Sunday, March 11, 2012

Springtime and the Scrappy Snowball Quilt

It's another beautiful sunny day here in Cincinnati.  I think spring is my favorite times of year... but when the other seasons make themselves known, each one is appreciated in its own way... as long as it isn't extreme!  People here in Cincinnati complain about the cold during the winter, but coming from northern Minnesota, this is not cold to me!  In fact, this past winter was so mild that I never wore a winter coat once (although the natives were bundled up as if it was 40 degrees below zero)... and never had to shovel my sidewalks.  The worst weather we had was a weekend my son and his wife drove down here from lower Michigan... the trip that usually takes them 4 hours took them over 6!  We had an ice storm that weekend, and driving was treacherous.  He sprinkled salt on my sidewalks, but that was the only time it was necessary.  I called and told them not to come, but it was the first time they came without their children, and my son said it was as much for the process of getting away alone together as anything!  I loved having them, but I have to say I missed seeing my grandchildren. 

This quilt top is one I finished several months ago, hoping to give it as a Christmas present, but that didn't come to pass, as it never got quilted yet.  I call it a Scrappy Snowball, and adapted the pattern to work with 2-1/2" squares left over from making a series of baby quilts with our church quilting group.  Literally ALL of the pieces were in my "scrap" basket, except for the muslin.  You will notice that by using that sized piece, the triangles on the corners of the "snowball" block don't match perfectly with the squares of the patchwork block, but I think that adds to its scrappy charm.  There are two very simple blocks that make up this quilt... the patchwork block is made up of 16 - 2" finished squares, 4 across and 4 down in each block.  I didn't even try to alternate light and dark squares, and it turned out nicely, anyway.  The other block is made up of 4-1/2" squares of muslin ( 4 of them) with a 2-1/2" square on 2 opposite corners of the muslin square.  Right sides together, I sewed diagonaly across the colored square and then snipped off the outside triangle and actually THREW IT AWAY!  I've never done that before... but these were already made from scraps, after all, so I adopted one more quick quilting method.  And I felt exceedingly proud of myself that I wasn't compelled to save the bits I cut off for another project!  Back to the pattern... the four snowball squares are sewn together, forming an X with the colored triangles meeting to form larger triangles.  It looks much more complicated than it is, and is truly a scrap quilt.

One thing I did to try in order to keep the quilt unified was to put a green, blue or purple square on the corners of each snowball unit.  Otherwise, there is every color under the sun in the quilt, and it looks charming and old-fashioned.  I put a simple medium green calico border on the quilt.  Perhaps I will have it quilted by next Christmas... but with five children, I will have to get four more made so everyone gets one.  I have  my eye on a couple of other patterns for some of the children.  They will be large lap quilts... big enough probably for a twin sized bed so they look pretty on a sofa but will be comfortable to wrap up in when the cold winds of winter are rattling the windows.

When they are machine quilted, it's much easier to pop them in the washer and dryer... the hand-quilted heirloom quality quilts my mother and father make are treasures that shouldn't be treated so casually. 

My parents will be 91 this year, and have been married over 70 years!  They still live in their own home, and are still making quilts.  My mother pieces the quilt tops and my father quilts them.  They are breathtakingly beautiful works of art, and will be treasured for many generations to come.  They have given several quilts to me and my sisters that grace all of our bedrooms, and all of the grandchildren have quilts, and even the great-grandchildren have quilts stacked in their parent's closets, waiting for their wedding day.  My mother also writes poetry and makes them into counted cross-stitch framed pieces. She has several notebooks filled with pictures of her works.... and they have several notebooks filled with pictures of their quilts.  They have made literally hundreds of quilts, and my father is often proud to point out tiny rust-colored specks of his blood on the backs of the quilts that are a testimony to the hundreds of hours he spends quilting.  They are a badge of honor, and never washed out before gifting the quilt.  Mom says she thinks she will quit quilting because they have many stacked in their closets already, and "you can buy a patchwork quilt at Target for $50!"  But she's said that before, and the fabric always calls out to her and she starts another quilt.  The  last few quilts she made were Grandmother's Flower Garden, and a Dahlia-type applique, all hand pieced while she "listens" to TV.

I started a Cathedral Window quilt top years ago, because it was something I could have as "handwork".  Mom says our Finnish heritage prevents us from having idle hands!   But I have not yet unpacked the bag or box that contains that quilt, and perhaps it was lost in the shuffle of moving.  I got rid of so much "stuff" when I moved that had accumulated through forty years of living in that house... and now, when I unpack another box and find a treasure I'd been missing... it's like Christmas! 

This is one of the baby quilts I made for our church group (we give quilts to Project Linus, who distributes them to children in hospitals)... can you spot some of the leftover fabrics that went into my Scrappy Snowball quilt?

Have a wonder-filled Sunday!  And share a smile with someone who doesn't have one of their own...


  1. Alaena ... I'm a new member/lurker to the yahoo quilt blog, but was captivated with your story about your parents quilting together (or was it grandparents?) ... and looked you up. You CAN post comments on your blog, but if will change under your settings to allow anonymous comments then people who have independent blog identities can post too, with their name and website. I have two blogs, one independent called and one that is a blogger blog ... I can only post with the blogger blog ( because it won't allow independent ones. Changing the setting to allow anonymous comments will let anyone post. I like your blog and your stories!

    1. Thank you, Canine Scholar! They are my parents... I am 70, so they are great-grandparents to my grandchildren, and they sure are great grandparents! I'll check out your blogs.