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


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

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


Saturday Quilting Bring & Share (76)

Welcome to Saturday Sunday Quilting Bring & Share. Bring along your project(s) to this virtual sewing day and share in the conversations and inspiration to be found in our Worldwide Quilting Community πŸ™‚ Please do leave your contributions to the conversations in the comments box at the end of this post. Thank you!

We have had a few days holiday in the seaside town of Weymouth, Dorset. We have enjoyed walking through the town centre and onto the seafront which is dominated by Georgian architecture. There is a statue of King George III, erected to celebrate his Golden Jubilee and in grateful thanks for his patronage of the town – the King’s summer residence still forms part of Weymouth’s sea front.

Weymouth 2019 the harbour front by Allison Reid

Weymouth 2019 statue of King George III by Allison Reid

Weymouth 2019 seafront from the beach by Allison Reid

Square in a Square attaching binding by Allison Reid

All this by way of explanation for the fact my current project remains hand stitching the binding to the back of one of the Square-in-a-Square quilts… Just got to carry on carrying on… πŸ˜€ I did pack the quilt and my sewing kit into my suitcase so there is a chance it will be finished before we travel home…


I hope you find something of interest and maybe something to inspire you through the following links into the Worldwide Quilting Community:

Karen’s series of blog posts recalling each day of her and her husband’s quilt shop hop around Minnesota continues to entertain. I still can’t get over the distances traveled each day and the number of shops visited! I’m sure it just wouldn’t be possible on the winding roads and crowded motorways here in the UK.

If you are a quilter who loves to travel then you will want to check out a new group on Facebook. Rona has created the ‘Traveling Quilters‘ group. Here is her intro: “Not all Quilters like to sit still. Some of us love to travel! Shop Hops, Row by Row, Quilt shows, Quilt retreats, you name it, we’re on our way. The Traveling Quilters group is for all the quilters out there that also love to travel. Share your tips, photos, projects and, of course, your travels!”

Marking a quilt design on beautiful fabrics is always a bit daunting: will the chosen marker brush or wash away without a trace or permanently stain the quilt? Nancy describes her experience of using Prismacolor pencils to mark a design on her quilt.

Laura has completed a lovely version of the ‘Jars of Love’ block. Such neat machine applique.

Happy Stitching!




Touring Quilter – The Mill Trail, Hampshire

An unseasonal gale blew through our part of the country last Friday and Saturday making outdoor activities a bit hazardous. Calm returned on Sunday, so after Church we whizzed home to make a picnic before driving the twelve or so miles to the little town of Whitchurch, Hampshire. Once there we donned our walking boots and set off on the 5.5 mile Mill Trail.

Mill Walk the Test by Allison ReidThe trail forms a circular route within the gentle valley of the River Test. The underlying rock in this area is a deep, deep bed of white chalk. Rain water soaks into the chalk which acts as an aquifer (storing and transmitting ground water). Pressure brings the filtered, crystal clear water back to the surface where it flows fast and shallow over flinty gravel. The River Test rises from one of these aquifers just a few miles east of where we began our walk. Following the valley the river provides a natural habitat that is of national and international importance (apparently there are only 200 chalk streams in the world, most are in the UK the rest in France). The upper end of the Test is home to a large population of Trout. They are fascinating to watch, tails swishing as they face upstream seeking to maintain their position in the water.

Mill Walk Test Trout (2) by Allison Reid
Spot the 20″ long Trout against the gravel bottomed River bed!

The Mill Trail gives sight of four mills within 2Β½ miles of each other. We parked the car at Whitchurch Silk Mill

Mill Walk Whitchurch Silk Mill by Allison Reid
Built in the early 1800s the Mill’s water wheel is still turning. A working museum where silk is wound and weaving continues on the 19th Century machinery.

(noting the coffee shop was open!) and set off through the lower part of the village. Very quickly we were standing on a sheltered bridge listening to the narrowed river rushing through the mill race under Town Mill.

Mill Walk Town Mill Whitchurch by Allison Reid
For around 200 years corn was ground here using water powered machinery until the Mill ceased operating in the 1940s. The Mill is now a private residence.

Mill Walk Laverstoke Mill by Allison ReidWe then walked through fields and up and along the valley to the village of Laverstoke. The Domesday Book of 1086 records the existence of two mills in Laverstoke. The Mill now standing in the village was originally built as a corn mill. In the early 1700’s it was bought by Henry Portal who had it converted to a paper mill. The mill gained the contract to make paper for British bank notes (the modern Portals paper mill in nearby Overton still fulfils this contract). When Portals vacated Laverstoke Mill it was acquired by the Bombay Sapphire Gin Company and is now their distillery.Β  It attracts a lot of visitors keen to be taken on the guided tour and try out the product!

A short distance away is the tiny village/hamlet of Freefolk. We took a slight diversion to visit the Church of St Nicolas.

Mill Walk St Nicolas Church by Allison Reid

Mill Walk St Nicolas Church interior by Allison ReidWhat a gem! This small – but perfectly formed – place of worship bears the date 1707 over it’s door but much of it’s interior dates earlier than this. There is a faded wall painting and many of the timbers show evidence of coloured paints. Outside, the tidy little yard contains a comfortable wooden bench – an ideal place for a picnic πŸ™‚

Back on the Mill Trail we next stopped to see the river running shallow and wide towards Bere Mill. This Mill was Henry Portals original paper mill, before it reached full capacity prompting his purchase of the Mill at Laverstoke.


Mill Walk Bere Mill by Allison Reid
Bere Mill, now a private residence (annual opening to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme).

Mill Walk tea at Silk Mill by Allison ReidFrom Bere Mill it wasn’t long before the route brought us back past Town Mill to the Silk Mill. Afternoon tea and a slice of cake were definitely in order! Sitting out in the sunshine surrounded by the waters of the River Test was a peaceful way to finish the Mill Trail and rest our feet.




Touring Quilter – Beverley, AND a New Quilt Along

First of all the Quilt Along: I’m signed up to do the Jelly Roll Waves QAL with Myra at Busy Hands Quilts. This week we have the opportunity to share our fabric choices in the link up. I’m hoping to achieve an ombreΒ΄ effect across my version of the quilt. I bought these Moda solid fat quarters at the Sandown quilt show hoping the range of colour value is broad enough to create the effect I have in mind. I’m having doubts about the coral contrast fabric though…

Jelly Roll Waves fabrics by Allison Reid

Now, stepping back a few weeks: During our holiday in Yorkshire we visited the Minster town of Beverley. Inside Beverley Minister itself and the parish Church, St Mary’s, there was plenty to grab the attention of a patchwork quilter both in the patterns of the floor tiles and in the needlework on display. The skies were very grey that day so I struggled to take many photos worthy of posting but I hope you will bear with the rather grainy images and maybe find some patchwork inspiration πŸ™‚

Beverley Minster nave by Allison Reid
The vaulted nave of Beverley Minster.

(Followers of the TV series ‘Victoria’ might recognise this view as filming of the coronation scene took place here rather than in Westminster Abbey).

Beverley Minster Victoria by Allison Reid

Beverley Minster floor tiles (2) by Allison Reid

An interesting patchwork pattern πŸ˜‰

The founder of the original church on the site of the present day Minster was Bishop John. He died in the year 721 (that really is the year seven hundred and twenty one AD) and his remains are buried beneath the Minster. Miracles were attributed to him and gained him the status of a Saint. Recently embroiderers at a local College set about recording episodes from St John’s life in a 90ft long series of hand stitched pictures.

Beverley Minster embroidery notice by Allison Reid

Beverley Minster St John embroidery by Allison Reid

Beverley Minster St John embroidery close up by Allison ReidAfter an enjoyable walk around Beverley Minister we moved on through the town to the large and ancient parish church of St Mary’s Beverley… Floor tiles much in evidence here too…

Beverley St Mary's floor tiles by Allison Reid

Nearby was a modern felt applique wall hanging that had obviously used the floor tiles as inspiration.

Beverley St Mary's wall hanging by Allison Reid

The Church has many Medieval stone and wooden carvings. I was particularly struck by this carving of an elephant in the choir stalls. To most people of those times an elephant must have been a fantastical, mythical beast.

Beverley St Mary's carved elephant by Allison Reid

And finally a Medieval stone carving of a rabbit.

Beverley St Mary's White Rabbit by Allison Reid

Lewis Carroll (author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) visited St Mary’s, saw the carving and Bob’s-Your-Uncle the White Rabbit began running around in his imagination!

I wonder what has inspired your creativity recently?

Linking with Myra at Busy Hands Quilts for Week 1 of the Jelly Roll Waves QAL. It will be very interesting to see the fabric choices made by the other patchwork quilters taking part (and it’s not too late to join in with the QAL).