WELCOME to my new blog: Manufacturing Sunshine under Terri Tomoff. I’m thankful and thrilled you are here in my new home…and so excited to get started.
My thinking for this very first post is to shed the light on why I selected the name, Manufacturing Sunshine; just in case you were wondering. It’s actually the name I came up with for a quilt I made in 2016/2017 time frame (perhaps a good segue from QuiltsFromTheHeart). Quilts could take a long time; from the planning stages to the final stitch. Quilts and everything about them are the fabric of my life. They have enriched me, and others, way beyond my wildest dreams.
Here is story behind the quilt…and this blog’s name:
Even before the quilt was an inkling, I began collecting brightly colored solids, including Cherrywood Hand Dyed fabrics, with deep gorgeous hues of blues/purples/pinks/yellows/oranges. Your basic ROY G BIV color way. I also did some hand-dying of my own fabric—Prepared For Dying (PDF) muslin at a few quilt retreats over the years. I loved the process but it takes time…lots of it.
I never cut into them.
Frankly, I did not have any idea on what to make with these delicious fabrics. Sure, I would pull them out and look at them, pet them for a short spell, then meticulously fold them all back and into their designated ziplock bags until the next time I decided to take a looksie at them.
When my son, Ryan, now 27 years old, was diagnosed with tongue cancer in May of 2016, our world became dark once again. Up until that time, he was cancer-free for 11 years. We rallied around him for years and through this first surgery, as difficult as that was, and life went on. The unthinkable happened when the tongue cancer came back on the other side six months later. He had another surgery in December as well as in January of 2017. It was a dark time of the year as he recovered. My moods in quiet moments were also quite dark. We were all heart-broken, but persevered as best as we could as individuals and as a family. I had to do something to get out of my funk.
In my book, The Focused Fight, I mentioned that sewing and quilting and the hum of my machines were the salve of our home-life. If mom was sewing, that meant everything was okay (or at least to the kids). But when I reflect back, I was swimming in grief and sorrow about my kid and his older sister. I knew I needed to keep sewing to keep my sanity. I needed to create my own sunshine on those dark days. I just had too. My home and family life depended (demanded?) it.
One day in all the hullabaloo I decided to take out all my hand-dyed fabrics. I wanted to lose myself in color and the richness of them all. It did not disappoint. I tested combinations of colors. I looked at patterns on how best showcase them. The best thing…I decided to not put them away after my initial petting. Instead, I secured my rotary cutter and made my first cut. Since I love working in half-square triangles, I decided that I would do a full quilt based on this method.
I got excited. I was onto something creative that was lifting my spirits in addition to daily exercising.
I cut and sewed night and day when feasible. I relished working in these fabulous colors and sueded fabrics.
In effect, I was manufacturing my own sunshine. Perhaps, others too. My family’s well-being the first thing that came to mind.
Knowing that my quilt guild’s annual show was coming up in March, I worked diligently to enter it and get ‘er done. As I filled out the registration form, I needed a name. Somehow I knew I wanted the name to include sunshine because I got a warm feeling while working on it time and time again. During the three months leading up to that registration moment though, I hadn’t realized what I was actually doing to reframe my mind. Turning the lemons into lemonade? A kind of chicken soup for the soul?
As I sat there at my computer, the lightbulb moment came to me. It lit up the room/mind/quilt – I would name the quilt: Manufacturing Sunshine. I typed it in and thought, ‘yes, this is the name that has given me back the sun, moon and stars, plus Ryan’s health, putting me and my family on the road to something better.”
I’m guessing others felt the same way at the quilt show in March of 2017 when they saw it hanging in all its colorful glory. The public votes on their favorite quilts.
Manufacturing Sunshine won a Blue Ribbon!
What I have learned is that I can make my own sunshine even on the darkest days.