I’m currently working on a quilt book that accompanies my first Carding novel, The Road Unsalted. Its working title is String Theory I and it will make its debut during the Vermont Quilt Festival as a premium for folks willing to make a donation of $20 or more to our little-nonprofit-that-can, the Parkinson’s Comfort Project.
The Comfort Project accepts the occasional fabric donation and a couple of weeks ago, I got a call from a lovely woman who used to be a member of my quilt guild, Northern Lights.
She no longer quilts because of arthritis and was looking for a good home for part of her stash. Since I knew she was a quilter, that meant she knew what kind of fabric is best for our project (something I’ve learned to be careful about) so I said yes.
When I opened the boxes she’d sent, I found parts of a couple of projects she’d started making. One of them was in pink fabrics. I have no idea what her ultimate plan was for these pieces but they are now part of a quilt in String Theory I.
I love repurposing.
We have an expression in our house that we use to describe those nights when you can’t sleep because your head is whirling with ideas. We call it “busy brain.”
I’ve never been able to decide whether I like busy brain or not.
I love busy brain when I’m neck-deep working on a book and find myself with my toes on the edge of a metaphorical cliff because I need to decide “what happens next.” And then somewhere in that swirl, a really good idea pops up.
The problem is, a night of busy brain often leads to an almost hangover-like condition the next day because I am ssooo sleepy.
I have busy-brain episodes about other things as well, such as quilting ideas. You can see the results of one of those quilt-brain nights here when I thought it would be fun to use the same pattern to create a different quilt for each season—summer, fall, winter, spring.
The only problem is finding the time to fulfill the brainstorms that strike at midnight. In this case, it was about three years between the creation of the top of the spring quilt to the sewing the sleeve on the back of my summer quilt last night so all four of them can hang in my guild’s quilt show this weekend.
Last July, when it was very warm (unlike today), I taped an interview with Nancy Zieman, host of the PBS show Sewing with Nancy, about the little nonprofit I founded, the Parkinson’s Comfort Project.
The interview has been released and I am so excited to share it with you all. And I hope you will share this with others.
The Parkinson’s Comfort Project is taking up almost all of my quilting time lately. Between work, the holidays and dealing with some of the challenges life put in our path this fall and early winter, the Parkinson’s Comfort quilts in my care got a little behind.
So faced with the prospect of some “free” time between Christmas and New Year’s, I got myself organized to tackle three piles: Completed quilts that just needed to have their pictures taken and inventory numbers assigned; Quilts that needed to be bound and then photographed and inventoried; and quilt tops in various stages from complete to needs-a-little sewing.
And then I went to make myself a cup of tea because, whew, there’s some might piles in my studio!!
The first and most obvious to tackle was the complete quilts. Here’s a couple of the 17 quilts in that pile just to show you what dazzlers our quilting friends are. The first one was made by Marianne Kotch of Barre, Vermont and the second was made by Joanne Shapp of Pomfret, Vermont.
Stunning, aren’t they?
The second pile was the quilts to be bound. I had 15 Parkinson’s quilts in that one plus another that was originally made for my mother that needs to be rebound for a total of sixteen.
I usually machine stitch a binding on the front of a quilt and then hand stitch it on the back. But with so many quilts to do, and because I’ve been practicing, I decided to do all of these by machine.
So far, I’ve been able to whittle that pile down to nine.
And I’m happy with the bindings. Here’s a sample of the ones I’ve finished so far.
As for the unfinished tops, **sigh**, those are going to take a lot more time.
The Parkinson’s Comfort Project attends conferences every year to talk about what we do and to distribute quilts. On Monday, we’ll be at the Grappone Center in Concord, NH at a conference put together by Diane Church of the Parkinson’s Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
I have four totes full of the most gorgeous quilts to give away to people on a Parkinson’s journey. I know they will bring smiles to the faces of those who bring them home.
Within the quilting community, the generosity of those who love to play with fabric is well known. Every guild I know of has a community service committee that makes and gives these magical gifts to those in need. And many guilds and individual quilters adopt programs such as the Parkinson’s Comfort Project or Quilts of Valor as recipients of their creations.
But too many people outside the quilting community are unaware of this giving. So I wanted to take this space to give you just a wee sample of the 34 quilts that will find new homes on Monday. The first one was made by Sarah Monego of Thetford, Vermont. The second is by Ellie Leach of Wells River, Vermont. And the third is by Nancy Graham of Newport, NH.
And the turquoise and yellow creation wrapped around the shoulders of a recipient at the spring Parkinson’s conference was made by Joanne Shapp of Pomfret, Vermont.
My heart just overflows with gratitude.
In addition to writing books, author Sonja Hakala is also the founder of the Parkinson’s Comfort Project.
And a quilter and designer, etc. etc.
The Parkinson’s Comfort Project is growing and Sonja has decided to combine outreach with fundraising by choosing to vend at two quilt shows in 2015.
There will also be objects that folks can own in exchange for donations, handmade items plus books and patterns.
This bag, number one in a series of 19 (each a little different) is designed to wear across-the-body and has an adjustable strap. These are great for shopping, roomy enough for a wallet and other smallish items that leave your hands free.
The outside is sturdy canvas, the inside is fully lined, and it’s just so darned cute!!!
Don’t you want one?