Monday, 8 June 2015

Arrows - Red Sky at Night Quilt

I've felt challenged this week. My reflections about the seasons has continued from last week. It seems to come up in everything I'm reading, in conversations with friends, in my own thoughts as I sew, and change nappies, and drift off to sleep at night. It's like there's a lesson to be learned here, and it's not letting up until I've relented. Until I've understood it.

We've been reading The Long Winter together as a family the past couple of weeks, and oh my! The hope and determination those Ingalls insist upon, even in the face of freezing and starvation, leaves me feeling like a fraud. Here I am in my big comfortable home with plenty of firewood wishing the baby would hurry up and toilet train, and gee, it would be nice to be able to get take-away now and then. Thank you God for a baby to change and food to cook. 

I was talking to a friend this week about finding joy in the seasons. I've become pretty practiced with three children at saying, 'This too shall pass,' but if I don't learn to be thankful, to see beauty, to experience joy and determination now, and not just wait patiently, I'll always find something to complain about. I'll spend my whole life waiting. For the final nappy, the final child to learn to read, to leave home, to come back again because I miss them. 
My friend, in her mid 30s and single, interrupted my reflections, "Jodi, I long for those seasons. I wish I had the certainty of seasons!"And it struck me terribly that grief is like a Long Winter, or like, “always winter but never Christmas”. Uncertainty in this season and no assurance of the next. My life has followed the usual course of things, like a big arrow on a map saying, "YOU ARE HERE." But others I know are working without the map. And they seem to be better than me at living in this moment. While I'm learning patience and planning how I'll use the time when the kids are more independent, they're learning that what we expected to bring joy doesn't always fulfil it's promise, that joy is still possible in loss or the unplanned. 

There's a lovely simplicity in an arrow telling us where we are, and I certainly never want to take that for granted, but I also want to remember that this arrow, or the next, or the one after that, will not bring the promise of happiness, but will provide both challenges and gifts and opportunities for gratitude.

I altered this block from the Ozark Maple Leaf in The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt, and later found a blog post by Barbara Brackman about the Broad Arrow with a slightly different layout, and it's connection to imprisoned suffragettes in Britain in the early 1900s. This block wasn't published until 1940 in the US in Farm Journal, so I felt like the connection was a bit of a stretch. I do like Barbara's blog though!


You will need:

Red: Two 4.5" squares, two 4.5" x 2.5" rectangles, two 6.5" x 2.5" rectangles, four 2.5"squares.

White: Two 4.5" squares, two 4.5" x 2.5" rectangles, two 6.5" x 2.5" rectangles, four 2.5"squares.

1. Take the white 4.5" square, and place the red 2.5" square in one corner. Stitch diagonally through the square.

2. Take another red square and stitch it on the opposite side as below.

3. Trim the excess on each side 1/4" from the seam.

4. Repeat the process with the other 4.5" white square, and with the 4.5" red squares and small white squares.

5. Sew the red 4.5" x 2.5" rectangle below the 4.5" square. Press toward the rectangle. Repeat for the other arrows.

6. Sew the 6.5" rectangle to the other side with the diagonal line pointing into the strips. Press toward the rectangles. Repeat with the other arrows.

7. Lay out your arrows. I liked the look of all the arrows facing in. You can play with your layout. The original Ozark Maple Leaf had the white arrows facing out.

8. Stitch the first two arrows together, then the last two. And then sew the final seam.

When I imagine this block saying YOU ARE HERE, I do feel a sense of peace and gratitude. But I also hope if this road goes off the map, if the winter gets long, that I'll still find reasons to play the fiddle like Pa Ingalls.


  1. I love the photo one the rail fence... gorgeous! and a reflective post to boot; having just gone through a massive and unexpected life change, I am slowly learning " that joy is still possible in loss or the unplanned." Thanks for a post that got me thinking.

  2. Until you used the word "arrow" I had not seen an arrow in the block. Instead I saw a kind of modified union jack.
    Your thoughts on the seasons are interesting.

  3. Lovely post, Jodi. I know very much what you're talking about. It can be the hardest thing in the world to find joy in this moment where we're standing, and it's something I'm constantly learning how to do, step by step by imperfect step. Hugs to you, my friend.

  4. Great square. Beautifully written as well. xx

  5. Oh that was so quick and so satisfying to put together! Hurray! Thanks Jodi xxx


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx