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!