soaring stitches: blog book

soaring stitches: blog book

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 hired one of the top book designers in the country to take on my project and I began discussions with printers about producing my book.

It was a radical change in direction when 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 is much easier for everyone.

So welcome to my new book: Soaring Stitches—Creativity Snippets for Quilters.

To follow is the Introduction:

MY HERO

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!


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61 comments


  • Carolyn Burton
    Patricia, it was during your ‘eye-opening’ class that I first met Kitty. She was such a positive, truly involved presence, even into her nineties. Her quilts blew me away! I wish you every success in your new venture and await the next installment with happy anticipation. We miss you! Carolyn

  • Patricia Belyea
    Linda—Yes, Kitty is a national treasure. Did you know that she was born in China, the daughter of missionaries. And she is an identical twin. I’m also an identical twin. Often I would caption a photo of both of us with “Identical Twins!”. Ha! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Jamie—Thank you! I have over 40 Snippets written. You will see one a month over the next couple of years. The drip approach! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Arlene—The Pippens are a special pair of quilting luminaries. I am so pleased to know both of them. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Thank you Susan. Not only am I blooming, so are 165 indigo plants! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Janet—This book will be about a creative approach to quilt making and encouragements. A lot more text than you usually see in a quilt book. And my new website will allow you to quickly find the Creativity Snippets. (Expect that new website this Fall!) PB

  • Susan Smith
    Love reading your stories. Looks like you are blooming in your new location. We all miss you.

  • Janet Wright
    I love your blog—BUT—I guess I would rather have a book in my hand. I often get out your first book. Would you consider doing both?

  • Arlene Laarence
    Thank you so much for this blog! What a beautiful description of your time with Kitty and with Sylvia. We are fortunate to be the recipients of your helpful ideas and words! Looking forward to each new blog. ❤️

  • Linda Lim
    Kitty is a National Treasure. I took a class with her years ago and had been collecting Yukata and other Japanese fabrics for some time. Her class was wonderful. She brought many of her quilts. I share her love and appreciation of those textiles.

  • Jamie Scheibach
    Thanks,Patricia. How touching. I look forward to your next book-blog post.