From the book
How do you say goodbye to a piece of your heart? If you're a quilter, you have a time-honored way to express yourself.
A quilt is an object of peculiar intimacy. By virtue of the way it is created, every inch of the fabric is touched. Each scrap absorbs the quilter's scent and the invisible oils of her skin, the smell of her household and, thanks to the constant pinning and stitching, her blood in the tiniest of quantities. And tears, though she might be loath to admit it.
My adult life has been a patchwork of projects, most of which were fleeting fancies of overreaching vision. I tend to seize on things, only to abandon them due to a lack of time, talent or inclination. There are a few things I'm truly good at---Jeopardy!, riding a bike, balancing a checkbook, orienteering, making balloon animals...and quilting.
I'm good at pulling together little bits and pieces of disparate objects. The process suits me. Each square captures my attention like a new landscape. Everything about quilting suits me, an occupation for hands and heart and imagination.
Other things didn't work out so well--Szechuan cooking, topiary gardening, video games and philately come to mind.
My main project, my ultimate work-in-progress, is Molly, of course. And today she's going away to college, clear across the country. Correction--I'm taking her away, delivering her like an insured parcel to a new life.
Hence the quilt. What better memento to give my daughter than a handmade quilt to keep in her dorm room, a comforter stitched with all the memories of her childhood? It'll be a tangible reminder of who she is, where she comes from...and maybe, if I'm lucky, it will offer a glimpse of her dreams.
All my quilting supplies come from a shop in town called Pins & Needles. The place occupies a vintage building on the main street. It's been in continuous operation for more than five decades. As a child, I passed its redbrick and figured concrete storefront on my way to school each day, and I still remember the kaleidoscope of fabrics in the window, flyers announcing classes and raffles, the rainbow array of rich-colored thread, the treasure trove of glittering notions. My first job as a teenager was at the shop, cutting fabric and ringing up purchases.
When Molly started school, I worked there part time, as much for the extra money as for the company of women who frequented Pins & Needles. Fall is wonderful at the fabric shop, a nesting time, when people are making Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving centerpieces and Christmas decorations. People are never in a hurry in a fabric shop.
They browse. They talk about their projects, giving you a glimpse of their lives.
The shop is a natural gathering place for women. The people I've met there through the years have become my friends. Customers and staff members stand around the cutting tables to discuss projects, give demonstrations and workshops, offer advice on everything from quilting techniques to child rearing to marriage. The ladies there all know about my idea to make a quilt as a going-away gift for Molly. Some of them even created pieces for me to add, embroidered with messages of "Good Luck" and "Congratulations."
You can always tell what's going on in a woman's life based on the quilt she's working on. The new-baby quilts are always light and soft, the wedding quilts pure and clean, filled with tradition, as though a beautiful design might be an inoculation against future strife. Housewarming...
Author: Susan Wiggs
Susan Wiggs has won many awards for her work, including a RITA from Romance Writers of America. She has also published with a number of houses, including Avon, HarperCollins, Warner and MIRA Books.
In addition to being a militant romance writer, a feminist, a guilt-ridden mother and a perfect wife, Susan Wiggs grows mutant tomatoes, speaks French, and plays the cello. Her hobbies are reading, traveling the world and Fair Isle knitting. She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, her daughter, and the world's most ill-mannered Airedale. Although she has convinced her family that toiling away at a writing career makes her a candidate for martyrdom, she secretly believes it's the second-most fun to be had.
Wiggs, a Harvard graduate, confesses that a book once saved her sanity. Trapped at Barcelona Airport during an airline strike, she vividly remembers savoring every lush, escapist word of a romance novel. Ever since, it has been her quest to write the sort of books people cling to in crowded airports, or whenever life gets too crazy.
"Susan Wiggs paints the detailsof human relationships with thefinesse of a master." - Jodi Picoult
"With the ease of a master, Wiggs introduces complicated, flesh-and-blood characters into her idyllic but identifiable small-town setting...." - Publishers Weekly, starred review on The Winter Lodge
"Wiggs's talent is reflected in her thoroughly believable characters as well as the way she recognizes the importance of family by blood or other ties." - Library Journal
"Wiggs is one of our best observers of stories of the heart. She knows how to capture emotion on virtually every page of every book." - Salem Statesman-Journal
"Wiggs' prose is both compelling and moving...Each and every character is finely detailed, and finishing the book feels like saying goodbye to dear old friends." - RT BookReviews on Summer at Willow Lake
"Just Breathe is tender and heartbreaking... It's a beautiful novel." - Luanne Rice
"Wiggs takes serious situations and weaves them into an emotionally wrought story that will have readers reaching for the Kleenex one moment and snickering out loud the next." - Publishers Weekly on Just Breathe
"Wiggs explores many aspects of grief, from guilt to anger to regret, imbuing her book with the classic would've/could've/should've emotions, and presenting realistic and sympathetic characters.... another excellent title to her already-outstanding body of work." - Booklist, starred review, on Table for Five