Monday, February 20, 2023

PQ 14.4 A Novel Project

The past week's challenge was to make a quilt inspired by a book. Those of you who are regular followers know that I am an avid and a lifelong reader; I was an English as well as French teacher as well for 30 years. So it was too hard to choose one book; like Trish I could ream off 50 favourites, some of those favourites read within the past year, like The Dictionary of Lost Words, or Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, or The Golem and the Jinni finished just three days ago. So I based my project on a series, the Outlander books, though as you'll see, it's really so much more than these beloved books by Diana Gabaldon, every one of which I have, including The Outlandish Companion!

The Calanais Standing Stones are in the Outer Hebrides on the Isle of Lewis. My mini is based on a photograph from Historic Environment Scotland. Calanais Standing Stones is another very informative site with more photos of these magical 5000-year-old stones.

Thank you to Kim of and Trish for hosting and dreaming up these challenges. I have been preoccupied with the magazine project all week, so I only started this on Saturday, finishing it up Sunday morning. I started by lightly tracing the shape of the stones from one of the photographs that particularly appealed to me because of the light and shadow cast upon the stones.

From my tracing I made tiny templates using newsprint and my sewing room window. Yay for a sunny Saturday. For the background, I sewed two pieces of Island Batik together. The stones were cutting out from Island Batik black and various other pieces of grey and black scraps. I used the Crafted Appliqué method.

Once I had placed a few stones, I realized there were hills in the distance, so I freehand cut out some hill shapes from a brown scrap, and continued on with the stones. There are 12 larger ones and four tiny ones. I kept overlaying my tissue paper template to stay as close as I could to the actual stones placement. 

As for the shadows, at first I'd planned to free-motion quilt them in, but then I thought the larger shadows should be cut from fabric, so I freehand cut some basic shadow shapes from the black batik.

I layered it with Hobbs Thermore and cut a 6" square from my precious Bookish Art Gallery Fabrics fat quarters stack I treated myself to last year from Mad About Patchwork to make the Meadowland quilt. Sadly, with all the quilting, the books are kind of lost.

I used Aurifil threads: green in the grass and invisible, which I really really like, everywhere else. I used the navy for the binding, and opted to hand-stitch the binding onto the back since I had time, and I didn't want a line of stitching on the front nor a topstitched down finish.

In Outlander, Claire inadvertently time travels through a stone circle at Craigh na Dun in Scotland, ending up some 200 years in the past. There, she is caught up in the Jacobite Uprising, when Scotland tried, and failed miserably, to get out from under English rule, and put their King James back on the throne. Diana Gabaldon did, and continues to do, meticulous research to get the historical aspect of the books correct. I've always felt and believed in the magic and the power of, and the mystery surrounding the standing stones found throughout the United Kingdom, the idea of ley lines across the earth, connecting these and other mysterious creations like the Nazca lines in Peru, and Chichen-Itza in Mexico.
Perched on the shelf in my library/yoga room

So although my stone circle mini-mini is a tribute to these wonderful books, it symbolizes the ability of books to transport the reader. As I said in my Instagram post, the ethereal stones represent the magic of books. they are paper time, travelling machines, transporting us to other worlds, teaching us so much. they are portals, taking us to our own world in a different century, a fantastical imaginary world, or a combination of the two (thinking of Charles de Lint, whose books I also love or the beloved world of Hogwart’s.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: my own but based on a photograph on Historic Environment Scotland
Size: 6" x 6"
Fabric: scraps
Batting: Hobbs Thermore
Backing: 'Bookish' by Sharon Holland for AGF
Quilted: on my Bernina
Threads: quilted with Aurifil Invisible and Aurifil cotton

SAHRR Update
The progress was minimal. I am echoing the crazy flying geese from the original Coneflower Crazies block. I plan to do them on the two opposite sides to where the original ones are. I am not going to do them all the way across I don't think... So far these were all paper-pieced, though I went rogue and did the seventh one ineach strip improv style. I think I'll have more on the vertical column on the right side than across the top. Hopefully I'll be back on track for next week's linkup. We are to do square-in-a-square in the next round.

Update! Four hours later! That includes lunch and FaceTime with Brianne and some reading time.😉

Forgot to put the yo-yo back on. I found it in my treasures, made at a guild meeting long ago. I came across that gold and green paisley fabric in my yellow scraps box when I was looking for more gold and I thought it would be a perfect filler between geese. I love the little phrase, Kitty and the Muse. It’s perfect for this quilt! It now measure 38" x 42".


  1. Books do have the incredibly powerful magic of being able to transport us to other places and times. I like the echoing flying geese in your original block, and I look forward to seeing how you incorporate square in a square blocks.

  2. Books are my windows into other worlds. I really like your ring of stones.

  3. Outlander! me too! I got to see/hear Diana Gabaldon speak at the book festival in DC... she's very smart and charming. Surprisingly humorous too, and pretty on top of it!

  4. I love your mini of the standing stones: beautiful! Remiss of me, I know, but I've never read any of the Outlander books! Your literary analysis has encouraged me to start looking for one now. Which should I read first?

  5. I love your mini! I too have never read the Outlander books.

  6. Books are magical and this is a gorgeous piece. I didn't read the books but watched some of the series (the violence wasn't for me and I sped through it), but I can imagine the books were even more interesting. This is the second time today I am declaring the need for more time in a day!!!

  7. It amazes me how many people haven’t read the Outlander books - my all time favorites. They’ve gotten me through bad times and good. If you’ve never heard Davina Porter read them, you should! (Audible has her versions). My niece waited in line to get me a signed copy and a pic of her with Diana G. for Christmas thus earning favorite niece status forever….

    1. PS this is Sarah C at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Couldn’t get it to sign me in as my Google self!

  8. Love this mini along with the Diana Gabaldon series. I was hooked with book one the year she wrote it and I've read them all, listened to most of them on CD and wish the library would get the audio books (not condensed) on their e-app. I've watched the series which while good doesn't do justice the to "movie in my head." A book is always at hand for me.

  9. I love the Outlander series (although here in the UK the first book was called Cross Stitch and that is why I picked it up because I was into cross stitch!) Another great series is The Jacobite Chronicles by Julia Brannan - I learned such a lot about that period - I think the first one is called Mask of Duplicity. Love the mini of the standing stones. My husband plotted lots of ley lines, glup, it must be nearly 40 years ago now. At the time we lived in Wales and there were plenty around us. I don't think he did the same for Scotland. Of course 40 years ago there wasn't the internet to look it all up :-) We have a very small stone circle near us - unfortunately the road goes through the middle of it. I have also visited Stonehenge back in the days when you could walk all over it - it is a very special place. Your SAHRR is coming along; love the wonky flying geese.

  10. I love it!! What a wonderful tribute to our wonderful Outlander books and Diana Gabaldon. You know I love the fat ones, and I hate when they end, that's what has been great about the series, always able to wait (with baited breath) for the next one - can't imagine how I'll feel when they stop. Not only did I meet Diana in the UK, I visited a number of standing stones.
    SAHRR is coming along nicely, I love the wonky flying geese too.
    Take care, love and hugs.

  11. I love your little project! Even though I dislike those books, I do really love where they are set. Great picture with the books!

  12. (Belated reading). Love your Outlander piece. I agree with you on every point regarding the Gabaldon series!! Love the addition of the wonky geese to your SAHRR.