Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Quilt in the Frame

While I sat stitching at my quilt frame last night, I looked at the quilt pattern and thought how funny it was that the quilt I had put back into the quilting frame to work on last week, after having spent more than a year and a half in storage, is the same quilt block that I used in the quilt that I learned this week will be featured in an upcoming magazine. I pieced the blue and black Shoo Fly quilt shortly after we moved from Colorado. When we put our house on the market to move to the farm, our realtor at the time asked me to put the quilt frame in storage, as most buyers couldn't picture their furniture in the space. Right! Didn't work...because now there's no furniture in the house and it still hasn't wonder why with all that empty room buyers still can't picture their furniture in it?

So I wonder if the Shoo Fly block brings me good luck? Because this week my husband was offered a job at a young and upcoming company that I absolutely adore! But maybe the Shoo Fly block isn't so lucky after all because the job is in New York City, which would mean selling the farm we call home and leaving the simple life we have created for our family in exchange for higher housing costs, a commute that would take my husband over 90 minutes to reach the area that we would call home and the selling of most of our animals that we love and care so deeply about.Just way too much for the grey matter in my head to deal with right now. What I do need is a major distraction. House cleaning worked for yesterday, but there has to be something that I can better spend my time on.

So while stitching on the quilt in the frame, I couldn't help but think back to the last time we were faced with a decision to move. It was four years ago and we were living in Colorado and our family had just begun attending a Mennonite church in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Neither my husband or I were raised Mennonite, but we were quickly welcomed into the family of this loving church. Friendships quickly bloomed with many of the men and women in the short time that we were members of the church and our hearts truly broke when we said good-bye.

I began thinking of the too few times that I had the chance to sit around the quilt frame with the women of the church. They shared stories of their lives and those that were near and dear to them. They talked about recipes for pies and what they were growing in their gardens. And they talked about quilting and the quilt that they we were working on. It was a fairly large yellow quilt and I remember that there were printed blocks with scenes of cabins and moose. The blocks were surrounded with the sweetest yellow fabrics with purple and red wildflowers. When the quilting was completed and the last stitch put into the binding the quilt would be donated to the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Relief Sale.

What is a relief sale...?

Each year in Canada and the United States, thousands of volunteers come together to raise money for Mennnonite Central Committee for the relief of suffering in the world. Over $5.5million was raised in 2007 with an average of 85 percent sent to the field. These festivals/auctions offer a little bit of everything - quilts, artwork, crafted woodwork, homemade foods, antiques and crafts. Click here for a list of sales in North America.

Thinking about the comfort I found in working on the quilt for the relief sale while in Colorado, it occurred to me that I could use the quilt in my frame for the same emotional relief and release that I had experienced in our last move. I decided that like the last quilt I worked on when contemplating a move, I would donate mine to one of the Mennonite Relief Sales.

Most of the sales are held outdoors in the summer time, so it doesn't leave me too many sales left in the year to prepare a quilt for. But choosing which relief sale was an easy decision. Each year in October the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Relief Sale holds their auction in Rocky Ford, Colorado. Right away I sent an email to the sale coordinator to see if I still had time to make a quilt donation and if there were any special requirements for the quilt. "Plenty of time....the quilt needs to be in Colorado by the end of September or first part of October.... and we'll take any quilt that you would like to donate."

Many of the quilts that are auctioned at the relief sales are donated by church quilting groups that have spent many hours working on the quilt together. Other quilts are quilted by a single quilter. Some quilts are purchased and then donated to be auctioned off. Quilts come from near and far and find their way to the auction stand. Depending on the quilt and the relief sale, it is not unheard of for a quilt to be auctioned for thousands of dollars! I know that can happen at the larger sales in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Kidron, Ohio. I can't guess what price my crib quilt will go for when it hits the auction stand and I wish I could be in the crowd to watch the bidding, but I know in the end it will provide comfort and relief for all those involved, especially the quilter.

While having a quilt to work on doesn't make the decision to take a job in New York City any easier, but it will certainly give me a way to put my energies to a good cause. I've hung a journal off the end of my quilt frame as a way for me to keep track of my thoughts and ideas while I am sifting through the pros and cons of moving back to the East Coast. I'm sure that some of my thoughts will never make it to the paper but will instead find themselves woven into the stitches of the quilt where they will live on somewhere very far from New York City or the farm that we call home.

I caught this photo of girlie yesterday who has been making frequent trips out to check on Tinkerbell, who seems to still be a bit dazed from the whole ordeal. If only we had some real fairy dust to make everything better!