Recently, I participated in a quilt challenge sponsored by the Whatcom County Library system and Fourth Corner Quilts here in Bellingham. The challenge was an offshoot of the community read-along event Whatcom Reads, and the book was Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed. I’d heard of the book, though I wasn’t particularly interested in reading it, despite my keen interest in the PCT. My bucket list is short, but hiking the PCT is on it. As it turns out, Wild is one of the best books I’ve ever read.Along with reading the book, the challenge for us quilters was to use a recognizable piece of a selected pine needle print fabric on the front of a quilt. After that and a few other parameters, the design was up to me. I don’t much care for the issued pine needle print fabric, but I decided to embrace, rather than eschew it and bury only a tiny piece in the design, as was my gut reaction. At long last, my final design integrated a recurring but minor theme of the book, that of John Muir’s description of the High Sierras as “the range of light”. From my artist’s statement:
“I have experienced John Muir’s “Range of Light” first hand. The author described them, but unfortunately had to bypass them during her journey due to record snow in the Sierras. When Cheryl hiked the PCT in 1992, I was 16 and a member of a Bay Area Girl Scout troop that planned and hiked a 50-mile backpacking trip every summer. Several of our trips took us close to the PCT, including the backcountry of Yosemite National Park, Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas. I distinctly remember the way the Sierra granite would light up with pinks and yellows, and how blue the sky—and its reflection in the lakes—was. The High Sierras and its Range of Light is still my absolute favorite thing about California.
“Reading Wild brought back my cherished memories of these hikes and the scenery I love. My quilt design celebrates the elevation of the High Sierras through forest, treeline and luminous sky, each faceted and dynamic. I used fabrics reflecting the colors I remember seeing and the scenery I fell in love with, and used quilting as a design element to reflect the textures.”