Over the spring and summer I worked on a quilt that I’d had in mind for quite a while. I’d bought far too much Japanese quilting fabric in shades of blue, white, and mustard gold and finally started on a double Irish chain quilt, something I’d wanted to do for some time.
I loved working on this quilt, and it turned out as I wanted it to, but for some reason it was not happy here, and once the thought came to me as to whom it should be with there was no having it until that quilt went off to live with its new family. So as I finished it, I put a lot of love into it for them, and delivered it in August.
But finishing this quilt made me realize what a dearth of warm blankets we have. Yes, I know we live in Southern California, the land of Warm. But despite our reputation, it can get cold here, especially at night and in winter, cold enough that blankets are a really good idea. Our paucity of blankets larger than three-food square kindled a fire in my brain. I launched upon the project of Making Blankets to Keep Us Warm.
But I needed something to inspire me and keep me interested long enough to get out of summer. A few years ago, I made a Trip Around the World quilt as a wedding gift for some dear friends. It was great fun, the most fun part being that it was inspired by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. All the fabrics were chosen with this in mind. I loved making it, and decided to make a literature-inspired quilt for us. But what book to use?
We were finishing the Little House books at the time, and, as I am often visited by the spirit of Caroline Ingalls in other projects, I decided to let her be my guide in this one. I began my first Log Cabin quilt, and I decided to use all fabric already existing in my stash (excluding the backing) and all colors that reminded me somehow of the Little House books.
So I chose reds, pinks, and oranges for one side, and fawns and browns for the other side, vintage-look fabrics whenever I could. I chose fruits whenever possible, because Laura has lovely descriptions of her aunt’s dress with buttons that look like blackberries, and other descriptions of food that make me hungry. I chose reds because of Laura’s red-print dress in Little House In the Big Woods; because of Pa threatening to buy the turkey-red print for Ma’s apron if she didn’t choose for herself. There are rose prints, for Laura’s wedding dress (a soft pink lawn) and for the name of her daughter. Laura’s pink cheeks, Pa’s red fingers after twisting hay during the Long Winter. The browns were chosen for the wood of all the houses Pa built, the brown poplin dress Laura wears in These Happy Golden Years, the dirt of the sod house and the golden brown of dried grasses on the prairie. The deer he doesn’t shoot in the moonlight. And there’s a coffee-bean print in the browns, for the coffee grinder they used to grind wheat during the Long Winter.
I chose the center to be blue, like Pa’s eyes. And then I quilted it, but not in a traditional in-the-ditch fashion. Rather, I quilted it in wavy lines, to represent the paths they took as they traveled, meandering lines like streams and dry riverbeds. Although this photo doesn’t show it, I bound it in the same blue as the centers. When it was done, I quite liked it.
So I decided to make another.