The Seedling Quilts - Yarrow Quilt

yarrow quilt draped on quilt ladder

The History of Yarrow

The Latin name for yarrow, Achillea Millefolium, comes from the Greek Trojan War hero Achilles, who, as a baby, was dunked in a vat of yarrow tea to protect him from harm. (His heel was the part held out and therefore missed the magic!) Throughout history, it’s been named “Soldiers Herb," “Woundwort," and “Nosebleed” for its blood clotting properties, and used all the way from Ancient Greek conquest to the American Civil War! Yarrow has been used around the world for millennia as an antibacterial agent and a decongestant.


The Chinese have used yarrow for centuries, and credited the herb with increased intelligence, protection from wild beasts (when planted in your garden) and the essence of yin and yang! In ancient Chinese Philosophy, the yin and yang are the meeting (or balance) of two opposite, yet complimentary, forces. Night and day, male and female, heaven and earth, chaos and order. 

Yarrow quilt

Chaos and Order in My Life

I’ve always tipped over to the chaos side of the chaos-order scale. I’m kind of messy. I don’t like my time all scheduled. I work better on inspiration than a deadline. I never keep up with the dishes or the clothes washing. This works fine when things are chugging along smoothly, but when you throw in three kids (aka chaos monsters), an interstate move, and both of us working full time for the first time, into the mix, it’s amazing how quickly things get thrown into a catastrophe. Not being able to make it to the grocery store, or running out of clean socks in a normal week is just a hiccup, but when everything is in chaos, it’s enough to make you break into tears. And, gosh, there were so many tears!

corner of Yarrow

Stitching toward Order

Making quilts has taught me a lot about creating order. If you want to make a quilt, particularly an English Paper Pieced (EPP) quilt, you stitch it together piece by piece. One stitch after the other. It’s the opposite of immediate. It’s slow and patient and deliberate. It’s faithful and hopeful. If I do a little of this same stitching action over and over and over, eventually, I will have a finished quilt.


While researching about the healing properties of yarrow and thinking about balance (not really work/life balance, but more the kind of balance where most things are working pretty smoothly, and there’s room for surprises), I began to make tiny, stitch-like changes to try to create more peace in my home. In all this mess, what were some little things I could do that would make things better? What things did I have energy for today? 


Sometimes, it was small and short term: “If I put on a load of washing now, it will make tomorrow easier.” Sometimes, it created long term, life-changing order, like switching to online grocery shopping or writing a checklist for the kids in the morning. Sometimes, it took uncomfortable sacrifices: “If I stop work at 3 rather than try to keep working from home after school, the whole afternoon/evening goes a whole lot smoother.” I started to see some things as a gift to my future self. “Future Jodi will love me, if I take the effort to do this now!” And, I did!


Nothing changed overnight. Many days in the mix included cereal for dinner and too much TV. And it’s definitely not like life is ‘fixed’ now. (There will forever be dirty clothes and dishes, after all!) But, oh, so slowly, we have gotten to a point where I’m not on high alert all the time. I know some things are sorted. Decisions or plans have been made and don’t need to be kept in my head anymore. 

full yarrow quilt

Inspired to take tiny stitches towards a Yarrow quilt?

Stitching this quilt was like a meditation in order. It was my reminder to ask myself how I could help myself today. Sometimes, that meant I only got a little done before I remembered that I really should be doing something else. Sometimes, the right answer was to sit and keep stitching. This quilt took me the longest of all the quilts in my book to make. And, yet, in the end, all those tiny pieces came together into a finished quilt. 


Yarrow Quilt is the fourth quilt in my book, The Seedling Quilts. Check out the rest of the quilts in the collection below!


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