Monday, January 28, 2019

More String Baskets

I've been plugging along on the string basket blocks.  As of this past weekend, I had eight finished.  Here they are on the design wall (which is reverse flannel side of a vinyl gingham print tablecloth; if you notice the hint of a checked pattern behind the blocks, that's why).

I've got another four in the works right now, in various stages of being put together.  I'm running low on some of the solid colors.  I thought about maybe introducing purple and/or a different blue or green, but since I don't have enough (or any) of those in the solid scraps box, it's not really an option.  While I could make a trip to the fabric store, the whole idea was to utilize my scraps, so that's that.  When what I have is gone, I'm done with the blocks. 

They are quite large, about 13 inches square, unfinished.  So I'm sure, depending on how I decide to set them, there will be enough for a decent sized quilt.

While I was in the sewing room this week—which also happens to be a storage area for a lot of other stuff, including papers and keepsakes from my late mom and dad—I happened upon an old cassette tape.  I popped it in an old boombox and heard my grandmother's voice.  On the other side of the tape was my aunt's voice.  Both were recorded in March 1982.

My grandmother was losing her eyesight due to macular degeneration, and reading and writing letters had become difficult for her.  Instead, she exchanged cassette tapes with her daughters who lived out of state (we lived in Wisconsin), wherein they shared family news and other happenings.  These were the days before email and cell phones, of course.  When long distance telephone rates were high (a one-hour phone call could cost as much as a tank of gas), but postage to mail a cassette tape was cheap.

So there was Grandma, maybe sitting out on her porch (from the sound of traffic passing) on a spring day in the deep south, talking about a cousin's wedding she'd recently attended, her azaleas in bloom, and other things.  On Side B was my aunt in Texas, talking about similar things in her "letter" to Grandma, about her roses and what else she was planning to do in her flower beds, etc.

I wanted to transfer this tape digitally, both to preserve it before the tape broke or degraded further, as well as share it with my siblings and cousins.  So that was my other project this past week.

Thankfully, I'd pinned a tutorial on this subject that I'd run across a few months ago.  I followed the instructions, bought a patch cord for $7.99, and using free Audacity software, was able to transfer the tape to my computer and save it digitally.  
Source:  Bespoke Genealogy
Instead of burn the new audio file to a CD, I uploaded the MP3 file to my (free) account on SoundCloud and shared the link with my cousins, etc.  Got some nice feedback.  One cousin said it brought tears to her eyes to hear Grandma's voice again.  Both Grandma and my aunt passed away in the 1990s. 

As much as they communicated this way over several years, I don't think many of these tapes survived.  Wouldn't it be neat, though, if some day, someone finds one of my mother talking to Grandma with our family news at the time?


  1. What a fabulous find of your grandmother's and aunt's voices! Doesn't it make you wonder how many other tapes might be out there in some box of miscellaneous stuff? I love your string basket blocks, they'll make a bright, cheerful quilt. I need to get started on my string project soon, but hoping to finish a small top first.

  2. I just loved hearing about the tape you saved and how nice it must be to hear grandmother and aunt's voices. I also adore that quilt you're working on. It's beautiful!

  3. Your quilt blocks are SEW pretty!! ALMOST makes me want to make a basket quilt. Something I've resisted for years! What a great find with that tape. Smart thinking preserving it like you did!!

  4. Love your baskets so much! Wonderful about the tape. Such a sweet memory.:)

  5. Thanks for the link to my post (on Bespoke Genealogy). Nice story about your tape. I agree with QB, it does make you wonder how many undiscovered tapes are out there in cupboards or in attics with the voices of our ancestors.

    1. Thank you for the great tutorial! I'll be using this process to transfer other tapes in the future from recordings I did in the 1990s with now gone relatives, while I was doing genealogy research.

  6. That is so sweet! My dad was a big letter writer and kept in contact with his Navy buddies for many years.
    Your baskets are beautiful!

  7. I love your baskets. Well done. Hugs

  8. Your baskets are looking splendid. You are very lucky to have tapes of your relatives and to have found such a practical way of transferring them into a digital format.

  9. Beautiful baskets!

    lizzy at gone to the beach...

  10. Great string baskets - love the story of the old cassette tape - wht a treasure that is for you.


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