Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Almost Normal"

My hematologist Dr. Seghur told me yesterday that I was "almost normal."  Having never been even close to "normal" - ever - I am pretty excited about this.  While he may have been talking just about my blood,  I am choosing to interpret his words at a much broader level!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Finishing Bags

These Mors bags are the last in this batch.  Three of them are going with me tomorrow to my appointment with my hematologist.  As much as I love the Interventional Radiology Team, this doctor - Faisal Saghir - represented my comfort level throughout August.  He even checked in with me on his day off, which was the day after my big procedure.  I am expecting nothing but good news from him! 

I also finished a zippered tote bag.  All the parts were cut out in early August, but then things happened.  One of the generous people during this long summer has been my physical therapist.  Chandra knows my passion for Indian food and several times has dropped off yummy dishes. She needs no more bags, so I proposed making something for her daughter, a play director who lives in the city and uses public transportation.

Lavina is always carrying lots of things, and I know she puts her bags down on the floor.  So I tried using an iron-on vinyl for the bottom of this bag - I have no idea how it will wear.  There's an outer zippered pocket, and there is a zippered top.  However, if she decides to carry marbles, they will fall out.  So I made her a little zippered pouch and attached it to the bag.

A little 5" x 7"zippered clutch

I missed a couple of deadline for two wedding quilts and a bridal shower present.  Fabrics for these three are already in a pile.  And I want to do some fabric key chains.  Oddly enough, these are the same width as the handles I make for the Mors bags.  But before I do any sewing of any kind, I must...

put things right

clean up the various piles

and make everything tidy.
I have a birthday coming up soon.  My present to myself will be a clean and organized studio!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

CMQG and the AAMQG Swap

"Woven Glass" by Donna Moscinski, CMQG

Reverse of "Woven Glass"  (Art Gallery Fabric - I am a Maker)
 The Chicago Modern Quilt Guild and the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild made some connections, mostly thanks to Camp Stitchalot
and QuiltCon 2015.  A swap of mini quilts was proposed, and several of us in both guilds jumped all over it!.  My swap partner has not yet received hers - all Chicago minis are in the mail.  I used fabrics from designer Alison Glass and wove them over a neutral background.   I love the back almost as much as the front - it's Art Gallery's fabric "I am a Maker".  The wool batting gives the machine quilting a nice dimension that isn't very visible in these pictures.  The Ann Arbor Guild will receive their quilt next Monday!
"Give and Care" by Brenda Rowley Gray, AAMQG

Reverse of "Give and Care"
Meanwhile, the Chicago guild received their minis at last Sunday's meeting.  My mini- quilt is a "Give and Care" quilt, Brenda Gray's homage to Swiss Army blankets.  Brenda honored my color preference and told me about her uncles who died during World War II.  That my dad and uncles were veterans who survived this war makes Brenda's story even more meaningful. 

Give and Care?  It's what quilters do!

Monday, September 21, 2015

For the Interventional Radiology Surgical Team

 While my doctors are of course important to what I had done, so is their support team in the Operating Room.  Before my five-hour Angiovac, Nurse Eileen was particularly comforting and reassuring, telling me how fabulous this surgical team is and how they work together like family.  I remember smiling as the anesthesiologist gave me his magic drugs.  From the leftovers of the Alison Glass fabrics I used in my swap quilt (see next post which hasn't yet been written), I made this quilted Mors Bag for Eileen. 

 Inside Eileen's bag are 10 more bags, not quilted but absolutely functional.  This morning at my one-month checkup, I asked nurse Ben (this place - Vascular/Interventional Radiology of Hinsdale - hires the nicest people) to make sure Eileen and the surgical team got this package.  I also have another 10 bags in process and asked for a call if these bags are a hit and more of the team or spouses want more.  I dont want to be overly dramatic, but this team saved my life and I would do anything for them.

more bags in process, including some manly ones

 Finally, one of John's beautiful jazz t-shirts got kind of creepy looking in the armpits and neck.  But it's a beautiful shirt.  So we salvaged the good part and turned it into a Mors bag.  I think John will use it as a door prize at the Brookfield Jazz Society.

                                        I am happy to be sewing and to be alive! 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Getting My Head Out Of My Medical Butt

Regaining my sewing mojo?  Easier said than done.  So I revert to an old favorite - Mors Bags.  They are pretty simple to do.  They are great at stash busting.  They provide a great sense of accomplishment.  And now I have a lot of bags all ready to give away.  To be able to focus on someone other than myself is important to me at this point.  I am going to start with the Surgical Team of the Interventional Radiologists - what a fabulous group.  Without being overly dramatic, they saved my life. 

You can see that I am trying to rid my stash of all these batiks, some of which are over 10 years old.  There's a pile in the bottom left that are all part of a demo I am doing at my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild next week.  I still have several more I want to do, especially of bags that are a bit more manly.  (I have run into my knee surgeon a couple of times at the grocery store, sporting one of the Mors bags I gave him).  Since batiks are so tightly woven, I don't line them.  The next batch will all be ones that must be lined.  But whether the bags are lined or unlined, the technique is the same.  The very bottom bag is one that I made months ago, and we truly use it on an almost daily basis. 

Reduce (my fabric stash), reuse (these cloth bags and wash them when necessary) , recycle (by saying no to plastic bags). 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bit by Bit, Putting It Together...

Sondheim, right?  When stuck for words, I go to Sondheim.  This particular song is from "Sunday in the Park with George" and refers to mounting an artist's exhibition.  In my case, the "bit by bit" is getting my life under control after a 13-day hospitalization involving a brutal but successful cardiovac (google only if you have a strong constitution) to get rid of systemic blood clots.  One bit is gaining stamina.  Today I am doing some driveway walking and marching.  Tomorrow I will do more than today, and  I may even drive!  

A second bit is what's on the design wall.  My Chicago Modern Quilt Guild is doing  a swap of mini quilts with the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt GuildThe Chicago minis were collected at the August meeting and sent to the Ann Arbor girls.    I want to get this mini-quilt finished in time for their September meeting.  All parts are ready for assembly.  I'm calling this "Woven Glass" because all the fabrics are by designer Alison Glass.  And tomorrow I will start to actually sew and begin quilting it.

The third bit is just regaining some normalcy despite a glut of tests and doctor appointments all through September.  I've been home from the hospital for three days and am just delighting in being in my house with John without an IV and without 8-hour blood draws.  Blood thinning medication is an absolute necessity, and I will keep it monitored closely.  Meanwhile John is still recuperating from his second vitrectomy on his left eye. 

Daily I will find joy, and daily I will do something purposeful.  And I am smiling.  A lot.  I'm a lucky girl with fabulous support from family, friends, and a great team of doctors. 
Out of all the patients at LaGrange and Hinsdale Hospitals, I know that I had the prettiest quilted bags.

This quilt was delivered in early August.  Mom Joan Walsh commissioned this for her daughter Caroline, a recent graduate of Lyons Township, and gave it to her for her late August birthday.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

It's August for August!

Here's the back of the baby quilt for August, grandson of favorite client Roberta.  She buys the fabric, designs the layout, does the cutting, and then brings me the "kit."  She waits until her grandchildren are 2 or 3, which I think is pretty wise.  I love working with her.  Here's another quilt she designed.  There's another one, which I can't find right now.  I must get better at labelling.

I love how Roberta finds fabrics for what her grandchildren's parents want.  Waiting until the kids are a bit older makes these quilts special since they go with the child and the bedroom.  These quilts, including this one, are "draggers".  They are meant to be used and dragged around and washed a lot.

This lovely batik on the quilt back enhances the sea theme on the front of the quilt.

I don't know how Roberta found me, and she doesn't remember either.  All I know is that it's a good fit and I enjoy working with her! 

Here's a link to the first baby quilt I did for Roberta.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Working Inspiration Board

Without saying too much about what I'm working on, here's my palette.  The bottom left is the look I'm going for.  We'll see...  Meanwhile I'm working with one of my favorite clients - the grandmother who likes to buy fabric and create quilts for her grandchildren.  Except she doesn't want to sew.  She gives me a kit she's created.  And each time she's given me one of her kits, I bump her to the top of my queue because I like what she does.  And I love doing baby quilts.  Stay tuned for this quilt! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"But but but but but but but..."

"But what if I love this quilt and don't want to give it away?"  And that's when they whipped out this second quilt made for me to keep.  I was stunned - in the best possible way.  This quit - it is possible that it is prettier than the first one?  I see so many favorite fabrics.  Each block is beautiful.  Together they create a quilt that so appeals to my color and design anesthetic.  Melissa Bogusch, Debbie Bookman, Emily Bruzzini, Jennifer Benoit-Bryan, Mimi Djenno, Sarah Evans, Holly Harper, Beth Kovacic, Jennifer Lowe, Eileen O'Regan, Debbie Pine, Rachel Rivera, Tricia Royal, Wayne Rhodes, and Sarah Shulman are the makers of both of these quilts.  Frank Karls of T and F Studios did the quilting on both, and his quilting is flawless.

 My quilt has 12 blocks on the front and 3 blocks on the back.  And like with my mom's quilt, I am determined to figure out who did which ones.  Some I know because they are signed.  And some I know because of fabrics.  Emily B gave me some of the wonderful black-white leafish fabric to the left.  I know that is her block.  The coolest moment was receiving this second quilt - I didn't ugly cry but I was teary and stunned.  But the second best moment?  Looking around and seeing the grinning, delighted faces of those makers who were present that night.  The looks on their faces of love and pride and obviously happiness at pulling off this surprise (although I am pretty oblivious and they really can't take too much credit for that) is a tableau that will stay in my heart forever.

Each maker deserves a paragraph on their importance in my life.  I have sewn, retreated, travelled, and shared special meals with them.  Our discussions range from the cosmic with life and death issues to the mundane of purse strap lengths and the use of invisible magnets and various interfacings and battings.   They are a community of great importance, and their spirit of generosity is enormous.
 Most special is my friend Wayne's participation in these - we have been QuiltFriendsForever ever since we picked each other up at a Fiber Arts Show at the Botannical Gardens in November 2007.

I love these quilts.  I love those who participated in them.  And I am so lucky and blessed to be a part of this community.  Appreciative?  Thankful?  Both don't seem strong enough.  Thrilled, pleased beyond pleased.  These quilts are indeed the most generous, nicest, and most beautiful gifts I have received.  Ever.

I wish it were cold so I could use mine.  Now.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Karma and My Mother's Altruism

My mother lived to serve others.  Not just family and friends but often strangers.  She once took in a woman who badly burned her hands and arms and was all bandaged from fingers to elbows.  Not only did my mom do all the personal care for this young woman, this woman had an infant who also needed tending to.  She did this for over 4 weeks. 

Have you heard of those long-married couples who die just days apart?  After my dad died last July, I kept looking at my mom.  Her Alzheimer's robbed her of all memories, and she was just mostly pleasantly blank.  When she died in December, we all felt a wonderful sense of relief.

My quilty friends have been with me for the past five years and through this journey with my folks.  After my mom died, I shared with them the family's request:  that acts of charity be done in my mom's honor.  I also apparently said (and I don't remember this but I'm sure it's true) to not make me a quilt.

This weekend I was with some of my quilty besties, and at dinner Friday night they presented me with this quilt.  And the proviso attached is that this quilt be given to someone or some organization in honor of my mom Joanne Marie Long White.  I am eager to talk with my sister and brothers and see what thoughts they have about to how best to gift this quilt. 

I think this quilt is beauitiful.  It is 12 blocks of 20" modern log cabins.  There is one red that contributors each used, which gives the quilt a wonderful unity.  Some signed their blocks, and some didn't.  I am determined to find out who made each block.  "I spy with my little eye" some of my favorite fabrics.  To see them in combination makes my heart smile.  I love this quilt.

When the girls told me I must give this away, I said, "But but but but but what if I love this and can't give it away?" They laughed - heartily, I might add - and said they knew I would say this.  And that's when they....

Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog post.  My heart is too full to tell the rest of this story today.