Saturday, April 18, 2009

Community Quilts -- The Book

Several of you have asked about my previous gig as co-author of quilt books. I mentioned it back in my November 1 post and I've mentioned in my bio on my website but, what the heck, here I go again. (Not that it'll do me any monetary good as the book is out of print and the only copies available are remainders and used copies on Amazon.)

The book was written under my married name, as you can see on the cover. (The suggestion to use my maiden name for the mysteries was my editor's. ("Middle of the shelf. middle of the bookstore," said she.)

But how'd I come to write a quilting book?

Well, when we moved to the mountains and began to make friends with other newly arrived back-to-the-landers, sooner or later we found that we had become a community. When the first wedding was announced, several of us decided to make a quilt for the couple and have a quilting bee because that fit in with our idea of life in the country. We made a gorgeous quilt and from then on we were hooked. There were lots of baby quilts, more wedding quilts, some friendship quilts, and a few going away quilts. The blue and purple beauty below (the pattern is Sister's Choice) was given to John and me for our anniversary.

Years passed-- around twenty of them. Suddenly we had a body of work -- about fifty quilts, ranging from very simple to very ambitious. We were given a show at the Folk Art Center in Asheville and more than one person at that show suggested that a book should be done to document our work.

And so, knowing nothing about writing a book but thinking this might be worth a try, my friend Karol and I gave it a shot. We decided to showcase each quilt and give a brief history of how it came to be made, along with quotes from the recipients and the makers.

We also decided to have a section detailing the process of planning and organizing a community quilt -- something we'd each had a lot of practice in over the years. (It's not easy, working with all levels of skill and dedication.) And there would be a section of the basics of quilt-making, along with some patterns.

Our book proposal was accepted by Lark Press -- a well-known publisher of crafts books --and we had the guidance of an editor as we worked to flesh out our bare-bones synopsis.

I'm very proud of this book -- The quilts are the stars and pretty much speak for themselves but I think we did a good job explaining the process. The layout and the photography (Lark's professional -- not mine) is outstanding. (Many of the 'beauty shots' were done at our farm -- another reason I really like the photos.) The book was distributed through a crafts book club, as well as book stores.

Karol and I went on to do another book for Lark on weekend quilting projects and after that I turned to a life of crime and craziness in (fictional ) Appalachia.

But I probably wouldn't have learned to use a computer had I not been forced to for the quilting books. And I wouldn't have signed up for the "Writing Fiction That Sells" class, out of which came Elizabeth Goodweather, had I not already gotten a taste of the intangible joys of being an author.

It's all connected.

Maybe this would be a good time to do a drawing for a copy of this book. If you'd like in, leave a comment saying so (only one per reader this time). I'll close the contest on April 30 at 9 PM e.s.t. and announce the winner May 1.


Carol Murdock said...

This is a beautiful book Vicki,
you have every right to be proud of it! I love mine!!It is like new!
My favorite is on page 120.I think it would make a wonderful painting!
I wish I could paint!

Auntie Knickers said...

Oh, I would love a copy of this book, I would probably give it to my daughter who actually quilts after drooling over the pictures. I love the purple one on the blogpost.

Pepper Cory said...

I bought Community Quilts last year and started to hunt down the connection between Ms. Lane and Ms. Skemp. Had suspected earlier that the mystery writer was a quiltmaker herself since she got all the quilting terminology right. The subject--quilts made in community and for community--is near and dear to my heart. Simply put: quilts and their making brings people closer together.

Susan M. Bell said...

I would so love a copy of this book. I am amazed by the "Starry Night" quilt as that is my favorite work of art. (Van Gogh's Starry Night painting) It's so beautiful.

Sure wish I know how to quilt. :}

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Vicki - this book is a true treasure and you have every right to be proud of it. And what a lovely, lovely background story!

Vicki Lane said...

Glad you like it, Carol! The quilt on 120 is a Log Cabin variation, posed in front of a wonderful hydrangea down at John's workshop.

Auntie K. -- the purple one lives in our guestroom, which is kept dark and closed up most of the time. I couldn't think of putting it on our bed which gets full morning sun (as well as dogs and cats.) Since I know how much work goes into a quilt, I like to take reasonable care of them.

Pepper -- You sleuth! But you are so right about the feeling of making and giving a quilt. Just recently we made a group quilt for a member of our community whose house had been completely destroyed by fire. I think it went a long way toward lifting her spirits and beginning to heal her loss.

Susan -- I designed the Starry Night quilt and the book shows the making of it, step by step. It was raffled off for the benefit of our library's building fund.

I'll bet you could find a quilting class or group in your area. And there are lots of books aimed at beginners. It's not rocket science. :-)

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Couldn't stand it. HAD to order it, so it is now winging its way to me, Vicki.

Donald and I are both huge quilt lovers.

The all time treasure is hanging on the wall behind our bed. It's a quilt made by the mother of one of my mom's best friends. Dad and I purchased it for a Christmas gift for my mom when I was about 7 years old (so you know how much a help I was with the "purchasing" part). Mother gave the quilt to Donald and I as a wedding gift. It's a Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern.

Tess Kincaid said...

Thanks for sharing your lovely quilt book with us, Vicki! I've always admired quilts and have a few at WM that my mother in law made for the kids.

Vicki Lane said...

Hey, Kaye,I have a very worn and faded Grandmother's Flower Garden that my great-great aunt Georgia made in the thirties. The little octagons are tiny and so is the quilting. It was my bedspread for all my growing up years.

Hi, Willow,Congratulations on your appearance on authorblog! And isn't it wonderful to have family quilts!

KarenB said...

I have a good friend who has gone through and is going through some very tough times who is a quilter. I would love to be able to give her this book as she is involved with the Sisters Sewing in the Spirit quilting group at our church and another quilting group. I know I couldn't pass it along without reading it though! Vicki - your quilts are beautiful, works of art with a tangible sense of the love involved in the creation. And if this is a little incoherent, it is because I have driven from South Carolina to New Jersey today (waving at you on the way!).

Vicki Lane said...

Wow, Karen, that's a far piece to drive in one day! You are allowed some incoherence.

Reader Wil said...

What a wonderful book, Vicki!I love the colours of that blue quilt! Thanks for sharing this with us!

Robyn Kadis said...

A beautiful book Vicki. As a South African and not an American, I have long admired this American tradition of quilting. We do attempt this craft but on a smaller scale and it is not so traditional. Here in Egypt, of course, it is unheard of. If you would consider sending the book all the way here, I would be eternally grateful and perhaps I could introduce this wonderful art form to the ladies in the Coptic church where I teach English. Might be the start of something....
Congrats on your wonderful effort.
Robyn Kadis

Vicki Lane said...

Ha! I just looked at Amazon and Community Quilts is outselling my four mysteries. It really is a bargain -- even with the shipping charge. And as I said, I don't make a penny on it. Ah, well!

Thanks, for stopping by, Reader Wil! I always enjoy visiting your beautiful blog.

Okay, Robyn, I can't resist the idea of spreading the craft of quilting to the Coptic church in Egypt. I tried to find your email but couldn't so if you'll send me your snail mail address to, I'll send you a copy so that you can spread the good word.

And there'll still be a name drawn on the thirtieth from among those who've asked to be included.

Susan M. Bell said... designed the Starry Night quilt. I am impressed. Like I said, I just love it. And since purple is my favorite color, the quilt you received for your anniversary impresses me to no end as well. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for this drawing. But, if I don't win the book, I will be heading on over to Amazon to purchase a copy.

phyllis w. said...

I bought this book for my mom a few years ago, and liked it so much I had to have my own copy. I remembered Maggie's baby quilt, hanging over her crib I-won't-say-how-many years ago. I love all the photos in the book! I never learned to quilt - always said I didn't have the patience. (Yet I spent seven hours digging sheep sorrel out of my flower beds yesterday... )

Vicki Lane said...

Susan, I really loved that Starry Night quilt and bought a bunch of tickets trying to win it, but, alas, it was not to be.

Phyllis, There are different kinds of patience, aren't there? I tried to learn to weave and found that it just wasn't for me. The same with playing bridge. Bit I love the act of quilting. (And weeding, too!)

Liz said...

Vicki - I would love to add that book to my collection of your books! It looks beautiful. ~Liz

Nancy M. said...

Since I was the lucky winner of your book last year, I'll not put my name in the "pot" this go-round. Did you know there was a "quilting house" up in Walnut? A block building next to the Free Will Baptist Church - don't know if it's still standing or not....I can remember all the ladies who would gather and quilt when I was growing up there in Walnut.

Vicki Lane said...

Nancy -- I remember, when we first moved here, learning of that groups but whether it's still going on, I don't know.

scrapatches said...

Hello! I have just found your wonderful blog via a link sent by a quilting friend. Your book is beautiful. I would love a copy of this book.
Quilting and reading are my favorite things to do ... a part of my every day. I belong to an online quilting community and together we have made group quilts for charity and for babies and grandbabies of our group members. We mail everything back and forth across country, international borders and oceans. It is so true that many hands make work light ... and it also makes the quilt filled with the love of each quilter who adds a piece or sews a stitch.
Now that I have found you, I will be coming back to your blog often. Thank You, Vicki! ... :-) Pat

Vicki Lane said...

Welcome, Pat! Thanks for stopping by! I'll add your name to the drawing. And be sure to check back on May 1 to see if you won.

Vicki Lane said...

Pat, I meant to say how cool it is that you have an online quilting community. I've participated in a few projects of this sort and it really is a wonderful feeling to be linked with other quilters you may never see.

scrapatches said...

Thank you for the welcome, Vicki. I was enjoying the visit to Paris today, too, on your blog ... the sites and the sounds and the Ernest Hemmingway quote.
I admit I have not read your books ... yet ... I love mysteries, though, and am always happy to find a new author so I will be looking for them soon. If your books are as interesting as your blog, I will be sure to enjoy them! ... ;-) Pat

scrapatches said...

Oh ... in response to your other comment ... yes, I will never get to meet some of these ladies ... although I feel we are close friends ... but I have been fortunate to meet a handful of them at a quilting retreat last month. It was wonderful to sit and laugh and sew with them. I hope to go back next year.
The quilting community is the forum at The Quilt and Needle ... ... It was Jess, the site owner, who sent me an email which included a link to your blog.
We are all connected ... :-) Pat

Vicki Lane said...

I'll have to check out the Quilt and Needle site -- thanks!

scrapatches said...

You are welcome ... and welcome to join us ... have a happy quilty (and writing) day! ... ;-) Pat