So what exactly is a Churn Dash?

My bedtime reading had me puzzling over this question: So what is a Churn Dash? I know it is the name of a much used and much loved patchwork block but actually what is a churn dash?

Little House in the Big Woods Puffin edition by Allison Reid
My childhood Puffin edition of Laura’s book was printed in 1974

Little House in Big Woods is the first in a wonderful series of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder telling of her childhood in the 1860s and 70s. The books tell of the adventures encountered and everyday activities lived out by her family as they followed the Pioneer trail for ten years from the Big Woods of Wisconsin to the Prairies of Kansas onto Minnesota until finally settling – at Ma’s insistence – in De Smet, South Dakota.

Mary Ingalls churning butter, illustration by Garth Williams
Mary Ingalls churning butter, illustration by Garth Williams

The recollections of everyday life for Laura and her family include a description of the weekly task of making butter. Laura describes how Ma poured cream into the tall crockery churn and then lowered the ‘churn dash’ attached to a long pole into the cream, dropping a lid with a central hole over the pole to stop the cream splashing out of the container before the lengthy task of churning got underway. Laura was too small to move the dash up and down but her ‘big’ sister Mary was able to take over every-now-and-again while Ma had a break from the heavy work.

Having read this description of butter making I wanted to know what a churn dash looks like. I tried ‘images of churn dash’ in my computer search engine and received links to lots of very lovely variations of churn dash blocks used in patchwork quilts! I was in danger of disappearing down a rabbit hole …. But managed to resist and instead tried a more specific search, ‘images of butter churn dash’.

 

Image result for images of butter churn dashThis second search provided the answer I was looking for. Seeing this image and others showing the churn dash at the end of the pole has helped me to see how the patchwork block got it’s name. The dashers vary from simple ‘X’ shapes through to circles with several round holes. Wisemen Trading have a variety of replica churns and dashers on their website.

 

 

 

The Churn Dash patchwork block is simple but very versatile. Here it is in a straight layout and then turned on end in an on-point layout.

Churn Dash 3 x 3 by Allison Reid

Churn Dash on point by Allison Reid

Allison

PS. If the photo of my Puffin book has made you nostalgic then have a little smile at the price on the back cover 🙂

Little House in the Big Woods cost 20p by Allison Reid

 

Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (51)

Welcome to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share. I hope you have had a good week and you will have time for a some creativity over the weekend. Bring along your project(s) and share in the latest quilty conversations across the Worldwide Quilting Community. Do use the comments box at the bottom of this page to share your projects and add your thoughts and reactions to what has inspired you and caught your attention this week.

I’ve been busy preparing for the third class of the Beginners Course at Purple Stitches. This, the penultimate class, is all about basting and quilting. I’ve pin basted my Dashing Stars quilt ready for the quilting demonstration.

Dashing Stars (2) basted by Allison Reid

I decided it would be a great idea to use another quilt top to demonstrate basting. I could have picked any number of completed quilt tops from my UFO pile but no, I chose to use the #scrappytripalong2019 – the blocks needed to be sewn together, borders measured and stitched in place, the wadding cut, the backing fabrics chosen and pieced together… Oh! And a label made too! Well! It may have been a good idea… But…It took me all day Thursday to piece the top and faff about putting the backing together. Thankfully I had a piece of Quilter’s Dream Poly wadding just slightly larger than required. I pushed through, not only making the label but also machine stitching it to the backing 🙂

Blocks stitched together and borders added.
Backing for Scrappy Trip Along Quilt by Allison Reid
#scrappytripalong2019 backing
Label made and stitched in place.

I’m really pleased with the pieced backing. It looks so simple yet it took me well over two hours to select the fabrics, cut them to size and stitch those l-o-n-g seams! I had a thoroughly satisfying day moving on the #scrapytripalong2019 blocks from the design wall to having a quilt top ready for basting although it really struck me just how long it takes to make a quilt! I guess when we make a few blocks here, a few blocks there and complete a quilt in our ‘free’ time we very quickly lose track of just how many hours it takes? I was amazed how the hours ticked by that day and by my consistent underestimating of how long it would take to complete each step!

We have a houseful of guests this weekend so my sewing room has morphed into a guest room. Once home from Purple Stitches I’ll be turning my hand to some hand stitching 🙂 As luck would have it I started a little Blackwork bookmark project on Monday at our monthly craft group.

Blackwork bookmark by Allison Reid Elizabeth 1 wearing Blackwork by Allison ReidI like Blackwork, I first learned it as an off-shoot of cross stitch (my go to craft before I discovered patchwork). Blackwork (essentially filling stitched outlines with repeating patterns stitched in running stitch) has a long history and was particularly popular in Tudor times. Look at this portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, her sleeves and the bodice of her dress are covered in Blackwork. I found this portrait in a great book by Becky Hogg, published by the Royal School of Needlework in their Essential Stitch Guides series.

And moving smoothly (or should that be ‘seamlessly’?) into this week’s links:

I read in the March edition of ‘British Patchwork & Quilting’ magazine that the Royal School of Needlework have published embroidery courses online. Find out more at www.rsnonlinecourses.com 

Christa Watson has been sharing how she plans out the quilting designs she stitches over her quilts. This is a really comprehensive guide given as a guest post on Amy Smart’s blog, Diary of a Quilter.

Shannon Brinkley loves to talk fabrics and colour. In this blog post she explains the virtues of ‘monochromatic prints’.

Bobbie’s post has lots of handy piecing tips. She shows us how to make the first block in a sewing themed mystery quilt. The first block is a sewing machine.

If you are in the USA and could be inspired to create a quilt to donate to one or other of the charities supported by Hands2Help you can find out more information from Sarah at her blog, Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Bernie gives a moving description of the work carried out by a hospital Palliative Care Team and the use they make of donated quilts.

Happy Stitching!

Allison

My first Dresden Plate and another new ruler

Whaoo! I woke in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. I crept down to my sewing room and set about cutting out the shapes to make my first ever Dresden Plate. Crazy, I know but it was on my mind when I went to bed… I used the Darlenne Zimmerman Easy Dresden ruler that I bought two years ago and which, until last night, I’d never lifted from it’s packaging. (I should explain here that I do have a bit of a quilt ruler habit – my ruler collection continues to grow – read on to discover more!).

Dresden Plate Segments and Ruler by Allison Reid

Read moreMy first Dresden Plate and another new ruler

Dashing Stars unpicked and re-organised!

Dashing Stars mis-arranged by Allison Reid
Dashing Stars mis-arranged

Oh! Phew! Unpicking lots of seams takes lots of time 😉 In my previous blog post I shared my very silly decision not to label each of the 36 blocks before putting together my latest version of Dashing Stars. Having made one poor decision I followed it up with an even more misguided one: I choose to leave the blocks I’d misplaced in the first couple of rows and just rearranged others in lower rows thinking it would work out OK! Well! It didn’t! The inevitable marathon of unpicking followed (not so much a marathon as a endurance race with stages as it took several sessions over several days to undo all those pesky stitches!).

Anyway the blocks finally went back up on the design wall. I used my original photograph to guide me as I pinned a label to each and every block AND then, and only then, did I stitch them all together!

Read moreDashing Stars unpicked and re-organised!