I’m a sucker for basket blocks. Especially odd, not quite perfect ones. I found this stray basket block years ago at a thrift store. It never ceases to make me smile. According to Barbara Brackman in her Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns this block is related to basket blocks but its name is Cake Stand. The maker of this Cake Stand block made the right side of her “cake” correctly but she must have opened her oven door too quickly because the left side “fell.”
I suppose I inherited this love of baskets from my mother. She wove baskets out of all sorts of things: grape vines, twigs, grasses. I have a number of baskets she made or collected over the years throughout my house. I also like to make baskets, but because I’m a quilter, mine are made out of fabric.
In fact, one of my favorite basket quilts is a wall hanging I made a few months before she died. Four years ago, on June 3rd, 2009, she died from Alzheimer’s. The last year or so of her life she could no longer could do any of the things she so loved: crafts, music or gardening. Visiting her was always such a bittersweet experience, especially towards the end. She was still there in body but so much of her -or the mother/person I knew – was gone.
In the midst of this long good-bye, I decided to make a scrappy basket quilt using tans and browns to look like her basket weaving.The background had to be blue – her favorite color. I made the handles using scraps of brown ric rac from both my mother’s and grandmother’s scrapbag. I love this quilt. It reminds me of her.
In March of this year I found four lovely blocks at The Legacy in Sebastopol that sort of looked like basket blocks, but not. Maybe that was why they were up for adoption. I found them irresistible so they came home with me. I pinned them to my design wall and there they’ve stayed for the last few months. Sometimes as I’m sewing or just sitting in my studio I find myself gazing at them and wondering about these blocks. Were they made that way on purpose or by mistake? Should I make a wall hanging out of just these four? Or should I make some more blocks and put them in a quilt?
Or are they happy as they are, just hanging around looking pretty? I’ve arranged them into different settings and configurations, discussed them with my quilting buddies, but nothing seemed right. Mostly I just enjoyed looking at their soft pastel colors and slightly odd look.
Finally yesterday as I looked at them again I realized that if I took each block apart and turned a few pieces around I could make a “real” basket or cake stand block.
So I promptly began ripping one apart and resewing it. I am thrilled with how my new block looks and can’t wait to redo the other three.
Now, there are at least two opinions among quilters about taking things apart. I will rip out and redo something that doesn’t work for me. Catherine, my partner (please read her post!), is in the “no ripping allowed” group. Over the years of knowing each other we have benefited and learned from each other’s views. I have learned that what may seem like a mistake to me is not one to someone else. Catherine has taught me that sometimes I need to just keep going. I like to think she has learned from me – after all, she dismantled her mother-in-law’s mink coat and made it into a quilt!
But enough blogging! I have three more blocks to rip out and resew. Now the question is: do I stop there or find more “soft”, pastel fabric in my fat quarters and make a few more? And how shall I set it? Oh, and what about the quilting……. So many questions, so little time.