In November 2014, the lovely Guylty shared a very touching post about a tree planting ceremony that was held in Germany by the local historical society in remembrance of her father. Her children were asked to plant the tree, and the tree chosen was a Ginkgo tree. Guylty shared a bit about her father, and his history as a refugee during WWII… memories that touched me and stayed with me long after I’d read the post. At the time, I was pretty new to the Armitage community, but the more I came to know her through comment threads, her blog writings, and her many efforts to support various charities, the fonder and fonder I became! An idea began to germinate in my mind that I’d like to make a quilt for her, and I knew that the ginkgo tree would always have special meaning for her.
I began actively looking for a beautiful quilt fabric that showed a ginkgo tree in early 2015, but soon learned that no such fabric was available either online or in local fabric stores. There were a lot of nice fabrics that had trees, and a lot of nice fabrics that had ginkgo leaves, but I
stubbornly wanted an entire, beautiful ginkgo tree. I looked into printing my own fabric with a ginkgo tree, but licensing fees for all the really nice professional photos of ginkgo trees were outrageous. I thought about asking Guylty for permission to use one of her photos of the actual tree, but then she’d have been curious as to why, and I wanted this to be a surprise.
Then in the summer of 2015, I began thinking about going a different route, maybe trying an abstract art quilt and creating the ginkgo tree from different fabrics in a collage. I was looking at online photos of ginkgo-themed quilts, and came across a beautiful pattern called “Ginkgo Blues” on a fellow quilter’s blog. She’d posted a photo of the magazine she’d obtained the pattern from, and I was able to track down the magazine with the pattern online. I found that the quilt was designed by a contemporary quilt artist from Australia named Nicole Bridges.
I loved the quilt, which was wall-hanging size. My problem was, I didn’t really know too much about Guylty’s preferences as far as her favorite colors. (That’s the problem with online overseas friendships!) I google-searched stuff like “Guylty Pleasure My Favorite Color” and came up with a lot of other fandom members’ favorite colors in comment threads on her RAPS posts… but Guylty herself never helpfully chimed in with “Oh, yes, blue/green/red/purple is my favorite color, too!”
That’s when I decided to reach out to Suzy, who conferred with cRAmerry, who’d actually met Guylty in person, and together they helped me settle upon red. They shared a photo she’d tweeted that showed a red sofa in her home, and said she’d seemed to like a red/purple scarf that was given to her as a gift. I also felt, from a comprehensive review of her RAPS photos, that Guylty used a lot of red in her craft-work. So I really hope Guylty doesn’t hate her sofa, or only likes the color red as it pertains to a blingy background for Richard Armitage!
At first I thought I’d whip that quilt out in time for her birthday, but Hannibal’s Francis Dolarhyde kind of got in the way of that when I found myself spending all my free time watching him, screen-capping him, and blogging exhaustively about him for weeks on end. When that was over, I realized I should finish my aunt’s quilt before embarking upon a new project, so that took a few weeks to wrap up, and then I was ready to start! I’d already shopped fabrics and was all set to go, but there was the minor problem of learning the technique of applique needed to apply the many
tens of thousands of ginkgo leaves to the quilt.
Suffice it to say, I spent about one afternoon piecing the background, and then several decades appliqueing the leaves! I learned something, too… I’m completely crappy at applique! Even after all those leaves! I have simply instructed Guylty not to examine the leaves very closely… unless she needs a good laugh! LOL
However, after many marathon quilting sessions, I did eventually finish the leaf appliques. I really like how it turned out, with the color-wash effect of darker to lighter greens transitioning into yellows. In my mind, this represents the seasons of life and the changing of generations, which seemed very suitable for a remembrance quilt.
I could have left it wall-hanging size, but felt that if I added a bigger border than the pattern called for, it would be just about right for a lap quilt. I then spent a couple of weeks trying to figure out what fabric would best tie it all together, and finally settled on a light green inner border, then a dark red, then a really interesting outer border that looks a little like a beautiful sunset and brings out the yellows of the ginkgo leaves.
Once my borders were on, I settled on a soft and snuggly red flannel for the back, and Mom and I quilted it the first weekend in January, and off it went to Ireland… only a year after the idea first occurred to me! LOL
Although I’m not likely to do the applique thing again anytime soon, I was rather proud of myself for completing this little quilt, and pleased with the final product. I hope it brings you pleasure, Guylty, and warm memories of your father. (((Hugs!!))