Monday, October 16, 2023

Abner's Mill - a Quilt finish.

This is my take on Rhododendron Trail, the Bonnie K. Hunter mystery quilt event from 2021. You can get the pattern here. Obviously, I went rogue with the color scheme. It was an homage to a spring walk along a trail with brilliant yellows, pinks and aqua ribbons of sky. But it was autumn, my father was in failing health, and I felt the cultural upheaval and the oppression of the COVID lockdowns and groupthink very keenly. I was physically ill looking at such cheerful colors. So I played with opposites.

Brown instead of pink. Tan instead of cranberry. Gray instead of yellow. And "Blue is the new neutral." Medium to dark blue. I played with these colors for the first clue or two.
Steve liked my color scheme. "Masculine colors," some of them from old shirts. I wasn't convinced at first, but I wanted to piece a quilt and bright colors were just unappealing to me. I went with it and moved forward on the mystery quilt, but slowly. 

Through the fog of all the confusion and anxiety of early 2022, I pieced, in fits and starts, until I had quite a bit of the clues done, and I couldn't justify not keeping at it. As my father's health worsened to a crisis, it sometimes felt like the one thing I could do.

The blocks started adding up.
I didn't stick with somber blue, there were some brighter blues mixed in. But it's still a sober, somber quilt.
The main block, when revealed, reminded me of a millwheel, not a cheerful path strewn with flowers.
The old wooden mill turns, with creaking that could be ominous, and the little sawtooth accent blocks reminded me of the paddles, that shed water as the wheel turns. There are many metaphors to be found in this quilt. The wheel of time, the whirligig of time, water moving over the millwheel. I wasn't looking for the metaphors, they are just there. I decided to call it "Abner's Mill" in homage to Abner Landon, an ancestor who was a millwright in Connecticut and Upper Canada, whose sons were millwrights and moved into the Ohio territory in the early days, when people needed to clear the land before it could be farmed and if you had the skills to build a mill, you wouldn't starve.

And the only fabric I bought outright for the project was the constant fabric, which had to be pieced oh-so-carefully in very narrow strips between the blocks. Instead of that cheerful aqua, I looked for a deep forest green... and found it within seconds of walking into the quilt shop. It's that "Grunge" fabric in the colorway "holly." It was like a shaft of sunlight illuminated it and a bright soprano voice was hitting a high A.

A lot of slow, painstaking piecing getting those pencil-width sashings and tiny cornerstones in.
I had to use the seam ripper on the final flying geese borders a few times.
But the quilt cooperated and it lays flat. For the first time ever, I took it out to be quilted by a longarmer.
Just for Fun Quilts did a fantastic job. Kind of an antique gold thread with a bit of shimmer and a leafy, scroll-y allover pattern.

And that's Abner's Mill. I gave it to Steve for his birthday last year and it's been on our bed ever since.

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