This week we hear from And I Quilt personality, Dorien Keusseyan. Dorien is a hockey player, a mom, and she quilts. Before COVID, Dorien led an active, busy life as an athlete and mother, but always found time for quilting.
A pandemic has a way of changing what everyday life looks like. But it didn’t change Dorian’s love of quilting and giving. She dug deep into her favorite endeavor to find a place of peace. And she found a way to comfort a friend along the way. Here’s her story:
My COVID escape
Quilting keeps me going, especially in these most recent times of uncertainty. My hours used to be filled with a part-time job and sports, both playing and watching. When COVID-19 hit, and hit hard, it turned so many people’s worlds around, including mine. These freed-up hours left me with less of an identity in a way, too, and with no real good news on the news, unrest started to overtake me. I needed an escape. My Handi Quilter Amara did just this for me.
It was during those first few months that I, like so many of us with the gift of sewing talent, turned to my machines for mask-making. Making masks for friends, family, and donation kept my mind busy and made me feel like I was making a difference. I did make a difference. We all made a difference, a very important difference. I am thankful for keeping my family safe and share that with others.
Once I made a few hundred masks, I turned to my quilting, a more artistic outlet. I have always been a better person when busy, so that’s what I did, I kept busy with Ms. Amara. Since the COVID shut down I pieced and gave away 9 quilts, most of them queen sized! Imagine, my husband thought I’d never use all the fabric I had. I continue to sew and quilt several hours each day. I also quilted many benefit quilts for my guild. I try to do ten each month.
I managed to quilt for hire a bunch of tops for some folks near me too. Quilting and spreading love and happiness puts me in my happy place. Buying my Handi Quilter was perhaps one of the best and most fulfilling things I have ever done. Not only is my studio my favorite place in the house, it makes me feel complete. I am part of a community, the Handi Quilter community, and feel like we are all family.
Quilting demands attention to detail and focus, which clears my head. This escape is amazing. I love creating and showing off the finished product, social media is a great forum for this. Cruising social media groups is also a great place for collecting ideas for projects. Often when I am stumped for an idea for a place to start with a top, I turn to the internet.
Bringing the community together
One of those nine quilts that I made during the early part of COVID really brought my community together when we needed it most. The school nurse at Arlington High School, Sarah Lee Bolt, who is a friend and neighbor, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I happened to be at the gym, where I worked as a personal trainer, with another friend and neighbor who informed me of this. This client at the gym mentioned to me that the signup genie was all full, so I thought, there’s gotta be something I can do for her, as she has done so much for our community and my sons in particular. I’m betting you can guess what I did? Yup, made a quilt.
It was a community effort though! I ironed muslin onto freezer paper. Thankfully, I had it on hand since all the shops were closed. And started an email and texting effort to get other friends and neighbors of hers to write inspiration and healing messages on these squares with fabric markers. I planned to put them together into a quilt.
After a few weeks and lots of coordination, I had 48 blocks! I can’t tell you how many people who got the bag with the blocks were in tears after reading the finished blocks. It still brings goose pimples to me just typing this. Once complete, we neighbors organized a car parade that actually made the local news!
This quilt was incredibly uplifting for her and got me thru that first month, when I wasn’t sure how long things were going to be like they are – this new normal. My new normal includes escaping with everything quilting!
Thanks, Dorien! I think so many of us quilters can relate to your story. Keep on quilting, it’s a life safer!