Friday, August 31, 2007

a nesting village

I've just finished up the top for another baby quilt and am now happily at work quilting the layers together. I returned to my 'new favorite' pattern - the adaptation of the good old log cabin or 'the village' pattern. I first used this adaptation in april for the 'it takes a village' quilt and then again in june for 'tweet, tweet, meow, meow." however, for this quilt I've moved away from the pastels I used in tweet meow and have returned to the stronger, brighter color palette that I enjoy.

when I make a quilt for someone I like to gather information about what the person or the family is like and what their interests are. this baby quilt will be given as a shower gift from some colleagues at the future mother's workplace. I interviewed the person who is closest to the new mama to tell me a bit about the family - what I learned was that the new mama and papa do not want to know the sex of the baby they want to be surprised; they are very proud and connected to their ukrainian roots and they like bright colors. that was all....but with a little magic (I hope) enough.

I did a bit of research about the urkraine and also relied on my own understanding of the traditions of the region. I hope that my interpretations are good, the 'symbols' fun and there is nothing amiss! of course I had to add a bit of my new mouse fabric....which I now realize I'm running out of - best go stock up on it before it becomes out of print! eek!
insert flag of the ukraine

Thursday, August 30, 2007

remembering mothers

last week I finally finished my block for the project to help raise awareness on maternal mortality which I discussed a while back on my main blog- mouse medicine. I received an email earlier today from ina may, the midwife who started the project I'm happy to report that she is very pleased with the block and asked if I'd be interested in doing another. answer: enthusiastic YES! unfortunately, I'm not as pleased as ina may with this block, in my dash to get the block done, I didn't read the instructions carefully - what was in my mind was a block 16"x12" and I didn't see I was supposed to have a 1" margin all around! so there I was all done and I had to go back and tweak my design - and the block shown here is the result of the tweaking. ah, much wisdom in the sampler adage 'haste makes waste'....

I used gold metallic threat to stitch the name, date and place of the woman for whom this block is commemorating, unfortunately it doesn't show up very well in the photograph. the woman who died first name was rose (hence the rose fabrics in the shoofly blocks) and her last name was church. I did not have much biographical information on the woman and the only thing I learned was she died a week or so after giving birth to her daughter from a childbirth-related complication that her husband believed was avoidable. so sad and tragic.

it was an honor to participate in this very important project and I urge others to join the effort. please visit ina may's safe motherhood quilt project site for more information. I look forward to continuing to contribute towards this important educational activity.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

raindrops and whiskers...

the finished quilt top.

one of my quilt projects has been working with a wonderful group of people from an area nursing home. a friend of mine is a physician at the facility and during a visit to a facility out of state he learned about a ceremony of closure and affirmation that this facility conducts after one of it's residents passes on. he came back to cleveland filled with a desire to start something similar at the facility where he works. up until then this nursing facility was not doing anything special in the event of a resident's death. my friend p is part of a committee at the nursing home to help enhance the sense of community at the facility. he thought this committee was a natural place to introduce this idea of his and see if he could generate some interest among his colleagues. needless to say everyone thought it was a terrific idea.

early this year p asked if I was interested in helping out on a project to develop a ceremony or 'rite of passage' in the event of someone's death. p knew I was very familiar with the nursing home since before I said adios to 'working for the man' I worked at the hospital that the nursing home is part of. one aspect of my job entailed coordinating and supervising the resident physicians educational experiences at the facility (I was also was quite fond of joining in during the holiday caroling. in fact for years I've felt that I was part of the nursing home family). p thought my background with the place and the fact that I'm a quilter and an applied sociologist would make me a good resource for the group. when he asked if I would be interested in helping out, I leaped at invitation.

in january I began to meet with the committee. over the course of a couple months we met. I discussed some fundamentals about quilting and also shared what the overall goal was for the quilt. we developed a basic plan. the group decided that since no one had any sewing experience we would choose a very simple quilt design. the group wanted to make a quilt that had some meaning for the people who lived and worked at the facility. one aspect of our plan was that the staff would survey the residents regarding 'their favorite things,' after the results were tabulated and analyzed the staff would scour fabric shops for remnants which captured and represented these things or concepts.

once the design was decided on and the fabrics gathered the committee met one saturday morning in march and had a sew-a-thon. we set up the main activity room as a work room. several sewing machines were brought in along with an ironing board, and cutting tools. I gave instructions on using the rotary cutter and the importance of making sure everything was cut uniformly and seams were consistent and even when it came time to start constructing the blocks. after the blocks were made, I volunteered to bring the blocks home. the plan was that I would sew all the blocks together with simple sashing strips. unfortunately things don't always go according to plans! oh well, that is life! as my friends and family can attest one of my favorite sayings has long been "adapt or die" - simple as I thought the blocks would be to construct they were not uniform. while the goal was to have a simple square inside four triangles of equal size, I found I was faced with having blocks that neither had uniform squares inside nor were these squares (or rectangles) surrounded by equal triangles. out went the idea of sewing the blocks together with sashing strips!

however things were far from lost. the goal of course was the same - I just had to come up with a plan to have the final blocks be of uniform size and sew them all together. having just finished a few quilts that were informed by the very traditional log cabin design I decided that sewing together two 'frames' around the slightly askew blocks would work. in addition to the 'favorite thing' fabrics the committee had settled on three colors to be used in the quilt, the colors are the colors of the larger institution that the nursing home is part of. unfortunately each block had to be customized and hence the putting together the top took me a great deal longer than I had initially anticipated.

with traveling, my work, and summer all 'getting in the way' I must say it was late july before I had the quilt top finished. and because of summer I haven't been back to meet with the committee to tell them what I had to do. I did get word to my friend p and told him I had to modify the initial plan in other words I had to adapt or the quilt would die.

the group after our saturday sew-a-thon!

one member of the group providing a little sewing instruction.

detail of blocks - one friend remarked it's evocative of the gee's bend quilts. wow that's pretty far out!