An Amish Quilting Story From a Man?
I have to admit, when Patrick contacted me about being on The Writer’s Block–Quilts and More, I was curious. Quilting is, after all, mainly a woman’s craft. Writing Amish romance usually is, too. Then when I received Patrick’s post, I was even more intrigued at the pattern he chose for his heroine to make–A Rose of Sharon.
Since the book cover doesn’t really show a Rose of Sharon pattern, here are a couple of sites where you see the block and get free patterns:
Now, let’s find out how a Patrick became a quilt lover and Amish romance writer.
Many of my readers have asked me how I came to write a whole romance novel about quilting. It’s a strange and wonderful story. The whole adventure came about when Nick Harrison, my editor at Harvest House Publishers, challenged me to send him a story idea. He told me he liked Amish stories and quilting stories. Now I knew nothing about the Amish or about quilting—absolutely nothing. I had never read an Amish fiction novel, and I had never seen a quilt made or even seen the tools. But I heard opportunity knocking and was determined to answer the door.
So I got on Google. I studied everything I could find—I dove into it with abandon. As I read about it, my character’s studio became very real to me. I could see the frame, the bolts of material, and her needles. I could see the special rocking stitch she used. I even saw her leather thimble.
Finally, I started my first chapter. In the story Jerusha finds very special silk material hidden away in an old chest. Now the Amish never use silk, but Jerusha was determined to do something unique. I wrote this line: As she rode home she began to see the design for the quilt in her mind, and for the first time in months she felt her spirits lift. And amazingly I began to see the design for the quilt in my own mind.
I saw a beautiful blood red rose centered on a royal blue silk square background. The backing was cream-colored and there would be over 90,000 stitches. The story began to flow out of me.
The royal blue pieces made a dark, iridescent backdrop. The rose had hundreds of parts, all cut into the flowing shapes of petals. The quilting pattern was the most complicated she had ever done, but she traced it out, grateful for the means to occupy her mind and keep the thoughts of Jenna from overwhelming her. Then she laid out the cream-colored backing, placed a double layer of batting on top of it and over it all, she placed the ironed patchwork piece that she had developed over the past month. She carefully basted the layers together, starting from the center and working out to the edges. She carefully attached one end to the quilting frame, and then slowly turned the pole until she could attach the other end. Then she drew the quilt tight until it was stable enough to stitch on and she started to quilt.
As the quilt developed, the story developed and then a whole series developed where the quilt became the focus around which generations of an Amish family found their way through the trials of life. And the blood red rose in what Jerusha called her “Rose of Sharon” quilt became a symbol of the shed blood of Jesus and it’s marvelous power in the lives of people who turn to God in their desperate need.
Now whenever, I see a quilt, I stop and look, for my writing journey has made me an aficionado and a true lover of fine quilts.
Patrick E. Craig has loved quilts since he was challenged to write a novel about an Amish quilter by his editor at Harvest House Publishers. His favorite thing about quilting is the immense dedication it takes to finish a perfect quilt that has every stitch in place, nothing puckered, and yet beautiful in design. Patrick writes Amish Romance (one of only about six men who do) and children’s mystery stories. He is married and he and his wife Judy make their home in Idaho. You can find his Amish quilting novel, A Quilt For Jenna, on Amazon at this link, (A Quilt For Jenna) or in your favorite Christian store.