Friday, April 30, 2010

Sarah's Key and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

In the last couple of weeks I have listened to two wonderful books that I think you will enjoy. It is interesting that the last two books I reviewed were about women from the South and these next two books have ties to WWII.

The first one I'll tell you about is Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. This is what Publishers Weekly has to say: "De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers—especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive—the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself. Already translated into 15 languages, the novel is De Rosnay's 10th (but her first written in English, her first language). It beautifully conveys Julia's conflicting loyalties, and makes Sarah's trials so riveting, her innocence so absorbing, that the book is hard to put down. "
I really enjoyed this book and yes, it was very moving and I had to sit in the car after I got to my destination several times to finish a part--always a good recommendation--and it was beautifully read!

I had a hard time getting into the 2nd book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society until I reread the description on and realized that it was a series of letters--and then, I really enjoyed it. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is read by 20 different people and that is one of the reasons that makes it so special. From Publishers Weekly: "The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers."

Like Anne of Green Gables this book made me want to travel to the destination. I love to read books, but because I drive at least 1-2 hours a day to get to and from work, audiobooks are my salvation. I highly recommend them, not just for listening to while driving but for anytime you can't be turning the pages of a book.

If you have any suggestions for what I should read next, please comment.

Happy stitching, reading, or listening,

Joy to the World Winners

Oh, I'm so sorry. I chose the winners for the blog contest and then forgot to blog them. The three winners were chosen at random by a random number generator and here are the winner's names and comments.

paula, the quilter said:
"I am a 'totally prepared' gal myself. Starch on the edges around either a freezer paper or templar template, iron and then glue. I 'do' remove the template if it is freezer paper."

stitchinRN said:
"my favorite is using freezer paper, but i spray starch my pieces after basting to the freezer paper template. i remove the freezer paper before i stitch it in place, no removing later, easy to peel off. it looks like needle turn, but easier."

Lori H said:
"During a recent class, our teacher showed us needleturn applique. While my sister 'hated that day', I loved it. I look forward to many new projects."

I will send each of you an autographed copy of Joy to the World as soon as I receive your snail mail addresses.

Thank you to all who left comments! There are so many methods of applique out there and I think that I just might design an applique sampler.

Happy stitching,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hometown Favorites Online Shop Hop with prizes

McCall's Quilting Magazine is introducing a very special, newsstand only issue titled America Quilts, Hometown Favorites available on newstands, May 18. There will be 16 featured shops that have each designed an exclusive quilt and we were lucky enough to be one of them. Our quilt is absolutely stunning--the only thing I can tell you is that we've named it Into the Woods, it's made in creams, rusty reds, browns, and blacks, and it's a variation of one of our favorite traditional patterns.

McCalls will also be hosting an online shop hop, May 10-14, where you will be able to read interviews with the selected shop owners and purchase a kit for their quilt. And...........prizes--each shop will be giving away a kit for their quilt and Moda will be giving away a tower of 40 fat quarters (and we all need more fat quarters)!!!!

Visit McCall's Quilting to get the full list of shops along with contest details. Bookmark this site and don't forget to check in on May 10th to start the hop. We're excited!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Birthday to us and a blog contest for you!

It's April and Great American Quilt Factory's 29th birthday, which means that we are going into our 30th year in business.! Hip, Hip, Hooray! I can still vividly remember sitting on the cement floor in a brand new vacant space, drinking a glass of wine and wondering how we were ever going to make it to the end of our first 5 year lease and here we are, many leases later.

Now the store is in it's 30th year which means I have been quilting for over 40 (I started at a very, very young age). Recently I have been researching different hand and machine applique techniques. I do quite a bit of machine applique but haven't done applique by hand for many, many years--my how it has changed! My method back then was to baste all the seam allowances under, baste the pieces into position, and then applique. Several years ago I tried a little bit of needle-turn and decided it wasn't my cup of tea. Just recently I took a class on the freezer paper method by Pearl Pereira-P3 Designs. I really enjoyed it, especially because after the applique was glued into place, it was totally portable. Next I'll be checking out the back-basting technique for hand applique and revisiting Beth Ferrier's machine technique.

Now, I'm asking for your advice. Please leave a comment telling me what your favorite method of applique is and why and/or your favorite applique tool. You will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of 3 autographed copies of our out-of-print book, Joy to the World--a collector's item and very difficult to find in perfect condition. You will have until Sunday, April 18th to comment and the 3 winners will be chosen at random on the 19th. Please make sure that you leave an e-mail so that you can be contacted.
For a quiltylicious way to celebrate your birthday or special occasion, this little quilt from the pattern Ode to a Cupcake, might be the perfect choice. In fact, I might use this pattern to experiment with my applique techniques making an applique sampler.

Quilting has changed so much in the last 40 years and I am so glad that it is still my passion! Next I'll be checking out hand piecing techniques and perhaps we'll hold another contest.

Best of luck to each of you and happy stitching,