Needlework, Finishing, Designing, Quilting, Some Discoveries and Adventures in Stitching from Windy Ridge Designs

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I live on a ridge, elevation 800 or so above sea level, surrounded by farms and orchards.  A man has been working on cutting down the deadwood in the small woods next to my road and driveway over the winter.  When the weather warmed, I came up the road and saw this cluster of flowers on the roadside where none have ever been before.  It was really pretty.  It has also been catching quite a bit of attention from others as they drive around Dead Man's Curve.  So, today I finally went out and took some pictures.  Actually I'd thought they were crocuses as I drove by at lightspeed.  I was surprised then, on closer inspection that they were not.  At first, I thought May Apple.  Then realized that the flower was all wrong for that.  So, looked in my book and thought it was Jeffersonia - or Twin Leaf.  Then, went out again and took another look, and the leaf was wrong.  FINALLY, took some pictures, put them on the computer and compared them to my book on wildflowers.  What a surprise for me that they are Bloodroot.  I've never seen this plant before in my life.  And I'm a person who likes to go traipsing in the woods and identifying things I find.  And I've been at it a long time.

Anyway, thought you might like to  know a little about Bloodroot.  Says Native Americans used to use the red sap from the underground stems as a dye for baskets, clothing and war paint.  In addition, it works as an insect repellant.   Also, interestingly enough, it is a member of the poppy family.  I also have wild poppies (corn poppies I think they are called) that I've been encouraging to grow in my own garden.  Pictures of them, next month.   I thought Bloodroot would tie in with needlework because the plant was used to make dye.  Sorry I haven't been on much about what I'm stitching.  Life has sort of overtaken me with client's work and other things.  I am working currently on Quaker something or other by Ellen Chester.  Over one!  Saves thread that way.

The Essay That Accompanied My Entry - Bee Line March Box

This is the exact wording of the "paragraph" that was typed on the back of my entry form.  Much of this was already stated in different language in a previous post.  However, this is what the judges saw, along with my pictures that got me through State and East Central Division.

Living as I do in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, colonial history is all around me.  Historic sites and tales of the past abound.  One such story is of the Virginia Riflemen, men who left their homes on the eve of the American Revolution to aid their country in a time of crisis.  On the recommendation by none other than George Washington, Congress selected Hugh Stephenson, a farmer of middle years with some previous military experience, to lead a company of 100 men in June 1775.  Captain Stephenson was ordered to assemble his men and set off to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the Continental Army and local militia needed their reinforcement during the siege of Boston.  John Adams wrote in a letter to James Warren that the Virginia Riflemen, who were “men who can kill with great exactness,” were on their way.  These men of the rough, wild lands assembled at Morgan’s Spring near Shepherdstown and crossed the Pack Horse Ford of the Potomac River.  Incredibly, they covered 600 miles of woodland, field and swamp in only 24 days and reported to General Washington on August 11, 1775.  Their hard life in the backwoods had prepared them for this.  Their feat, which became known as the Bee Line March, was accomplished at a time when most horses traveled only 15 to 20 miles on a good day.  Upon arrival in Cambridge and even before, crowds could not quite take in the appearance of the Virginians in their animal skin and roughly woven clothing.  It is said that General Washington wept at the sight of their arrival.  Unfortunately, many of the men from the company did not return home.  Cambridge was just a staging ground.  They were sent where they were most needed throughout the Northeast; many were captured by the British and died in captivity or of wounds.

The cross stitch I have designed is intended to give the feelings of haste, swiftness and urgency, descriptions of the feelings I am sure the Virginia Riflemen had in the days leading up to and during the Bee Line March.  The front panel on the box depicts Captain Stephenson leading his men out of Shepherdstown to cross the Potomac River where a scout (right side panel) has already been sent ahead.  Their clothing is comprised of “hunting shirts and pantaloons, fringed on every edge” and animal skin hats.  They carry their knapsacks, powder horns, shot pouches and tomahawks as well as their rifles.  The closure button I made from a piece of deer antler; the riflemen would have had something similar on their clothing.  The back panel shows the long rifle that many, if not most, of the men would have carried.  It was the quintessential hunting rifle of the Alleghenies.  My research did not indicate that the men carried a banner of any sort.  I feel, if they had, it would have been a variation of the Culpeper flag (left side panel), because of Stephenson’s association with Dunmore’s War.  The inside of the box, which is lined with silk, contains a list of the men’s names, according to Dandridge in Historic Shepherdstown.  The stitching is done on 32 count linen using sumptuous silk floss manufactured by Kreinik – a West Virginia company.  

We remember Captain Stephenson’s company of Virginia Riflemen here in the Panhandle with a marker in downtown Martinsburg, a monument near Shepherdstown, historic trails throughout Jefferson County, several NSDAR chapters – most notably Pack Horse Ford and Bee Line – and now in my Bee Line March box.  West Virginians can proudly say that the Virginia Riflemen answered the call to duty and are our American Heritage Remembered.

Sources: Historic Shepherdstown, Danske Dandridge, 1910; A History of Jefferson County, West Virginia, Millard Bushong, 1941; The Warren-Adams Letters, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1917; Google, Flags of the Revolution; Rootsweb, Lasfargues and Diffendorfer Family History, Hugh Stephenson, ID I8572.


Bee Line March Box
Kreinik Silk Mori on 32 Count Wichelt, Waterlily, linen 

You'll remember, I entered my Bee Line March Box in the DAR American Heritage Contest.  Well, yesterday I received a letter from the East Centra Division Chairman.  She congratulated me on winning East Central Division in the Cross Stitch category.  So, I called my chapter regent, Dorrene, because I was just WAY too excited.  Dorrene told me that the fact that I won Division also means that I've won State.  The State Conference begins this month at the Oglebay Resort near Morgantown and they give out state certificates at that conference.

Now I have to send my box away - insured to the hilt!  It has to go to the National Chairman, because it will be judged for National in Washington, D.C.  The gals were talking to me yesterday about going to Congress.  Congress is held in July at DAR Constitution Hall.  They're talking about arranging a limo to take us down.  If we go on the Wednesday, we can attend the West Virginia Breakfast and then they'll have the awards for American Heritage later in the day.  Dorrene says it's very special to receive an award in person.

I was nearly in tears when I got that letter yesterday.  It's been almost two years to the day since I started working on this project and it has been very near and dear to my heart.  I said to my friends that I thought that it was worthy of being state champion.  Sorry if that sounds conceited, but I firmly believe that we women need to give ourselves more credit where credit is deserved.  There are a lot of really talented designers and needleworkers out there in this country so I never hoped for anything further than state.  I am thrilled to my tippy toes to have won Division.  I will probably faint if I win National!

I had to write a paragraph about my design and how it fit into the theme "America's Heritage Remembered".  The state chairman told me last fall that I should write as much as I possibly could.  My chapter regent - elect, Cheryl - helped me polish what became my essay.  I will publish that as another post, hopefully this weekend, so ya'll can understand what this is all about.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Don't Usually Do This . . . .

. . . but -  since I haven't got anything to say about my personal sewing/needlework just now, I thought I'd tell you about this book I'm reading.

It is called The Wedding Officer and it's by Anthony Capella.  I got it at a very good price from Amazon.  I have no idea how I actually found this book on Amazon, but, a l-o-n-g time ago, I had added it to my wishlist.  I ordered a book last week and in order to get my supersaver (aka FREE SHIPPING) I needed to add just a little bit more to my order.  So, I went into my wishlist to see what I could dig up.  And this was there and didn't cost much.

I have been reading since late last week and have been mostly unable to put it down.  I say mostly because life actually has intervened and I've had to put it down for things like cooking dinner, planting azaleas, making birthday cake (my youngest just turned 18!) and loving on my dogs and husband.  I've also been enjoying our cherry trees in bloom.  We planted them fall 2008 and were very disappointed by them last spring.  But, we didn't panic and waited another year only to be paid off in droves.  The picture at right is of the Weeping Cherry we planted in the front yard.  It was covered with beautiful blossoms.  I wanted a picture of it in the evening sun and had to wait until I was home Sunday night to do it.  UNFORTUNATELY, middle of the night on Saturday we had a big windy front come through and when I got up Sunday morning, I had few blossoms left.  Que sera, que sera as Doris used to sing - maybe a better pic next year.  It was gorgeous for two days though!

Back to the book though - I love history and this story takes place in WWII Italy.  If you liked Captain Corelli's Mandolin, you will probably like this book.  There is a very shocking scene in the story about the murder of a cow.  It is horrible and made me think bad things of Austrailians for about an hour and a half.  I know, they're good people; Gift of Stitching is produced by an Aussie - or is she really from New Zealand?  Anyway, I digress. . .

Capella has his own website where you can read about other of his books - I think I'm hooked and will get another.  His prose is very attention grabbing - whether he's got the attention of my taste buds or my intellect.  Have a great week - I'm helping the treasurer now at the historical society and am putting on a Boy Scout display in the museum as well as trying to get things done for clients.  Think it'll be a busy week for me for sure!