Whatever you call them—Indian Blanket, Gaillardia, or Firewheel—these colorful, happy flowers are a joy to behold. We had them in our front yard for years, and oh, how I loved to come home to their bright greeting.
Figuring it was time to make a firewheel wall hanging, I crocheted dozens of them using the pattern on pp. 83-84 of Crochet Bouquet: Easy Designs for Dozens of Flowers. The flowers are made in two layers and then sewn together.
The project stalled for a while, and during that time, I had occasion to drive around Texas. I noticed the roadside Firewheels had very dark centers. My memory said that the tiny yellow flowerlets of Firewheels bloom around the edge of the flower center. But not quite! They bloom from the edge of the center toward the center of the center, darkening to a rusty red as they age.
As you zoom along the highway, you mostly see the yellow on the edges of the outside petals going to a much darker red center. No orange streaks. Not many yellow dots around the center. Luckily I hadn’t embroidered many yellow dots. But all my flowers were sewn with orange yarn. I would have to change them.
For the firewheel meadow, I wanted a strong green for the foreground, bright greens for the middle ground to give the impression of sunlight, and grayed greens for the distance. Here are my three piles of green. This is why one needs a stash, or as I prefer to call it, a yarn collection.
My trusty Ultimate Sweater Machine knits my wall hanging backgrounds very fast. This is good, because they are often large! In this photo, I’ve already finished the blue sky, and am in the process of making the green meadow. I knit with lots of different yarns, changing the yarn every one or two rows. This is easy on an Ultimate Sweater Machine.
Since I cut up and sew the knitting to make my wall hangings, I stabilize the knitted fabric with fusible interfacing. This takes a while, but the interfacing stops the cut knitting from unraveling and it keeps it stable for sewing. Too much handling will eventually mess up the edges of the cut knitting. I aim to sew before that becomes a problem.
I use a quilting technique called ‘foundation piecing’ to make a quilt top from my knitted fabric. The foundation is a piece of fabric, which will be part of the finished product, but you won’t be able to see it. I use fabrics that I know I will never use for anything else.
On the left side of this photo, you can see the cut pieces of sky pinned to the foundation fabric. To the right, the pieces are already sewn. Using a zigzag stitch, I catch the edges of two patches, which sews them together as well as attaching them to the foundation underneath.
This wall hanging is fairly large, so I pieced and sewed it in four sections.
Yay! I finished piecing and sewing the wall hanging! I love the part where I get to arrange embellishments. Our dog, Finn, kept an eye on me as I placed the largest flowers in the foreground, medium sized flowers in the middle ground, and small flowers in the distance.
This was a pre-arrangement. Before I could finalize the placement of flowers, I still had to quilt and bind the wall hanging. I wanted to get a feel for how it would look. Would I need to add anything to the quilt top before quilting? I took pictures to help me remember this arrangement.
Wait, wait! Let me try out the buttons I had picked out for this piece! Yes, I felt the dark buttons added contrast and made the flowers look more like the real thing. One more photo, and then I gathered up flowers and buttons in preparation for the next steps: quilting and binding.