Posts Tagged ‘Hexagons’

Retirement begins: Reality bites

October 1, 2014

May 30 was my last day of gainful employment. When I decided to retire at the end of May, I had fantasized about a lazy summer filled of comfortable temperatures and humidity, working in my sewing room enjoying the wonderful weather, having lunch on my new bench/half picnic table, having friends stop by to lunch with me or join me in sewing. You get the idea. My rational mind knew this was fantasy but, at the time, I couldn’t imagine how that dream would be crushed by the rocks of reality. Therein lies a tale. Don’t worry – there is a happy ending and some quilty content.

In August 2013, my brother’s appendix perforated. His doctors wanted to wait until the infection was gone before they did the surgery to remove it. They finally took it out in November. In December when he went for his post-surgery check, they told him the appendix was cancerous. Appendix cancer is rare. Fortunately, he didn’t have the worst type. They did more tests and told him it hadn’t spread and scheduled him for precautionary surgery to remove the portion of the colon where the appendix attaches.

When he went for the surgery in Jan 2014, they made the incision, looked around and said “never mind”. Told him the cancer had spread to the peritoneum so he was stage 4. They also told him this type of cancer can’t be surgically removed and doesn’t show up on tests. The only treatment they offered him was systemic chemo every 2 weeks indefinitely with periodic scans to see if cancer showed up anywhere else. Maybe he’d have 2-3 years; they didn’t really know because there aren’t any statistics.

I told him to ask if there were treatments or studies at other centers that he should consider. They told him about HIPEC (heated intra-peritoneal chemotherapy) with cytoreductive surgery. I said he should go for it. I recommended he go to MD Anderson in Houston since they were rated the #1 cancer center at the time.

They accepted him as a patient. Did you know that you can’t just make an appointment at the major cancer centers? MD Anderson turned down my aunt in 2010 because her cancer (another rare one) was too far advanced by the time it was detected. He was scheduled for the surgery in June. In the meantime, he had the chemo at his home medical center. Instead of my idyllic summer at home, I now had to spend 6 weeks or so away from home with my brother during the surgery and initial recovery period.

Window at MD Anderson. Reminds me of a lot of the chunck quilts I’ve seen a lot of lately.

The surgeon removed everything that looked like it could possibly be tumor or that could hide tumor, including, of all things, the belly button. When we told my brother about that, he said “I guess that means my modelling career is over.” All of the pathology came back as no tumor found. So, the chemo seems to have done the trick although there was no way to know that without the surgery. His doctors were shocked. His chemo oncologist said he was unusally responsive to chemotherapy.

The happy ending – going from stage 4 in January to cancer-free in June. If he hadn’t gone to Houston for the surgery, he would be having chemo that he didn’t need. The lesson I learned is if you have a cancer that your medical center doesn’t see a lot of, go somewhere that does.

The entry hall floor in my brother’s house.

How do you pack to be away for 4-6 weeks or longer? Fortunately, I was able to do all my flights on Southwest. They allow 2 checked bags without a fee. Plus you can change your flight without a fee if needed. I don’t know how this happened but I was TSP pre-check for all 3 flights. Much quicker trip through security – no long lines.

I made sure I had plenty of hand sewing to work on. I worked on 3 different hexagon projects. I didn’t do as much as I could/should have because the light wasn’t bright enough, especially at my brother’s house. He only has mood lighting.

A couple days before I left, I met up with a friend and we took the Chicago river and lake cruise.

Portion of Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan.

Chicago flag. The 4 stars represent major events in the city’s history. They say that a 5th star will be added if the Cubs ever win the World Series again.

Sidewalk in front of an historic building in the Loop.

Decoration over entrance to building.

I did a little hand sewing while I was gone.

A pile of hexagon flowers.

A pile of hexagon flowers.

Some hexagon border units for a sidelined project.

Some hexagon border units for a sidelined project.

I worked on Hex on the Beach. I’m not entirely happy doing English paper piecing with the 1″ pieces. I’ve used 3 different techniques on these 4 rows – some basted through the paper, some basted only through the fabric and some glue basted to the paper. This project is on hiatus until I figure out how to proceed from here.

The first 4 rows of Tula Pink's Hex on the Beach.

The first 4 rows of Tula Pink’s Hex on the Beach.

60 Degrees of Separation

December 19, 2012

Linda Schiffer, owner of Seminole Sampler, turned 60 in November 2012. Time for another Sew and Tell production. This time I was the coordinator for the project. I’ve learned from past projects that it doesn’t pay to have too many rules when we’re doing a group project because they aren’t all going to follow them anyway.¬†After much discussion we decided to make hexagonal blocks using a citrus color scheme. Linda and I love our hexagons!

Some of the Sew & Tell group with Linda’s quilt mostly hidden behind us.

I wanted little quilts that Linda could rearrange or group any way she chooses. I considered many different ways to connect the blocks and wandered the aisles of Michaels’, JoAnns and Hobby Lobby looking for inspiration. After binding each block separately, I finally decided to sew split rings on each corner on the back. I was going to use floral wire to connect them but that didn’t work out very well. Plan B went into effect the morning of the presentation so I just used some twine to connect them.

The blocks pinned to the wall for show and tell at Faithful Circle Quilters. Many of the Sew and Tell members belong to this guild. This is the arrangement I used when I connected the blocks before giving them to Linda. Sorry about the dirty wall.

Some of the blocks came from Linda’s designs in 3 books of paper-pieced blocks she co-authored with Jodie Davis. The books are Hearts and Flowers Quilt Block Designs, Victorian Quilt Block Designs, and Garden-inspired Quilt Block Designs. The 3 books were published as one books under the title, Quilting Made Easy.

First up: Amy

Amy’s block – Amy, Linda and I all love cats. Please note that Miss I-only-quilt-by-check HAND QUILTED this block! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it.

Back of Amy’s block

Aurelia crocheted the yarn for this chrysanthemum and made needle lace leaves. Linda loves everything Japanese.

Back of Aurelia’s block.

My block without the beads I added. I forgot to take a picture after I added the beads. 2012 is the year of the dragon. This is fused applique.

Back of my block.

Beth’s block. Each one she does is better than the last.

This one deserves some detail shots and explanation.

The first letters of the flower names spell Linda.

Each letter is made from a fabric whose name begins with that letter and is decorated with things that begin with that letter. The quilting around each letter is words that start with that letter. She also added buttons that say 60 and quilted the word tatsu which is Japanese for dragon.

The F is made from flannel and is decorated with flower beads and French knots.
The A is made from hand-dyed fabric from Art Fabrik.
The B is made of batik and has buttons and bugle beads (in the next picture).

The R is made of rip-stop nylon and is decorated with rickrack and a rose.
The I is iridescent fabric and has a charm that says “I love quilting”.

The C is made from cotton and is decorated with couching and crystals and charms.

Back of Beth’s block.

Deborah’s block. Deborah is one of our members who moved away. Deborah and Linda both like the designer of the fabric in the center.

Back of Deborah’s block.

Genie made a crane with beautiful free-motion embroidery wings.

Back of Genie’s block.

Kathy designed this cat sleeping on a pile of quilts because we all know that’s what cats do. See the smile on the cat’s face?

Back of Kathy’s block.

Peggy made a Texas Star. Linda lived in Texas as a teen. Peggy is a fairly new quilter. The pattern in the book I had was not the right size. Peggy figured out how to make it the correct size. Good job, Peggy!

Back of Peggy’s block.

Sandie made this block from one of Linda’s books. She added corners to make it a hexagon.

Back of Sandie’s block.

Sharon made this block of ice cream cones. I took the design from one of Linda’s books and changed it from a rectangle to a triangle. I made the paper piecing foundations for the block. Don’t they look good enough to eat?

Back of Sharon’s block.

Shelley is a sometimes here, sometimes away member. She made this log cabin, embellished with leaf buttons because they both like leaves.

Back of Shelley’s block.

Tobi is another of our away members. She made this block from another of Linda’s books after modifying the size.

Back of Tobi’s block.