Memories to Heirlooms
Memories to Heirlooms
As a cancer survivor, I wanted to give back to a program at the Lancaster Family YMCA which has been instrumental in my recovery. My solution: make a quilt to be auctioned online in October to help to raise money and awareness for this remarkable program.
CaRE (Cancer Recovery Exercise), now LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, is life changing, with a focus on exercise, wellness and community. Through it I have gotten stronger and have made friendships that will last a lifetime.
This quilt is my way of telling the story of the circles that support me and all the positive things that happened in my life from the time of diagnosis through recovery. It will be on display at the three Lancaster YMCA locations October 1-19 and will be auctioned online. Bids will be accepted through 5:00 PM on October 19. Money raised through the quilt auction and donations will go to the YMCA Annual Campaign and will help to support LIVESTRONG and the YMCA's mission of providing this program to any cancer survivor, free of charge!
The meaning behind each circle
Diagnosis and Support
I used mottled gray fabrics with flecks of gold because cancer, at best, is a dark cloud, but I was lucky to have many gold flecks shinning through. My family showed through example how to battle cancer and support people going through it. I knew I was facing a fight but having this love and support, knowing that much more was available if I choose to reach out, was gold.
Purple was the color of my YMCA CaRE program and the touches of silver represent the brightness it brought into my life. Cancer taught me that life is too short to limit yourself. It made it easier to walk into a class with total strangers and take on exercise that I had not done for years. This class was a game changer for me, pushing me to do more and want more in my life.
Classic blue calico reminds me of freedom. It is very stressful to feel you have the imperative to fix the wrongs of the world. Cancer gave me the freedom to step back, focus on my health and decide how I will choose to "leave the world better than I found it."
This fabric reminds me of the night sky and because of where I live, I have to remember to look up to see the stars. The two mindfulness classes I took at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute were enlightening. I still have to be mindful, to be mindful. . . but I don't mind!
CaRE to Continue/LIVESTRONG
A darker purple was the perfect choice for CaRE to Continue because the program was such a rich experience. Ours was the first class allowed to continue with CaRE after the first round. It encouraged me to keep pursuing fitness, it bonded my friendships and inspired me by the people in each new round of classes.
CaRE members gather occasionally to make mastectomy pillows for the patients of the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute. We mark them with "Peace, Courage, Heath, Hope" and attach inspirational tags so they know they were made by people who have been there. It is a great way to give back.
"Kermit" has forever linked the color green to gratitude for me. Mom cared for me; my "Other Mothers" were at the ready to listen/do; my neighbors looked after "my boys" and home; my friends supported me in perfect ways; my medical team was outstanding; and my trainers were supportive. I am truly blessed.
I took a year to find myself. I hung out at the Y, played with pottery and stained glass, enjoyed time with Mom, family and old and new friends, cuddled the cats, noticed stars and butterflies, and took time to breathe.
Yellow fabric represents light and "namaste" means "The light and love in me honors the light and love in you." Yoga introduced me to this word and I try to live it each day by seeking out ways to honor others: shaking the hand of a veteran, holding a door, sharing a kind word. Little things are not little. Namaste.
Orange is my sister/hero's signature color and she has always been an amazing example of love in my life. Through cancer, I have strengthened bonds with my loved ones and have gotten to know remarkable people who have enriched my life. Through it, I am more keenly aware of how love abounds in my life. There are much easier paths to discovering love and I pray that no more must follow this one.
This is the only fabric I didn't already own and I went to at least three stores to find it. Its colors and design speak to my path as I move on. I see endless possibilities and for the first time I feel I am actively crafting my life. Life is good.
In the quilt no circle stands alone forming an interlocking chain reaction. It is significant that the links of the chain that connect all others are:
Kristen Ellsworth Applebee was my student in 7th and 8th grade home economics, and she participated in my after school gingerbread house building. She is second in a family of 6, each of whom is remarkable, kind, creative former students. Their mother was soon to become my teaching partner, and because we were so different, we made a good team that was a real benefit to our students. Eventually, I was made an honorary Aunt and have been connected to the family ever since.
cKristen now teaches Art at the Georgia Academy for the Blind. Did you catch that? She teaches Art to visually impaired students! That statement alone is mind-boggling, but if you check out Kristen's Blog you will be really impressed. It is an excellent resource for any art teacher, parent, or crafter.
So, I was not surprised to hear she was selected in the top 10 for Georgia Teacher of the Year (GTOY) and was later chosen as National 2019 Outstanding Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments! Woohoo! As soon as I heard about the GTOY, I headed to the grocery store and filled my cart with our native foods; Hershey, Dove and Wilbur chocolate. When I realized that by the time it got to her in Georgia in May, it would be a delicious puddle, back on the shelf it went and I settled on making her piece of stained glass instead.
On her blog, I found two pieces of student artwork that would translate to stained glass well. Of course, I asked Kristen if she would like me to do this and which would she prefer. Her response was, "Yes, please!" and she chose the butterfly. I was excited about the challenge of the butterfly, but when she explained that it was a group project and done to honor a student who had passed away, it seemed a perfect way to honor her dedication to her craft. She also discussed the size she wanted because, of course, she wanted to hang it in her classroom.
Design in hand, I headed to Rainbow Vision Stained Glass in Harrisburg. Lynn, the owner, is always so helpful, but when I explained what I was doing, she went above and beyond. She gave me a one and half hour master class on how to design a stained glass piece. Her help dramatically improved the quality of the end piece, and I walked away with skills I will use over and over again. I can't thank her enough.
Stained glass comes in many colors and textures. It also varies in clarity from glass that allows light to shine through to totally opaque pieces. More than anything, I wanted to give her students the chance to see this piece, so I choose glass that allowed as much color to come through as possible. Rainbow Vision had a great selection of beautiful glass that would do the trick!
The finished piece turned out great, and I got to give it to her in person when she visited this July!
Congratulations, Kristen! You have always been an outstanding teacher in my book, and I am glad you are receiving the recognition you deserve. You are truly a blessing to your students and always help them to fly!
There is something about pottery that makes me feel nurtured and brings me joy. I imagine it is because I know someone took the time to put their hands to clay and make something functional to enhance daily tasks. My favorite potter is Amy Holland, who started as my pottery instructor (she an excellent teacher to any age) and became a good friend. I love everything about her work and literally begin and end my day using it. On my kitchen counter is a crock that holds my morning granola and a compost crock that I empty each evening. Also pictured is a mug that appeared in my cupboard one day. It warms my hands with my morning cocoa. Cocoa just tastes better in that mug.
The Parks are great neighbors. We get along really well and help each other out when we can. They are also kind enough to share their dogs and grandchildren with me. Their two grandsons come and craft with me when they are not playing baseball. The boys are excellent athletes in both physical talent and humble attitude thanks in part to their father, who is one of their coaches and mother, who is a constant support. Both are pitchers and also hit and throw well. When they play, it is a family affair with grandparents, aunts, uncles and, on occasion, me forming their cheering section.
While perusing Pinterest, I saw a white quilt with red baseball stitching and naturally thought of my favorite sluggers, but I knew they did not need quilts. After touching base with their Mom, I settled in on making them each a study pillow they could use in their "dugout" at home. Then I stepped up to the plate to make them as a "no apparent reason" gift, my personal favorite.
Right off the bat, I made inner pillows out of an old sheet so the cover could be removed and washed. I covered my bases by finishing the outside edges with a zig-zag stitch so it would never fray.
I grandstanded by fusing and then appliquéing orange baseball stitches on the front of each pillow.
The colors blue and orange made it a whole new ball game; the orange represents the Baltimore Orioles, the boys' favorite team, and the blue matched the room pleasing their manager, aka Mom!
Out of left field, I lined each outer piece with baseball polar fleece to provide even more padding.
I was thrown a curveball when the inner pillow was too stuffed to easily slide inside, but it was quickly corrected by removing some stuffing.
To make it a home run, I embroidered their baseball nicknames on a strip and buttoned them on the back.
Finally, I made it a grand slam by using the extra baseball fabric to make them each another pillow.
Ok, boys; off to the dugout to relax before your game against China next week. Then . . . Play Ball! Yes I said China! A team was touring and looking for a local team to play. They contacted the Lancaster Barnstormers who contacted someone on the boy's team and organized the game. It was fun to watch as the boy's team was very gracious to this team that had traveled so far and was just learning the game.
Foot Note: I made these pillows because I wanted to "play" with this design and was excited to give them to the boys. Below is another pillow I made years ago after a young friend gave me a piece of her original artwork. It was fun to give it back to her in pillow form.
There are many study pillows on the market you can buy off the shelf for a fraction of what I would charge to make it. That said, I would happily discuss making custom pillows like this for anyone who might be interested in quality construction and a completely custom end product. Want to step up to the plate for a pillow? Contact me so we can talk .
Jean is the owner and designer for Remember When Studio.