Sunday, May 24, 2020

Baskets and Quilts

A  tisket, a tasket
A green and yellow basket       
I wrote a letter to my love
And on my way I dropped it
I dropped it
I dropped it
And on my way I dropped it.
A little boy he picked it up
And put it in his pocket.

OK-my basket's not green-and-yellow. It's gold with bitty yellow spots and big pink polka dots. For whatever reason, quilters love baskets. Depicted as pieced quilt designs or serving as handy storage for quilters' sewing tools, the basket is a symbol of domesticity as much as a handmade patchwork quilt.

I have a few basket quilts in my collection and have made several basket quilts myself. However, I've never made a real basket and can only admit that I am an admirer of the art of basketry. 

Showing a few vintage basket quilts now. This 1930s quilt of wool, silk, and rayon was an ebay treasure. 

Advertised as being in good condition, this quilt was actually a tattered beauty. But when I got it up on the fence to photograph, I was taken with its loopy charm. Crazy quilt + appliqued baskets! 

This 1940s Basket quilt belongs to my friend Anne Hope Marvin. She found it as an unfinished top and sewed on the pink and blue borders and hand quilted it. It's from a wide place in the road called Black Jack, North Carolina (after a tree of the same name) and so I call it Black Jack Baskets.

Black Jack Baskets inspired me to make a quilt of my own. Meet Black Jack Baby. Note: the quilt is not faded on the left. The picture was taken on a humid hotter-than-Hades day and the camera fogged up.

Baby now has a scrappy smaller sibling that is yet unquilted. 

Baskets keep coming up in my quilts, even if only a singleton in a sampler. This little quilt top is from my plaids class and the basket block was certainly the most time-intensive block to sew.

And if you put something in the basket, it's even more interesting. Here is a North Carolina Lily block in some of my favorite colors. Not quilted yet.

With times what they are, excursions to thrift stores are a treat. Obeying social distancing etc. etc. I
ventured in to a second-hand store today and came out with a basket as my prize.

Sue Williams, a master basket-maker friend, identified my thrift store basket as almost certainly hand woven from oak. Enjoy this short video about Sue and her work. She was awarded the 2019 Heritage Folklife Award from the governor of Tennessee.