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The Fifteen-Year Quilt

Before I had a kid and before I devoted all my free time to creating physical manifestations of my colorful imagination on pulverized trees (i.e. books), I used to have this crazy thing called free time. Ya, it didn’t seem like it then, but I did. I tried my hand at many crafts during that time: wood-burning, cross-stitch, hot glue creations, latch-hook. One of my more daring projects was when I decided to make a quilt.

I had never made one before, didn’t know anyone who had, didn’t know how to do it. Like most everything, I researched the right way to do it…

…And then threw that out the window and made up my own way.

I started with some old clothes I cut up into squares. But I needed more material. So I went to JoAnn’s and bought all the cheap scraps of material I could find. I would probably pick different ones today. The overall theme of my quilt?

“Making a quilt.”

That’s it. There are tractors and stars and chefs and flowers, all sharing the same space. At some point, my future husband and I knew that we were going to buy a queen size bed. I decided to make it big enough to fit the bed.

What!?

I must have been crazy, you say?

Annnd you would be correct.

First time quilters out there–> do not make your first one queen-sized. (You will NEVER want to ever attempt another ever again.)

A close-up of the swirly quilting pattern I created myself.

A close-up of the swirly quilting pattern I created myself.

I don’t remember what kind of batting I bought, but I know it is fairly thick. Many of the top squares are flannel or sweatshirt material. I decided the back should be fleece. I know, not a traditional quilt backing. Just the other day I found the original receipt for it in the scraps. $72.23. $72.23! JUST FOR THE FLEECE ALONE! I could buy a quilt made by children in China cheaper. Oh, the date on the receipt? September 24,2002.

You see, I put all the layers together, basting and safety pinning them. Then I threw it in a garbage bag (to keep the dust off) and neglected it for 15 years. It had been so long since I worked on it that my husband said he didn’t even remember me starting it. That is, until I reminded him about when I had it spread out across our entire living room floor in my apartment and he walked on it, getting a needle in his foot in the process. That he does remember.

A close-up of the borders.

A close-up of the borders.

All those intervening years, I had anxiety over it. I kept adding it to To-Do lists, but it never got To-Done. We moved into our house. I designated a whole bedroom as a craft room with a vision of finishing that project. But we changed it into a railroad station bedroom for my son before the quilt was ever completed.

So, after finishing Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom, then getting through Christmas, New Year’s, and birthdays, I told myself I would not work on another book until I finished that quilt. It took about a month to quilt the layers together and sew the edge. Bear in mind, I own a sewing machine. but I have a mental block where I cannot for the life of me remember how to thread the blasted thing. So, a majority of the quilt was done by hand. Using the machine makes it a stressful experience, where as sewing it by hand is relaxing. A big bonus? You can binge Netflix while sewing, unlike when writing. Hello, Nikita & Birkhoff.

It is bigger than my couch!

It is bigger than my couch!

So, I did it. I finished it just this week. I’ve included pictures of the final product . I see why it took so long–>it is ginormous! I am afraid to wash it, because I am afraid it will fall apart. We slept under it. It may not have exactly the right dimensions, but it is totally warm.

I guess now I can add “quilter” to my resume of achievements. Not that I will be starting another one anytime soon.

Completed quilt on the bed.

Completed quilt on the bed.

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From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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Pharmacy Giraffe

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The Pharmacy Giraffe. I call him Giraffey.

When I was growing up, I lived within walking distance of a pharmacy. I would go there to buy candy. I would go there to buy poster board for school projects. I would go there to buy my mom Christmas stocking stuffers. I would go there for something to do. When I was a little older, I went there with my asbestos friend to look at the teen magazines, which once in a while we actually purchased. You would think they would have been grateful for my business. No. Instead they watched me like a hawk every time I was in the store, apparently expecting me to steal something.

[NOTE: Now, I know you are thinking, “A whole blog post about a stuffed giraffe? Really?” But if you hang in until the end, it has sort of a nice ending.]

The pharmacy had one corner of the store with gifty items. Figurines. Stuffed animals. And the largest stuffed giraffe I had ever seen in my life. I used to hug his neck every time I went in. I dreamed of taking him home with me. He was for sale, but I think his purpose in the store was more to draw the children over to that area. Which he did very well. I remember the price tag on him being $500. Someone else told me $2000. Either way, no one ever bought him.

I grew up and moved away. The pharmacy was bought by new owners and moved to a new location. I remember going in to the new pharmacy once and thinking how sterile, bare it looked. And I was sad to find there was no giraffe there.
A number of years later, after my asbestos friend had left town and moved back, she convinced me to ride on a Noah’s Ark-themed float for her church for the town festival [She is always tricking me into doing things like that. She is a bad influence.]. Anyway, I met her pastor, who was dressed up like Noah. And looked about nineteen. And his wife, who looked more like Mary looking for a manger than Noah’s wife [She was pregnant at the time].

As you may have guessed, they had animals on the float. Wood-cut outs, along with stuffed animals. The best one, if you asked me, was the stuffed giraffe. I told my asbestos friend that it reminded me of the giraffe from the pharmacy. She replied that it was the very same one. It made the eight year old in me a little excited. It rained that day and he got a little wet, but it didn’t seem to cause him too much damage.

Three years later, I was pregnant with my son. I saw a stuffed giraffe at work. I decided right then and there that my child’s room would not be complete without one. I hoped to get it for free or discounted through work, as that was a big benefit of working there. But I didn’t really want to spend the money. The giraffe work was selling was also way smaller than the one I was used to from my childhood.

When I mentioned this to my asbestos friend, as I do with all my obsessions, she told me that the pharmacy giraffe that had rode on the church float was still sitting in the church basement. It had flooded down there and he had gotten a little wet, but it didn’t seem to cause him too much damage. After a quick call, she confirmed that the previous owner no longer wanted it. But, the previous owner said it was CURSED!

From what I remember, as the story goes, the previous owner bought the giraffe at auction when the pharmacy closed for her mother. But apparently the mother said it was too big and didn’t want it. The previous owner had tried to get rid of the giraffe several times. But, apparently, every time someone tried to take him out of the Blissfield village limits, they would experience car trouble, or some other kind of incident.

I took my chances with the curse and hauled him home. Not a single terrible fate befell me. That tells me it was fate. I was destined to own him.

Once I got him home, that was not the end of the story. Do you remember how I said I used to always go in to the pharmacy and hug his neck? Well, I was not the only one. And it appeared that most people chose to rub his nose, because there was not much left of it. It was time for another one of my unusual sewing projects (ex. Werecart). I spent a Sunday very carefully reconstructing his nose, knowing that if I screwed it up I would be destroying a cherished part of Blissfield history of my generation. Even with all that pressure, it came out quite good.

Before


After


I truly believe the Law of Attraction is how the giraffe came into my possession. I wanted him so badly back then and truly believed he should be mine that it became reality. I can no longer ever deny The Secret of the Law of Attraction. Of course, once I put a bed and a crib and shelf and a dresser in my son’s room, it because clear that there was no room for a giraffe as well. So, he happily hangs out in my dining room for now. And maybe the old ladies at the pharmacy knew something I didn’t. I do have something from that store that I didn’t pay for after all:)

The End


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