February 20, 2008

White on white

I keep stepping outside tonight to look at the moon and check the progress of the lunar eclipse. It's a beautiful night, clear and cold, with a fluffly coat of newly fallen snow sticking to the trees. It put me in mind of a quilt I did so long ago it almost qualifies as vintage. I started with plain 18" white muslin blocks and drew my designs, loosely based on traditional Pennsylvania German motifs. The designs were then embroidered with candlewicking, which was all the rage at the time. The candlewick knot is a variation of the french knot, worked with a soft, thick cotton thread. I had young children at the time, so I worked on it sporadically over several years.

The blocks were then joined and hand quilted. This was a very slow process as well, done whenever I could steal a little time for myself. Handquilting, once you get into the rhythm, is very calming and meditative. The blocks are all done in echo quilting, where lines radiate out from the motifs and then merge. I didn't mark the lines, just worked it out as I went. I think all that time spent working out the echo quilting lines at a slow pace prepared me for the machine echo quilting I frequently do now. I have a good sense of where I want the machine stitching lines to go, without having to stop and deliberate too much. So even though this has little superficial resemblance to the work I am now doing, it was not a wasted effort, and all part of my personal evolution.

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