Popcorn Party

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Sometimes what may seem like the most obscure thing is what ties us to someone in some unknown way. Years ago during a visit I made to Vermont before my husband and I were married, we were having a conversation  that turned to the topic of writing. He proclaimed, “My mother wrote a book that was published.”  I was intrigued, “What was it?”  to which he replied, “Oh, just a children’s book. One of those Little Golden Books, called Popcorn Party.” To his surprise, my next sentence was, “I have that book!”

Yes, one of the many books I’d had as a child was indeed Popcorn Party, by Louise MacMartin and Trudy Boyles (co-authors, friends, and neighbors). When I returned home I retrieved the book, which was still stored in a little blue trunk in my bedroom closet with all my other childhood books.

One of the more pristine copies we acquired

After we married, my worn and slightly scribbled in copy was the only one in the MacMartin clan. Although copies had been prolific at one time, over the years they’d been lost or tossed, with no one thinking about saving some for posterity. After several years we decided it was time to find everyone in the family their own copy. As this was pre-internet,  we contacted two book dealers, one in Vermont and one in Oregon. Copies of this gem were indeed out there, and the dealers found us several. We paid anywhere from $5.00 to $45.00 per book as we acquired eight books, one for each of our three children and my husband’s five siblings.

I still have my copy, which now seems like a thread that had been connecting me all along to my future family. Some day it will be passed down to our granddaughter, along with all the family history behind it.

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Some of the joy of quilting is figuring out not only what blocks to use, but ultimately how to configure them when done. Sometimes I have this in my head or am inspired by a pattern from a magazine or book, or a quilt I’ve seen in person. Other times I don’t know what will happen until I’m done making all the blocks.

Most blocks have some tricks for construction; what looks complex may be put together in quite a simple way. This can be especially true for the Log Cabin block, one I’d recommend as a first quilt for beginners. Rather than making each block separately, the pieces of fabric are put together in long strips, cut to size, then added to the next strip. This isn’t a very good description, so if you are truly interested in this construction you could check out the excellent book by Eleanor Burns, Quilt in a Day. Now, be forewarned that the name is a bit of a misnomer. I doubt a beginning quilter can make anything more than a table runner in a day even with this pattern, but if you are skilled at sewing and persist, you may finish the top piecing of a crib or twin size quilt in a day (a long day, where you don’t do much else!).

Some of the first quilts I made used the Log Cabin block, and it is still one of my favorites because of its versatility.  Here are two examples.

Vermont Summer

Vermont Summer

East Meets West

East Meets West