Letter Challenge

Have you ever made a craft (in my case, a quilt) that just didn’t “work” for you the whole way through?  You didn’t feel good about it to begin with, but you carried on anyway and then you couldn’t seem to make it work no matter what.  It’s happened to me several times before, but I was beginning to feel a little cocky, thinking I knew how to put together quilts.   And, here I am now, with a piece of crap that I’m going to try to pass for a quilt…  :o( <eye roll and sigh>

One of the guilds I belong to has a “challenge” that is due October 2nd.  The challenge is to make a quilt with letters on it, any kind of letters.  It could be a “Dear John” letter quilt.  It could be a baby quilt with letters of the alphabet on it?  Really… how hard can that be?  Well, teacher of reading that I at one time was… I was stumped!  I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do related to letters.  I almost did not participate.  Then I remembered a pattern by Edyta Sitar in one of her books that I have that I’ve been wanting to use for some fabric strips from a fabric exchange.  It’s a wall hanging called Family Estate from her book Friendship Strips and Scraps.  I had some beige background fabric that looks like cross-stitched letters on it, so I could easily “cheat” and use that and then add EST. 1974 (for “established” in 1974 – the year my husband and I were married) at the bottom.

Okay!  So, I had my idea and I proceeded to look through my scraps for fabric swatches.  I had fabric strips from a “strip exchange” with folks from the forum of “The Quilt Show” with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.  I could use those for the logs on the house.  I wasn’t sure about my choice of border fabrics, so I thought I’d look while I was out at the quilt stores dropping off flyers for the Hollis Chatelain event (2 more days now, but who’s counting?).  I looked for my standard basic black background color fabric that should go with my home decor, but I found myself drawn to this brown fabric.  I think it was the red and pink swirly things that look kind of like quilting feathers that sucked me into buying that fabric.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like the fabric.  Just wait until you see the colors I put with it, though.  I got a contrasting fabric from the same fabric line for the thin inner border and started working on the quilt.

This wall hanging would be about 2 square feet, finished.  So, it shouldn’t take too much effort.  Wrong!  I started out fussing over the fabric strips from the exchange.  I wanted reds for the house, but I only had about 3 strips that would work.  And, red is funny with all its different shades, so I had to nix that idea.  So, I started looking at my strips and saw that I had a lot of blues.  Well, blue just wasn’t going to look right with that brown border.  When I looked a little closer at the border fabric, I noticed there were dots of teal in it.  Okay.  I had blues, greens, and teals that would blend together and might draw out that little speck of teal in the brown border fabric.  That should pull it all together, right?




Wrong!  Yuck!  This is the finished top.  I’m a crappy “piecer” too.  Good thing I do quilting for others, because I am much more tolerant of others who do not have perfectly pieced tops because of my own inability at it also.  Nothing was working for me.  The background fabric with the letters on it is barely noticeable as having letters since it is cut up and not one big piece of fabric.  And, how does that “EST.” qualify for a “letter” quilt challenge???  So, I just sat this aside and decided that when I put the layers together to quilt it, I will quilt my first name and my husband’s first name into it along with our last name.  Then I’ll add both our daughters’ names to the stitching.  Although I’m not real happy with this product, it’ll have to do for this challenge.  The letters will be in the quilting and I will call it a day… well, several days… and surely one day that will not end with an award for winning the challenge!

Good grief!  Who would have thought a “letter challenge” could be such a challenge?

Eye see it now… I think.

For those of you who do or do not know me personally, here is the latest update on my left eye.  This may well be the most boring of my posts yet!  😉  I basically only have one eye that I use to quilt with.  Right now I almost cannot see at all out of my left eye.  It’s like looking through a cloud.  But, I just had a tube shunt put into my left eye on Monday to help control the pressure in that eye (my bad eye).  I think good eye pressure numbers are between 15 and 20.  Mine has been as high as 46.

But, I’ve had several surgeries on that eye, so it’s been a little pissed off and rightfully so.   Hopefully, as my eye heals from this latest surgery, the “cloud” will clear up to wax paper vision, so I’ve got better peripheral vision in that left eye when I drive.  Yes, I can drive.  I am legally blind in that left eye, but so far my right eye is playing nice so that I can continue to drive.  I don’t yet feel comfortable being the driver with passengers (other than my dogs).

Cataracts tend to develop over several years before the eye doctors will do surgery… something about not being able to correct your vision with 20/50 lenses or better.  So, by the time you get your cataracts removed and a new lens put in, you have difficulty reading huge letters and numbers (like the price of gas on those big signs at gas stations – that huge).  I had cataract surgery on my left eye February, 2011 and on my right eye in April, 2011.  By the end of September, 2011 I started having serious problems with my left eye.  Apparently, the retina had detached several months before with no symptoms in my vision.  Because it had been detached for so long, there were now rips and tears, holes, and LOTS of scar tissue building up in there.

My first retinal surgery was the end of September, 2011.  They removed what scar tissue they could and repaired what damage they could.  They also put oil in my eye instead of a gas bubble.  That meant that I’d have to get the oil removed later with another surgery.  I think the decision for the oil instead of the gas bubble was to help hold things in place longer and with less restrictions.   By the time they were ready to do my next surgery to remove the oil and put a gas bubble in its place, my eye pressure was up to 46.  Drops helped the pressure, but it liked to hover in the 30s.

So, my second retinal surgery was the mid/late January, 2012 when they put a gas bubble in my eye which was dissipating quickly.  My retina detached a little over a week later.  My third retina surgery was February 6, 2012.  This time they put a scleral buckle around my eyeball, hopefully to hold the retina in place better.  That surgery was very painful with painful lingering effects.

My spirits were soooo down during this time.  After retina surgery, you have to lay flat in some way.  I had to lay face-down for 24 hours after my first surgery and then on my sides for the next week or more.  After each retinal surgery, the restrictions increased with the surgeries in 2012 resulting in me not being allowed to do anything at all other than lay on my left side – it made for a painful cauliflower ear.  I wasn’t allowed to read or use the computer for weeks and not allowed to sew either.  Nor was I allowed to get up and move around or do any chores.

With nothing but time on your hand, the thoughts that go through your mind are very depressing and “trying” to your spirits.  I really did want to die, especially if I would have to have another retinal surgery.  I can’t tell you how difficult it is for me to just sit or lay and do nothing.  It was quite a mental struggle for me – I had reached rock bottom.  During this time I tried to figure out “why.”  Why had this happened to me and why was I required to lay there in solitude and emptiness and do nothing?  I believe things happen for a reason, so I figured the lesson I was supposed to learn was to stop over-doing and always doing stuff.  Slow down and smell the coffee.  Life is short – we shouldn’t be in such a rush as to take it and the people in our lives for granted.  Through this I learned that people’s feelings play such a bigger role in their being than I’d ever imagined.  We tend to get so crazy busy with our lives that we forget how our actions and words will affect others.

So, for now, my goal is to bring beauty to the world of others through my quilting, through providing knowledge for others about the different aspects of quilting, and through acceptance of the differing personalities in the world, but also through trying to make all feel accepted, vital and special in their part and gifts to our world.

Yes, with each eye surgery I will lose a bit more physical vision and I risk another retinal detachment each time they poke or dig around in my eye.  Also, I am dealing with lattice degeneration in my “good” right eye, which means that the retina will most likely detach in my right eye in time.  But, as I deal with the loss of physical vision, I think I’ve learned to see things more clearly in the emotional and sensual realm.   In time I may become legally blind in both eyes, but I will continue to “see” in different ways.  And, I will surely quilt until the day I die regardless of whether or not I can “see” what I’m doing.  Otherwise, my spirit truly will die – my quilting is my lifeline.  I hope that sharing it with you will provide a lifeline for you as well.

Here is a quilt I made with one eye.

And, here is the detail stitching that I put in it  of a fairy smelling the flower (using one eyeball).

By the way, this quilt was juried and made it into the American Quilter’s Society show in Grand Rapids, Michigan August 22-25, 2012.

The point is… things happen to us, but it’s how we choose to react that makes us who we are.

Hello world!

Happy Sunday morning!  We so needed the rain today, a good atmosphere for quilting!  After all the eye surgeries, and working like a cyclops, I am finally finished with my latest quilt.  I was one of 615 participants in the SOTTT (Sisterhood of the Traveling Triangles) exchange.  Edyta Sitar was on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims showing quilts that could be made with fabric exchanges.  That’s when Debbie posted on the forum that she would like to start a Half Square Triangle exchange.  Little did she know the work involved!  Anyhow, it grew into 615 participants from around the world.   I had a lot of fun putting the quilt from this exchange together and then quilting it.   

So, it’s off to get to the rest of  my neglected house and to the quilt guild meeting this week!  Have a super week!