Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Quilts of Summer (2007)

I was destined to quilt, killing time in elementary school drawing cubes sprouting out in all directions for a center square, coloring different faces, and marvelling at the effects. Unfortunately, I never got around to learning to quilt until I had kids, which severely lengthened the learning process. When said kids were little, I would make each year's teacher some small quilted item, usually a wall hanging; it was a great excuse to take the time to quilt. We hit a point, though, when each of my sons had, gasp, a bad teacher or, at least, a teacher they didn't like. They respectfully asked me not to make anything for a teacher unless they asked me to. That was a bit over 10 years ago, and I have respected their wishes. When one of them asks me to make something for a teacher, I know the teacher meant a great deal to them. I take the commission very seriously and try to tailor the quilt to the recipient.

In July 2006, my older son, Don, tested for his black belt in Myo Sim kendo. About two weeks before the belt test, he asked why I had not made quilts for this three principal kendo instructors. I reminded him that I only did quilts for teachers in response to specific requests, and he had not made one. I told him that I would have quilts for him to present at the black belt test the following year. As it turned out, he tested again in 2007, for his second degree black belt, while his younger brother tests for first degree black. This post is about the three quilts I made for Don's kendo instructors.

The first one (that I made and that I show here) is called "Symmelaritries." The name came from Don's request that the quilt for one particular instructor, Rick, somewhat resemble one of the two quilts I made for his high school chemistry teacher and Ultimate Frisbee coach, John. Rick's day job is teaching high school science, and he mentored John when John first became a teacher. The blocks in this are what's called liberated log cabins, and the layout of blocks and black strips is identical to one of the two quilts I gave John. As you can see here, it fits nicely on the top of a queen-sized bed.

The second quilt, "Shooting Star," went to the head kendo instructor, Christian. Don didn't request anything special here, so I created this one from scratch. The name comes from one of the forms we do in Myo Sim kendo, shooting star. The blocks here are liberated stars, and the fabric contains kanji characters. One of the large red stars in the corner is the shooting star with red lines of quilting streaming away from it. Christian has told me that this now hangs on the wall of his office, and that people often comment on it.

The third quilt, "Another View of Mt. Fuji," went to our master instructor, who drives three hours (one way) every other week to teach class. Don initially asked that I try to translate Hokusai's Great Wave image to fabric, but then decided that might not be appropriate since Master Shaw is also a sailor. He still wanted it to reflect Japan in some way, which it does in that with the exception of the backing fabric, all the fabric is from Japan. I had great fun quilting the picture of Mt. Fuji, outlining and adding to the image. This one is wall hanging size, though I don't know if it's currently hanging on a wall. I had told Master Shaw that he was welcome to keep it on his sailboat if he liked, but his wife wrote me that she won't allow that. It's in their guest room along with many of the things Master Shaw collected while in Japan.

Finally, since I started this one in the late summer, I should probably include it here. This one is called "With Tigger Dancing in the Yard." It was done as a wedding present for what I call one of my "heart children." I met Kristy's mother when I was a grad student, and I babysat Kristy when she was a toddler and young child. When Kristy was in middle and high school, she babysat my sons. She went to the College of William and Mary, then worked at Disney World before going to grad school. She's working in Boston now and, believe it or not, met Jay, who is now her husband, on The wedding was in October, and this was our gift to them. Tigger was Kristy's favorite Pooh character when she was little and may still be part of one of her e-mail addresses.

These are my most recent quilting efforts. Since October, I've been playing with dyeing wool (silk is next!) with Kool-Aid, and various other knitting and felting projects. Come spring, I'll move onto discharging more bags like the ones I sent to Debi and Annie recently. I'll get back to quilting eventually, but for now in the cold of winter, it's wool that calls out to me.


Debi said...

Damn, but you are one talented woman, aren't you?!! Tell me, Jean, is there anything you can't do?
I'm in awe. Truly. They're all so gorgeous, and all so different! "Another View of Mount Fuji" is probably my favorite, though that's a hard choice to make. It is so stunningly beautiful! Those were some lucky gift recipients, for sure!

Jean said...


Right now, I can't kneel fully with weight on my right knee, but I'm hoping that arthroscopic surgery in March will cure that. Seriously, as for other things I can't do, I prefer to think of it as "can't do yet." There's nothing wrong with being ignorant as long as one embraces opportunities to learn when they are offered.

And "Mt. Fuji" is probably my favorite, too. At least, I had the most fun with that one in terms of quilting the image.


Carrie K said...

Wow, those are some gorgeous quilts. I'm particularly partial to your liberated log cabin quilt!