I decided to join the "Our Neighborhood" challenge, hosted by Angela from The Green Apricot, on a whim. The gist of the challenge was to make blocks (smaller than 8.5") that represented your neighborhood. Send them to Angela and she'd send you back the same amount of blocks made by others. Turn your blocks into something and post pictures. Easy, right?
Reading about the challenge immediately made me start considering different things, so I joined. I love the challenge of thinking in new directions and doing things I might not do if I were left to my own devices. I sent 2 cardinals, 1 oriole and 2 ears of corn. I received 3 houses, a dog, a cat and a bonus tree. I added a lot more of my own blocks and turned it into an ode to my Iowa neighborhood.
I am not a native Iowan, so there are many things about my new home that surprise and delight me.
You can't go for a drive in the Iowa countryside without seeing many barns. What I dearly love are the quilts that adorn a lot of the barns. When I was planning out the quilt, I searched for pictures of barn quilts and found one with a Churn Dash that I really liked. The block in the center is an improvisational copy of my favorite. Above the Churn Dash block is an improv interpretation of a traditional block named Tulip Ladyfingers. I included this in honor of Pella, a Dutch town famous for their tulip festival. Beside that is my version of a daylily patch. Daylilies naturalize like crazy here and you see them growing in many ditch banks alongside the road.
My mother enjoys growing flowers, and one that I remember her planting in front of a wagon wheel (at our house in Idaho) was a clematis. We babied it and it did grow, but kind of gave up around hip height. The clematis in Iowa explode with flowers. People plant them underneath their mailboxes and sometimes you can't even see the box! My favorite ones are purple varieties, but I felt that red worked better on the quilt so I took a little artistic license. Also included in this photo are two of the blocks that were sent to me. The Carolyn Friedlander house on the bottom and the house with the peekaboo window.
I used log cabins to reference home and pineapples to reference hospitality. Iowa is a friendly place! The little kitty in this picture was one of the blocks I was sent. The corn isn't just a joke, either. I can see a couple of different cornfields from our neighborhood.
While I was piecing this quilt, I listened to some quilting podcasts. I enjoy hearing thoughts about quilting from a variety of voices. I think it's fascinating to hear why others quilt and the purpose it serves. I had to laugh when the discussion on one podcast turned to expressive, statement (often political) quilts and I looked down at the tractor I was piecing. Despite its whimsical feel, this is an expressive quilt for me and reflects my perception of my surroundings. Even the tractor!
There are also personal details. These are my children. I also included some of my favorite Iowa birds. Some of you *may* have picked up that I have a thing for cardinals. I don't think I will ever be able to ignore a cardinal song no matter how long I live here. I don't see too many orioles, but we discovered a place they seem to congregate on one of our nightly walking routes. The Carolyn Friedlander 'Grove' tree was a bee block.
I couldn't have a neighborhood quilt without including our house! Our house is not actually blue (more artistic license), but it is a 2-story. When we built our house, my husband and I had a hard time deciding what color siding to use. We had it narrowed down to an olive brown and a dusty blue. After a lot of considering, we ended up choosing olive brown. When construction began on the house across the street from us, we mentioned to the contractor (our neighbor) that the neighborhood sure could use a dose of dusty blue....and they did it!!! I love that the house I received from the swap (the one with curtains) matched the color of our house so closely! I also included the trees we've planted, including the two mismatched pines in our front yard.
I do love a good joke, so I put the Grant Wood American Gothic house on the Iowa quilt. I free pieced the cathedral window and used needle turn applique to attach it to the house. I put some snarky caption on a picture of the block when I uploaded it to Instagram with #bringyourownpitchforks. I think people thought it was a church. #ohdear #thejokewasonme
Also pictured is a puppy bee block and another Tulip Ladyfingers.
I almost never buy wide quilt backs, but I was totally going to for this. I cut the timing really, really close. The finished quilt was due on Friday and I hadn't even finished piecing the top when I went to the quilt store on Tuesday. I was tired from too many late night/early morning combinations. To be honest? I was done with piecing. (#theheresy!) Then I saw the Happy Home line from Art Gallery Fabrics and happily pieced a back to include my two favorite prints.
I quilted this using Aurifil #2600 (Dove) and the scallop stitch (112 on a Janome). This is my new favorite texture.
One of my favorite quotes is, "In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." --Gordon B. Hinckley
Life is good here in Iowa.
Linking up to Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.