Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bricks or Stones?

Sometimes a quilting pattern will have 2 or more names. The reasons for this are obvious: people name their quilts different things and a single pattern may be known by different names depending on the context, be it in time or space. Quilters in different historical periods and  geographical regions will have different names for things. Sometimes this plurality is fun, sometimes a bit frustrating, and always interesting. I find myself constructing stories in my head to explain the different names, giving personalities and experiences to the quilters who have created the names, and the quilts, in ways that make them lasting and influential.  I try to imagine what these quilters were like, what their lives were like, and who their circles included. And I do all this while creating a quilt that continues their experience. And with that realization, comes a decision: which name do I use. In the great line of quilters, some more influential than others, how will my naming fit? Also, which name suits the project best, and the recipient?
And my critical part says, "Ah, and what does your choice reveal about YOU, your own experiences, in time and space, and your life and personality?"
I usually try to shush that part of me.
Most often the primary factors I consider are the person for whom the quilt is meant, and the connotations of the pattern's various names .
For example, I made this quilt for my youngest niece:
It is made of many scrappy rectangles sewn onto squares of green and then laid out in alternating directions. A detail:
My niece (who's one year old today!) was born to a family that is firmly into recycling, reusing, and conserving. As such, I knew her quilt needed to be a scrappy quilt. I was able to use many pieces from my stash, including a piece of the blue fabric (front and center in the detail pictures) that I use in everything I make for members of that family. It is a piece of a dress my niece's great grandmother made for my niece's grandmother when she was a teenager. Very special to my sis-in-law.

But back to plurality. This pattern is called "bricks" (or "brick path") or "stepping stones". I had to choose a name and was stumped as neither one is particularly baby-like to me. However, in the end I decided that stepping stones is better. It relates to baby steps, and milestones, and growth. At least to my mind.
And so I named it "Stepping Stones for Aolani".
Aolani started taking her first steps a few weeks ago and is now walking. Now I am imagining the steps she'll take, and where they'll take her. As for the quilt, maybe it'll turn into an "I spy" quilt for her now that she's past tummy time.

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