Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunshine and Shadow by Marianne Fons

In quilting terminology, Sunshine and Shadow is a setting for Log Cabin blocks. Layouts for this classic patchwork unit with its light and dark diagonal halves are numerous, each evoking nostalgic images of 19th century rural America.

Straight Furrow positions blocks in bands of contrasting value plowing at a slant through the quilt, making it a farm field with parallel, spaced rows of earth turned by team or tractor.

Barn Raising builds out from a center group of four units, as if a roof beam has been pulled into place by neighbors driving mules.

Streak of Lightening, with blocks boldly zig-zagging from top to bottom, makes the quilt into a prairie horizon during a dramatic storm.

Sunshine and Shadow places groups of four blocks, darks-in/lights-out, row by row, forming seemingly-shaded areas alternating with sun-soaked ones.

I recently enjoyed a glorious day of sunshine and shadow, not out in the country, but in my home town of Winterset, Iowa, on our backyard deck, where I sat reading in a comfy chair for hours. The perfect Indian summer day included an almost cloudless sky, a surprisingly warm temperature of 65 degrees, and a light, variable breeze. If I became too warm in the sunshine, I simply scooted my chair under the shadow of the eave. Once cooled off, out into the sunshine I returned.

By late afternoon, I'd made it through most of a recent issue of The New Yorker, chuckling at the cartoons and appreciating in particular an editorial that suggested a few bright spots on our country's currently dark economic horizon. 

Those nineteenth-century quilt makers sure knew how to name quilt blocks!

Thank you again to Marianne Fons for contributing to The Fiber Nation.

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