By Patricia Belyea
WAUCONDA WA Over a year and a half ago, I started writing a book about creativity for quilters. Many early mornings, with a coffee in hand, I scratched out my thoughts about how to make a quilt. Once the manuscript coalesced, I began discussions with a book designer and offset printers about producing my book.
Then I mad a radical change in the direction of my project. I decided that my book would not be a book. Instead I’ve chosen to publish each mini-chapter as a blog post. That way folks don't end up with one more physical item in their lives. And distribution over the web would be much easier for everyone.
So welcome to my new book: Soaring Stitches—Creativity Snippets for Quilters.
To follow is the Introduction:
As far as I know, Kitty Pippen stands as the foremost American quilter to use Japanese textiles in her creations. Kitty made her first quilt when she was 70— a king-sized composition with facing cranes in the center and a border of curved indigo piecing. The hand-stitched quilt won first place at the national quilt show in Paducah.
At the age of 97, spry Kitty began to decline. I asked Kitty’s daughter Sylvia if I could bed-sit with Kitty. That meant visiting, even if Kitty was asleep, so I could be in her presence.
Kitty was dozing when I slipped into her apartment at the senior living center in La Conner, Washington. Sitting quietly, I started stitching an ongoing English paper piecing project. Before I knew it, Kitty was awake and I was helping her sip some water through a straw.
After a short hour, Sylvia arrived. It was time for me to go so I said my goodbyes. Outside I reflected on the fact that I would likely never see Kitty alive again.
At a nearby restaurant, Sylvia soon joined me for lunch. Sylvia reported that Kitty said just one thing about me after I left. “What’s her shtick?” Kitty asked.
I was immediately self conscious. Could the almost other-worldly Kitty see some ulterior motive in my actions? Was my purpose in visiting Kitty determined by personal gain of some kind?
Kitty’s words certainly troubled me until recently. Then I began to see them as a gift. What an important query!
What’s my shtick? What do I really care about? Where’s my passion? In reflecting on the question, I came up with three clear answers—creativity, quilting, and Japan.
I believe that creativity continually transforms and engages. The challenge of making a quilt wakes up a life force of divining and determination. And the little islands of Japan produce some of the most remarkable textiles in the world. Kitty and I shared the same shtick!