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On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, twelve Drummers drumming, eleven Pipers piping...

 

We're making the last two pairs of blocks this month and rather fittingly they're musical, because it's time to gather all of our blocks and celebrate Twelfth Night.

 

In the 18th century, Twelfth Night revels featured riotous games, lashings of punch and sumptuous food. A special Twelfth Cake - the forerunner of today’s Christmas cake - was the centrepiece of the party, adorned with almond paste figures and a gilded crown. The earliest printed recipe for Twelfth Cake was published in John Mollard's The Art of Cookery: Made Easy and Refined (1803) when they were at the height of their popularity.

 

A dried bean and a dried pea were baked into the cake and a slice was served to everyone in the household. The man receiving the slice with the bean was named King for the night, whilst his Queen received the pea. Even a servant, like our humble milkmaid, would then be acknowledged by all - including the Lords and Ladies - as their Twelvetide sovereign.

By the Regency period, every guest played their part, quite literally: a variety of popular characters were written on slips of paper and put into a hat for guests to pick at random. Then King, Queen and guests stayed in character until the stroke of midnight when the merriment ended and the world returned to normal (and milkmaids returned to the dairy). 

 

And so, alas, our block of the month must come to an end. But it isn't 'midnight' just yet, so I have one last treat for you all: the members of our Facebook group were kind enough to share their favourite festive foods with me, so lets tuck in to a Twelfth Night Feast...

This month's technique...

Pieced borders are as near to dressmaking as we quilters get: they need to fit! Here are my favourite tips: -
 

  • Measure, measure, measure. Especially as you're going along: a slightly-off seam allowance will soon multiply (ask me how I know...)

  • Use lots of pins when attaching the pieced border. It takes a little extra time, but will stop all those little seams misbehaving.

  • if there is any fullness in the seam - either in the pieced border or the inner border - feed it through your machine full-side down: the feed dogs with distribute it evenly so you won't have any puckers or pleats.

My final tip is to take a break if things aren't going to plan. Make a cup of tea or come and have a chat in the Facebook group. And when you've finished that final seam, allow yourself a little dance for joy!

Twelve Days of Christmas: month 10

Our table would be laden with roast beef, turkey wellington, chicken pithivier, gumbo, salt cod, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, cabbage rolls, Norwegian leftse and scrapple (you may have to look up those last two), followed by Christmas pudding, trifle, peppermint cheesecake, sour cream raisin pie, gingerbread, shortbread, brownies, homemade toffee, fudge, marzipan, divinity (I had to look that one up), brandy beans, every kind of mince pie - with or without candied peal and frangipane - a slice of Christmas cake, German stollen and Italian pizelles. 

I couldn't contemplate Christmas without chestnut stuffing (my lovely granny made it best) and for Andrea, Christmas starts with a batch of browned butter sugar cookies. And both of us love them even more when we share them with friends and family.

Finally, we're raising our glasses to you all with a toast: to good friends, thank you for your company!