Homage to Helen

In 2011, my godmother took me to visit Helen Knights in Thunder Bay and it was a wonderful visit. Helen and I exchanged a few letters over the last few years and I loved getting cards with fabric cutouts on them with her almost indecipherable cursive handwritting inside. She was such an accomplished artist and had so much wisdom to impart, I feel blessed to have had a chance to meet her.

She passed away recently and when I went back to Thunder Bay in April of this year for my cousin’s wedding, my godmother gave me one of Helen’s last quilts entitled “Showing off the roses”. DSC_0100 She was 102 when she made it! To not only still be quilting at that age, but also to be quilting innovatively, is remarkable.

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I’m imagining her UFO reference is to an Unfinished Fabric Object of the 80’s but I can’t really be sure.

I was beyond touched by this gift and I knew just what I wanted to do to give it a place of honour. Ever since I moved the furniture around the workshop, I had a blank wall above the dresser. I thought Helen’s quilt would be perfect there. The problem was: it looked a little lost. So I endeavoured to make 2 more quilts to attempt to complement hers.

The first one I made is my first try at hexagonal block piecing and free-form machine quilting. DSC_0104I called it “If the Borg liked pretty”. Helen’s UFO reference inspired me, plus the Borg are all about Cubes… except in First Contact when they were in sphere but I ignored that for the purpose of this quilt. Yes, I’m a nerd and a trekkie, let’s move on.

The second quilt I called “Imaginary Windows”. DSC_0101 I used a technique for applique that I learned from Helen, as well as fabric that was donated by my godmother. I kept it all in the same family!

I even installed the rods by myself AND drove myself to Fabricville today because I was missing some brackets. If you’ve known me for a while, you know driving scares me a lot. But recently I got a car (a free one from my future mother-in-law, thanks again!) and I’ve been driving it around. Today, was the first day I drove myself to somewhere I’d never driven before! Normally I need to have a navigator when I drive a new route, preferably the fiancĂ© who answers all my ‘if I stay in this lane, will I be stressed later because of a lane change?’ questions. But I put on my big girl pants, looked it up on Google Maps, wrote out on a card the left and right turns I needed, put the card where I could see it without having to grab it and drove off. And as it turns out, I’m a very capable adult. Which doesn’t make me really happy because I wanted to stay a kid forever but I’ll just have to find other ways of being anti-grown-up.

All this to say, here’s the finished wall. They’re all very different pieces but I thought some of the colours in each tied in well with the others so that even if they’re all so different, they look like they belong together. I hope Helen would be proud. DSC_0098

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