Monday, March 17, 2014

Saint Patricks day snow

 There is  snow everywhere, on St. Patrick's day it's kind of unusual for us to see snow in Washington, D.C. The neighbors on Twitter say we got eight inches in Brookland this morning. I have not been out to measure with a ruler but in the back it sure looks eight inches deep on our table and chairs. Yesterday I spent a warm Sunday working on my quilts and reading about the Irish Great Famine of 1845-52 and how the English landlords took tons of food and profits out of Ireland, as capitalists do, they just looked to their own bottom line, ignoring the misery. Millions died of starvation and a few million more left and immigrated all around the world. Many came to Boston and New York where they had food available and work to earn a living for their families. Feels like everyone has some Irish roots or at least on St. Patrick's day they enjoy trying to feel Irish. Wikipedia has a great page describing the whole horrible history in detail.
Being an orange sort of guy, I always wondered about the colors of this holiday. It seems that Orange is the color of the protestants in Ireland the English allies and that comes from the Dutch King William of Orange who ruled the English with his English wife Mary from 1788-1794. The same King William Williamsburg Va. is named for and the college called William & Mary honors. Mixed up world of history and colors so my orange isn't my political statement, it's simply my color preference. I think green is a nice color too and I have several green quilts in my folio and a great grandmother who traced her roots to Ireland most likely from the famine years.

The past few days I am struggling with my current project of log cabin blocks. I thought I was going to do a very modern open design but the call of the repeat is winning out. I might have to do a couple different versions in the end but I sure feel the need to go all orange purple on this one today. 

In the 2nd picture it looks OK but on my wall those white and gray bits kind of feel out of place. Maybe it's just that I like the way the color dances when it's all bright and strong versus the softer areas. I love the subtle white and gray shifts but they are such high contrast to the orange purple it makes me want to separate them. You can see in these pictures I was heading toward an orange purple mix originally then shifted to mixed blocks of orange and gray then white on white... I didn't start out with a clear idea of where I would end up. I just go with the flow of each day's inspirations.

 Perhaps my problem is being too slavish to the log cabin block and not adding bigger areas of simple whites like I started doing in the earlier version when I didn't have so many orange blocks. I did reach a point where the plain bits of white and off white fabric felt too difficult to assemble in a way that did not distract from the log cabin construction so I sent them aside. I will have to take it all apart  and see what happens if I mix it up again. So hang in there and wait to see where I go next? I am not sure and nothing is settled until it is done.
Meanwhile spring is trying to arrive so those lovely crocus in our gardens are just below a big blanket of protective snow. Inside we had a nice surprise this weekend. Keith's orchid has been blooming and his walking iris bloomed yesterday! We also forced some quince collected from Phyllis' garden in the wilds of Manassas. Walking iris is a tropical and grows like the spider plant so many of us had in the 1970s when it was discovered to be good for our indoor air to grow house plants. This iris gets shoots that develop flowers and they turn into new plants right on the leaf meaning we get babies every spring. The flower is open one day and smells so sweet it's like a gardenia. All it needs is some light and a little water now and then.

Happy St. Patrick's Snow day to all my Irish friends. Please let me know if I got any of this history wrong or if you have ideas about where my quilt could go. An
other quilt project brewing is a pin wheel quilt top that might be kind of a rainbow affair.


Aoife said...

Hi Frederick! I love the log cabin quilt, though I see how the intensity of just orange and purple could be enticing, I think the areas of grey/white are brilliant. Making islands of colour - your second picture of it on a design wall is just lovely.

On the American St. Patrick's Day - I have to say, I find it very strange as an Irish person. And the biggest thing I find odd is the lack of orange in the celebrations. It erases a whole part of our history to me, and learning to compromise with the demons of our past in order to move into a better future are what has shaped the Irish republic since it began in 1948.

However, I do think St. Patrick's Day over here is a direct representation of the culture brought to America by Irish emigrants in the 1800s, and one that has not shown much forward movement with the times - as evidenced by the NYC and Boston parades.

Frederick Nunley said...

Thanks Aoife for that great feedback on how a real modern Irish woman sees the American St. Patrick's day. I am moving the log cabin towards a mostly purple orange with a strip of gray and it's making my inner eye happy. Then there are all those white log cabins waiting for their own place.

✾Jamie Lee Cooley✾ said...

Hmm, I am interested to see where you go with the quilt. I kind of agree that maybe you do need more negative white and gray space, maybe that aren't log cabin blocks? My brain always wants to make order of the blocks (because they are so ordered the way they are constructed?).

My grandmother's parents are from Ireland but I only know about her history from an American perspective from about 1915 on. Her mother died in the flu epidemic and it is a sad story that will always be with me. When she was confirmed she wanted to take one of her mother's names (Veronica Bridget) as her middle name, but her father made her take her stepmother's name (Agnes). Her stepmother was cruel to the original 3 children in the family, so I gave each of her mother's names to my daughters. I just wish my grandmother had been alive to meet them, but all of my grandparents died before I was an adult.

Oh I just read your response to Aoife. I think my eye was looking for order too, so either there has to be a pattern or madness. Either way I will like it:)

Jennifer Ward said...

Hi Frederick, thanks for sharing your process & the history reminder! I love the earlier arrangement with the islands of neutral in the dance of orange & purple. Can't wait to see the final!

Jennifer Ward said...

Hi Frederick, thanks for sharing your process & the history reminder! I love the earlier arrangement with the islands of neutral in the dance of orange & purple. Can't wait to see the final!