When I received this little photograph a couple of days ago it made me almost want to jump with joy.
It’s a quilt, or the startings of one. At the centre is a lover’s knot embroidered onto a pale fabric. Not so extraordinary you might think. But for me, it is remarkable, because it is something that has until now only existed in my imagination. It is the quilt which forms the centrepiece of the plot of my new novel, The Forgotten Seamstress.
I am not a quilter, apart from the small cot cover I made many years ago, so as I was embarking on this novel I was incredibly fortunate to be introduced to a true expert, teacher and fellow-author Lynne Edwards, MBE, who embraced the project with such enthusiasm I knew at once that our collaboration would produce something remarkable. With her years of experience and expertise, Lynne knew precisely what fabrics, techniques and other influences Maria would have had during the various stages of her life, and we had great fun creating her ‘virtual quilt’.
She also, very generously, wrote the pattern and instructions for making Maria’s Quilt, which are available for downloading here. And that is just what Judy Baker Rogers did. A highly experienced quilter and organiser of her own quilting group (the Cotton Scatterers of Wickham Bishops), Judy has taken on the challenge of making Maria’s Quilt – her interpretation of it, of course – and here are the first few ‘frames’ of the ‘medallion’ design.
All those hours of imagining the quilt, of the woman who made it and the places that she sewed in and the trials she went through, those days of trying to find the words that would evoke a visual picture in the reader’s mind of this fictional creation, are emerging into life in front of my very eyes. I’ve always thought of Maria’s Quilt as a kind of character in my novel – just imagine if you could, by writing about someone, bring them to life. Jane Austen meets Mr Darcy, perhaps!
Now can you see why I am so excited! And to Judy and Lynne, many many thanks.