It’s only a couple hours a month, and I arrive haphazardly, but I must say I am restored to sanity afterwards. I attend the Quilter’s Trunk Sew In on the fourth Thursday of every month. The chocolate covered licorice and pretzels is always a winner with us. We do show and tell of the textiles we’ve made. And the stereo speakers play the soothing sounds of Nora Roberts and other musicians we all enjoy. The CD Come Away With Me reminds me of when I was working full time as an LPN, attending RN school and studying for RN boards. I was trying to make it here, this night, literally 15 years ago, knowing my day job was a vehicle to the life I have right now, wanting a more creative life, but not sure of where I was going or what I was going to do next. I recognize that this is the moment I was working towards and I am glad about it. I always leave the Sew In satiated in spirit and trying to figure out how I am going to survive another month without this.
Both my maternal grandmother and my maternal great grandmother used to sew together. When they learned that my mother was pregnant, they made a single Irish chain baby quilt for me. I still have it. When I became an adult, I took formal quilting classes. While I was doing a mystery quilt, some familiarity came to me about the piecing. Soon, it was like I was not actually making the quilt. It felt like I had help from another source that I could not see. There was literally a light, rush of energy within the room. The pattern looked familiar. When I compared the quilt to the baby quilt my family made, I realized the design was a single Irish chain! I’ve gotten lots of requests to make this quilt. Some people who are actually Irish have said they have never heard of the design and become excited about it. The Quilt in a Day Irish Chain in a Day-Single and Double by Eleanor Burns’s book and DVD are a favorite of mine for obvious reasons! The Irish chain is one of my absolute favorite designs for sentimental reasons. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
If you haven’t done so already, please read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert! I find it amazing that she and I both came to the same conclusions about creativity. For me, I came to the same realizations she writes about. My realizations did not come in a straight line, but still, I found myself howling with laughter and nodding my head in shared recognition through much of the book. This book is really about how to make your life fuller and more expansive and having the courage to do that. It needs to be required reading for every child starting in grade school. If you haven’t already done so, go and read it now!
I had no idea of what to expect on Saturday February 27th for the Gena Chiodo fundraising event. And normally, when I have an extensive work run, I usually go to work, come straight home and go to bed. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it, but I did.
I was still wearing my nursing scrubs and uniform. People actually walked up to me and said, “Thank you for all you do.” I will admit I’ve never had that happen before and it was very nice.
Gena Chiodo was a 44 year old hair dresser. Her family had moved to Florida. She stayed behind in Illinois. She and her friends were a very close knit community. She met and lived with a man named Donald Clark. After they became involved, she became more increasingly isolated. Eventually, her friends were unable to reach her for nearly two weeks during October 2011. The police were notified. Her body was found in the woods in Indiana. One of Donald Clark’s friends agreed to wear a wire to help the police. Donald Clark confessed to the murder. He is now in Cook County Jail.
I met Gena Chiodo’s friends through my volunteer work at South Suburban Family Shelter. I was touched by their tireless commitment to raise awareness and funding for domestic violence, so I tried to make the time.
There were large posters with pictures of Gena Chiodo when she was alive near the entrance. Local businesses put together raffle baskets for auction. A photo booth was set up and the proceeds went to South Suburban Family Shelter. Both women and men wore purple t shirts that said “Stop Domestic Violence.” Those same t shirts were sold for charity.
The food was made with homemade love and delicious: fried chicken, pasta with marinara sauce, green beans, rolls, salad, chocolate chip cookies, brownies and cup cakes.
Some people were teary, which is to be expected, but for the most part, it was a very festive atmosphere. There was a 60’s cover band named The Relics playing “Hey Baby, Won’t You Be My Girl” by Bruce Channel. I adore 1960’s music. That song was one of my very favorite songs from that era.
There were women walking around in princess crowns and brightly colored feathered boas. It seemed like the message was, “It only matters what you think of yourself. Never mind people who may not recognize your brilliance. Know your own worth.”
If anyone is interested, now is a good time to look into the Chicago Marathon sign up for South Suburban Family Shelter.
Soma Intimates is one of a number of business organizations that has agreed to help with domestic violence awareness. Here is the link and thank you:
I worked all the way through the holidays for this moment-Thanksgiving eve Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day. While everyone else was enjoying themselves, I was dreaming of World Quilt Florida right after the first of the year. I RAN OUT of Chicago’s Midway Airport just as soon as I could. I dreamed of sugar plum fairies and Pat Yamin’s hand quilting class in my head. It is hard to be a hand quilter these days. People look at you as if you’ve lost your mind OR they have to tell you about the best model of the newest Bernina sewing machine (as if you didn’t know about it already).
I try to take as many hand quilting classes as I can to learn what I didn’t learn from my maternal great grandmother about the craft when she was alive and I was too ignorant to ask the right questions then, so now I have to scramble all over the place learning what I need to learn.
I also took the Intuitive quilting course from Carole Shaw Lyles and learned a lot. The local PBS television station taped everything. I delighted myself with French crepes for lunch. I haven’t had them since high school when I took four years of French classes.
To complete the experience, I sat outside with the Orange County Convention Center’s panther and manatee statues, I just closed my eyes to pretend, imagining what it would be like to eat crepes and do hand quilting in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a lot cheaper than getting on the place and going to Paris.
I know this is coming late, but Happy Holidays to everyone and Happy New Year! I have had to work during a lot of it, but I am happy about it. I have a lot of plans this coming year, which means having the money to accomplish them. I hope everyone finds what they are looking for this upcoming year!
I first connected with the Lakeside Quilt Guild earlier this year during the Hyde Park Quilt Show. It is held every year in April on the corner of Blackstone and 55th Street. I thought there was nothing better. Quilts and tea! Now, though, someone who works at the Quilter’s Trunk just informed me that the Lakeside Quilt Guild has hand quilters. I learned all of this when I was purchasing my new Mary Fons fabric. The Mary Fons fabric collection came out a couple weeks ago. The employee cutting my fabric is a member of both Needles and Threads Quilt Guild and Lakeside Quilt Guild. The Quilter’s Trunk sent me an e mail yesterday informing me about the challenge. The Lakeside Quilt Guild actually met at a time that worked around my work schedule. I am grateful because I am obsessed with the grandmother’s flower garden quilt. However, I have had a hard time finding hand quilters who can tell me how to move beyond basing hexagons.
A lot of people do not know that the Art Institute of Chicago has a textile arts portion. They seem to know all about the other areas, but not the textiles area. If you are able to go, please make a plan to see it. As a textile artist, I must say it has never failed to disappoint me. Just down the street is one of the best Blick’s Stores in the Chicago land area. Even their textiles portion is actually quite nice. I haven’t seen a textiles portion in any other Blick’s within the Chicago land area except for the one down the street from the Art Institute of Chicago. While you are at it, going to the Russian Tea Time afterwards is always a wonderful treat. It’s an ideal artist date for someone like me.