Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Humility Block

If you have read much about antique and vintage quilts, you have probably come across reference to the "humility block". According to the story, quilters would include in their quilt an intentional mistake -- because "only God is perfect".  I, like probably you, always thought this was a bit arrogant -- I am quite able to make mistakes without making them on purpose, thank you very much.

After completing my Sunday School Stars polyester double knit top, I did an internet search of the "humility block". I found this good article and learned that there is really no such thing. Quilt historians have found the myth to be a mid-20th century invention, perhaps by quilt dealers making the mistake in the quilt into a charming quirk. The humility block was often attributed to the Amish, who, when asked about it, thought the same as I did: it isn't humble to think that the only way you will make a mistake is to do so intentionally. Well, in a waaaay, mine is a humility block. I saw the mistake in time to fix it, I just chose not to. I had already done some ripping & resewing on this goofy quilt top and it wasn't easy picking stitches out of the double knit -- so I left it!


And in our meteorological news: IT RAINED!!!! It rained quite a bit today; so far we've had 3.5 inches (about 9 cm) and it is still RAINING!!!!! There is still way to go to make up our nearly 20 inch (51 cm) deficit, but this really helps.



Nifty Quilts said...

Your quilt top looks great! I love that unique little flying one. It's those honest mistakes that give a quilt even more charm. It'll be fun to see how you quilt this!

Rachaeldaisy said...

What an interesting post!! I must admit I had to look pretty hard to find your honesty block, I was too busy looking at how beautiful this quilt is. Beth, you nail it every time, what a perfect pattern for these fabrics, the subtle colour change. I just love it. The imperfect block only makes it more perfect!

Manda said...

Took me a while to find it! Quilt top looks greats! Very interesting to read about humility blocks - like you say though I have no problems making mistakes by accident never mind on purpose!

Bill said...

I have no issue with the 'humility block', whether it is an intentional mistake by the artist to tip their hat to God, or, whether it is a simple mistake. I doubt that pattern changes are 'accidental' in well organized fine antique quilts. Maybe the artist who made the quilt - did have a religious inner life. If so, what of it? Why do people feel resentment toward someone who designs a feature into their quilt which might have a personal expression, be it for God or for any reason. Why do people make issue to quickly correct anyone who's (apparently false) opinion that a 'humility block' is not a tip of the artists hat toward God, suggesting the quilt pattern change is simply a mistake. It seems people cant cope with the idea there may be a God. Those people who have found God in their lives, are the unfair targets of resentment of those who have yet to find it (maybe because they haven't spent much time looking, maybe just a few days or weeks... but not years). If there is a soul who could potentially benefit from a deliberate expression of artistic humility, it is a modern human being. The proud person is certain there is no God, the humble person is certain the possibility may be. Ironically, sometimes, its God that finds people, not the other way around. Thank you.

smazoochie said...

My goodness, "Bill", you seem to have read quite a lot into this benign little post about a mistake I made, none of which was in either my head or my heart when I wrote it. I have to say, even when I squint my eyes, I am hard-pressed to see how you saw those things there.
I am sorry you did.