Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Homemade Multiplicity

Homemade Multiplicity

            When news reached the Lady-of-the house that a certain married couple was expecting a baby she was excited. She can recall the days when the young wife was a girl, the days of sleepovers with her daughters, watching “Pride & Prejudice” in PJ’s while munching on buttered popcorn.

At the same time the Lady-of-the-house heard news of a baby, she had just viewed the Homestead Blessings sewing DVD featuring the West ladies. On it they demonstrate how to make a rag quilt. She had set her sights on one day making such a cute and practical thing. Now news of the baby pushed her over the edge. That week she was in the local variety store fingering the fabric.
 “I may-as-well make three,” she told herself. This notion drifted to mind and she was aware of its source. It sprang from the influence of her long distance friend, a homeschool mother of six who has learned to be efficient. This friend lives by a code of multiplicity. Her practical and loving service to her family made an impression on the Lady-of-the-house who, by this time, certainly had enough enthusiasm for making a multiplicity of rag quilts. “It does feel good to have something made in readiness she said to the Man-of-the-house who was accustomed to her old fashioned phrases, “something for other babies.”
“What other babies?” he asked.
            “Oh, there’s bound to be other babies,” she replied, not exactly satisfying the point.  
This was because the notion of multiplicity was swirling around in her head. If a homemaker can make lasagna, she can double the recipe and make a second for the freezer. If she can make a loaf of zucchini bread she can just as easily make four loaves, freeze two, or wrap one up with a green bow to share with a widowed neighbor. If she can bottle multiple jars of raspberry jam, couldn’t she also sew multiple quilts if they are small?

The project was turning out to be a frugal one. She dug out from a closet of boxes, the cotton batting she was given years before by a friend who had been spring-cleaning her closet. The yards of flannel at the variety store were half price. She purchased no thread because she decided to use up whatever pastel colored thread she had on hand. 
In her attempts at multiplicity, she thought that if she can cut squares she could just as easily cut three batches. If she can machine quilt a stack of flannel sandwiches she can quilt three stacks. While she was sewing together rows of quilt sandwiches for one quilt, she may-as-well sew rows for two more quilts.

After the seams of a rag quilt are clipped carefully with scissors it is to be washed and dried to turn the seams into fringe. The Lady-of-the-house is taking her time with this summer project. Two are near to completion. One is finished. Opening the door of the clothes dryer was the “moment of truth.” Would the rag quilt really form fringe? 

Fresh from the dryer it was warm, soft, and yes, it was adequately fringed. She stood alone in the laundry room and gave the little quilt a kind of hug in agreement with Vicki West who exclaims in a Tennessee accent on the DVDs that everything homemade is either: “so wonderful, so cute, so beautiful, so sweet” or “so darling.” “Darling” was the exclamation the Lady-of-house. 

That afternoon she enjoyed a glass of sun tea - one of three herbal flavors that had been steeping on the lawn since noontime. Simplicity has a place but multiplicity also has its rewards. 

In what way have you invested in the code of multiplicity? In what way would you like to?


  1. I was influenced by the West Ladies' Herbs DVD to make lots of basil vinegar this year.

    I made just one batch and let it set for two weeks, just out of curiosity. Then I tasted it... yum.

    Let's just say that is where the rest of the basil is going this summer.

    I just met another Homeschool Emeritus mom for coffee at Panera and told her I was going to dust off my sewing machine to work on new projects, that quilt looks adorable and easy.

    I am amazed at how much time I have when the last child left to live on campus.

  2. I just made one of these yesterday! So cute! So precious, So darling! Mine is for a friend who is expecting a 3rd sweet daughter....I need to pop mine in the washer and dryer, then I am going to do a post about it on my blog!

    I love the West Ladies!

  3. My Mother-In-Law made a Rag Quilt for our Baby Judah, and it is indeed "Darling" and very, very treasured!

    And, Herbal Sun Tea, hmmm...have not tried that, but a very yummy idea!

    I live by Multiplicity, caring for 7 children ages 10 mos - 13 yrs, there is no way around it! Homemade Holiday Cards, Recipe Scrapbooks for my Daughters, snack time...it's all mulitplied by the number of our Blessings :)

    So glad to have found your Little Blog, I have been a fan for a few years!

  4. Cute, cute quilts! They look so cozy!
    The code of multiplicity--that's common at this time of year when my canner is taken from the storeroom. Jars of tuna done already and waiting for peaches, pears, apples, tomatoes, grape juice... I love to see the multiple jars all lined up on the shelf.

  5. Such cute quilts! Love your ideas!

  6. What an adorable quilt, Karen! I've enjoyed the code of multiplicity through jam and pickle making this summer. I feel inspired to begin a new project with needle and thread this autumn, once our homeschool is running (relatively) smoothly. Working with my hands is soothing to me.

    Thank you for starting this blog. I've just caught up on all the posts and I look forward to stopping by.

    Leigh (who's having computer literacy issues and hoping this isn't double posted)

  7. I was so happy to discover your beautiful and inspiring blog. I just finished Lessons at Blacberry Inn, and I thoroughhly enjoyed it. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and encourage mothers in our endeavors to practice the "Gentle art of Learning." And by theway,the quilts ARE drling. Congratulations on the exciting news!

  8. Love the quilt, Karen! My dear husband and I found a rag quilt draped over a chair in a tiny 'antique' shop (AKA thrift store!) a few years ago. It was the yummiest of warm, fall/winter shades: burgandy, green, brown, tan, black. It was ridiculously cheap, and, since we were on an anniversary outing, we treated ourselves. I pull it out every fall and quite reluctantly put it away at the close of winter. I would love to try to make one myself. Easy, you say? Hmmm, multiplicity...I have always wanted to make each of our children their own quilt when they married...that gives me plenty of time! LOL

    I will also have to check out Homestead Blessings. I have heard they are good. I am a very visual learner! Now, can they teach my daughter and I how to knit?!


  9. Ladies,
    Thank you for sharing how you've taken to multiplicity. I appreciate your kind compliments on my baby quilt. It is well taken especially as later today I need to rip out a mistake I've made on one.

    I like to display certain things seasonally, too, and then save them aside for when the season comes around again.
    Yes, these quilts are easy. My baby quilts have smaller squares than is those the West ladies cut. The larger the quilt, the larger the squares seems reasonable.
    I like to teach knitting. (I taught my daughter and then my son, too, when he was age nine. Sailors used to knit.) I welcome the opportunity whenever the interest arises. Therefore, if you are passing through Lancaster, Pennsylvania . . . bring your knitting needles.

    Smithdeal Family,
    It is so good to hear that you enjoyed Blackberry Inn. I did so want it to minister.

    I understand well your computer position. I'm more confident with a needle. Yet I still make blunders with both.

  10. Hi Karen;

    I just love your quilts, the colors are so peaceful, makes me want to take a nap (as I have to go do a co-op order, while everyone naps...I better keep my eyes open ;-)

    Your blog is like a burst of joy.

    mama to 8
    one homemade and 7 adopted

  11. Karen,

    I think this will be a perfect project for me and my sweet daughter. I will have to order the video, I have been eyeing it for sometime. Since two of us will be learning, we will all so have the multiplicity. :) Thank you for stopping by my blog the other day. I was so pleased to find your blog. I have been reviewing my CM Companion, old and tattered now. LOL That is how I found your blog, thinking about you.
    Thanks again,

  12. Dear Karen,

    Your quilt is beautiful! I made a rag quilt for my 5th child, a baby boy, last summer. Seeing yours inspires longings to make another one! Oh, so many sewing projects, so little time!

  13. Karen, your quilt is lovely. I am going to learn to quilt very soon--a homeschooling mom in my city is going to hold a quilting class at her home for other homeschooling moms. I'm really looking forward to learning, because I want to make a special quilt for our fourth child when he/she is born in the Spring.

    Perhaps I should invest in the Homestead Blessings quilting DVD...I have been admiring all their DVDs from afar, but they're pricey for a family like us, living on one meagre income.

    Anyhow, congratulations on the quilts!

    Multiplicity--I don't do this, but I really need to start. Since I have a baby on the way next Spring, I think it would be a good idea for me to make double batches of things I'm cooking for supper, and put one away in the deep freezer for those newborn days when I won't feel like cooking.

  14. The quilts you created are lovely! This will be my first year learning how to can, so I hope that I will have a large number of canned goods, to last throughout the rest of the year.

  15. Multiplicity—I've not run across this term before. I've heard and practiced the concept at different times. When I needed to make a baby bib, I made several. When my son needed play shorts, I cut out several at a time, then did all the pinning at once, then all the sewing at once, etc., and ended up with several pair. I've done it with cooking in various ways. You've got me thinking. Especially with Christmas coming up, and my limited time before surgery and radiation, I need to think in multiplicity. Although it's now over six years past when you wrote this, it's still doing good. ~smile~

    Be blessed my friend, praying for strength and provision for you today.
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage