Friday, August 08, 2014

Renee's Quilt: "Jehovah-Rapha"

Warning: Long post, picture heavy, but I wanted to journal this quilt story all in one post. 

June 12th, 2014, was a day that changed everything for my friend, Renee'. 
She was diagnosed with breast cancer. 
The news shook me to the core.  But when I finished shaking, 
I immediately set out to make a quilt for her. 
She would need one for comfort during treatment and 
recovery.  I wanted to her have a tangible reminder of all the people
who love her. I wanted to her be warm in a cold room. 
I wanted her to feel hugged when she was alone.

It would have to be a pattern that would work up quickly, and I found
several recommendations for the pattern called Warm Wishes. 
It's a variation of a  rail fence, if you're a budding quilter. Try it. It looks harder than it is. 
It's quite simple, really.

Knowing Renee's decorating style, I auditioned fabrics from my stash
and bought more to make it just right. 
These fabrics were really "her."

 The main difference between this and a true rail fence is that the middle strip is wider than the outer strips. 

I began to sew. And sew. And sew. 
And pray and pray and pray. 
Sewing and praying go very well together. 

I sewed the blocks together.
The points didn't all come out perfectly, but I call myself the Imperfect Stitcher, and don't beat myself up.

Block by block, row by row, prayer by prayer, I put all my love into this quilt for my precious friend.
Almost always, I had a beautiful view by day, or a radio by night.

At one point, I called my friend Barb for her opinion on my border color choices. 
She confirmed my leaning toward teal on the inside, gold on the outside.

For advice on the width of the border, I called my quilting friend Lu.  She gave me good advice. 

When it came time to actually quilt this thing, I balked. My machine (Janome DC 1050) is a great sewing machine but it's got a small throat (about 6 inches) and I didn't want to wrestle and wrangle all that fabric through a small space. 

Preeti to the rescue. I texted her and asked her if she would do the quilting. 
It took me so much nerve because most people don't enjoy sewing and quilting other people's projects. 
It takes way more time than non-quilters can imagine.
But Preeti had mercy on me. I gave her a whopping one week! 

Did I mention that we live two hours apart?

I learned that she unpinned all my basting pins and rebasted with spray, so
it took more time than I expected .
But she understood the time crunch: 

Chemo was coming quickly and I had to bind the quilt yet. 

Isn't she cute showing off the yellow flannel back?

Flannel is warm and oh-so-soft.
I bought mine from Thousands of Bolts,
and highly recommend it. 

Rocking the selfie? Not! But I wanted a picture with her
and there was no one around to handle the camera.
I like how we dressed that day--we blend well with
the quilt, huh? --teeheehee---

Another set of rescuing hands. 
My friend Kathleen has  a lot of quilting experience--and a generous heart--and she only lives 
10 minutes away.  The walking foot on my machine

(which feeds all three layers of quilt evenly) decided to 
break, so Kathleen worked her magic in just over an hour. 
She trimmed my batting and sewed the binding strip to the front for me. 
 These friends of mine went above and beyond.

Then I took it to my Bible study for the ladies to 
begin filling the back of the quilt with their signatures
and verses to encourage Renee'. 

Six or seven hours of hand binding and it was finally finished!

All that was left was washing and drying it, wrapping it, and delivering at dinner. 

Easy, right????

That's when I had a major problem again. 
My dryer wasn't drying it. So I took it to my neighbor Bonnie. 
She was at the vet with her dog but her daughter and I chatted while the quilt tumbled. 
The clock hands went round and round, too. 

After a while I came back home and tried the dryer again. It worked, but I was an hour behind schedule. 

 I asked my son to take a quick picture. Then I jumped in the car, spread out the 
quilt  over the passenger seat headrest, 
and rolled down all the windows. 

If you ever have a crisis with your dryer and need to get to a party with a damp object,  let me just say that doing 70 miles per hours on Interstate 95  was a great substitute in a pinch. 

But those signatures that I thought were signed with permanent micron? 
They faded. A little. 

But I wrapped it up, wrote a card for my friend, and delivered my 
magnum opus. 

She loved it. She smiled. She cried. She petted the quilt. 
She loved it.  That's all I wanted to know. 

And then we FINALLY made it to dinner, just us, just girlfriends on a night out before 
the first day of chemo. 

 I told her in the card that the name of the quilt is "Jehovah-Rapha" which means "The Lord who heals."

After dinner, we walked around the shopping center outside, wandered into Barnes & Noble,
shared some laughter, and then went back to her house.  I had to write over those faded messages
as Renee' looked up the scriptures.

At nearly midnight, we prayed together on the sofa, and then I headed home, grateful for our friendship--and the friendships of all those who had a part in this quilt--especially God's friendship.

1 comment:

Zoanna said...

I just reread this tonight and I cried and petted my quilt which is keeping me warm..still. This quilt has been to every chemo session and every hospitalization. It was so nice to not have the plain white hospital sheets on my bed for all of those days. I had my quilt to make my stay feel more like home. If this quilt could talk it would tell many stories of love, hope, despair, courage, fear, friendship and faith. Thank you Zo and all those who helped.