Haunted History

Last year, I brought you the story of the most haunted place in Ireland, which just so happens to be one of Cowboy’s family’s ancestral homes. This year, I bring you yet another story of lore and history, one that has much speculation and suspicion, but very little fact. I invite you to draw your own conclusions to the origin of the story’s characters.

Today’s story takes us 2 1/2 hours north from last year’s story, to the original family home in Ireland, Rathfarnham Castle in Dublin.

In mid 1880, a crew was working to renovate the ballroom on the middle floor of the castle when they removed heavy wood paneling from a hallow wall. What they found there held a shock. Dressed in a sky blue silk ball gown, her hands bound, was the skeleton of a young woman, estimated to have been between 18 and 22 at the time of her death, estimated, by the decomposition of the corpse and the style of her gown, to have been 130 years before the discovery.

Rumors spread about the origins of the girl, how she got there, how she died, and why she was at Rathfarnham in the first place. One can speculate with assurance she was not a direct relative of the Loftus family, for her disappearance would have been noticed. Instead, she is a young woman who has remained nameless to this day. She is thought to have been a beautiful young woman and two men were competing for her attention. The two suitors decided they would duel for her affections.

It is unclear exactly how she got into the wall, but it is believed that, during a ball, the two young men assisted her in getting into the wall, binding her hands so she could not get out to view their competition and turn the tides one way or another. Because their actions would have been frowned upon, they told no one of their plans or that the girl was bound in the wall. After replacing the heavy wooden panel, the young men went outdoors for their duel.

The plan was that the victor would free her from her prison and he would be the winner of her favor. As you might expect, the young men were equally matched, so much so that they were both mortally wounded during the duel, neither surviving to free the girl, or to even tell anyone of her predicament.

No one knew of her existence in thee wall for 130 years, until that fateful day when her skeleton was discovered behind the wood of the paneling of that hallow wall in the middle floor ballroom.

When she was discovered, the lady of the castle at the time had her silk gown made into cushions for chairs to be used in the dining room. It is said that at several times during the year for the next century, a young lady in a sky blue silk dress has been seen in the ballroom, the ghost of the young lady searching for the winner of the duel, pining over the man who would have won her heart.

Was this story of innocent young love and desire the true origin of this young lady? Or, did her presence behind the wall indicate a darker side in the history of Rathfarnham? Is her corpse older than originally estimated in 1880, making her placement part of a game played by the Hell Fire Club that inhabited the castle during the time it was not in the hands of a descendant of the Archbishop who built the castle?

Her specter began to appear when her body was found and the gown she wore used to upholsterer a set of dining chairs, haunting the dining room, which she would have known as the ballroom of the castle. Has her soul finally found its rest? There have been no sightings of the young woman once the castle was placed in the hands of the Irish Government and declared a national landmark.

The real reason she was placed in the wall will never be known, the story of the two dueling suitors is the most popular tale of her origins. It is up to you to decide the who, how, and why or the story.

Personally, I believe the dueling suitors story, but perhaps that is my romantic soul wanting to believe the romantic notion of dueling for the favor of a lovely woman. Was she pining away for the man she hoped would win all those years? Searching for him? Waiting for him to rescue her from her prison before she could fully leave this world and cross over to the other side?

Today’s projects

Today, I am going to be working on some more Holiday crafting again. Hopefully I can get some actual progress done.
The first project I’m working on today is this:

I have been working on this one for a while. It’s a maroon and off white square afghan done in never-ending rounds. Four rounds of maroon, two rounds of off white.
This is going to be a gift for my in-laws for Christmas. I don’t have a goal size in mind, probably just how large my yarn supply will allow.

I also need to begin to cut and stitch the quilted tree ornaments I am going to put in my Christmas cards this year, plus start a few Jelly Roll quilts. I think I’m making Mini’s Alpha teacher a Christmas lap quilt for Christmas as well.
Also some scarves for other teachers will be worked on and some other odds and ends.

Stay Tuned!!

Last year’s Halloween Entry was one of my most read entries. Instead if wondering why that is, I choose to believe that this wonderfully historic family I married into interests more people than we realize. Either that or we Americans just enjoy a scary story, either way, I thank you all for enjoying the entry.
So, after last year’s story, how do I top it? What kind of story do I tell this year? Well, I am researching several different stories passed down through family lore, and some documented in historical texts.
This year, I may bring you a story that is mainly speculation, or I may bring you one that is factually true, I am not sure. Just know this, it will be a ghost story and it will scare you!

‘Tis The Season

Starting in mid-October, the season of big events gets hopping. This year, with Cowboy’s follow-up X-ray at the end of October, we have even more than usual. We kicked things off this weekend with a pre-birthday lunch for the Mini.
My in-laws come over every weekend, especially now that they are building a house in the lot next to the one we used to live on in the next city over. So, they travel the 150 miles one way from right outside Memphis to right outside Little Rock every other weekend or so. It was like clockwork, every third Saturday, when Cowboy was home, they would be here for a few hours to take us to lunch and visit.
This Saturday was also the day Abbie, our Blue Heeler/Aussi Shepard mix, was due for her monthly stuff (flea and tick drops and heartworm meds). We also planned to clip her toe nails as well, since she sounded like she wore tap shoes when scampering down the hall. If you want to see a dog get confused, clip her toenails after she goes click-clack for a few months and then let her walk around. Abbie didn’t know what to think when she didn’t make a sound while walking around.
After the dog-chores, it was off to lunch, we went to the catfish place we go to at least once a month. Its one of those neighborhood places where the waitresses know your order and the owner will chat with the regular customers. Cowboy and I decided to give Mini his big birthday gift a few days early at his birthday lunch with Grandma and Grandpa. The new Kindle Fire was a huge hit! He has been using it ever since we gave it to him! I think, though, once he goes back to school tomorrow, we will have to set down some ground rules, like that he actually has to read on the Kindle, and not just use it to play games. We did save some of his smaller gifts to give him on his actual birthday.
With Mini’s birthday, it also means my time is running short to finish some of my Holiday crafting projects. The first project I need to finish? This week, I will be taking some red felt, a paper circle, some newspaper, and a white “M” to make Mini’s Halloween costume. He is going to be an M&M.
I also have an afghan to finish, and some mug/glass pads to finish (quilted single coasters for a desk, a set of 12 for each gift), some teacher’s gifts (scarves), and a few throw quilts for some people. So it is going to be a busy few months around here!
At least I can start my busy days with some pumpkin pie coffee creamer to get me into an early holiday mood!

More Jelly Roll?

If you have read this blog before, you probably know I’m sort of addicted to jelly roll races! Since I am too cheap to spend $30 on a pre cut jelly roll, I cut my own. Every time I make a project of any kind, I save any scraps that can be cut into 2″ wide strips and put the strips into a bin. Then, when I want to make a quilt, I can just pull out strips and start sewing.
Jelly roll race quilts are awesome for those just starting out and learning to quilt. You can add difficulty as you get more comfortable with spacers, borders, and bindings.
I decided tonight it was time to undertake my biggest challenge yet, a queen size quilt for my bed. I am not exactly sure how I’m going to do the actual quilting part of it, but I will figure that out when the time comes I guess.
I will post pics as I get more done, but this one will be huge! I used half my bin of strips, many from fat quarters, many from just yardage of fabric, many from short yardage I got in a huge lot of various yardage on EBay.
Another great part about jelly roll quilts? The fabric doesn’t have to always go together! So you can use combinations you never thought to use together. Ok, back to work now!

Jelly Roll Race Quilt

I took the Jelly Roll Race Challenge. I did not have an actual jelly roll so I cut my own out of 10 fat quarters, nine 2″ strips per fat quarter, but you can really make them out of any length of scrap fabric that can be cut into 2″ wide strips. If the lengths are different, it’s even better! The more strips, the larger your quilt top.
I decided to make this for my niece’s high school graduation as a throw quilt for her dorm room.
The strips I used were black and white animal prints. I used this as an opportunity to use black for the quilt backing, white thread for the quilting, and red strips for the binding. I still need to practice binding, but its not too bad for my first time binding!


Dream Sewing Room

Anyone ever try cutting 4 feet long strips of quilting binding using a 12 inch long self healing mat, 14 inch long straight edge ruler and rotary cutter? Yeah, curse words slipped out and I was glad my son was not home, especially when the cutter slipped during repositioning of everything and almost sliced off the tip of my finger.
This got me thinking about my dream sewing room design. What would be in the room? What tools would I have?
The room itself would be about the size of an average bedroom with a large walk-in closet and would be set up in a way that even my mother, the woman who taught me to sew, who could sit down and 5 hours later have a full formal dress planned out, fabric needed calculated, pattern in mind, finished product sketched out, and fabric swatches either pulled from her stash or ordered. To say she has talent is an understatement. My mother is truly gifted with a Singer!
So, my dream sewing room….
The basics, of course, tons of lighting, lots of throw rugs that can be removed easily if needed, peg boards, cork boards, dry erase. A quilt frame in the corner for my latest quilting project.
Along one wall would be a banquet size cutting table, at least half of its surface is a self healing mat with different size cutters lining the peg board on the wall with clear plastic templates above them on the wall.
The other half of the table is set up for cutting patterns and fabric, with lots of cutting tools hanging on peg boards on the wall.
Between the cutting table and the sewing tables is an over sized ironing board with three different irons, one for regular use, one for dry ironing, and one for fuse-able stuff. There is also a free standing steamer.
In the corner is a dress form. There are several sewing tables with a few machines also.
Tucked behind the quilting frame is a foldable three part mirror and fitting stand for apparel projects.
Now for the closet. There are shelves, bins, baskets, and cabinets along the walls of the closet with everything and anything a well stocked sewing room would need.
The closet can also be used as a fitting room, it’s that big! There is, of course, a radio in the room and a large magnet that can be used to find dropped pins.
What would you have in your dream sewing room?

Summer into Fall

As summer fades into fall and the calendar turns another page, it is time for things to really get busy around here!
The weather may not realize summer is over, still reaching 85 degrees during the long Indian Summer here, but September marked the start of our family’s celebration season.
Most of our family birthdays fall between September and December, with all the holidays thrown in there as well.
This means I am busy with my hooks, needles, and pins! This week I hope to finish two Christmas afghans and at least one Christmas lap quilt.
I have also started a few birthday presents.
I also need to find a pattern for a six pointed star afghan for my best friend’s son’s bar mitzvah one year from now.
I will post pictures of all my projects as they are completed, I just will not say who they are for if there is a chance they will see the blog.
So, happy crafting and gifting everyone!!