Through Tears She Saw More Clearly: a quilt top

Frustrated and discouraged, I pulled the first fabric and hastily cut a shape.  A teardrop.  That feels right.  So I cut more, and that felt right too.  Tears adding up, falling softly at first, then faster and harder and darker.  Meet my first coronavirus inspired quilt:  Through tears she saw more clearly.

I needed to make something that reflects the tension, stress, loss, and blessings of this time.  My requirement was that every print be a floral (large scale preferred) with a blue or green background (though a few at the top have white backgrounds).  They’re loosely organized from light at top to dark at the bottom, a cascade of flowers in a sea of blue and green.  I literally ransacked my fabric stash for these prints.  No collection was safe; I cut everything that qualified, and I’m still re-folding and putting fabric away!

My biggest decision concerned the triangles beneath each teardrop.  What color to make them?  Print or solid, light or dark, or scrappy?  I considered cutting a few to audition ideas, and then I saw the red.  Red fabric I bought for a project at a retreat that didn’t happen.  My gut said, “YES” so I started cutting and never looked back.

I LOVE the tension between the bright red solid and the beautiful florals.  It begs the question: which shape is the tear?  Are they tears of red-hot pain or anger?  Or are they thoughtful tears, tears of surrender and beauty?  Can it be both?  Can this time be both beautiful and awful?  The answer is yes.  It can and it is.

We’ve lost things and gained things, individually and collectively.  Some of my tears were chosen on purpose:  a tear on the day my Aunt died of cancer, one for the day my husband lost his job.  A tear for a friend’s devastating diagnosis.  One for other friends who lost parents in this pandemic.  Tears for dreams that are simply gone, tears of uncertainty and stress and fear.  Tears of compassion for suffering and tears of surrender.  And somehow, though I’m seeing through a waterfall, my tears also tell me that in the end, it will be okay.  Thus the name of my quilt:  through tears she saw more clearly.

I look at my quilt top and it feels strange to see my struggle in fabric, when I’m still struggling in real life.  Like maybe I’m telling the story too soon?  But on top of all the other things we’re dealing with, we’re learning to live with a lot more uncertainty.  I suppose it’s one more layer of tension in my quilt – being waist deep in the muddy struggle, trying to secure a pretty outcome.

If you’ve cried any of these tears, my heart reaches out to yours.  You are not alone.  I’m so sorry for your pain, and so hopeful for your eventual happiness.  Sooner, I hope, rather than later.

Jennifer

 

Winter Sky in Morning, in fabric

Winter can be a dreary time, and I live in a state that often feels like a thick layer of gray settles over us for months on end.  I also drive kids to three schools in the morning.  (At least, I used to, before everything was cancelled.)  I love to observe the sky, and on my morning drives I saw so much color.  I started mental lists of all the colors I saw during that 45 minute drive.  In a way, the exercise was like the one that prompted my first Color Stack quilt.  I trained my eyes to see more than I had looked for in the past, and to redefine what color meant to me in a certain season.  At last I decided to make a quilt, a quilt to capture the winter sky in morning, in fabric.

I chose flying geese for two reasons.  First, I drive toward the mountains and the colors of the sky contrast with their looming peaks.  And second, because my favorite thing is to see a flock of geese pass by.  A large number of them have taken to wintering at a golf course near my home and I love seeing them.

Each day I chose a couple of colors to represent my favorite colors that morning.  Then I made a few flying geese.  The bottom of the quilt represents the first half of my drive, when I’m headed toward the mountains and the sunrise.  The colors are more saturated and darker on that half of the drive.

The top half of the quilt represents the second half of my drive, when I’m facing away from the sun, looking across the sky toward the west.  There are mountains in that direction, too, but they’re farther away.  I love the way the colors soften as the sun climbs higher, even in winter.

There were days of snow and storm when all I saw was bluish gray and white.  I made flying geese for those days as well.  Mixed together, it is a tribute to the winter sky in morning, in fabric.  And I love it.

I love making quilts that reflect my life experiences, and the way this quilt is it’s own study in color, taken from nature.  Time for quilting!

“She Listened”, A Finished Lone Star Quilt

I’ve made several lone star quilts.  This one is different.  Over the years quilting has become an increasingly spiritual experience for me.  I sort through difficult feelings, receive insights and inspiration, feel God’s love as I sew.  I also feel compelled to sew more about my life experiences, to make quilts that capture or tell my story.  “My Heart, Today” is such a quilt, and this is too.  We had a hard year last year, and some things won’t be fully resolved for a few years.  But because of the hard things, I spent many hours on my knees in prayer, and really good things came of that.  One of them is this quilt.  I have titled it “She Listened”.

I wanted to capture what it felt like to receive answers.  To somehow depict how I feel when peace, warmth, light, and ideas flood my mind and heart.  This quilt is it.  When I finished the diamonds and put it up on my design wall, my eyes filled with tears.  I felt all the same feelings I feel when I’m listening for answers.  When that light comes.  I stood there looking at my lone star and thought “THIS is what it feels like.”

I made another quilt, titled Living a Prayer, that I’ll share soon.  The hard parts of life, parts that prompted Living a Prayer and My Heart, Today,  made She Listened possible.   I am known, loved, heard.  Because of these experiences, I needed to make a quilt that honors it.  A quilt to honor the hours I’ve spent listening to hear my Savior’s voice.  A quilt to honor what it feels like to receive answers.

This quilt features fabrics from Rifle Company, combined with a few basics from the original Cotton + Steel designers.  The small scale florals perfectly conveyed my heart.  And the color scheme transports me back to a particular morning I want to remember.

I chose the Rifle Co lawn from Menagerie for the background, to convey the heavens and because of the gold print.  We chose gold thread for the quilting, a perfect match!  I finished with more Rifle Co flowers on the back, again with lots of gold, and a dark binding to frame it all.  Incidentally, the measurements for this quilt are from my Lucky Lone Star pattern.  It’s so rewarding to see all those diamonds and fabrics come together!

I saved this quilt to share at Easter.  Today I’m joining millions of others in fasting and praying for an end to this pandemic, for the safety of medical professionals, for the strengthening of economies, and for life normalized.  I know that God answers prayers.  He has answered mine so many times, and I’m sure he will answer many more!

I’m curling up in “She Listened” this weekend, pondering the goodness of God and my many blessings – even in difficult trials.  If you are praying and listening for answers, I’ll be praying for you, too.

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