It’s Blogger’s Quilt Festival! Thank you to Amy for hosting this fantastic online event for all of us.
I am entering this quilt in the Applique category. I know long-time followers of my blog have seen this quilt posted before. For all my new followers – thank you for following! – this is a Quilt of Valour that I sewed this year and sent to a recently retired Canadian soldier who is suffering with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) so badly that he is unable to work. I think the letter I wrote to him to send with the quilt tells the story of this quilt best so I will post it at the bottom of this post for those who are interested in reading it (without his name). This quilt measures 72″ x 48″.
|Pattern is “Oh, Canada” by Cheryl Arkinson. Pieced and quilted by Anita LaHay.
This pattern is by Calgary designer/author/quilter Cheryl Arkinson. It is called “Oh, Canada” and she sells PDF copies in her Etsy shop.
|The light green block.
|The orange block.
Here are a couple of close-ups of my favourite blocks. The maple leaves are appliqued in the centre of the blocks with Heat n Bond Light fusible web and then I have machine stitched in a zig zag stitch around each one in matching thread. The leaves and side bars are pieced with the “slab” technique that many of your are familiar with from Cheryl’s first book that she co-authored with Amanda Jean Nyberg called “Sunday Morning Quilts.”
One of the things I love most about this quilt is that it is sewn from scraps in my stash and it is fun to see each piece and remember which project or gift it was from or who gave me the fabric. For example, I won the Oakshott cottons in these blocks from “Little Island Quilting” in a scrap bundle during a “Sew Mama Sew” giveaway day. The sunflower batik was from a charm pack of batik fabrics that I bought in a closing out sale (sadly) at a shop in Edmonton, AB. The “Ruby” small dots in the the green block were in a “Moda Scrap Bag” that I bought while in Cold Lake, AB for one of my son’s hockey tournaments. You can see it’s been a trip down memory lane for me. The quilt is backed with a homespun plaid in forest green and tan that I got at a church charity fundraiser to benefit grandmothers in Africa raising their orphaned grandchildren.
I hope you like my quilt and will please consider voting for it when voting opens in the festival.
I won’t post up a photo of the label because it has the soldier’s full name on it. He worked as a nurse in the Kandahar Airfield (KAF) Hospital in Afghanistan with the Canadian military. Here is the letter I wrote:
Please accept this Quilt of Valour on behalf of myself and all Canadians to say “Thank you for your service and sacrifice to Canada.”
I don’t know if you remember me. Your son went to playschool with my son.
I am sending you a “Quilt of Valour” that I have made specifically for you. I am also emailing a photo in to Quilts of Valour Canada so they can have a record of it and post it on their website. If you do not know about Quilts of Valour or would like to know more their website is: http://www.quiltsofvalour.ca/
So I’ll tell you a bit about how I came to sew this quilt. Before Christmas a soldier you may know named LCol. Chris Linford came to Wainwright to give a talk about PTSD at the Legion. I went to his presentation and when I was there I bought a copy of his book “Warrior Rising – A Soldier’s Journey To PTSD and Back”. I was very touched by his talk and I had him autograph the book “To All Military Families” as I knew I would share it and pass it on. I took the book home and looked at it for a while as I was a bit afraid to read it. I was scared that it would be so sad and would make me cry and feel sad. Finally, I picked it up and started reading and I found it hard to put it down. It was sad in parts but it didn’t make me cry or drain me as I had been afraid it might do. What it did do was open my eyes to PTSD and what people suffering with it are going through.
He writes about his experiences working in the hospital in KAF and being that you are the only person I know who has worked there I kept thinking of you throughout the book and wondering if you had gone through some of the same things as he did. And wishing I had listened more closely when you were telling me some of your stories at the poolside while our kids were in swimming lessons.
Just after I had finished the book I received the most amazing gift of a Juki sewing machine (something I cannot afford!) which was sent to me by way of my family who came out to visit me on Dec. 23rd. The gift came from a dear family friend who is dying of cancer. (NOTE: She has now passed away May 8, 2014.) She also happens to be a quilter like me so I feel especially close to her. She wrote a letter (that made me cry so hard!). In the letter she said that the gift came with no strings attached but that she would love it if I would use the machine to sew Quilts of Valour as she had hoped to sew more of them before she became too ill to sew. I wrote back and told her of course I would sew quilts of valour!
And then, of course, with Chris’s book fresh in my mind and having thought of you so often in the previous few weeks I knew I would sew the quilt for you. So I wrote my friend a text and asked her if she thought it was a good idea. (You may know that last year I sewed a Quilt of Valour for her husband.) She wrote back and said yes she thought it was a wonderful idea and that I should do it.
So there you have it. That is how this quilt came to be. The pattern is “Oh, Canada” by a Calgary quilter named Cheryl Arkinson. The quilt is pieced and quilted by me with fabrics from my stash.
I hope that this quilt will bring you warmth, comfort and hope. I hope you will enjoy quiet naps under it and cuddle with your kids for a story or a movie. Most of all I hope you will enjoy it. I have already machine washed and dried it prior to sending it to you. This quilt comes with “no strings” but that I hope it helps you in some way.
I have enclosed the book that Chris wrote in case you have not seen it or read it. I think it is also helpful for people who don’t have PTSD to read it so that they can understand better. If you already have the book, or for some reason it is not helpful to you, please pass it on to someone who can use it.