The third Saturday in March is National Quilting Day. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the tradition of quilting, its significance, and the ways it connects people. The Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society’s 1989 Quilter’s Day Out was the inspiration for this annual event, which the National Quilting Association approved as a national event in 1991.
You can participate by hanging a quilt outside your house and sharing a photo with the tag #nationalquiltingday.
Here are 5 more ways to celebrate:
Download a free quilt pattern. Click here and scroll down the page.
My friend, Kendra, owns The Stitching Bee, a shop that specializes in counted cross-stitch handwork, as well as other needle and thread techniques. Whenever I’m in town and have a few minutes to spare, I stop in for a visit.
Such was the case in the fall of 2019. My time was limited, but it had been a while since my last visit, so I stopped. Kendra changes the samples on the walls and display cases regularly. The shop was filled with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas samples. The holidays, by design, are reason enough to entice the stitchers to buy a pattern and the necessary supplies.
The day I stopped she had a non-holiday sample of a pattern called “Baskets,” designed by Karen Kluba from Rosewood Manor, hanging by the register. I couldn’t look away. I liked everything about the piece; the colors, the symmetry, the use of space.
Kendra and I talked for a bit catching up on families and friends. But I kept looking at the sample on the wall. Kendra smiled. She knew she had a sale.
“Get everything I need – pattern, floss and fabric. I’ll pick it up when you call that it’s ready,” I told her. I didn’t remember much of the drive home. I kept thinking about the “Baskets” and how much I would enjoy stitching the piece.
I wasn’t able to begin stitching when I got the supplies home. Life has a way of changing plans in our house. Often, it seems. The holidays came and went, then the pandemic arrived. When the scientists recommended limiting gatherings and celebrations and suggested a stay-home policy I knew it was time to start my “Baskets” project.
This was a large piece to do, not one that could be finished in a weekend. So I read the directions, threaded my needle and made the first cross-stitch. After finishing the top row of baskets, I realized that there was no place in our house that was open enough to hang the finished piece. Then I knew that an antique picture from my Grandmother’s house would be the perfect frame and place for it to hang. For many years the picture had hung in my office, but now was the time for a change.
I needed to rearrange some of the design elements to make the stitched piece fit the frame. So I photocopied the pattern, cut it apart and put it back together so the dimensions matched the frame.
Now I was really excited to stitch. I worked on it every day, more hours some days than others, until it was done.
Kendra’s husband framed my hand-stitched piece using Grandma’s frame. When I step into my office my handwork reminds me that I was able to successfully complete my 2020 COVID project. I get to enjoy it every day.
According to the Webster dictionary, the word February is from the Latin Februarius, followed by mensis, meaning month. The original definition then becomes “the month of expiation.” That sent me to the dictionary again. Expiation means to make amends for wrongdoing or guilt.
So how do these definitions move us from wrongdoing or guilt to romance and Happy Ever After?
No romance or lifelong commitment, in my opinion, can endure without some drama. The arguments, the compromises, the commitment make for a great life and equally great entertainment.
As a romance reader and writer, I want to enjoy the journey two characters travel believing in each other, with all their rights and wrongs, to live a Happy Ever After life.
I have favorite authors – Sherryl Woods, Nora Roberts, Virginia McCullough – to name only three of many that surprise me time and again on the unpredictable journeys their characters travel before finding a Happy Ever After. We know the ending of the story, but, for me, the joy is seeing how they get there.
The Hallmark Channel movies send their couples through three difficulties before the man or woman realizes neither of them want to live without the other person. These are not wrongdoings or guilt as suggested in the original definition, more along the line of poor choices. I’ll admit the one to two-hour time frame limits the degree and the complexity of the choices.
I believe in Happy Ever After. Yes, I’ve made poor/wrong choices in relationships, but I’ve also learned from them and have earned my Happy Ever After. Just ask the guy I live with and spoil.
There are days in February that we connect with, which include Ground Hog Day when the length of winter is predicted by the sun and a furry animal.
Birthdays include that of President George Washington. I still remember making a cherry tree in grade school using a tree branch and red gum drops. I don’t remember who got the last candy in the bag.
Another President, Abraham Lincoln also has a birthday. The tall man with the tall top hat was faced with decisions that would either unite or break our country apart. We will never forget a man who bore the consequences of his decision to keep our country united.
Valentine’s Day is the most notable holiday of the month. There is a lot of money spent on marketing the day of love and romance. I think having a special day of the year reminds us to stop the craziness of life and focus on the happiness that is part of romance and love. Such joy.
February has fewer days in the month than any of the other eleven months of the year, but it isn’t small when packed with history, a furry Ground Hog and romance.
Enjoy the month, Make the most of everyday. Find a Happy Ever After.
Webster defines traditions as events that are passed on from generation to generation. The tradition may be a story, a belief, a custom, or a talisman of some sort.
I find traditions comforting, especially those that have passed through more than one generation. Give me the history behind a special one-of-a-kind spoon that Grandma used to prepare a favorite family dish, or a cameo that great-grandmother Erla wore on her wedding dress. I can listen for hours to these stories.
Wisconsin in November brings out a tradition that dates back to early settlers in the region, that of the harvesting of meat to sustain the family through the long winter ahead. Nowadays it is common to see fluorescent orange clothing (or pink for the ladies) hanging on clotheslines or porches as the hunting season nears. Some claim the crisp weather removes human or household odors from the clothes enabling the hunter to be more concealed from the wildlife. I wonder if that is true or if this a tradition that has become part of the adventure.
This year with the raging pandemic there will be smaller family groups gathering as well as fewer spontaneous drop-in visitors. One fallout is that smaller turkeys are being bought for the traditional meal. What if there isn’t any turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce left over for sandwiches on Friday? I, for one, say we can’t let this tradition be lost. Buy a big bird, mom.
Let us also think of new traditions that can be started this year. Maybe we bring out the cloth napkins grandma used that have been kept in a box in the attic, or instead of rushing through the meal to watch the next football game all electronics are turned off during the meal and conversation becomes meaningful.
We can be grateful, happy, and hopeful in this month of Thanksgiving. Maybe that should become a tradition of its own.
Most people don’t like change, and with good reason. Change brings uncertainty, unfamiliarity, and a sense of loss. When change is forced upon people, there is also a loss of control and a degree of fear.
The one change many people seem to embrace is autumn. The beautiful period of transition from summer to winter when temperatures cool and festivities begin. There are so many pleasures to enjoy that this change of season is the high point of the year for some people.
One of the things I enjoy most is the colorful fall foliage. What do you enjoy most about autumn?
What entices you to buy a book? The author? The cover? The description? Reviews? Favorite themes or tropes? Some combination of all of these elements?
When I encounter a new author, the subject matter is often a compelling motivator to buy the book. Women’s fiction that includes small towns and independent women always gets a second look. If the book also involves quilting, it moves to the top of my list.
If you feel the same, check out these books that feature quilting as part of the story.
Welcome to San Fernando Valley, California, where Martha Rose and her coterie of quilters are enjoying life on the good side of retirement—until murder pulls a stitch out of their plans. . .
Martha and her besties Lucy and Birdie are set to expand their Quilty Tuesdays by inviting newcomer Claire Terry into their group. Though at forty Claire’s a tad younger than their average age, her crafty reputation could perk up their patchwork proceedings, especially as they prepare for the fancy quilt show coming to town. But when they arrive at Claire’s home and find her dead inside the front door, and her exquisite, prize-winning quilts soon missing, Martha is not one to leave a mystery unraveled. Especially if she wants to stop a killer from establishing a deadly pattern. . .
Enjoy this new series from Ann Hazelwood, The Door County Quilt Series. This first novel introduces you to Claire Stewart and her life in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin.
Claire Stewart, a new resident of the county, joins a prestigious small quilting club when her best friend moves away. Claire is a watercolor quilt artist, and the beauty of Door County captivates her right away.
Claire’s new friends and her quilt group provide fun, but it’s the man with the red scarf who intrigues her. As she grows more comfortable after escaping a bad relationship, new ideas and surprises abound as friendships, quilting, and her love life all change for the better.
A stranger’s murder in the dark alley behind May’s Flower Shop is causing the residents of Park Place, South Carolina to keep their children inside and their doors locked at night. Banty Hen Antique Shop owners, Sam and Valerie Owens, are caught right smack dab in the middle since they were the last ones to see the victim alive. Valerie’s new venture, the Sweet Tea Quilting Bee is comprised of an eclectic mix of women, calling themselves ‘newbies’ and ‘oldies’ in the art of quilting. Their weekly meetings help keep Valerie’s mind off the murder, but it’s hard to keep the secret from the ladies that the victim was killed over, of all things, a quilt! The murder suspect has been described as tall and thin, a pitifully vague description, but Police Chief Jess Hamilton and his new detective, a self-described Columbo, are on the case, questioning every tall and thin person in town. Even Sister Margaret, a nun who has just begun her mission at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church, doesn’t go unnoticed. But it’s hard not to notice a nun who dances, and sings along with country music when she thinks no one’s watching.
This exciting box set includes the first three adventures of Miranda Hathaway and Cutler Quilt Guild Number One:
Book One – The Quilt Ripper: Miranda gets involved in the search for a burglar who simply tears apart vintage quilted pieces and seemingly steals nothing.
Book Two – The Missing Quilter: While helping daughter Zoey search for her missing friend, Olivia; Miranda goes missing.
Book Three – The Quilt Show Caper; To raise money for the school, the guild is holding its first ever quilt show with the oldest quilt in Pennsylvania on display when someone turns on the sprinklers—and steals the cash from the show.
Throughout these adventures, Miranda is assisted by Gabe Downing, a former FBI agent; and Harry, her cat, who always knows when something is wrong.
When Emma Byrd moves into the house of her dreams in the small mountain community of Sweet Anne’s Gap, she knows that making friends may prove to be her biggest challenge. Her husband loves his new job and her kids are finding their way at school. But Emma — no natural when it comes to talking to strangers — will have to try a little harder, especially after the sweet, white-haired neighbor she first visits slams the door in her face. Luckily, a few of the quilters of Sweet Anne’s Gap adopt Emma and she soon finds herself organizing the quilt show for the town’s centennial celebration. With Birds in the Air, Frances O’Roark Dowell (winner of the Edgar Award, the William Allen White Award and the Christopher Medal) creates a warm, funny novel about fitting in, falling out and mending frayed relationships one stitch at a time.
It’s been six months since COVID-19 changed everything. How we shop, how we socialize, how we work, how we communicate, the learning environment, where and how we travel, and even how we dress (masks required!)
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the “new normal”, especially when it looks like these changes will remain in place longer than we anticipated.
Developing a positive attitude in the wake of change and uncertainty is a challenge, but one well worth the effort. When so much is beyond our control, one thing we can determine is how we think, feel, and react.
The benefits of a positive attitude include increased energy, better problem-solving, greater confidence, and more satisfying interactions with people. People with a positive attitude are more creative, more resilient, and live longer than Negative Nellies.
When you are feeling sad or worried or anxious, cultivating a positive attitude may feel just as overwhelming as all the other challenges you’re dealing with. Start with small shifts to build towards greater positivity. Here are five ideas to get you started.
Pay attention to your words and vocabulary. Replace negative, pessimistic phrases with optimistic, empowering ones. Instead of saying “I can’t go out to eat,” try “Cooking at home allows me to try new recipes and make healthier choices.”
Start a gratitude journal. Every morning or evening, take five minutes to jot down three things you are grateful for. Reread your entries when you need encouragement.
Connect with people who lift you up with their own positive energy and outlook.
Keep a list of things that inspire you-music, movies, books, blogs, exercise, rituals, etc. Get a daily dose of inspiration to stay on track with your positive outlook
Relish small pleasures. It’s easy to focus on what we’ve lost and what we’ve had to sacrifice, but there is still joy to be had in life. Be intentional about recognizing the pleasure and joy in small moments, such as the perfect cup of coffee, a leisurely walk along a quiet country lane, fresh vegetables from your garden, time to read new books and reread favorites, starting a new hobby, assembling a care package to send to a friend (and envisioning their smile of surprise), and so much more.
How are you staying positive? What inspires you? What encouragement would you offer to others? Keep up the good work and have a wonderful August.
There’s something special about reading a book set in a location you are familiar with, especially when that setting holds fond memories or is much loved.
When an author weaves in authentic details about a location, especially local traditions, culture, and history, the setting becomes another character in the story.
For me, Wisconsin is such a place. What makes The Badger State special for me is its expansive shoreline, quaint small towns proud of their history, creative and beautiful artisan crafts, and a strong sense of community no matter where you live in the state.
Here are five Wisconsin authors whose books showcase what I love about our state.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought uncertainty and fear into our homes and our lives. How did this happen? What will we do to survive? When will it end?
There is an abundance of speculation by both citizens and professionals to these and other questions, but, as yet, there are no definitive answers. Each state, community, and family needs to evaluate the situation as it unfolds and reach answers that are unique to themselves. We have never had to handle such an overwhelming event that reaches to our core.
So, in my humble opinion, I say help where we can, let kindness be the guiding force. A simple phone call to an isolated person will let them know you care. A funny card,–homemade preferred–sent by mail will bring a smile. Maybe with all the home cooking being done, a plate of sandwiches and cookies would be a treat for a close neighbor with children who are tired of eating mac ‘n cheese.
I call these little acts of kindness a silver lining to the chaos surrounding us.
My neighborhood email thread keeps us connected. It is a poor substitute for morning coffee with a friend or a lunch together to help support our local restaurants. But think how much we will enjoy seeing each other when we can.
I live in a rural area, and last week a neighbor reported seeing orioles and hummingbirds. I’ve been watching, and this morning a male oriole sat on the window ledge by the kitchen table. He left before I could get a picture, but, oh, how beautiful he was. I call him Nature’s silver lining in these days of doubt and despair.
One evening, the local nesting pair of Canada geese brought eight goslings onto the lawn. They ran and played, then ate the newly mowed grass and ran some more. The parents certainly had to work to keep them together. Can you argue against this silver lining of life moving forward?
My neighbors have gardens ranging from a few raised beds to elaborate areas with greenhouses and hoop houses. With empty spaces on the shelves at the local grocery store, these friends won’t be in need of assistance. They are kind people and will generously share extra produce come harvest time. Neighbor helping neighbor, another silver lining.
This week I will plant lettuce and radishes in my cold frame. The ground is warm under the glass and once the sprouts appear the plants will be safe from rabbits and deer looking for a tender green treat. It will be a couple of weeks before I plant the rest of the garden. I’ve seen too many freezing nights before June to challenge Mother Nature. Doing a second planting after a frosty night is not my idea of fun, thank you very much. Come fall, I will reap my silver lining and share the bounty with my neighbors.
In The Christmas Promise, my 2019 holiday novella, Charlotte Wilson goes to Willow Birch, her husband’s childhood home to be with her mother-in-law. The longer she stays, the more she sees the community as a take-care-of-your-neighbor kind of place. Charlotte uses her abundance to help a local, needy family. Her silver lining is the joy she feels after helping others in a position of want.
We shouldn’t wait for a holiday or a special event to find a silver lining, a small act of kindness for a friend or neighbor or for someone unknown to us. Now is the time to reach out. Be creative, Be funny. Bring joy to the day.
With the uncertainty we are facing now and into the unknown future, we are forced to do more planning than we have had to do in the past. Our shopping mainstays – grocery and all-purpose stores – have limited items on their shelves, forcing us to adjust our meals and activities. Never before in recent years have we’ve seen empty spaces in our stores and wondered when they will be restocked.
As we focus on our homes, I’m reminded of a quilt block known as the Log Cabin design. Popular in the late 1800s, this block was traditionally made with a red square in the center of the block to represent the hearth of the home. Around that square, strips of light and dark fabrics were added in sequence. The light fabrics on one side represent the sunny side of the house while the dark fabrics are the shadow side.
It’s known that quilts with black center blocks were sometimes hung outside homes to indicate a safe haven for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad trying to make their way north to freedom. After the Civil War ended in 1865, there was a dramatic migration to settle the West. During that time, brides-to-be often used yellow center squares, thought to represent hope for their lives ahead.
New quilters often used this design to develop their skills for accurate cutting and sewing. They find the sewing requires attention to seam allowance, and it’s easy for a block to become slanted if the sewing is not precise.
Recently I made a wall hanging using the Log Cabin pattern It was important to me that the cutting and sewing were accurate so the wall hanging would be square with the wall when it was done.
In my latest release, The Quilt Company, Deanna Westford uses the Log Cabin quilt design to describe the way she’s building her company, with each strip representing a different part of the business. She knows that each “log” of her business needs to be added accurately or her business will become out-of-line and collapse.
Our current lives require us to give accurate attention to the many aspects of our lives – the light and dark “logs” around our hearth – to make it through this difficult time.
I wish your family well keeping your Log Cabin safe.