Another Humble Homage
January 9, 2004
I’m in a quilty kind of mood, too. Must be the January weather. And as you know, I’m becoming more and more fond of knitting things that are square or at least rectangular. Things with no pattern, or a pattern that you can memorize or fudge if you forget, that nevertheless turn out reassuringly o.k.
Here’s why I don’t take up quilting: D.I.V.O.R.C.E. (One of my all-time favorite country song lyrics:. “Our D.I.V.O.R.C.E. becomes final toda-ay/Me and little J.O.E. will be going a-wa-ay/ I love you dear, and this will be pure H.E. double-L for me/ I wish that we could stop this D.I.V.O.R.C.E.”). You see, Hubby didn’t sign up for the knitting; I sprung it on him a couple of years into the deal. He’s been real nice about it and all, but if UPS shows up with a used Singer I bought on eBay, I think he’d have the law on his side.
The solution, for Hubby and me, is to do my quilting via knitting. My latest, greatest dream is to knit an interpretation of this stunning 1950s quilt by Jessie T. Pettway:
An image of this quilt was used to promote the Gee’s Bend Quilts exhibit at the Whitney Museum last year. In person, it is awe-inspiring. I do not aim to copy its artistry, but simply say grace for it.
I would appreciate input on the design. In contrast to my version of Loretta Pettway’s Courthouse Steps quilt, which was basically trying to be a knitted replica of the original, I’d like to vary this one, without losing its essence. One thing I’m thinking of doing is replacing the solid red bars with — you guessed it — Rowan Denim in the dark indigo shade called Nashville. I’d like to do these strips a bit wider, in a textured stitch that would bring handquilting to mind, zig-zags or garter ridges perhaps. For the strips of pieced triangles, the plan (raw-THER ambitious) is to work short-row triangles using my prized collection of discontinued shades of Rowan Handknit DK Cotton. Making a blanket instead of a garment will mean I can keep an album of these colors forever, without spilling coffee on them or washing them down to nubs, or getting tired of a sweater style. I’d like to use more colors than Jessie T. Pettway did, without sacrificing the rhythm of her color repeats. I’ll probably use more blues and greens.
I’m most concerned that the denim is the wrong move; is the vivid red of the quilt its defining quality? But since I am going to knit the strips as separate, portable pieces (like scarves, really), I will have a chance to abandon the denim and re-use it (recycled denim yarn is itself a thing to be coveted, in my book) if it deadens the look of the blanket.
I’d love to hear your views and those of our readers.