No matter how many quilts a quilter has made, I suspect the first one for the first grandchild is always special. I was still a new-ish quilter when that occasion came along for me. New-ish, a little idealistic, and, perhaps, slightly overeducated. I ended up choosing Kaffe Fassett’s “Light and Dark Checkerboard Quilt” from the inspiring book, Quilt Road (Rowan Yarns, 2005).
I picked this design for two reasons. The first was that it’s largely black and white in a simple geometric design, which is, to the best of our knowledge, what babies see first. I envisioned long, peaceful hours of a laughing baby lying on the quilt, happily studying my perfectly pieced checkerboard. Secondly, I imagined that a one patch quilt of squares all the same size would be easy to piece.
Oh, there was a third reason, too. This baby was born in Scotland and, across the wee pond, they don’t generally reveal the gender of the baby before birth!
It’s a great quilt if you’re inclined toward pink or blue, which I’m not really, but don’t know which to choose. And I still believe in the whole black and white thing. I put some blacks and whites into almost every baby quilt I make. This might have been a bit more than was strictly necessary, especially when I discovered that a one patch quilt like this, where every piece needs to go in a very specific pattern was not as easy as I imagined. I do think there are some personality issues in this. Suffice it to say, I thought I’d lose my mind!
Eventually it was pieced. I bought a cute print with little wooden blocks all carved with alphabet letters and baby animals for the backing. It wasn’t printed straight. I was not amused! Time was getting short and I finally gave up trying to get the exactly geometric top and the very wonky geometric back to play nicely. Honestly, I don’t remember what’s on the back! Probably the grey and white random dots I used for the binding. Thin, organic, cotton batting. My friend, Beth Ellis, did the long arm quilting.
In the end, I was still putting the binding on when it was time to leave for Scotland. I packed the quilt and all my tools, leaving out useful things like extra sweaters and long sleeved T-shirts! I did get it all done before our sweet girl made her appearance, though I had to go home long before she got to tummy time. Mama Kelly no doubt worked harder than I did, but I was pretty proud, too!