Friday, April 30, 2021

A Funny Thing Happened on my Way to a Vaccination Quilt

Here's what I just made, instead of a quilt

There are two immutable quilting laws that correspond to Murphy's law: (1) Your bobbin is low; and, (2) Anything that can look like a phallic symbol, will.

The latter law kicked in when I decided I needed to make a quilt that would encourage people to get vaccinated.  I'd been thinking a lot about about friends who struggle with needle phobia, but desperately want a vaccine. I admire their courage, and want to thank and encourage them and others.

Would it be possible to make a quilt with friendly-looking hypodermics? I started by reviewing photos online.  I did some drawings, like this one.

The vertical lines on the lower image show that I was testing whether I could turn this into a Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP) pattern. But it was way too complex. Also, ideally, I wanted a pattern that could be improvisational (I have a measuring phobia). 

I also thought it might be fun to arrange needles in a circle - which meant wedge-shaped needles.

All those thoughts led to this: 
About 30 of them could turn into something like this: 

It looked good in my graphic design program! But when I made a couple,  I wound up with...
Swords. Carrot Swords. You know, carrots with sword-shaped handles, like vegetarian Vikings used. (None were found at archeological sites, because they composted).

Back to the drawing board. Clearly, hypodermic chambers are unrecognizable when wedge-shaped. I changed the pattern to make the body a rectangle, but with long narrow background (white) wedges on both horizontal sides). I FPP'd one.
First run:
I screwed up the long white edges there - they should have been longer. Worse, with the tiny pieces, this was no fun, and I wouldn't want to make 5, let alone 30.

So forget the wedges - I was back to rectangles, simplified further.
Instead of FPP these, I measured and cut fabric strips for each piece, and chain pieced them to make these: 
I did mess up the grey placement on the handles (the dark greys should form an intact H, not a broken one.) But that was okay, I told myself - the weird handles looked kind of artsy  To solve the bigger problem of needles being too thin to piece, I planned to embroider a line of thick floss, emerging from each tip, shooting across the white rectangle.

Are you sensing where this is going? When I put this collection up on my design wall....
I'm sorry. I cannot NOT see phallic symbols here, inexplicably linked to broken letter "H"s (or "I's"), for some kind of profound statement on ego and sexuality.

Argh! I thought long and hard (no pun intended) about what I wanted to say, and then I went back to my graphics program and made the meme at the top of the page. I don't think any of the needles it depicts could be construed as X-rated unless your mind has been hopelessly sullied by reading this blog post. 

I don't know if I'll ever turn these scraps into a vaccination quilt. Maybe a Viking quilt?


  1. You are on the right track. I like your top poster, the images are good. The sentiment is catchy. I don't see phallic, well maybe a little after you mentioned it. Maybe one hypodermic a band aid, a mask, the covid virus, a gold star for doing a good job. Keep it going, Cathy. Yay!

    1. Thanks, Jane, I don't know, I think the meme might be sufficient! Although a band aid and mask might make it more obvious that we're not discussing reproductive technologies!


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