Monday, October 24

What's on the line?

When I started my "What's on the line?" feature, it was just a novel way to share my old quilts, linens, etc. I never shared any real laundry until today. And that's what this is......real laundry, fabric that I washed and then hung on the line to dry..........
But this isn't just any fabric. This is fabric from my friend, Cindy Mark. A few weeks ago, I met my friend, Barb, for lunch and after that, I went on to another place. I planned to write about that other place sooner than this, but each time I'd start to do my post, I just couldn't seem to write what I wanted to write.  And what I needed to write about was the place I went and something that I wished I didn't have to do but I did it because it was something my friend, Cindy, wanted me to do. Let me share, but just so you know, this is a long post...........
My friend, Cindy, passed away from pancreatic cancer in December of 2009.  In one of our last phone conversations, she told me she wanted me to be the one who went through her fabrics after she was gone. I didn't like to think that would ever happen and just tucked that thought away. She had learned in October of 2009 of her cancer and less than two months, she was gone. Time passed and while I thought of Cindy often, I rarely thought about that wish to go through her fabrics. And then in August, Cindy's husband, Stephen, e-mailed and said that he and daughter, Kaite, were finally going through Cindy's things and he wanted me to know that Cindy had told him that I was to go through her fabric. I didn't realize that she had made her wish known to them but I was ready to honor that wish. And so, that afternoon after lunch with Barb, I drove up the familiar lane to Cindy's house, knowing she would not be there and feeling kind of sad. And as I got closer to her house, I was suddenly more sad because there were no chickens. Cindy loved her chickens and they added life to the place and laughter. And they were just a part of Cindy.
I parked my car, walked up and rang the bell. I could hear the bark of a dog and recalled times when Cindy would be the "dog-sitter" for our dog, Skeeter. Sometimes she had as many as four dogs and all her chickens and a cat or two and she would still take our Skeeter!  Lotsa memories.
Stephen answered the door and led me downstairs to Cindy's sewing room. He works from home and said he had to get back to work but told me to take anything I wanted, except any vintage fabrics because Kaite wanted those and probably I should leave the Halloween fabrics for her, too. Cindy's favorite holiday was Halloween! He moved some boxes and things so I could more easily get at the fabrics. And about that time, there was a "bang" and the poster in this photo below fell over.  We both laughed and Stephen said "Cindy's telling you she's here!" And you know, I did feel her presence. I wondered before I got to the house, what would it feel like to go through her things, but I knew she wanted me there and so it felt just fine.
It just didn't feel odd that I was there. It felt, if possible, very comfortable because I knew she wanted me there. It was a melancholy experience, though, because Cindy was only in her early 60's and way too young to die. And she loved her daughter, Kaite, dearly and her husband, her sister, her friends. She was full of life and had just completed her degree for her Master's in Women's Studies. She was teaching at the nearby Women's Reformatory and was so excited to share her gifts. She also enjoyed the arts. Maybe I should rephrase that...........she adored the arts and encouraged creativity in everyone!!! I thought of how she had encouraged me in my own career path and can honestly say that I wouldn't have done half the things I did in the last 12 years, had I not crossed paths with her. We had much in common, and yet we also had differing religious and political views but we both had a love of our kids, the arts.........and fabric, and we enjoyed time we spent together. :-)
All around her sewing room there were nooks and crannies full of many types of fabrics and supplies. Like most of us who enjoy sewing and crafting, there were plenty of threads, paints, rulers, buttons, etc. etc. etc. I found a basket and filled it with threads and some buttons, bits of rick rack. Then I began opening the drawers filed with fabric and the first drawer I pulled out held these pinks and browns...........
I thought of my own little stash of pinks and browns that I am collecting for a "someday" quilt. Those colors remind me of my Grandma Goldie. I don't need to search for any more pink and brown fabrics. :-)  I put them in a bag and pulled out the next drawer..........
There were pretty yellows, pinks and greens and I loved them all. I was thinking that I had so much fabric at home, how could I find room for more? I added them to the bag. I opened every drawer in her sewing room and sometimes what I found surprised me. I knew we had similar tastes but she had many of the same fabrics I've purchased in the last twelve years.  We didn't shop for fabric together very often but we did shop at some of the same shops. One place we both had shopped was the Ben Franklin store out in Wells, MN. Cindy would head out that way because she bought chicken feed at a store there. I went there when I made trips to Iowa because Cindy told me what great fabric the store had.  She was right!
When I had gone through every drawer, I began going through fabrics on her bookshelves and this one really caused a lump in my throat...........
Chicken fabrics, lots of chicken themed fabrics!!!  We were both collecting fabrics for a "chicken themed" quilt and this was her "chicken stash". I recognised many of the fabrics but there were many that I did not have. Cindy had big plans and I could look at those fabrics and know that she was planning for a whole variety of chickens and even a rooster or two. There were browns, reds, blacks that would be just what was needed for the chicken and roosters feathers. There were fabrics with eggs, and baskets and chickens and plaids and straw, even chickenwire fabric! The entire stack of chicken fabrics went in a bag. The top piece on the stack is a Rose and Hubble fabric titled "Flower Fairies". There were several yards of it and it is beautiful. Like me, Cindy bought lots of fat quarters and sometimes half yard cuts, but when we saw a fabric we really liked......it was "give me six yards" because you never knew what you might make and it could always be backing fabric!

When I saw this bin full of yarn, I recalled the dolls that Cindy designed and made.
They were called "Grandmere Sage" and each doll was a wise woman and her story was told on a little card that came with each doll. No two were alike, just like none of us are alike.
Cindy and I weren't anything "alike" but we were still friends. We often talked about how different we were and some folks, yes, wondered how we could be friends. She was from the East Coast, born in Maryland, lived in New Jersey. I was born in Iowa, lived a few interesting places in my life but most of it spent here in Minnesota. We had both been fortunate to travel. I learned things from her and she learned things from me. She was a wise and caring woman and I am sad that she is gone.
After I finished sorting through Cindy's fabrics, I took one last look around the room. This unfinished sundress made me wonder........was it something she was making for herself, or perhaps a dress for Kaite?
And then her thread wall.............
The picture of a much-younger Cindy with Kaite when she was just a toddler made me smile and yet it brought tears to my eyes. Just like it is as I type this. We all have this hope that we will grow old and watch our children grow and that life will go on. It just doesn't always work out that way.
When I got ready to put the bags in my car, Stephen helped me carry them out and load them. I told him I would use many of the fabrics in donation quilt projects, pillowcases, totebags for the women's shelter, samples for my quilt clases, etc. And I would also use some for Kaite. And, I told him there was significance in the number of bags that would make Cindy smile. There were thirteen bags (kitchen trash size bags) filled with fabrics, a nice "Baker'sDozen". It was significant because the first class Cindy took from me was my "Baker's Dozen" beginner quilt class. And it was she, who encouraged me to offer such a class so that she and others could learn the basics of quilting. Yes, if I had never crossed paths with Cindy, I would not be doing so many things and probably woudn't even be blogging so you wouldn't be reading this! Yes, I am so thankful she was my friend!

As I drove home, the day was cloudy and kind of matched my mood but while I was waiting for a traffic light to change, the sky opened up and this brilliant sunshine shown through and it was just like a ray of sunshine, a smile from Cindy. I never quite know what to make of moments like this, but I take them for what they are........just a lovely moment in time.
I had one problem, though, ..........the fabric had been untouched and in a basement room for almost two years. It had a significant musty smell. When I got home, I "Googled" to see what could be done. I knew I had to salvage all this fabric. Vinegar and Oxy-Clean were listed as two ways to wash the fabric. And so, that's what I did. I began washing the fabric and using laundry soap, a large dose of vinegar and a big scoop of Oxy-Clean in each wash. Each load was washed once, then again. I started first with this small flannel bundle. The tag was still on it from a shop in Rochester, MN ........."All in Stitches". We went there together and I remember what a fun day we had. I washed them once, then twice and they came out beautiful and soft. They will be a baby quilt for Kaite in the event she one day marries and has children. I'll make the quilt and sew the love in it that Cindy would have also done. 
When the weather was nice, I washed the fabrics and hung them out on my "between the trees clothesline". The ones shown in the first picture in this post, are some of the many fabrics we both bought but not while shopping together. We just liked the same stuff! We both loved the 50's and aprons and old tablecloths. We just plain loved fabric!  As I washed the fabric, I would get right to it and iron it. I also wrote on the edge "Cindy" so I will know and remember. This stack here is Doreen Speckman fabric called "Provence". It said "Cindy" to me, more than almost any fabric I found in her sewing room. It will be a quilt for Kaite. Her dad knows this, but Kaite doesn't. :-)
When the weather turned cooler, I got out my old clothes rack that my mother gave me and put it to work. I washed by colors and am down to just three bags to wash......a bag of reds, a bag of greens, and a bag of blues/purples.
I will be able to salvage all of it!! I will put it to good use and Cindy would be happy to know that!  She already knew that, though, and that's why she wanted me to have her fabric! Now, interestingly, just a few days before I got the e-mail from Stephen about Cindy's fabric, I had responded to a post on Victoria's BumbleBeansBlog. I told her that I would donate a couple of quilts to Basics, a New York based charity quilt drive. I had thought I would make a quilt in memory of Cindy. These are the fabrics that I chose from my stash. Cindy loved color and often would sport a strip of magenta in her red hair so these fabrics just said "Cindy".

I also plan to make a quilt in memory of my friend Cathy Wright, who died of breast cancer in July of 2009. This is a picture of Cathy with a donation quilt that she made the summer of 2008. We had a sewing day when we made quilts for Iowa flood victims and this was her contribution.
Cathy loved her family, cats and quilting. I offered to make a cat themed quilt for Cathy and had begun to collect squares of fabric from our common quilting friends. But there wasn't enough time to finish it before Cathy passed away. Last year, I added more cat-themed fabrics and thought that one day I must finish it. I had my squares and that crazy colorful cat fabric that I'll use for borders..........
and then in the fabrics I brought home from Cindy, I found that perfect pink floral that I needed for the cat quilt in memory of Cathy. It will be the first fabric used for a donation quilt that comes from Cindy's stash. And then I'll make more. Some will go to Basics and some will be made into quilts for the Crisis Nursery and some into totebags for a nearby Women's Shelter. And some will be used for samples for my quilt patterns. And lots of the fabric will be donated for use by students in a beginning quilt class I'll be offering at our Henderson Library sometime this coming winter. I would rather that Cindy could have used this fabric but she would be glad knowing it will be put to good use in so many ways!  What seemed like it might be a sad task will have a good ending.
This wasn't an easy post to do. My hope would be that Cindy would have liked what I wrote. I asked Stephen if it was okay to write about her and he said, "for sure, she would have loved it". I miss Cindy. I miss her e-mails. She had lovely smile and a great laugh. So did Cathy. So did my friend, Dorothy, who passed away from cancer this past spring. I'll make a quilt in memory of her, too. And, maybe, as I make the quilts, the sadness that I feel at their passing will be released and will lead to joy for someone else who dearly needs a quilt that says "Love".  And that's the best that can be done for now.
Make this a good Monday!!
Sandi

26 comments:

Andrea said...

I always enjoy your "what's on the line" posts but this one is very special. What a lovely tribute to Cindy and her fabric collection. How wonderful that her love for fabric will benefit others through your kindness of making charity quilts. Very touching xxx

Deborah said...

I recently lost my mother to pancreatic cancer and also my grandmother. I've been going through all their fabrics and washing them. I took all the purples and made a quilt for pancreatic cancer awareness month (Nov) and just finished the binding last night. This was a wonderful tribute to your friend.

Pat said...

Oh, Sandi.....I had trouble making it to the end of your post as it was hard to read through my tear-filled eyes. I know your friend chose the perfect person to go through her fabrics and you will make her (and her surviving family members) proud with how you use them. I hope you can smile through your heavy heart and tears as you use her fabrics and threads.....I am certain she would WANT you to smile!

Donna said...

Beautifully written. Cindy chose well when she selected you to sort her fabric.

DebbieM said...

What a lovely tribute to Cindy! You will do wonderful things with her fabric as she knew you would. Her daughter will love the quilt you will make for her someday of her Mom's fabric, something for her to cherish a lifetime. It's hard to lose someone we care about, but they are always with us. The sky opening up with the rays of sunshine was definitely Cindy smiling down on you! Thank you for sharing!

Denise :) said...

Sandi, this was one of the best, lovingly written posts I've ever read. What a sweet tribute to your dear friend Cindy. :)

Mommarock said...

What a wonderful friend to have.. both you and Cindy. I wish I had such a wonderful friend to stitch with! I couldn't help thinking while I was reading that, Sindy of Fat Cat patterns just happens to be coming out with a new Chicken pattern I believe.. soon. She showed a sketch of her chickens on her yahoo blog. Wouldn't it be the most fantastic use of that Chicken fabric?? They are the most fantastic chickens as are all of the things she makes. That was just one of the most touching posts I have ever read!! You are such a sweet person, I'm happy to consider you a friend too. If just a bloggy friend, I'll take that!

Synthia said...

Blessing galore to you, Sandi, for taking on this big project of love. It appears that many people will be the recipients of the love that Cindy's fabric and your sewing have generated.

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Sandi, what a sweet tribute to your friend Cindy. I lost my BFF in 2004, and even though she did not quilt, her husband gave me many of her beautiful teacups and tea pots that she collected. I miss Diana so much, as we talked on the phone almost everyday and her laugh was so contagious. I know you will remember Cindy every time you use one of her fabrics. What a blessing to have had such a special friend.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Touching. I have my daddy's ties and shirts. He died in 2009. I haven't started on a quilt with them yet. One of these days. My fabric is stored in the basement in plastic tubs. Every once in a while, I have to wash all the fabric in a tub. I'd never tried vinegar before. I'm now looking for large bags of 'absorbent' like in shoe boxes, to put in the plastic tubs. I'm hoping that will help.

Snoodles said...

Sandi, what a moving and beautiful tribute to the friendship you shared with Cindy. It's easy to see that she chose the perfect person to go through her lovely fabrics, and also easy to see that you will use them in way that would make her happy. I hope that working with them and remembering happy times with her will heal your sadness.

Mary Grace McNamara said...

Very touching and wonderful post, Sandi. You are such a kind and generous soul, caring for your friends and respecting their wishes. We should all be so blessed to have a friend like you. Everything you make with Cindy's fabric will be special and will carry her blessing along with it.

MGM

annemarie said...

Wow you left me with tears in my eyes - breautiful tribute to Cindy.

Pokey said...

Thank you for this hard share, I read every word and was blessed by the wonderful friendship that you two shared. You are planning to continue that gift of giving, and that is the best thing you could do. Your clothesline was every inch full of love and good memories!
:-}pokey

Lindah said...

Oh, Sandi, such a poignant post. It is sad that you lost 2 dear friends, and in a very short time span. What a blessing to be able to bless others with works of love from their stashes. A beautiful way to stay connected with them. Quilting is special that way. Sewing away, I often feel a connection to those quilters who have gone before me.
May God bless you as you bless others!

PDXPam said...

What a tribute to a great friendship. Your post brought me to tears. I know it was hard to write, but thanks for sharing it.

PDXPam said...

What a tribute to a great friendship. Your post brought me to tears. I know it was hard to write, but thanks for sharing it.

Stephen said...

Sandi,
my eyes are filled with tears, my heart is heavy with loss, my soul is filled with the joy your written feelings brought to me. I know Cindy would have cried a river after reading such sweetness.
Thank you so much for such a loving tribute to your friendship with Cindy.
I want Kaite to read this but I am a bit perplexed. How can she read it and the quilt you plan for her be kept a secret!?
Thank you so much Sandi. Please feel free to come by for another 'bakers dozen'.

Stephen

Sandi said...

Stephen, I decided I want her to know. I would love her input on the quilt and want to make sure that the fabric I chose is what she would like to see in a quilt made from her mom, Cindy's fabric. Send her the link and it will be a surprise when she reads it. The wisest thing that Cindy and I did was to be honest and tell each other how much we enjoyed knowing each other. She really did make me a better person. Tears are good. They are to our being what much needed rain is to the earth. Believe me, I know.

Beth said...

What a wonderful, touching story of your friendship and loss and how you will honor her by using her fabrics to bring joy to others. I am sure she is happy with your choices and your plans for her fabric.
Sending you a hug.

Shirley in Canada said...

Such a wonderful story and tribute to your friends, Sandi. You are amazing at the work you do for others. ♥

Diane Wild said...

What a wonderful tribute to your friend. What is it about fabric that bonds us? Thank you for sharing your friendship with Cindy with all of us.

grandmarockton said...

God has blessed you by your friendship with Cindy as she was with your! LOVE continues in the fabrics you'll share

desertskyquilts said...

That is a lovely post, Sandi. You are doing wonderful things with her fabrics, and I hope someone does as well with mine someday. I loved seeing all those things last night. =)

Stitchy Mc Floss said...

I have tears in my eyes and lump in my throat. This is such a powerful blog post, full of love and inspiration.

These ladies (and you) all sound so loving and kind. What a true blessing to have found each other and to have become friends.

Blessings always

Nima said...

oh Sandi...that was nice to read...but my eyes started to overflow without me knowing...i always think, what will my people do with my stash if i go from this world one day...hope i'll get time to tell my family about my needlecraft friends who can inherit my stuff. so nice of you to share this.

"Peace can be found in the piecing of a quilt."
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