Thursday, 27 June 2013

Quilting Nomenclature

Nomenclature - isn't that a great word? I first learned it way back in high school science, as in "chemical nomenclature." Nomenclature is a system of names or naming things, and of course, chemical nomenclature is a system of rules for naming chemical compounds. For example, H2O is water (sorry I don't have any idea how to do subscripts in Blogger, so I can't put the numerals in correctly), H2SO4 is sulphuric acid, H2O2 is hydrogen peroxide and H0H 0H0 is Santa's postal code.
Years ago, we had a pastor whose wife was from Central or South America. One time we were chatting at a large church gathering and she questioned me on why Canadians shorten so many words. I was puzzled. I wasn't sure what she meant, and then in parting I said that I had to go to the caf (as in cafeteria)... Abbreviations can be part of nomenclature, as NaCl is shorter than Sodium Chloride. We quilters have our own nomenclature as well and abbreviations can be one of the most confusing parts, especially to the newbie. I remember the first time I ran across the term HST in a fellow quilter's blog. HST? Some provinces in Canada have HST, but I'm sure they're not as excited about Harmonized Sales Tax as quilters can be about Half Square Triangles. Recently, someone's post mentioned a QAL and it took me a minute to figure out that meant Quilt A-Long, which is similar to a BOM (block of the month). 
Then there are the names of our tools and supplies. A rotary cutter? Is that like a circular saw, or more like a rotary tool? No, it's more like a pizza cutter, and being similar to a kitchen gadget is more appropriate anyway since it's used to cut jelly rolls and layer cakes! And I always thought a stiletto was a type of high-heeled shoe. And a fat quarter is not a monetary coin that is too thick to fit in the vending machine.
Let's not forget the names of quilt blocks. Have you ever wondered how some of them got their names? Many of them don't look anything like their names suggest, at least not to me. There certainly are no hard and fast rules like there are in chemistry. Do the block creators come up with a name first and then create a block that they feel represents that name? Or do they create the block and then meditate for awhile on it before christening it, "Texas Tears" or whatever. And some of them are very "puzzling": Missouri Puzzle, Bachelor's Puzzle, Indiana Puzzle. And what about Mr. Roosevelt's Necktie? Or one named Five Patch, when it's actually a nine-patch? Or a seven-patch named Nine Patch? And there are many blocks that have more than one name. In a previous post, I shared my Irish puzzle block. According to Jinny Beyer's book, this block has 17 different names, including Storm at Sea, which is also the name of 2 other blocks. There are at least 5 different blocks named Blazing Star. 
If I ever get into designing quilt blocks, I could come up with some creative names. How about a really nasty looking block and name it Dentist's Chair? Or a really peaceful block named Nap in the Hammock? 
Actually, the reason why I'm discussing "nomenclature" is because the July blocks for the 2012 BOM are both variations of the Dresden Plate. You might recall in my blog on the Irish Puzzle Block, I said that I needed to do a German block to honour the other half of my heritage. So I googled for German quilt blocks and yes, I found some quilt blogs and quilt guilds in Germany, but I couldn't find a specifically German quilt block. However, it really only needs a German name, not necessarily German origin. After all, who's to say that the Irish Chain or the Irish Puzzle actually originated in Ireland? And Dresden is a German name. The actual Dresden china, for which this block was named, was manufactured in Germany. I did a little research on it. Try googling Dresden Plate. You get page after page of quilting links before you finally find anything about china. Here's some actual Dresden china:
It's gorgeous, isn't it? This picture is taken from an auction website: . In addition to quilting, I do collect a few vintage dishes, and this one is very lovely and a suitable inspiration for a quilt block, but probably way out of my price range. You can go here to find a  Dresden Bonbon Dish for $250. Definitely more than I would want to spend on a candy dish.
But back to the quilt blocks - the first is a more traditional Dresden Plate, which I haven't completed yet. The second block, named Modern Dresden Wheel by the class instructor, uses only one fabric alternating with blades of background fabric, without any pointed or rounded tips on the blades. Thus it looks like spokes on a wheel. However, I chose to make this one my German block. As the German flag is black, red and gold, I alternated a red and a gold print in the wheel on a black background, and I christened it the German Wheel. And voila, I now have the German block for my quilt.
I had yet to complete my Canadian block. I made the Irish puzzle block for my Irish heritage and the German Wheel block for my German ancestry. Now I needed one for my Canadian nationality. What could be more Canadian than a Maple Leaf? And just in time for Canada Day!
So here are the German Wheel and the Canadian Maple Leaf:

I'm not 100% thrilled with how the German Wheel turned out. My circles aren't as round as I would like them. I found I liked the piecing method for the fan block in the 2013 BOM, even though it involved curved seams, more than the applique method for this one. I actually ripped out the centre circle as it wasn't centred as well as I wanted it. I still think it looks a little lopsided, but it will have to do. I don't think I'll use this method again. I do like the colour combination, however.
The Maple Leaf is from Jinny Beyer's book. While she doesn't suggest colours, she does have the blocks marked with fabric values: large prints, small prints, borders, light, medium, dark. She does show a lot of blocks with "outline" or "border" fabrics, which is basically cutting a stripe from a striped fabric. That's what I did for the stem of the Maple Leaf. Two different red fabrics compose the body of the leaf.
As I was perusing Jinny's book, I came across a block called Lena's Choice. My mother's name was Magdalena, and most people called her Lena (even though she preferred Maggie). I think the Lena's Choice block is going to be included in my 2012 BOM, even though it looks rather complex. But I love a challenge.