Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Brain Injury Quilt Update: First Two Weeks

Sometime last year I realized that 2019 will mark the 15th anniversary of my brain injury. No pun intended, but I've been having a hard time wrapping my brain around that fact! I decided that I would honor the anniversary with a special quilt. I love the idea of temperature quilts that so many fiber artists have made for years and when I noticed that Twiddle Tails was hosting a temperature quilt along, it was just the motivation I needed to get started. You can read about my initial ideas in my original post. 

As you can see from the photo above, January started strong as a new year always inspires me. But the last few days have been pretty rough with three gray days pointing down. Yesterday was particularly bad as my headache worsened into what I call electric headaches where it feels like I'm being shocked as I feel a current moving through the back of my brain. The only time I was up was when I went to get my mammogram. Pretty bad when that's the highlight of the day. I was home by noon and didn't get out til this morning. 

Today is my 47th birthday! Waking up to my boys singing happy birthday, giving me cards--D's was written in invisible ink!, receiving my gifts of a new dust buster and a pack of purple pens, and of course a flood of birthday wishes from Facebook friends around the world was just what I needed to give this headache the heave ho! MAYBE I can sew today, but first, I want to give an update of my quilt now that I'm two weeks into the project and have had time to working on the project.

To review. 

I am making one flying goose for each day. The wings will denote the daily low (right) and high (left). I have prints picked out in 10 degree (F) increments, which everything below 0 and above 100 included in the outlier colors. I live in Ohio where those extremes are rare. For consistencies sake, I am using weather underground for my daily temperatures at our local airport, regardless of whether I am home or not. 

The center triangles of the geese with indicate how my brain injury affected me that day.  There are 7 options (slightly modified from my first post). Each brain injury is different. My brain injury affects my vision and causes headaches daily, the only difference is severity. When I am symptomatic (due to being in situations that cause my brain to flood, such as loud places, blinking lights, stress, lack of sleep, busy places, too much going on, multi-tasking etc.), I am prone to aphasia (where the words I want to say don't come out right), stuttering, and an inability to take in information or respond. When I am symptomatic, Niels sends me to bed, makes sure the room is dark, gives me the meds I try to avoid, sprays peppermint everywhere, and makes me rest. He is a wonderful caretaker. D, newly 10, also recognizes the signs and knows when to send me to bed. He's a little overzealous at times because my bad brain days mean extra tech time for him!

That said, I defined my brain day categories like this:

Dark Gray - arrow points down - Bad brain day. Primarily stayed in bed. New sewing or other household activities. 
Medium Gray - arrow points down - Painful day. Needed a nap, and not able to rally enough to sew.
Light Gray - arrow points up - Didn't take a nap, but no time or energy to sew. 
Light Purple - arrow points down - Took a nap, but still able to sew a bit.
Medium Purple - arrow points up - No nap, but was able to sew a bit. 
Dark Purple - arrow points up - No nap, and was able to sew at least four hours. A rare, really great day.
Purple & Gray - arrow points down - Travel day. I may have napped or not, but I didn't sew because I wasn't home. For example, we will be going to the Netherlands to see my in-laws this summer. I know I won't sew while I'm there, and will have good and bad days, but it's a different animal than when I am home.

In short, if I was able to sew, the arrow points up. If I don't sew, for whatever reason, the arrow points down. I also decided that if the only sewing I do is the five minutes to make my daily goose, that won't count as a sewing day because unless I'm feeling exceptionally bad, I can make that happen.

As I've started this quilt, I'm also finishing the latest Bonnie Hunter Quiltville Mystery Quilt, Good Fortune.  One of the tips I learned from heris to save the clipped triangles from my geese to make half square triangles. 

I can't believe I found all the little pieces in the tote when I had the idea nine days into the year!

I'm thinking about using the HSTs to make chevrons for the border.

Another idea would be to put all of the like colors together at the end of the year to show how many of each type of day I've had. I'm leaning towards that idea at the moment. I've sewed together the chevrons I have so far, but they can easily be undone because I've written each day on the back of each flying geese and HST chevron.

Because I have the basic template for the quilt decided, I am sewing together each days block after I make it. The quilt will have 12 columns with the days of each month making up the rows. Each column is staggered to indicate the day of the weeks on which the month begins.

January starts on a Tuesday, so there is a 4.5" square block at the top of the column.

I also decided to set off the weekends with 1.5" x 4.5" strips because I want to see if there is a difference when my boys are around and we may or may not be out and about. 

The one thing I haven't quite figure out yet is how I want to indicate special days. Like today for example. I'm thinking I will either applique or hand stitch a 47 on today's center triangle. And the on the 21st is my big brain anniversary so I want to do something special there too. I have lots of special days, but I will limit to ones that affect my brain injury and quilting. So maybe I will find an icon to use when I finish a quilt. Any ideas?

A few tools that are going to make this project go smoother. 

1. Ultimate Flying Geese Tool. I bought this awhile ago and I am finally able to make perfect geese every time.

2. Craft Mallet. Not only is this a great tool for smoothing out thick seams, but it's also cheap therapy!

3. My chart! I keep this chart with my pre-cut fabric and color guides. I know that there will be times I get behind and between weather underground and this, I will be able to easily catch up.

TBI Tally, as of January 14:

Follow along with the progress of this quilt on Instagram at #TBITempQuilt. I'd love the encouragement to keep me working on the rough days! You can use the hashtag #tempquiltalong to see what other quilters are doing. To see what I'm currently working on, follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

Linked to:

BOMs Aways @ What A Hoot
Design Wall Monday @ Small Quilts & Doll Quilts
Main Crush Monday @ Cooking Up Quilts
Monday Making @ Love Laugh Quilt
Moving It Forward @ Em's Scrap Bag
What I Made Monday @ Pretty Piney

Temp Quilt Along @ Twiddle Tails (click here to see more temperature quilts)
Color & Inspiration Tuesday @ The Clever Chameleon
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion By the River
To Do Tuesday @ Stitch All the Things

Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Midweek Makers @ Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss @ The Inquiring Quilter
WIP Linky @ Silly Mama Quilts
WIPs on Wednesday @ Esther's Blog

Needle & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

Of the Wall Friday @ Nina Marie
Whoop Whoop Friday @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Show Off Saturday @ Sew Can She
UFO Busting @ The Madd Quilter

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Quilt #39 :: AJ's Happy Pinwheels

Is there anything more cheerful than pinwheels and polka dots? I made this quilt for my cousin's little guy when he was going through a rough season. While I live too far away to give him a hug, I hoped that a quilt would give him tangible evidence of the love so many have for him.

I'm especially excited to share this quilt because it is the last throwback quilt post. I am now done sharing my quilts from 2014.  Unfortunately, I really dropped the ball in 2015 and have another year of quilts to share! Uff da!

For the front, I chose varied polka dot prints, even the background. For the back, I used a bird print because AJ loves birds and can recognize the birds around his house by their songs.

The border isn't really a polka dot pattern, more of a hollow polka dot pattern. For the binding, I used strips of all the pinwheel polka dot prints.

This label is one of my favorites. This is the only time I've bordered the label with fabric from the front. I need to do that more.

The best part of going back and writing about these older quilts is seeing my little guy being so little!

I believe this was the last year before we bought our fancy artificial tree.

My Christmas present that year was seeing this picture of AJ sleeping under his quilt. 

Linked to:

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Quilt #37 :: Mom's Western Scrabble quilt

As I continue to blog about my older quilts, there is a part of me that is sure that's I've written these posts already, but alas, I have no record of them. I often think about what I will write as I am sewing, so maybe I'm confusing my memories. Such is life with a brain injury. 

It's easy to understand why this quilt is special. I made it for my Mom!

As I write this, the house is littered with the remnant of Christmas. Mom just returned home to Arizona and we are already making plans for her next visit. We are hoping that she moves in with us here in Ohio. Not only do we enjoy her coming, but it is will be a great help to both of us to have each other around on our bad days. And Niels can take care of both when we are both down!

But, I realize that it is a big ask. She loves living in Arizona. She loves the warm weather and the roping community of Wickenburg. When I made this quilt for her in 2014, we weren't yet talking about a move. But I'm glad she has it to remember so many of the things that are important to her.

I knew when I started thinking about Mom's quilt that it would have a Scrabble theme. For as long as I can remember, Mom and her four sisters have played Scrabble whenever they were together. And even know, living all around the country, they still play virtually on Words with Friends. 

I found the now out-of-print Scrabble letter print on Ebay and bought as much as I could find.

The tiles are not exactly square, so I had to adjust my plan slightly. 

My aunt Lori helped me finalize the words and placement.

I wanted to keep the standard Scrabble colors for my blocks, but give them a Western flair.

While I was working on the quilt, he beloved toy Aussie Wylee passed away.

In 2014, my little guy was in love with spelling. It's hard to tell, but he was pointing to the word love.

Speaking of my cutie, this was the height of his quilt modeling career. 

Wrapping his love in the quilt. 

I am dead from cute.

"This spells GRAMMA!"

Kisses for Gramma.

Hugs from Gramma.

I believe this was the first label I made with a photo. I love how it turned out.

A year later, I was thinking of this quilt, and all the people (and puppy) who have passed. My Gramma Ann died in 2014. And I was mortified to realize I forgot to include my Grampa Leo on the quilt. When Mom came for a visit, I had her bring the quilt so I could add his name.

With that, I am one blog post away from sharing all of my 2014 quilts!

Linked to:







Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Brain Injury Quilt :: My Epic Quilt to Honor 15 Years of Living With a TBI

January 21st marks the 15th anniversary of the day I fell on ice and broke my brain.

Fifteen years! It's now been nearly 1/3 of my life that I have lived with the unique limitations that come with being a brain injury survivor. Each year, it gets harder and harder to remember my old life. It's hard to remember what it was like not to consistently monitor my surroundings and measure my activities in an attempt to last through the day.

Quilting has been a life-giving hobby for me. Before I started quilting in 2013, I struggled with my self-worth. I could no longer write professionally, as I did before my accident. I didn't have the stamina to do any job. I felt (and feel) incredibly blessed and lucky to be a wife and mom. In 2013, my son was started pre-school. Many of my mom friends were returning to work and I felt left behind and left out. I was looking at a lifetime of filling my days while my son was at school and Niels was at work.

So I started quilting. And I realized that quilting made me a giver again. For so much of my life, I need to be cared for. I rely on my husband and son and neighbors and friends to help me when I run out of steam. I ask for more than I offer. But with quilting, I have a tangible way to show my love and appreciation to those who make my life work better.

Last year, I learned of a fun epic challenge many crafty folks undertook: temperature quilts and blankets. I've seen both fiber and fabric versions, and they are all fabulous. The idea is that one creates one block or row for each day based on the local temperature. Some use a high temperature. Others use the low. Still others use both.

For my quilt, I am going to track the weather highs and lows at our local airport, using Weather Underground as a consistent monitor.

In addition, I'm going to track my brain injury. I always have a headache and vision issues, and while they vary to some extent each day based on what's going on in my life...and the weather, I decided I would track how my brain injury affects me based on how much I am able to quilt on a daily basis. 
The outside squares of the flying geese will indicate the daily lows and highs. The center triangle color and direction will reveal the effect of my brain injury. I'm still mulling over how I will deal with travel days when I won't be able to sew no matter how I feel. I'm leaning toward a special travel print with purple, gray, and white, and will use the arrow to indicate how I was feeling.

I made a chart that I can use to keep track of my days. I've asked Niels to make sure I write down the day's assessment before we go to bed, at least until I get into the rhythm.

I'm not totally sure of the final layout, but I think it will be something like this.

I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

Follow along with the progress of this quilt on Instagram at #TBITempQuilt. I'd love the encouragement to keep me working on the rough days! To see what I'm currently working on, follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

Linked to:

Inspiration Tuesday @ The Clever Chameleon
Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion on the River
To Do Tuesday @ Stitch All the Things

Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Midweek Makers @ Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss @ The Inquiring Quilter
WIP Link Up @ Silly Mama Quilts

UFO Busting

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