Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Health -- this has nothing to do with quilting

Dear Family & Friends
I thought I would send out an email with the update on my health.  First of all let me say, thank you, thank you, for all the encouragement, prayer, support and concern that has been showered on me this week.  I have really felt God’s presence and strength daily. 

Just a brief history:  In 2009 or 2010 I started having some double vision problems.  Doctor’s wanted me to have an MRI but I put it off until March of 2011.  It was in that MRI that a tumor was found in my cavernous sinus which is located in the center back of our heads.  I probably will never forget that day with the call from a doctor saying I had a ‘large tumor’ and he was sure it would have to be removed.  Shortly after that we found out is was most certainly a benign slow growing tumor called a meningioma.  It does not grow in brain tissue but in the spaces in your head most often between the skull bone and the brain tissue.  After seeing a specialist up at OHSU, I was told that this particular area of the brain is very difficult to remove a tumor from so the best thing to do would be to watch it and have regular MRIs.  I had another MRI about 6 months later and it showed no measurable growth in the tumor but the possibility of a aneurism behind my left eye.  After seeing another specialist up at OHSU they thought a cerebral angiogram would be in order to look at both issues.  So finally just this week I had the cerebral angiogram.  You may be wondering why I’m so slow to do anything – we had to get individual medical insurance coverage a couple years ago and I was denied insurance coverage because of the double vision issue.  Once you’ve been denied, it’s impossible to get normal coverage.  I could get on the high risk state pool but the monthly premium was way too high and we make just slightly over the wage where we were eligible for any financial assistance.  So we have had to wait until our savings account has money in it before we proceed with the next medical thing.

So back to the cerebral angiogram of this week.  It went very well.  My care was wonderful up at OHSU and other then a bruised and sore groin I’m doing just fine.  The angiogram test revealed that the aneurism was small and the doctor told us nothing to be concerned about since most likely it would never be an issue.  He was concerned about the tumor but since it wasn’t his specialty, he said he would see if the doctor at OHSU who specializes in brain tumors would have a look at the study and possible even come and see us before we left.  Well, about 20 minutes later he walked in the room.  He said that if I were 75 and had this tumor he would tell me to go home and forget about it, but since I was still a ‘young woman’ (I loved that part), most likely something would need to be done eventually.  The tumor surrounds the carotid artery on the right side and has blocked it about 80%.  If or when it grows and blocks it more, some action will need to be taken.  There are basically two options:  brain surgery to try and remove some or all of the tumor and a carotid artery bypass or radiation therapy to try and reduce the tumor without damaging the carotid artery.  Both pretty risky and with outcomes that would probably cause some other serious issues.  He recommended that sometime in the future we start looking into these options and consulting with some of the experts who do this kind of thing.  He is a neurologist that could do the first option.  He was also saying that this kind of tumor may stay stable for a long time and then occasionally they have a growth spurt. 

So that is where things are at today.  They were not able to help me with the double vision issues so I will continue to have glasses that help and then sometimes struggle with seeing well.  I will try and have regular MRI’s to check on the tumor and at some point start to gather information from some specialists as to what is the best options down the road if something has to be done.  The doctor who saw me also told me things to look for that would be warning signs that the carotid artery is being too compromised. 
Rick is also looking into possibilities for insurance coverage.  I don’t think there’s any way we could ever proceed with anything without coverage.  We still don’t even know what the cerebral angiogram cost but hopefully we have enough saved with the discount we get from OHSU to cover the cost. 

Now to the spiritual aspect of all this.  God is using this to grow me, to change me, and to encourage others in their own difficulties.  For all of us, only God knows our last breath on this earth.  For all of us, if we know Christ as our Savior, we have such hope for more than this life.  Sometimes things like this help us to sort through our lives and get rid of some of the junk that has no eternal significance.  Wake up calls are always a good thing and a tumor in your head is a definite wake up call!  I totally rest in God’s sovereignty and control over my life.  I trust Him to work out His good purposes in my life and hopefully my days to come will bring Him much glory.  I really have no fear.  How can I when I have a heavenly Father who watches over all of my days.  One of my favorite sayings of recent is from Winnie the Pooh; “What day is it” asked Pooh.  “It’s today” squeaked Piglet.  “My favorite day”, said Pooh.  God’s Word says it best in Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it”  Let’s live in the moment.
So there’s my thoughts and heart on this whole journey.  Thanks again for caring.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recent Customer Quilts

Here's a couple customer quilts that I have done in the last several weeks.  They turned out really well.  Both had quite a bit of 'blank' space.  Always fun to do quilts like that.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

10 Minute Quilt Blocks

I'm normally a skeptic.  If I see a title that says 10 minute quilt blocks, I'm thinking, yeah right, who can make a block in 10 minutes?  But that's exactly what I did this morning.  I sewed 9 blocks using the pattern from the book, '10 Minute Quilt Blocks', in less than 2 hours.  The first couple blocks were slow because the directions and pictures were a little confusing to follow.  Mostly it was something I'd never done the way the blocks were put together.  The center squares that are in gold are folded so it gives it a 3-dimensional look.  I'm going to put a border on the quilt and use it on the twin bed in our spare bedroom.  It felt really good to put a quilt top together in such a short time!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fall is almost here

I could hardly believe when I looked at the last date of my most recent post -- April!  My intention is to post regularly -- but, summer came and life got extremely hectic.  Over the summer my life has been full of gardening, 4-H and fair, canning, grandkids and kids around a lot!  It's been a good summer though.  Needless to say, quilting took a back burner to life for the last few months. 

Here's a customer quilt I finished quite recently that will be shown at the NW Quilt Expo the end of September.  I hope it wins!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Recent Customer Quilts

Here's a couple quilts I finished this week.  I really liked them both but the house quilt was extra fun.  I tried to make the quilts that 'hang' on the outside of the houses look like a miniature quilts.  Lots of small quilting.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Working on one of my own quilts

I spent several days last week working on one of my own quilts.  That's a rare occurrence for me!  This quilt has been complete and ready for quilting for almost 2 years.  Finally it's started.  Unfortunately I didn't get it done and now it needs to come off the machine so I can do a customer quilt.  But my ideas for the quilting are drawn and the basic framework for the quilting is all stitched down.  The quilt was completely stabilized with SID quilting before I put any designs on it.  Hopefully it won't be a year or more until I get back to it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Couple Moe Customer Quilts

I finished a couple more customer quilts that were very nice.  Now I'm taking a break from customer quilts and finally quilting my brown quilt.  It has been waiting for over 2 years to be quilted.  I took pictures of the quilt in black and white, drew different design ideas on the photo and now it's on the machine and ready to start in the morning.  I'll post pictures along the way if I remember.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Customer Quilt

Quilt is done.  I had a hard time getting a good photo of the quilt.  It's such a dark dreary day that even with a lot of lights on the quilt, the quilting barely shows.  The thread used on the quilt was several shades darker than the fabric.  I tend to use that as a rule of thumb on most quilts.  A little darker stands out but doesn't overpower the quilt with a thread look. 

I'm already on to the next customer quilt and really scratching my head about this one.  It's black and gold and even though it's a classic pattern the fabrics are not.  I have already looked through hundreds of photos and several books trying to decide on a quilting design.  Sometimes the most frustrating part of the quilting is the decision making process of what to do.  I often think it's best to start with one idea, quilt it, and then see where it leads.  So I'm off to the studio with my one idea :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Customer Quilt

Sometimes I get carried away with the quilting.  This is one of those quilts.  It's beautiful and with so much 'plain read' areas there was a lot of beautiful quilting that could be done.  I decided to try a new border design.  I'm using curved crosshatching in a chocolate kiss shape!  My hope is when the quilt is taken off and looked at as a whole you'll see the extension of each block into the border with the quilting.  I'll post pictures when it's all done

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Free Hand Designs

All of my quilting is done freehand.  The example below is a freehand design though I am using markings and I use the circle tool that you see in the photograph to get me from one heart to the next.  Doing freehand work and making it look good requires a lot of practice, Trace out the design on paper that also has your markings.  As you see where the design intersects with your markings you'll also get familiar with how the design 'feels'.  There are often places in a design where you need the help of a ruler to get your line perfect.  In the design below, I needed a circle ruler to go from the center of one heart to the next.  If I were to freehand that part, chances are the irregularities would be really noticeable.  Sometimes I'll put the first design on a quilt and realize I need a ruler in a particular spot to get my stitching line correct.  Probably the other factor in executing a good freehand design is finding the correct speed to move your machine at.  That will vary from person to person.  I tend to run my machine at a fast enough speed to that my lines look smooth but slow enough that I can maintain good control over the pattern.  I don't have a stitch regulated machine (when I've quilted with them I feel like they impede my ability to get smooth looking lines) so my speed is usually set around 50.  Hopefully this will help some you machine quilters out there who read my blog!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Double Wedding Ring Quilt

I'm working this week on a Double Wedding Ring quilt. It's unique in the color choices; dark colors and lots of plaids.  The customer wanted to keep the quilting simple and no feathers.  This was the pattern we chose, a heart with some petal designs in the center of each heart.  It requires marking each space with 4 diagonal lines and then tracing a circle in the center so I have my points to keep the pattern on track.  I practiced a bunch of times on paper so that I would have the 'feel' of the design.  It's turning out very well and I think the customer will be pleased. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Some recent customer quilts

Here's photos of a few customer quilts I have done recently.  I was really pleased with how the one with the cube design turned out.  The customer wanted a design that would bring out the 'box' look so I ended up outline stitching around each cube.  It did make it look 3 dimensional. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

3 Customer Quilts

These quilts belong to 2 sisters.  I do quite a bit of quilting for them and always love their work.  I love the black house quilt.  The quilting doesn't show up but I used a leaf vine around the houses.  The pastel quilt with the little girls around the border turned out beautifully.  I decided to do curved cross-hatching in the girl's dresses.  It was a time consuming process but the finished look 'made' the quilt in my view.

Enjoy the pics.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Time to get back to quilting

I have had almost a month off from quilting.  In that month there has been more overnight guests, more events than I can ever remember.  We had a lot of family here for the Thanksgiving holiday.  And that was just the beginning.  There were holiday parties, birthdays, a wedding and great family times.  The last event happened today -- our 2nd grandson was born at 11:47 this morning.  It was so exciting to finally meet him.  I will post a picture soon.  We still have one more grandson to come in March.  Three grandsons in 3 months -- how amazing.
Tonight I feel worn out.  Tomorrow I hope to be back in my studio quilting with lots of energy.  Though it may take me a few days to get up to speed.
I have been thinking about setting one goal for my business for 2012.  It's to get better organized in my studio especially with my own sewing projects.  So to that end, I'm going to come up with a plan, steps to take and hopefully make some real progress in that area. 
Happy New Year to all my followers and fellow quilters!