O The Red Rose Tree

Posted by danielle on January 27th, 2011. Filed under: Books, I Make Things, Recent Posts.

I’ve decided to make a quilt.

I love quilts. I know a few quilters and I always admire the beautiful work they do. Now, I want in on the action. I’m not doing anything fancy, just a simple design of random square blocks. The project is still in the cutting phase and already I am concerned that I won’t have the patience to follow though. Cutting 100+ identically sized squares is just so tedious.

As I’ve been cutting, I’ve been thinking about a book I loved as a kid called O The Red Rose Tree. I’s a fictional story, set in the Pacific Northwest of the United States during the late 1800s. It’s about four teenage girls who befriend an elderly woman who had recently moved into their neighbourhood.

The elderly woman is an accomplished quilter and her dream is to make a quilt called O The Red Rose Tree, hence the title. The girls set out to help her, although their efforts are partly motivated by spite. The unpleasant grandmother of one of the teenagers is the uncontested blue ribbon winner for quilting at their county fair and they wanted to take her down a notch.

The elderly woman’s quilt pattern was unique in that it required several different shades of red fabric – but not just any fabric. It had to be manufactured with special kind of European red dye that wouldn’t bleed when wet. This presented the girls and the elderly woman with a great challenge, as they lived in an isolated community with limited financial means.

Through a series of small adventures, the four girls beg, borrow and steal the fabrics they need to get the quilt done in time for the county fair. The premise sounds like it should be boring but it was such a clever and beautifully written novel, it actually made a quilting exciting.

I still have my original copy, a discarded hardcover from the Brantford Public Library. It even has the original plastic dust cover still attached. Throughout, my high school years, I would spend many a Saturday in the basement of that same library, putting dust covers like this on books for minimum wage. To help fold these covers around the books we would use a bone folder and one of the women I worked with would always refer to is as the boner. She was a peculiar spinster woman and she seemed genuinely clueless as to why we would shake with giggles every time she said it. Of course, we never bothered to explain it to her.

Anyway, unlike the girls in this story, I had no problem getting the fabric for my quilt. There really isn’t anything standing in my way from getting this project done. With that in mind, I realize I should stop whining and get back to my cutting.

4 Responses to O The Red Rose Tree

  1. Lara

    I’m curious about quilting too. I saw some incredible ones at the state fair last year and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. I hope you share some of the process. I think the cutting would drive me mad as well. Do you have a rotary cutter? I don’t but hear they’re a godsend.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mymilkglassheart/5024845872/in/set-72157624909448557/

  2. Lara

    That book sounds really sweet actually. I was a big fan of the Anne of Green Gables series when little.

    Omg I want to try quilting so badly! The cutting scares me but I’ve heard rotary cutters are a godsend. Don’t have one yet. Is that what you’re using?

    Can’t wait to see more of the process!

  3. danielle

    That is such a beautiful quilt.

    I actually don’t have the rotary cutter. I didn’t want to make the investment in case this is the only quilt I ever make. I have a closet full of craft supplies from long forgotten hobbies so I have learned my lesson. I cut them all by hand, very, very carefully with scissors. It was not fun at all.

    Now I’m on to the sewing part, which is much better. It’s going to take a while though. There’s about 150 pieces and it took me all of Saturday morning to assemble about 30. Still, it’s great to see it all coming together.

    Don’t let my whining about the cutting discourage you from trying one. I’m sure the end result will be worth it.

  4. trish

    (I “borrowed” all my quilting supplies from my mother-in-law…. just a thought!)

    A rotary cutter, mat, and ruler really make a difference to how much I enjoy quilting – I don’t think my mother has one or I’d convince her to lend it to you since she’s not quilting anything at the moment.

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