I felt an urgent need to make this quilt after meeting Kelly’s cousin, Amber, for the first time in January. Kelly and I had gone to Vancouver for a week of holidays, and while there he took me to meet her . She is temporarily living at GF Strong Rehabilitation Center. This wonderful place is for people with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, those who need assistive technologies, and so on. An entire blog could be dedicated to the wonderful work they do here, giving people back their lives.
About a year apart in age, Kelly and Amber had been buddies as young children, as cousins often are. As they grew up, though, the families moved apart and they lost touch. After his mother’s death in 2006, Kelly searched for and reconnected with the other half of his family – his uncle and cousin. They picked up where they had left off, as though no time had passed at all.
In November, his uncle phoned him with the devastating news that Amber had suffered a stroke. Kelly flew down and joined the rotation of friends and family at the hospital. After Christmas, she was stable enough to be transferred to GF Strong, which is where I met her in mid-January.
When I walked into the hospital room, I met a strong and vibrant woman with a wicked and powerful sense of humour. A woman who celebrates every single success…the first time she was stood up and took a step with the assistance of the therapist, walking 40 steps (and only stopping because a wall got in the way), when she finally was allowed to sip water. A woman who gets frustrated and angry and cries when people, things or circumstances seem to stand in her way, but who has the ability to shake it off and laugh and look forward again. A woman who worries about the people around her and takes care of them the best she can, but who also allows them to take care of her. One who loves shoes as much as I do! In fact, I introduced her to my love of ‘vogs, and one of her first big window shopping outings was a visit to the Granville Street Fluevog store, wheelchair and all! Don’t you wish you could meet her, too?
I was really struck by how “hospital-ish” and impersonally functional her room was. It didn’t match the woman sitting in front of me at all. And I thought that that is the one thing I can do. I can make something beautiful to add some colour and cheer into the room. Something functional to help keep her warm (she is always cold). Something with an interesting pattern to look at. Something I could stitch all of my best wishes into.
I chose a pattern called “Island Chain” from Scrap Basket Sensations by Kim Brackett. I liked this pattern for a number of reasons. I liked the name – Amber and her husband love to go diving in tropical places, so it seemed appropriate.
I loved the interlocking chains of the pattern because they made me think about how each of us is linked together, sometimes in ways we don’t expect.
Lastly, I chose the pattern because it looked like it would be a good challenge for me, something I felt ready for in my quilting adventures. Kelly picked out the fabric: a Tonga Treats packet of batiks.
(at this point the font changes and I don’t seem able to do anything about it – sorry!)
Each piece had to be numbered. There were 41 different colours that had to be kept in a precise order. Cut and ready to sew – doesn’t look like much, does it? lol!
It was assembled on the pool table (an absolutely perfect design board) by Kelly. My brain just does NOT do puzzles and I needed a logical brain to follow the pattern and lay the pieces out. That was Kelly’s job.
The Quilt was sewn together on the diagonal, starting with the upper left corner, one strip at a time. You can see why I needed to keep it all in order with little numbered sticky notes on each piece.
This entire quilt was hand quilted and then bound in about 6 weeks. An no, that’s not “usual”! I was in a hurry because I wanted the quilt down with Kelly when he returned for another visit in March (where he is at right now!)
I hope it brings a little bit of brightness into her world. ♥
6 Replies to “An Island Chain for Amber”
I’m enjoying reading through each of your quilt stories, but this one really ‘spoke’ to me. One, I love the quilt, two, Amber’s story…my nephew was hit by a car at age 19 and continues to fight to regain his abilities, and lastly, the connection…you visited Vancouver, and I reside in a community about an hour from Vancouver! It’s amazing how the threads of the web show the the world how connected we are. I hope you are able to visit BC again and visit your friend.
THIS post is exactly why I thought of Tuesday Archives…I mean this story needed to be shared again…and again….as THIS is why we quilt. Ughhhhh just such a beautiful and inspiring story Nita!! Thank You for sharing…and YES! I would have loved to meet Amber…as here energy reminds me to appreciate the simply joys of everyday!!
Such a beautiful post for a beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing the story of Amber’s quilt.