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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Where Poppies Grow

Yes, it's been a while since I posted but I have had a boatload of things going on keeping me away from blogging.

Back in January I decided to work on a second Block of the Month project, "Where Poppies Grow" which is being presented by the Kansas City Star Quilts in conjunction with Pickle Dish. The following is taken directly from the Pickle Dish site:
"Denniele O’Kell Bohannon of Louanna Mary Quilt Design in Harrisonville, Mo., and Janice Britz of Bee Merry Farms in Peculiar, Mo., designed this year’s quilt as a remembrance of Almo Ebenezer O’Kell, Bohannon’s great-grandfather.
Angela Walters of Quilting Is My Therapy in Kearney, Mo., did the free-motion quilting."

The project is a tribute to those who served in World War I. Each month there is a story based on letters home written by Almo Ebenezer O'Kell who was the Great-Grandfather of designer Denniele Bohannon.

My Grandfather, James Patrick Coughlan, served in World War I with the New Zealand Army 1st Battalion (Otago) which was stationed in a variety of locations in Belgium from 1916 to 1918 and thus I have a particular family connection to the spirit of this project. Flanders Fields Where Poppies Grow is in Belgium and my Grandfather spent much of his time in service there.

 This is the January block Father's Choice. Grandpop's battalion completed a tour of duty on the Cordonnerie line (SW of Armentieres) on January 24, 1917. Many Australian troops had also seen service in that area.

The blocks are a combination of piecing with an applique Laurel Wreath surrounding each block. I have gotten the piecing portion done but I want to do the applique by hand and have not made a start on that yet. My official reason is because I am waiting until I have a few months of blocks made to better judge whether my applique will use a scrappy approach or stick with just one color of leaf. (More on that later in this post). But the real truth is that I have just been too busy to get to it yet.

 The February block Love Entangled. In February 1917 Grandpop was in Bois Grenier a very frosty and foggy area in Flanders.

The original quilt for this project is done in red, white and blue but I have chosen to make mine based on the dress uniform colors of the NZ Army from that era. For color and topic I will also use a poppy fabric in each block. As well as being the name of the quilt project the poppy is a well known emblem of remembrance in New Zealand for those who served in World Wars.

 The March block Dog Tooth Violet - this is a very pleasing block to my eye. On March 14, 1917 Grandpop's battalion marched out of Nieppe and into Messines which was to become the site of one of the most famous battles of WWI.

The three blocks together along with an authentic hat albeit from the Australian Army - the two countries were very close in service and colors. The color is very difficult to find in fabric - if you are in the brown section you say, no, I need to go look in the green section but when you get there it's apparent you are still not in the right color family. Sometimes the Japanese taupe fabrics are a good match. You might have seen a crazed shopper in many area quilt shops as well as hitting up all the vendor booths at a recent large quilt show - I carry along the hat and use it to select fabrics. Of course, as is typical for me, I now have enough fabric to make several quilts in this colorway.

My main background fabric is from the P & B Textiles Suede collection. I will make the blocks as given but I will be doing a border of my own design. My younger sister is soon to visit from New Zealand and I have charged her (a non-quilter) with bringing me some yardage of a New Zealand icon fabric  which I hope to use in the appliqued laurel wreath (there, another reason I can't start the applique yet!)

If you would like to know more about this project - and maybe even make one for yourself - then go here.
A new block is posted each third Sunday of the month.

I must also mention my great admiration of the research done by my older sister, Kerry, who was working on a history of the service years of Grandpop when she passed away in October 2013.

My work on this project is dedicated to the memory of both my Grandpop, James Patrick Coughlan and my sister, Kerry (Coughlan) Payne.


Cheryl Kotecki said...

Your tan/khaki/taupe fabrics are beautiful but with the poppy fabric in the center, this is really going to be a spectacular sampler, Dorry. Amazing. I hope you - (or someone in the family) - have Kerry's files. You know that family history is important in my book, and the internet it great but I expect that Kerry's proximity to the sources might have given you some unique details.

Judy said...

I really like your choice of colours. The brown/green is a tricky fabric to find. Sightseeing with Kerry on a visit to NZ, I was privileged to hear a few snippets of family history. The history behind our quilts adds the depth to our art and design.
I look forward to keeping up with this quilt as well.
You have inspired me to dig a little deeper with my Russian father.

Denniele said...

What a delicious color scheme you have made the blocks in. I was excited to find your blocks. When the book comes out in September, I hope you will smile when you see there is a quilt in it pieced by a kiwi. :)
Denniele of Louanna Mary Quilt Design