As the needle bends

A world view thru my hobbit hole door

Lessons in Life from a Round Robin Quilt Center

My very first ever Round Robin has already taught me many lessons. I decided to join (OK Carmen, I was coerced <VBG>) what is described as ExtraLarge Round Robin – where each participant makes an 18″ ’starter’ block, then sends it off to have many borders added to it, and it comes home all grown up into a quilt top.

I spent several days researching blocks on the internet. And when I found a block on the World Wide Quilting Pages called “Texas Treasure” I knew that had to be my beginning! Aside from a couple of years, when my DH was stationed in West Germany (yes, Virginia – there was an East Germany, and a West Germany way back then), I have lived in Texas all of my life. Even my ancestors were Texans. I am a fourth generation Texan, whose great-great grandfather was killed by “the Indians” (yes – back then Native Americans were called “Indians”), and am quite proud of my heritage. (I won’t say that I’m proud my great-great grandfather was reportedly hung by “the Indians” for stealing Indian ponies, but that’s a blog entry for another day!) Any way, I have vivid pictures in my mind of Texas Treasures.

I grew up in Abilene. All of my young life, I was told I lived in West Texas. Geographically, I suppose Abilene is technically Northwest Central Texas. But, when I go “home” now, my spirits lift when I get into the edge of the part of Texas that is riddled with small hills, that I thought were mountains when I was little, and ravines. A land that is made up of red clay, live oak, mesquite, cedar trees and prickly pear cactus. When I was little, we went to Nannie’s farm, in South Taylor county, every weekend. That 20 mile journey, and a couple of trips a year 200 miles to the east to visit my aunts in Dallas pretty much describe the boundaries of my childhood world. Nannie’s grandfather was the one who was killed by the Indians. We occupied our time at the farm searching for (and occasionally finding) arrowheads, and fishing in the stock tanks. The land was really, really flat – with a lone “mountain” to the west, known to the locals as “Bald Eagle.” In my efforts to find pictures of the area, I found, instead, the following quote:

“Taylor County where the wind seldom ceases to blow and the feeling of dust in your eyes gives one the courage to fight the elements and learn to enjoy life. A land that soothes your hurts and looking to the hills, I once thought were high mountains, we are assured God is near and will guide us if we follow. ” E.P.M.

That’s where I grew up. When I “went away to college,” I chose what was then called East Texas State University, in Commerce. I thought anything called “East Texas” anything was bound to be filled with pine trees. I was wrong. There were pine trees but only the ones planted in front of my dorm. I quickly tired of that landscape, and retreated back to West Texas, looking for that land that “soothed my hurts.”

I lived in San Angelo for a time, after I graduated from nursing school – an area that is marked by the hills being closer together, but still much wide open spaces. Like the song, “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” the prairie sky is wide and high, deep in the heart of Texas. And that will always be “home” – deep in the heart of Bobbie. Then the Air Force sent us to Germany. And I found out that the “mountains” of my youth were just hills. But I am, and always will be, a Texan. It’s in my blood, it’s in my soul, it’s in my heart. And that’s the inspiration for my round robin quilt.

The stars at night, are big and bright,
deep in the heart of Texas,
The prairie sky is wide and high,
deep in the heart of Texas.
The sage in bloom is like perfume,
deep in the heart of Texas,
Reminds me of, the one I love,
deep in the heart of Texas.

The coyotes wail, along the trail,
deep in the heart of Texas,
The rabbits rush, around the brush,
deep in the heart of Texas.
The cowboys cry, “Ki-yip-pee-yi,”
deep in the heart of Texas,
The dogies bawl, and bawl and bawl,
deep in the heart of Texas.

In my mind, I was going divide it up, and have each section represent a different “Texas treasure” – from the red clay, sandstone, and wheat of the southern Great Plains (north/west Texas -where I grew up), the “purple hills” of the Hill Country where I loved living (except for the mountain cedar, which nearly killed me), the mountains of the Big Bend, the green and sand of the Gulf of Mexico and coastal plains, and the multitude of different greens of the Sam Houston, Big Thicket, and Davy Crockett National Forests in east Texas, where I live now.

The plan worked OK in ElectricQuilt

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but not so well in real fabric.

The fabric that so well represented all these aspects of Texas, at least in my mind’s eye, did not work in the pieces of the quilt block, probably because the prints got lost in the small pieces of the geese.

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The section on the right is the rejected fabrics. See how the contrast and definition just gets lost? So I decided to go with a consistant fabric in the sample on the left. Much better contrast, and the scale of the print showing our lovely Texas wildflowers doesn’t get lost in the little pieces. So… Now my only dilemma was that I didn’t have enough of the bluebonnet fabric to do the whole block. During this period of experimentation, I remember responding last weekend to a question on one of my YahooGroups – One Stitch at a Time about my least favorite color, mine being RED, and added that I would have to “take that back” if the block I was working on turned out well. I substituted a red/orange fabric for one set of the “geese” points, which brought out the tiny red spots of Indian Paintbrush in the wildflower fabric. And I take back all (well, at least, most of) the mean things I thought about red. It definitely brought my center to life, and gave it some zing. Something that is important in a quilt!

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I’m really happy with the look of the starter block now. It really says “Texas” to me – it has the gorgeous color of the clouds at sunrise and sunset, and the amazing depth of blue skies just before complete dark falls, the “treasures” of the wildflowers, and who can say – maybe the ladies in my RR group will somehow use these ideas as inspiration for the borders they add. I’m getting ready to pack up my center, and send it off to the first lady on the list. You’ll have to wait until 2008 to see how it turns out, in the end (just like me!)

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September 16, 2007 - Posted by | Quilting and Hobbies (wishing I had 'spare' time)

1 Comment »

  1. thanks for stopping by my blog last week and leaving a comment – that is how I found your blog 🙂 You said you were in SE Texas, and so am I!

    I loved reading about your life in Texas!!! We moved here in the summer of 2005 and are feeling right at home.

    Besides quilting….another thing we have in common is our Texas Treasure Centers for our Round Robin!! That is my Texas Treasures RR quilt in the frame on the post that you commented on! 🙂 To see the whole quilt click on this link: http://bingobonnie.blogspot.com/2007/04/its-here-my-rr-is-here.html

    Again thanks for stopping by my blog and I’ve also bookmared yours. I didn’t move however… the reason I don’t post often enough is b/c of my life with my 3 year old daughter and 8 month old b/g twins keeps me away from the computer during the daylight hours and very busy! 😉

    ~Bonnie

    Comment by Bingo~Bonnie | February 19, 2008 | Reply


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