Monday, February 6, 2012

I think about plaid

The trip between Houston and New Orleans takes anywhere from 5.5 hours (if you leave at, say, 5 am on a Saturday) to 7 hours (if there's construction at Baton Rouge, where there invariably is. When my son and I were caught one time in a particularly snarled traffic jam en route to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, I suggested that the intersection of I-10 and US 290 in west Houston must be the worst spot for driving in the world. At age 12, my son had no experience in the driver's seat, but he remembered well the bladder-kicking he took in the back seat as we spent nearly an hour negotiating a two-mile section of Baton Rouge freeway. So on this rodeo night, he said, "No, the worst traffic is in Beirut." "Beirut?" I asked. "When have you been to Beirut?" "Oh, I mean Baton Rouge." I read once that the typical round trip commute in Beirut takes three hours, so maybe my son is more attuned to worldwide comparative traffic messes than I could imagine.)

On our Lousiana driving trips, my husband I would take turns at the wheel. He is an avid reader of history who seems to recall every word on the page. We were returning from New Orleans and I was doing the 60-minute stretch to Baton Rouge when he started to tell me, nearly verbatim, about the book "1491," which imagines what the Americas were like before Columbus. For the first five minutes or so, I was able to split my attention between the road and the story, but eventually I did the only thing I could to keep my focus on safety and restrain myself from pitching us off the road just to get him to stop.

I started thinking about plaid.

I like plaid. I've liked plaid since Ann Schumacher, the little girl next door when I was 5, started going to parochial school and wore a navy plaid skirt. I like that plaid can be sedate or playful, and I especially like it when the crossbarred pattern changes hue where two colors intersect. I like mixing plaids with dots and florals. It makes me happy.

In his book, "Passionate Patchwork," Kaffe Fassett uses plaids and stripes to great effect. Inspired by his quilts, I started collecting plaid and striped fabric. I used some of the stripes in this quilt:
This was an extremely fun quilt to make, and I'm really pleased with the secondary patterns that developed from combining light and dark fabrics. (This is for sale at, if you're interested.)

Now, I'm experimenting with plaids. In order to stretch my creative muscles (i.e., make it harder on myself), I decided to sew brightly colored plaids into a log cabin pattern. I'm working with about 30 different plaids; Each log cabin block has five different plaids in it. The center from one block becomes the outermost band on the next block, and so on.

Here are a few of the blocks I've completed, which I think will make a colorful, fun quilt for a baby or child.

1 comment:

  1. Did you ever read Plaids & Stripes by Roberta Horton? If not you can borrow it from me. You would like it, I think. I love plaids, too. They are not as common as they were when I started quilting, unfortunately.