Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Olive You | a quilt looking for a good home

Here goes, quilt number two listed in the shop today! This quilt is the perfect size for snuggling up on the couch, watching chick flicks, and eating bowls of ice cream. It's made with beautiful fabrics that were inspired by the Greek island of Santorini. My favorite prints are the little olives :) I originally made this quilt for myself but as our house fills up with them I'm quickly realizing I can't keep them all so I've decided to let this one go. I wish I could give them all a home! Check out the listing here at the tiny hummingbird shop for all the details!
And please excuse my ponytail peeking out from the top of the quilt! Matt was trying to keep an eye on Finn as he played with the grill (parents of the year, I know) so he was a little distracted while he was taking these pictures for me :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

won't you be my neighbor | a quilt looking for a good home

Last night was a productive one for me. I finished writing thank you notes for Finn's birthday (albeit much later than I would have liked to but at least they're done now!) and I finished binding my 34th quilt. Did you catch that? My 34th quilt! I counted them recently (you can see about 2/3 of them here - the rest will be on the blog soon, I hope) after completing my biggest quilt ever. Thinking about all those quilts had me remembering how I started with this crazy craft of cutting fabric up and sewing it back together. I learned to sew in 2007 (I think... it might have been 2008), making a pencil skirt at the home of one of my high school friends with her mother, Lorraine. Lorraine is a master seamstress and can make anything, and she is always willing to share her time and her skills with others. Around the same time my mom and I took a class at RISD to learn how to batik, which is an Indonesian technique using wax resist to dye fabric. We ended up with lots of pieces of our hand dyed fabric, but none of them were large enough to make anything with, or so I thought. I mentioned it to Lorraine and she immediately suggested a quilt. Making a quilt would be a great way to showcase the fabric we dyed, using all the small cuts of cloth and creating a keepsake along the way. So Lorraine taught me how to make a simple patchwork quilt and I learned how to chain piece, too. You can read more about my first "quilt" here. Anyway, after that first quilt I was addicted, making a baby quilt for my cousin's daughter from one of Denyse Schmidt's books. It seemed appropriate since Denyse is a RISD grad and it was a class at RISD that got me into quilting, in a way. Thirty four quilts later, with a few commissioned projects along the way, I've finally decided to sell some of my work.
The quilt pictured is called "Won't You Be My Neighbor" and it's the first one I'm listing in my etsy shop, the tiny hummingbird shop. I'll be listing more quilts in the days and weeks ahead as well as a few other fun little handmade items. Visit the shop for details and the story behind the quilt. Please take a peek and spread the word! These quilts are made for snuggling and are looking for good homes :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

my most favorite quilt | anchors aweigh for Dayne & Missy

While I was uploading these images I realized just how rusty I am at this old blogging thing. I edited the photos in Picasa but I'm not really that happy with how they turned out (the colors aren't right) and I didn't want to bother Matt with them, so they'll have to do. Anyway, I want to keep up with things over here just so I can keep track of the quilts I make because once I finish them I don't often see them again. This last one was extra special and I find myself missing it already, haha... it took up so much room in my sewing space and so much room in my mind that I don't know what to do with myself now! Before I share about the quilt itself I have to share the background story. Matt and I work in the youth group at our church and we used to work specifically in the junior high class with another couple, Dayne and Missy. Dayne is a big jokester and is always making fun of me for quilting, calling it a old lady, and generally giving me a hard time. However, I know that on some level he thought it was (maybe?) a cool hobby because he had encouraged me numerous times to do some crafty stuff with the teen girls. Also, whenever any occasion was coming up (his birthday, Christmas, their anniversary) Dayne would mention it and say things like, "I hope you're working on my quilt!" And then next time he saw me he would ask where said quilt was, etc. etc. This went on for two or three years, so I thought it would be great fun to make him a quilt! I knew it would surprise him and that he and Missy would like it, or at least I thought they would. What kind of person doesn't like a quilt? So I went on a search for the perfect quilt for them - I wanted something nautical because Dayne retired from the Navy and it was a big part of their lives, but I wanted it to be something Missy would like, too, so nothing too masculine. Oh, and Dayne always reminded me that they had a queen size bed, so I was looking for something big! And let me just say now that I know that Dayne's intent was never to make me feel obligated to make a quilt for him, it was totally a joke. I don't want anyone reading this thinking he was trying to guilt me into it! Back to the search for the perfect pattern. I looked at some traditional blocks like Mariner's Compass and pieced sailboats and I considered doing simple patchwork, but nothing seemed right. I wanted to love the quilt, too, and not just make something to make it. Then, I stumbled across this beauty on Tula Pink's website and it was love at first sight. And it was free! Even better. I ordered the fabrics right away and got to work as soon as they came in. I thought the anchor would be perfect for Dayne and Missy... it's obviously nautical and the anchor is also a symbol of hope, something I know is important to them.
The pattern is made up of zillions of 2" squares and a bunch of larger cuts of white and gray. It was fun to watch it come together row by row (each of the eight rows is pieced together as one long strip). My mom actually helped me out by cutting the squares (thanks, Mom!) because cutting with accuracy is my downfall and I knew that minor errors in cutting would have a big impact when working with so many pieces. So I can't take credit for the entire quilt :) I began working on this project in March. March! I sewed during nap time, after bed time, and any time Ezra and Finn weren't hanging on my leg. When I wasn't sewing it I was thinking about sewing it! And I finished it on Friday, October 11, the day before I wanted to give it to Dayne and Missy. I think it was my longest running work in progress.
As I slowly and carefully pieced the top together I spent lots of time mulling over ideas for the back. I decided to piece together the word "hope" using Denyse Schmidt's hope tote tutorial which I've made before, and adding some sailboats, one for each member of the Lindsey family (Dayne and Missy have three great kids who we love :), and including one star which I would use for the label. Finding more of Tula's Saltwater fabric for the backing turned out to be quite the search! It's out of print and there were exactly zero shops carrying yardage in the colorway I needed, although I did find plenty of coral. I called a couple local quilt shops but neither one carries many modern fabrics and sure enough they didn't have any. One hadn't even heard of Tula Pink. So I turned to instagram, hoping someone might have a lead, and one of my RIMQG members came through for me! She told me Knit One Quilt Too in Barrington still had some Saltwater, so Ezra, Finn, and I headed to the East Bay one day and they spent the morning tearing the place apart (luckily they had a basket of books and toys!) while I made my selections. Of course I went home with a few extras :)
Next I had to figure out how to quilt this thing. It was too big for my home machine to handle, so that meant finding a long arm quilter to do it for me, or taking a class and learning how to do it myself. I briefly considered hiring someone (we have a few long armers in the guild) but ultimately decided I had to do it myself because I wanted it to be more my style, and I thought it would be more meaningful if I saw the project through from start to finish (except for the cutting, ahem) myself. I took a two hour class at Mad About Quilts in Mansfield (thanks for babysitting, Mom!) and learned how to free motion quilt and use a pantograph on a long arm machine. While I liked the predictability of the pantograph, I decided I wanted to quilt a free motion design so it would be more organic looking and I could have more freedom. I considered loops, a repeating figure eight, a design that resembles water at the shore, and waves. Waves won, and after squaring up the top, backing, and batting and pinning on the zippers that attach the layers of the quilt to the long arm machine, I spent another two hours at Mad About Quilts the following week (more babysitting, thanks again, Mom :), renting time on the long arm to quilt free motion waves across the anchor quilt. I was super excited when I finished in a little over two hours and was able to cancel my appointment for the following day. Since it was my first time using a long arm and my first time quilting a queen size quilt I had no idea how long it would take me, but I anticipated it being four-five hours. Fortunately, the waves went quickly and I was thrilled to be ready to trim and bind.
I wrote out the label next to give it time to dry before I tossed the quilt in the washer and dryer later on. Now for the home stretch! I had already made a stripey binding (my favorite!) out of one of the Saltwater prints, so it was all ready for me to start attaching on a Friday night once the boys were in bed. I had high hopes of finishing the quilt that night but Finn was dealing with a bad eczema flare so he was up a lot and I ended up calling it quits around midnight. I was so excited about finishing that I couldn't sleep! So I got up at 2:00 and kept going! This was the first time I tried a slightly different method of binding - after attaching the binding to the front of the quilt I turned it over to the back and ironed the heck out of it so it would stay put when I was stitching it down from the front. Finn woke up again just as I finished ironing so I went to bed for real this time, looking forward to finishing the next day.
After breakfast the next morning I immediately started attaching the binding to second side of the quilt. Ironing the binding worked really well and I caught the binding on the back in all but a couple small spaces, both only a couple inches long. I sewed like the wind, hoping to get it done before Matt went to shoot a wedding around lunch time because I wanted him to help me take some pictures of the quilt before he left. I did finish in time (woo!) but it started raining so we couldn't take pictures (boo). I wanted to go down to the beach so the quilt would have an appropriate background, but that didn't seem possible now with my self-imposed time constraints. I had my heart set on giving the quilt to Dayne and Missy the next day, October 12th, because it's a special day for them, so instead we took pictures on Sunday afternoon in our yard.
I forgot about this little detail! I embroidered Hebrews 6:19 under the patchwork HOPE - the verse says "which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast."
I wrapped up the quilt on Sunday afternoon and texted Missy to see if they would be home before our church's evening service, asking if we could stop by to drop something off. Dayne and Missy's son works for Matt and he sometimes has to bring things there for him so I didn't think they would think anything was up. I wanted to keep the quilt a surprise for as long as possible but it was difficult since it was pretty huge even folded up. As soon as we walked in Missy asked if I made Dayne a quilt, ha! She knew right away. Dayne was on the phone when we got there, but once he hung up he said "this better be my quilt!" and then quickly followed that with something like "I'm just kidding, I'll feel bad..." as he opened it and realized that it actually was a quilt!
I think it's safe to say that he and Missy were both surprised and that they liked it. Dayne said he wouldn't share it, and also that he felt bad, haha... after all his teasing I don't think he ever expected me to actually make him a quilt! I don't think I've ever been more excited about giving something to someone. This quilt was so much fun for me to create and I loved adding special elements to make it personal for them. I'm so happy to have been able to make this quilt for them and hope they'll use it and love it for years to come!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

One! | Finn's Birth Story [updated]

Finn Wilder turns one today! I'm so thankful for this sweet boy. Even though I haven't been blogging I wanted to record his birth story and share it here, but it's been a year (obviously) so some of the details are hazy for me. The wonderful photos are by our dear friend and birth photographer extraordinaire, Karissa. There are no graphic images but there is one where I look like I'm in the middle of a primal yell... just thought I should warn you! :) Thanks for reading... 
My water broke at around 10:30 on a Tuesday night. It was September 10th, eleven days past my due date, and I anticipated labor lasting into the next day. We had to go to the hospital rather than stay home to labor because I had tested positive for Group B Strep and had to have antibiotics prior to delivery, so Matt and I quickly got our things together and I called my mom to come stay with Ezra for the night. I started to cry then, thinking about how Ezra's life would change and how I wouldn't be there for him in the morning, something that had never happened before. I knew adding a child to our family, and a brother for Ezra, would be a blessing but in that moment I mourned for the life we shared as a little family of three. As we waited for my mom to arrive I called our midwife, Deb, and informed Karissa and Natalie, our doula, that we would be heading to the hospital soon.
Everyone met us there and we came up with a plan for the night. My body seemed to be responding to my water breaking in the same way it did when my water broke before I had Ezra - it basically didn't do anything. At least not anything productive! I had contractions but they were completely tolerable and I arrived at the hospital only 1 cm dilated, feeling fine, not like I was going to have to push a baby out. Our options were to try to sleep and hope labor would begin overnight, and if it didn't, be induced in the morning, or to try to stimulate labor and get things moving. We opted for the latter because I really wanted to avoid induction (I was induced with Ezra and realllly didn't like it). To make a long story short, my labor did not get going overnight. We basically walked the halls and tried to get some oxytocin flowing but it didn't work, so on the morning of the 11th I agreed to labor augmentation with Pitocin. If you don't know, Pitocin is the synthetic form of oxytocin and it causes much more intense contractions than usual. I mentally prepared myself for the intensity and sure enough my contractions came more quickly and they were much stronger. We continued to walk the halls with a telemetry unit and I was coping well. It even says so in my medical records :) Once my contractions were steady Deb suggested that she break my water (it hadn't broken entirely when labor began the previous day) and turn down the Pitocin, hoping that my body would continue laboring on its own. Unfortunately that didn't happen. Deb did break the remaining bag of waters and lowered the Pitocin, but very quickly I noticed the intensity of the contractions subside. Disappointed, I told everyone in the room that they weren't as strong and resigned myself to more Pitocin.
I labored in many different positions as the Pitocin levels were steadily increased, and now I was not coping so well (also reported in my records, ha). We all thought I was in transition but when Deb checked my cervix I was only 5 cm dilated which was devastating. I couldn't believe how hard I was laboring and I was only halfway there! My records say that at this point the plan was to check my cervix in another two hours and if there was no change I would get an epidural. I don't remember if we discussed getting the epidural or not, but I do remember that I didn't want one. I really wanted to do this on my own, especially since I couldn't when I had Ezra. An hour later the doctor on call was consulted about my lack of progress and he agreed with the plan to administer an epidural in an hour if there was no change. I continued to have contractions and they were terrible. I remember crying through some of them, sobbing and writhing, and Deb basically telling me if I didn't pull myself together and work through the contractions I would have to get the epidural. Matt says he remembers that her admonishment got my attention and things started to progress. Edited to add, because Karissa just left me a message reminding me about one of the most crucial aspects of this hard labor. A reminder like this is just one of the many reasons it's awesome to have other women supporting you during labor - they will remember what you have forgotten! Anyway, when Deb was telling me to relax, I asked "how do I relax?" The memory surfaced; I remember I asked it desperately, wailed is more like it. I was frustrated, and all I had done to prepare for giving birth had escaped my mind. I couldn't relax, and I needed Deb to tell me how. She said, "just picture yourself in the arms of Jesus." Deb is a Christian, and God gave her the perfect words in that moment. Having a Christian midwife was and is such a blessing. I remember we prayed together at one point, too. I ended up making the most progress standing at the side of the bed, leaning over it, and squeezing Matt's hands with each contraction. Natalie stood behind me, applying counter pressure with each contraction, and eventually I felt the need to sit/squat and Natalie supported my weight. However, Natalie is only about as big as me when I'm not pregnant so it got to be a bit much for her, so Deb acted as my chair, bearing my weight. I remember thinking, "is this weird that I'm sitting on Deb's lap?" but nothing matters when one is in labor so I brushed that thought aside. As the contractions grew more intense I remember wanting to throw up so badly but I wasn't and it was so frustrating. I was hot and sick and in immense pain and I just wanted to be done! My reaction to these contractions showed that I had finally, probably, progressed to completion and was ready to push.
I wanted to help catch the baby so I labored on my side, and I remember squeezing Matt's hands as hard as I was physically able to, and repeatedly yelling "OH MY GOODNESS! I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW BAD THIS HURTS!" because I really couldn't believe it. I feel a little bit sick right now just thinking about it. Thankfully, this phase didn't last long. The baby's shoulders were a bit stuck so Deb had to apply pressure to my abdomen in order to move the delivery along, but I only pushed for eight minutes total, and then I reached down and this little guy was handed up to me.
I will never get over the miracle of birth. As I'm ;ooking at these pictures again I'm amazed at God's design. Anyway, our second baby boy was born at 4:47 pm (only an eighteen hour labor! Much better than the forty-eight hours I endured with Ezra) and he was giant! And adorable! And I loved him immediately, even though you can't tell from the pictures, ha... If you looked at all the images from the day you would notice that I don't smile at all until about an hour after delivery. Labor is hard, man! I was recovering in more ways than one. Anyway, we named him Finn and spent the afternoon marveling at the little baby who had entered our lives.
Matt & Deb :)
About four hours after Finn was born our families came to meet him. I asked that Ezra come in first so we could have a few moments together, and their introduction went better than I imagined it would. Ezra kissed Finn a few times and wanted to look at all his body parts, especially his tiny toes :)
We gave Ezra a doll that I made for him, and Ezra brought a rattle that he had picked out for Finn when we were shopping a couple months before. Being a family of four was (and is!) beautiful.

Happy birthday, Finny! We're so glad you're ours!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Feeding Finn

Feeding Finn has been far easier than I anticipated it would be and I'm so thankful. Matt has snapped a few pictures of me and my little nursling, but I wanted to do something a little more deliberate to remember this season of our lives. Enter Karissa, friend and birth photographer extraordinaire. She took photos when both of the boys were born and when Ezra was nursing, too. I knew she would be willing to do it again, even at six months pregnant with her toddler in tow, and especially if I bribed her with tacos. Pregnant ladies love tacos. Heck, who doesn't love tacos? Anyway, we spent about an hour in Providence to get these shots. Matt kept Ezra and Zekiah occupied and Finn basically refused to nurse because he wanted to play with the boys and/or smile at Karissa and random passersby. Still, I love these pictures and am so glad I'll always have them to help me remember this time. Thanks so much, Karissa! I promise we'll get tacos if the Taqueria is ever actually open. 
That face! I just can't. This sweet boy has my heart.
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