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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quilts of Valour

It is funny sometimes how particles in your life collide at the perfect moment to create something new, or point you in a new direction. A year ago, I lost my father in law under particularly poignant circumstances. It was a watershed experience for me, and I have been missing Dad and thinking a lot about him and his life lately.

Dad was a veteran of WWII, a Pilot Officer who crewed on Lancasters as navigator/bombardier. He rarely talked of his service experience, sharing the unfortunate view of so many veterans, that no one could ever understand or empathize who had not been there themselves. I think that is quite untrue; anyone who has ever experienced loss and suffering has the requisite experience to understand, but I think it was more than that. I think Dad just found the combined weight of his wartime memories unbearable. I don't blame him for not wanting to relive them in conversation.

And then on Tuesday night's quilting guild meeting, our president Stella announced the guild would like to put together some Quilts of Valour for injured Canadian servicemen and women. With Dad walking so close beside me lately, it seemed a perfect project for me...combining community service, recognition of my Dad's military contributions, and comfort (both for me and the quilt recipient).

I did a little searching on QoV images the next day. Many of the quilts were beautiful, but they did not speak to me. I wanted something that honoured the land that inspired the service and sacrifice, but also something filled with life and colour. After all, this quilt will likely go to a young person, recovering from a serious battle injury. They may not be particularly in the mood to celebrate the flag, but will surely need good energy, support, and inspiration.

So I started off looking at scenes of Canada...often I find colour schemes in nature that I love, but would never have dreamt up by myself. And so I found my third particle, and the enterprise achieved critical mass:

Is that not beautiful?! I had already found one block pattern I liked, a modified log cabin with a maple leaf in the centre, from Debbie Mumm:

I liked the idea of shelter and nurturing in the log cabin portion of the block, and I like this slightly stylized but relaxed maple that lends itself well to that wonderful time saver, fused applique. But the browns did not enchant...I imagined instead that luminous blue-mauve from the photograph paired with a more subtle green. And batiks in glowing autumn colours, buttery yellow, pumpkin orange, cerise red, dark plum in the centre. Wow!

Somewhere, I can hear a shout of laughter. I think it's Dad.

The first of my blocks...


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