Friday, July 22, 2011

Going gets tough

One of the best things about sewing, I think, is that I have quiet time to think. Some people like to have the television on somewhere in the background, or music, both of which I do occasionally, but usually it’s just silence. Just me, my thoughts, and the hum of my machine. And man, have I had plenty to think about. Worry, actually, since there hasn’t been much I can do about anything.

It all happened at once: On July 1, my future son-in-law was “furloughed” from his job (a lay-off), along with 18 other engineers at the same firm. My daughter has a job, but who knew a job as a writer/editor would be more secure than an engineering job? In this economy, I guess no job is secure.

Then on Sunday, July 3, my brother-in-law Robert Hamilton survived a small plane crash near his ranch in Colorado. He went up in a 1941 bi-plane piloted by his friend, flying over the ranch and seeing the local sights. The plane crashed in a ravine on national forest land, for no apparent reason. The pilot died. Robert was injured, but tried to get his friend out of the plane. He had to run as the plane caught fire and exploded. Here are a couple of news reports, with pictures:

A short video, showing the burned terrain (the crash started a forest fire):

My sister had gone shopping with the wife of the pilot and several other women. There was a short time when she didn’t know exactly what had happened and believed that Robert had also died in the crash. She didn’t let him out of her sight for the next week.

The third thing: My daughter Genevieve (liver transplant girl) discovered a lump in her breast. What else could happen to her? The radiologist in Tennessee told her to get to a surgeon immediately. On July 5, the surgeon at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis said the lump couldn’t be identified for sure and would have to come out.

In the midst of this, I took my granddaughter to our local 4th of July carnival:

And when the going gets tough—and there is nothing else I can do—I turn to sewing. The thinking time helps me come to terms with what is happening, I suppose. I pulled out a small UFO, quilted it by machine, and gave it to my quilt guild for a silent auction at our quilt show in October:

I called this “Raining Color,” 18 inches by 20 inches. The pattern is Exquisite, from Gwen Marston’s 1996 book Liberated Quiltmaking. I should say non-pattern, because there is no pattern or template. You just make it with scraps, piecing corners of various sizes onto squares. I’ve made several versions of this, and it’s one of my favorite creative exercises. (I just looked up this book on Amazon, and it’s $90, for heaven’s sake!! Must be out of print. I see my book collection is becoming valuable.) Liberated Quiltmaking is perhaps my favorite quilting book EVER. Seriously. Liberated Quiltmaking II is a recent version, much more affordable.

Anyway, I finished a little quilt and gave it away. Then I made aprons for Genevieve and Danica out of the butterfly fabric that they both liked:

This is the Four Corners Apron from Vanilla House Designs:
I guessed at the measurements for a child, but I see on the Vanilla House website that there is also a child-size pattern for this same apron. These aprons made me happy as I sewed them, and Genevieve and Danica liked them.

Then I bought fabric to make a jacket for myself for my youngest daughter’s wedding, and it’s about half done already. I am making the Chinese jacket from Folkwear patterns, a jacket I love and have made several times before:

The fabric is a brown embroidered silk, with the lining in orange silk flecked with brown. The jacket is actually reversible. I also bought two skirts to go with it, so I’ll have a choice. I hope the whole outfit looks good with my new cowgirl boots! I got the jacket to the half-way point, then I had to leave it and head for Tennessee so I could stay with Danica during Genevieve’s lump surgery on Monday.

Hard to believe she only had a 1-inch incision and she came home that afternoon. The results were positive—the surgeon said it looked like “dense tissue,” meaning a fibrous lump. She got the lab report yesterday, and all was benign. Hurray!

Now I am back home in Missouri with my sewing machine. Genevieve, another surgery behind her, is living life with a 5-year-old. My sister and her husband are still recovering from the shock of the plane crash, of course, which will take some time. And my future son-in-law has a job interview today. Hurray! Positive vibes running from Missouri to Colorado right now ….

Things have calmed down for the time being, but there’s my daughter’s ranch wedding coming up, and I already had a crazy dream about it. I still have tons to think about while I sew.


  1. Oh my dear what a rough July you have had. I'm so glad to hear that things are looking up. And I love both the small quilt and your wedding outfit. That jacket is going to be gorgeous! Sending happy thought your family's way...

  2. Can't wait to see the wedding jacket. The fabric is beautiful. The "Raining Color" quilt is very similar to one of your treasures I have hanging at my house. Isn't it wonderful to have a creative endeavor that gives you time to think and stay grounded? That's how I feel about my photography - long walks with my camera are the best time to reflect and refuel.

  3. You are so incredibly strong!

  4. I'm so glad things are turning around. Now you can focus on the wedding and your beautiful projects.

  5. Praise the Lord and pass the fabric through the machine!!! Love you Feltsey!

  6. I am such a fan of yours. You are amazingly talented and wonderful.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. I feel like I need a real VACATION--some time with absolutely nothing to worry about. I'm about to get it in beautiful Colorado!!