Karen writes about life as a Quiltmaker in Austin, Texas; surviving in an empty nest, marriage, cooking, gardening and (did I say?) Quilting...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Quilting to Soothe the Soul

Well, as though things weren't busy enough, I had to take a brief detour last month and spend a week away from home. My mom went to her Doctor with a complaint of feeling tired, and breathless when working in her garden. Her Osteopath sent her to her heart Doctor THAT AFTERNOON, and he promptly put her in the hospital. She "failed" the stress test, and further tests indicated serious blockages in three arteries needing immediate attention. Mom is a heretofore healthy 73 years old!

A Triple Bypass later, she spent a week in recovery. I arrived a few days after the surgery, to help dad in the daily slog to and from the hospital, about 30 miles away in nearby downtown Dallas (they live about halfway between Dallas and Ft. Worth. At 77, Dad no longer enjoys driving far from home, and can't drive at night. We ended up doing a "split shift" which him at the hospital mornings, and me there in the afternoon and evening. It left me with some time to kill at their home, and after I spent a few days doing some cleaning chores around the house, I ended up with a little time on my hands (they are on a dial up connection - using the Internet too time consuming to be attractive!). What to do?

Of course, not to be without some quilting work, I had taken my trusty Elna 62C and the bag O' Purple - a large blanket sized bag of purple quarters, yards and scraps that has been the source for one purple quilt, and now is serving as the source for two additional tops - for nieces. I have to admit that this is not MY favorite color. To that end, I've decided to use the colors to put to use in learning new techniques. Last spring, I used the purples at a Pat Speth workshop on Nickle quilts, and recently, I took it to a great workshop by Lynn Roddy Brown of Houston.

She taught a wonderful technique for a pattern she called "Texas Two Step", a variation of a fairly common block that involves two 4-patches, and two half square triangles, set in a particular way.

However, rather than set up the Elna on the dining room table, I decided it was high time I cleaned up my Grandmother's treadle operated Singer 66. Mom inherited Grandma's machine and brought it home sometime in the early 90's. My Grandmother, Birdie Lee Fillette, though not a woman of means, lived a long and fruitful life, raising 8 of her own children, many of her years as a single mother, her husband being not the best of father figures - as they used to say "he drank a bit"... at any rate, she sewed clothing for all the kids, and in 1946, just after WWII, she purchased, new (on "time), at the local Singer Dealer in Alexandria, Louisiana, the Singer. A model 66, is a no-frills model, with a "Godzilla" crinkle finish, and a plain 3 drawer cabinet. It has seen so much use, the crinkle finish is worn smooth across the bed... it turns over with great ease. Mom rescued it from the small home her mother was living in when the family moved her into a nursing home in the early 1990's. My grandmother lived to be 95 years old, passing on in 1999. I remember visiting her many times, and seeing her using the machine. She often credited the use of the treadle as a reason for her long life. She said it was great exercise and one of the reasons for her great "legs"! Indeed, she was always a trim woman!

Mom said she bought the treadle rather than an electric model as that was what she had before, and she said she saw no reason to waste electricity when she could sew perfectly well without it.!

At any rate, sometime last year I had fitted it with a new belt, and oiled it up, but had not had time to take it for "a ride".

I decided to take all the pre-cut pieces and try putting them together with the Treadle.

While my technique probably needs help, it wasn't too difficult to work the machine, and I was soon sewing at a clip. By the end of my visit, I had finished a good number of blocks... I'll post them when I get them all put together... Here's a picture of just one block, and a postcard of the pattern I made as a thank you for Lynn...

By the way, she has a new book out, which I highly recommend - this pattern is in the book, called Simple Strategies for Scrap Quilts. Her web site is http://www.lynnroddybrown.com/. There you can see a full size version of this quilt done scrappy. It's a great pattern, and can be set in many different ways. Because you have the half dark, and half light, it's easily adapted to any settings you've seen for log cabin patterns...

The work was not only good exercise, but it was very relaxing, especially helpful in dealing with the stress of visting mom daily at the hospital - what work that was! So difficult to see loved ones suffering, and so out of sorts. Though it is truly miraculous the work that Doctors can do now for such problems that once would have meant a shorter life, and an end of suffering.

Mom went home, and is recovering well... I hope this is her last visit for big "work" for a while!
I saved the purple blocks, and will finish up the next group next time I visit. As for now, I am still working nightly on finishing up the Wedding Ring quilt for mom by Christmas. Now only tiny hearts hand quilted in the rings to finish up - then BIND!

PIECE and Happy Seams to all
- Karen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad everything is ok.