Looking on the bright side, all this lovely *bonus weather* is providing some of us with additional opportunities for longer stitching sessions. And that's not such a bad thing. Over here we have B&W film and retro-TV shows playing in the background. Occasionally, I will leave my favorite chair for tea and chocolate, then I wander through the house checking up on things. Laundry---yup, still there. Etc. But mostly, I'm curled up with my needle and thread during this [seemingly] never-ending storm. I'm really super excited about this quilt though and want to see it through, so here's the latest quilt block, and one of my very favorite flowers.
Researching this, I found out that after the 1893 Chicago World Exposition that sparked interest in the adoption of state flowers, the purple iris was one of the suggestions made to represent Illinois but was never officially adopted. Apparently years went by, and then one very determined Mrs. James C. Fessler of Rochelle decided to launch a statewide campaign to get the job done, suggesting that it be put to a vote by the Illinois school children. So they did! Over 33,500 votes were cast for the three flowers that were chosen; goldenrod, wild rose, and the violet--which won by a wide margin over the other two.
However, legislation failed to specify which type of violet--there were eight blue 'native' species alone at the time. So they turned to the Illinois State Museum for help, and found the most common native species, Viola sororia, sometimes called the 'dooryard violet', and 'bird-foot violet', or just 'wood violet'. The law was amended and went into effect July 1, 1908. So now it's official.
Violets are so pretty. Nursery rhymes and English literature is full of references to them. Poets often use them to express the gentler qualities of life. Shakespeare's violets are the flowers of vanishing youth; a warning to seize life before it's gone. In the Victorian 'language of the flowers' manual, a true-blue violet means faithfulness. That seems quite fitting as they grow in abundance throughout the northern hemisphere with no help whatsoever. They can be found in woodlands, fields, meadows, along roadsides, and often, by surprise, in backyard lawns. Violets are adaptable and grow in full sun or shade, and bloom almost all spring and summer long. Faithful and true they certainly are.
Another thing I love about them is that the flowers are edible. I bet you already knew that. But did you know that the flowers, roots, and stems of some varieties are rich in Vitamins A and C, (more C than even oranges pound for pound), and contain a type of antioxidant called anthocyanin, which is why it is sometimes called, "nature's vitamin pill." Did you know that? I admit, it was news to me. The petals of the Illinois state flower in particular is such a variety, quite edible, and can be candied or crystallized with a coating of egg white (use a small paint brush), and sugar, as a way of preserving the blooms, to be used later as cake decorations. Or very sweet and tasty vitamins. How wonderful is that?
COLORS: petals in two shades of blue #792, #3839; centers yellow; leaves medium green #702.
Next on the list, Pennsylvania's Mountain Laurel. Are you keeping up? Check out Elizabeth's first flower block for Maine for inspiration. Also, as an aside, but still on the topic of embroidery, Miriam, the Mexican Blouse Lady, who I blogged about way back here, has created yet another beautiful dress made from just three rectangles! Check that out over here. And while you're there...look what you can do with vintage linens and old embroidery designs using the same Mexican dress pattern. These just conjure up all kinds of summer images in my mind right now. You can read more about Rayne's blouse embroidering techniques and "mania", complete with Perry Mason reruns (Ha!) at CollectingJournies.