Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Quilting History

Quilt Pattern: Log Cabin

I can't play with my imaginary friends for a while—reality's calling. When I'm not a novelist, I'm an editor, and a new biography hit my desktop today. It's time to focus in and get my needle threaded: writing history is like piecing a quilt. I'll tell you how we do it.

Dee starts a project by looking at the whole picture, observing the arrangement, the variety, the theme. "There are logs in this pattern," he might say."Tell me that story."

He breaks the story down to a list of basic facts and creates a time-line of the person's life. "1956: born. 1960: took his first tennis lesson," all the way through. It helps to see it in chronological order, with dates.

Then he starts searching for pieces. Interviews, photos, scrapbooks and letters lead to more interviews, photos, scrapbooks and letters, and a unique pattern begins to emerge. Color and texture come by stitching in current events, styles, and music of the times.

The pieces pile up and are bundled into chapters: Family, Childhood, Education, Marriage, Career—whatever the design dictates.

Dee bastes all the pieces together,

And then I do the sewing. My goal is to eliminate bumps and snags, make it smooth and even.

I'm especially excited to start my work this time. It's about a guy who was a lumberjack!

Quilt Pattern: The Lumberjack

It's your turn:

Make a time-line of the major events in your life. Go back to the list and add a source for additional material. (Example: Childhood—Aunt Ruth; Junior High—Joan; High School—yearbook.) Schedule a time to search for these pieces of your quilt.


Diane said...

What a great analogy! I'll pull out my basic timeline and try to fill it in some more.

Anonymous said...

You touched on so many things of interest to me -- and others -- in this posting. The quilting analogy is so fitting and reminds me of a blog I'm following that is sure to be a hit with quilter and quilters-to-be:

And I've been toying with the timeline analogy for gathering together photos, writings, and snippets of interest in some format to pass along to my family. Maybe I'll end up with a timeline of highlights on a board game of "Life" type quilt...

Thanks Again, Grammy

Abby said...

Love your analogy! Great idea and story.

kenju said...

I love your analogy too! You never cease to amaze me.

Scrappy Grams said...

I'm with Kenju- you amaze me blog after blog. I love the analogy too, but one aside- where do I get that quilt? lol

Heather Scott Partington said...

My MIL is a quilter. Love me some Log Cabins. I tried to quilt a few times out of daughter-in-law-ly love, but it ended in rage every time. It just takes too much careful measuring for me. There was a lot of seam-ripping involved.

I think I bring a different set of feelings to the whole quilt thing. :)

That said, I'm glad you're stitching things together. I think what you and Dee do for people is amazing. You inspire me!

Meg said...

Thanks for the inspiration! I am motivated to add some more pieces to my unfinished "quilting" project.