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.


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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