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I, for one, am not sorry to see this year come to a close. For me the year brought something I never experienced before, an anxiety disorder accompanied by panic attacks. One of the panic attacks was bad and two were much shorter and less severe. Regardless of severity, they are something I'd like never to do again.

Nothing literally "came apart" for me this year, but a lot of healing was needed. It came in fits and starts, and was marked by regression as well as improvement. At this point I feel like the anxiety is over, my happiness level is back to normal, and I am moving forward.

A big part of my "therapy" came in the form of quilting, a refuge for me. The level of required concentration focused my attention, pulling me away from the swirl of questions, self-doubt, and grief.

As I quilted, I attended to relationships with several other people, as I wrote about here. And while I did, my relationship with my husband was put on hold to some degree. The fabric was not frayed, the seams were not split, no rips have been found. But once I finished quilts that emotionally involved other people, it was time to turn my focus back where it belonged, on my husband and on me. And most importantly, on us together.

In late November, the same day I finished the siblings' quilts, I began anew. This quilt would be for us and did not need to make anyone else happy. I did not need to worry about anyone else's happiness or how the quilt would be received.

I'd created a block for one sibling's quilt, which I wanted to use again. Other than that decision, plus the fabric palette I had in mind, there was no plan. This was a quilt to contemplate as I went.

There were many directions I could go with this. I could make multiple blocks and set them in a grid or in strips. Or I could begin a medallion quilt, using a center block and then creating borders around it. This is a very old format for quilt design, pre-dating the block format so familiar to most of us. For the sake of making one design decision at a time, medallion quilt it was.

I began creating rings around the center, using fabric from my stash. Over several months I had set aside favorite browns and blues. There was a different quilt in my mind as I did so. On a road trip to Hannibal, MO this fall I bought more yardage, also. I had plenty to choose from.

When using stash, often leftovers from other projects, I enjoy remembering those old projects and the people they were for. The cream background of the center block is one I used both for Son's graduation quilt and also for his fiancee's. Many of the fabrics in the first few rings were from previous quilts, including the amazing paisley border stripe here. It, also, was from my future daughter-in-law's graduation quilt.

I could have kept adding borders sequentially. Instead I chose to turn this much on point. I decided to piece the large triangles needed for that.

Jim does color consulting for me for a lot of quilts. I ask him if this or that works better, and his opinion helps a lot. We tried different combinations for the large corner triangles and decided I needed to buy one more piece of fabric, a rusty red print.  

Once I had the top done and quilted, I needed to add the binding. Binding "seals" the edges and creates a nice finish. In the midst of that process, Jim and I took several days for an outing to Chicago. (If you missed Jim's diary, take a look. His pictures are terrific!)

On returning from Chicago, I stitched the rest of the binding in place and added a label. The label says

For My Beloved Husband
Jim [in IA]
From Melanie [in IA]
2012 and Always
The first time we sat on the couch together under the quilt, he found the label. The tears in his eyes showed everything I needed to know.

"A stitch in time saves nine." The old saying refers to maintenance, taking care of things before they pull apart and need more extensive repair. Time focused on us, both quilting and our Chicago expedition, helped me finish healing and strengthened our already solid marriage.

It was a tough year. I expect 2013 to be bright, to offer new challenges and new reasons to laugh. Laughter or tears, we'll be together.




Originally posted to Jim & Melanie in IA on Tue Dec 25, 2012 at 11:35 AM PST.

Also republished by DK Quilt Guild and Pink Clubhouse.

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