September 8, 2013

World Without End

The border of triangles and squares that decorates my blog pages is a pattern called World Without End.  I adopted it as my logo quite a long time ago.  I like how it can look like a whole variety of different patterns depending on the coloration and layout, and I like the positive name.

In 1988, I made a series of quilts using a variation of the Kaleidoscope pattern.  Later on, I discovered that I was pretty much working with the World Without End pattern as well.  Here's the block history on the Nancy Cabot Sew Along website:

         February 11, 1933-Nancy Cabot presented the World Without End quilt block pattern in her Chicago Tribune column.  This block got its "name from the book of common prayer" she tells the reader.  It was to be pieced "without intervening blocks of white.  The points of the stars join in the corners forming a kaleidoscope design" which gives the illusion of a world without end.

A search of the web will bring you to many quilts that use this block.  

The spectacular Quilt Index site presents an exciting quilt from the 1933 Century of Progress World's Fair, a very meaningful use of a block with this name. 

The Quiltville blog has a variation that I really love, to the point of wanting to make one next time I need an idea for a wedding quilt or baby quilt.  There is a fun set of comments as people come up with all sorts of similar blocks, trying to determine the name of this one.

Jenny Murray presents a set of nice, clear illustrations that show how the Kaleidoscope and World Without End blocks are related here.  (Scroll down a bit; it is the second pattern she discusses on this page.)

In essence, the Kaleidoscope divides the square-on-point into triangles with seams.  The World Without End Pattern divides the diamond with a long center seam.

In my variation, I redrafted the pattern so that there are no seams in any of the shapes.  This allowed me to emphasize the interlocking circles that form by letting them be complete at the edges of the quilt design.  And since I was planning all these quilts with solid fabrics, I wanted to get rid of visually distracting seams.  While it was a great design decision, it wasn't very practical.  (But I did it anyway.....)  It was no longer a block-based design - I had to piece it in sections with lots of inset seams.  And the quilts had irregular edges - which I finished with a knife-edge finishing.


The themes of my series:
each quilt resides on a different spot on the color wheel
each quilt uses color and value gradation
each quilt emphasizes different parts of the geometry of the patchwork pattern
each quilt has a different placement of focus
each quilt has a different size and shape


No, these are not hand-dyed fabrics.  I don't dye fabrics.  I've never felt like I've had enough time or space or brain or desire to learn the whole dye process.  And I've rationalized it for myself that the challenge of working with only available fabrics is fun, and also keeps the artistry focused on the fabric - more about the quiltmaking and less like paint- and ink-based arts.  So, all these gradations involved lots and lots of searching and trial and error to get color sets that didn't wobble around the wheel very much.  It was quite a challenge, but also very enlightening as to color theory.


The quilt shown at the top of this post summarizes the whole series.  It uses fabrics from all the other quilts.  The series was commissioned by a software development company for their offices.


  1. Oh, it's so nice to see these again. The kaleidoscopes were always some of my faves in your work.

    1. Thanks, Leigh! Nice to hear from someone who's been following my artwork "through the ages." ;-)

  2. I remember these from way back, too, but they look so fresh now! Don't know if I ever saw them all together. And I love the explanations.

    1. Sadly, this is the only way to see them all together now. Quite a few years ago, the green one was stolen out of the office building during the theft of some of the computer equipment. I suspect that it was used to wrap some of the stolen goods. It makes me even sadder to think that it wasn't even stolen by someone who liked it, and it probably ended up in the trash. But just in case, if anyone ever sees it somewhere, please let me know.