I am from Idaho and my husband is from Connecticut. We currently live in Iowa, which is pretty much smack-dab in the middle of them both. On the summers that we decide to travel to both places, we put a lot of miles on our van AND on our kids. It's always a fun adventure, though. My husband is perfectly content to drive all day and I am perfectly content to let him and look out the window. I saw so much this summer that inspired me.
We went west first, and ended up in the Grand Teton National Forest on a late spring morning. I stood on the shore of Jenny Lake and watched the way the shadows of the mountains and the light from a weak sun rippled across the icy water. I stood there longer than I should have admiring the beauty and contemplating how to replicate that feeling of movement I got from the frigid water. When we got back to my mom's house I started piecing the center of the quilt. Now, feel free to laugh at me, but at the time I was thinking of trying my hand at a minimalist quilt. I sketched out a few ideas where I used only a few half square triangles.....which might be why I thought it would be a good idea to use 2" finished HST. Are you laughing yet? Once I placed the pieces on the design wall and realized how much I liked them all together, I threw the plans in the trash and kept building. The truth is, I like piecing. I also find it difficult to quell my exuberance once I start.
When we drove east, I had a whole bunch of light HST units and not much of a plan. Then, I found myself on the shore of the Long Island Sound watching the way the light moved across the dark water, rolling towards me in gentle waves. This time we got into the water and I spent quite a bit of time swimming with my kids and picking off many varieties of seaweed. I thought of what I loved best from that memory: the expansive feeling of the ocean view, the colors and the fun we had playing in the water. I thought of it all the way home. Before we even unpacked, I found myself in my sewing room picking a new palette and making more half square triangles. I decided to add them in an asymmetrical border and flip the orientation of the quilt to mimic the long horizon from the ocean.
I believe that when we let ourselves explore during our sewing time and make judgements in the moment, that really personal things emerge in our work. I can feel it when it happens to me and like what it does to my creations. I get the chance to share my feelings in fabric and also with words on my blog.
Around the time I was choosing to add that ocean inspired border, my husband and I were asked to share the story of how we met/married with the youth in our church. I was blessed to have an amazing, miraculous, never-would-believe-it-if-it-happened-to-someone-else courtship. I met my husband on a penpal site on the internet before Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan tried it. We wrote long emails to each other multiple times a day for three months before we talked on the phone for the first time. We had strong feelings for each other and I felt safe enough to give him my address. He sent me a present that I still treasure to this day (and hangs proudly in our living room). I had shared with him in one of the emails that I loved impressionist art, so he went to a museum and bought me a print of a Monet bridge. He included a note that told me he felt this was a symbol of our success. Two different people with wildly different backgrounds, faiths and experiences coming together to make something beautiful.
See what I mean? I was thinking and making and I made what I was thinking about. It's a quilt version of our bridge. Two different experiences with a common theme. He is who he is. I am who I am. We embrace our differences and our commonalities. We are better together.
"Ripple" finished at 79" x 59." I made it using 51 (!) different fabrics over the course of 5 months. It is matchstick quilted with Aurifil invisible thread and metallic threads by Yenmet in pearlessence white and twilight silver blue. The batting is Quilter's Dream Request.
Well, I can't really leave the story there, right? I also couldn't ignore the piles of triangle scraps that I had left (after trying many different methods for making half square triangles, I discovered that my favorite was sewing two triangles together). I experimented with insetting pieced strips of lights into the darker triangles. Once I'd used up all of my leftover triangles, I tried stretching the diamond shape and cut rectangle shapes out of my dark scraps. All the while, I was listening to the song "Let's Get Married" by The Proclaimers, a Scottish band. That may or may not be the reason that some of the plaid from my Loominous stash got slipped in there. (ahem) There's nothing wrong with being literal, right?
Want to hear the song? Here's a link.
I have been married a long time, but I still remember that happy, euphoric feeling of the newly twitterpated. After writing emails back and forth (and eventually calling) for 5 months, Matt flew out from the East Coast to visit me for the first time. We had an awesome weekend for our first official date. While I was driving him back to the airport, I asked him about his plans and he PROPOSED. "I don't know about you," he said, "but I plan on spending the rest of my life with you." I almost drove off the road! Don't let all this improv fool you...in real life I am a careful and deliberate thinker, but at that moment I felt sure enough to immediately nod and say, "Okay. Let's get married." That song helped me focus in on and remember some pretty powerful memories.
"Let's Get Married" finished at 40" x 40." It is matchstick quilted with Aurifil invisible thread. I used Quilter's Dream Request batting.
I have to end with a funny story. I am finally ready to attach a quilt label to myself. The one I have chosen is Dedicated Quilter. I took the quilts to a park with a pond and river access to get my photography done. As we walked past the inclined boat launch, I had the thought that a picture with the Iowa River and foliage in the background would be a great idea for the big quilt. My kids were with me and I knew that my boys could hold the dowels I use to suspend the quilt over the water. I was a little concerned about the river slime that coated the launch, so I left the camera, the bag with supplies and my little girl at the top with the boys while I checked to see if it would be safe. I inched down the incline carefully. Just as the "Um....no" thought was forming I took another half step. That turned out to be a half step too many. I slipped in the muddy slime and started sliding down the incline to the very cold and very dirty Iowa River. Would this be a good time to mention that I was holding "Ripple?" Instead of catching myself with my hands, my first instinct was to lift the quilt over my head. The quilt and I rode down the boat launch and stopped just short of the river. I was covered in mud and my children were horrified, but I crab-walked (with one hand) myself back up the launch with a quilt on my head. I was scared to look at the quilt, but there were only 3 tiny flecks of mud that I was able to remove with some bottled water and gentle scrubbing with the sleeve of MY COAT. Priorities, priorities. All the photos were taken around the pond immediately following the *adventure* by me, The River Monster.
Thanks for reading. I hope you have a blessed holiday season.
Linking up to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.