15 December 2016

Moving, Northern Lights, and Other Assorted Awesomeness

After finishing Niece Egg's quilt, I had two more quilts to work on pretty much immediately. This post will be about one of those. I found out that one of my friends, who we'll call M, was pregnant over the summer of 2015. I didn't know M too well but she was married to a friend from college and seemed really nice. Her husband worked with mine and they rode the bus to work together an hour each way, plus her husband loves playing board games and so do hubby and I. We found out about M's pregnancy after we announced our pregnancy to her and her husband - M and I were due 2.5 weeks apart.

M and I started spending a lot more time together. We commiserated about the unglamorous aspects of growing a tiny human, about living continents away from our families, and about our fears and insecurities about becoming parents. M was born and raised in Finland and married our friend, who's an American citizen. As we were all struggling to pick names for our fast-approaching tiny humans we joked that one American way to name a baby seemed to be to find a random word in a foreign language that you think is pretty and use it, regardless of the meaning. We decided to call their daughter Potato; it actually does sound pretty in Finnish - Peruna.

Since M was missing Finland, I wanted to do something with the quilt to remind her of it. M is a very conservative dresser compared to a lot of Americans with respect to color. I don't think I saw her wear anything that wasn't black/white/gray/navy/tan until she had to buy a pair of new sneakers to fit her feet as they grew a bit with her pregnancy and the only ones that fit her and were comfortable had pink stripes on the sides. This is where it got really hard.

I love color. I have never done a super muted quilt, color-wise. But doing my usual colorful quilt would have overwhelmed M and I didn't want to do that. I asked her what color they were generally trying to stick to with little Potato's stuff and she said purple, so that was the one color I let myself use.

I decided to use the Northern Lights as my inspiration for the quilt. A streak of color through an otherwise dark-ish sky would work well for my limited color pallette and would translate pretty well into a quilt. A bargello quilt would work for my intent, but I wanted to go beyond just sewing a bunch of black and white strips into a tube with some purple and seeing how it turned out...I wanted to know how it would look before.

In drawing it out I lost a little of the bargello functionality because every vertical strip wouldn't have every fabric in it, but I wanted the stripe to go like that through the center. I also knew I wanted the colors to be in a gradation - the lightest purple would be in the center of the streak, the darkest next to the black and white fabrics. I also laid out all of my black and whites in dark-to-light order so that the blackest fabric would be next to the dark purple. Basically, I took a bargello quilt and made it harder than it needed to be...but when has that stopped me?

I didn't get any in-progress pictures because I was pedal to the metal to get this quilt done before we moved. I was juggling having my own tiny human with quilting (and the sewing machine being in the room where tiny human slept so I couldn't work on it unless he was awake) and getting ready to move back to the United States.

In the end I messed up and didn't have a good backing fabric for it. I went through everything in my stash and finally decided on a light blue fabric with darker blue ginseng leaves on it, which seemed kind of appropriate since Seoul has ginseng all over the place (unfortunately; they're pretty but the berries smell AWFUL). I also had cut out a helicopter to do my usual label...and it got packed. So I just embroidered my initials and the year on the backing without a helicopter. But still, I'm proud of how the quilt turned out. I tied in Finland and Korea for a present to a little Finnish-American baby born in Korea...and that's a win in my book. Please excuse the terrible quality photos - they were taken with a backup cell phone while standing on a hotel bed. The laundry by the side of the's life. But life or not, hotel room living with an infant or not, I finished the quilt and delivered it before I left the country.

The motion in this quilt makes me smile.

Korean-inspired backing on a Finnish-inspired quilt.

Fail label. Still mad I didn't save the label from the movers.
Hope you like it, it's definitely one of my top few favorite quilts!