Honeysuckle is a fast-growing vine with super sweet flowers that have been used for food and medicine since ancient times. Its anti-inflammatory properties made it a common medicine in China, and around the Mediterranean for the treatment of stomach problems, cancer, and skin irritations.
Honeysuckle was recommended by Ancient Roman author Pliny for the treatment of depression and its incense was burned as a mental stimulant. Irish folklore taught that planting honeysuckle in your garden brought prosperity to your home! The sweet scent prompted generosity in guests and neighbours, and kept away evil spirits. That same sweet smell made it taboo in Victorian times because it caused young ladies to dream passionate dreams!
It was Pliny’s treatment for depression that I focused on while making this quilt. The use of something growing, beautiful, and sweet smelling for a sore, tired brain connected with me. It was one of Dostoevsky’s charatcers that said, “Beauty will save the world.” Maybe it could save me too?
My friend Lucy and I worked on this one together, and we chose fabrics that were favourites to create a rich, vibrant colour palette. Orange, purple and teal really does make me happy. And those ginghams! We then stitched the vines together. It’s great how quickly a quilt comes together with company!
I had originally assumed that I would just make a quilt of vine rows, all climbing off the quilt, but when I laid them out, it made me feel a bit overwhelmed. It was like a weed gone rogue rather than a tended garden. I wanted to express something like “room for growth”, rather than “complete” or “filled in”, because this new chapter of my life in a new town where I didn’t quite know who I was yet, still held so much mystery to me. I still have so much to learn about myself and this world.
And so I left a little gap for that sweet vine to grow into. Maybe some people will decide to fill it or decorate the gap in a different way, but to me, it represents breathing room, space to figure out who I am now in this new season.
The vines are appliquéd in the quilting stage, and I really enjoyed mixing up the processes in this way! I was daunted by the idea of stitching vines to such a big area, but waiting until quilting meant they were pin basted down with the rest of the quilt, and the weight of the layers helped it stay straight and even. It was really fun!