Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grab a Tissue!

Before I left for California, I hinted about a quilt I was making and showed a few in-progress photos. I had a story that it was for my girls' room. That was a big decoy. The quilt was for my sister Allison. Here is the story.

My grandmother quilted and gave each grandkid (8 of us) a bed quilt when we graduated from high school. I loved that tradition and decided to give each of my siblings a quilt when they graduated from college. I gave one to my brother in the early 90's. My sister attended college for a few years but she didn't graduate, and I didn't have the ceremony or the event to attach the quilt to. I always felt bad about it, and always wanted to make a special quilt just for her, but there wasn't an event to celebrate, and then I got busy with the kids and I haven't made a bed quilt for a few years.

For many years she lived about 5 hours away in Indiana and we would see each other often. She and I are very close. She worked at a fabric store and in her spare time made her fabulous hats.

Last year, she got the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and stay for awhile with my brother while pursuing a job that would be more fulfilling, and be in an area more condusive to marketing her hats. It was bittersweet for me, seeing her stretch her wings and work toward her dream, yet at the same time, move to a place where I wouldn't see her nearly as often.

She moved during the week of Thanksgiving, 2006. During this past year she has landed an awesome job and also gotten some great press for her hats. I am so proud of her!

This summer, I was paging through an old Rowan Patchwork Book, and I saw this quilt that I had earmarked years ago. Birds in the Air. I don't usually make bed quilts because of their title, but it really struck me as perfect. Now that she is in California, we have to be bird in the air, flying on a plane to see each other. Not to mention, how she is stretching her wings and making me proud! For her year anniversary in California, I would make her this quilt.

Fast forward to last week. I finished it with hours to spare before we left for California, packed it secretly in my carry on (I live with 4 people who can't keep a secret so nobody knew about it except my mom) and the rest is in pictures:

Early in the morning on Thanksgiving day, I set the package on the front porch and told everyone that I had a presentation to make in the front yard. I led her out the front door.
(She has the silly smile on her face because she is wondering what I am up to. She had no idea!)

I gave her a card which was all "I'm so proud of all you have accomplished this past year, etc., etc." She still had no idea! (I'm embarrassed at the weird computer paper and colored tape wrapping job, but I didn't take wrapping paper on the trip and it was difficult to smuggle it in, so I made do.)

She pulls out the quilt, but it is well disguised in a pillowcase. (It took up my entire carry-on, by the way. Knitting was sacrificed.)

She still has no idea what it is. She told me later that at this point, she thought it was a husband. (You know, those big pillows that you took to college to prop yourself up in bed.) She really had no idea.

I think she's starting to get the idea it's a quilt.

It is a quilt! And she loves it!

She starts taking a close look at the fabrics, and pointing out the ones she remembers from our yearly trips to Paducah.

Here comes the crying!
More discussion!
(I'm so happy!)
Must wrap up in the quilt. And start crying again!More hugging and more happy!

Later in the day, Allison and Kenny take the quilt in the backyard to get some full shots.
My brother is a ham.

Close ups.

In the bottom border I quilted the words: To my sister Allison - we will be birds in the air - Love Emily (photo pre-trimming the threads).

Pattern: Birds in the Air, Rowan Patchwork and Quilting Book #4.

Fabrics all from my stash, some new, some old. Cotton batting.

Machine pieced and machine quilted by me.

Size: approx, 85"x 95".


Blogger Pixie said...

awww, can I be your next sister? great story. needed the tissue!

3:22 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

Sniff, sniff. Beautiful...the story and the quilt.

4:16 AM  
Blogger Carole Knits said...

Oh, Emily. What a wonderful quilt and beautiful story. You're a great sister.

6:40 AM  
Blogger Mary said...


7:25 AM  
Blogger caro said...

I read the title and knew I was in for something, but I grabbed my coffee to settle in and read. I should have grabbed a tissue because now I'm sitting here crying into my coffee. Beautiful quilt, beautiful sisters, beautiful story.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Katy said...

Darn it, I should have grabbed that tissue. The quilt is magnificent & the surprise is even better. Makes me want to make something for my sister...although I did name a child after her, so she at least got something from me. ;)

7:59 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

A beautiful quilt and beautiful story! I love the quilt's name as well.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Jodee said...

Caught me off guard - I didn't read the title. Now I wish I had a sister!
I am so glad you got the quilt done in time. And to sacrifice knitting on a four hour plane trip, priceless.

8:29 AM  
Blogger teri springer said...

Great job, Em. And Birds in the Air is one of my favorites. You are each so lucky to have each other. I didn't get a sister until I was in my late 40's but what a blessing she is!! And now I know what pattern to use for HER quilt (I have had the fabric for a year now- time to get started!!).


8:37 AM  
Blogger Rhonda the Stitchingnut said...

I failed to grab a tissue and now I've weakened my coffee. I spent 2 hours yesterday talking to my baby sister. I feel the same way about her & gave her the only king size quilt I've ever made. She cries when I just embroider flowers for her. A quilt is a bucket full. It's great you have such a close relationship with your sis. Stay close no matter what. You certainly made a beautiful quilt for her and I sure it'll be a treasure forever.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Kay said...

You experienced quilters, always holding back with the crucial information. New quilts must be sprinkled with tears!

Beautiful, beautiful quilt, and the perfect time for it. Who's the other one for (the one that matches but doesn't match) or was that a cover story too?

I also think it's funny that you call them "bed quilts". Makes complete sense but always makes me smile at the thought that there is any other category. xoxo Kay

10:55 AM  
Blogger Alotta.knittin said...

That is a beautiful quilt with beautiful sentiment to go with it! What a wonderful sister you are, and what a great family you all make.

11:35 AM  
Blogger The_Add_Knitter said...

You are such a fabulous sister, such a touching gift!

6:24 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

Hi Emily,
It is a beautiful quilt, and you are a great sister!

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Allison said...

I knew what it was all about, and even I got teary eyed! I took the quilt into work and everyone ohh'd and ahh'd. I love you and I love the quilt, but that one picture is... well... at least Mom's cute face is there comforting me!


p.s. I will still make pecan tartletts for you!

9:03 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Mel said...


6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now why am I crying and I wasn't the recipient?!?
You are a wonderful mom and sister and daughter!
Love the story telling too!

10:46 AM  
Anonymous said...

it's beautiful! :)

1:01 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Such a great quilt and a beautiful story.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

What a great gift--she looks so happy

2:56 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

How sweet!
Is there room to be adopted into your lovely family??

4:21 PM  
Blogger Patsy said...

What a beautiful quilt and beautiful story!! The fabrics are great and the sentiment behind the quilt can't be beat! Hoorah for great sisters! Please keep quilting because some of us are living for your quilting tidbits!

7:17 PM  
Blogger Bliss said...

The pictures really say it all. A beautiful quilt and a beautiful moment. She will be blessed all over every time she sees it and thinks of you. What an uplifting post!

9:51 PM  
Blogger FunkyC said...

Okay, this post got me. Big, Hallmark story tears! And the quilt is just lovely....makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Sarah N. said...

Allison's quilt is beautiful! Better not let my daughter see it - she will want one for her bed. Glad to hear that Allison is doing so well in California. Not sure why anyone would ever leave the boom town of Muncie for L.A., let alone give up the dream job of working at JoAnn's - but I am glad she is happy! Talk about a culture shock! When we left Muncie, we moved to another college town - Auburn Alabama - but Auburn seems a little livlier than Muncie - maybe its the thousands of football fans that invade town every week in the fall.

glad you had a good trip to California. Happy holidays!

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a long way late in posting this comment, but THAT IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL QUILT. And the story made me cry, too. What a lucky sister you have - and what a wonderful sister you are.

Hope you have a fabulous 2008.


8:28 AM  
Blogger Daily Fiber said...

I too have a sister that quilts. She "awarded" me with one of her quilts a few Christmas's back. I cherish my quilt, so I know what this must mean to YOUR sister. What a wonderful gift & every time she wraps up she can feel all warm & fuzzy thanks to you!!!

6:35 AM  

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