19 May 2010

A very Jane Austen day

"My dear Cassandra, have you remembered to collect pieces for the Patchwork? -- We are now at a standstill." 
- Jane Austen, a letter to her sister, Cassandra, dated May 1811
I relish my days off, when I'm not racing around Charlecote Park, or sweating out an submission deadline -- staring blankly at my computer screen awaiting inspiration for my monthly column to strike! (O, for a muse of fire...)

Today was an exquisite "play day".  The sun shining brightly and warmly (!) late into the afternoon. This morning, after taking Lucy for a short walk, watering the garden and speaking persuasively to my temperamental rose bushes, and I sat in one of our new patio chairs and listened to the sound of starlings screeching and chattering boisterously over head.

(We have new neighbours -- a growing family of starlings have built a nest in our roof, right above our bedroom window. They wake us with early each morning with a racuous dawn chorus!)

On these sort of days, I pursue simple pleasures, and today I had the joy of finishing a patchwork quilt I have been working for years! It has been so long, I cannot recall when I first started this project, precisely. 2004? 2005? 2003? Goodness knows.

One thing is for certain, I did not quilt while I was living in NYC. There are quilters and knitters in New York, no doubt, but the City just never inspired that kind of vibe in me. I need the quiet, and sounds of nature spur me on.

Jane Austen was a keen quilter (amongst other things) and she relished her pursuit of this oh-so feminine art.

Here's a picture of a quilt she created in 1811. Her quilt, along with other pieces of her surviving needlework, is house at Chawton House, the Jane Austen museum in Hampshire:

Jane Austen's quilt

I'd like to think that Jane Austen would have applauded my very modest efforts: a two fabric, simple block patchwork.
 

I'm a long way off attaining her level of ability. Her quilt is a complex, diamond-shaped maze of 64 different fabrics! 

Completed all by hand -- no electricity, remember!

Amazing.

p.s. A close-up of my quilt pattern...




4 comments:

Victoria Plum said...

Have you been to the Quilt exhibition at the V&A - you really should! It is wonderful ... I'm thinking about starting a patchwork quilt ....

Kneazle1 said...

Gorgeous fabric.

Anne-Margaret said...

Much better then I could do! Congrats on finishing it. What a productive "play day"!

soggibottom said...

Ha ha... a hoot... wish I had found you ages ago... !

x x x