Monday, July 9, 2012

Faded Summer Quilt



Here’s something interesting:  if I finish a quilt and I’m not 100% thrilled with it, I have an immediate urge to start another one, to get it right this time.  And if I finish a quilt that turned out just the way I hoped, I have an immediate urge to start another one, probably just to keep the euphoria going.  That’s not the way it is with knitting, which I think I do because I figure I’m going to get cold at some point; nor is that the way it is with crochet, which I do because it brings color to my life.  Quilts are something else, and it’s got the potential to result in too many quilts, and I’m still pondering that.  Anyhoo. 


This quilt happened because the last one I made was a disappointing experience, but in it there were flashes of what I did want, and that keeps me interested. 


Success!  This time around, I got it right, and I’m so pleased.  Elements:  wool batting (learned here) simple construction with no triangles (learned here) hand quilt!  Yes!  (learned here) and no poly blends (learned here) which make the hand-quilting un-fun. 


The top is constructed of 4” squares at 20 x 22—the finished top is 80” x 88”.  I used all lights and neutrals for a soft, faded look, and I couldn’t believe how many light-colored fabrics I already had in the cupboard.  I didn’t have to buy anything.  Which I love, because it means I can start right now, with no waiting!  The inspiration for this came from here.  I piled the fabrics on the work table and spent a few days walking past them, occasionally weeding out the ones that stood out too much, which is the part that takes me the longest, that fabric audition.  It’s hard for me to get that right.

Because we’re in the middle of a heat wave, I spread the pinned quilt over my work table and aimed a fan at my legs and then happily spent the next few hours stitching and unpinning—the pins go in that teacup as I remove them—and singing along with the radio, and before I knew it, I was done.


I just want to say it again, because it blows my mind a little to think about this:  I hand-quilted this whole thing.  Now, of course, my grandma (she of the perfect triangle points) would not be satisfied with it, and she would perhaps suggest that now the quilt is basted and would I like to spend the next twenty years doing it right, but Grandma is probably out buying more geraniums right now and will not see this, so I feel safe in showing you.  And anyway, if it’s good enough for Jane Brocket, it’s plenty good enough for me—check out her gorgeous book.  She gave me permission to take big chunky stitches using #5 perle cotton, and dang if I didn’t finish this entire thing in one day.  Jane, I love you. 


I quilted across each row, right down the middle of the squares, first going one way, then across the stitches, going the other way.  The wool batting makes this so easy.  I didn’t use a hoop or anything, just spread the thing over the table and ran the needle through it.  It was speedy and satisfying. 


This is almost the first full-size quilt I’ve ever hand-quilted.  It’s certainly the first since the time I made that peach-and-teal thing with the stitched-on doilies back in college.  Yes, while everyone else was out drinking tequila and getting arrested, I was at home quilting.  That’s me.  Anyway, there are—blessedly-- no pictures of it.  It was made with dress leftovers in two colors—peach. and. teal.  Because that’s what I had enough of in the instant I felt the need to start making a quilt.  I used three layers of poly batting.  Instead of patches, I quilted the block designs on the plain fabric, using a huge crewel needle (didn’t know better) late into the night, watching The Beverly Hillbillies and The Patty Duke Show on cable.  I poured so many hours of my life into that quilt, and it was soooo ugly—thus my lengthy fabric audition process.  Don’t want to go through that again.  But I digress.

Before washing, the finished quilt looked orderly, if a bit stiff.  It looked like this:


After washing, it looks considerably more rumpled:





With this quilt, rumpled is the point.  And it looks like it’s already spent several summers hanging on a clothesline and going on picnics.  It’s soft and floppy and pre-faded. 


When the kids were little, I sent everyone to their rooms to read for an hour in the afternoons.  I went to my room, too, and drew the shades and lay in the soft light, reading and snoozing.  I didn’t think about what to make for dinner, or laundry or anything else.  I just rested.  So lovely.  This quilt makes me think of that.  Softly resting.