I need to confess that I have a passion for picnic blankets. Up until a few days ago I have tried to reign it in and keep it from getting unwieldy. Then suddenly, in a flash of insight I thought “why not? why not just let it rip!” So I got out the two quilt tops that have been languishing around our house and decided to tie both and then make more. After all, I always save obscure fabrics that I don’t really love with the intention of making them into picnic blankets. Then I stop myself with concerns about how many picnic blankets one family really can use, and why when I see fabric do I always thinking large disorganized quilts? Well, it has been decided. No more resistance, just indulgence. My kids love to play with the one finished one that we actually use, I’m sure they could find room in their lives for a few more. I am starting to see a big stack of ridiculous blankets piling up somewhere – we will need storage. We will also need to cover a whole range of different textures and weights. One from my childhood had huge squares of denim with some other prints I vaguely remember tied with orangey red acrylic yarn – the first picnic blanket I ever loved.
I started my new mission with a quilt top I couldn’t resist at a yard sale several years ago and just rediscovered in storage. My love had not waned – it is a beauty! As I started to tie it I felt a strong kinship to that quilt’s maker. Like myself, she must have been strangely compelled to make blankets out of pieces of unattractive fabric. I think she probably even saved the olive/mustard/and brown faux bois sheets for just such a cause. The pieces of kitchen curtains also must have joined the pile of “lightweight cottons destined for grass stains.” I think at one time she meant to organize her quilt. There are three nine patch blocks in the middle of the quilt, very orderly. But then new prints join in, rows get uneven. You can almost hear the loud hum of some old metal singer, cruising at high speeds. This quilt took on a life of it’s own, was no longer constrained by traditional bedding sizes. It got huge. I imagine that is why it never was finished. Perhaps it’s maker realized that the sheet she was going to use as backing got cut up and caught in the piecing. Either way, it is only a beginning for me. If you think of quilting as a culinary endeavor, you can take this as a public announcement that I am about to open up a chili-dog stand.