***This post was originally a part of our Stitched Podcast***
“Mom, look at all the geese! Did you know that geese leave from and fly back to the exact same spot every single year,” my 8 year old explained a couple of days ago. We were stopped in the car at a stoplight that was next to a cornfield chalk full of geese.
(The day before he had been telling me all about how clownfish have a hierarchy with a strong female clownfish always at the top. He might be a zoologist someday…he loves animals and animal facts.)
“I didn’t know that.”
“Yes, mom they always know how to go home.”
Home. I do so love that word. It is my very favorite place to be.
When my children were little we started a tradition in our home. Every Friday was family night. We would order out for pizza and pop popcorn then everyone would get into their jammies, grab a pillow and we would all head down to the basement to watch a movie together.
When we would get down to the basement there would be piles of quilts waiting for us. Quilts that over the years have become beds, tents and the best snuggle blankets. Quilts that aren’t perfectly sewn—but perfectly made for the purpose they were intended for–to be used and loved by my family.
For years we rarely missed a Friday movie night and each time as we gathered, my heart felt full because of the people that were surrounding me–the people that make our house a home.
These days, Friday movie nights are getting farther and farther apart, with teenagers going in different directions and wanting to spend more time with friends. But the minute we all pile down in the basement and I see my precious kiddos all snuggled in with those quilts, I am reminded how much I love them and how much home means to me.
History of Flying Geese
Flying Geese Quilt blocks are traditionally twice as wide as they are tall…giving them a unique rectangular shape. The focal point of this block is a large wide triangle (the goose) flanked by 2 smaller triangles on each side that represent the sky.
Contrast is an essential characteristic of this block. The most successful Flying Geese Quilts are those which strike the proper balance of light and dark fabrics thus setting off the geese against the sky.
Flying Geese quilt blocks are fantastic stand alone blocks and are perfect for adding excitement and a sense of movement to any design. However, when sewn together in a row they also make excellent borders, sashing, and when combined with other shapes form interesting new quilt blocks such as the Sawtooth Star.
As for the making of Flying Geese quilt blocks…well…it seems as though there are just as many methods to create them as there ways to use them in a quilt top. From assembling them with two squares sewn to a rectangle to stitching together a pair of half square triangles. There are scores of methods out there to try. In fact, just this week I was fascinated by a YouTube video of a cowboy sewing up some flying geese using only one seam and a stack of folded fabric. Which just goes to show that the ways in which to create Flying Geese are varied in deed.
But what does not vary is the loyalty those making the blocks have to the method that they prefer….and if I’ve learned anything since I’ve started quilting it’s not to get between a quilter and her favorite quilting method.
Upon seeing a row of Flying Geese it quickly becomes obvious why these blocks were given their name. With their follow the leader format combined with the triangles resemblance of outstretched wings it isn’t hard to visualize a gaggle of geese soaring over head. A sight that is especially common in our neck of the woods.
But why do geese fly together in such a format? Explanations abound but scientists do agree on 2 specific reasons.
The first is to conserve energy. When geese fly in formation each goose flies slightly higher than the bird they are in front of. This allows the following aviators to take advantage of the updrafts which are air currents that are created by the leaders wingtips. These updrafts not only reduce wind resistance and generate lift but they also make it possible for those following to glide more often and thus conserve their energy.
When the leaders become tired they fall back and those geese who are more rested soar up to take their place leading the flock. In this rotating pattern the gaggle is able to travel up to 70% farther as a family than they would be able to on their own.
The second reason geese travel in a triangular formation is for the communication and coordination benefits. When flying in this formation it is easy to keep track of all the travelers. The V allows visual contact to be maintained with every single member of the group. This keeps the gaggle moving in the right direction but also keeps individual birds from crashing into one another or getting lost.
My 8 year old was right….geese do fly away and then return to the exact same spot every year…even though they leave, they always come back. They come back home.
With the holidays approaching many of our thoughts and hearts are returning home as well. Home to family and friends and traditions that have become dear. Traditions that differ as widely from family to family as do the methods used in creating Flying Geese Quilt Blocks….but should also be held on to as tightly as the quilter clings to her favorite block making method.
Often it’s these traditions that become the V formation for our families….and we as mothers work hard to pass them on to our flock. Instinctively we know that traditions will offer our family members much needed support, help to maintain contact, and most importantly to make sure that no one gets lost. Traditions have this magical way of reaching through the generations– giving lift to family members and helping guide them back home.
Friday movie nights may be fading…or at least becoming less frequent, but this holiday season I am looking forward to at least one night in the basement with pizza, popcorn, quilts and the children that I love best. After all it’s a tradition.
***Want to learn how to make a flying geese quilt block? Head HERE for a full tutorial.****