This blog has moved to the following address. Please visit us there! I am still posting discussing questions in the QCA forums and the QCA group, The Story of My Stash
My novel, The Threadbare Heart, has a character at the center who
hoards her fabric. Lily hates to cut into anything -- to commit
to it -- because once she does, all the OTHER possibilities for
that piece of fabric fall away. Of course it stands to reason
that some of the fabric in Lily's stash is very old! She's had one
piece of lace, which she inherited from her grand-mother, for 38
years. What's the oldest piece of fabric in your
stash? Tell us your story -- and whichever quilter has the oldest
piece will win a signed copy of The Threadbare Heart. (Answer here by clicking "Comment" or answer in the Story of My Stash Group Discussion.)
And if you're ready to dig into your stash and bring a fictional quilt to life, check out the Keepsake Quilting "Fiction Comes to Life" contest, inspired by my novel. Details at www.jennienash.com
In my novels, my characters are always wandering into fabric stores, yarn stores, paint stores, art supply stores, and being around all that color, texture -- and possibility -- shakes something loose in them. I find this to be true about myself, too. Whenever I'm stuck with a story, the best thing to do is get up from my desk, get out of my house, and go somewhere where I can be surrounded by the raw materials of creativity. I like the energy of these places, and the people who are there solving problems -- aesthetic problems, or structural problems, or technical problems. There's something about these places that feels both very grounded and very ephemeral. You feel planted in reality, but the possibility of magic is close at hand.
In The Threadbare Heart, my character pays several visits to a fabric store in Santa Barbara, which is the town in California where I grew up. The particular store I describe isn't actually there, anymore, but I can picture it perfectly -- the bolts of fabric like trees in the forest, and me (small me) wandering through the pathways, soaking it all in. Last year, while researching my novel, I visited Keepsake Quilting in Center Harbor New Hampshire, which looks exactly the way a fabric store should look. It's right on the lake, with a wide, white front porch, and room after room of fabric. I had the thought that I could just live in that store, the way that girl and her brother lived in the museum in the book The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Now there's an idea for a book!
For this week's "Story of My Stash" question, I'd like to hear stories about your first memorable trip to a fabric store.
Dear Quilters and Readers,
I’m thrilled to announce the start of the “Fiction Comes to Life” contest, sponsored by Keepsake Quilting. The Threadbare Heart is novel is about, among other things, the way that fabric can speak so powerfully about our lives – about the things we love, the things we lose, and the things we may regret never doing. The main character, Lily Gilbert, loses a lifetime of fabric in a Santa Barbara wildfire. When she ventures into a fabric store for the first time after the tragedy, she imagines a quilt she never made:
Lily wandered through the aisles, stopping at bolts of fabric that caught her eye, considering the possibilities. There were burnout velvets, Italian wool so fine they felt like silk, silk in a cacophony of color, weight, and texture. Every bolt offered something new to Lily’s imagination—a coat, a skirt, a dress—and every possibility reminded her of a piece of fabric she had lost in the fire. There was so much fabric and so many things she had never made!
She thought that she could list them all on her yellow pad of paper—Hattie’s gray tweed that had not become a jacket, the sage green flea market silk that had not become a skirt, the white dotted Swiss that she had bought in Boston when she thought she might have a little girl. She had one Rubbermaid tub that was stuffed with swatches of printed cotton in different shades of blue. There were stripes, dots, florals, swirls, and geometric prints, and taken all together, they had looked like the sea. Lily had always thought that she would make a beautiful quilt with all that blue. She would design the horizon, the sky and the water, and somehow, it would cease to look like bits of cotton stitched together, and would look, instead, exactly the way the beach did on a clear summer day.
“I should have done it,” she said, and she realized too late that she had spoken out loud.
Keepsake Quilting has specially selected a fabric Medley™ of 5 fat quarters that evoke the beach on a clear summer day. (You may purchase the Medley at Keepsake Quilting for $13.99.) The challenge is to use at least 3 of the Medley fabrics, and at least 3 fabrics from your own stash to make the quilt Lily never made. In addition, we’d like you to write up to 500 words about the fabrics you use from your stash – where they came from, what they mean to you, why you chose them for this project—and we’d like you to name your quilt. The finished quilt should be 30" x 30".
Quilts will be judged by members of the Keepsake Quilting staff and me, author Jennie Nash, in early July. All entries must arrive at Keepsake Quilting by July 1, 2010. You can get all the details about where to ship when you purchase your “Fiction Comes to Life” Fat Quarters – and you are not required to purchase or even read The Threadbare Heart to enter the contest, although I think you might really like it. (You can purchase The Threadbare Heart at amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders or your favorite local independent bookstore. It's paperback, so it's affordable!)
The maker of the winning quilt will receive a $150 gift certificate from Keepsake Quilting; a "Book Club in a Box" kit, featuring 10 signed copies of The Threadbare Heart; an hour-long phone chat with author Jennie Nash so that you can gather your friends together to discuss the book and bring Jennie into the conversation; and a gift certificate for a delicious "Rum Cake by Kelli" to serve at your book reading event. The winning quilt will be displayed at the Keepsake Quilting shop in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, on Jennie Nash's website, and on The Story of My Stash blog at the Quilting Club of America,
AND IF THE DESIGN IS ORIGINAL, MAY BE CONSIDERED FOR A KEEP-SAKE QUILTING QUILT KIT. Five runners up will each receive $25 gift certificates from Keepsake Quilting and a signed copy of The Threadbare Heart.
Please spread the word about this contest -- and my book -- to all your quilt-loving friends! Send them to this blog, to the QCA forum where I'm going to announce the contest, as well, or to my website, which is www.jennienash.com. You can read the first chapter of The Threadbare Heart on my site.
And FINALLY, since this blog post marks the start of the "Fiction Comes to Life" contest, I think we should gather some stories about the start of your life in sewing. I'd love to hear what you remember about your very first experience with sewing. How old were you, where were you, what was going on?
Here's a great story of a stash on the Sew Mama Sew Blog. Check it out!
Oh my goodness -- the six entries in my "How it reading like quilting?" mini contest just melted my heart. I felt close to tears reading these. Really! (Okay, and the fact that I have a senior in high school who is in the throes of deciding where to go to college has NOTHING to do with my soft heart!) So...everyone is going to get an Advanced Reading Copy of The Threadbare Heart. Books all around!!! Winners, please email your name/address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for sharing your stories! I hope you will ALL check out the Keepsake Quilting contest, where entrants are asked to bring a fictional quilt from The Threadbare Heart to life! The prizes are amazing -- Keepsake gift certificates, books (enough to hold a book club -- and I'll call in!) and best of all, the chance to have your (original) design considered for a Keepsake Quilting Quilt Kit. Check out the details at www.jennienash.com/disc.htm
I'd like to give away an advanced reading copy (ARC) of my novel, The Threadbare Heart. You can be the first person on the block -- well, anywhere, actually! -- to read it! Leave a comment here about how you think reading is similar to quilting. At the end of the day (which is to say right before Glee starts tonight), I'll read the entries and pick my favorite one. I'll be giving more books away in the coming weeks.
If you'd like to learn all about the "Fiction Comes to Life" quilting contest sponsored by Keepsake Quilting, check out the rules at www.jennienash.com/disc.htm. And check out the Medley of fabrics for the contest at Keepsake's website.
To leave a comment, look for the "Comment" tag at the end of this post.
Writing a novel is the same as any other creative endeavor, whether it’s making a quilt, painting a picture or knitting a sweater. It starts with something that shimmers in your imagination and stays there, refusing to go away. Maybe it’s an image or a song or the snippet of a conversation or a swatch of fabric, but suddenly that thing becomes alive. It begins to generate heat, and to draw other things toward it – other images, colors, people and ideas.
The Threadbare Heart began with the image of a wildfire charging down the tinder dry hills of my hometown of Santa Barbara, California. I kept imagining a woman, a house, and a long list of things she could not save. The more I opened my mind up toward these ideas, the more I pictured this woman having a collection of some kind – something that took up a lot of space, that represented many phases of her life, something that would be impossible to save and crushing to lose.
About this time I read a short article in The Los Angeles Times by NPR reporter Kitty Felde. Cut From the Same Cloth was the story of friendship and fabric, and how the two were intertwined. It was also the story of loss. Kitty’s friend died, and the way Kitty honored her life was to sew a jacket using a beautiful piece of fabric from her friend’s stash, and to finish the seams the proper way rather than the slapdash way that was her inclination. I was mesmerized by this article. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The odd thing about my obsession was that I am not a seamstress, nor am I a fabric collector. But when I couldn’t get these two women out of my head, I knew that my next novel would be about a fabric collector.
I interviewed fabric collectors, studied textile programs at universities, visited a master weaver in the mountains of Colorado, made a pilgrimage to some of Los Angeles’ finest fabric stores – and because my college roommate happens to live nearby, trekked to Keepsake Quilts in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, and walked among the rows and rows of vibrant fabrics. I immersed myself in what it means to love fabric – and what it would mean to lose the fabric you’d spent a lifetime collecting.
The Threadbare Heart is now on its way to bookshelves in bookstores all across the country. It will arrive in May. And as it wings its way there, I will be spending time here talking a little bit about my story – and a lot about yours. Each week on Friday, I will post a different question about fabric and story and the emotion that underlies both. My tenure here will culminate in a Keepsake Quilting Challenge Contest that I’m absolutely thrilled about, because it brings my novel to life in a way that words on a page simply never could: the challenge is to make a summer beach quilt my character could never make, and to use some fabric from your stash that says something important about you. I will post contest details next week, but in the meantime, I’d like to invite you to send in a few words and photos in response to this week's question:
“How does a new quilt first shimmer in your imagination? What’s the first sign that you are about to embark on a new project?”
CLICK ON "COMMENTS" AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE TO ENTER YOUR ANSWERS.
If you have a photo that illustrates your answer, post it at The Story of My Stash flickr site and let us know it's there.
If you'd like a sneak peek of the first chapter of The Threadbare Heart, you can read it at my website, which is www.jennienash.com
If you'd like to purchase a copy of The Threadbare Heart, you can do so by clicking here.