Monday, December 31, 2012

Free Motion Quilting Year-in-Review

I made it!  I completed all twelve challenges, plus one alternate challenge from SewCalGal's Free Motion Quilting Challenge.  Not only that, I completed each one in the month that it was presented.  I did almost all of the challenges on bits of scrap from my stash, but some of them I did "for real."

Year in Review (a little bit of everything)

I want to thank SewCalGal for all of the hard work that went into presenting this challenge.  Without it, and the deadlines, I'd still be puttering around, wondering if I could do this. It is amazing how much I have improved between now and January.  I look back at my first wobbly pieces and think, "Wow, I've come a long way!"  Now if I had just practiced all month long each month, rather than cramming everything in during the last week, or even last days, thank how much better I'd be.

The guest challengers were all great and I took something away from each of their tutorials.  I've already used several of the techniques in "real" projects. I really, really appreciate each and every one of you and the time you've donated to us!  

And to all the quilters at the FMQ Challenge Facebook page, all I can say is "WOW!!!"  You all have inspired me, encouraged me, and amazed me, at your pieces.  It's been a real pleasure and privilege sharing this challenge with you.

I learned to "just do it, you'll get better," "practice, practice, practice," "train your memory on paper first, it'll be easier at the sewing machine," "check the back of your piece BEFORE you get too far into the project," and many more quilting tidbits!  You've challenged me to do feathers (in February, only the second month!!), to try different threads and battings. I have learned so much and will be able to apply it to many future projects. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! And happy Quilting!

Kathy R.

PS Did I mention "check the back of your piece BEFORE you get too far into the project?  I think I learned that one several times! 

A Great Finish!

December's Free Motion Quilting Challenge from SewCalGal was from Patsy Thompson.  I had found a few of her videos online already, and really appreciated them.  Patsy chose to challenge us with borders.  It was a great way to wrap up all of the tutorials that I had already done.

Finished in time!

For June's challenge I used some silky gray fabric and it turned out beautiful.  It really seemed to hide the mistakes better than cotton.  During the summer, my daughter, Lisa, and I had gone to a yard sale of a quilter/crafter who was trying to clean out some of her stash.  Lisa found me a beautiful piece of dark chocolaty brown satin and suggested I do something with it.

Well, all fabric has to age (like fine wine, really!), so I set it aside until now.  I thought it would lend itself perfectly to the concentric borders pattern that Patsy shared.  I used my walking foot to quilt the squares.  It handled that silky, slippery fabric perfectly!

The poinsettia in the center is my own design (as much as a poinsettia can be someone's design, one looks pretty much like another), all done free-hand.



The concentric borders are from Patsy's tutorial.  They are also done free-hand with no measuring other than the already quilted squares. 

See those spirals?  Don't they look nice?  They were almost the end of me.  I had done the two borders on either side using Gutterman brown thread on top and some cheap black serger thread on the bottom.  I decided I'd do the spirals in a contrasting rayon thread.  I tested it out on a scrap sandwich and, since it was working so well, went to my satin piece.  I got the first row done, turned it over to check the back to make sure it was working well, and my heart sank.  I had flipped my piece over and was putting the decorative rayon thread on the back!  I took an hour or more to laboriously pick those threads out, trying not to make the satin fabric run.

Borders in a different light.  Look at the beautiful decorative stitch on the binding!

I finished off the binding by machine, sewing it on the back and wrapping it to the front where I used one of the spiffy stitches on my new sewing machine to tack it down.  Had to do that because, once again, it's the end of the month and I'm scrambling to meet the deadline.

I used 80/20 cotton/polyester batting left over from my tree skirt.  I am very happy to say that working with the brown satin and this batting was a dream.  No broken threads at all, compared to the struggle I had with that tree skirt (remind me to avoid metallic thread for a while). I am really pleased with how well this turned out.  I have it here next to my computer and I keep "petting" it.

The finished piece again.

Hope you enjoyed this month's challenge as much as I've enjoyed sharing it!

Kathy R.

Why my "homework" was almost late!

I managed to get my December Challenge done for Free Motion Quilting Challenge, but more about that later.  Most of the month of December, however, was spent in getting ready for Christmas - I hosted our extended family this year, which means a "super clean" of the house, and boy did it need it!  Since I tend to gravitate towards quilting and other fun pursuits instead of house-cleaning, my annual super-clean took a good week to complete.

In addition to cleaning I finally decided to finish a project that I'd been planning and working on for a good year and a half (or maybe it was two and a half) - a Christmas Tree Skirt.  I got it done with just enough time to wash it on gentle (to get the markings out) and dried before everyone got here on Christmas Eve.

The FINISHED Tree Skirt

Love this pattern!

I used a great pattern from Chickadee Hollow Designs.  It's a Log Cabin sewn around a hexagon.  It was quite easy to piece.  I've made several of these table-toppers, but decided to modify it by slitting it up one side and cutting a hole in the middle to accommodate the tree trunk.

This book has nice continuous line quilting motifs.

I used the holly, doves and tree motifs from "501 Quilting Designs" from Quiltmaker magazine.  I traced them using Don Lin's tulle pattern technique that I learned in April.  It worked great!


I used gold metallic thread for all of the quilting and ended up swearing grumbling quite a bit because it had a strong tendency to break. 


The doves weren't continuous line, but I like doves to start with, and I thought they'd be perfect for this project.


And I just had to make trees on a tree skirt!  These were very forgiving.  You do know that not all trees are exactly the same, don't you?

center tree

I made my own pattern for the large trees in the center - a tree that matches the ones in the border, with a diamond "star" added in the middle.

stars and loops
To finish off the quilting, I did stars and loops in the portions between the trees.  I had to piece the backing, and that metallic thread kept breaking every time I went over the seam.  So, I marked where the seam was on the top and avoided it.  I finally got all the stars done and turned it over only to find that the tension had messed up when I changed a bobbin.  I had to take all of one section of stars out! ARGH!

the back


But I persevered and the back looks good too! I even added Velcro to the slit so it would stay closed.  Unfortunately, I discovered that the lower branches of the tree sit right on top of the tree stand so it doesn't quite fit the way I wanted it to, but it still looks good!

Here's another view or two...

one section

another view

I used 80/20 cotton/polyester batting.  Other than the metallic thread breaking, the batting worked great.  I washed the tree skirt in cold water, but then I dried it in the dryer on regular.  I was running out of time!  It shrunk a bit, but not so much that it bothers me.

I got the tree skirt all done (in time for Christmas!) and then put presents on top of it, and it's on the floor... and it's really hard to show off down there!  Oh well, I know it's beautiful!  But I sure wouldn't mind you "ooh"ing and "ahh"ing over it!  ;-)

Merry Christmas and Happy Quilting!

Kathy R.

Friday, November 30, 2012


Wow, November flew past!  This month's FMQ Challenge from SewCalGal was all about spirals.  Sara Vedeler shared an excellent tutorial about them and even gave us some paper practice sheets.  I practiced on those paper sheets quite a bit, but was never satisfied with how my spirals came out.  This pattern looks simple, but I had a heck of a time trying to get my spirals to cross in the right spot, keep the lines within them evenly spaced, and get them more than somewhat round,  Mine kept coming out squished, and you'd think I never traced a line before in my life.  So, I kept putting off doing spirals at my sewing machine on actual fabric.

Add to that, a side trip to South Carolina where my whole family (sisters, brother, cousin, and their children, grandchildren and significant others) except my step-mother (who was there via Skype) was gathered.  We had 25 for Thanksgiving Dinner!  With 22 of us staying at the house, it was wall-to-wall air mattresses.  We had a blast!

Wall-to-wall air mattresses!
I have to blame it all on my niece, Amy, who had volunteered to make two t-shirt quilts and then floundered just a bit.  She happened to post on Facebook that it would be nice if Aunt Kathy were there to show her how to do it, and voila!  Road trip was planned!

Amy has done a wonderful job of piecing the quilts.  And we managed to get a few hours to sit down and play with some stitch-in-the-ditch and free-motion quilting.  My sister-in-law, Nancy, sat in on the discussion too.  I am honored that Amy thought I knew enough to help her out.  It is so cool to be able to pass on this love of quilting!  I did leave her with a quilting mantra... one that I would do well to remember too!

There is NO WRONG WAY to quilt a quilt!  No one will ever know all of the ideas you dismissed in favor of something easier.  No one will ever know that that quilting line there was supposed to be straight instead of squiggly.  No one will ever know...

I got back home to western New York with only a week to get my FMQ challenge piece done.  Yikes, our big holiday bazaar at church is this Saturday!  I had "homework" that I needed to get done before my challenge - .

First, I drew a grid.  There was no way I was going to accomplish this without it!!

So, now it's Friday night, November 30th, and I've finally managed to get one and a half pieces done. My first spirals are squished in places, and rather mis-shapened.  This is not a pattern that you can pick up overnight. 

My first go round, pun intended ;-)
I saw quite a bit of improvement on my second piece - my spirals were looking better, but my thread kept breaking.  It's getting late, and I was getting frustrated, so I decided to call it a night and post my pictures.

My second try - the spirals are getting more round and evenly spaced!
The small spirals on my second piece. 

More practice is definitely called for!  But I like the pattern, and I thank SewCalGal for sharing, and for the wonderfully detailed tutorial from Sara!

I need to figure out why my thread keeps breaking.  I don't think it's the tension.  The top thread shreds so that I end up with just a teeny thin part of it threaded through the needle with the rest of it balling up above the needle. It does this with several different types of thread, and several different types and sizes of needles.  Currently, a size 16 needle seems to work the best.  If anyone has any thoughts about what I can try to rectify the problem, I'll be happy to listen!

Until next time, remember the quilting mantra...

There is NO WRONG WAY to quilt a quilt!

Kathy R.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Not Your Normal Feathers and Flowers

When I saw the alternate challenge for October in the Free Motion Quilting Challenge, with guest teacher, Diane Loomis I thought, "That looks cool, I always wondered how to do that."  Diane shared her method of trapunto quilting.  The pattern was a heart surrounded by feathers.  Now, I love the quilted feathers.  Some of the work that's been done on the FMQ Challenge is just phenomenal, and I certainly need more practice.  But I'm getting a little bit tired of them and I've been wanting to do something different.

A very good friend of mine "poo-poos" quilting - he has other redeeming qualities.  He just doesn't see the artistic beauty and workmanship in the patterns and colors of quilts.  He also happens to be a huge Iron Man fan - not just of the recent movies, but going back thirty years.  A few weeks ago he said "The only good quilt is one with Iron Man on it."  Never one to pass up a challenge like that (you should see the dust bunnies that I made for my nephew after he said he collected them.) I started thinking about how I could incorporate Iron Man into a quilt.

STEP 1 + STEP 2 = STEP 3
Then I had a "eureka!" moment.  The trapunto method would be the perfect way to show Iron Man's armor in a three-dimensional format.  I started by going to Google Images and entering "Iron Man."  From there I narrowed it down to black and white images and came up with a half dozen or so that I thought would work.  I chose one of the simplest ones to start with.  Thanks to SewCalGal and Don Linn's April challenge I knew how to mark my fabric.  I used Don's tulle transfer method.

So, without further adieu, here is my trapunto piece, the alternate October challenge...

...definitely not your normal feathers and flowers, but it's normal according to me!  :-)

STEP 4 Figure out how to add some color to it.  On my next practice piece I will probably machine applique the red and yellow bits and use thread/quilting to add in any black highlights.  I've also considered using paint, but I don't want the fabric to be stiff, and I want it to be washable/usable.  I am open to suggestions!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October's Challenge!

October's FMQ Challenge

Whew, got it done!  October's Free Motion Quilting Challenge was from Teri Lucas, who challenged us to use a combination of batting, such as wool, silk, or bamboo, and experiment with different types and weights of thread, on silk fabric.  True to form, I waited till the last minute, though I did do my "practice on paper" ahead of time.

Paper Practice
I didn't have any wool or silk batting laying around, and I wanted to find some different threads to play with.  Saturday was my birthday, so I dragged my husband to Joann's to see what I could scare up.  I already had worked with bamboo batting, so I picked up some wool stuff.  There wasn't a silk option.  I also found some silk thread to play with.

I had some "homework" for my church's annual Holiday Bazaar (we bazaar ladies sew all year round) that I needed to get done.  I fired up my machine on Monday evening and did a nice little sunflower panel.  Everything worked great.  Then Tuesday, I was planning on doing another fall piece for the Bazaar and then work on my challenge piece, giving me lots of time to finish it up today. But darn it, the thread kept shredding and breaking!  I never did finish the fall piece, and I didn't start my challenge piece until today, the last day of the month!

For my top fabric, I used a scrap leftover from making my daughter, Lisa's prom dress.  It is a beautiful shade of teal, but my pictures make it look quite blue.  

Brandon and Lisa
It took me a couple of hours, but got it done in time.  As I was quilting it, I was thinking that my lack of practice during the month was really showing.  My "backtracking" stitches weren't very good, and my pebbles weren't very round.  But looking at it now, I'm thinking it's pretty good.  Amazing what stepping away from something for a while and then taking a fresh look does for you. :-)

I thought my name was going to give me problems since when I write, I pick up my pen to do the second half of the "K," but I figured it out.  The nautilus shells were tough.  Even on paper I couldn't get the inside lines consistently curved the same.  And I have large and small spaces in them.  

Here's the details for those interested:
  • Lisa's silky prom dress fabric on top
  • wool batting from Joann's
  • a scrap piece of thin cotton batting
  • muslin on the back
  • mostly used a size 14 quilting needle
  • also used a size 16 universal needle

  • outside square and nautilus shells and bubbles - gray Coats and Clark polyester trilobal
  • inner outside square- ivory Talon 100% cotton quilting thread
  • "Kathy" and echoes - gold mystery thread, possibly Coats and Clark rayon (hate it when the labels fall off!!)
  • clamshells - black Coats and Clark Dual Duty XP 100% polyester - this is the only thread I had trouble with, it broke two or three times.
  • feather - teal Gutermann 100% silk
  • plump feather - navy JPCoats rayon 40 wt. - the only thread that told me what weight it was.  Why do they leave that important information off the label? ...probably the same label designer that uses the cheap glue so the labels fall off!
  • tiger stripes (top right-hand corner) - YLI metallic silver

Another camera shot that shows the quilting better.

All in all it was interesting to work with the different threads.  The two layers of batting for the whole piece were a bit too much, I think.  But the alternate challenge for the month was using two layers under part of the design for a trapunto affect.  That worked and looked much better (more on that another day). This challenge pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is great.  How else am I supposed to learn new things?

I've still got a nice chunk of wool batting to play with.  Can't wait to see how it quilts, feels and looks on its own instead of layered with the other batting.

Happy Quilting!


Friday, September 28, 2012

It's not September 30th!

Look, it's not the last day of September!  And I've got my September challenge done.  This is in large part due to my daughter (a fellow quilter!) who reminded me that this was the last week of September.  I thought I had another week to play with this.  Okay, so I admit it, I am a procrastinator... queen of the last minute "oh no, it needs to be done when?!!"

I've been a bit distracted because I am so looking forward to going on  an annual "quilt trip" with the York Towne Quilt Guild to the Lancaster, PA area.  Four quilt shops, one dinner theater, and stops at the Wilbur Chocolate Factory and/or Sturgis Pretzels.  We'll have fun on the bus and get to peruse beautiful fabric and patterns to our heart's content.  What could be better!

For the September Free Motion Quilting Challenge SewCalGal brought us a feathered circle tutorial from Paula Reid.  It required transferring the pattern to my fabric and then quilting on the line.  The pattern came from The Pattern Company.  I'd rather quilt without a pattern, it's much easier than following a line (mistakes don't show as much), but I gave it a shot.  
I was going to do this on a piece of beautiful blue silky fabric leftover from my daughter's prom dress, tracing the pattern using Don Linn's tulle technique.  Unfortunately, I've misplaced my tulle, so I pulled out some plain white fabric that I could see through well enough to trace the pattern with my trusty disappearing blue marker.

Amazing how well a new marker works.  No more struggling with the nearly dried out one.

Must be I've been improving, because it was much easier than I thought it would be.  I did some close stippling around the circle to make it really pop.  My piece turned out quite nice if I say so myself!  I'll find my tulle after I get back from my quilt trip and try this again.  I really like the pattern and can see me using it in some future quilt.

A few spritzes with some water, and voila!
That's all for now.  I'm off on a road trip tomorrow, yipee!

Happy quilting,


Friday, August 31, 2012

August Challenge - Jester Hats or Tilt-a-Whirls

 SewCalGal's challenge this month came from Wendy Sheppard.  It's an all-over pattern she calls "jester hats."  It looks deceptively simple, but gave quite a few of us a challenge.

My finished jester hats
I didn't have much time to quilt this month - my daughter, Lisa, and I have been working on the interior of our "porch," with help from her fiance.  It's really a three-season room now.  The project has been in the works for over five years and we finally got to the drywalling stage.  So all month long I've been coming home from work, changing into my grungy clothes and slapping "mud" (aka drywall compound) on the joints and screw holes.  Okay, "slapping" is not the right word.  I'm too much of a perfectionist.  A professional would have had it done in only a day or two, but it took me a good deal longer, and boy are my neck and shoulders sore!

Then, when I did get a chance to quilt the temperature was in the 90's.  TOO HOT in my sewing room!  I had been drawing page after page of jester hats, and like many of the quilters in the challenge, was having a problem with them.  They just didn't look the same as Wendy Sheppard's!  The spacing was off, I only seemed to be going in one direction (diagonally) and I kept getting trapped.

This is my fourth or fifth attempt at drawing.
I finally printed out one of the pictures and traced that several times. Then I went back to my paper, and low and behold I got it!  Several folks mentioned that when they thought of the pattern as a dance it helped.  Well, I'm not a dancer, so that didn't help me!  But it started feeling more natural when I started thinking of a tilt-a-whirl - you know, that carnival/fair ride?  You twirl and twist as you're going around in a circle and then, whoops! You're going the opposite direction.  My mantra (which helped me loads!) was "bump, bump, BIG curl, bump, bump, BIG curl..."

They're finally getting more even!

Since I haven't been piecing much this summer, what with the porch and the heat and all, I didn't have a project that needed quilting.  So, I used a scrap piece of muslin and some pieced together batting that I had laying around.  It's nothing special, but my challenge is done!  I'll definitely put this pattern in my repertoire.  It's a great, fun looking pattern for large spaces.

I did finally admit to myself that I can't use the cheap thread on top though.  I struggled through lots of breaking threads (pink, teal, blue, dark purple and light purple) and just crummy looking stitches before I broke down and used my good stuff.  I really want to use up the junk stuff for my practice, but it's not worth the headache!  It did seem like it worked okay in the bobbin, so maybe I can get rid of it there.

Same piece but different lighting to show the texture better.

The other thing I learned was that I tend to move my fabric too quickly around the big curves.  This gave me great practice in getting my hand and foot/machine speed to match up!

Here's Lisa applying the first coat of mud.  The mudding is done and Lisa put a primer coat on before she headed back to college last week.  I really, really appreciate her help.  We've chosen a soft peach color for the porch, and she's planning on painting it on her first long weekend.  I hope the weather cooperates!

Lisa applying the first coat of mud.

Good thing the ceiling isn't any higher!
Happy Quilting!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July's FMQ Challenge - Tiles!

Despite my best intentions, I did not get to practice much on my FMQ this month.  It has turned out to be one of the hottest summers in Western New York on record!  And, unfortunately, my sewing room is upstairs on the west side of the house with no air conditioning (we really don't usually need it here!).  So, I've only had a few days to practice and get my challenge piece done this month. 

But what a challenge!  Our challenger/teacher this month was Angela Walters, a phenomenal long-arm quilter.  She showed us how to break a large area up into "tiles," squares that looked like they were overlapping. 

Here's my piece, quilted on muslin with a cotton/polyester batting scrap pieced together for the innards.  I used some old serger thread in the bobbin (I've got to use it up, and it didn't give me any problems!), and some Coats and Clark Tri-lobal polyester for the top thread in a contrasting greyish/silver color.  The label came off the spool so I'm not 100% sure what it is, but it looks good!

I apologize for the fuzziness of the picture.  I had a lot of fun with this challenge.  It was a great way to try out several of the Leah Day FMQ Project designs that I had my eye on (angles and circles, beaded curtain, beaded lace, flower ball, flower skeleton, icicle lights, striated earth, sunshine, swirl, wiggly tentacles), in addition to a couple of the past challenges (January's leaves, February's feathers, and May's railroad tracks, ) 

I did mark the tiles with a water soluble blue marker.  I know myself well enough to know that I can't sew a straight line unless I have something to follow!  I also marked the center of the flower on the lower right, and the diagonal lines of my leafy vines on the left.  Apparently I can't follow straight lines even when I draw them in, as my leafy vines went a little off-kilter.  I think there was a breeze or something that came through!

I decided to cut the piece into quarters and make them into placemats for my church's annual holiday bazaar (first Saturday in December at the Geneseo United Methodist Church, Geneseo, NY).  I had left-over gray silky fabric from last month's project that I though would match the top thread perfectly.  It had some water/age stains on it so I thought I'd try hand washing it and making it a bit crinkly.  Especially since I know if the placemats are washed the silky fabric will end up crinkly anyways.

Placemats (still need binding)

I started sewing the binding on using the integrated walking foot, I think it's called the Acu-Feed system, on my new Janome 6600. Rats! I started sewing it from the wrong side.  I only had a couple of inches sewn, so it wasn't much of a problem to take it out and start over.  I only sewed the binding on one mat as I wanted to get at least one done so I could show all of my adoring fans (all eight of you!), how it turned out.

Finished!  The picture just doesn't do it justice.
Anyways... I started hand sewing the binding down and discovered, I had sewn it on the back side to be folded over to the front.  I must have had a giant mental blip when I was machine sewing the binding, because I had it right the first time!  Oh well, I wasn't about to take it all out now.  That silky fabric frays way to much.  So, I'll have a Sesame Street set of placemats..."Three of these things belong together... One of them just isn't the same!"  I'll sew the other three correctly, assuming I put my brain in gear before operating the sewing machine.

That's all for now.  Happy quilting!  And if you don't quilt... happy oohing and aahing over your loved one's projects!


Friday, June 29, 2012

June's FMQ Challenge Piece

I was so excited to see Cindy Needham's challenge on SewCalGal's Free Motion Quilting Challenge. This "divide and conquer" design is part of what started my FMQ internet search 9 months ago.  I have been absolutely blown away by the support, growth and talent shown on the associated Facebook page. 

Some of these folks have been quilting on satin-type fabric.  Those pieces have looked phenomenal, but I figured that the slippery fabric would be too hard to work with.  But when I came across a large piece that had been water stained and was good for nothing else, I thought, "What the heck, why not?"

So, without further ado, here is my piece for the June Challenge.


I am absolutely thrilled with how this turned out.  Not only was the silky fabric easy to work with, but it hid a multitude of mistakes - places where I had wandered when I traveled, not quite round circles, and just plain "oopses."  

As I said, Cindy's challenge was perfect for me. I have doodled these designs my whole life.  In fact, within the last year I had done this one:

Now I find out that someone has labeled my type of doodling "Zentangles."  Who knew?  If I had just thought to publish my doodles I could be rich and famous!  I had shown a couple of my friends this particular one, and both of their reactions were, "You should quilt that!"  Riiggght...Sure... I'll get right on it. NOT!!  At the time I couldn't see any way, short of working with an overhead projector and tracing the doodle onto a large piece of fabric, to quilt this.

Enter Leah Day and her wonderful Free Motion Quilting Project with 365 designs and I had a glimmer of an idea.  Then this month Cindy shows up and voila!  I'm off and running.  I started with some more doodles, this time done in color.  My future son-in-law gave me some great pens for Christmas, I just had to use them!

And then I started on some practice sandwiches.  I wasn't very happy with the results.  I was using "normal" Coats & Clark sewing thread and found that it had a tendency to break when I sewed over the same line multiple times.  Since these were practice pieces I just trimmed the threads close, rethreaded, and kept on going.

first practice piece

My second piece was on scrap fabric, which was quite busy.  You can see the design better on the back.  It's not filled up yet, so I will go back to it and practice some more.  I'm finally learning to move my hands slower.

second practice piece - front

second practice piece - back

Here's some more close ups of my silky satin piece.  And one with a pen in it for scale.  I used some tri-lobal polyester on it in a matching gray. I think it was 40 wt, but the label has come off of the bobbin.  I don't think the thread broke once!  I just keep "petting" it.  It looks and feels so neat!

Thank you so much, Cindy, for showing me the way!  I can't wait to get back to my new machine and do some more!

Happy Quilting, if you're a quilter.  If not... just ooh and ahh over your friend's quilting projects!

Kathy R.

A Six-Letter Word

This week marks the anniversary of my receiving the news that I had breast cancer.  Cancer is a six-letter word that has much more impact than any four letter word that I know.  Of course, when you hear that six-letter word applied to yourself or one of your loved ones, more often than not, several four-letter words ensue.

I am very happy to say that I have been cancer free for nearly two years (that anniversary is July 30th!).  But I wanted to share a special event that I recently took part in – The American Cancer Society’s “Relayfor Life.”  This fund-raising event is a “relay” event that lasts 12 hours, with someone walking at all times. ACS Relays are held in towns throughout the United States.  The ACS provides support 24/7 for people affected by cancer.  They also fund a great deal of research.  In the past two years not only myself, but two sisters-in-law, my father, and four friends were diagnosed with cancer.  My father passed away.  I walked in this relay in honor and in memory of them.


I am not a fundraiser.  I hate asking for money.  But thanks to family and friends that supported me financially, and those that joined me at the relay, our team, named “Survival is NOT Enough… Find a Cure! raised more than $1,800.00!!  I was thrilled to have to keep raising my goal because we kept meeting it!  The “Relay” in Honeoye Falls, NY raised nearly $62,000.00. 


Our team "tent" with Matt, Chandra and Chris

The "Survival is NOT Enough" Team!
Front: Sue, Joan, Lisa, Chandra, Chris, Barb, Jo, Katie;
Back: Scott, Brandon, Matt, Kathy (Me), Bruce, Steve, Eric;
Missing: Kaitlyn and Tyler

My husband Bruce and daughter, Lisa, surprised me with team t-shirts.  I think they helped us win the “most team spirit” award.  That and my sister, Chris, and I played one of the games in which we were the only adults that took part – we kind of stood out as 50+ year old “youngsters” amongst the kids!  ;-)   

My sister-in-law, Sue, walked the “Survivor’s Lap” with me.  Quite an accomplishment considering that just a year ago her sacrum (the bone that connects the hip to the spine” was removed and she had reconstructive surgery.  My friend, Chandra, brought us chocolate-covered strawberries.  I think my son, Matt, had two strawberries for every lap he took!  Chandra kept track of the laps she walked and figures she walked about ten miles!! 


the luminarias in the staging area - this is only about half of them

At dusk we lit luminarias in honor of or in memory of family and friends, and then walked a candle-lit lap.  It was very moving.

Chris and Matt lighting a luminaria - what teamwork!
The reason we keep Matt around is because he can reach the top shelf (that and we love him)

only a few of the lined up luminarias
more luminarias

As I said in an email I sent to friends and family, I am sick of the slicing and dicing, the chemotherapy and radiation.  There has got to be a better way.  I think it is time to eliminate that six-letter word and find a new four-letter word… C U R E!!  Please consider supporting the American Cancer Society, either through support of a friend who is taking part in a “Relay for Life,” or by donating directly to the ACS.  If you wish to support the “Survival is NOT Enough” team directly, you can do so by visiting this website and entering either our team name or my name (Kathy Rosier) in the appropriate box on the right hand side.  If you’re not able to help financially (believe me, I’ve been in that boat!), support us with prayers, hugs, uplifting words, or even chocolate-covered strawberries.  It is all very much appreciated!

We all need hope.

Ladies, do your breast self-exams monthly and get your annual pap smear.  Don't be afraid to call your doctor and say "it's not exactly a lump, but it's different than normal."  The life you save may be your own! 

Okay, getting off my soapbox now and getting back to the regularly scheduled program.  :-)

PS Sorry about the weird picture layout. I keep trying to get more than one picture on a line (pictures side by side) but it messes everything up.  If anyone had suggestions I'll take them!