A quilt that warms and informs

Getting wrapped up in Certificate in Sustainability graduate Emilia Housch’s “temperature quilt”

It might be warm and snuggly on the inside, but on the outside, this quilt is as cold as an Edmonton February.

That’s because its colourful rectangular patterns are more than just a playful design: they’re a visualization of the high and low temperatures of each February day in Edmonton from 1920–2020.

“I had done other projects based on temperature changes and global warming, but this was more of a chance to have fun,” said Environmental and Conservation Sciences graduate Emilia Housch, who designed the quilt as part of her capstone, “integrative” project for the Certificate in Sustainability.

Each rectangle on the quilt uses a unique pattern and colour to represent a range of temperatures, with dark blue being the coldest and red being the warmest. The top half of a rectangle displays the daily high, and the bottom half displays the low.

Although it may be perfect for hiding underneath on a cold day, the quilt offers a snapshot of something far less cuddly: climate change. It reveals a pattern of consistently cold days early in the 20th century, which begin to vary more dramatically as the years progress.

Footage by Emilia Housch

Students who take the Certificate in Sustainability complete a final project that integrates their areas of interest and expertise with sustainability and gives them an opportunity to get creative. When planning for her integrative project, Housch was inspired by crochet temperature blankets she saw on TikTok, but she wasn’t familiar with the craft.

“I could quilt though, so I thought, ‘Let’s do that,’” she said. “Then to make it more scientific, I made it show something comparable so that it would be possible to see the change over time for the same days. This showed the variation over time instead of just how temperature changes throughout the year.”

The project took about 60 hours to complete, and Housch even enlisted the help of her mother when a lack of time started fraying the threads of her school work and social life.

“I had always followed a pattern with the previous blankets I’ve made, which was my downfall with this one,” she said. “Making my own pattern was a learning curve.”

Now that Housch is in Italy studying for a master’s degree in forestry science at the University of Padova, she said she’s had enough distance from the project that when she comes back to Canada, she will use the quilt for its intended purpose.

“I was definitely cursing myself at many points, thinking, ‘Why didn’t you just do an infographic?” she said. “But it turned out really cool, and now I have a new quilt.”

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University of Alberta — Sustainability

University of Alberta — Sustainability

Meet the students and academics who are discovering solutions to our climate and sustainability challenges. Writing from Edmonton-Amiskwacîwâskahikan, Canada.