Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Tisket, a tasket.....

This is the first posting in the month of May and that brings up Baskets (capital B) as a quiltmaking topic. The tradition of May baskets probably comes to us from rural England. May baskets were small baskets , or even paper cones, filled with flowers. On the first day of May, these were left on the doorknobs of your beloved's house, you rang the bell, and ran like crazy. A harmless kid's ritual to celebrate Spring.

But when the image of a basket comes to my mind, a fragment of an old children's song also floats to the conscious surface. When was the last time you heard, "A tisket, a tasket, a green-and-yellow basket..." ?
I thought that was simply a nursery rhyme, part of a sing-song playground game like Drop the Hankie. Maybe not.

Ella Fitzgerald, the famous jazz and scat singer, updated the childish lyrics in 1938 and A Tisket, a Tasket became a hit. Then again, looking even further back in time, some folklorists opine that the line 'green-and-yellow basket' refers to new willow baskets used to catch heads at guillotine executions of the French nobility during the Revolution-ugh!

Looking through captured pictures from ebay auctions of long ago, I came across a great green-yellow-blue basket quilt and couldn't resist sharing these with you here.
This late 19th century quilt is so well-planned. The graphic effect of many baskets is complimented by the sashing (strips between the blocks) and the dinky side flowers stand straight at attention. There's even room for beautiful quilting. Please consider this my May basket to you!