Thursday, May 26, 2016

CCCQ The Final Stretch

We have had some wintery weather.  It is wet and windy, the first snow flurries are on the peaks and the vegetable garden is expecting the first frost.  It's a great time to be sewing the binding on a big quilt.

The Chester Criswell Quilt is nearly finished.  I do the hand quilting in the evenings while the television is on.  I will have the quilt completed sometime next week so I have to hurry and get another project ready for the evenings - perhaps some knitted hats for the grandkids.

I'm not much when it comes to housework, and we don't have a lot of visitors (after spending all day behind a shop counter we prefer a little peace and quiet at home).  As a consequence the level surfaces in the house tend to accumulate this and that.  If visitors were to arrive I would have to clear the couch.

This week's CCCQ Revisited block is Margaretta Harris Block 20.

The original block is not as round as my reproduction, if I made it again I might go for the wonky look.

Last week was Block 7 William and Harry.

And the week before Block 29 Maria Criswell

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Antique Orphan Blocks

My Mother's Day present (which I chose for myself) was a few dozen quilt blocks, all very old.  I love checking out the different fabrics and finding patterns that don't appear in the books or BlockBase.  Here are a few of my current favourites.

Eight point star, excellent workmanship and a few squares pieced from smaller squares.

Another star with the last of the brown striped fabric

9 patch, with an interesting brown stripe and purple on black.

Another 9 patch - Fireside Visitor / Arrow / Broken Dish / London Roads

Same block, different light and dark

9 patchwork - some sort of Snowball?

Autograph Block in pastels

Spot the difference

Ohio Star - by a beginning seamstress

Friday, May 6, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to you all - and if it isn't happy I hope you have some happy memories.

I am very pleased to say that the last row of quilted blocks has joined its friends.  I still have to quilt around each block in the two bottom rows and add the binding but it's nearly there.

This week's Chester Criswell Revisited is Block 19.  You can see it third row down on the left hand side.  In the original quilt it looks a bit like this.

Same pattern, all in red - well, it use to be red.

Not quite what it used to be - but at 160 years old, what do you expect?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lydia the Dealer in Purple Cloth

This morning at church the Bible reading was from the book of Acts, when Paul sails to Macedonia and meets Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth.  I started to think about purple cloth and wondered what was involved in Lydia's business 2000 years ago.

I know that, once upon a time, purple dye came from murex seashells.  When I need to find out something about seashells I never bother to google.  My husband is a very keen shell collector, and also collects books about seashells and the sea.  I'm quite pleased with my own quilt history library, but hubby's books on shells take up four times as much space as my quilting books.  So I asked, how is purple dye made from shells, and after glancing through four different volumes I can now tell you.

Tyrian purple dye was made from murex brandaris, commonly called the Mediterranean snail.

The Phoenicians perfected the dye process and had a monopoly on the colour purple from 300 BCE to 150 CE.  The high cost of purple dye was due to the hours needed to collect the thousands of shells so tyrian purple was reserved for royalty and the wealthy.

So, how do you get the dye from the shells?  Well, you don't use the shells, you use the secretions from the snail itself.  First, gather the snails from the rocky shoreline.  Then break the shells up to get out the snails inside.  Next soak the snail bodies in salt water for three days, then boil.  Ewww.

At the same time in the British Isles the nucella lapillus or dog whelk was used as a purple dye for illuminated manuscripts.

Enough of  seashells.  I went to my own smaller bookcase and found Natural Dyes and Home Dying, a Dover Publication.  Purple dyes in the 18th and 18th century were made from orchil, a dyestuff derived from the lichen Rocella. 

 Lichens were soaked in fermented urine (?) or slaked lime for about three weeks.  To get the right shade of purple you added either an acid or an alkaline - orchil was not only a dye but was the stuff that litmus paper was made from. If you want to learn more click here.

Once the coal-tar dyes of the industrial revolution were created orchil's use gradually declined.  One of the first of the new chemical dyes was mauve, Queen Victoria was quite amused.

from the blog Chromatic Notes

This week at the Chester Criswell Quilt Revisited - Reuben Stubbs' Block 6.