Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Taking the Wheel

"You may not lie idly expecting the second coming of anybody now,
because the world is yours and it is up to you.
Now especially since man has the strength to destroy this world,
it is the responsibility of man to keep it alive, in all its beauty and marvelous joy."
~Susan Cooper in The Silver on the Tree


Combining regular spring cleaning with the deep cleaning pushed me to sort and cull. Clothing, dishes, books, cleaning supplies. Everything is getting a second look. Is it being used? Is it needed? Does it need replacing? Of course, cleaning also brought a bunch of UFOs to the surface. Like this one.

It's been a while since starting the first wheel. The plan was to make a very scrappy wheel but the narrow wedge ruler I found seemed a better way to start/practice. So I quickly sewed one up... and what a mess. The middle was loose; the background was missing. I finally unsewed them into quarters with the idea of re-sewing the circle after the background was attached. I pulled a variety of pale yellowish greens {not chartreuse} and red-on-white prints that intrigued me. And that's when it sank into a UFO.

Red and white stripe for sashing is paired with brown shot cotton and a Burberry-style plaid for possible background to the fan arcs in the quilt
Possible backgrounds and sashing for the fan/wheel block

Last year Sujata proposed the UandU QAL to recreate a quilt from Rod Kiracofe's fabulous book, Unconventional and Unexpected. There are so many to choose from and every time someone posts their own progress I want to make that one, too. Looking through it last week I was struck by three quilts with the same design - just like my old sample. Sort of. Well, enough to make me dig through the pile.
Three pages of quilt photos from Rod Kiracofe's book show three examples of fan and wheel blocks made into improvisational quilts
Unconventional and Unexpected: Wheel of Fortune, p 66
and Fan, p 146

The one with the Lone Star reminds me of last year's baby quilts. I want to make more but am running out of sufficient yardage to make the background. Here's a possible way to get away with less of a single fabric.

Wheel and fan quilts are traditional blocks that have been revived recently. Several people have created designs with unique names which are still the same basic block: a small center {quarter} circle, a wide arc sewn with wedges, and a curved background to square them up. The difference I see between wheel and fan is the center sashing. Also, wheels are frequently appliqued to a single background.

My original plan was to make very large wheels, 20-25" wide but the ruler was shorter. Clockwise from top left. After cutting ten-inch WOF I laid the wedge ruler on top with my regular ruler next to it. Removing the wedge ruler gave me a long side to cut. Next I replaced the wedge ruler, lined up the longer ruler to its left, removed the wedge ruler and cut the left side of the wedge fabric.

A collage of four photos show how to extend a short ruler with a longer one for accurate cutting
Extending a short ruler with my regular ruler for cutting

Despite a very limited color palette, or perhaps because of it, there are special issues to address. Value becomes even more important. Fabrics work differently after they are cut than they did when they were originally grouped. The darks and the lights below paired up well until they were cut. Then there was too little contrast within a single fan and too much contrast from one fan to the next.

The blades of the fans are moved around to create more contrast between pairs of blades and less contrast between the fans themselves
Changing out blades of the fan block
My solution was to move the blades around until the values of all the fans were closer. These were switched between four sets to balance them better. Almost done cutting blades.

Adding green centers to the fan arcs before sewing them together
Laying out parts of the stash fan blocks

Taking the bull by the horns or the circle by the quarters. It's finally moving forward.


Still making masks. Sixty-two more this week brings the total to 127 and more to come. I made significant progress on DH's t-shirt quilt as the leftover material made mask lining. Most of the large logos are stabilized.


The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper is on my shelf but this is a re-read for me. It's another series catalogued as children's books. While on a Cornish holiday, three human siblings join their great-uncle Merry, Will Stanton {Old Ones}, and later, Bran Davies, searching for artifacts of power that enable the Light to defeat the Dark. Cooper blends English folklore and Arthurian legends with Celtic and Norse mythologies to create a new tale of mankind's passage to adulthood. That's what I read in the quote that begins this post and why this is a relevant set of books for adults to read also.

Of the five contemporary fantasy novels the first received a Newbery Honor while the fourth won the Newbery Medal as well as the first Welsh Tir na n-Og award and the final book also received a Tir na n-Og award.

Stay safe. Enjoy the day, Ann


  1. Love The Dark is Rising series, I must pull it off my bookshelf and re-read it once I finish The Thief which I've started based on your recommendation.

    1. I'll be interested to know your opinion of The Thief, Tish.

  2. Exciting things going on here! I love the innovation and thoughtfulness.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love Wheel of Fortune or fan blocks. They are one of my favorites to make. Glad you're having fun with them. Thanks for another book recommendation.

    1. You are a champ of these block. They are more fun than I expected.

  4. I have often looked at this sort of block and thought I would like to give it a go, so I'm very pleased that I will be able to follow your progress and learn.

    1. I thought you'd made something like them. Some curved piecing - freehand - that awed me. You inspired me to try it, too. Plus I want to do more designs that aren't all straight lines.

  5. Oh I'm looking forward to more posts on this new quilt of yours! I have never attempted a fan quilt, nor wheel of fortune, perhaps one day........

    1. That's kind of you, Maureen. I was delighted to find some time for quilting last week. There are still so many masks and other things needed right now.


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