While sipping my morning coffee and surfing the net, checking my favorite blogs and ohhhing and ahhhing over what other people are creating, I visited Stacy Hurt's blog. She has posted photos of her newly finished, just in time for St. Patrick's Day, Double Irish Chain quilt.
I smiled and felt my whole world relax. I thought of my simple little Sunday embroidery project taken from one of Alex Anderson's books, I think, that used nine patch in the borders. It is sweet and innocent in every way -- perfect for a child. Maybe it is the child in me that likes those little squares so much.
I always smile when I see that plain little square teamed up with a bunch of its buddies and forming a simple, pristine, no fuss, no fro-fro, checkerboard.
What is it about that simple square. That basic combination of lights and darks layout that always draws me to it. I realize that if I glance around a quilt show, the first thing I turn to is a quilt that boasts that simple pattern. It isn't that I don't adore all of the curves and diamonds, rectangles and craziness of every other shape. But those humble little squares always brings me back to my center of joy.
Maybe the link between the nine patch and folk art or country connect me with my agrarian roots, but I'm not drawn to the 'country' look usually. I most enjoy the nine patch teamed up with something wild and funky like Carol Soderlund's award-winning Covenant. This quilt draws me back again and again with its use of traditional patterns in such an other-worldly way. When I see the photo of Covenant next to my little tea-time creation, I have to laugh out loud at the comparison. It is definitely beginner and master side by side, yet the nine patch does its duty in both pieces.
The sense of space and dimension and the use of lights and shadows is powerful in Carol's work, don't you think? I can't think of a more perfect construction. And there, front and center, are my favorite nine-patches.
My first doll quilt was made of those squares. My favorite Sunday project included nine-patch (see above), and the first full-size quilt I ever completed was a Double Irish Chain. My son slept under it for several years before a house fire destroyed it. Maybe I yearn for those simpler days. Or maybe I just enjoy clean straight, orderly lines in this chaotic world. I'm feeling the need to lay down my crazy quilt fabrics and hunt up a couple fun contrasting colors and just start piecing nine patches.
They work particularly well as borders to set off something spectacular. They're not proud, don't need the limelight. Humble.
One quilter referred to the nine patch as 'magical'. Yes.
I think they are and versatile and flexible and able to fit into any construction no matter how many curves and frills and embellishments surround it. Always recognizable and never tries to put on airs. It is what it is. Solid. A great foundation that holds up whatever is teamed with it. Of course there are some abuses forced on this little square -- poor choices of color for one. But even then, a scrap quilt of squares pieced together find a way to shine.
Thanks Stacy for reminding me of my first love. I've included several of Carol's creations. Her Covenant, Now the Green Blade Rises, and Winter Heat.