Hearts for Charleston Quilt — Kristin

This heart hales from Montana, from the talented hands of Kristin McNamara Freeman, of spirithreads. Another stellar example of superb craftsmanship and thoughtful, heart-felt creation!

The block bears close looking. Subtle touches like the change of stitching from outer heart to inner heart add up to a complexity that is wonderful.
  Kristin sent the lyrics to a song to accompany that blue chain stitch, which you may have noticed connects all of the hearts. Look at how it begins at the inner most section of the red heart and travels up and out the top and around to each of the white, initialed hearts. Here are the song lyrics:

Lyrics By: Bobby Petersen
Music By: Phil Lesh

Blue light rain, whoa, unbroken chain
Looking for familiar faces in an empty window pane
Listening for the secret, searching for the sound
But I could only hear the preacher and the baying of his hounds

Willow sky, whoa, I walk and wonder why
They say love your brother but you will catch it when you try
Roll you down the line boy, drop you for a loss
Ride out on a cold railroad and nail you to a cross

November and more as I wait for the score
They’re telling me forgiveness is the key to every door
A slow winter day, a night like forever
Sink like a stone, float like a feather

Lilac rain, unbroken chain
Song of the Saw-Whet owl
Out on the mountain it’ll drive you insane
Listening to the winds howl

Unbroken chain of sorrow and pearls
Unbroken chain of sky and sea
Unbroken chain of the western wind
Unbroken chain of you and me

The song says so much, it’s hard to add more, but of course I will.

I watched Gwen Ifill’s program on PBS entitled, “America After Charleston” recently and was interested to hear a couple of the people attending say that they were not filled with forgiveness (including Cynthia Hurd’s brother)… that forgiveness was a process and they weren’t there yet and might never get there. The suggestion was emphatically made by one woman that it was outrageous that the press made so much of Charleston’s forgiveness — yet another example of how it is so much easier (for us white people) to hear about forgiveness than righteous anger.

You can watch the entire program here: PBS, America After Charleston.

IMG_1285 Here are a few more things I want viewers to notice about this beautiful block:

  • the feather stitch that surrounds each white silk heart — delicate, formal, sweet, and somehow heart-rending.
  • the double row of stitches bordering the open/broken/central heart, providing definition.
  • the skillful use of patterned fabric:  the scale and color of the paisley print of the big heart keep it from being overly busy or disappearing and add so much interest; two horizontal floral strips in the bottom third (red, white, and blue, by the way) create a visual ground that is literally populated with flowers; a navy and white boldly-printed African fabric makes the background dynamic, inviting the eye to travel over the entire square.
  • how the white running stitches traveling horizontally bind the strips, while the rust-colored stitches within the open/broken heart are chaotic, swirly, and a contrasting rust-colored, looking if not bloody, then at least stained.
  • how those stitches make a distinction between inner and outer.
  • how the heart’s form is not a closed form… leaving us to decide whether the split down its middle is a rending wound, a means of keeping the heart open to the world, or both.
  • how each of the floating white hearts along the side are embellished with the initials of the deceased: Clementa Pinckney, DePayne Middleton Doctor, Daniel Lee Simmons, Sr., Myra Thompson, Susie Jackson, Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lance, Tywanza Sanders and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton.
  • how the inclusion of red silk vertical strips references blood without contaminating the purity of those elegant white hearts along the side, or even, the strength of the central heart.
  • how the back reveals the patient application of an invisible basting stitch in black — creating a completely applied grid on the reverse that is not visible on the front.
  • finally, I love how distinct and almost naked the large heart appears on the back!

Thank you, Kristin, for this beautiful contribution!

To read more about this project,
please refer to the the sidebar category:
“Hearts for Charleston Quilt”

To investigate this style of quilting more
(most of us are students of master stitcher/storyteller Jude Hill),
please visit “Spirit Cloth

P.S. For those of you with eagle eyes, the top heart initially featured the letters “CH”. Kristin sent thread for me to change them to “CP”. There is another “CH” further down the line of hearts.

13 thoughts on “Hearts for Charleston Quilt — Kristin

  1. snicklefritzin43 – Missoula, Montana

    Thank you Dee for correcting my double initial mistake. It was an honor to take my feelings, my heart for the situation and my life of stitch and design and put them all in this one small piece. It has greatly blessed me as I stitched and put my feelings of the story together in cloth and thread. How wonderful to be a part of such a very wonderful project. Thank you for your conception and direction to get the pieces created for the cloth.

  2. ravenandsparrow

    This is a masterful use of red, white and blue that moves well beyond the patriotic cliche into subtle depth. The main forms stand out beautifully from the active background. This is very strong and very tender.

    1. deemallon

      Hi Dana. I think Kristins skill with color and pattern is one of the things that impresses me most. The use of orange rust and paisley for the central heart was an amazing choice. Her stitches are unbelievable, too. It was really hard to cut a few of those blue threads!

  3. RainSluice – artist and educator

    My goodness – somehow I missed this post. Love this one, too! I am at a loss for words, I am in admiration of the design, the stitching, the thought that went into this… and all the thought that has been shared here about all of the squares. What an amazing project. I am particularly moved when there is a song that gets matched to a square. Looking forward to seeing all together – we’ll have to find an orchestral choral piece with poetry accompaniment for the final quilt 😉


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