A Giant Hug

>> Monday, September 12, 2011

Sometimes words aren't enough. Jenny is one of those friends who always knows and finds the right thing to do in any given situation. When we first met, she had ginormous bruises all over from a bike accident, but still convinced me that getting a road bike and riding a metric century the next day was obviously the best possible thing to do (she was right). She's exactly who you want motivating you on a bike ride or a run or even floating down a river. She combines outrageous, serious, and sentimental in the best possible way. She's an expert card-sender, for example, and made sure to leave and mail me several cards when I left Madison and was adjusting to a new life in Michigan. We were lucky enough to overlap in New York for part of the early summer and share a few glasses of wine and some meals.

Yesterday, Jenny flew to Geneva. She'll be there for the academic year, working on her dissertation. As exciting as this opportunity is, it also meant uprooting her life, leaving her partner, her friends, her family, her bikes, her daily routines, her apartment, and so on. And this is hard. Last weekend I realized I needed to make her a quilt. Something to take with her as a visceral, daily reminder of friends and her life here. And something to remind her of her promise to name an Alp after me. That's the real reason I made this quilt.

Given that this would need to be mailed by Tuesday to ensure it reached her before she got on a plane, this had to come together quickly. Luckily, I had just seen (a different) Jeni's Giant Vintage Star Quilt, for which she had handily posted a tutorial. Inspired by barn quilts--so appropriate for a quilt for someone who lives biking through rural Wisconsin--this quilt is one giant block, which makes it come together quite easily. At 67" x 67", it's a great size--perfect for reading under or covering a full bed--but a little challenging to photograph well.

Although Jeni's vintage version uses a rainbow of fabric, I've been fascinated by the diamond windmill shapes that form with two colors (actually I've been thinking of just making some single diamond windmill blocks -- as in, the shape the orange or the blue makes on its own), so two colors it would be. It also made the math really simple: this quilt used 4 yards of fabric on the front, 2 yards of gray, one each of blue and orange. Only after I picked the fabrics did I realize how apt they were: the orange comes from Paula Pass' Flights of Fancy line and the blue from Kate Spain's Central Park line, and Jenny would be flying to Switzerland from New York, where she spent the summer.

I pieced the back with darker versions of orange (a fun pindot fabric I had) and blue (from Denyse Schmidt's line for JoAnn's) as well as the gray bicycle print (from Erin McMorris' Weekends collection). Originally I planned to run into the store to buy some more gray for the back, but I saw the DS Quilts bolts and realized the blue acorn print would be perfect (I also ran into Emily who nabbed the bolt after I was done with it). I thought about straight-line or echo quilting, but give the time constraints, I opted for free-motion squiggles.Which went quickly once I got my machine re-accustomed to free-motion quilting. And had it not been 11 pm, I might have gone out and purchased quilting gloves since the nice smooth fabric meant my hands were slipping a lot. Instead I worked on being patient and quilting calmly, or something like that.

As soon as I picked the orange and blue fabrics, I knew I wanted to use this green Dena Designs print for the binding. I love this print and love it even more as binding. I'd stock up on more of it if I could find it. I shipped the quilt to Jenny on Tuesday and it arrived on Friday, just in time to get packed.

In the process of making this quilt, I realized that there is something magical about quick, big quilts. I transformed a few cuts of fabric into a quilt that I know will be used and loved in a matter of days. In contrast, I've spent almost a year trying to figure out what quilt to make another friend of mine. It's long overdue at this point, and the primary reason is that I could never settle on the perfect design or the ideal fabric. I worried that some ideas were too simple, some not special enough, and others just not right. And then I made this quilt and realized none of those concerns matter (real perceptive, I know). In the vein of this confessional post, I just need to plunge in and make things and worry less about whether something will be special enough. So thank you, Jenny, for giving me the chance to realize this, obvious as it may be.

1 comments:

felicity September 12, 2011 at 1:21 PM  

This is both beautiful and special, and I'm glad you know that already!

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