In a post a number of years ago I mentioned that one of the ways pen pals used to (and still do) find new pals was through the exchange of friendship books, aka fbs. Most people call them eff bees; I tend to refer to them as fibs, possibly because Pen Pal Land has always had its fair share of fantasists. Long before the Internet came along to provide people with a platform for fictionalizing their lives, people did it in Pen Pal Land. But that's normal human behavior and definitely not what I'm thinking about today.
|Shady Lady hand applique quilt block|
In addition to the fbs, people swap exchange slips, i.e., short form chain letters. Instead of going through the whole rigamarole of "Send $1 to the first name on the list, cross it off, add yours to the bottom, make six copies and pass them on" an exchange slip will just say "2 Viewcards Exchange - 6 copies" (often abbreviated as 2 VC - 6 c) or "Sheet of Seals Exchange - 6 copies." Name an item and somewhere out there exchange slips probably circulate for it, like tea towels or dishcloths.
Or quilt blocks or fabric swatches. I used to do 12-1/2 inch square friendship block exchanges (pieced or applique), tumbler exchanges (a tumbler being a polygon shaped sort of like a drinking glass) done to a standard template, and a few others. At one point I had quite a few blocks other people had sent me. There was no standard pattern for generic friendship blocks, although there were a few exchanges for specific themes (Sunbonnet Sue, pinwheels) or holidays (Christmas). I must have really been into the whole blocks/swatches/whatever exchange thing for awhile. I made two Christmas wall hangings using Christmas blocks people sent me -- my standard Christmas block was one that mimicked a wrapped package -- as well as one full-size quilt top. I do still note in fbs that I'll "swap f/s blocks, 12-1/2 inches sq., pieced or applique" but no one's offered to swap in years. I think all the old ladies I used to get quilt blocks from have died off and no one's replaced them.
|Christmas pinwheel, 12-1/2 inch square|
|Grandmother's Flower Garden segments|
In the process of inventorying, I discovered I still have quite a stash of stuff obtained through exchanges: ordinary blocks, some Christmas-themed blocks, some sets of hexagons for a Grandmother's Flower Garden (I didn't even remember ever getting into swapping those), some humongous butterflies ready to be appliqued on to something. Tumblers, lots of tumblers, enough tumblers sewn together to qualify as an extremely colorful table runner if I felt like putting a backing on it. Most of the finished blocks were quite good; one of the appliqued blocks, a Shady Lady (shown at the top of this post), is so nice that I don't want to put it into a quilt. I want to put it in a frame and hang it on a wall.
|Cow pie? Lily pad? Or just plain weird?|
My standard f/s block pattern, for what it's worth, was Rolling Stone. We moved so often that it felt appropriate.