be discouraged. (March 13, 1910)

            To day is Easter Sunday, and it has been such a lovely day.  I went to church and Sunday School. (I haven’t missed Sunday School a Sunday this year.) and the church was decorated pretty and Bro Evens preached the best sermon I nearly ever heard him preach. They say this is the earliest Easter has been since 1894. Last Easter Sunday was April 11th, my Birthday. I was 18 years old that day. I wrote a letter to one of my old Duffan <       > that day and am going to write to a young man to day. But it isn’t the same one. Of course I was due them a letter both times. (March 27, 1910)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Great-Grandmother's Diaries

Grandmother Driver and me (1973ish)
If you've stumbled onto my "about" page, you'll know that even though I barely remember the lady in this photo, she's the reason I started quilting. About 13 years ago, my mother asked me to take all of Irene Driver's diaries and type them out so they could be shared with the whole family - a daunting task. I made a quilt to psych myself up for the task and just kept making them.

Anyway, I've been meaning to go back and dig into her diaries and mine them for story ideas. There's no way I can sit down and read them all at once, so I want to read them in blocks - and I was thinking that maybe it would be a good idea to post them on one of my blogs. I have three blogs going at the moment; this one, my writing blog, and another one that is for everything else. In deciding where to post them, this blog made the most sense. I'll post them daily, but I haven't figured out how I want to break them up though.

They range from fascinating entries about the first time she voted after the 1920 Amendment and what it was like to see (gasp) the first Catholic on the presidential ticket to mundane things like how much she got for her turkeys in 1934. I should also point out that I don't think she would have liked me very much, but that's neither here nor there. How would she feel about her diaries being spread out all over the world? There's nothing terribly scandalous, so I don't think she'd care. I'll get this figured out. In the meantime, here's the first month's worth of entries... unedited and some of the words I couldn't read and completely guessed at are in brackets.

May I introduce Ms. Irene Driver (nee, Wheeler) of multiple places in central Texas starting in November 1909.

This is November 28, 1909. I went to Lodge last night and joined. The <Yoemen> took out a policy of $1000 made to Papa. There were 8 joined; that was my first lodge to go to or belong to either.
            Bro has a pet squirrel he caught in the woods when it was very small. It is running over me and trying to get me to play with it till I can’t half write.

            On Dec the 2nd I started for Comanche where I was going to take the examination for teacher certificate. Della and Delia Wall were going to, for the same purpose. There were several men went to Dublin from DeLeon, namely Mr. Ross, Mr. Greenwall, R W Swindall, and Rev Evans, were at the depot when we got on the train bound for Dublin where we would have to change cars.
            We got on the train hoping and wondering if we would pass. We had lots of fun telling of our experience in studying and preparing for out now fast arriving fate one way or the other. We spent the evening in Dublin at the Wylie Cottage. It was quite a weary evening of waiting for <we> were in such a hurry to get to Comanche. At last supper time came at about 7 a.m.
            There was a crowd of show folks there for supper. After supper Mr Greenwalt went with me to the depot. We were soon glad to find our selves on board the Frisco train for Comanche. We arrived there about 9.30 in the night. Maude Hail my old chum had written me to stay with her during the examination so she was at the train to meet me. I sure was glad to see her.

            Dec. 3, 1909 Friday morning found us rushing around preparing t start to the college where the examination was to be. I got there to find four of the old normal girls, I had went to the normal with the summer before, there to take the examination. Prof Witt, Prof Davis, Prof Winnfrow, and Miss Robinson were the examiners.
            The first days work was quite hard and I worked on my papers till after or about dark. As Maud’s house (where I was staying) was pretty close to college. When I started (walking slowly) I saw they were out on the step watching for me and they ran to meet me about half way to see how I had gotten along, for I didn’t go back for any dinner and they had sent it to me. I found time to eat it about 2.30 oclock but I sure was proud they sent it for I sure was hungry.

            On the last day of the examination. Sat Dec 4 I got threw about two oclock in the evening. Then Maud and me had all the rest of the evening to talk. We went up stairs and got to reading some of her old love letters. It was cold and cloudy and after while it began to rain and soon went to hailing. And my it sure did hail till the grown was nearly covered. We stayed up stairs and talked and read letters for about two hours finally we got so cold we had to go down stairs to warm. It rained from then on till dark. The Walls girls and myself were going to board the 12.30 train for home that night so we all set around the fire and talked till the transfer came after us about 12 oclock. We sure had a nice time for Mr and Mrs Hail joined us in telling funny thing and the time soon flew by.

            Finally a young man came by to tell us how we came out on our exam and he had bad news for he said Della Walls passed but the other girl and my self failed. My! When I heard that I had failed on my exam, I realized what a great man had ment when he said, “The march of the human mind is slow” for I sure had been studying. Delia liked to have cried but I knew that would do no good so I tried not to care, but to determine to do better next time for I knew there was no such thing as fail to any one who was determined to succeed.

            There was 6 of the young folks that had been examined in all, homeward bound that night so we didn’t get very lonely. The train soon came after we got to the depot at Comanche and before we hardly knew it we were at Dublin where we were to change cars. We didn’t much more than time to take a transfer for the other depot, and get our tickets toll the other train came up and then we were bound for DeLeon. We got here about 2.30 oclock and when we got to DeLeon papa was there to meet us but the cold wind was there to and the grown was frozen, My! Ice was every where for it had been raining. We soon got home and were sure glad to get out of the wind and to get to bad for we hadn’t slept a bit.

            Sunday morning Johnnie Wall came after Della and Delia. It wasn’t quite so cold but it was pretty cold then. Papa preached for Rev Evans that day at 11oclock (Dec. 5) There was one conversion and about two reclamations. I didn’t venture out to services till in the evening Papa and me went to <Leagene>.
            Dec 16 Clara Nabors and three other girls came after me to step up with the corpse of Mrs Henderson. I want to Clara’s and we slept till 12 oclock and got up and there was six of us set up. The last part of the night that was the first corpse I ever set up with.

            Dec 19 (1909) To day is Sunday and the earth is washed in a mantle of white. Every thing looks pretty to me covered in snow. As the sun shines out the little flakes of snow shine back like so many little diamonds. It is lovely to have the blackness of the earth covered with a spotless white once and a while for a change. My: it is so very cold we dare not stick our heads out when we can help it, but I enjoy the cold weather especially when it is snow.

            Dec 20. Papa has gone about 9 miles in the country to marry a couple to night. It sure is cold and the ground is covered in snow but it is so clear and pretty and the moon is shining so bright it is a lovely night even to get married. I’ve been studying. The rest have gone to bed and I’m sleepy enough.

            Dec, 25 (1909) This is xmas day and I never saw such a dull xmas. DeLeon is almost as quiet as if it was Sunday.
            To day is Sunday I have gone to church and league to day. Bro Evans preached the best xmas sermon. I enjoyed it so much. I consider the blessing of church and church association about our greatest blessing. Good religious services do encourage us so much, and point us to high and noble things. Dec 26, (1909)

            This evening I had one of the song books and was singing. Grandma was setting in the corner reading. She always insists on me singing once and a while she says she does love singing so well but can’t sing now because her breadth gives out. I knew her favorite song was “Never Alone” finally I came to it and began singing it. She dropped her reading and began singing with me. Her voice was broken but I do love to hear her sing. It will be sad and lonely when that broken voice ceases, for I know it must some time. She is just like a mother to me. (Dec 16, 1910) <?>

Monday, May 12, 2014

To Border or Not To Border

Is a border necessary?
Something has come up a few times lately... but before I get into it - there's something that has to be gotten out of the way.

This song has been stuck in my head since I thought of writing this post. Hopefully, by getting it stuck in someone else's head - it will leave me in peace. 

Now that's done...

There have been many debates and controversies that rock the quilting world to varying degrees. They range from the congenial dry -v- steam ironing, through the slightly more contentious seams open -v- seams to the side, all the way through the explosive prewash -v- not prewashing. You really don't want to bring that last one up in polite company.

What I want to talk/ask about today are borders. This may stir a few pots - but I have come to hate borders. Well, that's not totally true - I hate useless borders. If the border I'm thinking of putting on something doesn't add to the design of the quilt and only serves to restrict the main pattern, it doesn't get made. I just run the main pattern all the way out to the edge. Just because something's been done one way for 300+ years doesn't make it right... or even functional in most cases.

Don't get me wrong; I have seen some beautifully crafted borders. Picket fences that work with the flower motif of the middle, beautiful trupunto vines, etc. - but I also see a lot of just necessary and distracting borders that take away from the graphic nature of the quilt pattern. 

Someone posted a picture in one of the quilting facebook groups I'm in of a beautifully striking quilt. It was graphic and strong - one of those that I makes me think, "Damn. I wish I'd made that." Unfortunately, the caption below it said... "I just have to add the border and I'll be through." I wanted to cry.

I can't jump into someone else's design like a cop in an action movie trying to jump in the way of a bullet, screaming, "NOOOOOOOOO!" as I fly through the air. It's their design and their choice.

But, I do want to throw this thought out into the world - Borders are not necessary and sometimes they are even harmful.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rethinking Pattern Prices

Rethinking Pattern Stuff

When I first decided to sell patterns, it felt like something of a no-brainer. If I'm going to sit down and design a quilt, I thought I might as well write down what I did and make a little residual money off my ideas. I made a quilt for a coworker's baby shower and decided that since I was giving that one away, it would be a good opportunity to make my first pattern and get a little of my cost back.

So, I wrote my first pattern. And with anything new that I try, I was scared witless. What if I'd left something out, what if I'd over explained the simple stuff and made it too convoluted to follow... there were a whole lot of what-ifs. So, instead of charging for it, I released it to the internet for free with a plea for feedback.

Within two weeks, it had been downloaded over 300 times. That was last November and I still haven't gotten a comment from any of that first chunk of people who downloaded it. Instead of throwing up my hands and thinking WTF, I'm taking it as a sign that it's fine and they were able to follow it easily. I'm still learning and may go back and revise my patterns to explain things in simpler ways.

It's hard knowing how to explain something to people of every skill level. A couple of months ago, I got a complaint about my bunnies...

Bunny quilt - CUTENESS!

The lady demanded her money back. I immediately refunded it and went back and looked at the pattern. I had over explained and while everything had made sense when I'd written it, it was convoluted. I'm not even sure I could have followed the pattern and I was the one who'd written it. So I sat down, revised, emailed her a free copy, and she was happy with it. I appreciate her feedback immensely. That interaction has done more for improving my pattern making skills than anything else that's happened.

Now there's been another shift.

I made a quilt for myself, finally. It had been a long time since I'd slept under a new quilt and I'd forgotten the feeling and what made me pick this up in the first place. I ran across Moda's Little Black Dress layer cake at the Worcester Quilting and Sewing Expo last year and it took my breath away. Every square was a work of art and I didn't want to cut any of it, so I sat down and worked out a very simple pattern that would showcase the fabric. Anyone who has made even one quilt could look at this and see the pattern, the parts to strip piece, and take about 10 or 15 minutes to figure out the measurements. Of course, it took me a day to finish the top and a year to get around to quilting it...
Easy Layer Cake Quilt

Because of all this, I just made the quilt, replaced the purple and cream Triple Irish Chain that's been on my bed for eons, and was thrilled the first morning I woke up and was able to wrap myself in my new quilt before starting my day and considered it a done deal. But, when I posted a picture of it on Facebook, a friend of mine wanted to know where she could buy the pattern. I sat down, made a one page PDF of the pattern and emailed it to her. Then I thought that if she wanted it, maybe other people would too. But then I ran into a pricing issue.

I wasn't about to give it away; I'd learned my lesson with the free owl quilt. I had to really think about pattern buying. If I'm making a quilt to keep or give away, I usually won't buy a pattern. If I'm making something to sell and someone wants a design they've seen from someone else, I feel morally obligated to buy the pattern and not just sit down with my graph paper and figure it out. That's what happened when someone told me that they liked this one... I bought the pattern.

Taffy Twists Quilt

Most people aren't selling their quilts, so would feel no real obligation to buy the pattern if they could see a picture and figure it out on their own. The main part of a simple pattern like this is the math and I had to ask myself, how much would I be willing to throw someone to do the math for me. Two bucks seemed about right, so I released the pattern for $2 and it has been selling like gangbusters. It's been up a few weeks and it has not only sold more copies, but even at 1/3 the price, it's brought in more money than any of my other patterns, even the ones that have been up for 6 months, and I haven't seen any signs that it's slowing down. This has made me rethink everything.

$2.00 worth of math leads to a Twin version of the layer cake quilt

When I was first discussing pattern prices with one of my local fabric store ladies, she was appalled that I was going to sell them for just $5. The applique quilt patterns take a lot of work on my part. I pay for the right to use the image, re-size it, break it apart, configure it so it prints out in the easiest-to-reassemble way possible, spend money and time making the example for the illustration, etc. That's a lot of work for slow sales.

For about a second, I was concerned that people were afraid of the applique - but then I remembered the 300+ people who showed no fear of the owl applique when it was free. I've decided that I am going to use the same logic I used on the layer cake quilt and just charge for the time it took me to do the math - for about a month anyway, just to see how it goes.

It's not like digital PDF patterns are something renewable that I have to pay to maintain or ever even think about again, for that matter. I worried that maybe dropping my prices so low would undercut other people's patterns, but most of mine are pretty unique (I think, anyway), so I'm not concerned about that.
Just as an experiment, so that I'll know whether it's my designs or my prices, I'm dropping everything to $2 and see how things go.

I keep reading in all of these business books to not undersell myself and to not under-price myself if I want to be taken seriously... I'm going to ignore them for now. I"m going to keep making cute baby quilts and off-beat throws and if this price cut experiment works, all my patterns might be just $2 forever. I've put off making patterns for these because it has just hasn't seemed worth it... but I'm actually feeling motivated again. I will be the Two Buck Chuck of my tiny corner of the quilting world.

Almost Antique

Manly Quilt of Manfulness

More bunnies

Summer Sailing

If any of you have pattern pricing experience and want to chime in, any comments or ideas would be appreciated.