Sewing in a crisis

My father in law died last week after a long bout with cancer. Three deaths of cancer in a year and a half is a lot to bear. I have been up and down Rt 95 from DC to NYC more that I can imagine- once for Jody's college graduation, once to visit Jack in the hospital, and once to bury him. Unimaginable sorrow and joy in one month.

Sewing has been difficult since I have not been in my studio for the last month- and between trying to get a piece finished for Quilt National and get a stronger body of work for Nancy Crow's class in October has me frazzled.
Enter hand quilting.

I normally take a hand quilting project with me when I travel. And for sitting in hospitals. I hand quilted one of my chair pieces Uneasy Chair when my father was in the hospital. It gave me peace of mind and allowed me to pass the time in a kind of meditative state. When I was younger I hated any kind of hand quilting. It bored me, it took too much time, my stitches were uneven.

My stitches are still uneven- but I find that hand quilting is well suited to stressful situations.

This time I started to hand quilt one of my first scribble/anxiety pieces- more of a study than anything else. Sitting in Memorial Sloan Kettering, everyone was curious to see what I was quilting. Expecting a more traditional style of quilting I was often confronted by quiet stares when they saw my piece that is anything but traditional- that is not calm, or pretty, or for a bed.
No matter. Hand quilting still kept my fingers busy and my mind occupied sitting for 15 hours a day at the hospital, or even after the funeral. And looking at the two different hospital quilting projects, I can see how much I have moved over the years.