Hold Fast NL

This event begins on Aug 04, 2021 and ends on Sep 28, 2021

Hold Fast Newfoundland and Labrador

a project by Katie Grace Handmade

The Story

After NL’s pandemic summer of 2020, I remember very confidently saying that there was no way we would find ourselves in the same situation as spring 2020. I boasted to my relatives in other provinces about our low case counts constantly. I felt like we had gotten through the worst of it and that we just had to wait for the vaccines and then it would be over.

And then one day in February I was watching the daily briefing, Dr. Fitzgerald announced that there were 11 new cases. Then 50. Then 100. And then came the last-minute evening briefing where they announced that the B112 variant had reached our shores and we were thrown back into Alert Level 5.

I think the second lockdown hit me harder than the first. My husband and I were lucky in that our jobs transitioned to online pretty easily, but I was so angry that we were back where we started. I had so much time on my hands. I was sad. I slept a lot. I watched the daily briefings religiously. I cried every time Dr. Fitzgerald gave an update, good or bad.

I needed a project. Taking inspiration from a quilter I followed on Instagram, I imagined exactly what this project would look like when it was finished. It was ambitious, impulsive and it was going to take up all of my brainpower. It was perfect.

And then late one night, I put in another for 40 different coloured fat quarters from East Coast Quilt Co and got to work.

The Quilt

Foundation paper piecing is a technique that allows the quilter to make very precise stitches by sewing directly onto a piece of paper. It’s a technique I had taught myself the year before when I made a very large elephant quilt. It is easy enough to follow a pattern using this technique, but for this project, I needed to make my own pattern. I quickly learned that there were no online resources that taught you how to design your own FPP patterns!

I first took a picture of Dr. Fitzgerald and had someone online turn it into a pop-art style image. I used online tools to match colours in the image to Kona Solid fabrics, which were available at ECQC. Then I loaded the image onto my iPad and started cutting it up with my stylus and the Procreate app.

I would section off a piece of the image and break it into smaller parts. To complete a section, I would trace each line to create a piece that could be completed with foundation paper piecing. Then I would enlarge those pieces, print them off, and cut them up. After that, I would refer to my image and match fabric colours. Slowly but surely, the quilt started to come together.

The hardest parts were the eyes and the mouth. When I got to that part I realized that some of the pieces were going to be the size of my thumbnail. I had made too much progress to scrap the project, but the face was going to be so difficult that I had to put the project on the shelf for a few weeks. The original image had teeth, but the pieces were too small. I had to redraw the mouth completely. The eyes might be my favourite part. Some pieces are attached by 2-3 stitches.

I did not know how the project would end when I started. There were many spots where I felt like I was flying blind; that I was in over my head. But then I would push through, the colours would line up better than I expected, my pieces became more efficient, and the project started to come together. As I went along, the lockdown eased, and life went back to normal.

I feel like I was able to capture Dr. Fitzgerald’s likeness. I hope this is a fitting tribute to the intelligent and courageous woman that guided us through some of our darkest days with a kind smile and call to hold fast. We are so lucky to have her and her team at the helm during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Artist Bio:

Katie Harrison is an educator, forest school teacher, private homeschool tutor, and summer camp director living in St. John’s with her husband and three cats. She is a self-taught fibre artist who for many years dabbled in knitting, embroidery, needle felting, and cross-stitch. Then she took an intro to quilting course in 2019 and never looked back! Katie aspires to create more original art quilts and write her own quilting patterns to share with the world!



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