Comfort and Companionship

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I find a dog, and cat to some degree, to be agreeable companions in my quilting and sewing pursuits. Now I don’t actually let them spend time in my studio, especially now that I do work for clients and I want to avoid any allergen issues. I also don’t like the pacing (the cat) or the need to be just where I have to walk to get from the ironing board to the cutting area (the dog). But I still like seeing one of them curled up outside my door, or at the bottom of the stairs when I descend from a few hours of solitude. They are never critical of my work, and they will listen to me endlessly ponder questions about what color or pattern will work best, and they don’t judge on days I’m too unmotivated to make much progress.

So it is with a heavy heart that I think about going into my studio today. Unexpectedly our dog became quite ill yesterday, with something that had probably been lurking and growing for months or even years. After two grand mal seizures within hours of each other, a phone consultation with an emergency vet, and another phone consultation with a friend who is a vet tech, we made a difficult call to a vet who makes house calls for euthanasia. It was clear that something was very wrong, and we had doubts that we could even transport Cody to our regular vet for an examination.

Cody in his element

Cody in his element

Cody by no means was the ideal dog. He came to us at 1 1/2 years old, already having three families that didn’t work out for reasons that were not his fault. But that inconsistency in his early training was always apparent and could not be undone by any amount of unconditional love. We learned to respect his boundaries, including no brushing, no bathing (and amazingly he did not smell and seemed quite clean), no checking his ears, opening his mouth, touching his food after it was in his bowl and on the floor, and so on. He did like to be petted, have his belly rubbed, get on the bed briefly before getting off and sleeping in the bedroom all night, and he was a great watch-dog.

By the time the vet arrived we knew we’d made the right decision. He had continued to have difficulty throughout the day, with several petit mal seizures that made him quite unsteady on his feet. The vet took one look at him and confirmed that he was very far gone, with whatever had finally taken over. She was gentle and humane, and we did our best to reassure him that he was going to a big farm up North where it always snows and where he’ll see his friend, Bella, who left us last year. Perhaps there will even be the distant hum of a sewing machine in the background, so he’ll feel right at home.

Bella and Cody

Bella and Cody

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The Many Phases of Sunbonnet Sue

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Sunbonnet Sue, the iconic little girl recognizable from her large face-covering hat, has been with us for many, many years. Her origin dates back to the late 1800’s according to sources that detail her history. I’d never thought much about her beginning and evolution until she came to my attention again recently.

Vintage Sunbonnet Sue

Vintage Sunbonnet Sue

In our family Sue has been a subject of interest for three generations of quilters. Her first appearance was in this quilt made by my grandmother and great-grandmother for my oldest sister, around 1948. She appears as we often think of her, in her wide dress and hat, outlined in a hand-sewn black blanket stitch.

Embroidered Sue

Embroidered Sue

Next she appears in a quilt I made in 2004, using machine embroidered Sues that depict each month of the year. It is appropriately name Calendar Girl. Although her clothes are more varied than a traditional Sunbonnet Sue, she is still in profile with her trademark hat. This was made before I had granddaughters so it wasn’t with a specific audience in mind, but now my intention is to give it to them to use as a wall-hanging or to display it here at my house in the bedroom they’ll use when they come to visit.

To wrap things up Sue dresses in costumes representing the various areas of Alaska in this quilt made by my sister. Even in this diverse setting we recognize her. She has displayed great flexibility over the years, enduring as a symbol of innocence, childhood, and joy. I know she’ll be around for a lot longer, and I look forward to seeing her continued transformations.

Sunbonnet Sue visits Alaska

Sunbonnet Sue visits Alaska

Longwood Gardens

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I enjoy the serendipity of a past experience revealing itself in a quilt project. It reminds me how just about any experience can be the seed to a future creation. This happened to me recently when I decided to make a quilt with a flowered print and a green and cream polka-dot print using the pattern “Park Place” by Ann Frischkorn from A Shortcut to Drunkard’s Path. 

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

The technique was simple, and eliminated those pesky curves that can be tricky to sew. The quilt construction went quickly, probably in large part because I did it during the spring quilt retreat, and time flies when you’re having fun! I had a piece of “sparkly” orange, red, and yellow fabric with a leaf print that I’d been saving, but it just kept calling to me that it wanted to be the back of this quilt. I fought a bit with this idea as it seemed too special for a mere backing, but in the end it won out, and I’m glad I had the sense to listen to it.

Longwood Gardens back

Longwood Gardens back

When done, the quilt top, with its green areas and flowered spaces, reminded me of Longwood Gardens just outside of Philadelphia. The grounds are majestic, with a pleasing mix of green manicured space, flowers, and a large greenhouse with native and exotic species. It is easy to spend hours there, wandering through the various areas, doubling back, and unfortunately sometimes missing a path or two. Thus a meandering long-arm quilting design seemed the appropriate way to finish things, followed by a binding that blends with the border.

I may never get a chance to visit the actual gardens again, but for now I’m satisfied with memories, photos, and the lap quilt/wall-hanging that evokes this special place.

The actual Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

The actual Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens