Welcome to the U.S. Truly, welcome.
It’s part of American culture to value homemade gifts the most. We treasure knowing that the giver thought of the recipient and made something special for them. I know this is not the finest hour for Americans, but I hope we can remember that we have dear, good qualities in us, too, as a people.
The Welcome Blanket Project exhibits gifts of handmade blankets, 40″ square, in museum shows and then partners with organizations to distribute the blankets to U.S. refugees and immigrants. Blankets may be quilted, woven, knitted, crocheted, or otherwise handcrafted. When I saw the call for donations, I remembered how the quilt-like collage art on the album cover (see below) of Deus Sex Machina: Or, Moving Slowly Beyond Nikola Tesla by Sons of an Illustrious Father had made me long to make quilts again, as I did in the 1990s.
So today, I made a welcome blanket that drew from the colors of that album cover for inspiration.
I knew it had to be a nine-patch quilt because a nine-patch grid is the structure of the band’s last two albums, Deus Sex Machina and Revol: nine songs per album, three sets of three, all three band members singing lead and writing songs.
A nine-patch quilt pattern is like a tic-tac-toe board, three rows of three blocks apiece, all the same size. Below are two of the nine-patch blocks from the quilt, the upper leftmost one and the upper central one.
Each patch is 4″ square. Each nine-patch block is 12″ square. The quilt itself is made of 9 nine-patch blocks, 36″ square, plus a 2″ border all around to reach the recommended 40″ size for welcome blankets. (The dark blue patch in the right photo above, bottom row, is an intricate reverse-appliqué that I purchased from a Hmong artisan in Philadelphia, 20 years ago.)
My daughters and I have sent other welcome blankets, as well, ten in total. My 10-year-old’s gift shows sea, mountains, and sky. She designed it, chose and cut out the fabrics, pinned and basted them down, and ironed. The gray of the sky is the reverse of the navy blue flannel for the mountains. I quilted and bound it to finish.
This was my 14-year-old’s first crochet project. She taught herself from YouTube tutorials.
Progress shots of one of the other welcome blankets we sent. The girls helped by ironing, basting, and sometimes helping to arrange the 4″ blocks.