The comfort of Quilting

** warning things are about to get a little personal in a very un-Australian way

As I pondered the quilting I had been doing this week I realised that it had been exactly a year since my quilting was rudely interrupted by some Emergency surgery.  This time last year I had posted my Icky Thump block on Monday….

Paper pieced blockand was working on my Tula Pink blocks when I realised something was not quite right.  You see I had recently found out  I was pregnant which was an incredible shock, as I had assumed that being over 40 was a great form of birth control.  Boy was I wrong.

Anyway a call to my doctor and a quick conversation about what my body was doing ended with her saying “go to the Emergency Room now, I will meet you there”.   Slightly freaked out,  I managed to grab my hexagon travel kit, my keys, my purse and my husband (in that order) and headed out the door.

Well it transpired that my pregnancy was ectopic and after some emergency surgery I found myself sore, confused and chock full of hormones… and this is where the quilting comes in.

Over the last year quilting has been my life line.  When I could not move after the surgery I made hexagons like crazy…. I do not do well with doing nothing and hexagons were something that kept me busy, kept me from going crazy.

hexagon flowers modern brightThen as I slowly recovered I found I could do small stints at the sewing machine.  I designed a quilt block and slowly set about making it piece by piece.

cross block wipMy damaged body meant that I could take the time to carefully select the scraps and fabric for this quilt.  To spend so much time designing and making this quilt top was a gift and a luxury.  I have not finished this quilt yet… the completed  top has been sitting in the cupboard  but I have not been emotionally ready to deal with the baggage attached to it.   Soon I will be strong enough.

As time went on and my body healed, quilting commitments kept my mind from wondering and my feelings from overwhelming me.  I signed up for fussy cut swaps…

fussy cut swapand quilted container swaps…

Finsihed quilted bucketI tested paper piecing patterns, joined Quilting Bees and threw myself into the Let’s Get Acquainted Blog Hop.  I kept quilting….kept posting…kept busy.

quilt block mosaicIt has been 12 months of ups and downs.  As an British/Australian hybrid I struggle to share personal stuff.  Sharing does not come naturally to me  – as my best friend Margaret told me recently “it takes you a while to let people in…. usually 2 to 3 years” – but somehow on this anniversary it seemed important to let you know what quilting, has meant to me over the last 12 months.  I survived one stitch at a time, pushed forward by the lovely comments left about my work and the support of the wonderful online quilting community.

And to my online friends, who had no idea this was going on, but who supported my quilting and my creativity during this time a very big thank you.  To Ashley, Marie, Amy, Michelle, Nicole, Sarah, Susan, Kate, Mel, Julie, Laura, Stephanie, Renee, Cari, Amanda… extra special thanks for your constant comments and support over the last 12 months.

Okay soppy emotional stuff is now over…. it will be back to normal programming by Friday… promise.

91 thoughts on “The comfort of Quilting

  1. Your blocks and quilts always brighten my day! There is something very therapeutic about creating a quilt, isn’t there? So glad to hear you are feeling better.

  2. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that pain. I love that quilting can help in those times. I realize that I’ve been reading your blog regularly for a little more than a year and I’m so glad to have found it and you.

      • I wasn’t sure! You’re one of my favorite quilt bloggers, so it has been my pleasure to read and leave comments. Plus, I won your giveaway! I think of you whenever I use a color catcher or look up a pattern in the book or use the pearl bracelets. 🙂

  3. I’ve often thought about the stories quilts could tell, if they were able. Creativity is a helpmate to healing. May each day bring you greater health, body and soul. Thank you for sharing your journey, and your wonderful quilt work, with us.

  4. I love all of the work you do. I enjoy reading your blog but realize I need to comment once in a while. Quilting is an amazing outlet for many things.

    • Janice I have had to get into the habit of commenting too. I spent many years visiting site and not leaving a comment, but when I started blogging I realised how important reaching out is… I just wish I had more time in my day to surf and comment.

  5. You are a great quilting inspiration to me! You’ve been through so much this past year. I hope this next one brings you peace and happiness. Thank you for blogging and inspiring me each week!

    • I am not sure how strong I am… I nearly deleted the post about 5 times last night. It is amazing what strength you find in yourself when you need it and when you have not strength left how the universe sends you people…often strangers… to help you through.

  6. Nice to ear you are doing well. I don’t know you but your post is really well written and inspiring. I showed to a friend (and learned at the same time) who was living a depression how to make hexagons. She needed something to hang on to, and that’s what I found at that time. One hexy at the time. Now the depression is over and we have a quilt to finish. As everyone says, sometimes quilts have a long story to tell.

    • Hexagons are really the most perfect way to keep busy. They do focus the mind on the task much more than machine sewing and as you pointed out, you usually have a wonderful quilt to show for it all. I am so glad your friend is doing better, depression is such a strange, deep dark beast.

    • Lynne I have really appreciated your comments and support over the last couple of months. You are often the first person to like or comment on my posts and I love seeing your smiling face come up on WordPress.

  7. So glad to hear that quilting got you through tough times. I also made a boatload of hexagons while I was laid up with a broken leg last year. Your lovely Icky Thump block inspired me to make some of my own!

  8. Sometimes we do our best work when we’re working through pain. I think all your quilting girls are glad that we were there and able to provide support, encouragement and awed approval of your work. I hope you continue to heal physically and mentally, and I look forward to seeing that quilt finished. I think it’s time.

  9. Thanks for sharing your story. I am a newcomer to your blog–attracted by your wonderful color combinations and great patterns. What a tough thing to undergo; yety
    ou came through it in a most creative way and sharing your results is a gift to us.

  10. As I read this I felt like I was reading something I wrote. Quilting has been my lifeline throughout the years as well, with a similar situation. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to have such physical and emotional pain. But your work is beautiful 🙂 And I audibly gasped when I saw your variation on the hunter star (at least that’s what it looked like to me, forgive me if I’m wrong)! And those hexagons…oh boy.

  11. sharing a tear with you for our little ones who left this world too early. Quilting was therapy for me too during that difficult time. Your work is an inspiration and I am thankful that you shared your story. xo

  12. oh wow, sending lots of hugs to you! One of my good friends had an ectopic pregnancy about two years ago, it was incredibly scary and painful for her, as I’m sure it was for you. I’m so glad I have been apart of the journey for the past year. My two favorite quilts were made from the pain I was going through, I look forward to seeing yours completed!

  13. Cath, thank you for sharing this deeply personal part of your life’s journey…you are an inspiration both for your creativity and for your strength.

  14. You are an amazing and creative woman ~ you do such lovely work and seem to be tireless.
    I can relate to what you’ve said about using something to help you through the pain of loss. Takes courage to go through what’s happened for you and then to share it, even more. Thank you!

    • Elsa I forgot you on my special call out list… my bad. From the beginning you were so supportive, long before I met you and realised what an amazing quilter you were. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  15. Thank you for sharing your personal story. I found your site while recovering from major surgery in February. We have similar journeys and similar recoveries. Please know that you were a life line for me in providing a diversion – in wonderful patterns, bright neon colors and lovely encouragement through blocks lovingly pieced together. Wishing you bright days.

  16. Your work is incredible. I love how you’ve managed to cope with a tough year by delving deep into your creativity. Had to smile that you grabbed your hexies first when faced with an emergency. Quilting keeps me sane, too.

    • It is strange how the mind works when faced with an Emergency. The hexies really were the first thing I grabbed. I did not manage to make any of course because everything happened so quickly… but I had them just in case. LOL.

  17. Thank you so much for your honesty and bravery and sharing what you are going through. Your work is so unbelievable. I am so glad you have such a supportive group of friends. I hope you get lots of hugs today – virtual and real.

    • I have definitely felt the virtual hugs today and it has been overwhelming. I also got some good real hugs… and some lovely pressies too. My darling friend just dropped off a lovely gift, knowing how much I like presents. Today has been a good day, surprisingly.

  18. I’m so glad that you decided to share this – I have been following you right along and had no idea that you were recovering from such a life changing event – your blocks never gave you up! Your work has been a joy, all along.
    I miscarried in my forties. I had a quilt that I was hand quilting at the time. I used to sit in bed and quilt, and when I got weary, I would pull it up over my head and sleep. That quilt knows more about me than most people!
    Thanks again Cath – you are a viking!

    • Jody I love the idea of the quilt knowing about me…. I think my hexagon quilt will be that quilt. The quilt that knows my pain and my secrets but gives me comfort and joy. Thank you for your comment and for sharing. It is nice to know that others understand the crazy I have been through.

  19. Darling Cath, Thanks for letting us in on your year. I have so much admiration for your work and your style, and to now know you’ve persevered with all this upheaval only increases it. The comfort and distraction and absorption of quilting has also helped me through a year + of extreme distress, and I thank you again for reminding us of the many levels to the creative life. xoxoxo

  20. I totally understand quilting being a lifeline in times of need. Last year I had 2 hip replacements at the age of 54,which is young to have hips so badly damaged. Since then I have had my gall bladder removed, been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis and Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and have joint damage in many places. In fact, now they want to replace my knees. I’m unable to work so we have financial problems too. I’ve been quilting from mostly stash, and the outlet of doing something I enjoy that requires concentration, has really helped me to cope with the severe pain and depression. I’m glad you’re finally able to talk about your loss, it will help you to get rid of some of the guilt and pain. I hope you continue to grow and talk about your loss and health problems, so you can overcome them . Your readers love you and will support you.

  21. Thank you for sharing your story, bravo for putting all you had in your work to get through a tough time! I hope you feel a big internet hug from everyone for opening up! I have also at times experienced throwing myself into my work to bring great relief and comfort…

    • Sarah I woke up this morning apprehensive about the post I wrote last night (it really was out of character for me). But the response has been so overwhelmingly positive. I felt the hug ten-fold. It has helped me get through today, when I was not sure I would be able to. Thank you.

  22. Thank you for your bravery and honestly in sharing your story. I think every quilt has a story – some good, some bad, some deep and personal, some light-hearted and fun. Hopefully one day you’ll be able to look back on those quilts you made during recovery with a smile instead of a tear.

    • Kim… I am sure that one day soon I will be able to look at my Star Cross quilt with joy. I think the fact I use such loud, bright, fun colours helps. You can not be too sad about a quilt that has so many primary colours in it right!

  23. You could write a book on quilt therapy or share your story with women going through a similar loss or difficulty. My mother once told me in dealing with the loss of her newborn child that she “just kept busy.” Not sure that works all the time, but there is some scientific evidence that working with one’s hands is good medicine and makes people happy.

  24. Thanks for sharing this with us all. Just to let you know that I am also recovering from a lot of surgery, having had a total mastectomy and then reconstruction, all with a few complications, and then ongoing hormonal therapy. I also have discovered patchwork and quilting during this time and have found myself getting lost in putting pieces of material together in a pleasing way. I know where you are coming from. Keep up all the lovely emails as I find them an inspiration.

  25. What incredible courage. The courage to share your journey and the courage to find a way through a really bleak time. I believe your sharing will help me and lots of others to find a way when there seems to be no way… I have marveled at your creativity and stamina. All the quilting, blogging, work for the guild and block exchanges make my head swim. I know that Oregon sun shines through your quilts even on the grayest days. Can’t be Gray when looking at that truly pink quilt! Thank you for the post.
    Lovingly and Prayerfully

  26. Hi, I love reading your blog, have done for quite a while but don’t comment much because like you say it;s the Australian way, I can definitely relate ! 🙂 I also find it hard to open up so know it must have been hard to share your story. Glad you are feeling better and that you have the passion of quilting to keep you sane 🙂 That’s what it does for me too. 🙂

  27. It’s wonderful to hear that quilting has helped you through tough times. You are not alone in that; many of us find our quilting to be the healing balm we need. Also, New Englanders don’t always open up easily either! Your work over the past year is amazing! Congratulations on your personal growth and your quilting skills!

  28. You are so brave! Thank you for providing me inspiration. I cannot paper piece for anything but it’s always nice to see what you are doing and makes me live through you 🙂 Stay strong!

  29. Thank you for all that you do! I love your blocks!!! The colors are so out of my comfort zone but are so inspiring and I so love the paper piece blocks.

  30. Thank you for sharing, although I’m guessing it was pretty scary to hit the post button. I’m sorry for what you’ve had to endure, but I’m thankful that you found quilting as a therapy, as you’ve brought a lot of beauty to those of us who follow your blog. 🙂 I’m like Janice, I’ve been following you for quite a while, but am not always great at commenting. Especially the quilters that kind of intimidate me a bit (which you do, because you make such awesome stuff!) which is why I’m thankful that you shared a bit about yourself, because you’re a little less intimidating now. 🙂

  31. I want to echo all the virtual admiration and support offered by so many other adoring readers. I’ve been enjoying your blog for several months now. I’m a bit shy and don’t have a blog of my own, so I’ve never known if comments from folks like me added to the community… (So I haven’t commented. Maybe now I’ll start.)

    Your quilting is so lovely. I love your style, your attention to detail, your focus on a beautiful thing done well.

    And I admire you all the more for sharing what must have been so hard to share. Thank you.

  32. Thank you for your honesty. May your quilting continue to bring you serenity. Your choice of colors and the use of angles are very pleasing to the eye.

  33. I so wish you didn’t have to go through that, but am so glad quilting helped get you through. You’re amazingly talented and I love checking in on your little part of the web. I had a friend who went through an ectopic pregnancy and it was so scary, I’m so glad you’re recovering well!

  34. I admire your courage for letting us take part in this painful experience in your life and would like to thank you for doing so. It is good to know that you are on your way to recovery and especially good to know that sewing helped you along this sorrowful time. I have always loved and love coming to your blog and actually I think I have been with you nearly right from the beginning. And also I would like to thank you for the many pattterns and the inspiration I have received from you. Wishing you all the luck and happiness from Germany!

  35. Many years ago, before I could even call myself a quilter, I experienced a miscarriage. To distract myself I made a Christmas tree skirt. The sewing was fine, however the fabric was completely ugly in retrospect. We used it for several years before I made another with much more pleasing fabric choices. Eventually I was able to toss it in the trash when my older daughter, who had used it once herself, was out of college. She was two when I made it. I hope that his next year will find you feeling inner peace and the love and concern of all your blog followers.

  36. I have just recently found your blog (and follow through e-mail) and really enjoy reading it. I love the paper piecing you do, always so beautiful. I am also sorry that you had to go through what you did this past year but hopefully this year will be much better. May God bless you as you continue to heal.

  37. Being British I am also not the best at sharing, my day job involves a lot of listening which suits me, but I don’t give much away! I’m so sorry to read about your experience it must have been a horrible time for you. I had wondered how you have the energy to keep producing such beautiful quilts, but I can totally see why now, quilting is the best type of therapy 🙂

  38. A beautiful post from someone who makes inspiring and beautiful work. So happy to have found your blog through the Hope bee group. I wish you the best as you continue to heal and make beautiful art along the way!

  39. Cath, thank you for sharing and you have been a great person to get to know in blogland 🙂 I started quilting too for various health issues, partly getting over a miscarriage and then a sinus strep infection that I had for 9 months. I have been so happy to find something to focus on, just like you. It has been very healing. Thank you for being there too 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s