Aether Quilt

A rainbow of color against the Blue Ridge mountains.

My husband and I took a much needed vacation a few weeks ago. Just the two of us. We hadn’t had time alone since before the pandemic began, really, and we were so grateful to spend 4 days at our favorite bed and breakfast in Blowing Rock, NC.

Before we left, I was determined to bring this quilt with me. I wanted photos of it in the Blue Ridge Mountains. These mountains bring me calm, and I’ve always felt a special connection to them. They remind me of some of the greatest times in my childhood. Summer camp. Rafting down Deep Creek. Seeing Unto These Hills (three times if anyone is counting). Picking wild blackberries with my cousins. It’s truly where I long to be and hope that, one day, I’ll wake up here every morning.

On our drive up, meandering through the hills, my mind wandered to all sorts of things. The scenery. The serenity. The smell – there’s a unique smell in the mountains – I can’t describe it but it’s there. I pondered names for my quilt and was brought back to words used by an old friend of mine when she needs to reconnect with herself, her kids or God. She says she needs to go searching for water. I thought long and hard about that and how, if at all, I could tie my sense of searching for calm in the mountains and a search for water into the name of this quilt.

This quilt is a lesson in patience, collaboration and contemplation. I was inspired to make an Orange Peel quilt when Sally Kelly’s Solstice line came out last year and I promptly purchased a bundle. I adore her designs and was elated when the fabrics arrived. The fabrics sat for a while as I gathered my thoughts on how to make the quilt. I started to pull fabrics from my collection. I stared at the stack and processed some more.

As is often the case when I make a quilt, I don’t usually have a complete plan. I have an idea. A direction. A concept. I never know how the quilt will look until I finish. I let the process guide me. I start, stop, pivot, then start again. It’s how I create and I’ve learned to honor this method.

When I finally started to cut Orange Peels from my fabrics, I carefully arranged them on my design wall. I’d audition pieces. I’d cut more. I’d move the shapes around. Many made the cut. Many are waiting off stage for another project.

I created a beautiful rainbow and let it sit on my wall as I auditioned fabrics for the background. I wanted more than a solid. I knew this quilt needed it, so it sat for a bit as I played around waiting for the perfect fit.

Enter a lesson in collaboration and contemplation. I was on the phone with a friend one day and she saw the quilt in process on my design wall. We were discussing background options and I shared a few pieces that I was considering, though not loving, and I admitted that I was stuck. Jennifer sent me a half yard bundle of each of her SKY Ombré collections in the spring. I’d thought about using them but didn’t want to cut into the good stuff. I was saving it for something special

As it turns out, this was the something special. Inspired after our call, I immediately started cutting into the fabric. Her insistence to cut into her ombré fabrics was spot on.

Learning to listen and finding Inspiration from listening. This quilt is more than the sum of its parts; it’s a little piece of magic. There is always a lesson in designing; always something to learn. My quilts are a part of me and my story, my life. They provide therapy, creative outlet and, hopefully, inspiration and joy for those who see them. The florals are favorites. Most, but not all, are from Kaffe Fassett and friends. Some are old. Some are new. All are beautiful. The ombrés made these florals sing. A beautiful chorus of color, movement, faith, patience and art combined. These mountains bring me calm. A place to quiet my mind. They inspire me and they summon me here. The perfect backdrop. The perfect place. A rainbow nestled in the mountains

The quilt finishes at 70” x 70” and the pattern is available as a pdf download in my Etsy shop.

Published by Patty Murphy

Designer. Quilter. Fabric Hoarder.

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