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I Am The Rose of Sharon Quilt

Dear Ann,
Welcome home from your eastward travels. It must be painful to look upon the place where Venus rightfully stood. Although it’s a lovely thing to see when in Paris.
In addition to lots of unblogged knitting, I’ve got unblogged quilting. Quilts are such a process; once you’ve made one, you understand why there are so many orphaned blocks and unquilted tops for sale on Etsy and eBay. Even compared to knitting, there are a lot of places where a quilt can simply disappear, never to be seen again. These places are known as the Bermuda Half-Square Triangles. (Har har! My first quilting joke!)
I pieced the cross blocks at New Year 2012, over a couple of days (nights), using the Modern Crosses pattern from Modern Log Cabin Quilting. This was the quilt that inspired the Mitered Crosses Blanket (which, by the way, has raised $19,000 for Mercy Corps; the pattern is still selling, and people are still knitting amazing versions of it).
Our lovely mutual friend Polly had given me my very first “jelly roll”–a roll of 2 1/2 inch wide strips of fabric from a single collection. I treated the jelly roll like a skein of Noro Silk Garden, piecing the crosses from strips drawn in order as they came off the jelly roll–no “design” to it on my part. I used a white-on-white fabric for the background. I wanted to make a small throw for my goddaughter, Rose. Since she is an upstanding member of the Episcopal church, the cross motif seemed å propos. Rose has the white kid-bound Bible my own godmothers gave to me; a cross quilt would fit right in to her collection of Stuff Kay Gave Me For Posterity.
When the top was finished, I did not love it. Although I liked the colors, there was something too matchy about the fabrics, to my eccentricity-loving eye. It is an article of faith with me that we were not put on this earth to color-coordinate. As soothing and self-confidence instilling as a jelly roll is, I am not, it seems, a jelly-roll quilter. In future I will take the risk of making an ugly quilt, to avoid making a tame one. I should have stirred those lovely jelly roll strips into the stash!
The same weekend, I had made a single block of 4 pieced letters (using this book as a how-to manual) to contribute to a group project by my most admired quilter. While doing that fiddly job, the thought occurred that I could brighten up (or mess up) the crosses quilt with text borders pieced from bits of my non-jelly roll stash.
I knew exactly which text. My goddaughter’s name is Rose. My favorite verse from Song of Solomon is the one that starts, “I am the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley,” which I sang, scores of times, as a first alto for the North High Madrigal Singers, resplendent in vaguely quattrocento gowns in the team colors of the North High Vikings.
Digression: here is the song, very well sung, despite lack of blue and gold polyester gowns. Stay with it, it gets very snappy at the end, and overall it’s one of the most joyful bits of the Bible.

The part of the verse that seemed most relevant, to this braggadocious godmother anyway, is the part that goes:
As the Lily among the Thorns
So is my love among the daughters.
Perfect, right? And so much classier than my first draft: “Those other girls are OK, but Rosie is the best!”
I then embarked on a very tedious phase of my life: learning how to piece letters into words. Mostly by learning how not to piece letters into words. I will do better next time. But I got them done, over Memorial Day and July 4 sessions at the sewing machine, ignoring hungry people.. I even pieced letters for the back–as you know, I like to push the word count. I pieced my fingers to the bone. At the end of July I sent the quilt sandwich fixings to my favorite machine quilter, Gayle Karol of Tillie Studio, who quilted it in an all-over pattern of roses (squee!). Gayle kindly, and with great sensitivity to the feelings of a junior quilter, dove into her stash to fix one of the edges where I hadn’t put a white strip on top of the letters–true customer service.
I sewed down the binding during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, and it was done. Here it is:
I have no tips to offer other than to say that when you put lettered borders on a quilt, make sure to put a plain strip on the outside on all four edges, so that the binding doesn’t obscure the letters. They are hard enough to read to begin with.
Yours in lifelong learning and diligent godparenting,

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  1. Oh, I wish I were your goddaughter, too.

  2. I love this quilt. Rose is a very lucky goddaughter. She will treasure this gift for years to come.

  3. OUTSTANDING! i do love the softness of the color shades…..and your wee custom label on the back is a treasure, too!

  4. How precious for little Rose. I’m sure she’ll truly treasure it.

  5. How precious for little Rose. I’m sure she’ll truly treasure it.

  6. Beautiful.
    And an heirloom as well. Stitched with love.

  7. What a beautiful story!! A wonderful godmother you are, indeed!

  8. Hello Kay,
    What a beautiful, beautiful gift!!

  9. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful…..the quilt, the singing and the Godmother! Rose is indeed fortunate to have you!

  10. This is lovely Kay, I love words on quilts!!!!!!!

  11. Gift worthy of godmotherly love!

  12. Beautiful and sweet.
    Jeez, now I want to consider quilting.

  13. Beautiful….quilt and singing. Lucky, lucky Rose!

  14. It’s beautiful Kay… your Goddaughter is very lucky… with you and her quilt!

  15. Truly, truly beautiful quilt, made with heart bursting love.

  16. This is a beautiful little quilt. I wonder if it would have been enough non-matchy matchy if you had had 2 different jelly rolls to mix and match from?

  17. oh no, did you really squee? Nooooooo….
    (despite that, there is so much to love and admire in this post and about this quilt, that I don’t know where to begin. wow.)

  18. What a beautiful gift she will treasure for her whole life, Kay.

  19. What a sweet and beautiful gift! I know she’ll treasure it forever!

  20. What a lovely entry; I enjoyed every word and picture. You had quite the high school (?) choir, especially your sopranos. That’s my favorite biblical portion, too – my husband is Israeli, and we are often asked to read that at weddings, me in English and he in Hebrew.

  21. What a beautiful and special gift. You can see the love stitched into it. 🙂

  22. The words made the quilt much less “matchy”. It’s beautiful!

  23. Kay, thank you for this GREAT post! You continue to be such an inspiration!

  24. Gorgeous!!!

  25. So beautiful in so many ways.

  26. Looks like the words killed the matchiness – at least it’s perfect to my eyes! A lovely gift.

  27. Looks like the words killed the matchiness – at least it’s perfect to my eyes! A lovely gift.

  28. Kay, You never cease to amaze through your creativity. Fiber uber alles might be the motto. Though you would probably come up with something more lyrical like this gorgeous quilt. love, n

  29. Wonderful job – I love your fearless approach to design!

  30. I agree — too much matchy-matchy isn’t a good thing. But I need to learn to be as brave as you.
    One thing — in the small amount of quilting I have done (only a few pillow tops and small items), I really enjoyed hand quilting. First, I am afraid of the sewing machine, and even kind of afraid of the cutting and piecing (knitting is so much easier — if you don’t like it, just frog it!). But I LOVED making tiny little stitches by hand. Maybe partly because it reminds me of my grandma and her quilt rack, which was set up in her living room all winter, and where she hand quilted at least a couple dozen quilts for her kids and grandkids.
    I just had this wild thought that maybe I could hand quilt for other people, who enjoy the piecing and sewing part, but then I regained my senses….

  31. LOVE the quilt. Great job.

  32. One of the most beautiful tributes I have ever seen.

  33. “Those other girls are OK, but Rosie is the best!” made me snort, would also have been great!!!

  34. Love the quilt, Kay. Love the meaning behind it. Makes me want to get back into my own patchwork (NOT matchy-poo) quilting. I have oodles of fabric, and a daughter at university. I could possibly have it done by the time she gets her PhD!!

  35. Lovely, lovely, lovely! Good work all around! Thank you for sharing it.

  36. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. What a special keepsake for Rose.

  37. I keep meaning to comment that the combination of that red and all those other colors is MY FAVORITE THING IN THE WHOLE WORLD. SO GORGEOUS. And I don’t care that the middle part is matchy. It’s OK for things to be harmonious sometimes. It’s not even that harmonious. I mean: Thomas Kinkade would find this quilt deeply worrisome.

  38. Wonderful! I know a sweet little Rosie (age 6) who needs something special also. Thanks for the inspiration!

  39. This is a renaissance blog. Blogaissance.

  40. Oh Wow!! What a lucky little girl! It is beautiful!

  41. As one who is embarked on her very first quilt through a free Craftsy Block of the Month class, I applaud your work. Two more months of blocks then I learn to make the sandwich and then machine quilt. Can’t wait. Matchy-matchy is bad in my book. Love the red with the other colors. I agree with Ann, the red makes it. Wow, pieced words on quilts. Who knew? I need to research that… thanks for the link.

  42. The quilt is beautiful on the back as well as the front! I agree that quilting presents lots more opportunities to give up, give in, slink away, and try to hide (or sell) the evidence.

  43. Beautiful! It’s obvious Rose is loved.

  44. Oh, my goodness! Another morning of spontaneous tears brought on by the love and beauty at MDK.
    Hand on heart,

  45. Woohoo, what a wonderful quilt. LOVE that you put her name and the year on the back – makes it that much more personal. I hate matchy too, wonderful job jazzing it up. Love Chawne too – she’s daring and wonderful. Glad you liked the book.

  46. It’s gorgeous! what a labour of love.

  47. Comfort me with apples! I’m inspired.


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