June 29, 2011

... and then Pauline said...

"I noticed that you haven't put up a post this week on your blog."


She's right! Oh dear. Well... it IS still Wednesday, so here's my post for the week. I hang my head in shame - but promise to do better next week. :-(

June 22, 2011

Celebrating an Anniversary of a kind

It's been a year now. It's been a year since they found my breast cancer.

And what a year it's been. Up, down, sideways.

Just last week I went to see the lovely "permanent makeup artist" woman who reserves space in her busy work schedule to complete the reconstruction process for mastectomy patients who, like me, want to have as normal and natural a look as possible. Sandy's business involves using a form of tattoo to give women permanent lip liner, eye liner, and so on. And because of her unique skills and knowledge, she's also able to tattoo colour onto reconstructed nipples (which are made with grafted tissue). As the owner of a set of recon nipples, I can tell you that I'm pleased to have them - but without Sandy's touch, they would be pale - matching the surrounding breast tissue (not at all like real nipples).

And so I made an appointment with Sandy and inside an hour she applied tattoo'd colour to my nipples and the surrounding areola.

It's magic, simply magic.

The colour this early on is a bit bright - but Sandy assures me that it will fade. Even if it didn't though, well... it just looks so much better. My fading scars no longer draw your eye (or more correctly... my eye or my husband's). Instead there's this rather "real" looking bit of tissue - with colour that makes sense.

Sandy charges very little for the service. As a matter of fact, she charged me only for the cost of the materials. Her time and considerable talent is her gift to me; it's something she does as a kindness to women who have been ravaged by cancer and the radical surgery that some of us need in order to be safe.

I'm so grateful. I'm so blessed.

So happy anniversary to me. I pray that one day the doctors will find a way to prevent breast cancer. Not just cure it - but prevent it.

Nobody should have to go through this.

June 15, 2011

Quilt 10: Goes International

I'm heading to the US. Going to visit family and friends there. This is going to be a momentous trip - my first time back as an Australian citizen. And, of course... I have to take something to quilt with me - so it will be quilt 10 - the Japanese print one. I've folded it up neatly to see how much room it will take up in my bag.

Hmm... well.. it's big, but it's gotta come with me. Can't wait to show it off.

I'm going to be visiting my cousin Toni in Florida (who is an avid quilter) and, of course Mom who is the one that passed on the quilting gene. I hope my fat, sloppy stitches won't embarrass them. Well... at least I can show them a really unique quilt design (which I can claim no credit for whatsoever - the design is the genius of someone at Patchwork With Gail B - one of my 2 favorite quilt supply stores).

June 8, 2011

Quilt 10: Using a "swirly" template

Oh, I adore this quilt. Here it is just before "sandwiching" (as you may have noted, I've developed something of a "tradition" here of draping a newly pieced top over my stairwell rail and taking a photo just before sandwiching....) I adore this quilt.

But... what colour thread to use for the quilting? And how should I quilt it?

The colour problem was solved instantly by my friend and quilting guru Pauline. "Grey," she advised.

"Of COURSE," I exclaimed. "How perfect!"

But now for the quilting pattern. Up to now I've more or less just followed the shapes of the blocks. Not much imagination there. This quilt demands more. So I selected this template:

In choosing this template, my thought was to avoid too much "squareness" in the quilting. The shapes of the blocks are so regular that it just seems to need some softness. And this template is perfect because the swirls fit neatly inside the individual rectangle blocks.

In the picture below you can see how I've placed them: 2 swirls per block.

And on the back (which is solid black fabric), the result is terrific - lines of swirls darting through the black backing (the camera here reflected the fabric, making it look medium grey - but trust me... it's black, not grey):

And so away I go.

This template's results are great, but I have to admit that it's a step up the ladder for me in terms of challenges. The switch-back on the points inside the swirls and the sharp curve of the swirls themselves make it hard to move very fast. Still... it's gorgeous, eh?

June 1, 2011

Quilt 11: "Trees" Design

Time to get a little more adventurous. I'm not ready for applique just yet, and certainly not ready to try anything with rounded edges. I'm also still intimidated by Quilt 4 (the on-point Christmas quilt). And I want something different - maybe something that is a "picture" instead of just patterns.

Staring out the window of my office, it didn't take long to come up with the inspiration. It was right in front of me - the forest that surrounds my house and the 200-300 foot gum trees we live under!

OK... out comes my Quilt Wizard software and I start looking around the block types there. Found a lovely "leaf" block and then combined that with simple strip blocks and came up with this:

To be honest, I'm really quite proud of this one! It's a step beyond what I've done before - and totally original! To the purists here in Oz, let me acknowledge that the trees here are definitely NOT gum trees. Any Aussie would take one look and get that (gum tree leaves are narrow and long, gracefully draping downward in clusters... GORGEOUS!) But still... I'm calling this design "Trees", not "Gum Trees". And I promise: once I get over my fear of applique, there will be a "gum tree" quilt. There will.

I moved fast. Within 24 hours of the inspiration, I'd completed the design and even made a run out to my favorite quilt store and bought the fabric.

Now that I'm ready to get going on this one, it occurred to me that a small design tweek is needed. Have a look at the original design (above), especially the leaves high up between the 2 trunks. 4 of those blocks have "branches" that aren't quite completely connected to the tree. The easiest ones to spot are the 2 leaf blocks that are closest to the top center of the quilt. So below I've corrected that. You might have to squint a little bit - but the difference is that I've put in more of the brown diagonal bits in order to connect the leaf stems back to the tree trunks.

The small "leaf stem" bits will be done by applique, using the darkest brown of the 5 tree trunk fabrics. As I mentioned at the start of this post, I'm not ready to do much with applique just yet, but those little bits shouldn't be too much of a headache.

This is going to be a large quilt - queen bedspread size. But I'm not planning on using as a bedspread. Instead, I'm going to use it as a wall hanging in the dining room!