Today is Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love. I love my readers! Your comments and emails constantly make me smile. So here’s to you, all my special quilting valentines. May all your seams be even and your fabrics be bright.That ubiquitous sign of the day, the heart, sure doesn’t look a lot like a human heart, does it? Probably a good thing, as the traditional red heart is a lot prettier. Many historians think that the symbol we know today stems (literally!) from an extinct plant that grew in North Africa almost three thousand years ago. The seed pods had that distinct heart shape. The seed was reputed to have use as a contraceptive, of all things! It was so valuable to the economy in the ancient country of Cyrene (roughly in the area now covered by Libya) that the seed pod shape was printed on their coins. For a time, many of these seed pods were exported to a part of Greece that was paralyzed by decades of drought and overpopulation. In Christian tradition, the image of a red heart surrounded and pierced by crown of thorns is often attributed to a vision by a medieval nun. In Victorian times it was fashionable to craft paper hearts and send as tokens of affection, probably the origin of our Valentine Cards. From a graphic arts standpoint, it is a simple and clean symbol, highly recognizable. The shape has been commonly used in applique quilts for many, many generations.
Ever wonder where red fabric dyes come from? Take a peek at last year’s post, Valentine Colors: Red and Pink Fabric Dyes. Are you starting to sew charms together for your Postage Stamp Quilt project? I hope so! Sure, some of you may need more planning time. But most quilters could be chaining away. If you have LOTS of charms, you could even turn those chains to four-patches, but ONLY if you have at least half the charms you think you need. Otherwise just keep chaining pairs together. Later, when you randomly combine those pairs, you will have new ones to attach. After all, there are three more swaps this year.If you are following the comments, the idea of having a “Newbie Swap” for new quilters, or people with very limited stash, has come up. I think it is a great idea. Stay tuned, if you think you do not have 100 different fabrics for swapping, you might find this a good way to get more charms for your stash.
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