Friday, November 2, 2018

Woods of Whimsy

I have a finish.


But let's start at the beginning.
When I made All Spruced Up, Julie of QuiltDivaJulie left a comment on the post.

Julie's comment - I want to make one of these - debating whether to go with the Christmas approach or make one for the rest of the year (perhaps rainbow colors for RSC next year).

Me - Try small print florals. It will look like a spring garden. I may just have to try that.

Julie's response - I LOVE IT — what a superb idea! I had thought about autumn trees since I have lots of oranges, browns, golds, rusts, and reds … you do spring and I’ll do fall.
The gauntlet was thrown. The challenge accepted.

Initial Fabric Pull

Grey Background

These should work

When I made my very first tree block pair, I had used Amy's method using two 8.5" squares.  That makes two trees - one positive and one negative.  In this case I wanted to make only floral trees on a dark background. A dark tree on a floral background (negative version) would be eerie, like a ghost of a tree in a garden.

I needed a new strategy.
Instead of cutting out fabric, I cut out shapes from freezer paper (FP) - a tree, a left triangle and a right triangle that fit neatly.  I numbered them 1.
I repeated the process, slightly varying the cuts and numbered these 2.

Set 1

Set 2

Now I could use the tree shaped (FP) unit to cut trees from my focus prints and use the side triangle (FP) units from the background fabrics.

This also allowed me to use fabrics that were smaller than 8.5". Scraps!!!! Yay!!!

FP templates - Trees

FP Templates - Backgrounds


I trudged along slowly.

After I made about a dozen trees with the dark/gray background, I put them on the design wall. I stepped away and reviewed. 
The idea seemed terrific inside my brain. Not so much on the design wall.
It was a very dark place. I needed to get away from it.

Using scraps

Low Volume Backgrounds

I switched to a light background and made trees. Much better.

Much better


Fun Background

More trees grew out of the initial success.

Paul: Are you making a day forest or a night forest?
Me: Well it started at night, but now the sun has come up. Things are brighter now.
Paul: I don't like the grey trees.
Me: Yeah, I am not so keen about them either.
Paul: So what will you do with these blocks?
Me: May be I can throw the dark trees in between the light ones. 
Paul (aghast): Randomly?
Me: Not sure. I can use them on the back to make a pieced backing. May be.

And then it came to me. A forest of light with darkness held back at the edges.

Edge of Darkness

I needed 100 trees, 36 with dark background and 64 with light background.

I also wanted to add an element of whimsy to the quilt.
A fallen tree idea was considered and discarded.
A crashed plane in the woods? No, not feeling it.
A house in the woods? Blah.

But if there was a small clearing in the woods and some farm animals - cows, sheep and chickens - wandered there to graze.  That will work.

Touch of Whimsy

I am sure that they will return to the farm at nightfall.
They are not lost, just wandering. 


The flimsy was finished. It has 99 tree blocks and one block of whimsy.

Finished Flimsy

I set it aside to focus on the Colorwash 360 class.
I completed the Colorwash layout on Thursday and decided to return to my trees.

Love these trees

Light shining through

On Friday, I cut the batting, ironed the flimsy making sure that seams were not twisted, pressed the backing and layered the batting on top of the backing, smoothing as I went.  As I reached for the basting spray, I realized that the can was only half full.  I'd need a new can to complete the basting.  I set the sandwich aside and made the binding.

Red Backing, Green Binding

Green Binding Works

On Saturday I bought a new can of basting spray and finished basting.  I cleaned the bobbin area, put on the walking foot, changed the needle to 90/14, and switched threads from 50wt (for piecing) to 40wt (for quilting).

I began quilting. While NPR played in the back, I thought - if I can quilt one column in about 45 minutes, then the whole thing should be done in 3 days. Perfect!!!

Quilting in process

Threads to bury

A beep on the phone made me look at it. And I saw the horrible, devastating, and gut-wrenching news.

Eleven people were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Tree of Life? Tree???

Me: Oh no.
Paul: Sup babe?
Me: A mass shooting at a synagogue called "Tree of Life" in Pittsburgh.
Paul: I just saw.
Me: Here I am making a tree quilt when I see this "Tree of Life" news.
Paul: Coincidence. 
Me: I believe the universe just screamed in my face. Pay attention.
Paul: You always pay attention.
Me: Just for once, I wish the universe would stop talking to me. Because my ears are bleeding from the cacophony.

I cried, we hugged.

Paul: It was going to be loud when so many people died. 
Me: Why can I not be indifferent to this stuff, just like so many others?
Paul: Because you care.
Me: It keeps happening. I cannot stop it, no matter how strongly I feel about it.
Paul: Maybe not alone. But together with others, we can stop it.

At this time, I had to put away the quilt, turn off the machine and cry for the senseless loss of life.

Eventually the quilting was completed.  I set aside the green binding and chose a black binding to express my grief and anger.

Black Binding

Finished Quilt - 71" by 92"

Trees of Life

Quilting Texture


Hope you find your way back

I have also decided to change the quilt's name from "Woods of Whimsy" to "Trees of Life" with the hope that the misguided and wandering souls may find their way home to peace and eternal life.

Darkness is always with us

And Light will destroy the darkness

My favorite tree
And this too

Thank you Rekha

I will share with all my usual linky parties but I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Please let me know I am not alone.

P.S. I am going to a nearby synagogue this evening to participate in the solidarity service. No, I am not Jewish. I don't have to be.  Paul insists on accompanying me.


  1. You have said it so well, I have no words to add except to agree with your thoughts on senseless shootings. I love “the edge of darkness”. The dark tress around the outside really set off the light trees in the centre.

  2. Your quilt is beautiful and I love what you said about the light destroying the darkness. Let there be peace in the hearts of man.

  3. No, Preeti, you are not alone. I love your Trees of Life quilt, and how thoughtful you are about everything. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings so eloquently!

  4. You are not alone. And this quilt? Not a coincidence. Its beautiful and happy, like so many things in life. But I love the dark background trees that remind us that there is darkness out there amid the beautiful and happy and we can't let it take over.

  5. Trees of life indeed! All that joy in the center, holding back the darkness. You are not alone! And remember-- Tuesday is coming, and we all know what comes after that! A beautiful quilt, and I love the cows in the pasture, too.

  6. Perfect quilt for this week. It is beautiful. You are not alone! Many of us are afraid to speak up or post how we feel because of the repercussions. Voting is the answer for change and I pray we will see light at the end of this dark tunnel after the elections. Thank you for sharing with us. mary

  7. I love this quilt, outs fun and so full of love.

  8. There are many of us who are overwhelmed by the constant barrage of horrifying news. I'm glad you have a whimsy block in your "Tree of Life" quilt. It's a good reminder that there is always something good and bright if we can see beyond the trees in front of us.

  9. That is such a crazy coincidence Preeti. Eerie really. You are not alone at all - it is beyond comprehension - all of the violence.... Your Tree of Life quilt is gorgeous and filled with meaning. What a great post.

  10. Fabulous quilt...colors are fun. great job !

  11. Marvelous quilt, just marvelous, in both design and intention.

    Is it just me, or do others do what I call "rage quilting" when the world's ills get to be too much? Either slicing fabric or sewing really long seams with my pedal to the floor on my sewing machine.

  12. Trees of Life is a beautiful quilt, Preeti. So many of us are reeling now at the emboldened haters and their untethered words and deeds. I had planned to make a table runner with these trees, but now I’m thinking that an entire quilt would be more soothing. (Hugs)

  13. Your quilts bring healing. Thank you.

  14. Your beautiful quilt is full of life, like the beautiful souls who left that horrible day in synagogue. I’m not sure forgiveness is possible for such evil doing. But your passion and care, along with that of so many others, shines in your trees.

  15. This quilt will always be a memorial quilt for you, Preeti, and for those of us who know the story behind it. You are not alone. I think that no matter our differences, we all feel the hurt and pain when something horrific like this happens. Quilting reminds me that despite the ugly things of the world, beauty still exists, as does love. Thanks for sharing, Preeti.

    1. I agree with what you said, Wendy. And I loved reading the story of your Trees of Life quilt Preeti. Your heart and kindness echo what many of us are thinking and feeling. Hugs!!

  16. I LOVE your Woods of Whimsy quilt, Preeti! I especially like that you used the same block with a dark background for your border! It's very striking and makes me smile. Congratulations!

  17. Just beautiful, in both meaning and workmanship. I applaud you for speaking out when too many are bystanders. Wishing you peace from Canada.

  18. I liked the quilt even before I heard its story. This is so special. It can be a true memorial to the souls whose lives were ended in such tragedy.

  19. You are not alone, Preeti. Just more eloquent than many--most--of us. I need to remember that Light conquers the Darkness, but it has become so hard to hope in that. Thank you for sharing your quilt and how it has taken on a new meaning and for your outspoken words of wisdom in your last post.

  20. Hugs to you Preeti. This tree block is in my to do list since I saw your All Spruced Up. Love your spring version even more.

  21. Quite amazing, from its original concept to its renaming. I think you should do anTree of Life Block drive for quilts for victims families.

  22. Beautiful! Your "Tree of Life" is so lovely and you've touched my heart.

  23. Amazing quilt. I love the prints in the first photo. It was sad to hear about the shooting. I like the name Tree of Life.

  24. I really like the way you used the dark backgrounds to act as a border - and your overlap of the horrific event and the finishing of your quilt gave me goose bumps.

  25. Thank you for caring. Thank you for hearing the world as it speaks. Thank you for giving yourself in a manner which speaks volumes about your intergity, your compassion and your values.(Thank you to Paul as well.). You are doing so much for sharing this with us.
    With Gratitude and Respect, ct

  26. This was not the Universe screaming at you. This was the Universe putting out a finger and saying "You. I've chosen You to make a fitting requiem, to make a Tree of Life quilt where happiness and joy defeat the darkness". Keep listening, because the Universe keeps looking for people of compassion to say these things loudly and eloquently.

  27. I like what Kate Chiconi said to you. Your finished and rename are perfect. The Universe will continue to talk to those who care because it can't seem to get through to those that incite and even take power from the violence.
    xx, Carol

  28. Love your the quilt! The dark trees look great with the lighter center.

  29. What a gorgeous quilt! I am inspired to try something similar.

  30. You have such an amazing eye for color and design. I really like the name change to. I love to see your quits Preeti.

  31. Very pretty quilt, and I love the special block ;) Beautiful black border, and you were right to sew a black binding. You heart is full of love, keep it.

  32. This is a beautiful quilt, and with the dark border, it serves as a great reminder that inside the darkness we will find light.

  33. It's a wonderful quilt. I'm glad you went with the lighter background but I love the darker border around the trees.

  34. I echo the previous comments. Your quilts are wonderful and wonderfully made. Thank you for your thoughts. You are not alone!

  35. I love this quilt, and I think I really like the black around the light - and your words, about the light overshadowing the darkness. It is a beautiful quilt, and beautiful sentiments. I too, do not know how to reconcile all this.... But continue to be a light, and maybe for a few you will be the change that they need <3

  36. A beautiful and fitting tribute to a senseless and violent act that impacts us all. Thank you.

  37. You are absolutely not alone Preeti. The downside of having a big caring heart is you feel things like senseless shootings so deeply.

    Your dark border really frames the the center nicely. Lovely finish. Thanks for sharing with Oh Scrap!

  38. Preeti, as others have said, you are not alone. And there are more of us than them. I don't know the answer, either, but it starts with going to vote on Tuesday. There is good in this world and you are a shining example of that. I love the quilt.

  39. Hugs. Very cute quilt with a great name. I'm so tired of turning on the news and seeing more people's lives ruined by someone going on a shooting rampage. And quilting does help us and others too. Thanks for sharing.

  40. Oh my friend, you are such a good, peaceful soul. Like so many others I want you to know you're not alone. It's terrifying, unless we each bring some peace and joy to the world. Everyone who read this post is already doing their part. Try to remember that as you send your special love out into the world.
    As for the quilt. The story is awesome and the quilt is beautiful. Every little tree, the whimsy, the use of scraps. All of it--beautiful and inspiring. Hugs

  41. Thank you for being a peaceful influence on this troubled world. Love your quilt.

  42. Love the dark border and the White trees in the middle! Beautiful quilt. Many hugs xo

  43. You are amazing! The trees are beautiful with the low volume background, but the border of the dark background was brilliant!

  44. Another fun, adorable quilt! Great job Preeti!

  45. What a nice quilt, and I love the straight line quilting.

  46. I enjoyed reading about your construction and decisions. It's always hard when horrors happen. Worse now that Intolerance, bigotry, misogyny, and racism have official sanctions. We need to love and support each other. Thanks for leading the way.

  47. A great demonstration how a false start can lead to an even better finish. It's a gorgeous quilt, with a lot of whimsy, love the cows in the meadow. You aren't alone, it's completely baffling to me how others can hate so much. I sat through a supervisor training class at work on how to identify signs and symptoms of someone who might seek to replicate Pittsburgh. I appreciate the training, but mourn the the fact my company thinks we need it to help keep people safe.

  48. A lovely quilt. Words fail me when I hear of things happening in our world today. In fact another very sad and painful time for the families who were caught up in the latest shooting. It is so tragic. We should show an example by loving each other. Thank you for your sensitivity.

  49. lovely happy jolly quilt, but such terrible things in the world. Like yourself, my ears hurt with it all

  50. Just love your quilt, inspirational! So many terrible happenings in the world; man’s injustice to man shocks me. Thank you for sharing the story of your quilt. X

  51. What a beautiful tribute, Preeti. Our world is indeed a forest of light with darkness held back at the edges, but the darkness keeps trying to storm the forest and destroy the light. There was a shooting at one of our local high schools, one student brought a gun to school and killed another student in a hallway fight that other kids were recording video on their phones but none of them called for help, right after the Tree of Life massacre; and then the shooting at the college bar in California right after that... What will you do with your Tree of Life Quilt?

  52. I All ways enjoy your blogs Preeti, to day you were making me smile and then I was so sad, for you and all the families who lost loved ones at the shooting, so so very sad. Your quilt turned out so well I loved the journey it took, and you cows and sheep made it an extra special quilt, great texture in the quilting. It is a quilt that will all ways make you sad and happy. Cheers Glenda.

  53. Thank you for a beautiful memorial. This Synagogue is part of my childhood and although I've been gone for more than 50 years, I still have connections there. Your quilt with light holding back dark truly speaks to my feelings

  54. what an absolutely beautiful quilt, and what a touching story. I like to think that each tree represents a soul. I am a quilter, not as good as you. would you share your pattern, I would like to make one.... Thank you so much for sharing your quilt and your tribute to the souls that are now in Heaven...

  55. Love this quilt ! Saw it at the Quilt show at Dulles Expo yesterday and it was so beautiful The tribute is so touching.
    I am inspired to try this is in a smaller scale with your instructions ��

  56. I really like the dark background trees which forms a border for the light centre setting if off beautifully. There are lots of your little touches too, which are guaranteed to bring a smile. This is a timely post for me, I have been looking to start a tree quilt and there are lots of tips here for me.
    No Preeti, you are not alone, your thoughts are mirrored throughout the world. I have faith there is so much more good in the world than bad and it will prevail.