Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Raspberry Lemonade Quilt and a Joe Update.


Random scrappy quilt!


Oh dear!! It has been almost two months since I last posted! I did not mean to skip blogging for so long! I could make excuses (and there were some contributing factors, which I discuss below), but the main issue, as sometimes happens, is just that I fell out of the habit of sharing my makes here. Like so many things, blogging is easy to do when it's a regular habit, but the longer you're away from it, the harder it seems to get back to it. Well, the only solution to that is to get back on the ol' horse, right? So here I am. I hope you had a lovely end-of-summer! I can't believe we are halfway through September already!

As you can see from the photograph above: (1) I made a quilt!!; and (2) the "severe drought" we've experienced here in California this year has not been kind to our lawn! I'm not sure even this winter's predicted El Niño rains can resurrect it!

Random scrappy quilt!

So yes, I made a really very large quilt! There were several inspirations for this project. First, I had one of those moments of "sewing malaise." I spent some time in August purging my wardrobe and the kids' wardrobes, giving away everything that wasn't regularly worn or didn't fit. This was wonderful - my closet now how breathing room! The kids' clothes can fit into their cubbies with room to spare! But it also resulted in a loss of motivation to sew garments, because, let's face, it, none of us really needs clothes, right? The second inspiration was related to the first, because as part of my reorganization efforts, I tried to neaten up my sewing area, and was freshly appalled by how large and out of control my fabric stash is and my tendency to buy and hoard new fabric rather than work with what I have. I mean, really, it's kind of bad. I like to think that as hobbies go, sewing is not the most expensive, and it does keep me out of trouble, as I like to say, but yeah, okay ... the stash is freaking ridiculous right now. Many nice pieces of fabric that I would like to sew have been lost under piles of fabric I am no longer in love with, and I keep buying more, and it's a hot mess.

So I gathered up my red, pink, and yellow quilting cottons and started cutting them into four inch squares. And then I basically tossed all the squares into a pile and randomly pieced them. As in, reach over and grab two, sew together (chain piecing, of course), sew another two together, then clip the bits apart and throw all of them into a pile and randomly piece those, until I had long strips. I really didn't want to have to think too hard about this one, I just wanted to make a big scrappy random quilt.

Random scrappy quilt!


And this thing ended up HUGE! It's actually big enough for a full size bed! Definitely the biggest quilt I've ever made. I quilted it simply with eyeballed diagonal lines, and quilting it took forever. The work of pushing it through the sewing machine made my hands and neck so stiff and sore for several days! It was a big job!

Initially I planned to make it entirely from stash fabrics, but in the end, that wasn't possible. I bought a yard each of Kona cotton in light pink and light yellow to balance out the more saturated solids and prints and lighten the look of the quilt, and I bought some additional fabric for the backing and binding, because those required larger pieces. And of course I had to buy batting - I always keep batting around, but not on this scale! But this quilt is at least 85% stash.

Random scrappy quilt!


This quilt was the perfect antidote to my malaise. It used up a LOT of fabric, visibly shrinking my stash (okay ... possibly the difference is only visible only to me, but still!), it gave me something to work on that wasn't clothing, and it is a useful and beautiful and cheerful item that makes me happy to look at and snuggle under! My friend Mahriam said it reminded her of "raspberry lemonade." Yes!

Random scrappy quilt!


The back is pieced in a random fashion, to use up some additional squares and various pieces of yardage I had.

Random scrappy quilt!


Poor Steve! His arms got tired from trying to hold up the quilt to photograph! It's heavy! Here he is, taking a break. ;-) I can sympathize because I had to push this monster under my walking foot for miles.

Random scrappy quilt!


Sometimes, a large and very repetitive project is just the thing. This quilt saw me through some rough weeks towards the end of August which also contributed to my long blog silence. After some pretty extensive testing over the summer, we finally sat down with the school district to discuss an IEP (individualized education plan) for our Joe. I really didn't know what to expect from the meeting - I think part of me expected them to tell us that Joe was awesome (fact), all was normal (probably not fact), and we were worryworts (fact)! But at the meeting, we were informed that Joe "meets the educational criteria for autism spectrum disorder." Of course, we've long known (and I have shared here) that Joe has challenges in the areas of speech and communication, while being extremely shy and suffering from social anxiety. The formal diagnosis was not exactly a surprise, but it is one thing to suspect something might be a possibility and another thing to hear it from the mouths of experts in the field.

In retrospect, the YouTube obsessions with videos of (1) garbage trucks picking up trash; (2) trains pulling through crossings; (3) marble runs; (4) dominoes; (5) that guy who does demonstrations of all the HotWheels tracks ... might have been a clue?

It is extremely important to note that, label or no label, Joe hasn't changed at all, of course. He's still our funny, quirky, creative, happy, wonderfully quotable and somewhat literal kid, who created his own hashtag: #JoeLogic. We love him to bits and know that his future is bright. But it would be a lie to say the words didn't rock our world a little bit. I should add that the special ed folks did note Joe's "exceptional skills" in the areas of building, puzzle-solving, and spatial reasoning, which comes as a surprise to exactly no one who knows Joe. Since toddlerhood, Joe has loved to build things and learn about how things work. He has the mind of an engineer, for sure (and I imagine many of them would probably fall on "the spectrum" if tested by today's standards, ahem).

I wasn't sure how much of this I wanted to share, as we are still processing what this will mean to Joe and to us as time goes on. After all, a lot of people who would have been considered a tad bit eccentric in past decades are now getting the label "ASD" and while I want to make sure Joe gets all the help he needs at school, I am concerned that this not unduly affect Joe's self-perception. Joe doesn't know that he's gotten this label, he's just a kid doing kid stuff, and it remains to be seen whether this will be a helpful tool for him or something he'd rather leave behind him at some point. That's really up to him. Many of us are different or think differently in some way - that's what makes the world an interesting place. Basically, we don't know where this will lead us right now. All I can say for now is that everyone who works or engages with Joe finds him to be delightful and intelligent. He is surrounded by friends and family who think he's the bee's knees and the world is his oyster, etc., etc.

Adding to our stress and overwhelm during those first few weeks after the IEP meeting, Joe had a hard time adjusting to kindergarten at first. Of course, Joe has never been a particularly flexible kid, this kid loves and needs his routines, and change is hard for him. And the adjustment from a play-based preschool to a far more structured classroom environment isn't easy for any child (and we heard reports from other parents in our preschool that it wasn't hunky-dory for their kids either). But we were all certainly feeling pretty stressed there for a while. (There was some additional drama involving a transfer of schools that I will not bore you with here, except to say that Joe is in a really great classroom now and we are much relieved!)

I am happy to report, now that we are almost a month into the school year, that Joe is doing really well! He is adjusting to the routines and learning a ton. He follows instructions well and seems to be getting along with the other kids if not forming strong friendships quite yet. Best of all, my child who was never very interested in drawing or coloring is now drawing and coloring all the things, and proudly showing me how he is learning to write the alphabet! All good things. Somewhere along the line, Steve and I were able to breathe out a sigh of relief and relax a little bit.

Whew!

Sometimes, this parenting gig is no joke! Right? It can be pretty darn intense. My mom always says that "getting her kids educated" - dealing with schools, working out those issues - was the hardest part of parenting. And we're only beginning that journey!

So anyway, quilts! I may find it harder to blog when I'm stressed, but it is a great blessing to have a fun hobby that uses the hands and distracts the mind when times gets tough. This quilt was made with so much love and trepidation and prayers for my best little guy, Joseph Roscoe.

Random scrappy quilt!


It's big enough to be a bed quilt, but for now it's living on the back of our couch where I can look at it every day.


Later, after some of the drama died down, I whipped up a little "sprocket" cushion with some more scraps using this tutorial and template.This was a really fun and fast project and I plan to make some more of these (my sister requested a couple for her couch!). And guess who really loves it? (Sorry for the sucky cell phone photo.)


Yup! My Joey-Bug. Love ya, sweets.

Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest, hopefully I can return to my regular blogging schedule! Thanks for reading!

20 comments:

  1. Beautiful quilt! I LOVE the back. Random and linear shapes are an aesthetic joy!

    And beautiful son. Always. ❤

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    1. Hi My Susannah!!! So lovely of you to post here! Thank you, my dear, and congratulations on all of the wonderful changes in your life. Give my love to your mum and all my beautiful cousins. <3

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  2. Beautiful. All of it: the quilt, this post, Joe, and mama, too.

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    1. Ah, thank you, Linda. Thank you for your kind and comforting words when we were just adjusting to this news! I am so blessed to have so many friends who are also educators.

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  3. A big few months for you Inder, I am glad you are okay.
    Beautiful quilts and big hugs for Joe.
    xx N

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  4. All the hugs! Been thinking of you guys & hope to hang out soon xx

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    1. Thanks Anne!! It feels like an age since we hung out! Soooooooooooon.

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  5. Glad to see you back on the blog, Inder! Sounds like it's been quite a few months for you all. Our IEP for BK was a big help even though I hated the idea of her being labeled and considered different. Like you said in your post, it's one thing to know that there's an issue and another to have it official. She was able to get the specialized instruction (for speech) that she needed and concessions for the regular classroom.

    The quilt is beautiful and very cheery! Raspberry Lemonade describes it perfectly.:)

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  6. Proving that sewing is an awesome hobby! That's quite a lot of stress & look what you turned it into. Fantastic quilt!

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    1. Yes, Noelle, it really is a great hobby, isn't it? It sticks around in hard times, although not always in the same form. Sometimes I need a specific "stress relief" project rather than the usual treadmill, if that makes sense. I am so excited for your good news!! I hope to see all the awesome kid sewing in your future!!!

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  7. I tried to post a comment from my phone earlier and it went pear shaped... boo. Gist of it was I know a few successful and lovely people who are probably on the ASD spectrum somewhere... oh heck really aren't we all? I hope that doesn't sound dismissive of what you're going through. I just mean the world is made up of a beautiful diversity of people. Labels are helpful and sucky at the same time. Joe is an awesome kid with an awesome family. Big hugs and I hope things keep on looking up. xx PS LOVE that quilt. That's a big expanse of happy.

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  8. Inder, I have been meaning to comment on this since you posted it, but have the worst time commenting from my phone! (I'm at my computer now.) Anyway, the quilt is fantastic. And raspberry lemonade - yes, I do think that sums it up perfectly. Such a great quilt.

    I could really empathize with the way you described yourself and the answers you were hoping for. I too have been in situations like that - but not exactly like that - and sometimes it IS the worry wort in me and the doctor reassures me that everything is fine. As a parent, it can be so hard to not project into the future and let our imaginations (or even realistic fears) get the best of us. I know you probably remember me telling you about all we went through with Tia and all of the interventions and now she seems fine. I guess I don't know what to say, except that Joe is a neat kid and he is lucky to have you as his mama!

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  9. Oh man, what a lot you have been dealing with! Joe sounds like an amazing little guy, and you're right, 30 years ago he probably never would have been diagnosed at all. You guys are wonderful advocates for him (and I'm so glad he is in a great learning environment now) and I know he is going to continue to thrive as you navigate these new waters. Keep your chin up, mama!

    Also, I love the quilt. I have also been surveying my stash (actually donated a bunch this week) and thinking about quilts. I've been cutting little squares from fabrics I like for years now, hoping that they will just magically come together and work as a patchwork quilt ... but whenever I lay them out it looks like a hot mess. Your method of choosing just a few colors and then using solids to bring them together is a much better idea. I also really love the backing.

    And ... do you have just a regular old sewing machine? I didn't think one could quilt such a large quilt on a regular machine. I may have to get more serious about my patchwork idea.

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    1. Masha, I responded in more depth in an email, but briefly on the quilting - yes! Picking a smaller range of colors and using lots of solids makes for a less "muddy" look that is still scrappy. I think this quilt is about 30% solids, in a wide variety of yellows, golds, pinks, and reds. Lots and lots of pale pink and yellow really helped to lighten up the look, too. I think you could do something like this with blue and green or any other related colors with success.

      I quilted it on my regular machine using just a walking foot. It was a lot of work!! But I've learned a lot of tips from my online quilty friends - baste thorougly, lengthen your stitches a lot, use a walking foot, and go slowly, smoothing out the quilt. Occasionally stop to check that the underside isn't getting big puckers. If you do get puckers, don't keep quilting over them, they only get worse. Rip the stitches and correct just the area with a problem. Instead of back stitching, I overlapped starting and finishing lines in the middle of the quilt and buried the ends of the other seams in the binding. Hopefully they won't unravel, but no way was I going to requilt an entire line just for one small error! Anyway, I was glad I had practiced my technique on some smaller quilts before tyring this one, but it's totally doable!!

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  10. Inder, your quilt and pillows are beautiful! I love such big quilts but I've never made one myself because the thought of quilting it is so daunting. You did an amazing job! Hopefully it was a bit therapeutic for you with all you've been going through with Joe. I hope he's continuing to get used to kindergarten and that his IEP is helping him shine! He seems like such a great kid and he's lucky to have you as his wonderful Mama!

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  11. All the awesome! Glad you are back. I love the quilt. I have started a sewing class at the local junior college (San Francisco City College) and am having much fun. Even though you are my favorite blogger, I'm not sharing this one on my google+ account because it seems too personal. I agree with you, after a career as a software engineer, MANY of us could be diagnosed. I have a lot of the symptoms myself. Joe is lucky to have such great supportive parents.

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    1. Hi Patrick! My most loyal fan! :-) I'm excited that you are taking a sewing class, what fun!

      Let's just say: Many of my best friends are probably somewhere on the spectrum. After we got this news I mulled over whether I would share it with my blog friends here. I have always been open here about Joe's differences or struggles, so it really seemed almost unfair to not share the continuing journey, but I purposefully buried it deep in a post, figuring that mostly only the people who care about me will read the whole thing! It is hard to know how public to go about someone else's diagnosis. As Joe grows up I'm sure he'll make his wishes know and I'll respect them. In the meantime, I work with civil engineers in my job and I find them delightful, intelligent, and DEFINITELY quirky. ;-)

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  12. What a great quilt! Using up fabric and such a beautiful result. I feel you on the quilting, though. Pushing a twin size quilt through my machine was a ton of work, so I can't imagine a double. And Joe, ah parenting can be so tough. Glad the transition to kindergarten has settled down a bit for you all. He's got smart, supportive parents on his side and that's what is most important.

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