Thursday, September 6, 2018

hope anchors the soul | a quilt for Pastor & Mrs. Emerson

Ocean State Baptist Church is the church that I've been going to since I was about five or six years old. Pursuing my faith in God there alongside my mentors and friends has been one of the most formative experiences of my life. Many of my memories feature OSBC as the setting - attending Sunday School with Mrs. Chihowski as my teacher, singing in the children's choir under the direction of Mrs. Hackett, accepting Jesus as my personal savior with Maria DePina to help guide me in prayer, being part of the youth group and participating in every crazy game and activity our leaders dreamed up, getting baptized by Pastor Emerson, going to camp every summer, working in children's church, serving with the teens at various nursing homes in the area, going on a missions trip to New Jersey, singing on the worship team as a young adult, helping to organize a women's retreat, serving as one of the youth group leaders, and dedicating each of our boys to Jesus. There are so many more memories I could share, and I know more to be made in the future. Pastor Emerson and his wife Linda have dedicated their lives to doing the work of Jesus in Smithfield, RI and beyond for the past forty-three years. I have been blessed to have a small part in their work for about twenty-six years. They've decided that the time has come to retire (somewhat - Pastor Emerson is still on staff as Pastor Emeritus) and I asked my mom and my aunt (who are also long time members of OSBC) if they wanted to join me in making a quilt to thank them for their service.

I drew inspiration from one of Denyse Schmidt's quilts for the Stone House Inn in Little Compton, RI. The top is lots of blues and grays, solids and very subtle prints. We paper pieced letters to add a portion of one of Pastor and Linda's favorite scriptures - Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." - to the top, and I'm thrilled with how it came out. It's pretty much exactly as I imagined it. The back is just two large cuts of fabric that have a nautical vibe (this is a common theme in my quilts since RI is the Ocean State - we love our coastline!) and a simple handwritten label. As I wrote this post I remembered that I wanted to make a more complex label with an anchor, a cross, and a heart, but obviously I completely forgot about that part of my plan. I quilted horizontal straight lines over the whole quilt, not too dense because it's huge and I was getting tired, haha. Then I passed it on to my mom who added some lines of hand quilting. My aunt made the binding, I attached it, and then she washed it so it would be nice and crinkly.

We gave it to them one Wednesday night before church and I think it's safe to say they loved it. Pastor Emerson posted about it on facebook shortly thereafter (see my screenshot below), and he doesn't seem to use facebook that often so his post made me smile :) I know I say this all the time, but this quilt is one of my favorite makes to date. It's definitely one of the more special pieces. We're so thankful for Pastor and Linda Emerson and and we were honored to make this quilt for them as a small way of showing our appreciation and gratitude.

my baptism, 1998

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

summer star | a quilt for Baby Granieri

Our friends Mike and Amanda are expecting their first baby, a boy. You know that I think every baby needs a quilt so I started making one for him early on in Amanda's pregnancy. I decided to go with one of my favorite patterns, a sawtooth star. I used blues for the star and low volume for the background. The back is made up of two large cuts, one dark teal (I think it's Carolyn Friedlander, I can't remember) and some bright yellow pearl bracelets by Lizzy House. The yellow is supposed to be a nod to Del's Lemonade, where Mike and Amanda met, but probably no one will get it, haha. It's quilted with straight lines to echo the shape of the star. I bound it in another blue, washed it to get that crinkly goodness, and gifted it along with a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible at her baby shower a month or two ago. I can't wait to meet the little guy! Another friend for Rory :)

Monday, September 3, 2018

patchwork pop | a quilt for Nova

Our friends Stan and Karissa are expecting their third child later this summer so of course I made a quilt. Karissa told me that receiving a quilt from me is one of the perks of having a baby so I was extra excited to make one for her. I took a color theory class with Anna Maria Horner a few months ago and decided to use the stack of fabrics I pulled in the class to make this quilt. A lot of them were not fabrics I would normally put together but I'm always trying to stretch myself and try new things, and if Anna Maria Horner said they looked good together then I believe her! 
I did add some neutrals (the two taupe fabrics) to tone down the boldness of the other fabrics but I'm not quite sure they did their job. This is the kind of quilt that I loved at first (when I was cutting) and then when I was sewing it together I wasn't so sure about it, but when I decided on backing and then quilted it I came around again and now I'm happy with it again. I think the biggest thing holding me back from loving it in the middle of working on it is the purple. I don't use a lot of purple and even though I like the color purple I have a hard time incorporating it into quilts. That was the point of the class though, to learn to embrace colors we aren't used to using. I accidentally deleted the full view photo of the quilt, oops.
Since the front is so bright and bold I tried to tone it down just a bit on the back. The colors are still really vibrant, but I think the large blocks of color next to the neutral is pleasing to the eye. I love the birds and polka dots on the right, they might be my favorite part of the quilt! 
I went with simple diagonal line grid quilting which I always like - I think the scrappiness of this quilt and the quilting give it a vintage feel - and I bound it in scraps from the quilt, another favorite finish of mine. I gave the quilt to Karissa at her "sprinkle" last week and I think she liked it! I can't wait to see Nova snuggled up with it in a just a couple months.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Public Libraries of Rhode Island | a quilt for Steph

If you follow me on instagram then you probably know that I like to go to the library. All the libraries, in fact. I've always been a big reader and we made frequent trips to my local library when I was a kid. We could walk there from my house, through our neighborhood and then along a short path in the woods to avoid the busy traffic of the main road. I continued going to the library as a teenager and as an adult, always having books on hold and reading a few a week. Once I had Ezra it became part of our weekly routine, although he never really enjoyed story time, preferring instead to browse the aisles and play with whatever toys the library had in the children's room. When Finn was born the library was the first place we went. We wanted to get out of the house and the library was a comfortable, calm place to have some fun and relax a bit, so when he was just a few days old that's where we went. As a stay-at-home mom I was always looking for new activities to do with the boys, so I started visiting other libraries. We had been to Cranston Central, Oaklawn, and Knightsville because they are all pretty close to our house. We had been to the library on Sandy Lane in Warwick at the invitation of a friend, and I had met up with another friend at Mohr in Johnston. Of course we had been to Greenville because it's the one near my parents' house and it's a nice trip when we're in Smithfield visiting. As a lifelong library lover, it occurred to me that there were many other libraries in the state and I decided to visit more of them. There could be wonderful libraries just a few miles away but I would never know if I didn't visit them! I started out by visiting the rest of the libraries in Cranston and Warwick thinking that we might visit them more often if they had programs we liked since they're nearby. I told my friend Steph who is a school librarian about my recent library explorations and she told me that she had been to more than half of the libraries in the state and that she planned to go to them all. I loved the idea and immediately decided to do the same. There are seventy public libraries in Rhode Island (if you click the link you'll see if says seventy-one but one of the locations on the list is actually a community creative learning center in EP). That meant some long drives and some less than fabulous library visits, but Ezra, Finn, Rory, and I loved our little project. We even met up with Steph and her son Emmett a few times along the way! We also went to the Providence Athenauem which is private - you have to be a member in order to borrow books, but anyone can visit. And there are actually a few more libraries in the state that I'd like to visit (the RISD Fleet library, the Redwood Athenaeum in Newport, and I think there's a private on in Westerly too), but we have officially finished our tour of the public libraries in Rhode Island. 

We started in January 2017 and just finished up in June 2018 and I documented the whole thing on instagram with the hashtag #childrenslibrariesofri. Steph posted her visits with the hashtag too, and my friend Andrew joined in as well, although I don't think he plans to visit every library, he just likes to bring his daughters to their local library on a regular basis and he jumped on the hashtag (which I love). Please, use it! I like to think of it as an online library of libraries :)

Before I explain what this quilt is all about, I'm going to talk a little bit more about libraries because now that people know about my obsession I get a lot of questions about the local library system. 

Best libraries for meeting up with friends - Sandy Lane in Warwick, Cumberland, East Providence (not Weaver), Narragansett (Maury Loontjens), Lincoln, Newport, Cross Mills in Charlestown, Westerly, and North Smithfield (which also has walking trails in the back). I think these are good libraries to meet up with friends at because they have large children's sections, a good amount of toys, and the librarians don't seem to mind noise. Sandy Lane in Warwick even allows snacks! I don't know if they have an official policy but kids are always eating in there and I've never witnessed a librarian tell anyone to stop.  

Libraries that have playgrounds on the grounds or next door - Barrington, Jamestown, Newport, Pontiac in Warwick, Cumberland (also has hiking trails!), Exeter, Coventry (the main one, not Greene), Fox Point in Providence, Louttit in West Greenwich, Harmony, and Tiverton (the main one, not Union) which not only has a playground but also has a skate park next door!

My personal favorite - Clark Memorial in Richmond because it's beautiful and filled with natural light and plants and the children's section is pretty cute too. 

Misc. Library Info 
- You can return books to any library in the network, so if you are out and see a cute library or you're near a friend's house and want to visit the library or you're on vacation in RI and want to check out the library nearby you can borrow books and return them at any other library! I can't count the number of people who have expressed shock when they find this out. Apparently some people thought that I had to visit every library twice in order to bring the books back. I never would have visited them all if that was the case! Some even have drive through book drops (Sandy Lane in Warwick and Tiverton). Heck, I borrowed books on Block Island and took them home on the ferry with me last summer!  
- There is no limit on how many books you can borrow. I have had eighty-six out at one time and while part of me thought it was great another part of me was slightly overwhelmed, and I doubt many of you want to take out that many at one time anyway, but we regularly have between 30-40 at home. The point is - take out as many as you like! Back when it was just me and Ezra I used to limit him to five books. I look back and laugh at my former self. We have two library bags that are always literally (yes, literally) bursting at the seams and the two older kids are often carrying books to the car too. We just can't help ourselves!
- Your child can have his or her own library card. Yes, even your baby or toddler. I know this because one time before Rory was born I was at the circulation desk at the Cranston Central branch and I realized I didn't have my wallet, so I didn't have my card or Ezra's card or my license (most librarians will let you borrow books with your license if you forget your card. And I recently found out about a few apps that let you store your card info so I'm going to download one and see how it works! But I digress-). The librarian asked if Finn, who was probably only seven or eight months old at the tine, had a card and when I said he didn't she said he could get one and I could borrow our books using his new card so that's what we did! 
- If your library doesn't have the book you want in their collection you can request it from another library, either in person or online, and pick it up when it comes in. Recently there was a book I wanted to read but the only library in RI that had it was the one on Block Island so I requested it and picked it up in Cranston in less than a week.   
- You can ask the librarian to purchase a book that you wish they had in the collection. I have not actually done this before but Steph has. 

Okay! Now that I've given my thoughts on libraries in Rhode Island, I shall explain the quilt featured in these photos. I took a class on making map quilts and initially decided to make a quilt of the Rhode Island coast. When I arrived at the class I learned that we had to pick from two maps rather than any map we wanted, so I ended up with a map of the state rather than just the coast. I enjoyed learning the process but I wasn't sure how I wanted to finish the quilt. I put it away for a few months, waiting to be inspired, and eventually I was struck by the most perfect idea. Steph was going to be finishing up her tour of libraries soon, and I decided to commemorate the occasion with the quilt. I would embroider the location of all seventy libraries on the quilt and give it to her, thinking she might like to display it in her library at Park View Middle School in Cranston where she is the librarian. I worked on it throughout the spring of this year so I could give it to her before the school year was over. We met up at Knighstville in Cranston so I could present the quilt to her and I made her take a picture with it. The next day she sent me a picture of it hanging above the doorway in her school library. I couldn't be more happy with how it turned out! Hooray for libraries and quilts and Rhode Island, three of my favorite things. The only thing that would make this better would be if I had involved chocolate peanut butter ice cream somehow. If you visit Tiverton Union Library (only open on Tuesdays from 10a-5p!) you can walk down the street to Gray's... maybe I'll do that this summer! 

shine bright | a quilt for Aria

My cousin Nicole and her husband welcomed their second daughter into their lives recently so I made her a quilt, of course. Nicole hasn't lived in RI in a long time, and the last time I saw her was the summer after my senior year of high school when she stayed with my family for a week, but we are in touch on facebook and it's nice to keep up that way. I combined two charm packs (Kate Spain, Tula Pink) and some coordinating scraps to make the quilt using this free pattern. I would definitely use this pattern again, and I don't often like to make the same pattern twice so that's saying something! I love the way these bright summer colors look against the white. 
I chose to echo the star with the quilting, straight lines radiating out from between the points. It's backed and bound in the same fabric, a multicolored graphic print from Joann. I hope Aria likes it! 

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