Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March of Dimes, SHARE Atlanta Team or Happy Birthday, Jacob

Twelve years ago today, our last baby boy slipped away from us. 

I was no stranger to miscarriage.  We had said goodbye to two babies before our sons arrived, and I was actively involved with SHARE Atlanta, a local pregnancy and newborn loss support group.  With their love and encouragement, we were able to acknowledge and remember Jacob in a completely different way than the shell shocked mourning for his siblings. 

One thing I have found is that certain dates roll around and remind me, no matter how busy I am or how far I've moved along.  This year is no exception; last week I was asked to participate in a public service announcement for The March of Dimes and SHARE Atlanta.  It was kind of last minute, and we were asked to bring mementos of our children.  I quickly grabbed a journal with cards and poems tucked inside as I ran out the door, hesitated, then pulled the snowflake quilt off the wall.

During the taping, I showed my friends this quilt and explained that it had been a guild challenge.  The theme was "Snowflakes - No Two Alike".  At the time it was announced, I immediately knew what I would do.  In the SHARE Atlanta groups, we have often compared our children to snowflakes - each one tiny and precious, unique and irreplaceable, and too quickly gone.  It's hard to see from the photo, but the large snowflakes on this quilt are really pictures of my three living children scanned and printed onto silk.  I don't have pictures of the tiny babies we have lost, so I found a picture online of a baby at 8 weeks gestation, which is when things really went wrong for me each time. 

I love this quilt because it is just one of the quiet ways I remember those children who helped mold me into the mother I am today.  It's not loud or in your face; no one but me really knows the meaning behind the three extra little snowflakes.  This is quilt therapy in its purest form for me.

So this past Sunday, the secret got out.  The show aired and, of course, we had no idea which two minutes of the two hour taping would make it onto the screen.  I smiled to myself, thrilled that both the snowflake quilt and another quilt I did years ago for SHARE Atlanta were a part of the story.

You can watch the video here:

Happy birthday, Jacob!  Mama loves you!

You can walk with or donate to the SHARE Atlanta team, or find a local team to support.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Another Little Quilt Swap

Have you ever participated in a quilt swap? I have swapped fabric in strips, squares, and scraps; I have swapped postcards, ATCs, and blocks; but never a whole quilt. My biggest reason has always been that I'm afraid I will let someone down by not finishing or mailing it on time.

As a fan of Kate North's blogs, both personal and for the ALQ Swap, I have watched with interest for awhile.  Now I think I might be ready to jump in.  Kate has adjusted the rules enough that I feel comfortable with my responsibility - no one is officially entered into the swap until the quilt is done.  If life happens, no worries!

She's also doing a great ATC give-away to promote the swap, so head on over and check it out.  As a recipient of some of Kate's work, I can attest to both the quality and creativity.

How do you connect with other artists?  What sparks your creativity?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Top 40

Over the past several months, many of my friends and I have hit the big 4-0 milestone, and celebrated in any number of ways. I don't think it's a coincidence that our urge to get healthy has bumped up a notch at the same time.

One of the women, Perrie, is an incredible inspiration to me. In addition to turning 40 in December, she is also celebrating 5 years of survivorship after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Perrie came up with the intriguing and sometimes frustrating goal to list 40 things we'd like to do this year...things that force us outside our comfort zone and signify non-scale milestones.

I have really struggled with this after putting two things on the list that I had already done, and not by choice. To celebrate my birthday, a group of girls surprised me by taking me to a Greek restaurant where I was plied with Ouzo and urged to belly dance on the table. Later, we went to a local bar (doubling the average age of the patrons as soon as we hit the door) where I was cajoled and bullied into riding the mechanical bull. Outside my comfort zone? YOU BET!

But after those two things, it's been tricky. The belly dancing class we took in December gave me one more, but three is a long way from 40!  Luckily, though my weight loss has pretty much stalled with the restrictions on walking and general laziness during the winter, my friend has rolled right along and is over 60lbs down!  To celebrate, we took a Zumba class on Friday night.  What an awesome workout!  My foot was a little tender, but I just couldn't help moving to the music.

So I'm up to four things on my list.  A tenth of the way there with no new ideas in sight.  Oh, I take that back.  I did set a goal for myself to enter a quilt in a show other than my own guild.  So that's five. 

What challenges you?  What would you put on the list?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

National Quilting Day 2010

Did you know that today is National Quilting Day? The NQA has a free project to celebrate. It would be perfect to use scraps from your stash to complete it.

Other activities for the day might include a Shop Hop, such as the one going on in Atlanta this weekend, a class, or a stitch in.  Google "National Quilting Day 2010" and your city to find out what's going on in your neck of the woods!

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have time to take a few stitches and give thanks for the artists who have handed down this wonderful pastime over the generations.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bulloch Hall Quilt Show 2010 - The Great Cover-Up! - The Review

Today the WannaBees had our annual field trip to the Bulloch Hall Quilt Show.   We were short a few members with Lynne sick and Lene AWOL, but the rest of us were able to gather.  We had to wrap up the day at Fickle Pickle, as usual, and sample the fried pickles and homemade potato chips. 

These two quilts are hanging together just as you walk in the door.  It took me a minute to realize that they are the same drawing!  Lisa T. tells the whole story.  What an incredible pairing!  It leaves you with quite the first impression.

This quilt, entitled "Beach Baby," made by Molly Eckes Samuels from a photo of her granddaughter, captured my heart.  It reminds me of this print by Carolyn Blish that hung in my grandparents' porch for as long as I can remember.  Gram used to say that it reminded her of me.  I couldn't quite walk away from this one for awhile.

In the Morning Room was the display of their guild challenge quilts.  The theme was "Don't Worry...Be Happy."  There were many bright, happy quilts, but I have to confess this is my favorite.  In the words of the artist, Patsy Eckman, "This quilt represents the theme...as only a Golden Retriever can."

There was a fun display of "first quilts," which is one of my favorite categories to view. I had to laugh at the first quilt of a woman I know...it is the sampler quilt from a beginning quilting class I also took. Of course, my blocks and parts of blocks are still in a Ziploc bag...but I digress...

Another first quilt was by Cody Anne Moss, who is also a member of our guild and one of the funniest women you will ever meet. Her first quilt never quite got finished, but she shared it anyway. I love the commentary. In case you can't read it in the picture it says, "Red basting thread is always a brave choice." The rest of her description of this almost-finished quilt is a scream!

But by far, the highlight of any show is seeing the quilts by WannaBees.  I have never put a quilt in Bulloch Hall's show, or anywhere but my own guild's show; however, Ben did us proud (as always).

Here he is with "Madison Before the Boom":
And the piece de resistance...
..."Sunbonnet Sue Goes to the Museum."  Yes, that's a Sponsor's Choice Blue Ribbon from Atlanta Sewing Center on Ben's quilt!

Congratulations, Ben!   I am honored to sew with you, glad to call you friend, and still waiting for some of that creativity to rub off.

Ben's success in the various quilt shows left me thinking about sharing my own quilts.  Although my talent and artistry aren't even on the same scale, I loved each and every quilt in the Bulloch Hall show - from the "Dear Jane" to the dated fabrics and clunky stitches of those first quilts.  My challenge to you today is to find a quilt show and submit at least one quilt this year.  I'm going to do the same!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bulloch Hall Quilt Show 2010 - The Great Cover-Up!

I'll be visiting the Bulloch Hall Quilt Show on Thursday, but wanted to let you know in case I don't get my notes and pictures up before the weekend.

It's a great show every year with over 200 quilts. This year it runs from March 13-24.

Don't miss it!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Block Swap UFO

Looking through my UFOs this week, I decided to pull out some 4 inch blocks from a swap I was in almost 10 years ago! One of my dearest friends, Pam, was in a bee group called The Cut-Ups. (How cute is that?) They were doing this swap and allowed me to participate.

Each month we each made seven 4" blocks and traded. I think we did it for about 8 months, because I ended up with 56 blocks. I know I made more than 8, and I remember someone not finishing all of theirs, but that's about it.

For inspiration, we used this book:

It is a fascinating collection of work. We had amazing applique and embroidery...

Precious patchwork...

Some paper piecing...

Some blocks were a somber sign of the times...

Some were just plain funny...

But they all remind me of a stage in my quilting life - the fabric leftovers from what I happened to be working on, the blocks we all made together at a retreat, and the people who have inspired me along the way. I can't wait to see them united at last.
What do your UFOs remind you of?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Going to Guild - Mary Ann Henderson

I totally forgot to tell you about going to guild last week!

Mary Ann Henderson from Red Hen Quilts did a program called "Thinking Out of the Box." She's a funny lady who makes beautiful quilts out of some crazy scraps!

She reminds me a little bit of a cross between Bonnie Hunter and Flavin Glover. Like Bonnie, no fabric is too outlandish, ugly, or themed to avoid being cut up for a quilt, as long as it serves her purpose; however, like Flavin, Mary Ann creates a "bigger picture" in many of her quilts. I'm not sure how you develop the eye to realize that this pumpkin fabric has the right pop of orange or these Elvis fabrics are just crying to be next to one another, but Mary Ann has it!

We had a great time fondling her fabulous quilts and listening to the stories of the artist's mind.

Thank you, Mary Ann, for that glimpse into your "process" and for making us laugh!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In the Beginning - Sampler Quilt

Sorry for the long Wordless Wednesday stretch. I haven't been outside in the sunshine playing with my kids and ignoring you, much as I wish that were true. No, these days the black hole that sucks any extra time out of my day has been the gala and auction for my daughter's school.

Every year they host a beautiful party with literally hundreds of silent auction items, along with a live auction of a few eye-popping trips, jewelry and more. I am the computer girl for all of this so, needless to say, it's been a busy few days...weeks...months.

It's a good news/bad news kind of thing. The bad news is that I haven't been working out nearly every day, nor have I been posting or quilting much. My house needs a good cleaning and my husband is pretty much over the stories from school.

The good news is we raised some nice money for the school tuition assistance program and technology fund - both needed in this economy - and that I did get to the gym some, which is more than during last year's gala season. I also made a 1000% improvement over last year in the dinner/grocery routine, using my handy crock pot and, gasp!, actually going to the grocery store on a regular basis. I know, I know, crazy stuff.

And through it all, I made this:

This is some very good news. Potentially. I have been offered the chance to teach a beginning quilting class. This is all dependent upon enough people signing up for the class. I decided that more people would be interested if they could see what they would be making. After all, that's what gets my attention.

It took a while to decide exactly how much I could squeeze into four short classes, but I came up with this quilt which, I think, covers the basics. The shop gave me 2 yards of these Lila Tueller fabrics by Moda to work with - YUM! (The neutral in the middle is from my stash...sorry, no selvage left to give credit.)

I've included applique and piecing, sashing, borders and binding, and both hand and machine quilting - although I'm not delusional enough to think I can teach those completely. I just want the students to leave at the end knowing how to finish their quilt. When I left my beginning quilting class 14 years ago, I had a few blocks, some pieces of blocks, and no clue what to do next. I'll give you three guesses where they are now. (Hint: there is a Ziploc bag in the answer.)

So we'll see how it turns out. Maybe no one will sign up. But maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of a new journey.

What's new in your world these days?
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