Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Pinwheel - Red Sky at Night Quilt

I love sewing pinwheels. They are my favourite way to use a half square triangle. They remind me of my childhood, but I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps they just remind me of childhood itself.
Now that we've finished the Little House on the Prairie series, we've started reading Anne of Green Gables together. Seven year old Tully has fallen completely in love with her, as have we all. Her delightful imagination and certainty, despite her difficult upbringing has us all feeling like it really is a special thing to be lost in thought, wracked with emotion, or have our hearts skip a beat at a glorious sunset or beautiful cherry blossom.

At one point in the story, Anne complains at needing to do her patchwork, insisting that it doesn't allow any scope for imagination. Tully looked straight at me and asked what I thought. Of course I disagreed! Though I found it hard to explain why. Anyone can copy these half square triangles in this order. It doesn't take any imagination at all to copy a pattern. But for some reason, these pinwheels take me somewhere. They make me feel something akin to breathing in that cherry tree. They make me want to make a whole quilt of them for my bed, so I can go to sleep like a child again.
The other night, as we were listening together, and I was cleaning the kitchen after dinner, I looked over, and noticed Tully completely distraught!
"What's wrong?!" I asked, worried. It's rare to see him this upset.
Gilbert Blithe, who had earlier teased young Anne for her red hair, and who was now trying to apologise, had given Anne a sweet as a peace offering. Anne, willful and slow to forgive, had taken the lolly, thrown it on the floor, and crushed it under her shoe. Tully couldn't believe it.
"Every time (sob) I think about how Gilbert must have (sob) felt, it makes me feel..." The rest of the sentence was lost in tears. Poor, dear, wonderful boy.
And I felt terrible later, but I laughed. But not because I thought he was silly, or even funny, but because his dear heart, wracked with emotion, made me so glad for the privilege of being his mother, made me glad for our messy, chaotic brood, surrounded by quilts and green hills, and never enough clean clothes. Childhood is a beautiful, heartbreaking, confusing thing. But we were getting through it okay so far.


You will need:

Red: Five 4.5" squares.

White: Nine 4.5" squares.

1. Match the red squares to five white squares and sew around each one.

2. Cut diagonally through the squares in each direction. Press them open.

3. Trim to 2.5".

4. Arrange five lots of four half square triangles into little pinwheels as above. Sew them together in pairs. Press and sew those pairs together into pinwheels.

5. Arrange your block as above, and sew into rows. Press seams towards the plain white squares.

Pinwheel isn't a complicated or clever block, but I do think it's charming. One of the earliest designs to be published, it's carried names like Flutter Wheel, Windmill, and Clover Leaf, all giving the impression of something lighthearted, simple and lovely. It's tempting in a big sample quilt like this one to choose the most unique or complex designs, but I've been pleasantly surprised to find that the old favourites and faithfuls sit best in a mix with the others. They don't compete or make it too busy. And I like that they have been made for over 100 years. Often, that's the only scope for imagination I need!


  1. Great post. My daughter just left for college and she went with a lithograph poster of ann of green gables. Really cool. Lithographs.com http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0098/1582/products/gables-2_1024x1024.jpeg?v=1404880282

  2. Your quilt is going to hold some wonderful memories for you! xx

  3. I'm loving learning to embrace our chaos! My favourite Anne quote is "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it." I think Miss Stacy says it to her? Xx

  4. I love boys! What a sweetheart Tully surely is :) pinwheels, and HSTs are my perennial favorite as well :)


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