Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Mystery Quilt: Tears of the Giraffes

As soon as our Material Mavens theme was announced (and actually I learned about it ahead of time), I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I have long been a huge fan of mystery books, ever since I first fell in love with Nancy Drew and her red roadster!   At first I was going to base my quilt on an Agatha Christie novel with the name of a pub as its title, THE PALE HORSE; then I thought about others such as CARDS ON THE TABLE or THE CLOCK or THE MOVING FINGER.  All would have been fun to work with!

But then my life took a sudden, sad turn with our daughter's death on February 17, and I had no heart to read any of these mysteries.  (I felt duty-bound to use only a title of a book I had read.)  I needed to read mysteries where no one dies, where there's no even offstage violence--gentler, life-affirming books.  Thus I turned to Alexander McCall Smith's books.  As soon as I spied THE TEARS OF THE GIRAFFE on the library shelves, I knew I had my book.  I brought it home, read it, loved it, and thus this quilt was born.

I used a batik panel by the fabric artist Krisna of five rainbow-colored giraffes.  I had to trim off the necks and heads of two of these giraffes, but one of my fellow Mavens said she loved the look of a piece of art that "goes off the side".  Another mystery:  what are those two giraffes up to?  Actually, one it staring off to the distance, as is the red one, and the other one is nibbling some grass!

Since I can't take credit for the design, I decided to quilt or embellish it heavily with hand embroidery.  I gave myself a challenge:  learn new stitches for this quilt and don't use, anywhere, stitches you already know, such as the stem/outline stitch or French knots.  Chiefly I used the wonderful back stitch, that goes around curves so beautifully, as well as the fly, the seed, and feather stitches.  I used beads for the eyes and scrapbooking "jewels" for the tears of my crying giraffes.

I feel a mite guilty about this quilt, since it truly is NOT an original design, but in all honesty I worked more hours on this one than on any other, with all the embroidery stitching I did!

Here are a few close-ups:

Back stitches along the outlines of the giraffes; see stitches within their coats, in thread
colors that match the colors.

I used a wonderful hand-dye, multi-colored Perle cotton for the
tear-drop shapes that fill the background.  This is a Laura Wasilowski
thread that fellow Maven Carolyn brought me as a gift from
Quilting Adventures this past March.