Thursday, February 12, 2015

Every Quilt Has a Story

I've made a lot of quilts over the years. More often than not...with a purpose, or a recipient in mind.   Most of the time there is an emotional investment.... a "piece of me"  in each quilt.  Whether it's taking the time to think about what the receiver's favorite colors are or a fabric that might remind me of them...and as I create their quilt...the thoughts about how my quilt might make them feel when I give it to them.

During this project to collect quilts in honor of Kayla Rose, I've thought a lot about the receivers of the quilts we've collected and how their hearts may be touched by receiving these gifts of love.  Adolescents, waging a battle against a horrible disease, given a gift by a total stranger who donated their time and talents to provide a little comfort in their time of need. 

It was also during this project that I thought about trying to create a quilt for Kayla's mom, Bobbi, my former classmate and friend.  An opportunity to give her a quilt of her own to remind her of how we honored Kayla's 25th Birthday.  I knew I wanted it to be something special...more than just her favorite colors, or something that matched the sofa.  I decided on a pixel quilt using a black and white photo of Kayla.  (see if you'd like to make a quilt like this...can't recommend them enough)

Decision made, pixels arranged into a pleasing pattern, six shades of Kona gray and the color snow cut into 1177 pieces. As I was cutting out the pieces, I happened to glance up and there perched in the bushes outside my studio window was a beautiful red cardinal.  I knew then I was making exactly the right quilt.  

Did I mention there were 1177 pieces? My quilt would finish at 64x64.  Eight inch squares...eight blocks across...eight blocks down. 64 blocks total. A typical block might look something like this.

As I sat stitching late one night I had just completed about the top two thirds of the quilt.  I had that section draped across my longarm frame, right behind my chair.  It was about 1am in the morning...I was tired...and I was convinced that I had just spent a whole lot of time working on a quilt that would be nothing more than a graphic collection of shades of gray because I just couldn't see anything.  Andi, at YouPatch, had encouraged me to take pics and share with her as I worked, so I laid the quilt down on the floor and pulled out my phone.  Clicking the camera icon, I was not prepared for what was about to appear.  There she was ...Kayla....looking back at me with her beautiful smile. 

I heard her say "Maybe you couldn't see me ...but I've been here all along"...and I was a blubbering mess as I realized then that was the story that would go with this quilt.  A reminder to her Mom...we may not see them once they've gone...but they continue to be right there with us.  I sent that pic of to Andi at YouPatch with a message that said "I'm a blubbering mess"...thankfully she's in Australia, so she wasn't sleeping....and wrote me back immediately, sweetly encouraging me to go get some sleep.  I woke up the next morning knowing I couldn't do anything else until this quilt was complete.

The next hurdle was how to quilt it.  I wanted to enhance the beauty that was already there.  Here's a couple of  close  up shots of the quilting I chose...or should I say more accurately...chose me.

The hardest part of this quilt was literally wrapping it up into a box and taking it to the post office.  So much of my heart and soul went into this project.  I'm happy to say she arrived safe and sound today and even happier to say that I got to FaceTime with Bobbi as she opened the quilt.  What an experience....both of us in tears. 

This entire project has been such an amazing experience.  On Saturday Bobbi will take all of these quilts to Children's Hospital.  I'm so incredibly thankful for everyone of you who donated a quilt or quilt top. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Patriotism - Second Grade Style

Before Christmas break, we spent some time again with son John's Second Grade class in Minnesota. 

It is my belief that all children need to know the value of GLITTER at an early age, so each second grader got to paint a scrolled wooden photo frame white and sprinkle it with snowy glitter before adding some  sparkly crystals as well.   While they're working on their frames, we set up a photo booth with lots of silly props, likes hats and glasses, mustaches and the like and the kids get to dress up for fun photos.  This year each child was also photographed wearing sparkly 2015 sunglasses and held a sign that read "My Future's So Bright..."

John and I had to take a turn...we had to!
You might remember that last year the kids drew special pictures on fabric for me that was then used to create a quilt for a deployed soldier, named Michael Niedzwiecki, to thank him for his military service.  It was such a great experience that we just had to do it again.
Michael with his special quilt.
When we were in early discussions about who might receive our quilt gift this year when John received an email about a currently deployed husband and wife, relatives of one of his co-workers. Both of them deployed to Iraq, but yet on two different bases several hours from each other.   We took that as a sign that they should be our recipients and got to work.  The kids, as usual, drew some fabulous patriotic pictures with the message "Thank you for your service".  Here's a few of their drawings.

Did you have any idea that second graders were so artistic?
The dilemma for me  in designing this we wanted to honor this "couple"...but knowing they weren't deployed to the same base raised the question "Which one gets the quilt?"  Unable to choose only one of them, I came up with a plan to include them both.  I actually created two quilts.  Each quilt represents a half a heart...and when put side by side creates a full heart.
The kids got to see the quilts today for the first time and they were so excited! 
As they viewed the quilt there were lots of "Oooh's and Ahhh's" as well as one "Holy Cow, that's just sic!"   (which is apparently a good thing)
The kids checking out the quilts and looking for their blocks.
Our Second grade artists!

With Mr Barnes & Me
The quilts are being boxed up and mailed out and we are all so excited for them to arrive to our adopted soldiers.  We truly are so thankful for their service and their sacrifice and will jump up and down with happiness when they can bring their quilts together as ONE HEART!!
 You can bet we'll have a follow up blog post when we hear from our soldiers!
My most favorite second grade teacher.  His love for "his kids" is so evident.
Love him!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quilts for Kayla! (update)

I am so excited to share these pics with you today!

I'm getting my first box of quilts ready to ship to Kayla's family in PA.  All of the quilt tops I've received so far are quilted, bound and have labels attached!  My original goal was to have a minimum of 25 quilts for the Children's Hospital and I'm still hoping we can make that goal! (this February 14th Kayla would've turned 25) I could not be more thrilled and thankful to all of you who have sent quilts, or are still planning to send them.   I know there are a few more quilts and a top or two on their way to me this week.    Take a look at this beautiful stack of quilted goodness that will be going in the mail!

Kayla's Mom, Bobbi, was presented this quilt from a group of friends (aka: Happy Chicks) on Saturday to be added to our gift collection.  What an awesome quilt and even more awesome friends!

This is the label that I designed to be attached to the back of all of the quilts. 
I'll post again when I'm ready for the next shipment.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Quilts to Honor Kayla update.

Just a quick update on the quilts I'm collecting to honor Kayla Rose.  If you missed that blog post, you can read about it here.

When I first started this project, February seemed like such a long way away....but it's really right around the corner. 

I want to thank those of you who have sent quilt tops for me to quilt for this very special project....Carol, Sandi, Pam, Bobbi, Marika & Brandi!  (and Michelle, I know you said one may be coming) I'm finishing up a couple of quilt tops of my own as well.   I have a few more to quilt and I have several finished quilts that are on their way to me!  A special thank you to Kayla's Aunt JoAnn for her donation to help cover batting costs. 

Check out this stack of finished quilts!


Quilts will be sent to Kayla's family to deliver to the Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh in honor of what would've been Kayla's 25th birthday on February 14th.   What a beautiful gift of love!
There's still time to send a finished quilt if you've got one to spare and would like to take part.  We're looking for a good lap sized quilt (approx. 60x72) that might appeal to an older child.  You can send me a message at if you'd like to participate.
I'm so excited to wrap these kids up with some quilted love! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I Will Never Forget.....

I will never forget….

That moment when my son said “I want to join the Air Force”….

That moment when watching  a soldier being rescued in Iraq and he said “That’s what I want to do, Mom”…

That moment when I held him close before watching him leave for Basic Training….

That moment when he called home for the first time from Basic and the phone wouldn’t work but we had a conversation by him pushing buttons on the phone “once for yes, twice for no”…

That moment when we saw him march in for graduation from Basic….standing tall and proud...


That moment I got to hug him again following graduation from Basic…

That moment when walking around San Antonio following gradation….he in his dress blues…strangers coming up to shake his hand and thank him for his service….or him dressed in uniform at a local parade and again...strangers, mostly veterans, approaching him to thank him for his service.

That moment when he said “I’m deploying to Iraq”…

Those moments I would wake up in the night for no reason and feel the need to pray for his safety….

That moment when he said “I’ve been accepted into the K9 program.  I’m going to work with a dog that finds bombs.”…

That "middle of the night not sleeping" moment when you realize he won't be home for Christmas so you make an online purchase of the "largest pair of tighty whities" and pose the entire family in them and send pics to Iraq that say "We Support Our Soldier"....let's just blame the lack of sleep on that one....okay?


That moment when we waited at the airport to welcome him home from Iraq….


Proud to be a military mom….

Friday, October 17, 2014

Guest post on the Bad Ass Quilters Society

Follow the link below to my featured post on the Bad Ass Quilters Society blog.

Such lovely comments I've received from other quilters on my story.  Humbled.

Friday, October 10, 2014

National Quilt Week of Ireland - June 1-7, 2015

When two friends put their heads together to find a way to promote their love for quilting in Ireland you'd better look out....that's exactly what Nikki Foley, The Sewing Shed, and I have done with our launch of National Quilt Week of Ireland 2015!! 

What could be more fun than an entire week devoted to celebrating QUILTING across Ireland?  We've encouraged quilt shops and guilds and any other Irish quilters to post the events they've planned our on our website 

The Anam Cara (Soul Friend) Artisan tour that Don and I are leading next Spring will take in some of those events listed!  Our tour has stops planned at four quilt shops along the way.  We'll keep any photographers who come along busy snapping the most amazing photos too!  You can check out some of those photos here:

We were incredibly honored to get the most amazing feedback from our travelers on last years tour.  Here's just a couple of quotes.... 
"My wife and I have traveled a couple times a year for our entire thirty years of marriage and your tour ranks in the TOP 3 tours we've ever taken"  -Mark H.
"I just returned from a Brack Tour of Ireland and there aren't enough words to describe the wonderful time I had. Everything was taken care of for us which made the trip all that much better. We had the BEST coach driver.  I wouldn't think twice about doing another tour with this company. In fact I'm already looking forward to next year with Brack Tours Ireland and Penny and Don Barnes"   -Carol C.

Click the photo in the upper right hand corner of this post to take you right to the Brack Tours website!  You can even download a registration form from their site to sign up for the tour!