Thursday, May 5, 2016

TBT - Colours of Alberta

Colours of Alberta - Throwback to 2005
The story:
Picked up this sweet robin's egg lying on the sidewalk yesterday on my walk with Rocco.
Such wondrous work does Mother Nature
Clearly something was wrong: either the baby inside hadn't developed properly and the egg was kicked out of the nest, or a predator bird had attacked.  I am surprised it was in as perfect a condition as you see.  We walked between, well, ended up IN, rain showers, so those are actual raindrops on the egg.  Incredibly smooth.  Incredible soft robin's egg blue.  And yes, I'm the crazy lady who walked another 2 km cradling the egg in my gloved hand. (gloved!! at the beginning of May!!)

Feast your eyes (note the food verb there); does anyone else want to just chomp one of these off and TASTE that colour?
Incredible rich exotic fuchsia colours of one of our rhododendrons in the early morning golden sunlight.  Irish green grass.  Chartreuse leaves.

I am a colour-observing, colour-soaking-up, colour-adoring crazy person. (according to my family)  I don't care what they think or say.  I love, appreciate, and will continue to proclaim the richness of Mother Nature's wondrous palette.

However, Mother Nature is ruthless.  The weak, the sick, the injured?  No mercy shown.  Forest fires have been a way of purging, Spring cleaning if you will, making room for new growth to burst forth.  And it does.  Incredibly.  But cities do not need fires.  At all.

Even before the horrific forest fire that has forced 90 000 people to evacuate the entire city of Fort McMurray and some surrounding areas a couple of days ago, I had thought of showing this Alberta quilt for Throwback Thursday.  It's been on the guest room bed since January, so I've been seeing it on a daily basis.
Photographed very early this morning in the incredible, almost tangible, golden sunlight, this quilt's golden colours just glowed.  Since it rained most of yesterday, I was worried I wouldn't get good photos, but I am so happy it did rain, because I got to capture it this morning.
Simple but oh, texture-creating(!!) meander over the quilt centre.  Let the fabrics speak :-)
This is a pattern called 'Red Onion' in Karla Alexander's second book, Stack a New Deck.  I first saw her on Alex Anderson's "Simply Quilts" on HGTV.  I made the first version of this quilt for my brother's wedding gift.  I've since made a few quilts out of that book and have a stack of batiks pulled for yet another (that stack went to Florida...and came back, still in their stack, oops).

It's a free-form cutting technique, look no rulers! Improv piecing probably before it was known as that.  You stack squares of fabric, cut random curves, shuffle the stack, and sew the pieces back together.  Fast, mindless, and gorgeous results occur.

To the raised eyebrows of a couple of quilty friends, I combined batiks with regular cottons.  I wanted rich colours.  I love blue and yellow, but I wanted saturated blues and yellows.  Added in some green, a couple of burgundies, one with green in it, some black, and that lovely grassy dunes print.  I also made it a little bigger.  It measures 61.25X81.5".

Why the name?  These fabrics are all from quilt shops in Alberta, many of them collected simply because I loved the fabric, some leftovers from other projects.  There are a handful of leftovers from my brother's quilt.  I was sewing this at the first guild weekend Spring retreat that I was in charge of.  One of the colour gurus in the guild heartily approved of my colour selection, and made a point of telling me how rich they were looking together.  I remember gazing out of the windows at the pond, the birds busy as ever, anticipating the coming of good weather as I sewed.
Quilted with Sulky Blendables 30 wt; piano keys border is freehand rotary cut
I quilted this on my Bernina, using the Quilting in Thirds method.  I mimicked the pond plant fronds of the blue fabric in the border quilting.  Just free-motioned it.  Need to do this again!  Great effect.  Isn't that fabulous binding fabric?

But back to the quilt's name.  The year I sewed the quilt was 2005, Alberta's 100th anniversary of becoming a province.  Yep, Alberta, formerly a part of the Northwest Territories, is a pretty young province.  There were big celebrations that year.  While I was sewing this quilt, I thought it should have something to do with Alberta in its name, seeing as it was Alberta's birthday and all the fabrics were from Alberta shops.  The rich colours of the quilt started me thinking about the rolling hills, the fields of wheat, barley, canola, or alfalfa hay, stretching away to the blue skies.  Sunny skies.  The deep midnight blue skies of 10:30-11 pm on a summer evening.  The Rockies.  The small, often cold, but gorgeous and abundant lakes ringed with evergreen trees.

Throwback Thursday really amazes me in the images, the memories, the feelings, that get conjured up when I write about a particular quilt.  The stories.  I'm not the only one; I love reading the stories and feelings behind other quilters' quilts. :-)  I bought the binding fabric when I was with my aunt (future recipient of the cows quilt) in a tiny quilt shop near her home, an area where another evacuation took place last night due to a second, separate, grass fire.  My aunt was pretty tickled that I'd found the perfect fabric in 'her' store.  The backing fabric was a great find in another shop.  It is the same fabric as the burgundy frame on the front!  I remember being ecstatic to find it and know immediately where it was destined.
Should've moved the SUV, oops
The writing on my label has faded a fair amount, so I will have to go over it, with a gel fabric pen of course.
I always apply the label to the backing before quilting, and then quilt through it. This helps to prevent a label being removed were the quilt stolen.

Rather sadly, the news of the massive, out of control, Fort McMurray fire seems to be contained within Canada, yet it is the largest fire evacuation in Alberta's history.

I've seen the aftermath of forest fires, and it is apocalyptic and sobering.  Thankfully I have never had to witness one as it is happening, other than witness the haze obliterating the azure skies, and smell the acrid smoke from far-off fires that was pretty much an annual occurrence when we lived there.

My heart goes out to those displaced people, who have no idea if they will have a home to go back to; some neighbourhoods have had 70% to 90% destruction.  You can click here to read about the situation.
Back on the bed
I can't imagine having 20 minutes' notice to leave, try to decide what to's easy to say every thing is replaceable, which is true, but not.  I could never replace this quilt.  Not exactly as shown.

Replacement: I've just realized I have a wonderful segue into a replacement of the bistro table kind:
My darling husband, known here on the blog as the intrepid MacGyver due to his distrust of all things social media, replaced the mosaic round top to my much-loved set with this wood top he made.  He bought a length of barn board, cut and pieced it to size (hmm, sounds like quilting), "beat it up" as in scorched it here and there, pounded on it with a chain, (getting out his anger, right, lol), tea-stained the wood (more quilting similarity, I kid you not) and then he sealed it with several coats of verathane.  Once it warms up, I will be having my morning coffee and read out here as per usual.
Linking up with
Throwback Thursday
Needle and Thread Thursday


  1. I love this quilt! The colors are beautiful and the golden light that mother nature provided to photograph it (as Jenny would say) is on point. And the story behind it and memories behind it are wonderful. I love how the stippling and over the years washes have gave it that soft look. And the robin egg (isn't it the best shade of blue EVER??) from the picture it looks like there is blood in/on the egg. Is there? If there is, is it wrong if I say the shade of red looks really good with that soft blue? Your pictures remind me of my father's picture (I promise this is a complement). You both have/had a wonderful knack for catching the beauty in the simplest things.

  2. OMG, I have that book. I have been looking and pondering over that exact same pattern. She calls it Saturn, I think. Then decided against it. May not appeal to my mom's traditional tastes. Your color combos bring it to life. Once I finish Mom's quilt, I will revisit the Karla Alexander book.

  3. I have that book too. My mom had all the fabrics to make the onion quilt but died before she could. It's really a gorgeous piece. And the light is amazing, isn't it - it's my favorite time of day. Thanks for sharing. I too love the feelings that come up when I look at pieces I made a while back.

  4. That is a gorgeous quilt! I loved reading the details of your thinking as you created it. It is so lovely that our quilts are so meaningful in that way. We, here in Colorado, have been following the news about the fire. It's just inconceivable that it could be so horrendous. Positive thoughts are being sent in Alberta's direction! And wishing some warm spring weather!

  5. Beautiful rich colors and a lovely background story. Thanks for sharing this quilt with us!

  6. It's beautiful. It's terrible hearing about the fire. Such tragedy.

  7. I love your quilt, sort of a "stack and whack" with curves, wouldn't you say.
    We have been watching the horror of the fire(s) unfold on TV, half a world away from us here in New Zealand. Hell on earth, it seems, to all those involved. The scale of this tradegy is really too much to comprehend, and my heart goes out to all those thousands involved.

  8. I love the rich colours in this gorgeous quilt. Robin's egg blue is a beautiful colour, but after cradling it all that way what did you do with it?

  9. I was just thinking of how your quilt reminded me of natures richness when you listed the nature it reminded you of! I reckon this makes this quilt a success never mind the great quilting and gently rolling curves. Most throwbacks are a bit well iffy , but this is beautiful . Thinking of Canada through these terrible forest fires . Luckily not something we have a problem with in our climate .

  10. Gorgeous quilt! So sad about the fires and all those displaced. I cannot even imagine. Your table looks lovely!

  11. Lovely quilt!! I am not sure I could just cut and expect that it would go back together. Very pretty colors. I am so glad you took a photo of it on the bed so I could see how it was displayed and used. Many times all we, as readers, see are pics of the quilts hanging up for show or slung over trees, etc. I just loved seeing it in it's natural element. Nice table top too. Loved reading about the process.

  12. Great post...every word and picture just perfect. The quilt is gorgeous. I think you got the effect you were going for....and the photography was spot on today. I especially appreciate when bloggers give details as to the thread used. It's info like that that is really helpful. The little robin's egg brought're not a crazy lady at all, but a kind, considerate and in-touch-with-your-heart lady. Adding the label before you quilt is such a good idea. I'd never thought of that not seen anyone else do it. I'm keeping the Fort McMurray people in my prayers. (p.s. I see why you keep MacGyver around...he's pretty handy!)

  13. Love all the connections you drew between your love of Alberta and its many hues and the present day fire situation. Our quilts do not exist in a vacuum, that much is sure. I am thinking every day about those families... I've never lived a situation like that, but it's one of my worst childhood fears.

  14. As your sister, living here less than 500 km from Ft McMurray, all I can say is....well...there's no words. Our city here has opened wide its arms, as it is wont to do during times of need. Electronic billboards everywhere plead for donations and they pour forth. This quilt is absolutely beautiful, thank you for sharing. As sisters, we share the craziness for Mother Nature. I don't think I've ever gone on a walk with D and failed to comment on the beauty of Nature' glory - whether it's our Alberta blue sky or my lilacs blooming profusely or the gorgeous hot weather or a stunning colour's glorious. Scary, powerful, magnificent.

  15. I love these saturated colors. Your photographs really show the quilt and the texture well. Now this design is on my bucket list.

  16. What a lovely quilt and way to put some loving thoughts out there for those affected by the fire. I've been internet MIA for about 5 days and I actually had heard about the fires somewhere... The quilt is very lovely and who cares about mixing quilting cottons and batiks! I do that, too. ;)