Behind The Courting Quilt; Day 9 of Log Cabin Christmas Blog hop

Awhile back, when I was immersed in quilt lore and life, someone gave me an old quilt book.  I say "old" but it was from 1984 so not that old.  It was published by The House of White Birches, Inc in New Hampshire.  The woman had been cleaning out her closet and found it and decided maybe it was a book I could use.  My life at the time dealt with the quilts of the Aurora Colony and the four books I'd written related to that communal society that survived west of the Mississippi until the late 1880s.

As part of the promotion for those books I also wrote a short piece for an historical quilt journal about the quilting women of Aurora.  While reading that journal I came across a story of a signature quilt made in the mid 1800s and the story that went with it was that each signed block had been quilted by a woman being courted by a certain man.  He kept all the blocks and when he finally married, it wasn't to any of the signature-makers.  He married a woman who had not made a block for him and she finished the quilt! 

That story gave me the idea for "A Courting Quilt" included in A Log Cabin Christmas, which can now be claimed as a New York Times Bestselling book as of September 25, 2011!

That story was just the seed. From there the juices of creativity mixed their way in the stew of an idea.

Enter my friend's quilt book called Bible Quilt Blocks.  If each of those women made a Bible quilt block rather than a signature one, and I gave them a thread salesman as the mastermind behind it, and I found a woman who owned a log cabin store who was desperate to find a way to keep in business despite growing competition, and the thread salesmen oversteps his bounds and the widow discovers she's falling in love with the scamp, I might just have a story! 

I opened up that little book to the wonderful world of Bible-related quilt blocks.  Each had a story to go with it and a great essay by Mary Louise Kitsen called "Biblical Quilts...an Old Tradition." In my story, I didn't mention all of the designs...there were 24 to choose from. But the one's I did chose I love.  "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul."  That phrase has no reference in the Bible at all! But what is of interest is that Peter and Paul were opposite personalities as portrayed in the New Testament so that quilt block would be best made with bold but opposite designs. 

Storm at sea quilt block
Another favorite was "Storm at Sea".  When I saw that block I thought "How did they make it appear to be a watery upheaval?" There are no round surfaces, only triangles placed in certain ways to make our eyes think they're uneven and shaped like the bottom of a boat.  Jonah comes to mind? The ark? Maybe a boat where fisherman cast their nets.

While researching historical fiction I often come across the role that quilts played in women's lives. Quilts thread their way through many of my stories including The Kinship and Courage series especially AllTogether in One Place and book two, NoEye Can See.  But quilts take center stage in "The Courting Quilt" set in old Brownsville, a woolen mill town of the 1800s in the central Willamette Valley of Oregon.  Women still quilt there and despite its small size, there's a quilt shop right in town.  To me, that's a sign of creative women bringing comfort to the community.   
Yankee Dutch Quilting & Dry Goods
106 E. Bishop Way (Highway 228 at Main Street)
Brownsville, Oregon  97327
If I were to make a Biblical quilt block think I'd adapt "Road to California" a popular block during the gold rush years and call it instead  "Road to Eden." This would have a double meaning for me since an old nickname of Oregon is "Eden's Gate" and Brent Walth wrote a book Fire at Eden's Gate: Tom McCall and the Oregon Story to celebrate that connection. Here I am, back to writing about writing and...quilting.

Question: If you were to "name" a quilt block based on a favorite scripture, what title might you come up with?  Put on those creative hats.  I know you can do it.  Some of you might even be able to draw the design and bless us all with the comfort of scripture and quilts. 

Post your answer or comment here and then be sure to visit Erica Vetsch @ Erica Vetsch: On the Write Path (part 2) blog tomorrow for the chance to win two copies signed by all the authors!  You don't have to be a quilter to love quilts!

Comments

Cindy Regnier said…
My quilt block would be "Shepherd's Solace" for Psalm 23
Sherrey said…
Living in OR, I loved that you have centered your story in Brownsville. You've also given this quilt maker a new shop to visit in her travels!

My quilt block would be based on Jeremiah 29:11 and I'd call it "His Promise."
The Boat House said…
Jane, I'm not a quilter (it took me a full year to sew a really awful apron in 7th grade and it never got better), BUT...I love quilts, and have many wonderful quilter friends. Your story line for "Log Cabin Christmas" is wonderful, now I'm going to have to find the perfect quilt scripture. I love reading Erlene Fowler's mysteries based on quilt names. Hope to see you in 2012, we have a ramp if Jerry needs one, and nice cool breezes in the summer. Love you guys, Nancy, Ron and Pepper the Pup
Erica Vetsch said…
That Storm at Sea quilt block is a great optical illusion!

If I had to name a quilt blog, it would be "Fear Not" from Isaiah 41:10.
Gabby said…
In my little community in Washington state quilting is still a pretty large part of life. I have several friends who are award winning quilters. I think I would like a quilt black called "Follow the Lord" based on Joshua's words. I'm not quite sure what it would look like though. Jane, I have thoroughly enjoyed this blog hop and learned a few things already along the way.
Sherrie Gant said…
Hi Jane...can't wait to read this book. I would name my quilt block "Wings of Eagles" from Is 40:31. With that I guess there would be no question what the blocks would look like.
Gayle Gresham said…
Thanks for sharing the story behind the story! I haven't read it yet because I gave away my Log Cabin Christmas to a dear friend. But I'll find another copy soon!

My future daughter-in-law and I visited the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, NE recently. I saw a Tumbling Block quilt, which I've become fascinated with. Maybe it could represent the Tower of Babel.
Mary Anna said…
My quilt block would be 'Mary and Martha" who each had an important, but different, role to play. Maybe using colors that are opposite in the spectrum. My sister and I were once described as Mary and Martha as we approached a project and worked together in different ways.

I loved the "Courting Quilt" story.
Beverly said…
"Cheerful Heart Quilt"
and of course it would be Brightly colored with Hearts Big and small.
proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine
Kathleen Ernst said…
Looks wonderful, Jane. Thanks for sharing the story behind the story!
Anonymous said…
Ginny again -
How beautiful - so many ideas -- This will be more than a KING sized quilt if it comes to be!
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
II Cor.3:17
I imagine a wonderful design depicting both the Spirit and Freedom.
I look forward to reading each author's story!
Anonymous said…
I am not a quilter so i wouldn't even know what to make it look like but i would name a block "Joy"
D.Ingbretson
Anonymous said…
Good Morning Jane... Thank you for sharing! Looking forward to reading " A Log Cabin Christmas" over the holiday season... My quilt block would be. * A Time For All Seasons *
Ecc 3:1-8 *There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under heaven.*

Freda Bloom
For several years my daughter's family lived in Denver and my son's family lived in Palmer, Alaska - both a long way from Washington State. My quilt block would be Mizpah, from Gen 31:49:
The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.
Donna said…
I loved reading your story and I am enjoying the blog hop!
One of my favorite quilt blocks is "Fifty-four Forty or Fight" commemorating the Oregon Boundary Dispute. Biblically speaking it reminds me of Israel's boundary disputes and could be called "Promised Land".
Donna said…
http://www.mccallsquilting.com/qb/pattern_1101/index.html
Jules said…
I really enjoyed the Courting Quilt story. I used to quilt back when I had time. With 5 kids now, not so much time leftover. My quilt block would be titled "Quiver Full" for Psalm 127:4-5
or else, "Choose Life" for Deuteronomy 30:19.
Wow, you are all wonderfully creative! And yes, we would need a kingsize quilt with maybe some wall hangings and table runners to boot if we were to make all these. Carole, I was unfamiliar with your scripture reference and it is so perfect for times when people are separated by the miles. Thanks for sharing that! And to all the rest of you, I'm so glad you're participating in the blog hop and that the idea of Bible Quilt blocks has stirred your creative stew, too!
Gilda Weisskopf said…
Wow, Jane. You really gave us a huge assignment! Although I am not a quilter (can't even thread a needle), I love going to quilt shows, reading quilt history books and novels and everything about quilting except the quilting part. So I have spent most of the morning trying to decide what would work. I think I was trying to design plus come up a scripture. Does not work for me. Although this is not a scripture, I ran across this this today which I thought was appropriate: "Miracles can happen if you believe." My quilt block would be called "I Believe."

Jane: In your blog you stated "My life at the time dealt with the quilts of the Aurora Colony and the four books I'd written" I have the book titled "Aurora." So what are the FOUR books? Or did you just mean you had written four other books, not necessarily about Aurora.

I can't wait to read "A Courting Quilt."
Lane Hill House said…
I am loving this blog hop! How fun. My quilt block name would be from Isa. 26:3,4 "Unchanging Trust" and would have to include ***stars*** as I love scrappy stars. Ladies from nearby communities meet together on Tuesdays all day to machine-quilt. I am making blocks for my second quilt.

"With perfect peace You will protect those whose minds cannot be changed, because they trust You. Trust the Lord always, because the Lord, the Lord alone, is an everlasting rock." Isa. 26:3,4 (God's Word).

I love the "Storm at Sea" block above. I looked for the book online and you have a treasure. Nothing listed, but... Book 2 sells for $42.50 + shpg. and says "posted one hour ago."

Donna, I like the star quilt block pattern you posted from McCalls. Oh, my goodness, makes me think of Betsy McCall, my little paperdoll I looked forward to in the back of the magazine when I was a young girl.
Anonymous said…
Hi

I am the shop keeper at the new quilt store in Brownsville. I got such a kick out of your story, not just because it takes place in Brownsville and the owners name is Mary (same as mine) but because the leading romantic character in the story was not perfect! The whole time I was reading it I couldn't figure out how on earth he was going to get himself out of all the hot water he was brewing.

My bible block would be "and her children call her blessed' from Proverbs. I have been reading the journals and scrapbooks of my great grandmother. Her children wrote the most loving tributes to her on her death bed. When I was reading them I kept thinking of that line from Proverbs 21.
Thanks, Mary, from Brownsville! I hope I captured the historical significance of your community which I love to visit! For Gilda who asked about the Aurora books: I wrote three novels based on the Aurora colony. The first is called A Clearing in the Wild. Then, A Tendering in the Storm and the third is A Mending at the edge. Quilts play a role as I first learned about the colony by seeing a quilt by Emma Wagner Giesy. It's beautiful and you have it in the fourth book...a photographic history of the quilts and crafts of the Aurora colony. Women's artifacts are often lost through time or their name is no longer attached to their creations; or they were worn out or eaten (all those preserves...)so to fine a quilt with the name attached meant someone cared about this woman and I wanted to know her story. That led me to The Change and Cherish series and those three titles. I hope you'll find them! Thanks for hopping with me. Don't forget to visit Erica's blog tomorrow!
Becky said…
I would name my quilt "The Traveler" for the 23 Psalm. This is a Psalm I recite everywhere I go.
Pam K. said…
It is so hard to choose just one favorite verse, but I selected Isaiah 9:6. I'd call it Blessed Son. I'm not at all creative with quilting, but I think this block would have to be appliqued with a silhouette of the babe in a manger with the names (Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace) radiating out above.
Thanks for all the opportunities to win "A Log Cabin Christmas." I'd love to have a copy for myself and one for my sister.
Jackie Tessnair said…
Jer.29:11.I love this and think it would make a great quilt block.thanks...
treasurygirl said…
My quilt would be named "The Multitude of Love" from 1 Peter 4:8 because how better to honor God!
margie said…
My quilt block would be named "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" from Psalm 139 in honor of my son Alex. Margie in SC margie at mijares dot net
Anonymous said…
Would like to learn to quilt someday--this has been very inspirational to read! Bought the Log Cabin Christmas book & look forward to reading it soon. Would like to name a quilt block "Trust in God" based on Proverbs 3:5, 6. --Karen
Kayce Phillips said…
My quilt would have to be "Because HE cares for you" I Peter 5:7b. Would be wrapped in God's love every time you get in it!
Gilda Weisskopf said…
Thank you Jane for the info on the Aurora books. I already have them on my shelves ready to read but did not realize they were based on the Aurora colony. I often think of the saying "So many books. So little time," especially since I have been blog hopping. This was a really great idea and I am really enjoying it. It has given me an opportunity to learn a little about the stories in A Log Cabin Christmas plus has given me an opportunity to be introduced to more authors (just what I need!). I am now going to go look for the photo of "Emma's" quilt in the Aurora book. I have one more question for you that you really don't have to answer: How do you find time to do all the extensive research plus the wonderful detailed writing?
A huge fan!
Orita Kirkman said…
My block would be from Galatins 5:13-14, ..but by love serve one another...love thy neighbor as thy self. Thank you for the wonderful story.
Meghan said…
Hmm...creative thinking cap at the ready! ;) I don't quilt..wish I did...but I'd base my quilt square on the "Be Still and Know That I Am God," verse. Simply call it, "Be Still." Probably the biggest thing I need to remember! ;)
Michelle said…
I don't quilt but I would love to learn.
Catherine said…
No idea what I would name a quilt block, but I would have it based on Jeremiah 29:11 :)
SandiS said…
I would make a "shield" block. "The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in him, and I am helped". Psalm 28:7
Cathleen Jones said…
I am a quilter (currently on a break)& believe in the adage, "so many patterns, so little time..." My all-time fab is the Irish Chain because of it's simplicty; it really let's you work with color. But for this, I would adapt the Log Cabin pattern (another fav) into "my house" based on the passage "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". Maybe using hued fabrics in a watercolor effect.