FISH AND HEARTS – Around The Frame

Traditional fish blocks from the 1940s work best when you alternate them with solids and prints.
Something that only happens once every several years is happening this year! In February, March and April two special days fall on the same date: Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday (February 14) St. Patrick’s Day and International Quilting Day (March 17) and April Fool’s Day and Easter (April 1).

This year people can give cards on the feast day of martyred St. Valentine to the people they love, while taking time to reflect on their own mortality: We are made of dust and to dust we will return.

Eating certain fish is healthy for your heart. If you take two fishhooks and place the ends of the hooks together you form a heart. Muhammad Ali said, “Love is a net that catches hearts like fish.” His quote is very similar to what Jesus told his disciples: to be fishers of men, in essence to capture their hearts and bring them to the love of God.

There are many quilt and craft patterns for heart shapes, but relatively few for fish. One of the traditional fish blocks consists of eight fish with their noses pointed inward to form a compass shape. Their bodies are diamonds with little triangles pieced to the tail end to create the fins. The background was also pieced to square up the block.

The makers would generally alternate solid color fish with a print or a solid dark fabric with a light solid fabric to provide contrast and make the fish stand out.

The quilt blocks in the photo are from the late 1940s when orange, green and purple were a popular color combination. The maker made a few blocks of each color combination in a sufficient quantity to make a quilt. The maker never formed them into a quilt top, but their new keeper I hope, has taken them into her heart and will transform them into a beautiful symbolic quilt.

Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer