Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dogs and Frogs

I started this quilt for a special baby in the womb more than a year ago. My plan was to give it to him or her soon after the birth, so I could sew a personalized label on the back with the baby's name and birth date. Well the baby was born - a sweet boy named Jesse! - and the quilt was finished within a few weeks of his birth, except for hand sewing the last couple of inches of the binding. And so it sat for a year. Clearly I have a procrastination problem, especially where hand sewing is involved. I always think I hate hand sewing, but once I start I remember that I actually enjoy it. How could someone who loves to make things a la the Alabama Stitch Book hate hand sewing?
This past Sunday was the annual Tashlich service at my church. Tashlich is the Jewish ritual usually performed on Rosh Hashanah of the casting away (often by throwing breadcrumbs into a moving body of water) and examination of your sins of the past year. It makes a lot of sense to me to do this at this time. Fall always feels like a beginning, because a new year of school has started, and the lush green Summer starts to fade as the trees and plants end their growing cycle and start preparing for the next. While I usually make a bunch of resolutions on New Year's day, I've been participating in Tashlich for a few years now* and it seems a much more meaningful way to reflect and change than writing down exercise 3-5 times a week or cook more vegetables for dinner on a piece of paper. As I thought about Jesse's quilt and hand sewing, I remembered a line from the Tashlich prayer: Let us cast away the sin of stubbornness, so that we will neither persist in foolish habits nor fail to acknowledge our will to change. A foolish habit indeed. I have pinned the prayer to the bulletin board above the computer and near my sewing area, where I keep not only my inspirations but the things I want to remember. But even though baby Jesse did not receive this quilt, I still think one year old Jesse will enjoy it.
Now, a few details about the quilt. Jesse's parents love dogs and the dad also has a bizarre passion for frogs, so I couldn't think of better fabric to use for this quilt than animal prints by Heather Ross. I kept the front simple with 8 inch squares paired with a cream border. I decided to piece the binding which was fun and something I will do again in the future, since I really liked how it created a subtle border with little pops of color. I like to make the back of my quilts reference the front but almost be a new quilt, so I chose brighter colors along with a strip of rejected squares from the front. I knew I wanted the turquoise fabric somewhere in this quilt, because it is from a bolt I bought at one of our auctions and Jesse's dad works with us. For the label, I used the method in Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts which I love and first used for this quilt along with a micron pen. The quilting is just a simple grid I've seen a lot of other quilters use, and I like how it creates a frame in each of the squares. I was hoping to get some better photographs but it's been raining here for nearly two weeks, so inside on the bed was the best I could do. In retrospect, I should have put a sheet on first, but I didn't realize how bad the mattress cover looked until after the gift was given at Jesse's first birthday party and I finally had a moment to sit down and upload all the photos I took that day. Another foolish act, but probably not a sin.

*Even though I'm half Jewish, we never celebrated Rosh Hashanah in my home growing up. It wasn't until I started attending a Unitarian Universalist church which uses rituals and sources from many religions, did I learn about Tashlich.