T-Bud Co. Quilts Ohio: January Ohio Star

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January’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

I raised my left hand and motioned with my right to my barely 4-month-old wedding band topped with my engagement ring, “Anchor husband. I’m not going anywhere.” I was interviewing with a trio of recruiters at a creative staffing agency about what I wanted to do in my career. They had suggested tapping into a network in Cincinnati that had ties to Seattle, Washington, as a way to get back to the Pacific Northwest. That is, return to Portland, Oregon, the city that had not too long ago spit me out, landing me in Cincinnati.

See, a mere month, maybe month and a half, after I married my husband, I was laid off from the job that brought me to my husband’s city in the first place. Early on in our courtship, my husband and I had one of those deal-breaker conversations. I had mused about how exciting and fun it would be to pack up and move to Minneapolis or Seattle or Portland—Maine! He seemed confused. He asked why a person would ever want to move to a place where they didn’t know anyone and didn’t have any family. (A very Cincinnatian perspective, I’ve since learned.) I laughed. That’s exactly what I had done in the past 2-or-so years. I moved blindly to Atlanta, Georgia, where the only thing I knew for sure was that I was enrolled in a school. Ditto for Cincinnati, just swap “school” with “job.” He didn’t say “never,” but placed the caveat that family (his or mine) would have to be nearby, narrowing the options to Alaska and Florida. Maybe Texas?

Thing is, while I often tell the story of this deal-breaking conversation, it wasn’t difficult to let my wandering daydream float away. Sometimes I wonder if my drifting, road-tripping phase—a short couple of years—was just put-on. As if I was trying on a hat and my husband helped me to realize that it wasn’t quite right for me. I have been happy and comfortable living in the same area for 10 years.

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January’s Ohio Star Quilt Block: piecing it all together.

My husband keeps me here. “I came here for a job and stay for my husband,” I quip often. He’s my geographic anchor, but an anchor in many other ways, too. He’s kept me steady and has, at times, been a voice of reason when my own messy mind has tried to distract me from what is true and right.

I signed the lease on my first Cincinnati apartment in January, on my husband’s birthday. I didn’t know that at the time, because I didn’t know him. It seems fitting that my official Ohio residency started on his birthday. And, so, it also seems fitting that my first Ohio Star quilt block, January’s block, represents my husband.

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My husband’s old shirts. Even if I patched the elbows, they wouldn’t be “professional” enough, so I did the next best thing–sewed them into a quilt block!

My husband has pointy elbows and has torn holes in a few sleeves of his work dress shirts. I have had them piled in my crafting area, because while they’re unwearable (for work), there is a lot of usable fabric. I chose two blue shirts, one light and one dark, because I think blue is his color. The block came together easier than I thought it would, seeing that it’s my first Ohio Star. I was impressed with the way my seams match up and I’m pretty pleased with myself. Ha!

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January’s Ohio Star Quilt Block Close-up

When I showed my husband the block, he called it a “cubicle quilt,” because the shirts remind him of going to work. Which, is kind of a bummer. No quilt should remind you of work, unless your job is quilting, of course.

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January’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

Note: I used theOhio Star Quilt Block Pattern Tutorial from Generations Quilt Patterns. It is very straightforward, easy to follow, and even has a handy cutting chart for different sizes of finished blocks.

40 Before Forty Update: No. 06

6. Complete my Sarah Fielke Block of the Month 2017 quilt top…and then put it all together.

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Sarah Fielke Block of the Month Quilt 2018

I don’t know what month I’m on, because I’m so far behind. But, this is where I am. There’s no way I’m going to be done by the end of 2017. Or even within the first few months of 2018.

I’ve been purposely avoiding this quilt because I have a few month’s of patterns and instructions piled up. One day last week, though, I decided to applique my last sunflower leaf. After I did, I spread out the quilt to see my progress.

The pattern! The colors! Instantly, I was re-energized and I want to work on this quilt RIGHT NOW! Alas, it’s the end of the year and, more importantly, the holidays. My quilting/crafting time is being spent on other projects.

I also have my T-Bud Co Quilts Ohio block of the month project I’m starting…so stay tuned for all kinds of updates in 2018!

Welcome to Ohio

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Ohio Postcard

On January 8, 2008, I rolled into Cincinnati right at rush hour and after sunset. I lost my bearings once I-74 hit I-75 and I turned south. From the upper level of the Brent Spence Bridge, I spotted a Hampton Inn and decided to call it a night, taking the next exit. I didn’t realize that I was actually going to spend my first night in my new city really in Covington, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River.

I drove in from Illinois where I spent a night with my uncle, aunt, and cousins, and then my last night on the road with my grandma in Geneseo, IL. See, Cincinnati, and the Midwest in general, was not my first geographic choice. I grew up and went to college in Alaska. After spending 2 years in Atlanta, Georgia learning how to write advertising copy, I drove west to Portland, Oregon, where I figured surely my Alaskan upbringing would make me feel at home. The Pacific Northwest, which I had dreamed about in my final months of portfolio school, literally chewed me up and spit me out. While driving back from the airport to the room I sublet in Beaverton, OR after my Cincinnati job interview, I took the wrong direction on the interstate—heading east when I should have been going west. I didn’t recognize my error until the road went pitch black from lack of civilization. The city of Portland did not want me there.

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Postcard with a beautiful view of Cincinnati…taken from Kentucky. You don’t have Cincinnati without Northern Kentucky.

When I first moved to Cincinnati, I had plans to work the job that brought me here for 3 to 5 years before assessing both my career (deciding what challenge to take on next) and geographic location. Should I return to the Pacific Northwest and finally conquer it? Move to Minneapolis? But, just as Portland had made its intentions known to me, so has Cincinnati. The job that I came here for is gone—almost exactly at the 3.5-year mark—but I outlasted it. I married a born-and-raised Ohioan, a Buckeye, who has always lived in Greater Cincinnati. I have 2 kids born here (or close enough). And, the wanderlust that propelled me to the Midwest has dissipated.

I am here.

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Postcard of Greater Cincinnati. The I-275 loop goes through 3 states: Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.

January 8, 2018 marks my 10th anniversary of living and working in the Greater Cincinnati area—Ohio. In celebration, I will be making an Ohio Star quilt block each month of 2018. The Ohio Star Quilt Block 12 Different Ways, you may say. In fine print: The Ohio Star Quilt Block 12 Different Ways in Celebration of My 10th Anniversary Living in Cincinnati.

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Ohio Star Quilt Block Coloring Sheet

There is nothing that links quilts and Ohio for me specifically, except that my interest in quilting has bloomed in the past couple of years. The Ohio Star quilt block also isn’t just a clever name. The pattern has origins in Ohio. In an attempt to nourish my interest and to motivate myself to keep quilting and learning, I am self-assigning this project.

My hope is to have each quilt block represent a facet of my Ohio story. I have a few months planned in my head. I don’t know what the others will look like or what they’ll represent.

My other hope his that you’ll follow along as I share my Ohio story through quilting.

My Quilt History

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This isn’t my first quilt. I’m willing to bet my mom made it anyway. She made the doll, “Picture,” that I’m hugging.

The first quilt my mom made and hand-quilted for me sat years and years on the large wooden quilt frame that only fit in our living room. For what felt like eternity, the quilt on the frame was a fixture of our house. I walked past it daily, played and watched TV nearby, all while knowing that when my mom finished it, it would be mine. All mine–I didn’t have to share and it wasn’t going to be passed on or down from a sibling. I think it felt like a long time partly because that is simply how time passes when you are a kid, very slowly.

When I received my college graduation quilt in the mail from my mom a mere year, maybe year and a half, after I had received my diploma, I called her to let her know it arrived and how much I loved it. The yellow and blue-purple fabrics, the chicken hand-quilted near the bottom. I also marveled at her speed. She replied that of course she had gotten it completed quickly, because she didn’t have us kids around bugging her!

For my entire life, I have slept under a quilt made by someone I know. That is, I have never slept under a quilt made to be sold in a big box or department store. I believe that I get good sleep because of this. I despise big, fluffy comforters. You’re doing it wrong, I think when someone tries to explain down and duvets. At one of my past jobs, I wrote descriptions of both “factory” quilts and comforters. I was privy to a conversation or email chain that included a member of the buying department. She explained that quilts were actually summer bedding, because they’re thinner and cooler than their winter counterparts, the dreaded comforter. Again, I thought, you’re doing it wrong. Just layer your quilts (like I do). The weight of 2-3 quilts is comforting. And, when your mom is a prolific quilter and has been your entire life, you have the 2-3 quilts required to keep you warm when the temperature dips to 20F or colder at night.

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Posing in my First Communion dress in front of the quilt frame. This was not my quilt. I don’t have a picture of it.

Quilts have always been in the backdrop of my life, but I have never endeavored to make my own. In fact, I have told my mom that I wouldn’t take up quilting until she was unable to keep me and my family “covered,” in which case, by necessity and my desire to always sleep under a quilt and for my children to do the same as long as they are living under my roof, I would take up the craft. We haven’t reached that point, but I am already dabbling in the art.

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Planning this new quilt project.

My mom liked something quilty on Facebook, which made it pop up in my feed. It caught my eye, and I went down a rabbit hole of modern quilts. I thumbed through photos and photos of textile eye-candy. A few months later, I joined the Modern Quilt Guild. A year later, I signed up for a block of the month program. Another year later and I am setting out on my own quilt project.

Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

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Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

I catalog the books I read on Instagram. A picture, a note, and a number. For this particular book I wrote, “…[it] is such an important, timely book. Goodness, if you’re tired of seeing political discussions via memes on the Internet, this book is for you. And, if you’re making, posting, sharing, or even liking those memes (guilty right here!), this book is for you, too.”

In general, this book makes the case for being a better human being and gives concrete steps on how to do just that.

It’s a call to trust ourselves and others and to behave in a trustworthy manner.

It’s a call to stop bullshitting. (Thank you Internet. Again, guilty right here!) And, to call out bullshit.

It’s a call to connect with people on a human level.

It’s a call to stay vulnerable while maintaining the strength to endure the conflicts and criticisms that doing the above 3 things will cause.

I’m paraphrasing, of course. Brown says it simply:

People are hard to hate close up. Move in.

Speak truth to BS. Be civil.

Hold hands. With strangers.

Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.

Honestly, this book got my mind racing and thinking about all sorts of experiences I’ve had. I wrote down a lot of quotes in my trusty notebook. For now, I’ll share this:

[Harry] Frankfurt explains how the widespread conviction that many of us share about needing to comment or weigh in on every single issue around the globe leads to increased levels of BS.

I think the Internet and self-publishing via social media and blogs have contributed to this. If you’re on any form of social media, you immediately have a megaphone. And, social media isn’t fun unless you’re posting something, anything, and garnering clicks, likes, and shares. There’s also a vast array of quick “articles” that have the sole purpose of getting picked up by Google searches, yet offer superficial information. (I could go on about this, but I’m still researching and thinking.)

I’ll say it a third time, I’m guilty! Here I am writing this on a blog! I’m a fan of memoirs and personal essays. I try to write them, but when I’m guilty of bullshitting, I twist my personal experience into “how-to” pieces that maybe, pretty please will rack up some traffic. But, that’s bullshitting. Why not just write my experience as a personal essay? It just may be more persuasive.

And, that’s all to say, go read this book.