the four-poster bed I share with my husband in a cottage outside of
a small town in Texas, rests the double wedding ring quilt my grandmother
made me for a marriage that didn’t last. The husband I have
now—the one I’ve come to think of as the real
husband—never knew my grandmother, but he sure admires her quilt.
at the stitches," he says, "so small and neat. Your grandmother
was a precise woman."
is right, but I can’t figure out how he knows this.
in the care she took." He runs a hand over the pattern, nods. "She
loved you very much."
my husband can sew, but I can’t. He can tell by looking at her
quilt all the work that went into it. Me on the other, I’m hopeless
when it comes to needles and thread. I’ve tried, but the deal is,
I’m not a precise woman. My mind wanders and daydreams crowd
in. I get bored with all the measuring and straight cutting required.
Restlessness grabs hold of me. Creativity tells me to try something
wild. Reckless, I follow my impulses and my sewing projects are
always huge disasters.
a high school freshmen, I took home economics because it was required
for girls in the rural community where I was grew up. I enjoyed the
cooking part and learned how to make biscuits from scratch. But the
sewing portion of the class was a nightmare. We had to make a pantsuit.
My mother, knowing what a disaster I was with a sewing machine bought
me cheap, vomit colored double-knit material for my project. So right
away, I was not into that pantsuit.
spare you the details of how I had to repeatedly let the thing out and
take it back in again because I couldn’t measure or cut straight.
Just suffice it to know that on the day when we finished our projects,
the teacher announced, "Tomorrow, all of you must wear your pantsuit
to school, except for Lori. She’s excused."
don’t laugh! If it hadn’t been for my ability to bake a superior
biscuit, I would have failed Home Ec.
my grandmother and my mother were excellent seamstresses, but I didn’t
inherit that gene. I was more like my dad, madly in love with books
and the written word. Although, I found it fascinating to watch Mama
and Gammie take a piece of fabric and turn it into a dress.
particularly charmed me was the quilting. My grandfather had made my
grandmother a wooden quilting frame that he suspended from the living
room ceiling with an arrangement of pulleys and chains. When my grandmother
was ready to work, she’d lower the frame, pull up a chair and get
to working sewing by hand. When she was done, she’d raise it back
up to the ceiling.
loved the feel of her quilts. Running my hand over the different textures
of the materials—cotton, flannel, muslin. I loved the accessories.
The shiny needles, the silver thimbles, the colorful threads.
Gammie designed her quilts with the dedication and intensity of an artist.
But at heart, she was a practical farm wife. Ultimately, her quilts
were for warmth and comfort, not works of art.
art they were.
Gammie started a quilt, she dove into it with her heart and soul. She’d
spend hour upon hour bent over the frame, her fingers nimbly pulling
the thread through. She’d work ten or twelve hours a day for three
or four weeks to finish a quilt. I thought it was the way everyone made
a quilt. Later I learned most people employ a sewing machine and take
their time with it. But once my Gammie started a quilt, she was on a
mission until it was complete.
grandmother also made her own soap and candles. She taught me that a
bar of lye soap wrapped in panty hose and tied around the base of a
peach tree would get rid of peach bores more effectively than any commercial
grade chemical. She showed me how to kill, dress and cut up a chicken.
A skill I’ve never used now that I raise chickens of my own.
grew up hungering for store bought things. I was the oldest of five
kids and my parents were schoolteachers. Not a lot of extra money in
our household. My mother not only held a fulltime job, she grew her
own food in our garden, made our clothes—even underwear, blue jeans
and coats, and she went to school during the summers to get a her master’s
degree. She could crochet and embroidery and she decorated the
house with a brilliant talent, in a folksy, yet elegant style.
I don’t know how she did it. She called gardening and sewing her "therapy"
and said Gammie had been the one to teach her that hard work was an
end unto itself. My mother was also an artist, but that dream got buried
with the demands of mothering five kids. When she was younger she sculpted,
painted, and designed jewelry. Once we kids were out of the house, she
started making porcelein dolls. It’s kind of creepy to open a drawer
in her house and find see dismembered arms and legs and eyeballs staring
up at you.
only craft my mother and Gammie had not perfected was knitting. In our
neck of the woods people crocheted instead. So when I came up with the
idea for my first book with Avon, The Sweethearts’ Knitting Club,
I couldn’t go to mom for help with the research.
don’t we take a knitting class together," she suggested.
so we did. Turns out knitting is the one craft I can do that mom just
doesn’t take to.
inherited none of my mother’s artistic skills, but this grounding
in crafts stuck with me and now, I’ve had the wonderful good fortune
to land with a publisher who encourages me to write what I know. About
small towns filled with interesting people. About groups of women who
get together to support and nurture each other. About knitting and quilting,
cooking and gardening. About mending lives and mending hearts. I’m
so blessed to have this opportunity to bring whimsical, homespun stories
to my readers.
I write this, my husband picks up the afghan I just finished knitting.
He skims his hand over it. Shakes his head. "It runs in the family,"
I’m surprised. Neither my mother or my grandmother knitted.
precision." He leans over to kiss my cheek. "The caring. The love."
that’s when I realize what crafting is all about.
* * *
Lori Wilde is the author of over forty-five books for three major New York publishers. Recently, she received a two-book contract from Warner Books based solely on a 25 word ‘high concept’ pitch. When the sale—along with the pitch—was announced on Publisher’s Marketplace, she was approached by eight film production companies interested in optioning her completed novel for a movie. She has been nominated for Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award and is a four time nominee of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.