Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Five Symmetrical Blocks

Today's blog includes five blocks from the Album with Lyre, and once again, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to call these blocks. I started looking through the Encyclopedia of Applique by Barbara Brackman. Maybe I will find some leads there, but not much progress to report thus far. 

The five blocks all share something in common. They are all wonderfully symmetrical. The first block (pictured, top) is from the third row, second from the left. The flowers look like lilies, sprouting from an eight-pointed star that also appears to have cactus flowers sprouting from it. This block is another favorite of mine.

The second block is from the top row, second from the left, and looks like a Rose of Sharon wreath. The leaves surrounding the center flower are the same shape as the elements I've called cactus flowers in the first block. This block is actually one of my least favorite. It seems very ordinary compared to many of the other blocks.

The third block is from the second row, second from the right, and is one of the most simple blocks on the quilt. The shapes sprouting from the center flower look like pineapples, but could also be leaves.

The fourth block is also from the second row, far right, and has leaves alternating with a four-pointed oxblood/burgundy/maroon shape that is crowned with cheddar orange. In the center is what I'd call a pinched square in a circle, similar to a cathedral window quilt motif. 

The fifth block is from the fourth row, second from the left, and is four pomegranates sprouting from a flower. The flower looks like a Rose of Sharon without a center disc. Stylistically, the symmetry present in all five blocks seems to connect them, and I love how the echo quilting follows the designs. If any readers have corrections or ideas about what to call these five symmetrical designs, please feel free to comment. Enjoy!!


  1. The quilting is as consistent as ever. I wonder what motivated such intense quilting. Was it purely decoration, or perhaps she didn't have another project to move on to. Maybe it was to demonstrate something to her daughter. We'll never know but it is surely amazing.

  2. I think she did the quilting so intensely because a, it beautiful and b, it accentuates the appliqué by making it pop forward and c, because she was excellent at her craft.
    Quilting in not just to hold the layers together and keep the batting in place it is an integral part of the quilt. Some might think the most important part. She certainly thought so and I agree.

  3. Liz, I think Sally may be right. Also, It could have been done to pass the time. I found one genealogy record that suggested the daughter, Harriet, didn't live beyond age 14, and that's how old she was when the project was supposed to have been done. I may need to go to West Virginia to research it. Family records only indicated that Harriet made the other quilt, but there was little known about her. Both quilts descended through the family of her sister, Elizabeth Jane Small Sperow.

  4. Bill....could it be that these quilts were what the mother and daughter were doing together while the she was sick and dying? Mother never leaving her side, and the both quilting together away the hours, and spending every minute together doing a shared project! I'm crying!

    Beyond how amazing this quilt is....if that was what was is even more remarkable, because of the anguish the mother must have been feeling the whole time doing it!

    Or did it give her strength and comfort?

    And, of course, she would do an amazing piece of art, with intricacy and exquisite workmanship as a tribute to her dying daughter. That would only make sense.

    I'm still crying! Sheesh! Would love to know the whole story.

  5. Regan, the thought has certainly crossed my mind, but it's all conjecture at this point. When I finally make my way to West Virginia, I'll be looking for the answers to these questions. I've done a little research about epidemics in the middle 19th century, and cholera, influenza, and yellow fever were the big three in North America. There is a chance there was a period of illness leading up to death. It could explain why no records of Harriet exist after 1850. Mary, Harriet's mother, passed away 13 years later when she was about 63.

  6. Amazing quilting...I can only agree with what the other girls have written..
    So sad to think she could have been quilting this with such a heavy heart beside a dying daughter...bu then that's what quilters do, to ease the pain and help one get through tough times.
    It would be very interesting to know the story..

  7. For whatever reason, the quilting does have a distinct intensity to it. Something must've been up. When I first saw it, I thought it was simply obsessive compulsive disorder. With my good fortune, the story will just fall into my lap, as did the connection between the two quilts. It was dumb luck, but was driven by my strong sense of curiosity.