Winter Sky In Morning – A Finished Quilt

It’s January.  Only the 12th, to be exact.  And already I am sick of winter.  Granted, we’re in severe drought here in Utah, and we’ve been praying for moisture for years.  It seems like we’re getting it all at once, though I’m sure it’s not enough.  Still, I can’t remember a Utah winter of so much rain.  But the gray skies…that’s another story.  The gray skies feel like a staple of Utah winters, and let’s just say they get to me after a while.  I’m feeling it lately.  A couple of winters ago I set out to prove to myself that it wasn’t ALL gray skies, that there was beauty in winter.  Today I’m sharing the quilt that resulted from that exercise:  Winter Sky in Morning.

Because of the season, I’m frequently in my car when the sun comes up in winter.  Fortunately I drive east first, facing the sunrise on our way to school.  I also faced the mountains which provided great contrast to the saturated light that finally appeared.  On the way home, I drove west, where the wide open sky had often paled to a gentle pastel color wash.  I watched these colors in the sky every morning, and translated them to fabric when I got home.  

I picked a few fabrics that reminded me of colors I’d just seen.  The pile grew, and eventually I started.  To represent the mountains I chose the flying geese block.  I cut fabric for a few blocks from each set of colors.  Never a set number, I just cut what I could or what felt right.  Then I made a few flying geese and set them aside.

Eventually my piles had grown enough to compose a quilt.  For my layout I placed the darker colors at the bottom, near the “horizon”, and then I moved to lighter colors at the top.  So the bottom of the quilt represents my drive east, and the top, my drive west.

I quilted Winter Sky in Morning in straight lines, using metallic copper thread.  For the back I chose an awesome tone on tone print by Heather Bailey in one of my favorite sunrise colors.

This exercise yielded more than a lovely quilt; I proved to myself that there is always beauty.  Even on gray days, and even in winter. 

There is always a little color, a little light to be found.  Much like my Morn Shall Tearless Be quilt, Winter Sky in Morning is a quilt about looking for beauty and finding it.  The best kind of sewing – a quilt that expresses my heart!

Bye Bye Butterfly Quilt

Some time ago, I made the Bye Bye Butterfly quilt to test the pattern for Allison of Campbell Soup Diary.  I enjoyed the large scale applique and had fun with color.  But when I finished it, I wasn’t sure what I would do with it.  It was a little small for my family so I put it away, thinking I’d add borders at some point.

The quilt top was fun to make, with extra large applique pieces.  I chose to machine stitch them all in place, and used freezer paper to cut them all out.  The background is a lovely sagey green, but metallic.  I tried to get a photo of the shimmer, and you can just barely see a hint of it here:

This project helped me use methods I hadn’t used before, and was a good creative exercise for me.  Every few weeks, I looked at it, considering what I should do with it.

 

And then I met Diane.  She was there one Sunday, on the back row, in a red dress and sitting by herself. I was teaching the lesson, and asked a question for discussion.  Of all people, she was the one to answer, and she was also the one person in the room that none of us knew. 

 

She started talking and her story spilled out.  She had lost her only child, a three year old daughter, and was hanging on to her faith in spite of great sadness and pain.  They had just moved across the country for a new job.  Everyone in the room was crying when she finished, all of us amazed by her vulnerability in a room full of strangers.  

Afterwards, we talked, and became friends.  In the months that followed, we spent more time together and shared more of our stories with each other.  Her struggles gave me perspective in mine, and I was so grateful.  

Eventually Harper’s birthday came – the first one they would celebrate with her in heaven.  Diane and Jared planned a birthday party for her and invited us to join them.  Harper’s birthday is the same day as my oldest daughter (but 20 years apart), another detail that adds to our friendship.  As I was pondering the very different days we would have, my heart whispered an idea:  finish Bye Bye Butterfly for Diane.

So I quilted and bound it, and even managed a label.  We rolled it up and went to the party, watching slide shows of photos and seeing friends and loved ones gather to support an amazing couple.  It was sad, but also beautiful.  Still heartbroken, they are simultaneously full of hope.  It’s inspiring.

I’m so grateful for the incredible people God places in my path.  I learn so much from them.  

Morn Shall Tearless Be Quilt

I went to lunch today with a friend whose husband passed away more than a year ago.  They met when they were 14 years old and spent most of their lives together.  It was sweet to hear her thoughts, and to see her courage as she works to find her way without him.  Another friend of ours lost his wife just days before Christmas, and every time we see him, he has tears on his cheeks.  As I drove home in the rain this afternoon, thoughts swirled in my mind, and all I wanted to do was curl up with a quilt and feel warm.  Warm and safe.  Of course, instead I had to go pick up kids from school, but I got this quilt out when I returned.  This is the “Morn Shall Tearless Be Quilt”, and I’m excited to tell you about it.

It’s kind of amazing how many ideas can come from just one quilt, or the scraps from one quilt.  This is one of those happy extras.  When I made my Vintage Spin quilt I saved all the cutoff scraps as I trimmed the dresden blocks.  Some time later, I sewed them all to these rectangular blocks with a simple top stitch on my machine.  Then I played with them on my design wall until ideas took shape.  I had over a hundred of them to experiment with.

This quilt was the first idea; more predictable, perhaps, than those that follow.  My second idea was the Awake Quilt, (pattern available here).  A third is in the works.  The color scheme of all the blocks was actually influenced by this quilt first.  I wanted the cutoff curves to look like sunrise.  You know that moment of light just peeking over the horizon?  Where I live, it happens as the sun’s rays make it over the Wasatch mountains, creating often glorious sunrises.  Sometimes the beams stretch out visibly across the valley and it just takes your breath away.  I was thinking that it’s such a welcome sight!  Morning is like a promise kept.  So I chose my background block colors to represent dark, long nights, before any sign of light arrives.

Morning doesn’t always bring relief or joy.  Sometimes it brings tears.  Tears of loneliness, of facing another day without a loved one, or of carrying a burden that is only lighter in sleep.  Those things that make morning heavy and hard come in countless forms, and they are real.  So as I designed this quilt, I wanted to portray lots of mornings, successive mornings, mornings that keep coming while we wait for relief.  Mornings that trust the promise of good things to come even when it stays dark.   For the longest time I didn’t have a name for the quilt, until I attended my son’s choir concert.  There I heard a choral piece by Elaine Hagenberg, O Love.  I wept as I listened.  This was it.

Here are the lyrics:

O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; I give thee back the life I owe, That in thy ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be. ‚Äč O Joy that seeks me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee; I trace the rainbow through the rain, And feel the promise is not vain, That morn shall tearless be.

As I heard it, this was the feeling, the message I hoped to convey with my quilt.

Somehow, some way, if we don’t close our hearts to it, the day will come when morn shall tearless be.  We may lose count of the mornings in the waiting, but it will come.  This is the promise.  This is my belief.  And this is my quilt that says it.  Morn SHALL tearless be.

Much love to you,

Jennifer

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