This is a long story with lots of photos - it covers the month of December and an entire quilt, and I couldn't bear to leave out the details. Settle in, if you're still with me. . .
Meanwhile, my sister was getting ready to purchase a quilt online for Mom, when I emailed my siblings and told them to back off: I was going to make a quilt. This was December 6.
The next day, I was digging in my cedar chest for some flannel sheets and lo, there was a patchwork quilt top that Mom had given me when she and Dad cleaned out their big house last year to move to a little house. I had completely forgotten the quilt top, and I have no idea why I didn't store it with the other quilts in an upstairs closet.
Suddenly, I had the daring idea of using this quilt top and finishing a throw quilt for Mom in time for Christmas morning. Understand, I had never made a quilt quickly and never made a quilt to meet a deadline; I ruminate on quilt designs and colors for a while before I begin, and then the quilt is a background project that I work on leisurely when I feel like it.
With supersonic speed, I worked up a color scheme to lend a bit of harmony to the randomness of the patchwork. I decided to employ all three methods of quilting (knotting, hand quilting, and machine quilting) for efficiency. I got myself to the fabric store right quick and bought puffy batting, flannel for a snuggly back, and calico for the binding. I asked Rebecca for a bit of red wool yarn; her mother delivered hand-spun, hand-dyed wool from their very own sheep. I actually felt nervous handling such special yarn.
First, I used the raspberry wool yarn to knot all the middles of the solid patches and along the border. Then I used raspberry perle cotton to handquilt in long straight lines through the middles of the 9-patch squares. Finally, I machine quilted around each block and made my typical "framing" lines in the border. For the machine quilting, I used ecru thread on the top and pink thread in the bobbin to make the machine quilting as subtle as possible, just texture and strength. I read a helpful article that gave advice on how much quilting a quilt needs; in a heavy quilt that is going to be washed, the quilting strengthens the quilt when it is leaden with water. I was deliberately making this a heavy, snuggly quilt, and I knew it was going to be washed - I would do the first washing to help the wool ties felt down into little balls (like this).
My children are now total champs at keeping secrets. They kept our baby a secret for weeks without dropping any hints or bursting, and they did the same thing with the quilt secret every time they were around Granny.
|photo credits to my husband for all the quilt opening and hugging|
Well, somehow, I snatched enough time this December to complete the quilt on December 23. I had to wait for the rain to stop on Christmas morning to take pictures, but then I wrapped it in wrapping paper that Genevieve made and well, it was wonderful.
I rarely have such a special gift to give to a beloved person, especially one they are not expecting. My mother was totally surprised and happy. You can see it, right?
She tells me that the quilt top is from Grandma Weaver's things, but we are both guessing that Grandma did not make the quilt top. For one thing, the fabric is very old (although still quite sturdy - probably because it was not made into a quilt and used), but also, the piecing work is beautiful and with an eye to regularity that Grandma did not have.
So, I'm back to the regular quilting in the background. Actually, my latest quilt is nearly done after 18 months of on-and-off quilting. I'll be sure to share it here!