Growing up with a crafty mother made me into an ambitious, crafty woman. I have a lot of hobbies and I'm always taking on several projects at once. If you venture into my old bedroom you'll find half of the floor-space is used to store yarn for one of my favorite pastimes: knitting. My mother taught me to knit when I was very young, and it's something we've always done together. If you venture into my mother's "sewing room" you'll find just as much (if not more) yarn for knitting, but taking up more space is her fabric collection. My mother is a long-time quilter; she's enjoyed this hobby for years, but for whatever reason it was never one that we enjoyed together. I tend to take on my mothers ambitions, ideals and (duh) hobbies, but this is one that we unfortunately don't share.
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I recently moved out of my parents house and into a rental house with my boyfriend, and though I'd been staying with him for a long time (and while I only live 15 minutes away from them), it has actually been a fairly emotional month for me... I miss my mother! While browsing the knitting/quilting/crafting section at the library where I work, I came across a very appropriate book called Pink Ribbon Quilts. My grandma on my mother's side was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years back and had a successful mastectomy and recovery; It wasn't until afterwards that I learned that breast cancer runs on that side of the family. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, my grandma being a survivor, and my mother being a quilter, and me looking to spend more time with my mother, I think I've found something extra-special and incredibly fitting.
Awhile back I began hosting my first-ever write-off: a Breast Cancer Awareness Write-Off, in which I encouraged everyone to write about something, anything relating to breast cancer and breast health. Immediately after I posted about it we moved unexpectedly and have been busy and without internet access for quite some time. I'm embarrassed it took so long, but this is my own review entry in my first write-off.
Pink Ribbon Quilts, written by Mimi Dietrich, is a book about quilting for people who have breast cancer. Author Mimi Dietrich herself was diagnosed with breast cancer and she had a lumpectomy followed by six weeks of radiation and lived to write this book and share not only her experience, but her love of quilting with the rest of us. Dietrich begins this 80 page book with an introduction describing her experience with breast cancer and detailing how quilting helped her cope and keep a positive attitude. While she was sick, her quilting group, the "Village Quilters," sent her quilt blocks in lieu of cards or flowers per her request. After her successful recovery she made a quilt from signatured blocks, added a border of pink-ribbon fabric, and now she has a quilt to remember her battle with breast cancer and how the love of her friends and their shared passion for quilting got her through the tough time.
Following the heart-warming introduction is a small section introducing the projects included, as well as a section about suggested fabrics. Obviously Dietrich suggests using pinks, as pink is symbolic of breast cancer, but she also describes other symbols and colors that might be of interest. The author suggests looking for fabrics in quilt shops marked "Quilt for a Cure," as portions of those proceeds are donated towards breast cancer research. For those who want to include signatures (like the quilt squares Dietrich's friends sent her) there is also a section with tips to make this process easier.
Pink Ribbon Quilts includes directions and patterns for many breast cancer quilts and quilted projects. The projects are preceded by some words of wisdom that describe the reason for each breast cancer quilt. For example, the first quilt is called "Paper Pieced Ribbons" and before it are a few paragraphs about awareness. In this description, Dietrich explains what breast cancer awareness means and states that while "we really can't do anything about breast cancer just by being 'aware' of it... we can understand how important it is to face this problem." She also lists a few statistics as of the publishing of this book (1999): one out of nine women in the US will unfortunately develop breast cancer at some point in her lifetime (though that has sadly since changed to one out of eight). Another project is preceded by a section on positive attitudes, where the author gives breast cancer quilters some tips on staying positive and active with quilting. Following this sound advice is a quilt appropriately titled "When Life Gives You Scraps- Make a Quilt!" (My mother has a shirt that says this as well!) Each quilting project is pictured, covering a full page so you can see as much detail as possible. Following the picture are (of course!) the instructions.
After the twelve breast cancer quilt projects is a section on basic quilting techniques, like how to cut strips, squares and triangles, and how to do machine piecing among other things. The very last page lists resources for those dealing with breast cancer in one way or another.
Pink Ribbon Quilts by Mimi Dietrich is an excellent book. Coping with something as serious as breast cancer can be overwhelming and it is as important to support loved ones who have breast cancer as it is to support yourself when fighting breast cancer. Quilting is a hobby that keeps you occupied and happy, and when its for a good cause you really can't go wrong. Dietrich mentions a few times that when you're too weak to quilt, simply picking out quilt projects and fabric or reading quilting books can lift your spirits. Pink Ribbon Quilts not only details these breast cancer quilts, but also goes into detail about the importance of friends, family, and support. The directions are very detailed and complete and the full-sized pictures and descriptions will help you pick out the quilt that's appropriate for your situation.
I spoke with my mother this afternoon and mentioned this book to her. Though I've never crafted a complete quilt, we are both looking forward to leafing through this book and picking out a project to work on together.
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