Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Indiana Mission Tie Quilt

You have been called to serve. You will say goodbye to your family and friends and spend three inspiring/exhausting weeks in the Missionary Training Center. Then you say goodbye to your new missionary friends, go to the airport and fly

 to  the

Where you are greeted and driven to the mission home in Carmel, Indiana. You will have some additional training for a day, and the next day you will meet you new companion, go your assigned area, and get right to work in spreading the gospel.

 You will rise early each morning, often before the sun.

You will study the scriptures every morning for two hours, one alone, and one with your companion

Depending on the week you will either ride your bike,

or drive a mission car, reminding yourself this is the Lord's car and you will drive carefully.

You will pray around fifty times a day, realizing you depend on the Lord for success, and mental, spiritual, and physical sustenance.

You will knock  on many doors, and sometimes, people will let you in.

Step around the concrete goose on the porch.

Try not to be distracted by, or trip over the many pets.

 Serve and love the people with open hands and hearts.

Keep a positive attitude.

Take the opportunity to testify of the truthfulness of the gospel whenever possible, it will invite the Spirit to touch the hearts of investigators and will strengthen you.

Teach from the scriptures, nothing is so powerful as the word of God.

 Remember why you are here, to serve the Lord's children, to love them with the pure love of Christ, and to help bring their souls to Christ.

Before you know it, it will be time to get on another plane and go home. You will take home experiences you could have not had any other way and you will leave a piece of your heart behind.

The finished quilt is 60 x 60 inches.

 My first mission president's wife would cut off the tie of every departing missionary at our Departure meeting, where the missionaries on their way out would share one last testimony before flying out the next morning. She had these tie fragments made into a lovely, orderly quilt, with each missionary's name embroidered on a strip of fabric sandwiched between two strips of their tie. My second mission president was of course under no obligation to continue this tradition. He didn't even know about it at first, but someone let him know soon enough, and he liked the idea, so the tie cutting continued.

I was ill on and off throughout my mission. I did my best and kept a positive attitude to the point of delusion. My dear president had an interview with me a month before my scheduled departure. He told me some of my former companions let him know how hard missionary work was for me and how frustrating it could be for them. I just didn't always have the energy to continue work and had to take a nap here and there when the exhaustion would catch up with me. (and I honestly had no idea how often I had to do this.) He gave me the choice to go home early or to serve in the mission office for the remainder of my mission, where I could take a nap when needed and not be wracked with guilt for not working harder. The idea of going home early was breaking my heart, so I opted to stay at the mission home and work in the mission office.

I spent the rest of my mission staying with President and Sister Quist. I just loved them, and got to know them pretty well. I volunteered to make the mission quilt and Sister Quist was very excited, since she hadn't known who to ask. She gave me carte blanche with the design. After I went home to Utah she would periodically send me a package filled with severed ties and some scarves from the sisters. Elders usually would wear their ugliest tie to their departure meeting, knowing it would end up chopped. Sisters sometimes wore a tie too, just so it could get cut off, but really so they would have something to contribute since not all sisters wear a scarf. I, myself, used a bright blue piece of fabric that had been tied to my luggage so I could identify it at the airport. I included every tie sent to me, except the one entirely made of duct tape. I have to admit the ugly ties were my favorite, you do get tired of handsome red ties after a while. Some of the ties were used more than once, but only early on, when I didn't have as many to choose from. The white, mint green, and royal blue jacquards are all additional fabrics from the store I used for the backgrounds of the larger blocks.

This was my first applique quilt and I learned as I went. I would unpick every tie, remove it's center, iron it, judge if I could use it's front or if the backside of the fabric would suit my needs better. Then if it was part of the applique I used fusible webbing to hold it in place so I could sew it on. The silk/polyester fabrics in ties are highly unsuitable for machine applique, at least with the somewhat antique machine I had at the time. I did try to machine sew them, but the machine would pull the pieces all out of shape, so all of the applique is sewn by hand. This is time consuming, but I had time. The Quists didn't need the quilt until the end of May, 2004. I had over two years to finish it. I did need the time though since I never knew what ties, or how many I would receive every few months. The Quists sent me a check now and then to cover assembly materials.

I got the layout for the quilt from a folk art quilt book that I unfortunately don't own anymore. I also got the animal, tree, leaf, barn, and house designs from the same book. The rest of the quilt is my own design, and I honestly didn't think of this until I finished, but I should have used sycamore leaves rather than oak. Indiana is known for its sycamore trees. Oh well. I got one last huge shipment of ties at the end with ties from all the missionaries that weren't leaving yet but wanted their tie included in the Quist's mission quilt. These ties make up the border and fillers between the designed blocks. I backed the quilt with a black jacquard fabric and my mom and sister-in-law helped me quilt it together. I embroidered my name on the back in red as an artist's signature. Then I took all these pictures and over-nighted it to the Quists. (They wanted it before leaving so they could show it to the missionaries at their last set of zone conferences.) Sister Quist called me after the quilt arrived and she was so sweet about it, crying happy tears. The work was totally worth it.

Next time: Jacob's Window Quilt

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When All the Morning Stars Sang Together Quilt

This was my first really ambitious quilt. I mean ambitious in size and in the fact that I designed all the blocks and that I entered it into a crafts show. I was working at a fabric shop, which was great for inspiration, and for spending all my wages. (I still have lots and lots of the fabric I bought while working there.) I spent all my downtime at work designing quilts on a little graph lined notebook. After I had worked there for a little over a year, my Bishop called me to serve a mission. I knew I would do it as soon as the words were out of his mouth. The Spirit hit me like a truck and I accepted.

I started right away on filling out the paperwork, but the going wasn't easy. I had some long running health issues and had to go to the doctor a lot. after a couple months I finished the paperwork and my Bishop mailed it in. Then the waiting started. I had a lot of nervous energy so I filled my evenings piecing a quilt. I would work six hours at a stretch, hardly stopping to eat or drink. A week after my papers were sent in, I received a phone call. The mission office wanted a second opinion on my health. (They have to deal with a lot of medical issues for missionaries and wanted to know if I could take the exhaustion of missionary work.) I would need to see another doctor. I made an appointment that day, but the second doctor couldn't fit me in for another month. So now I really had time and even more nervous energy.

I had never pieced a quilt design with anything more complicated than squares. Oh well, I was in for it now. The grid layout is traditional and I'm not sure if anyone else had used these exact star designs, but for me they were completely original and mine. My inspiration was Job 38:7 "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy". I had been getting theme inspiration for quilt designs for some time from poetry and scripture. ( Although I've made only a very few of those quilts so far.)

 I made each star design in two different color combinations and used every color on the wheel but green.

Each star design was used six times in the quilt, three for each color combo.

I really love how yellow and orange just pop against blue and purple.

Then I grouped three of my shooting star design blocks around each corner for a total of twelve blocks.

  The finished quilt has thirty 13 x 13 inch blocks and measures 87 x 102 inches.

I finished the top of the quilt in very early June of 2000. A lady in my ward was in charge of the Bountiful Handcart Days Art and Craft competition and suggested I enter something. The due date was June 20th. I scrambled to finish the quilt in time. I did most of the quilting but Mom helped and called in the troops. (The sweet ladies from the Bountiful 12th Ward Relief Society and a few aunts and cousins.) We finished just in time to enter, well almost, I requested and was granted an extension since binding the quilt took about six hours longer than expected.

 The quilt was submitted just after I received my call to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Indiana, Indianapolis Mission. I was to leave in six weeks. My youngest brother Jack and I were going to the Missionary Training Center just two weeks apart and we were both very excited and helped each other study and prepare. So when it came time to go to the awards ceremony for the show, my mind wasn't really on it. I was surprised to find out I had won the blue ribbon! Wow, that was a first. Later they announced the people's choice award, and I won that too! The show's run didn't end until after I left for the MTC so Mom picked up my quilt for me. It sat in storage for years after I got home since I still slept on a twin sized bed. I didn't make a really big quilt again for this reason until I helped with Jack's wedding quilt.

A million years later when Alan and I got married, I had a ready made quilt and Mom didn't have to hustle to finish one for me. We used it for the first few months of marriage until we got our tax refund and we bought a bed set with a king sized bed. Now my quilt is on the guest bed, at least until the bed gets kicked out for a crib.

Next time: The Mission Quilt.