Sunday, July 20, 2014

Playing With a Monkey Wrench

When I joined the 6" quilt block swap, I really didn't understand how trying to make a 6" block would be challenging. The swap partner has the option to chose either or both the block and the color; or they can make it a block maker's choice. This month, my partner's request was for any block style in black and white.

I've been making my own sampler quilt using scraps of black and white (with a little color) in both the 12" and 6" sizes. It works for me to make the first trial block out of the fabrics I use for my own quilt. That way, if I run into any sort of quilting issue, I can work it out on my own materials. And that sort of happened with this Monkey Wrench pattern. The two black fabric points in the center don't quite touch, which also means the two white points don't touch either. There is so much fabric bulk in the center of the square, that I didn't risk moving the seam close enough to be on point.

I learned that there are four patterns called Monkey Wrench. 

Here is a pic of several wrenches. Legend says that many of the old quilt block patterns were used to tell instructional stories to folks who couldn't read. The Monkey Wrench was supposed to be the key telling folks to gather the tools they need for their journey (spiritual, mental, emotional or physical). Guess they needed to know all four patterns to get the message. None of the block patterns I found look like a wrench. I am going to give each one a chance before shipping them to my partner.

Using the word "risk" in quilting came as a surprise to me. When I think of how I have risked my life in various things I've done, like sky-diving, skiing, dog-sledding and other similar activities, that simple risks like sewing to the edge would come easily. They really aren't the same; a physical life-demanding action vs. sitting at a quilting machine.  With quilting, there is always the ripper for a do-over.

However, if we are to believe that quilts were made with messages guiding groups of people in the underground railroads and away from slavery, those days were filled with risk both for the quilt-maker who supposedly hung her work on a fence and the countless numbers of slaves running towards their freedom. The quilt-code theory is controversial and falls into the realm of folk lore. Yet..... 

Like any action we take, the first thing we put on the line is our intention. Our history is compelling, and if a modern quilter puts the intention into what she makes, then it is her reality. She gets to decide, her choice, her way, her rules.