The Seedling Quilts - Myrtle Quilt

myrtle draped on tree

When we moved out of a religious community and to a brand new town several years ago, I was full of hope. I had been working for years in a job I felt was unsuited to me. But, because I thought it was the right thing to do, and a job that needed to be done, I thought the lack of strength was my fault, or something I’d grow out of. At other times, I hoped it was a worthy sacrifice that would lead to worthwhile outcomes, good stories, and a feeling of satisfaction and belonging.

But, as time went on, I started to wonder if my weaknesses were not just something I’d magically grow out of when I ‘grew up.’ And maybe my strengths were not something to just push down and ignore. If this is who I was, how did I want to carry this body and heart through this one life I was given? How did I want to enjoy it? How did I want to grow and become?

Not the Adventure We Thought

So, Tim and I left our Christian Mission jobs, our dearest friends, our identity and structure and long term plans, and moved to A small country town in Victoria to start over and build the life we’d always wanted but never thought we would give ourselves. We ran our business, we put the kids in school, we dreamed of building our own home, and I made quilts.

It sounds like the happy ending of an adventure story, but it wasn’t. Life there was expensive. Our laser cutter was always breaking down. The kids were always sick with their new school germs. And, I was so tired. All the time. Like the old Israelites, we had left slavery (not the organisation, just the way we viewed ourselves), and rather than walking straight into the promised land, we were wandering in the desert. 

I will fill the desert with all kinds of trees — cedars, acacias, and myrtles; olive and cypress trees; fir trees and pines. Isaiah 41:19


A Quilt in the Desert

When I was researching herbs for this book, I was looking for good quilt names that weren’t already used, pretty flowers that inspired me, and fun or meaningful stories, histories, and medicinal usage. As I designed the quilts, sometimes they were inspired by the herb, other times the quilt name came after the design. The Myrtle block in centre of the Seedlings Quilt was the first thing I made for the book. 

My original idea had been to make another block and applique it to the back of a denim jacket, or something fun like that. But, then in the midst of my utter disappointment that this move hadn’t been all magical and amazing, I read the verse above in my search for historical references to the Myrtle tree. Myrtles in the desert. I knew then that I had to make this block into a quilt, in pretty, hopeful white, with bursts of colour. 

myrtle draped on chair

The History of Myrtles

Myrtle has long been a symbol of beauty and romance. Myrtle trees were planted in Aphrodite’s temple garden in ancient times, and myrtle wreaths were often depicted on her head. Roman women used the leaves to fragrance their baths and the oil to cure skin irritations. When Queen Victoria was given myrtle for her wedding bouquet it revived a tradition of using myrtle flowers in wedding ceremonies around Europe.

I don’t know if Myrtle was a symbol of romance among the ancient, exiled Hebrews wandering in the desert (often these ideas were shared, or came from a common earlier history), but I loved the connection between the two references. The idea of hope, and of myrtles in the desert, might not just be ‘a living thing in a dry place,’ but much more than that. Connection, beauty, motivation, energy. Those are what I longed for. That is what I wanted this quilt to say. 

Cypress and myrtle trees will grow in fields once covered by thorns. And then those trees will stand as a lasting witness to the glory of the Lord. Isaiah 55:13

full myrtle quilt on blue barn

So, this quilt was born...

Once I had the idea for the quilt firmed up in my mind, Michelle from Cole & Taffy offered to make it for me! I sent her my low volume scraps and favourite basics, and she made the blocks for me. Then she sent them back to me so I could play with how they went together. I’m so happy with how it turned out! I always find low volume scraps get forgotten in my scrappy quilts, and this was the perfect way to use them up! 

Inspired to take make your own quilt bloom with Myrtles?

Myrtle is the first quilt in my book, The Seedling Quilts. It's a book full of quilts from that time of struggle, beginning again, and searching for hope. Check out the rest of the quilts in the collection below!

EDIT: Unfortunately the Myrtle Panel Edge Piece template in the book is incorrect. You can receive the printable template directly to your inbox here or purchase the Seedlings Quilt paper pieces here.

Beautiful photos by Jane McLean.

1 comment

  • ka

    Just realized the herbal info is in these posts. Slow late at night I guess.

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