This grandmother’s flower garden quilt was actually influenced by three of Prince’s songs. Although each song was featured on different CDs during his career, all of the songs carried the theme of spirituality that can be found within his music. The first song was “The Digital Garden” on the Rainbow Children CD. I listened to that CD a lot while making the quilt. It is both an artistic and spiritual song about the blossoming of creativity and the burgeoning of spirituality within lyrical metaphors of a blossoming flower garden. I was inspired to create a pattern of purple roses that blossomed from the inside out with the light, medium and dark colored fabric framing one another. The second song was “When Doves Cry” from the Purple Rain soundtrack. Doves represent spiritual awakening. The border fabric has a purple background featuring white doves with the word “peace.” The third song was “Seven” from The Love Symbol CD. The song was about the symbolism of the number seven within the Bible. Prince was very emotionally connected to his faith, so I used seven rows of grandmother’s flower garden blocks appliquéd to the dove border fabric.
It’s only a couple hours a month, and I arrive haphazardly, but I must say I am restored to sanity afterwards. I attend the Quilter’s Trunk Sew In on the fourth Thursday of every month. The chocolate covered licorice and pretzels is always a winner with us. We do show and tell of the textiles we’ve made. And the stereo speakers play the soothing sounds of Nora Roberts and other musicians we all enjoy. The CD Come Away With Me reminds me of when I was working full time as an LPN, attending RN school and studying for RN boards. I was trying to make it here, this night, literally 15 years ago, knowing my day job was a vehicle to the life I have right now, wanting a more creative life, but not sure of where I was going or what I was going to do next. I recognize that this is the moment I was working towards and I am glad about it. I always leave the Sew In satiated in spirit and trying to figure out how I am going to survive another month without this.
Both my maternal grandmother and my maternal great grandmother used to sew together. When they learned that my mother was pregnant, they made a single Irish chain baby quilt for me. I still have it. When I became an adult, I took formal quilting classes. While I was doing a mystery quilt, some familiarity came to me about the piecing. Soon, it was like I was not actually making the quilt. It felt like I had help from another source that I could not see. There was literally a light, rush of energy within the room. The pattern looked familiar. When I compared the quilt to the baby quilt my family made, I realized the design was a single Irish chain! I’ve gotten lots of requests to make this quilt. Some people who are actually Irish have said they have never heard of the design and become excited about it. The Quilt in a Day Irish Chain in a Day-Single and Double by Eleanor Burns’s book and DVD are a favorite of mine for obvious reasons! The Irish chain is one of my absolute favorite designs for sentimental reasons. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
A lot of people asked me over the years, “How do art and activism come together?”
Let me explain.
Chelsea King was a San Diego high school student who was murdered by a convicted sex offender named John Albert Gardner in 2010:
Chelsea’s Light Foundation was established by the family to create laws to protect children. Dream in Color, a yarn manufacturer, created skeins of yarn to make shawls (or whatever you want really). A portion of the proceeds from the yarn sales go to Chelsea’s Light Foundation:
Further, Chelsea King’s brother was 13 years old when his sister was murdered. He created a documentary about his experience stating that creating a documentary was actually better than therapy. I also heard that same sentiment expressed by Mariel Hemingway about her own family challenges and how she became an advocate:
This is how art, albeit making documentaries or textile arts, and activism come together. I buy my Chelsea’s Shawl yarn at Gentler Times Knit Shop in Naperville, Illinois, just a block away from where I meet my writing group. 100% super wash merino is one of the better textures for me to work with. Needless to say, my next bohemian strippy scarf will be made using Chelsea’s Shawl Yarn.
Once I knew what was going on, I was able to knit my scarf very quickly.
I generally do not work with worsted yarn. I am a yarn snob. I know my great grandmother who used to crochet did not spend this much on a skein of yarn, but there has to be more of a sensual feel to the yarn for me to handle it for a long period of time. And I LOVED the look of this worsted yarn! The stripe quality is phenomenal! There are TOO MANY cute bohemian patterns out there for me to pass up, so making this scarf helped me to restructure my wardrobe.
I am a total fan of 1960s and 1970s vintage clothes. I love eras before then, but I notice with myself, that I tend to look best within that era. Maxi dresses sing to me. Blue jeans with flare in the leg are the only jeans I will allow in my possession. A scarf with a blouse reminds me of the stylishness I saw out of the women around me. When I was little and my parents were gladly getting rid of their 1970s clothes and carting them off to the Goodwill, I begged them to place them in a box for me until I grew up. I KNEW I wanted them for myself.
Off to Goodwill they went.
And I grew up and I had to start over, looking around for what I wanted. Luckily for me, the textiles in knitting and crochet gave me what I was looking for: Unique bohemian chic. One frogging on the way to completion of this project isn’t bad, now is it? From what I understand, it is not at all unusual to see people doing more than that.
The scarf measures 40 inches long. I will need to get knit more scarfs before the winter comes. I forgot how to bind off, so I will have to ask my fiber arts group about that. There are worse things to indulge in. There are worse activities to bond with people over. Either people do not ask why I do this or they make assumptions. But it really very simple for me: There really are worse things to do besides knit a scarf and I simply do not want to be involved with any of them.
This year, the International Quilt Festival had a Rubies quilt exhibit. The International Quilt Festival is held each year in various locales throughout the country: Chicago, Houston, Long Beach and Cincinnati. Although the International Quilt Festival was a few months ago in Chicago, I feel writing about it in light of the patriotic holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day) is appropriate, hence all the red and white fabric from the main quilt exhibit. I love Americana fabric (fabric with a patriotic theme). I donated my proceeds from working the festival to Quilts of Valor, an organization that makes quilts for veterans.
Considering my father is a Vietnam veteran, the Quilts of Valor organization was of interest to me. Also, because Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), a very breakthrough trauma treatment I personally had for PTSD due to rape trauma and domestic violence, actually originated in the veterans hospitals. I felt my donation was a way of giving back for some of the help I received, thanks to the veterans and their advocacy for appropriate trauma treatment.
Other than that, the International Quilt Festival is one of the most wonderful times of the year for me. Other people live for the holidays. As a healthcare worker, I usually work the holidays. So, I live for the International Quilt Festival.
I adore being a part of the quilting process, whether it is making them myself, packing them up at the festival, unpacking them and/or displaying them. It is all pure joy for me. Quilters from around the world send their quilts to be exhibited within these conferences. There are a lot of traditional designs as well as art quilts that are featured. I meet all kinds of different people and it is a lot of fun. I appreciate being around other people who know what goes into an endeavor like making a quilt. I also appreciate the fact that they understand the psychological benefits of creating something by hand and I do not have to explain it to them.