"January Thaw"

Mary Ellen Cummings

"January Thaw"—typical winter conditions—except on my driveway. There snow became black ice. Thawing a little in time for the nightly freeze.

As I write, a glance outside reveals a dull gray pall reminding us that more winter will come. These days are perfect for reading about, planning for, and starting something quilted. Choose bright, happy colors to lift your spirit, and a simple pattern, easy to assemble. Easy to follow designs are 9-patch, 9-patch improved, Mock Log Cabin, a 9-patch variation. An Amish design, "Square-in-a-Square," is easy to assemble and can be done in plain colors (Amish) or combination of print and plain fabric.

Avoid dark and dull colors and fabrics that are difficult to work with—sheer, knit, polyester, and silks. Personally, I use "eye" appeal in choosing colors.

Quilting magazines and quilt class instructors use color wheels to teach color selections for quilted projects. Alex Anderson, teacher, designer, lecturer says, "It’s not whether you like a particular color. It is simply a matter of understanding how various colors work together." Ms. Anderson lists three basic color combination, complementary, triadic, and analogous.

Complementary colors are opposite on the color wheel; such as, red and green. Triadic colors; such as red, green, and yellow, are determined by placing an equilateral triangle over the color wheel. Analogous color appear next to each other on the color wheel; orange, orange-yellow, and yellow. The purchase of a color wheel is a good investment if you have trouble selecting colors for your quilt. Art supply stores, school supply stores and some quilt shops carry color wheels.

I would like to add a fourth color combination to the age-old basic three. I would call it abstract color design. In the quilt art of newer quilters, it appears the "picture" they want is obtained by using color combinations other than the basic three. The effects are shocking and dramatic, interesting and sometimes pleasing.

Read other Quilting articles by Mary Ellen Cummings