Tuesday, February 4, 2020


This is my quilt for Island Batik's January challenge...
It's no secret that I just adore scrap quilts, so when Island Batik said the first challenge was to make something scrappy, I was like yeee-ESSSSS!! You've seen two other small projects, my om coasters and cat mats, which were both Project Quilting makes as well. This candles quilt got a little pushed aside by them because it became so much more of a project than originally intended, and I wanted to do it justice. All of the fabrics in this quilt, some of the thread, the 2.5" strip die, and the batting were provided to me by Island Batik, Aurifil, AccuQuilt and Hobbs Batting.

an event or period of time when a person or group stays in a place and quietly waits, prays, etc., especially at night - Merriam Webster

Source: CBC
Over 20 Canadian universities and colleges are mourning the loss of students and faculty.

The Little Book of Hygge, by Meik Wiking is a book I bought Dayna a couple of years ago, but always wanted to read myself, so she loaned it to me at Christmas. I'd started reading a few pages each night in bed, back in the last week of December. It's great, and something I've done with my own little family all along in several ways, creating a cosy, comfy, little haven of a home. According to Wiking, Canadians actually do 'get' this Danish term, and we even have a word for it: homeyness. The idea came to make a Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) quilt one evening. Obviously a candle block would be needed, and so I drew out one on a scrap of paper, pretty simple. I was excited.

I mulled over some other Hygge items or yoga symbols (thus was planted the seed for those om coasters squirrel project) that could be made into blocks, and came up with the idea to make a smallish, 36" square or so yoga quilt. You may recall I always take a small quilt when I teach yoga to sit my sit bones on. In this way, I have discovered many kindred spirits: lovers of yoga who also quilt!

And then, on January 8, 2020, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down by Iran, due to an über-heightened military awareness because of America's assassination of the Iranian General Soleimani. Flight 752 was flying from Tehran to Kiev. Of the 176 passengers on board, 138 had ties to Canada. They were Canadian citizens, and Permanent Residents, students and workers on visas, and other people who had ties to Canada. 78.4% of the passengers were Canadian or had ties here.

It was, and is, a national tragedy. I was utterly and profoundly devastated by it. Suddenly came the conviction that my Hygge quilt with a few candle blocks would not 'be birthed' just yet, but would morph into a quilt honouring these people, a quilt of remembrance, but of quiet outrage as well.
Bound with black solid batik, in the process of being blocked on the design wall

Instead of my one type of candle block, I drafted five of varying shapes. In the early days, it was reported that 63 were Canadian citizens, and so I opened up EQ8 and drew my five blocks, and designed a quilt with 9 blocks across and 7 in each column for a total of 63. The blocks were 8X10" rectangles, so this, along with off-setting the rows, would make for a 72X74" quilt. Four times the size of the original thinking... I was happy to use my 2.5" strip cutter die from AccuQuilt to cut strips for the sides of most of the blocks. The narrow candles required a wider side patch.

Well, the quilt just engulfed me.

I had the idea to have the candles go from black backgrounds to white, symbolizing the darkness of the deed, and the loss, but also symbolizing the souls going into the light and living on in their research and deeds, and in loved ones' hearts. At first I was envisioning strips of black, grey and white backgrounds, moving either horizontally or vertically, upon which the candles would float.

Then I hit upon going from a dark corner to a bright one. Little did I know at that time the brain trust that was snuffed out on that airplane.

Little did I know at that time the legacies so many would leave behind.

There is a total of 78 different fabrics in the quilt: all 64 candles, (the 64th is on the back and is the label) are different fabrics from the past two years of being an ambassador. There are six background fabrics: two blacks, two greys, a cream and a white. Two fabrics make up the backing, the solid grey used on the front of the quilt and another pale yellow one. There are seven different flame fabrics. I used the Crafted Appliqué method to apply these. I randomly made candle blocks until I had about 30, and then I finessed the quilt design in EQ and made the requisite number of each. When we learned that there were, in fact, 57 Canadians and not 63, but 38 Permanent Residents, I debated on trying to change the size, but 57 doesn't work into a grid, and so I left it as 63.

As I sewed the candle blocks, the sadness was profound. I felt, and still feel, such utter despair that this happened, and happened needlessly because of thoughtless macho posturing. I've felt my emotions thoughts and feelings go into quilts before when I'm making one with a particular purpose or person in mind. However, this was two-way, the candles representing the life of a person that I 'felt'; the sadness, despair, and outrage I felt flowing back into the block.

The black area is the smallest area, by design. There is just one candle with yellow rays on black. I kept feeling that I should be quilting the rays with a yellow or gold, and not blending them into the background, as I had been doing, so I decided to just try one and see what I thought... Hmmm, no, don't think so; the flames themselves are rich gorgeous yellows and golds and oranges which was enough. Yet I left that one. It's subtle, but it shows the brightness, even in darkness, and it's in the exact centre of the bottom row.
The sun shone all day yesterday, so when I finished it and trimmed it yesterday afternoon, I took it outside to get a shot of the texture. 
Swirls with a hook filled the background, and each candle got its own special quilting. Some are repeated, but not many. Designs were inspired by, or designed by Angela Walters, Judi Madsen, and Natalia Bonner. Many are my own design.
A Judi Madsen butterfly design
I used several threads in the quilting.

The fabrics are just incredible. Like the bright souls they represent.

CBC has done and continues to do, an excellent, thoughtful, caring and compassionate reporting on our loss. These were valuable people, and the loss is staggering: doctors, engineers, brilliant PhD students, graduate students, university students, respected journalists, children, professors, dentists, gynecologists, obstetricians...
  • parents of 19-year-old Kimia, a pre-med student at the University of BC, who is now an orphan, (how does she COPE with this?). Her parents were both doctors, her mother with MD degrees in two countries, Iran and Romania. Both parents had been studying and working for the past six years to be able to pass the very difficult Canadian equivalency exams for foreign doctors so they could practise here.

Many many academics were on the plane, brilliant, talented people; at least 20 universities in six provinces lost students, researchers, and professors.
  • the biggest loss of human life since the 1987 tornado in Edmonton: many people from the University of Alberta community died

  • 5 from our University of Windsor

Each light represents a person, but so much more than a single person. People doing important, brilliant, life-saving, and earth-changing research. As U of Windsor's PhD student Zahra's supervisor said, the potential that has been lost is immeasurable.

Another profound loss on that flight is Mohammed, second year student of an MD/PhD programme at the U of Toronto who was one of only TEN students accepted into his programme. He came to Canada in 2013. Here is a TED talk he gave just last year at the age of 22 on empowering youth. It's hard to believe this young man is (was) so young with all he has accomplished and with how he presents.

My heart hurts; I've cried, I've felt furious, I've felt helpless.
(the yellow spot is a pin from the blocking process previously mentioned)

We are still in the 40 days of mourning.

The back:

The quilting and resulting texture is more visible on the back.

The label, its candle flame outlined with metallic Holoshimmer thread:
Rumi is a Persian (Iranian) poet who lived before Hafez, who is also Persian. Both are among my favourite poets (and philosophers).

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Original design
Size: 72.5 X 74.5"
Fabric: Island Batik
Backing: Island Batik
Batting: Hobbs Premium 80/20 Cotton Polyester
Quilted: on Avril my Avanté; 237 804 stitches
Threads: pieced with Aurifil on my Bernina; appliquéd with Crafted Appliqué and then with Aurifil on my Avanté, label candle with Sulky Holoshimmer metallic; quilted with Aurifil, Zwicky and Superior So Fine threads, The Bottom Line in the bobbin.

The Sun Never Says

Even After
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,

"You owe

Look what happens
With a love like that,
It lights the 
--Hafez, The Great Sufi Master

I want the world to know what a tragic, needless loss we have suffered. As a world, not just as a country.  I hope you read some of the articles about these amazing souls, brilliant minds, innocent children whose lives should never have been snuffed out.

Update: I want to note that this quilt is my tribute to ALL  Canadians who were on board, not just the 57 who had Canadian citizenship but to those 138 total who had ties to Canada. Ultimately, I wanted to shine light (intended phrase) on the brilliance that the world lost; as I wrote to Tracie, we've lost an incredible infinitesimal richness of minds.
2. There were seven countries who lost citizens: Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Afghanistan, Ukraine (the entire flight crew), Iran and Canada.
3. This is not intended to make Americans feel bad. I have many American friends who are feeling terrible about the downward spiral of their country, and I know from private conversations that many of us around the world are feeling terrible about the downward spiral of our own (my own province of Ontario is disturbing, as is my former home province of Alberta). I am so glad we have a calm, thoughtful Prime Minister who has not lashed out without thinking over this incident and others. I wish we could work together in love and harmony and understanding, not hatred and spite and disdain of a person or country with another point of view. War, killing, and ignorance is not the answer. Education and being informed through multiple sources IS the answer.
4. A non-fiction book I read many years ago certainly opened my mind when tensions with Iran were high: Honeymoon in Purdah: An Iranian Journey by Alison Wearing. It showed me, as travel shows me, over and over again, that people in general are kind. Loving. Helpful. Good souls who just want to be happy and to make their corner of the world a better place. Iran is an ancient, rich culture who reveres education and philosophy, and family.
5. Bob Chelmick's show, The Road Home, on CKUA, which you can stream around the world, opened my heart to the poems of Rumi and Hafez many years ago. It is because of him that I bought translations (his recommendations) of their works. Google them. I bet you'll love them too.

The sun came out the day after I finished binding the quilt and publishing this post, and so I took a couple more outside photos and added them. When I went to take the quilt off the deck railing, I noticed a pretty neat shot of the sun shining through.

Linking up
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Quilt Fabrication
My Quilt Infatuation
TGIFF at Sarah Goer Quilts
Quilty Girl
Quilting & Learning - What a Combo!

This is also one of my Q1FAL Goals completed!


  1. This is a beautiful tribute and work of art, Sandra. Do you have any specific plans for the quilt? It feels like it has a very specific role yet to fill...

  2. Oh, Sandra, you are such a dear, dear soul and such a creative soul. I love everything about this except that it exists because of such a tragic and senseless act. I can't say anymore except that I am sorry to be an American.

  3. Tears will have fallen, grief will be profound and long lasting, but your quilt, with the candles, flames, blocks and colour symbolising each person, and each country, is the most heartfelt tribute to those who lost their lives that day. XXXXX

  4. A fitting tribute Sandra, sometimes I just can’t make sense of this world. I love the Rumi poem, I haven’t heard that one before, thank you.

  5. Sandra, you captured such a powerful message in this amazing quilt. Thank you for taking time to honor the souls who were lost. They’re precious people, loved and remembered.

  6. This is more than a quilt reflecting lost lives. It is the start of the healing process needed for us as Canadians to remember and to forgive, BUT never forget. A fitting tribute.

  7. We never forget those who suffer such tragedies. You have clearly created a quilt that honors those who lost their lives, but also has played a role in your grieving. Powerful, Sandra. Lovely quilt.

  8. What a beautiful tribute. I loved reading your thoughts on this tragedy and they mirror my own. 176 lives ended too soon. I love your quilting - it is just beautiful as always. I was touched by the way you quilted each candle differently with so much care, showing that each of them was unique and loved, and not just a number.

  9. I have seen glimpses of this quilt as you made the candles, and without knowing your thinking at the time, still knew that this was something momentous. Thank you for your words, thoughts, and beautiful creative spirit.💕

  10. Hi Sandra. I was just thinking about you this morning, and then, poof - an email with your post link. The needless loss of life is what always touches me the most. It is so senseless and the total loss is immeasurable. We can't even begin to speculate on the what-might-have-beens had this not happened. It seems that our voice, the voice of the good, the reasonable and those that know there are better ways to resolve issues, gets lost or goes unheard. It is especially noticeable at times like this. However, I know that to be incorrect and that even small, quiet voices can be heard and can make a difference. So, we'll keep on championing for the right and the good with the only voice we are allowed. Our vote, our personal commitment to making small changes that can catch on, and our voice via quilting to never forget. Just by sharing this message today with your readers it is going to spark many conversations. And those can spark more and soon there are oodles of candles flickering if only in our heart for those not to be forgotten. I cannot imagine the grief these families are facing. I can't even really comment on the quilt although you have done a fabulous job. It just makes my heart hurt. Roseanne

  11. I am speechless....there is nothing I can add other than this is a magnificent quilt but the heart and intention behind it is awesome---so loving and so human. Blessings....

  12. What an eloquent post and such an emotional, heartfelt tribute to the innocent. Your quilt is beautiful, but the true beauty lies within the thought, care and intention the maker (you) put into with with every single stitch. Well done, my friend!

  13. An extremely moving post Sandra. One I couldn't read in one sitting. Your quilt would have been beautiful without all the love that went into it, with the story, it is beyond words.xxx

  14. I have goosebumps all the way down to my toes, Sandra, as well as a bank of tears in my eyes. This quilt, and every thought you put into it, is a wonderful tribute. I agree with Raewyn's comment, and couldn’t have said it better myself. Well done!

  15. It's beautiful, from the glow of the candles to the approaching light, and the individual quilting done on each candle. It certainly has been a tough month, I find myself in tears at every news broadcast, all the individual stories, and such a profound loss for our own country and Iran, not to mention the other countries. But as you said, it seems to be the best and the brightest - an immeasurable loss to the world. Such a stunning tribute, and if only we could learn from it before it's too late.
    Thank you for this special quilt from the heart, and the lovely post. Take care Sandra. ❤

  16. This quilt is stunning, not only for its beauty, but for its reason for being. I am tired of the fighting and the wars and the ridiculousness that comes at such a high price to innocent victims in the tragic circumstances in which we live. How WONDERFUL to have someone like you who can take it all and make a visual reminder of what our world should be. I, too, mourn the loss of all those lives. Thank you for bringing peacefulness, beauty and some sanity into our lives.

  17. Sandra, your quilt and post profoundly impacted me. Your quilt is beautiful and inspiring, as were those lives the candles represent. It is a fitting tribute to those on flight 752. As an American, I am so ashamed of the horrid decisions the president is making. I am so sorry this tragedy happened and that America had a hand in it.

  18. What an eloquent statement both in your quilting and your words. Prayers for all.
    Connie W.

  19. Sandra, this is moving beyond words. So much incredible symbolism in your stunning work of art and remembrance. Sometimes art and imagery can express what words cannot. This is beautiful in so many ways.

  20. A stunning, meaningful project. I hope working on it gave you some peace, we could all certainly use a big dose of that in these times.

  21. This is a powerful quilt, and a beautifully written post. You've absolutely achieved your purpose, Sandra.

  22. What a beautiful quilt and a heartfelt tribute to those lost in this attack. I am as appalled as many Americans at that actions, on many levels, of the current Administration and also very frightened that so many other Americans still support this President. Thank you for your powerful statement honoring those lives lost so needlessly.

  23. Such a heartfelt response to an unimaginable tragedy, Sandra. Thank you for sharing—honoring—the lives of the victims and bringing awareness to those of us who only part of their story. The quilt has such beautiful symbolism. I hope you will be able to share it physically within your community and perhaps even further. It is not a quilt for cozy cuddling but for speaking out with it’s powerful message.

  24. Awesome quilting on a very special quilt! Thanks for sharing.

  25. "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me..." Yours is an incredible quilt, commemorating incredible tragedy. Would that it were as inspirational to those in power as it is to me.

  26. Beautiful, gut-wrenching, heartfelt and so meaningful.
    Hope you will consider Sacred Threads and enter this quilt for their next show.

  27. I can only echo what others are saying ... What a tribute to all. I am an American and extremely upset about the direction this country is heading ... I can only pray for a brighter tomorrow and do what I can to make it happen. Thank you so much for your faith and sharing your love.

  28. Utterly beautiful. It’s a masterpiece from the heart!

  29. Hi Sandra, what a wonderful quilt and post. I'm sorry that it took me so long to get to it - it's really amazing and a wonderful tribute. I hope that you brought you some measure of comfort as you made this.
    Thanks for linking up to Free Motion Mavericks.

  30. Thank you for sharing all your sentiments as you made this incredibly beautiful, masterful quilt! Love it more than words can say!- Davina