Monday, November 30, 2015

Eleni, 9 months

Eleni, 9 months

This month baby is photographed on Ribbon Floral, my favorite print from Denyse Schmidt's re-released Katie Jump Rope collection through FreeSpirit, available now at Fat Quarter Shop, Fabricworm, Sew Modern and The Intrepid Thread.

I often don't know how to start these updates.  Even though I want to keep you all in the loop, it's always hard to choose what to say and what to leave unsaid.  You clearly care for all of us, and you've been a big part of helping us get through a terrible year.  This Thanksgiving I am grateful for you.

Eleni, 9 months

Things are much the same for Eleni since our last update.  During the month of November she did enjoy a string of 5 days wherein she seemed well and did not need supplemental oxygen.  That was during her ABM therapy trip in Florida.  Physical therapy improves her health and her mood.  On the drive home though, she came down with a new cold.

Although she is not immune-compromised, Eleni gets sick more than typical babies due to poor sleep quality (from apnea) and frequent aspiration which weakens her lungs.  Each illness for Eleni means frequent suctioning to clear her airways, high fevers, a little monitor wrapped around her toe to measure oxygenation and wearing a tube that wraps around her ears and across her face, delivering concentrated oxygen at her nostrils.  And it takes her at least two weeks to get through a virus.  By now I'm practically a nurse.

Eleni, 9 months

I wonder if for me November has been a sort of turning point.  There was a two week period when I felt happy again.  I felt like myself, and I could joke and smile again from deep inside without a bitterness in my heart.  That period began when I let go of any hopes for Eleni during her week of ABM therapy.  No longer worrying about what she would or would not learn from those lessons, I was able to just "accept" what would be.  I still did my best to work with baby between lessons and bring her to lessons well-rested and ready to learn, but I wasn't saddened when she didn't seem to make progress.

I hate typing that.  It's terrible!  A parent is supposed to deeply desire and even expect their child to make progress.  Progress equals hope; it equals a future.  For a baby so severely disabled, to come to a point of "accepting" the situation (which is the touted route towards happiness) is to let go of your child's future.  And this is also to die a bit to your own future, in fact.  Live in the moment, they say.  Enjoy the now.  But sometimes there is no joy and little life in the moment.  My baby suffers every. single. day.  She chokes, stiffens, struggles to breathe, lately she's taken to softly crying in her sleep on and on and on with her eyes closed.  She never smiles to show me she feels good or feels loved.  This is not a moment worth enjoying.  It seems more like a living death.

Oops, we were talking about my feeling happy, right?  Clearly not so much now.  But, yes, after I stopped yearning for progress and just accepted what would be, I was able to unburden myself, to struggle so much less.  A few times when Eleni moved in some positive way, it was easier to enjoy that since I was not pulled under by all the many more ways she failed.  Soon after our therapy trip Brandon, Aria, Liam and I had a fun day out together, which managed to be truly fun.  Next I became suddenly inspired to decorate a huge empty wall by our piano.  And Brandon sweetly encouraged me!  I had a darn good time with it. 

It was almost surreal to feel happy again.  But all the while I was distinctly aware that these happy moments were birthed in separation from Eleni.  I believe I was able to be happy because I had accepted that my happiness could be separate from her pain.  As simple as that sounds, it is not a natural sentiment of motherhood to smile while your child suffers.  It is the most uneasy joy.

Eleni, 9 months

Back to Eleni.  This month did hold a very important milestone for her.  Amazingly, we got good news from a doctor...  She can swallow!  Her new ENT put a scope camera down her throat to observe. He watched her swallow her saliva many times, completely properly.  I had hoped for such news based on some slurpy sounds she's been making since September, but our feeding therapist believed that Eleni wasn't making any progress at all with swallowing.  I'm so glad I went with my gut and had her scoped.  This new doctor will be part of a double surgery scheduled for Eleni on December 11th.  She'll be getting a nissen, which will hopefully stop her from refluxing thus protecting her lungs, and a supraglottoplasty, which may make her sleep apnea less severe.  Both of these surgeries have the potential to make Eleni more comfortable and overall more healthy.  Great!  And yet, they are required because she has made less progress than even her doctors had hoped.  It's hard to feel really good about that.

Because of her surgeries, Eleni won't have a swallow study to assess her ability to swallow food until end of December.  In the meantime she could be practicing some feeding skills if I want to go rogue.  Last night I spent hours researching special needs feeding bottles, aspiration risks, milk thickening options and risks, etc., etc.  Such a sap of time and energy, but also exciting to think we may be able to finally try to feed her.

Eleni, 9 months
working on sitting

I accept that fighting for Eleni in all these ways is my roll as her mother.  Sometimes it leads towards a hopeful feeling, a risky hopeful feeling.  But fighting for her doesn't make me happy.  When you're fighting for someone, what would make you happy is seeing them succeed, get well, do better.  I hope that 2016 holds some of that in the cards.  And, if it doesn't... I hope I find the balance between fighting for her and separating from her to find happiness for myself and the others I love.

Thank you for your support this year, financially, emotionally and artistically.  Through it all, this space has remained a true refuge for me.  I can honestly say that even when I'm not having a good week I do enjoy escaping to my work with color and design on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Because of Stitched in Color there is a part of my life that has remained mostly the way it should be.  So thank you for reading!


Rachel Hauser

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Weekend Sales Bulletin

In America, the Thanksgiving holiday is closely followed (or rather immediately followed!) by one fantastic shopping weekend. Beginning on Friday morning, most shops have pretty awesome sales.  Sooo... this is the time to get your fabric, people!   Go shop in your bunny slippers:

Intrepid Thread has 30% off all in stock items for 24 hours only with coupon BLASTFRIDAY.  Ends midnight Friday EST.


Sew Modern has 20% off all regular priced fabric with coupon BLACK20 through November 30th.  Enjoy browsing their HUGE selection with great filtering tools at a brand new website!


Find some amazing deals at Connecting Threads, where select kits and fabrics are up to 60% off! 


Lark Cottons has 25% off storewide through Dec 2nd. 
Use code turkey25 entered on shopping cart page.


Everything at Fat Quarter Shop is 25% off through Saturday, November 28th. 


At Jones & Vandermeer save an additional 20% off items in the “gobble it up” bin with code:  GOBBLESTITCH20 Includes some Cotton + Steel, Liberty, Carolyn Friedlander, patterns and more!  Sale ends midnight EST on Monday.


Canadian shop, Mad About Patchwork, is in on the fun with 40% off selected items from Friday through Monday!


At Gotham Quilts all fabrics are on sale through Saturday.  If you miss the fabric sales, stop by Monday for free shipping on every U.S. order!  No coupons necessary.


Enjoy 20% off stash-building Short Stacks and Short Stack Essentials at The Loopy Ewe.  Sale extends Friday through Monday. 


Save 20% off patterns and fabric at The Cloth Parcel, my newest sponsor!  Use code thanks20 for patterns and fabric20 for fabric.  Now through the end of November.


Fabric Bubb has 20% off all regular priced fabric with coupon TURKEY20 on Friday only!  Does not apply to gift cards, sale or destash items. 

Ok, I've got a few shopping carts open now.  I'm looking at some low volume prints, black prints and threads to round out my basics.  Happy Stashing and gifting, friends!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Love on Bourbon Street

Yesterday I may have made some slightly optimistic goals for my work day today.  I was hoping to finish assembling my Bourbon Street quilt top, create a quilt back, baste, quilt, bind, photograph and post about the finished project.  Lofty, high hopes though they were, it wasn't such a crazy plan given that Bourbon Street quilt top was just short two seams and it's a smallish quilt after all.

I'm not crazy!  Right?  Right.

But then, last night, I got only one hour of sleep.  The baby had a super fussy night.  That meant I had to start my work day with some catch up sleep and hope for the best....

Love on Bourbon Street

Love on Bourbon Street

Love on Bourbon Street

It all came together just in time for photographs before the early autumn nightfall.  Ta da!

Love on Bourbon Street

Oh my gosh, I love this quilt!  And, in my opinion, this is a super traditional quilt.  It has classic red and white "sashing" combined with scrappy, postage stamp appeal.  Working on it just after my improv project reminds me that I love all kinds of quilts, be they traditional repeated blocks, improv-crazy or works with lots of "modern" negative space.

Quilts are good.

Love on Bourbon Street

This quilt is a collaborative work, made with my bee mates in the Love Circle of do. Good Stitches, using the Bourbon Street pattern available at Connecting Threads.  It languished unfinished for quite some time, due to a missing block.  Perhaps the delay was meant to be, because it feels absolutely perfect for the time of year.  Doesn't it feel like a Christmas present quilt wrapped in red ribbon?  If we didn't already have a Christmas quilt, I think I'd be sorely tempted to make one exactly like this for our home!  I especially like how the different shades of red add extra depth to the work.

Love on Bourbon Street

Love on Bourbon Street is quilted with my fastest finish - continuous figure eights.  Backing and bindings are mainly Denyse Schmidt fabrics, including Deco Fan (which always makes a fab binding). To be donated to someone in need.

Thanks for sewing with me, Love circle!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Welcome, The Cloth Parcel!

Oh, how we love a cloth parcel!  It's that perfectly delightful package of squishy goodness that arrives at the door, quite bidden.  And opening one is the closest we grown ups get to our own Christmas morning.

Well, The Cloth Parcel is also a quilt shop brought to us by a mother-daughter team north of Salt Lake City.  They purvey a well-edited collection of designer fabrics, original patterns and notions for today's modern quilter and crafter.  Come meet my newest sponsor!

First, the patterns.  Sometimes the perfect pattern is exactly what you're waiting for.  At The Cloth Parcel you'll find quilt patterns and patterns for small projects that you can't find anywhere else.  And most often you'll be able to buy the fabrics to match!  Scrap-friendly Candy Shoppe, Bustling Beehive pillow and the Confetti Weave quilt each caught my eye.  To enter our giveaway The Cloth Parcel wants to know which pattern you favor!

Next, notions.   From saturated, high quality wool felt to ric rac, pom pom trim and even monkey socks, the ladies of The Cloth Parcel make it a point to stock notions they use and love.  You know, I have yet to try pom pom trim...  I always think it looks so sweet on stockings, pillows and such.

And then, fabric.  Yes, I saved the best for last!  If you prefer a smaller collection of goods all suited to your style rather than a vast, diverse collection, The Cloth Parcel may be your ideal fabric shop.  There are offerings for home, boys and girls, with a pretty, yet modern aesthetic.  And, I do like the way the fabrics are grouped by collection.  You can see from the main shopping pages up to 4 fabrics offered in a given collection, with large individual fabric swatches displayed and clearly labeled when you click through to a collection page.   Here's an example of Far Far Away fabrics:

It's a convenient and elegant way to speed browsing.  Fabric is sold by the fat quarter, 1/2 yard or yardage.  I hope you'll pop over and give them a look-sy!


As a way of saying, "Hello, and nice to meet you," The Cloth Parcel is gifting a double giveaway.

One U.S. winner will receive a 1/2 yard set of Tucker Prairie by One Canoe Two, plus Cloth Parcel's newest pattern, Confetti Weave.  In addition, one international reader will win a copy of Confetti Weave quilt pattern.  To enter, add a comment naming your favorite Cloth Parcel original pattern.  Include in your comment whether you're U.S. or internationally-based and don't forget to provide an email address if your Google account doesn't share it.  Enter now through noon EST on Wednesday the 25th.

Good luck!

*****************Comments Closed****************

Our U.S. winner is #98, Sylvia Anderson, and our international winner is #110, which is Kata from Austria!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Design {Improv Handbook Score #2}

On Monday I shared my first cuts into the string sheets I sewed up a la Improv Handbook score #2.  I had such fun designing the rest of the quilt this week.  Come see!

Design {Improv Handbook Score #2}

First I cut and put up on my design wall the large, main diamonds.  I cut the triangles for those large diamonds freehand, aiming for equilateral triangles for practical construction reasons.  Being equilateral, I can tip the triangles on their side, creating movement by changing the orientation of the string stripes.

Wanting more happy, tipsy diamonds (naturally), I cut a row of smaller ones and set it out below.  Much to my delight, a zigzag pattern of background striping appeared between the large and small tipsy diamonds.  Yay!

Then I was stuck.  More tipsy diamonds?  How many rows would look right?  What scale would allow me to balance the rows I'd already made?  A quilt composed entirely of those tipsy diamonds didn't feel quite right.  Hm....

Design {Improv Handbook Score #2}

Here's what happened next!  I cut my black and white string sheet into a bunch of even smaller equilateral triangles.  They looked sharp stacked in a non-diamond layout.  Those who've taken my Angled class might recognize that this whole quilt is built on the construction principles we practiced in the Indian Blanket quilt project.  I feel moderately confident I can sew these different angles together, even though they're irregular due to the ruler-free paradigm.  Moderately.

Then I decide that I don't want this quilt to be composed of simple, repeating rows of triangles.  Adding a simple stripe of saturated sheet across the top suits me.  A large, black and white triangle at bottom makes a statement in negative space.

Design {Improv Handbook Score #2}

The next step is to actually sew these puppies together.  I started with the first design element - the large, tipsy triangles.  Combining equalizing techniques (see back of The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters) and my understanding of sewing angles, I was able to cut background triangles that fit nicely with the freehand saturated triangles.

Design {Improv Handbook Score #2}

My first rows sewed together just fine.  Maybe too fine.  I'm a little nervous that I'll equalize and strategize the irregularities right out of the work!  I love how Sherri's quilts have a topsy-turvy, free spirited personality.  Here's hoping I find a way to take risks while joining these triangles.

Have a great weekend!  See you on the other side.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

::ideas:: for sewing Christmas Decor

Aria and Liam are literally counting down the days until we decorate for Christmas.  It's our tradition to venture out the day after Thanksgiving to our favorite local tree farm, where they've been growing Christmas trees for ages.  We listen to Christmas music all they way there, trek around choosing the right tree, cocoa in hand, and then return to decorate the tree and the house all in one fell swoop.  Quite a full day.

Last year when I opened the Christmas decor boxes I was surprised at the amount of handmade goodness I've generated over the years.  I seem to sew something new each year to add to our festive home decor!  Maybe you'd like to add more handmade touches to your space this year?  Here is a collection of ideas for sewing your own holiday decor.  Follow the links to find blog posts with tutorials or construction details.

*Quilted Christmas Stockings

happy, happy quilted Stockings!

*Patchwork Christmas Rug 


*Make Merry Tree Cards

Make Merry cards

*Circles Scrap Garland

handmade Christmas scrappy garland

*Oh Christmas Tree mini 

"Oh Christmas Tree" mini

*Lovely Little Forest Pillow

Lovely Little Forest Pillow

*Embroidered Christmas Stockings

Color play.

*Spiderweb Christmas Tree Skirt (Tutorials Part A and Part B)

Spiderweb Christmas Tree Skirt

*Fabric Tags 

some of my gift tags

That last project, the fabric tags, was made when a group of ladies came over for my first "crafty social" way back in 2010.  I'm so looking forward to this Friday, when I'll be joined by some special local ladies for another crafty social (aka sewing night).  It's the first time I've hosted a sewing night since Eleni was born.  I finally feel ready.  It's going to be grrrreat! 

Now I just need to decide what I'll be sewing Friday night.  Maybe work on a quilt?  Sew up some Chritmas-y patchwork towels?  Hmm....

Monday, November 16, 2015

Magic {Improv Handbook Score #2}

Color me excited!  I love where my second score from Sherri Lynn's book is heading.  It could be my favorite improv work yet.  Really, really!

Improv in Strings {score #2}

Upon return from our week of baby's therapy (which went smoothly and hospital-free, thanks for asking!) I pressed and photographed my finished "string sheets."  Here are the saturated sets above and the low volume/low contrast sheets below.  For details on how I planned and assembled the sheets, see my getting started post.

Improv in Strings {score #2}

And here's my high contrast, black + white sheet.  Hoping it adds some spunk to the work!

While making the sheets I brainstormed the next, crucial step - using them.  In her book, Sherri invites us to give the finished sheets a good stare down, ponder different scenarios and then choose one to explore.  My brain kept returning to angles, specifically triangles.  How would freeform cut triangles sew together?  What kind of movement could I create with those stripes?  How could I be sure that the background sheets (the low volume/low contrast) allowed the other sheets to carry the show?

Improv in Strings {score #2}

Pondering is all well and good, but cutting... cutting is what makes things happen in my world.

Improv in Strings {score #2}

I do believe there's some magic to be had here! 

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