Cracker House Quilts has been years in the making. My grandmother planted the sewing bug in my brain. She was a fabulous seamstress and made beautiful, beautiful clothes for me as a little girl. She taught me to embroider and crochet, which I still enjoy as an occasional diversion from quilting. She could also knit gorgeous sweaters, blankets, and baby clothes. To her dismay, though, I could never get the hang of knitting. In 1984 I started quilting and completed my first block swap with my guild that year.  In 1985 I started my first full quilt, which was to be for my son, who was due to be born in June of 1986. True to a first-time quilter, I finished the top and set it aside for five years before gathering the courage to try my hand at hand quilting.


  
    Once that quilt was finished, though, I was completely hooked. Next it was a quilt for my daughter, then one for my husband. Of course I had to have one for myself. And so on. Now my six-foot-tall son has long since outgrown that first quilt and has requested another larger one.

     The first quilt I ever sold was a wonderful, fun experience. I answered an ad from the back of Yankee magazine. A lady in Alaska wanted to trade smoked Alaskan salmon for a handmade quilt. We spoke over the phone and discussed the quilt and the payment. I made her a pinetree quilt in wallhanging size, and she sent me boxes of fabulous smoked Alaskan salmon and other goodies. She was so pleased with the quilt, she even included two pounds of king crab meat. We had a feast!!

    I enjoy each step of quilt-making. I constantly search quilting magazines and books for different patterns and new ideas for ways to work with old favorites. Once I decide on a pattern, I love selecting the fabrics. There are so many to choose from, and each combination creates a totally different quilt. I tend to be drawn to bright colors, and I try to select fabrics that aren't so busy that the quilt pattern gets lost. I like working with contemporary fabrics such as batiks and fossil ferns, but I also love the 30's and 40's reproduction fabrics. It all depends on the pattern. Sometimes I find the fabrics first -- there are some fabrics that I absolutely MUST buy. I usually set those aside at home and look at them from time to time, waiting for the right pattern to come to mind.

     Watching the quilt grow is very satisfying. And it's always exciting to reach the point where the quilt can all be laid out, and I can get a feel for how it will look completed. First block by block, then row by row, until the top is finished. By the time the quilting is completed and the binding is being added, it's like working with an old familiar friend.

     Whether you're browsing or are looking for a handcrafted quilt for yourself or a gift, I hope you enjoy our site and our quilts. We're making additions regularly, so check back and see the latest listings.

        

What is a Cracker?

     There are several theories about how the term "cracker" began to be used to describe certain Floridians and Georgians and of what the term actually means. For me, very simply, a Cracker is someone who's a "native." They may have been here for most of their life or for several generations. My family has been in south Georgia and northern Florida for at least eight generations, dating back to approximately 1790. I think we can legitimately refer to ourselves as Florida Crackers. 

     Crackers tend to be fairly self-sufficient, linked in some way to the earth or the soil, maybe through simply an appreciation of nature. Some say the term cracker refers to the cracking of the whips by cowboys driving cattle across south Florida. Others say it began by the folks who learned to "crack" the corn for grits, and refers to the poor folk who settled here.

      But there is also at least one instance in which Shakespeare used the term Cracker. Regardless of its questionable origin, to me it simply m eans a native Floridian, and proud of it! One final note: some people think the term "cracker" is a racial slur. It is not. Even the most eloquent and beautiful words, used with venom, are slurs. To call a cracker a cracker is no more insulting than calling George Bush a Texan or Jimmy Carter a Georgian. There are Sooners and Hoosiers and a wealth of other descriptors - Cracker being one of them. For a more detailed explanation of what a Cracker is, see http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~fcc/main/what's_a_cracker.htm, which features a reprint of an article written by Rick Tonyan and published in Halifax Magazine.

 

The Cracker House


        The Cracker House is an architectural style that I have grown to love over the years and one which has regained attention recently as both extremely practical and energy efficient as well as being aesthetically appealing. It is the traditional style of building small homestead homes by the early settlers of Florida. Conditions in Florida in the early 1800's (when my family first settled in Florida) were, at best, inhospitable. At worst, they were deadly. Upon arriving at their destination, settlers had to construct shelters quickly using native materials. Cracker houses usually began as one room structures, raised off the ground for maximum ventilation. 

    They incorporated broad, covered porches and were oriented on the land in such a way to take advantage of the available shade. Windows were important for cross ventilation, and interiors were open. 

     These were referred to as "single pen" houses. Later, an additional room may have been added, under the same roof, but with an open area between the two rooms, known as a dog trot. A few of these old style cracker houses can still be seen in areas of old Florida. A wonderful example has been moved to the Silver River State Park in Ocala and lends itself to would-be settlers during pioneer days and various living history events during the year.
The Whiddon house is an excellent example of Florida "Cracker" style. It was originally constructed in 1864 and was then moved to its present site in 1972. 
Photo credit: The Florida Center for Instructional Technology, University of South Florida