My husband's mother, sister and aunts are quilters.
Ok, that doesn't accurately describe them. They are masters. I've never seen such talent. They've placed in national contests and have won multiple awards. They teach classes, go on retreats and visit quilt stores in the smallest of towns.
They love their craft and thank goodness they do. It's wonderful that they have so much passion for an art that is hundreds of years old. Especially when there are machines that'll make quilts for you.
My family benefits from their talent as we have a ton of quilts. When Texas froze, we sure as heck didn't! Some of the quilts they've made for me hang on my wall because they're just too beautiful to fold up and put in a trunk.
Here's one of the first ones my mother-in-law made for me. It's a Log Cabin quilt. The colors are gorgeous, but the piecing around the star is amazing.
This next one my sister-in-law made. (Can you figure out that I like my state?) This one has such intricate quilting. You might be able to see the blue thread on the white part of the flag. She's won awards for her quilting.
These are pieces of art, but more importantly, they have stories. And while they are stitched together, stories are told around them. I think one of the most lovely activities from the past are quilting bees. I'm so glad my family keeps this tradition alive.
I had to put this custom into one of my books, and my most current release, THE COWBOY'S EMBRACE, had the perfect moment. I've shared an excerpt below and an image of the square the heroine, Lily Spero, sews into the quilt.
It's so wonderful that these stitches, made by loving hands over countless hours, will carry on through the generations after me.
Deacon Tolbert is the foreman and a contributing partner to the Swinging A Ranch. He's carved a niche in the world all his own, finally feeling worthy of the goodness he's found for himself. But when Lily Spero arrives, the girl he abandoned years ago, he's forced to face the most gut-wrenching moment of his life.
Despite the pain, love surprises them and blossoms, bringing hope for the future. But the villain from the past comes to haunt them, to steal what they're trying to build. Deacon and Lily must brave vile evil in order to stay together, and fight with all they have to keep the promises they made to each other.
THE COWBOY'S EMBRACE: AN EXCERPT
Deacon cupped Lily's shoulder and gave it a comforting squeeze before continuing. “One of the ladies, Esther Epperson, asked if you’d have time to help sew a square onto a quilt the ladies are making, and I fear if you choose to listen to me speak to the men, you might cause a rift with the women.”
Lily wouldn’t dare slight the feelings of people she’d just met. "Of course. I'd love to help." She had hoped to be a help to Deacon, to assist him in finding words that would inspire the men of Bordersville to take the necessary steps for their race. But it was more important to make a connection with folks before she started blazing trails. “Besides, I’d like to contribute to the project. We ladies tell stories through our sewing.”
He ran his hand down her arm and looked at her with love.
“None of that now.” Esther marched toward them, her strides that of a general with a mission. Lily had a feeling she organized the neighborhood events and led the families of Bordersville through daily life.
“We don’t show our affection in public here,” the woman continued. “Least of all in front of the Sister Aunts.”
Hazel sucked air through her teeth and rolled her eyes. “You’re too young for that attitude. He could kiss her all he wants.”
The gleam in the older woman’s eyes made Lily chuckle and Deacon to take her up on her offer. He planted his lips on hers for a brief second then lifted his head and winked at the ladies. They tittered while he tipped his hat and sauntered away.
Esther harrumphed and muttered under her breath that his behavior was unfitting then took Lily by the elbow. “Come on in to my house,” she commanded, though not rudely. “I have tea and the quilt already set up.”
All the women followed her to a home in the center of the first row where some females already sewed. After making more introductions, Lily found a seat between Pixie and Ruth. The chances Lily would remember everyone’s name were slim, but she would try hard.
When Claire, a young girl around the age of fifteen, gave her a set of fabric squares, Lily took the offering. She ran her hands over the cream, purple and goldenrod colored material. As talk swirled around her, she thought about what she would make, what emotion she wanted to evoke. She recalled the times she’d sewn with her mother, and an idea formed that made love swell and not grief. Struck, she could only sit and soak up the feeling.
She took in the women around her, observed their closeness and happy expressions, and she let out an exhale.
“Are you all right, honey?” Miss Ruth asked her.
With contentment in her tone, Lily replied, “Yes, ma’am. I am.”
A knowing light entered the woman’s eyes, and she nodded once.
Lily then bent her head to her task, taking up a pair of scissors in order to cut a dove from the cream fabric square. The only detail her mother had ever shared with Lily about their escape from Mississippi had been that a dove, in one of Hannah and Matthew’s darkest hours, had led them to freedom. While Lily had wanted her to elaborate, her mother had chosen not to for reasons Lily believed she understood as an adult.
She could create her own version of the symbol. Because now she’d found peace and love. And belonging. Her heart quaked with the beauty of it.