The Magic of Houston – It began with Ice Cream

Ok, most of the great stories of my life include ice cream, so there’s nothing new with any of that.  This week, it’s Houston show time – Market was last weekend, and Festival is this weekend. I’m not there because I am working with a new show here in New Hampshire, the Connections Quilt Festival, which is next weekend.  I did both events last year – back to back, but this year’s show here is so much larger and more complex, that I knew I couldn’t do both – and being the responsible grown up, I chose to be, well, a grown up.  I am missing Houston a lot.  And I know I’m missing a lot in Houston – apparently, even baseball.

The “It” in the subject line of this post is a quilt, called Tranquilty Nights, that I (along with Cheryl Szynkowski) have hanging in the Houston show as part of the  Ovarian Cancer  Online Auction display.  For the casual reader, that’s a lot different than having a quilt hanging in Houston.  Trust me on this – or else I’ll have to explain it.   I have done several swaps and quilts in support of OVCR research – it’s a cause that is very close to my heart. Every other year, the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston hosts an online quilt auction, and this is our entry…there’ll be more information about the Auction, and how you can bid on the over 150 amazing quilts – all to benefit Ovarian Cancer research – at the end of this.

*This story keeps getting updated – I had no idea before the picture of the quilt with Cheryl at right was posted to Facebook yesterday that the quilt would be taken to the show and used as part of their information booth…but I logged on and there’s Cheryl – and the quilt.  TN is a queen sized quilt I designed using an asymetrical ‘rif’ of Jaybird Quilts Boomerang pattern, and a good portion of the last Island Batik Ambassador box.

So…where is Ice Cream in all of this?  And if it’s Houston, shouldn’t there also be Tequila?  Keep reading…

My friendship with Cheryl Szynkowski of North Port, Fl began several years ago in an ice cream line for the MQX Show in New England…two random people standing maybe not so patiently for a treat at the end of a long day. I had most likely been in the vendor mall, she in classes- or so I thought.   What I came to find out in that line was that Cheryl was truly experiencing ‘a trip from hell’…her purse (and ipad) had been stolen en route from FL to NH, and she had had to deal with all the ensuing crap ( tickets,  bank…etc) upon arrival in New Hampshire.  MQX took good care of her, making sure she had had what she needed for classes, etc…but the rest of the afternoon had been spent dealing with the logistics of everything.  That ice cream line was her belated arrival into the ‘swing of things’, and after she told me her story – I could sense that she was starting to have it hit her.  I saw her square her shoulders, look straight at me, and say…I’m hear to enjoy my quilting, the rest of the crap (ok, maybe that wasn’t her exact language) can wait til I get home.

I fell in love with her spirit at that time, as did several others in the line. We kind of adopted her – making sure she fell supported, was in the swing of things so to speak.  For the rest of that weekend, we all kind of kept tabs on how she was doing…a discrete, but concerned flock of new found friends.   It could have happened to any of us, but I wondered several times whether I would have been able to pull myself up as well as Cheryl did…she just has an indominable spirit, and over the course of the next several months, we kept in touch (via Facebook and  on the phone), until we found ourselves meeting in Houston again, last year.  We were staying at the same hotel, and booked a dinner one night after the show closed.  It was good to really be able to connect with her – and to discover how talented she is. Truly, amazingly gifted. I had some skills that she needed, and we agreed to barter together for my donation to the Ovarian Cancer auction quilt.  She and I blindly put our faith in one another – neither of us discussed details, or design…

Now, I am blessed beyond belief with many good girlfriends in this business, and I’m a huge believer in the power of supporting one another.  Besides Cheryl, I have worked with several very talented local long arm quilters in my time, and I have a wonderful working relationship with one who happens to live 5 miles away from me, and has my same sense of wacky sense of humor, and we play nicely together.  Terry Burris of Terry Burris Quilting was my absolute first phone call when I got home…I wanted to give her the entire backstory of this collaboration, and I wanted her to hear it from me personally.  Terry and Cheryl are both in Houston this week, and I’ve attempted to ‘hook them up’ together.  If it works, I’ll know because I’m sure I’ll get a tingle on the back of my neck.  And I have two personal shoppers on the floor…the texts I’m getting are funny.  Le Big sigh!

In January, I took the fabric out (along with my calendar).  The completed paperwork needed to be in Houston by May 1, and that meant that I needed to get the top to Cheryl with enough time in her queue that it could be done without rushing.  I love Boomerang, but I decided that I wanted to give it an asymetrical touch and only run down one side of the quilt.  I’ve never designed something like that as carefully (we’re talking drop lengths and pillow tucks and everything, and sent it to Cheryl in February.  She had not shared with me what her ideas were going to be until she started quilting it – talk about Quilter’s Choice.  This is the first quilt that Cheryl had ever done exploring her ‘inner modern quilter’….I tease her about that all the time.  Photo courtesy of Cheryl Szynkowski.

I know it’s really really difficult to see white on white quilting on a computer screen – I found this on one of Cheryl’s posts so that you can see the level of detail on it.  It truly is (to my eye) the epitome of a custom quilter going to town, and she added some unique touches along the way.

I do need to  tell you, in all honesty, that I’ve not seen the completed quilt in person…from my unquilted top, it went to Houston after she bound it.  We both agreed that it didn’t make any sense to keep sending it back and forth through the mail. Those of you who have the chance to get up close with it, and see it – do yourselves a favor and do that.

Cheryl called me from the show floor with some information about the auction that I didn’t have, and she sounded very excited.

There are over 150 quilts (from 24 states and the UK) which have been donated to this year’s auction.  The online auction is held every 2 years, and each year, the Auction is given space to showcase information about the auction and to showcase some of the donations.  They have been very early and vocal supporters of this effort – MD Anderson is in their hometown – and it’s an incredible honor for Tranquility to have been included in their exhibit space.  ALL of the quilts – and there are over 150 of them – are available to see (and bid on) here.   The mission statement of the Auction is as follows:

The 2017 online quilt auction will benefit the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Through innovative research, this program aims to develop effective screening methods and ultimately a cure for ovarian cancer. The online auction also raises awareness

 for ovarian cancer and its symptoms.

On that phone call from Cheryl yesterday, she asked me if she can do the 2019 quilt.  Anyday you want to work with me, all day long.

Back to name badges…




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