Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Small Quilt

Decisions, decisions! The Quilt Festival allows each quilter to enter up to 2 separate quilts, so I had a difficult time deciding which small quilt to enter. There's the Blue and Cream Pinwheel quilt that I made for my nephew Billy, the Bearly Hockey quilt and the Scrappy Shine quilt. Really, I love them all and I have no idea how to choose. I was hoping to use the Dreamweaver Quilt, but then I checked the measurements and it's 62x62 - just slightly too large for the small entry. And I'd already entered Florence in the large category. So I randomly chose the pinwheel quilt, probably because it's got such special meaning behind it. 
 My nephew, the son of my deceased brother, had chosen to return to school to better his situation in life and follow a career path similar to his father's. I knew that there would be times when he would wish he could go to his father for support and advice, so I chose to create this quilt for him as a tangible reminder of my love and support for him. What made it extra special was that I made it into a quillow, with the pillow front a duplicate of the quilt block I had made in honour of my brother for my family quilt blocks. Here's the pillow front:
The appliqued symbols are all representative of things that were significant in my brother's life. You can find an explanation of the symbols in this post. Here's a closer view of the quilt top:
And here's a closeup of the quilting. 
This was my first time doing long arm quilting. And I decided that I liked it very much! 
Blue, by the way, is my nephew's favourite colour.


Blogger's Quilt Festival Entry - Large Quilt

If you've been following my blog, you know from my previous post that I just finished "Florence" for Nursing Week 2014. By Florence, I mean the Florence Nightingale quilt, of course, made with the Women of Courage line by Nancy Gere for Windham Fabrics. I didn't think I was that fond of the more muted colours, but I really love this line, especially that little blue accent fabric. The backing is done in that same blue. Anyway, I found out about the Blogger's Quilt Festival from Janeen over at Quilt Art Designs and decided to blog about Florence again in order to enter her in the Festival.

Here's the basic block used in this quilt:
I have to admit I'm loving how she looks as the background for the nursing display I've set up in the lunch room at work. 
I get to see it every time I walk by the lunch room entry. Here is a slightly closer shot:
Completing this quilt for Nursing Week 2014 has inspired me to get creative and maybe do a Clara Barton, Edith Cavell or Jeanne Mance quilt for next year. Stay tuned...

Monday, 19 May 2014

Florence Nightingale Quilt - National Nursing Week 2014

May 12-18 was National Nursing Week here in Canada. Last year, I got tired of nothing being planned in our facility to honour it, and did most of the planning for it myself. While I offered the opportunity to the rest of the staff to do it for this year, I didn't get any takers. So I did all of the planning and coordinating again this year. Being enthusiastic about both my profession and quilting, I googled to see if there was a quilt designed in honour of Florence Nightingale. Eventually I bought a quilt kit and resolved to finish it for display during this year's Nursing Week. I was able to finish the quilt top and prepare it for longarm quilting on May 12, the first day of Nursing Week and my scheduled day off and had booked the time on "Lucey" at Sparrow Studioz. 
This was my first time on Lucey and I wasn't too impressed. While she's still an APQS machine, she wasn't quite up to the standards of Freddie and Millie that I had used previously. But they were both booked by other quilters. First off, Lucey does not have any hydraulics to raise and lower her frame. Since I'm taller than a lot of ladies, I had to do a little stooping to use her. Secondly, I had some issues with the tension and the stitch regulator. And the bobbin thread. Frustrating. Around noon, I suddenly felt hot, sweaty, weak and dizzy. I thought it was low blood sugar, but wasn't sure why it was so severe. I'm not diabetic, but can get a little dizzy and cranky when I haven't eaten for awhile, but the severity of this reaction I only experience when I've had to fast for bloodwork. I had eaten a good breakfast and had felt fine when I started out in the morning, so this puzzled me. There were some Tim Horton's muffins in the studio, so I decided to eat one to boost my blood sugar. I hadn't planned on eating anything until I was done the quilt, but hadn't anticipated this issue. However, the thought of eating actually nauseated me, which was also puzzling since I'm normally very hungry if it's a low blood sugar problem. Hmm, weak, dizzy, sweaty. Okay nurse, you're either going to pass out or throw up. Fun! But I'd booked my time on Lucey, the quilt was already on the frame and started and what was I going to do? I tried forcing myself to work, but kept having to quit and sit down. Finally, I remembered an old trick and wet some paper towels with cold water and put them on the back of my neck. That way I was actually able to finally finish "Florence." Between how sick I felt and my issues with Lucey, it's certainly not the best quilting I ever turned out and I made mistakes that I don't think I would have were it not for how I was feeling. At one point, the laser pointer slipped and when I followed it on my pantograph, I was suddenly quilting one row down. Grrr! That was Lucey's fault, though my fault for following her when I noticed she had jumped. I never did get all of that stitching ripped out and when I looked at it later, I couldn't tell where to even begin. I decided that it was safer to leave it all in, lest I rip out the wrong stitches and end up with the whole row unravelling. At another point, I actually stitched over the same row twice. It wasn't until I was nearly finished the row that I noticed what I was doing. That one did yield to the stitch ripper, though I did rip out the wrong stitches in a couple of places and had to mend the stitching line on my domestic machine at home. 
Once done on the longarm, I headed home and called in sick for the following day. As it turned out, I ended up being sick for the whole week. I'm still not totally up to par, but ready to head back to work tomorrow. So Nursing Week at my work site had to be postponed until I got back. 
Anyway, here's Florence:
I'm not sure how I managed to cut off most of her border in this picture. Maybe because I was sick? Or maybe because I was raising the camera above my head to get the full quilt in and didn't quite manage it.
This quilt worked well with a lot of chain stitching.
 It did get a little tiresome, but not nearly as much as the pixel quilt.
Flying Geese Units with Side Squares
Yesterday and today, I went to the health unit to set up my displays for Nursing Week.
Florence makes a nice setting for this display, doesn't she? Hey, this is the first time I've ever "shown" a quilt!. On the table you'll see various nursing-related items, including some grad photos of some of our nurses.
This is the bulletin board display, including more grad photos, a current group photo of most of us nurses working at the health unit, a write up on the history of the nurse's cap and the write up on Florence Nightingale that came with my quilt kit. I'll be adding more as the week progresses.
This is the bulletin board in the waiting room. I set it up so that people can write thank you notes to the nurses on it. I got this up before I got sick, so you can see that some people have already added their comments. 
When I arrived in my department, I found this lovely floral arrangement. It's from our local medical clinic for Nursing Week. I'll have to make a point to send them a thank you card. And speaking of which, I forgot to pick some thank you cards up today. We had some very generous donations of prizes towards our nursing week celebrations and I want to make sure they get acknowledged appropriately. 
And check out what else I've got that's exciting:
The Darlene Zimmerman large spool collection of Aurifil thread! I won it on Google+ and it arrived from Italy a couple of weeks ago. 
Aren't those luscious colours? My grandson is quite thrilled with this thread and asks me to open the box when he's with me in the sewing room. Not yet 2 years old, and he's already an Aurifil man! LOL!
Well, this has already been a long post and I need to go hang a window shade. So I'll just jump to the link for Show & Tell and you can share what you've been doing.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Tumor Me: Book Review

Tumor Me: The Story of My Firefighter by Judith DeChesere-Boyle, 2014
I've been home sick with a gastro-intestinal virus this past week and about all I felt like doing was reading. So I downloaded a couple of titles from NetGalley to the Kindle app on my Android tablet: Tumor Me, the one I'm reviewing today and Last Chain on Billie, which will be reviewed at a later date. 
I was provided a free electronic copy of this book through NetGalley to review it. Otherwise, I have received no compensation for this review. 

The author of this book is a retired high school English teacher, someone who should know that profanity is neither appropriate, nor necessary. I had no need, nor desire to "listen" to her potty mouth. While the use of the f-bomb and other expletives was not profuse, once is once too often. Even in reading Last Chain on Billie, when it described animal handlers screaming obscenities at the elephants, that book's author did not find it necessary to spell it out. I'm not sure why Ms. DeChesere-Boyle did. On the other hand, she also found it necessary to throw in a lot of medical jargon and correct anatomical names, which would mean nothing to the average reader. While perusing my nursing textbooks, I expect to run across this terminology, but it did nothing to enhance, and in all likelihood would detract from, the average reader's enjoyment of this book. 
Subtitling the book, The Story of My Firefighter is, I believe, a misnomer. Tumor Me is  really a mother's story of her journey through her son's illness and death, and not so much the story of her son. Indeed, I got to know Billie the elephant from Last Chain on Billie better than I got to know Alex, the key character in Tumor Me. Telling us that Alex is a nice guy is one thing, but actually developing his character through the writing so that we know that for ourselves is quite another. This book did the telling, but was short on the developing. When it reached its inevitable conclusion, Alex's death, I was sad, like I feel whenever I hear about someone dying too young, but I did not feel a sense of loss, like I would have if I had gotten to know and appreciate the person he was through the pages of this book. 
Part One - Background Check is a series of disjointed and choppily written vignettes, intended to introduce us to Alex and "give insight into the person Alex was," according to the author. If she had fleshed this part out better, she might have achieved her goal. I found this section so frustrating that I almost quit reading the book, but I persisted, hoping that the main part of the story would be more cohesive and smooth. It was. But instead of the poignant story of love and loss that I was expecting, it was more a relating of diagnosis, treatment options and results, medical incompetence, more treatments and eventual death and funeral, with a history of Alex's relationships with women and career tossed in. It was interesting, but it didn't move me. And I expect a story like this to move me. I got to the end of the book and I still didn't know Alex and his mother. And the secondary characters were like cardboard cutouts that were moved in and out of the scene as rapidly as possible. 
I hope this book was a catharsis for the author, and she definitely does have my sympathy, but I feel that it would have been a better read if she had focused more on developing Alex's character and less on his disease process. 
And since I'm "yarning along," I'll share one of the yarn projects I'm working on. It seems like I've been working on the Lace Enchantment afghan forever. It didn't help that somehow or other I ended up making it over 10 inches wider than it's supposed to be. It's a good thing it's an afghan and not a garment! It's actually about the correct finished size now, except the dimensions are in the wrong directions, so I could quit if I wanted to. But I think I will continue and make it larger, so there's more to snuggle under.