I Am The Rose of Sharon Quilt
August 23, 2012
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,