God's Constitutional

I got to meet my husband's beloved Gramp for one week in 1971. I will never forget him explaining how he had "done the math" to exactly draw all the "teeth" in the dental molding on his pencil sketch of their fireplace to be sure it was "right." After very careful math, he ended up short two teeth and concluded the drawing was a failure .... I should have known then I was in trouble with this line of men who even attempted such precision! I was a "big picture person" and detaily stuff drive me nuts! After much cajoling, we got him to sign this sketch and others and very happily took them back to the west coast where the imperfect fireplace has graced our living room ever since.

In that week, I came to love Gramp well myself as I watched the interactions, the gentle teasing, the shared sense of humor between he and my husband. As we took the train from Connecticut to Washington DC, my husband wept intuiting that he would never see Gramp again and he was right.

We were lucky enough to inherit Gramp's bedstead and our daughter inherited Gram's bedstead. We have a guesthouse on the farm and now we have two themed bedrooms; the CHB room and the LCFB room. The beds need quilts! Gramp was a CEO, Gram was CEO of the family .... hmmmm.

In a seemingly unrelated thought process, I was fascinated with the dynamic movement in Fibonacci Spirals and decided to try to make a huge spiral based on this math sequence (1+1 = 2; 1+2 = 3; 2+3= 5, etc.) as a quilt top. Knowing that at this scale, the job would be tough for me, using only paper pencil, ruler and string geometry, I decided to challenge my own math and graphing skills anyway to see what I could do. The goal was to create a template for the "spokes" of the spiral that would come togeher perfectly in twelve sections. I decided to use a homespun plaid to get the feeling of oppositional movement so key to the Fibonacci series. After spending over a week on my hands and knees trying to get the math right on such a large pattern, I appealed to my husband and we worked together to finally create a wedge that seemed right.

I took a deep breath and cut into the fabric using the paper patterns. I sewed together the sections and began to sew them to each other. I got about 5 sections out and everything looked good - it was working! I added the next round and had a gopher hole heap .... grrr. Friends came to look and we decided there clearly was a math error and it would be best to "go with the flaw" and let the pieces of fabric that did not come together float off into the the edges, then fill in the resulting gaps with gussetts of complimentary cloth to complete the top.

I carefully picked out complimentary fabrics and one of my friends came back to help me look at what we now had. Meanwhile, again in a completely unrelatred coincidence, I had found a focus fabric, just for fun, that had clusters of bees and another bold fabric of blue pansies against a hot pink background. Her "take" was that I had two quilts, not one.... she suggested I applique the spiral sections to what was intended to be the back of the quilt and use the other fabrics for an entirely different quilt. When I told her Gram had been known as the "Queen Bee" of her local sewing group as treasurer for many many years, our eyes met and Gram's quilt was born! Click here to see progress on it.

Cutting apart the segments I then used a progressive applique technique on a flat surface to produce this initial result:

This is one of those projects where someone else was obviously "peddling the bicycle" in the design process, thus the name "God's Constitutional" for the quilt. I do not have any more homespun to cut to complete a fourteen spoke spiral, so using a "lucky thirteen" set of spokes the open pathway becomes a focal point to work with rather than an error I could use to haunt myself. Craft becomes art, we always knew Gramp was an artist as well as a business man. I suspect, with a twinkle in his eye, he would gladly have jumped under these covers on his way to great dreams.

My next steps will be to embroider in the ditch using black tatting thread to emphasize the movement of the spiral in both directions ...Stay tuned for photos of the final product!