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Politics 2016 and a Quilt: The Long Tortuous Path


I have to fight a bunch of defeatist thinking when I quilt. My problem is that I look at all of the amazing projects on Instagram and Pinterest and compare my own work and feel very inadequate. I don't know why I do that. I'm working on letting my work stand on its own for whatever it is at whatever stage of learning I find myself.

And that brings me to my political quilt. I live in Denver, CO and the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum is in nearby Golden, CO. They posted a call for entries called Patchwork Pundits Take on Politics and I decided to heed the call.

I'd been thinking about quilting a labyrinth for awhile. It started when I went to YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO at Thanksgiving 2015. There is an outdoor walking labyrinth there and at the time it was covered in snow. I decided I would try to walk it anyway.


So, I put on my boots and began to walk. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find the path in the snow or that I'd mess it up for everyone else somehow (I don't think anyone else was waiting around to walk it anyway, but these are the thoughts that I fight). But I pressed on and made it to the center, no problem. It was peaceful and calming and that's when I knew I wanted to make a labyrinth quilt.

The labyrinth at the Y in Estes is based on the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France, so that's what I decided to make. Here's a map of the Chartres labyrinth from Wikipedia:


So I started to map it out and quickly decided circles are too advanced for me and I'd go with hexagons (having just pieced over 200, I felt confident with hexagons). I made a couple of maps on hexigraph paper and pieced a bit from scraps. Around that time my daughter's teacher mentioned teaching a lesson on tessellations (I didn't know that word, but I do now. Think M.C. Escher). We thought it would be fun to show the kids quilts as an example, so I searched online and found some examples.

I only have a basic understanding of geometry, but looking at hexagons reminded me of how many shapes make up a hexagon and all the possibilities. Math classes for me were always so rush-rush. I need time to process. I've always had a fear of math, maybe because I'd be expected to get a job doing it all day and that seemed terrifying. But now that I'm older, geometry and math are more fun. Anyway, the point is that hexagons are made of equilateral 60 degree triangles. And that's how I decided to make my quilt.

Here's the map I drew of the labyrinth. As a hexagon, it somewhat resembles the labyrinth in St. Quentin, France. Here's where I read up on labyrinths. I started coloring with my kids' pencils:


About this time is when the defeatist thinking came in. Things like, "red, white & blue are boring." I did a color study with crayons. I went through every color in the box and marked them out and thought I'd do a color wheel to represent the diversity of our nation. At one point I thought it would be a good idea to make the quilt out of Liberty of London fabric, but then I added that up and decided I'm not a millionaire. Then I thought wildflowers. Then I thought roses, the national flower.

But I wanted a more patriotic, traditional feel, so I went with red, white & blue. Seems like a lot to go through just to get back to the obvious. Then I saw all of the kick-ass quilts on Instagram and thought I was a moron for even trying.

But I kept on anyway.

Curating fabrics on not something I know how to do. I don't have a natural gift for color or fabrics, so this part is intimidating to me. Narrowing it down to red, white & blue is a start, but there's still a bunch out there to choose from. Too many choices.

Adding up the size of this thing, I knew it would be big, so I ordered 108" wideback paisley from Fabric.com, 3 yards. It's still not big enough (I'm making 2" equilateral triangles) If I make the final overall shape a hexagon, I'll have to cut sections from the sides to make it wide enough. That's the American way, right? Figure it out! Make do! Keep telling myself that....

I (roughly) counted how many triangles in order to figure out how much fabric to buy. I think it's going to be around 4000 triangles. I think I'm nuts. But I'm too far into this to back out now, so press on!

Here's the backing:


I chose white thread, Aurifil 50 wt. because I could get it at a good price on Fabric.com. Also, the front of this thing will be so busy and it will be tough to see the labyrinth. My quilting will be simple, straight lines and the labyrinth should be visible on the back. I hope.

From there, I don't have much to choose, just red, white, blue & black. I have some Kona Black leftover from my UPark Quilt and I also have some white on white stars in my stash that I'll use for the outer edges. For the red and blue, I found more paisley:



And for the white within the labyrinth:


There are many good links for how to piece triangles. Rather than piece mine in rows across, I will piece them diagonally, which lends itself to my end overall-design of a hexagon.

Conveniently enough, there are 11 "rows" around the labyrinth and 11*4 = 44. There have been 44 presidents in our nation's history thus far. I might incorporate that somehow and then put the next president's name in the center. The Call for Entries are due September 2016, so I'll have to make a guess as to who will be our next leader.

And if it's not good enough for the RMQM Show, then my kids will have a crazy heirloom reminder of me.

Also, I love the word "tortuous" (many turns) because it evokes "torturous," (painful) which represents the making of our country and also the making of this quilt, both happily done with the hope for excellence but not without complaint.

I think I might break my brain with this quilt. So much uptightness. I recently bought Sheri Lynn Wood's book about Improv Quilting. That is already sounding good.

One last thing. I thought it would be fun to share the music I listen to when I quilt. Right now it's Alexander Hamilton. Fitting. I also listen to Denver's comedy station 103.1 and my favorites playlist. The first song on that play list is Ghost Ship by Blur. What do you listen to? Is anyone reading this? No? OK.

Here we go...wheeeee!?!?!?!

#Quilt #Labyrinth

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