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One of the things I love most in the world is quilting, but right behind quilting is quilters themselves. Quilters are a unique breed. There’s something special about meeting another quilter for the first time. There’s an instant connection when two people who have spent hours sewing at a machine, standing at a cutting mat, and foraging in fabric shops cross paths. My latest finish—Grape Fizz—is noteworthy not only because it’s beautiful and I love it but also because it reminds me of one of those encounters.
Grape Fizz is my version of Amy Garro’s Icy Waters, a quilt that a lot of modern quilters know. It was shown at QuiltCon 2014 and also adorns the cover of Amy’s book, Paper Pieced Modern. The brilliance behind this pattern is that the seemingly complicated design is really just one block that’s rendered in different fabrics and rotated throughout the quilt. In Amy’s original, this approach re-creates the look of an iceberg. Amy uses a spectrum of blues to translate that iceberg—which sometimes pokes through the Arctic waters and, other times, is submerged deep in the ocean—into fabric.
My interpretation of Icy Waters became Grape Fizz through my decisions about the palette and quilting. Like Amy, I chose an ombre array of fabrics, from pure white, to shades of lavender, to eggplant. I finished piecing my quilt top soon after I started it, in the summer of 2016, and passed it on to my friend Mary Gregory (of See Mary Quilt) for quilting.
It’s the quilting that transforms this project into Grape Fizz. I asked Mary for bubbles and ribbon candy, lots of soft curves to balance the piecing’s sharp corners, and wow, I got it. I almost always straight-line-quilt my projects, so Grape Fizz is not something I could create without Mary’s collaboration.
Mary returned the quilt to me recently. Seeing it transported me back to last summer when I pieced the top, and my experience piecing Grape Fizz was unusual. I did not embark on the project at my sewing table, Paper Pieced Modern in hand. I had the pleasure of starting it with direction from Amy herself, in a workshop she did with the New Hampshire Modern Quilt Guild.
As the NHMQG member in charge of events, I planned the details of getting Amy to New England. In the months preceding her visit, my interactions with her were confined to quick emails about where she wanted to stay and which airport she’d fly out of. By the time her visit (finally!) arrived, I was delighted to have the opportunity talk to her and get to know her more as a quilter and a person.
And we had a lot of time to talk. We talked in the car from the airport to her hotel, during the next day’s workshop, at the post-workshop dinner, and again the last day of Amy’s visit, at her trunk show. We exchanged stories about our projects, our techniques, our quilty idols, our kids. Talking with Amy was, of course, easy because she is a quilter, and we have that common bond of making beautiful pieces of art that we can also curl up under.
As you can imagine, the weekend was inspirational, educational, and a whole lot of fun.
I wish I could say that I’ve been good about keeping in touch with Amy, but I haven’t. And that’s OK. I know that when our paths cross again, we’ll talk and share as any two quilters do. Until then, I have a beautiful quilt that both reminds me of the fabulous weekend we had together and makes me hope our next meeting is sooner rather than later.
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