Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fire on the Prairie

Shortly after I retired from teaching and discovered how many other quilters lived near me, I joined the Cablecar Quilt Guild in Dubuque, Iowa, just over the Mississippi River from Galena, IL.

I soon discovered that each year they issued a challenge to the members. Based on the letters in my first and last name, they assigned two colors to me, and challenged me to make a two color quilt.

Brown and red? I was sure that I didn't like those colors, and would never waste my time or money on creating such an ugly quilt.

But, of course, it wouldn't leave my mind. I borrowed some books from my local library and began to search for patterns that might be appropriate for a two color quilt.

Much trial and error later, I pieced something together, and then decided that my cream background might not be acceptable as a "brown" color, so I tea typed my complted quilt top.

Since the only way I knew to "quilt" something was to hand quilt it, I began the slow process of hand quilting.

When the challenge was due, I brought in my incomplete hand-quilting two-color quilt project. We were to go around and vote for our favorites in a variety of categories.

I think they created a new catagory for me - "Unfinished Two Color Quilts!" - and I won first place in that category. Again, I was spurred on by the recognition that I was given that evening. Today it is one of my favorite quilts, and casually hangs over the couch in our living room.

Quilting at Timmerman's Farm

I quilt one day a week with a group of about 10 ladies known as The Busy Fingers. We meet in one member's home each week, and work on whatever quilt or quilts they happen to have in the frame. Some ladies have beautifully crafted wood frames, some have the old fashioned boards that rest on hand-made wooden posts, and others have the newer Q-snap frames that are made out of plastic tubing. All work just fine, and all have produced beautiful heirlooms for our families.

This week we quilted at Carol's home, which is on a dairy farm bordering on the edge of Illinois and Wisconsin. Carol has also painted a quilt pattern on one of her barn doors that faces the highway. It is called "Hole in the Barn Door," and has one of the Holstein dairy cows looking out of the center.