Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This Quilt

This Quilt

quilt 1

...Is not a very good quilt.  When I was inspired to start quilting again, I had to do it RIGHT NOW.  I couldn't even wait three days for a fabric order to ship, so I ran over to the local JoAnn's and bought as many pink fabrics as I could.  As a result, I threw together a lot of pink fabrics with a miss-mash of different design colors.  It is also the first quilt I made in fifteen years, and it really shows in my messy stitching.

This Quilt

quilt 2

...Is about the rejuvenation of my crafting mojo.  I'm a life long crafter.  My mom started teaching me as soon as I showed interest.  I remember stitching scraps of fabric into little wads of knots when I was no more than five years old. She taught me how to sew, quilt, and stitch.

I've always loved the technical aspects of quilting.  I love the design, the piecing, the basting, and especially the quilting.  However, I learned to quilt in the traditional style and with the fabrics of the '80s.  I just never clicked with the fabric designs.  Everything looked muddy and undefined.  Even the crisp whites used for backgrounds were replaced with taupe batiks.  I ended up doing mostly Amish and Hawaiian style work because they traditionally only use solid colors, and even that I abandoned after Michael was born.

Then, Last summer I met Liz.   In addition to being completely charmed by her three adorable children, I was charmed by the quilt that they sat on in her yard.  It was crisp and vibrant and nothing like the quilts I had learned to make.  With continued nudges from Liz's Quilting Blog It was only a matter of time before I was hooked. Thank you Liz.

This Quilt
quilt 3

...Is the Snuggle Quilt.  One afternoon, while I was cutting the fabrics for the quilt, Michael asked me what I was doing.  When I explained that I was making a quilt he immediately claimed it for his own.  He didn't even wait for me to finish the quilt before he started using it.  One chilly morning while I was working on the quilting, he squeezed up next to me and pulled an unfinished corner over his lap.  It has been the Snuggle Quilt ever since.  Whenever he wants to cuddle, he'll grab the quilt and ask Andy or I for a snuggle.

This Quilt
quilt 4

...Is a catalyst.

As I mentioned, my mom taught me to quilt.  She has been an avid quilter for many years, and it is her craft of choice.  She'll take breaks to knit or cross stitch, but in the end, she always returns to quilting.  She's such a serious quilter that in addition to having a dedicated sewing room, she also keeps a card table set up in her living room for extra space.  She may be using it to baste a quilt, or to pick out fabrics, but it's always in use.

That all ended when my mom started her cancer treatments.  She was so tired and sick during chemo and radiation that even small knitting projects were too much for her.  The table remained clear for many months.

My mom completed her treatments last fall, and I was hoping to see her return to herself again.  I discovered a small sign of hope one winter day when she babysat Michael for me.  When I picked him up, my mom had set up a jigsaw puzzle on the table, and the three of use completed it that afternoon.

That puzzle sat on the table for several months.  It became clear that my mom was not doing well.  All of her tests were clear.  Her heart was undamaged by the chemo.  The X-rays and bone scans were perfect.  Physically, everything was fine, but emotionally, the fear and illness had taken their toll.  She could not get past the trauma. She suffered so much to try and beat such a frightening disease.  She even spoke with a professional about it, hoping that he could give her medication to help her feel better.  He told her that it was just something that she had to go through, there are no magic pills to erase such a dramatic experience.

It was right around this time that I caught the quilting bug again.  However, it had been years since I quilted, and I had a few questions.  Who better to ask than the person who taught me to quilt?  Not only was it fun for her to answer my questions, I think it made her feel good to know that she had valuable skills to share.  She really seemed to enjoy those calls.

She also seemed to really benefit from her last visit with her oncologist around the same time.  She brought up how frightened she was, and how it wasn't going away even with the end of her treatments.  He sat with her for a long while and discussed his experience of suffering from heart failure and eventually ending up needing a heart transplant.  He explained how hard it was for him, a doctor, to be end up helpless in the ICU.  He validated the lingering trauma of going through such a difficult medical crisis.

This validation lifted her spirits a bit.  She was doing so much better that when I finished piecing the quilt I asked her to come with me and help me pick out the fabric for the back of the quilt.  We ended up having a wonderful time at JoAnn's as she helped me find a brown fabric with pink dots to go with the miss-mash of colors on the quilt front.  She showed me some tools that I could use to make quilting easier for me, and she even started browsing the fabrics a little.

The next time I walked into her living room, there was a quilt sitting on her card table waiting to be marked for stitching.  Not long after that she actually found the energy to purge her fabric stash and pull out all her unfinished projects.  To date, she has completed three quilts that had been abandoned when she received her diagnosis.

At long last, she seems to have found her passion for quilting - and life - again.

This Quilt

quilt 5

...Is more than just a quilt.


Karla said...

I love it. What a great post.

Janna said...

The quilt is beautiful! And so is this post. You're all about making me cry lately Joanna!

LauraC said...

Amazing Joanna. Words can't describe how happy I am that you are blogging again! And I am very happier to know the back story on how important the quilt is that you are making for me!

Goddess in Progress said...

Three cheers for quilt love, and for what it can bring to and mean in our lives.

And though we can critique our own work until the end of time, I think it looks great. And it's finished and loved, which is always the best thing about a quilt.

Carrie77 said...

You did a great job on it! I wish I could quilt, or knit... some sort of girly craft. But, nope. I can tell by the length of this post that you really enjoyed working on it, though! Its so wonderful when you accomplish something that makes you giddy. :)

Karen said...

I love this quilt!! I never realized that quilting could be such a rewarding experience.

Deanna said...

You write so well and tell your stories that make it seem like you're right there talking. Great post and what a keepsake for Michael!

Susan said...

Awesome post and with a several family members fighting cancer, completely understood. Love your pink quilt.

Karen said...

Wonderful quilt. Wonderful post.

Hooray for mums quilting again and for kids who want to snuggle.