First, thanks to Laura for Dadland; that pretty much sums up where I’m living in the new normal. Let’s say that Dadland is a county within this novel country, and this modern quilt constitutes the colours that once I get this baby completed will fly with honor. Or drape over our sofa with similarly good intentions.
I’ll pull that Dadland flag over myself as I watch the San Francisco Giants this year, pondering what might Dad have thought of this or that play. In Dadland, even if Dad’s no longer a citizen, the reverberations are lasting. An improv quilt that initially held few notable qualities other than being my first attempt at floating squares morphed into a statement on the sinking of a British ocean liner, one hundred years ago might I add, then was truly revealed for its worth.
Although I still think of Winsor McCay when I stare at this piece. World War I in 1915 in the blue, orange and beige, with a hint of green and yellow, representing the Lusitania’s passengers. Some lived, many perished, as the Irish coast was in sight.
I rue not having snapped more shots as this quilt top came into being, but I found myself sewing even before I’d had a shower. The thrill of piecing this project was infectious; every morning between sips of tea I fashioned small blocks, going between the grotto and the living room, not thinking about much else. Which was a nice change, after the last couple of months, thinking about way too many things and not getting even close to my sewing machine.
I found that improvisational quilting requires the creative mental spark throughout the putting-together-the-quilt-top process, unlike how within my traditional patchwork scheme once the fabric goes on the quilt wall, it’s simply a matter of sewing those cottons into rows. That part has felt tedious in my last couple of quilts, a sensation I couldn’t shake, nor did I appreciate.
Yet in making the Dadland flag, not a moment was dull. It was at times slightly frustrating, until I turned a section sideways or completely upside down. Then I was happier. Of course it helps that none of the fabrics I chose were directional, a note to self for future modern quilts.
As the quilt emerged, it wasn’t until it was almost done I saw my father within it. Wider at the top, it’s also more scattered in colour, much as how Dad’s early years were fraught with plenty of complications. As he aged, his life settled, some difficulty involved of course, but he was sober the last ten years of his life, for which I am still amazed and grateful. And that was while battling prostate cancer, which turned into bone cancer. Which coupled with COPD and heart failure killed him.
The darker bottom prints signify that era of Dad’s life, but the hues are lively, the beige filler fabric not the same as what started out at the top. I didn’t have enough blue and orange to fashion a decent-sized quilt, so I knew more colours would be necessary, and I’m partial to dark pink. The navy blue and cream print isn’t one of my faves, but I had plenty of it, and didn’t want all solids. And little by little, all of these fabrics turned into something far more than merely a step into the improv quilting realm….
This isn’t just floating squares, it’s about barely scraping the surface of comprehending loss. But it’s also about life, for death is part of living. Boats are sunk, men pass away. Sometimes those men are fathers, of daughters who fancy themselves as artists of sorts. And sometimes those daughters, even ones at forty-nine, still think of their father as Daddy.
The county of Dadland is an intriguing one, like no county I’ve ever visited before. Looking forward to seeing more of it, day by day by day….