Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Squash Blossom - Red Sky at Night Quilt

We had our homeschool registration last week. The NSW government requires that parents of homeschooled children prove in an annual or biannual inspection how we are fulfilling the state syllabus. That's all easy enough if you want to follow the state syllabus. But when you'd actually prefer to read Little House on the Prairie, take a gentle approach to reading and allow a lot more time for climbing trees and learning to sew, you've got to use your imagination. I spent hours writing about how our everyday life covered the early primary criteria, and then sat for an hour and a half with a very kind and gentle inspector, showing him the quilt Tully and I made together, and the books we've read, and the conversations they inspire. It was, in the end, very encouraging, to have all the things we do together in our day written down like that, affirming the job I'm doing, and that it's all very worthwhile. As a mum, it's so easy to experience the days sink through that hourglass, marked with tired kids and mess and a complete lack of inspiration for dinner. But at the end of our time together, the inspector told me I'd not only fulfilled the criteria for Kindergarten, but my plan covered years 1 and 2 also!

I think I've mentioned before that reading the Little House books fills me with nostalgic longing. I love their almost complete self sustainability, their joyful posture, their competence and simplicity. I love that Laura had a corn cob wrapped in a handkerchief before she was old enough to have a doll, I love that for Christmas one year, they were so excited and grateful to receive their own tin cups from Santa Claus. And I find great peace in the apparent lack of worry about how the girls will 'turn out'. They play together, make patchwork, do their chores, live miles from anyone, and there's never any mention about 'socialisation' or 'syllabus criteria'.

I didn't intend to get on my 'high horse' while writing about the Squash Blossom, but all in a whirl this week, I've had on my mind, our longing and freedom to live life a certain way, according to our values and personality. And then this wonderful block, which in some ways looks nothing like a squash blossom (just like a pumpkin flower) and in other ways you can see the inspiration or connection exactly. It's so beautiful and individual, far more abstract than many of the other nature blocks, and I think that's what I like most about it.

In The Farmer's Wife Quilt book, the squash blossom and the churn dash, two old blocks inspired by everyday domestic life in the country, happen to share a page. The letter published along side the blocks speaks of 'finding herself' in the country, of enjoying work on the farm because it felt necessary and appreciated, creative and skilled. And I think the blocks that come out of that era reflect that skill. I admire their design sense, their intelligence and adventurous spirit (especially Laura's mother!). And I've been buoyed this week with the reminder that even though I enjoy many modern conveniences and I would like to perform a serious cull on the amount of toys we own, I still share some of their skill for creative interpretation!


What you'll need:

Red: Eight 3" squares cut in half to make half-square triangles, four 2.5" squares, two 4.5" x 2.5" rectangles.

White: Eight 3" squares cut in half to make half-square triangles, four 2.5" squares, four 4.5" x 2.5" rectangles.

1. Sew the red triangles to the white triangles. Press and trim to 2.5"

2. Lay out as above. Sew the pieces together in rows.

3. Sew the rows together in sets of two.

4. Sew the last three sets together and celebrate your skill and creativity!

Now, if I could just get that dirt to grow something...!


  1. I would never have the patience to actively home school my children, I know I did a lot of reading, writing,counting type fun activities with them prior to starting school though.. Hats off to you and other mums who can do it.

  2. I am enjoying your sew along so much! I didn't realize that you are also a homeschooling family. We love the lifestyle and have graduated 4 children with 2 left to go. Enjoy your journey, life flies along. Thanks again. K-

  3. I am falling behind and getting side tracked by other projects atm... Actually it was while trying to finish some projects I started before the QAL I realised how much I have learnt through your posts Jodi! Honestly soooooo much (a little embarrassing how much actually) so thank you. And I will catch up some day! Love this block so cute. (Ps I have some math activities based on Little House in the Big Woods, linked to the Aus Curriculum I could email you x)

  4. What's the finished size of this block?


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx