Teal is the new pink

I heard on the radio yesterday — four days before the end of the month — that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer doesn’t get nearly the attention breast cancer does — did you know, for example, that teal is ovarian cancer’s pink? Though far more women are diagnosed with breast cancer (an estimated 192,000 in the U.S. this year, compared to 22,000 who will be diagnosed with ovarian), the number of women who die of each are much closer (about 40,000 this year for breast, 15,000 for ovarian). That’s because it’s so difficult to diagnose ovarian cancer — only 15% of cases are caught in stage one, before the cancer has spread. My mom survived ovarian cancer five years ago. She was incredibly lucky to be in that 15% — her gynecologist found the tumor during a regular yearly exam and told her that if her appointment had been six months earlier she probably wouldn’t have noticed it, and if it had been six months later it would have been too late. (If you don’t have regular exams, you must start!)

Not surprisingly, quilters are working together to raise both awareness and money for the disease. The Ovarian Cancer Awareness Quilt Project is based at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. In 2002, women in the center’s ovarian cancer support group made a quilt that was displayed at the that year’s International Quilt Festival in Houston. Since then hundreds of volunteers — mostly from Texas but from as far away as New York — have donated quilt blocks and quilts to be auctioned off to raise money for the center’s ovarian cancer research program. The second annual online quilt auction will take place next month from the 14th to the 28th.

Teal blocks hanging on the ceiling at Sunflower Quilts in Houston
Teal blocks hanging on the ceiling at Sunflower Quilts in Houston

Here’s a video about the preparations for this year’s auction and here’s the line-up of quilts. Last year the project raised $11,440 for research — it looks like it will raise much more this year. If you want to make a block (it can follow the teal ribbon pattern or not, as long as it includes some teal fabric) or donate a whole quilt, here are the instructions.

Catching up on quilts

Now that the book is done, I’m catching up on gift-making. I need to make quilts for two babies: Luka, who belongs to my friends Meg and Flo, and whose birth I witnessed all the way back in January, and Hunter, born on my birthday last month to one of my oldest friends. A couple of weeks ago I went to my favorite fabric shop, Purl Patchwork, and bought some fabric. Here’s a combo I think might make a lovely baby quilt, though I’m not sure it feels right for either of them.


I’m also working on a miniature quilt for my friend Matia, who is eleven and obsessed with horses. I’ve never pieced by hand before; I’m learning with the excellent instructions in Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match.

Here’s what I’ve managed so far:


I love how portable hand-piecing is. I can do a little at a time and work on it anywhere — on the train, watching Top Chef, waiting at the car wash. It has all the advantages of knitting, but it’s so much more fun.