My Novel Idea quilt is done! The Spirit of the Wood was inspired by The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, which was chosen as the Deschutes Public Library Novel Idea Book this year. This fabulous story was itself inspired by the Russian folktale of The Snow Child or The Snow Maiden. It is set in Alaska in the 1920's and tells the story of a childless couple who somehow come to know a small girl who survives in the Alaskan winters in the company of a red fox. Previous posts are here and here.
I read this book during the snowiest part of our winter, just after Christmas, and it was magical. There are so many passages that are evocative of the time and place, so many opportunities to be creatively inspired. I took notes and could have made a dozen different quilts. It was very hard to pare it down to the things I most wanted to have in my quilt. In fact, if I had the time I have two other ideas I'd love to make into quilts!
The fox was the very first thing I wanted to have here and it was a bit of a challenge to try to get an approximation of the colors and the eyes. Faces are always a challenge for me, but in the folk art tradition, eyes do not have to be symmetrical and perfect. In this quilt, the Spirit of the Wood may be the fox, the owl, or even the trees. I needed a title that wasn't just "The Snow Child" and spent a 1/2 hour browsing the pages to find something that would fit. How perfect is this name given that embroidered "S"!
While there were many different animals mentioned in the book (I made a list of over 30), I didn't notice owls. However, this one just begged to be included and adds the touch of color I wanted up there by the moon.
The "S" could signify snow child, snow, snowflakes, snow angels, stars, swan feathers, spirit or even Shields. I think it looks a bit like a cloud in the sky.
Subtle elements I included are the snow angels and swan feathers, both important to the story. In addition to the wonderful plot of this book, there are many references to hand sewing and embroidery. I tried to emulate Mabel's hand stitched snowflakes.
The book title is couched to the bottom of the panel with some of my hand spun yarn and embroidery floss.
The panel itself is made from a vintage table runner that already had the crocheted edging. I cut it in half and dyed it in indigo last summer, before I knew about the book project. I love reusing vintage textiles this way. In fact, the "S" fabric is an indigo dyed vintage hanky, the snow is made from two different vintage (and well used) kitchen linen towels. The edging at the top is an indigo overdyed linen table cloth. It's the only part that was machine sewed because I was running out of time and my fingers were too sore to contemplate hand sewing it down. The trees and fox were hand dyed by me (except the trunks which are a commercial batik).
I hope you enjoyed this mini tour of The Spirit of the Wood. This piece will hang in the QuiltWorks gallery for the whole month of April. The reception is Friday, April 5, 5-7 pm and there will be 50-60 quilts in this Snow Child exhibit. I've seen many of them and it's going to be amazing! We hope the author will have a chance to see the quilts when she comes for her lectures the first weekend of May.