st brigid’s day – a little patchwork block
First of Feb – half way between the summer (winter) solstice and autumn (spring) equinox. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, today’s the day when you think “phew! we’re halfway there!” If you’re down here with us in the southern hemisphere, you are reminded “make the most of it honey! it’s almost over! “
For the last thousand years or so, it’s also the day when we celebrate the Feast of St Brigid … a lovely Irish lass – born to an Irish prince and a slave woman – who played midwife to Mary ( a la a grand bit of Dr. Who timetravelling), founded the beautiful Abbey at Kildare, is the patron of scholars and protector of animals.
One traditional means of honouring her day is to weave crosses of hay – such as Brigid herself did, whilst sitting by an Irish nobleman who wished to convert to Christianity before he died – and hang them in the doorways and windows for Brigid to bless and thus protect you throughout the year. Alas, we had no hay on hand, and the thin, green, supple stems we tried using (after soaking them in the bath tub for a day) snapped.
So we made patchwork ones instead. Five – one for my bedroom window, one for Abby’s, one for the kitchen window, one for the guinea pig aviary and one for the chicken coop. Brigid liking animals and all – we read in a beautiful picture book that a good day for Brigid the little shepherdess – one worth giving thanks for – was one on which all her animals survived and there were no foxes. Sounds good to us!
Here’s a quick photo tutorial if you’d like to make some too … the centre square starts at 1 1/2 inches
There was an “adding the second bit” photo but it was blurry so we’ve jumped ahead to “adding the third bit” so let’s recap. Start with your 1 1/2 inch square for the centre (colour 1). Add another 1 1/2 square to the left (colour 2). Press. Add a 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 inch rectangle on top, so we’re kind of going clockwise – yeah? (colour 2). Press. Add another 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 inch rectangle to the right (colour 3).
Add the fourth strip – 1 1/2 by 3 1/2 – to the bottom (colour 3). Press.
Add the fifth strip – 1 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches – to the left (colour 4). Press.
We’ve added the sixth strip (yep, blurry photo) – it is a 1 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch strip that sits on top (colour 4). Now we’re moving onto the borders. Border 1 – Pale (2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inch rectangle) sewn to two 1 1/2 by 3 1/2 inch strips that are colours from the wee log cabin square we’ve just made. Doesn’t matter which ones as long as they don’t match the colours they are touching.
Add the second border – same as first but with an additional constrasting square of 3 1/2 inches. See how the arm of the crosses are positioned? So they will spin.
And the fourth and final border – so it has a red square at each end. Voila!
And I’m a fierce ironer – just be sure not to distort the fabric. But keeping it very smooth and flat will help produce a neat block. Oh – and make sure you butt your seams – much smoother finish – that is, have touched seams folding over to opposite directions.
Quilt and bind. I quilted my Brigid’s crosses onto scrap pieces of woollen blanketing. I did really like this wiggly quilting as I did it – some wiggles are smoother than others (as we learnt last week!) – but now that I look at the photo – I think the wiggles detract from the lovely geometric arms of Brigid’s cross. So no more wiggly quilting for these blocks! Nice and straight quilting that will call out – check out these spinning arms!
Nevertheless, it’s a sweet wee cross – now hanging above our bed awaiting Brigid’s blessing. I shall finish the girl child’s and wee critters’ tomorrow – and hang them too. Then we shall be well and truly ready for the busyness of this new year.
And here’s some lovely St Brigid’s blessings to share …
St. Brigid’s Blessing for the Home
May Brigid bless the house where you dwell,
every fireside door and every wall;
every heart that beats beneath its roof,
every hand that toils to bring it joy,
every foot that walks its portals through.
May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.
Abby and I read this second one twice – it is especially poignant, as Abby heads off to Year 9 tomorrow.
May St. Brigid bless you and make you
generous in your giving
pleasant in your greeting
honest in your speaking
loyal in your loving
clear in your thinking
strong in your working
and joyful in your living.
I think this might need to be made into a sampler – don’t you?