Lady's Slipper; oh--just the sound of it conjures up such dainty imperial images. I looked it up on the Victorian Bazaar website listing the Language of the Flowers, and found, Win me, and Capricious Beauty. A prize without a doubt. It's botanical name, "Cypripedium reginae", suggests a regal title, and may explain why it's often called, 'Queen's Lady Slipper'. But another variety, known simply as 'moccasin flower' (Cypripedium calceolus), was mistakenly adopted as the state flower on February 3, 1893 by Minnesota State Legislature, before it was discovered and publicly declared a "fake" nearly a decade later, by the ladies of the Saint Anthony Study Circle of Minneapolis, who insisted that this particular flower species was not found there. (Good Heavens, this flower selection process is such serious business.) Anyway, a flustered legislature moved quickly to correct the situation and adopted the 'Showy Lady Slipper' on February 19, 1902, making everybody happy.
Here's a little more to think about while you're stitching. This pink-and-white beauty is actually an elusive rare orchid; a treasure to behold--having mostly vanished from its historical range due to loss of habitat. Slow growing, and taking between 4 to 16 years to flower, it thrives in swamp bogs and damp woods, and may be found by chance, in undisturbed coniferous forests, fen meadows and prairies, dune lags, seeping cliffs, shady meadows, and moderate zones 3-8 in the northern regions of the U.S. In 1925 Lady's Slipper became a protected species by Minnesota state law making it illegal to disturb the plant in any way. It's been the subject of horticultural interest for many years, and remains difficult to cultivate in a traditional sense. Although it produces a large number of seeds per pod, it spreads primarily by means of vegetative rhizomes. Typically, the flowers appear in late June and early July with one or two flowers per stem; on older plants, three or four. In some areas it may flower earlier and throughout the summer months. When all the right conditions are met, it is possible for the plant to reach a height of four feet and live for at least fifty years. Quite remarkable!
The stem has a hairy appearance, and these tiny hairs have been known to cause irritation to some people. Perhaps it is the plant's defensive mechanism to keep it from being eaten by insects and animals, or plucked by humans. The large ovate leaves are densely pubescent, abut 3 to 5 inches in length, and light green in color. A single rhizome can contain several stalks shooting up from the same rootstock. Petals are white with a pink "pouch" that varies from deep rose to magenta; and rarely one might find the entire flower all white or rose-colored.
COLORS: I loved stitching this flower block, the colors are so pretty, and I think the white-on-white petals worked well by filling them with satin-stitching so they aren't lost on the white background. For the lower petals I used two shades of pink #3607 & #917; center French Knots are yellow; leaves done in two shades of green; stem--a contrasting shade of dark green will make it stand out. But feel free use whatever colors you like. See more varieties here.
I'm really excited that some of you are going to be stitching along with me and making a state flower quilt--or just a few random blocks for other projects. As an aside, and in the spirit of handmade stitchery, Jenn sent me a link to this old state flower sampler that her great-grandmother made. I love it and and all the detail that went into it. What a treasure! And Deb sent me this picture (below), of another state flower sampler that her mother made. Also quite pretty, and awe inspiring!
With needle in hand . . . we now travel southeast to stitch up the Illinois VIOLET.
Looking up from my stitching momentarily--and noting that Spring is most definitely(and nearly "officially"), here. And that calls for a new banner to usher in its arrival. The sweet magnolia outside my door was quite accommodating and bursting with helpfulness in that regard.
Good bye snowflakes...hello birdsong and sunshine. At least for today. (sigh)
Welcome to another Thursday and post number 650! The first week of daylight savings time has me dragging. I tend to stay up too late and then really miss that elusive hour in the morning. The days seem too short and the night seems too long. Or is just ME? I may be moving slow, but I'm still stitching away and just finished another block for the State Flower Quilt Project.
This is a strange little species with flowers and "grapes". But they don't occur at the same time---so the original motif was grape clusters alone. Well. Since this is a state *flower* quilt, I wanted the little buttercup-like flowers too. So I re-did the whole thing and both are represented now. Despite its name, this is not the type of grape found growing in vineyards. Nor is it a grape hyacinth, which people sometimes mistakenly think is the state flower. The Oregon-Grape (Berberis/Mahonia aquifolium), often called, Mahonia, is most commonly found in the Pacific Northwest, where it thrives alongside rivers and streams, and in mild mountain areas. The glossy leaves with their prickly edges bear a resemblance to holly. Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, made notes in his journal referring to it as "mountain holly".
It's a low growing, shrub-like evergreen that can reach a height of 3-4 feet and is ideally suited for landscaping because of its low-maintenance, resistance to summer drought, tolerance of poor soils, and does not create excessive leaf litter. In early summer, round green buds blossom into bright yellow orb-shaped flowers that emit a spicy scent. Later they develop into the purple berry clusters, (that resemble grapes) and attract birds. Because of its extreme hardiness, Oregon-Grape is classified as an 'invasive exotic species' that may displace native vegetation in some areas outside its native range.
The Oregon-Grape was chosen by the state's Horticultural Society sometime in the 1890's, but was already valued by the Native Americans who used its berries and roots as medicinal herbs. Though bitter when raw, the berries become sweet when cooked and can be made into jelly and also fermented to make wine when mixed with another sweeter fruit, or Salal, another native plant commonly used even today. The plant is still used medicinally by herbalists to treat a variety of symptoms which include digestive disorders and for speeding the recovery of some diseases. It's been shown to have antibiotic and anticancer properties as well.
And...if that's not enough, it can be used as a dye. When boiled, the inner bark of the larger stems and root yield a yellow dye, while the berries produce purple---and combined they make brown! That's an amazing array of uses and attributes packed into one little shrub. It may not be the showiest, but there's no denying all its gifts to mankind. No wonder it was chosen.
COLORS: In case you need them are as follows (DMC six-strand floss); flowers #444, leaves #3349, grapes #156 & #158, grape stem #920, letters #645. I used 4 strands for all, with the exception of the flower name, where 3 strands was used. Stitches used: outline, backstitch, and padded satin-stitch for the grapes.
Block Size: For some reason the images are printing out larger than 4 x 4-inches. (This is approximate--they are meant to fit a 6.5" block). So re-size them if necessary. And mention your state if you want it added to the list. Now on we go to stitch up the lovely little "Lady Slipper" for Minnesota.
Here is the second block in the series for the State Flower Quilt project. I really loved stitching this and dreaming about fields of blue.
The folklore and history surrounding the Texas Bluebonnetis an interesting one. Here's the back story. . .
It is said that its name comes from the resemblance of the individual petals to that of a lady's "blue" bonnet. But it has also been known by other less gussied-up names like wolf flower, buffalo clover, and by the Mexicans as el conejo---translated meaning; "the rabbit", perhaps a comparison to the flower spires as rabbit ears or the characteristic white tip resembling a cottontail. But whatever it's called, it's clear that bluebonnets have been beloved since man first set foot upon the vast prairies that were blanketed in blue by them. Indians wove folk tales about them, and early day Spanish priests gathered seeds and cultivated the flowers around their missions. This practice gave rise to the myth that the flowers traveled over with the padres of Spain, but it has since been researched and documented that the predominant species of bluebonnets are found growing naturally in Texas only, and in no other location in the world.
Lupinus texensis, as the name suggests, is a species of lupine. It blooms in early spring and is spotted primarily in fields and along the roadsides throughout central and south Texas. Flowers are densely arranged on a spike and reach their peak of bloom toward the end of March and early April. The bluebonnet is a biennial plant which begins life as a small gravel-like seed that can withstand several years of dormancy if necessary until the right conditions of wind, rain, and weather penetrate its hard coating; seeds need to be covered over with soil in order to germinate. It's sometimes discovered in the wild with surprising color mutations; predominantly pink and maroon, and as an occasional rare white albino. (These mutations have been selectively cultivated to produce different color strains that are now available commercially.)
So, the beloved bluebonnet was adopted as the official state flower by the Texas Legislature in March 7, 1901--but not without a tussle between the ladies of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America and the businessmen and lawmakers of the day who favored the hardy cactus, and the cotton-boll ( a source of prosperity and wealth), as the best representatives of the state. Eventually though, after polite, yet heated "discussions", the gentlemen conceded to the ladies and Lupinus subcamosus was named as the first state flower. However, for the next 70 years a grassroots movement began leaning toward another species (texensis), which was bigger and more robust, which many felt better exemplified the spirit of Texas and its people, pushing lawmakers to rename the flower. Finally in 1971, after much back-and-forth debate, the politicians found a compromise. What they did was re-write the legislation to include both types of species, plus any others that happened to show up in the future. This is why there are now five varieties of bluebonnet that are recognized as symbols of the Lone Star State. Just in case you wondered. And so now you know!
Colors: I'm using six-strand DMC embroidery floss. The block I stitched probably resembles the original 'buffalo clover' variety; it's not as vivid as the second favorite which seems more vibrant. This is a personal choice though, because it seems you can choose between either of them or even pink. For anyone who needs more guidance in choosing colors, here are mine: icy blue #800, medium blue #813, darker blue #824, for the petals. The leaves and stems are done medium green #471. Feel free to use whatever suitable shades you have, or go brighter, darker, or even PINK if you dare. (Study the pictures in the links above if you are a stickler for authenticity.) For letters I'm sticking with #645, which is a few shades lighter than black.
Block Size: For some reason the images are printing out larger than 4 x 4-inches. (This is approximate--they are meant to fit a 6.5" block). So re-size them if necessary. Happy Stitching!
So here it is--the first state "flower" to kick off this project! Some of you have expressed a desire to follow along and make a quilt too and I'm excited about that. The more the merrier! I'll continue adding to the state list as requests come in. You can request states on any current post, since comments are automatically closed on older posts.
Doing a little research, I found it interesting, and maybe you will too, that inspiration for a 'National Garland of Flowers' was an idea formed in 1893 by the Women's Congress at the Chicago World's Fair, where they proposed a flower from each state be selected by individual state legislature. Shortly afterwards, the 'Maine Floral Emblem Society' took up the effort, urging it's citizens to choose between three possible candidates; goldenrod, apple blossom, and the white pine cone & tassel. Ballots were published in Maine newspapers in order to gather a statewide consensus. The white pine cone and tassel was chosen by 60% of the vote to represent Maine in the National Garland of Flowers, and later adopted as the official floral emblem by the sixty-seventh legislature on February 1, 1895.
A little more history...Maine is the only state that does not have a flower, having chosen to recognize the white pine's grand historical contribution instead. The white pine (Pinus strobus), is considered to be the largest conifer of the northeastern United States. The soft needles are bluish-green and grow in bundles of five, resembling a "tassel". Cones are three to eight inches in length, are slightly curved with thin scales, not prickly, and contain edible seeds. The inner white bark was collected during times of winter starvation by the Algonquians, dried, powdered, and used as a flour substitute. It's said that White Pine needles contain five times the amount of Vitamin C (by weight) than lemons, and makes an excellent tisane or "tea". For medicinal purposes, the Indians mixed pine tar with beeswax to make a healing salve, and created a wet pulp from the inner bark to apply to infected wounds. It's also been found that a little beer mixed with pine tar can remove tapeworms and nematodes in both humans and animals, and mixed with sulfur cures dandruff.
I did not know this! I must say, as I worked on the stitching I found myself reflecting on all these attributes with wonder and gratitude that they've been so generously given in the form of a single tree. AND for the rest...
Stitches: I've used a combination of straight-stitch, satin-stitch, and outline stitching. (These stitches plus a few others can be found on my website stitch guide if you are unsure how to do them.)
Colors: Blue-green for the needles, in two shades; caramel for the pinecone, and chocolate brown for the inner part. (I'm sorry I don't have the numbers for the colors I've used here. These colors were wound onto flat spools some time ago and I didn't note them--but I'll try and provide numbers when I have them.) The original directions give sparse color information: pine cone--lt. brown; needles and stems--dk. green. I've found the state flower chart on Wikipedia a handy reference for choosing colors.
Lettering: The pattern calls for black to be used, which is fine, but I wanted a softer effect and chose DMC #645, which is a rich, warm gray. A taupe brown would also be nice. I'm recommending 4 strands of floss for the state abbreviation and 2 strands for the flower name, each done with back-stitching.
Template: Use grid-paper to make a block template 6.5 x 6.5-inches; glue it to a larger piece of light-weight cardstock and trim it even around the edges. I like to glue a smaller piece of fine sandpaper to the back, so it sticks to the fabric when I trace around it.
Fabric: This is up to you---broadcloth, sheeting, cotton muslin. I'm using the latter. Bleached or unbleached muslin is a good choices because it holds its shape. I'm using bleached muslin because I want my flowers to "bloom brightly" against a white background. TIP: Trace several blocks onto a single piece of cloth and work on them in small batches rather than trying to fit one small square into an embroidery hoop, where it will inevitibly become mishapen and raveled.
Directions for making the quilt: PDF download ORIGINAL DIRECTIONS.
Here's the FREE motif. I've just added the complete pattern on my website too.
Now to tackle Texas . . .
Welcome March! I'm taking joy from all that is around me. Appreciating the little things. After all, there is a world of wonder in a grain of sand, is there not? And after months of quiet work inside, I'm on the path that leads outdoors again. Venturing out a little at a time, between rain storms, to see what wonders await. And although spring is not 'officially' here for twenty more days, I am still dreaming and anticipating its arrival with each small sign.
As I continue to work on my embroidery book, and gather ideas for new projects, I can't help but be inspired by nature as I see it emerging outside my window. This month's new bonus designs are a reflection of that too, as "spring time" is expressed with baby animals, a bonnet baby, and flowers. Oh, how I love embroidering flowers! Especially when there aren't many real ones to admire. Speaking of that, I've been busy re-designing an old "State Flower Quilt", issued way back when first-class postage for a stamp cost 2 cents. That's what it says on the envelope I found the pattern in. Imagine that! But I'm shaking off the dust and brushing away the cobwebs...because these little flower motifs are really just so very sweet. I already have a quilt pattern in mind that I can't wait to start stitching these into.
I'm wondering though, if the flowers for each state are still accurate. Some may have changed over the years. Do you know your State flower? I am going to post one flower each month here on the blog for tracing. If that sounds like fun then leave a comment. Hearing from you will motivate me to do it sooner rather than later. The State that gets the most votes will be the first!
Unrelated: My blog pal Deb, is already on her 10th Blanket Statement project, using my book as her guide to create items from one wool blanket--a big green blanket at that! It cracks me up to see everything re-created--but with a green tint. She is also a proud new grandma, and that blessed event has taken her to another level of adorable crafting altogether. See all her copy-cat challenge projects here and prepare to be delighted by her ingenuity, as I am.Also...since I don't have a lot to share in the way of stitching projects right now, you may be seeing more of these photo collages (above). I love making them, and hope this one showers you with spring inspiration today.