Monday, December 5, 2016

Quilting - What is the fascination?

I am super excited about a series that authors from Sweet Americana Sweethearts are putting out in January, 2017.  The premise of the series is Grandma Mary’s Wedding Quilts.  All of her grandchildren, with stories of their own, will receive a quilt with a different block for a wedding gift.  All sweet romances based in mid to late 1800s.

Now I can’t be the only woman around who is totally clueless about quilts!  Come on!  

I have never understood the hubbub about quilting, though many people I know find this pastime fascinating.  I know at first, pioneer women sewed together any scraps of material they could find to help keep their families warm.  (I made a Halloween costume for my son, years ago, and it didn’t last the whole night!  If in one of my previous lives I was a Pioneer woman – my family would have froze!  LOL)

Only in later years, when fabrics were being manufactured in America and were more affordable, did the more artistic type of quilting become more widespread.
In the 100 years between 1750 and 1850 thousands of quilts were pieced and patched, and many of them are preserved. Many of these quilts were so elaborate that years were spent making and quilting them. It is no wonder they are cherished as precious heirlooms and occupy honored places in homes and museums.

I asked a friend of mine who is HUGE into quilting – “Why?”  Below is her answer.

“I love the geometric designs and the way colors work together. I also love to touch the fabric, and actually get an adrenaline rush when I walk in a quilt shop and see all the wonderful fabrics, threads, and samples on the wall. Quilting allows me to stay busy, and never get bored. There's the piecing, the actual quilting, and then binding, which is usually done by hand. There are projects that people do completely by hand, such as applique, redwork, embroidery, hand quilting, etc. I think a lot of people don't like to just sit, and having handwork helps to keep them busy, and their minds occupied. The act of being able to give someone a quilt that you have spent many hours completing just for them, also makes quilters happy. You are giving a little part of yourself when you give someone a quilt that you have made.”

I guess that explains it!

My book, Chase’s Story, is number nine in the series and will be released January 18.  We follow Chase to the Arizona Territory outside the little town of Hackberry and since  things are still pretty secretive - keep watching for more to come! 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Pioneer Quilting Bees and Grandma's Wedding Quilts Series

In preparation to write my upcoming new release, Pleasance's First Love, I came across a treasure--a book that covers quilting and quilting history, with glossy pages filled with photographs and original-sources--in my chosen location of Colorado! What I discovered within The Quilt That Walked to Golden stoked my imagination and helped me come up with historically accurate, fresh ideas that would fuel my plotting of this novella.
Pioneer Quilting Bee, p 31, The Quilt That Walked to Golden

Women quilted alone, but with more leisure time and better transportation, they came together for afternoons of sewing. Quilting bees "were a purely American social custom, unknown in foreign countries," according to historian William Rush Dunton, Jr., author of the classic, Old Quilts... [Women] joined quilting bees because they wanted to socialize and enjoy themselves--and to show off their sewing as well as their culinary skills. "Our readers must not think that these feminine pastimes are a thing of the past. The old custom, hallowed by fond memories[,] is still observed: and Saturday Mrs. H.L. Wyman entertained a number of her lady friends with an old fashioned quilting bee," The Greely Tribune reported on March 9, 1893. "Ten pairs of deft hands aided the hostess in evolving a pattern that would have gained the approval of a Puritan matron and on the conclusion of the labor the mystic eleven sat down to a table loaded with good things gotten up for the comfort of the inner woman."

"Quilt-making was a social event that my mother looked forward to with pleasure," recalled Hazel Dalziel, whose family lived near Longmont. "...A quilting bee gave women a chance to get together in the home of one of the group and talk, perhaps to gossip. It was a friendly and relaxed atmosphere , and the women were making something of which they were proud. It was a vacation from the long workdays."

~ Source: The Quilt That Walked to Golden: Women and Quilts in the Mountain West, From the Overland Trail to Contemporary Colorado, by Sandra Dallas

Introducing Sweet Americana Sweethearts' Authors' New Series, Grandma Mary's Wedding Quilts.

Twelve Titles, including a Prequel.

All stories are connected by family ties--all main characters are grandchildren of Grandma Mary, who ensured each of her grandchildren received a quilt from her on the occasion of their weddings.

All novellas are Sweet, Clean reads, and all set in historic Americana--and all are as unique as their characters. 

Brought to you by USA Today Bestselling, Award-winning, and Bestselling Authors who contribute to Sweet Americana Sweethearts. Look for this new series to debut in January 2017. Titles will be available on preorder later in December and release beginning January 3rd, 2017. See release schedule, below.

Cover Artwork by Shanna Hatfield.

My title, Pleasance's First Love, is book #5 in the series, and will release on January 13, 2017. We'll see her family gather to quilt together the top (pattern: Flying Geese)--a gift from Grandma Mary, and the bottom which Pleasance pieced together over her courtship with Jacob Gideon, and the astounding surprises that come to light when they're put together on the quilting frames.

Victorian Women, photographed with quilts. [Source]

Hi! I'm Kristin Holt, USA Today Bestselling Author.
I write frequent articles (or view recent posts easily on my Home Page, scroll down) about the nineteenth century American west–every subject of possible interest to readers, amateur historians, authors…as all of these tidbits surfaced while researching for my books. I also blog monthly at Sweet Americana Sweethearts (first Friday of each month) and Romancing the Genres (third Tuesday of each Month).

I love to hear from readers! Please drop me a note. Or find me on Facebook.

Copyright © 2016 Kristin Holt LC

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Turnvereins—German Men’s Social Clubs

I love using different and unique facts I’ve uncovered while doing research and incorporating making them into a story’s plot. I also like seeing the geography of a place that I’m using as a base for a story locale. Well, I hit paydirt with both of these aspects as I flipped through the pages of Images of America: Comfort, Texas book. Right there on the page was a picture of a non-descript building, but the sign stated “Comfort Turnverein” and an accompanying picture showed a group of men labeled with “Turner Picnic May 1896.”
The sign over the walkway says "Established 1860" Photo by Ruth Kiel

Soon I’d lost an hour on the click-through-the-URL trail to learn more about these social clubs founded soon after immigrants settled in Texas (and many other places—look up “Turner Hall” in Google images and see how many cities had these clubs) The gymnastic movement of the early 19th century is credited to Turnvater (father of gymnastics) Freidrich Ludwig Jahn. The clubs started forming in Germany while the county was occupied by Napoleon’s armies. In addition to advocating fitness, these clubs in America also provided meeting space to discuss politics and the continuation of German ideals.

A peek inside the turner hall in Milwaukee shows equipment that audiences of contemporary gymnastics are familiar with. (what’s missing is the high bar) The men must have dressed up for the picture because I can’t imagine them exercising in dress shirts and bow ties.

In Ione’s Dilemma, (cover reveal below) to be released in January 2017, the hero Morgan is a member of the local club. This location is where he interacts with bachelors in the area, and he uses those contacts to engage in a little bit of matchmaking. More hints in next month's post...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Blog Tour Tuesday ~ Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff

I am so excited to able to announce 
my newest release here at Sweet Americana Sweethearts! 
Just in time for Christmas!

Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff 

by Kathryn Albright

This is the story of Gemma Starling, a woman running from her past. Gemma travels two thousand miles form her former life to flee the crime she committed. As the new schoolteacher in Clear Springs, she tries to blend in, but the sheriff in town is not so easily deceived. Gemma's attempts to avoid Craig Parker only intrigue him more. When her life is threatened, he realizes that his personal feelings for her have far surpassed his professional responsibilities for the case. He cannot lose her...yet does he even know who she truly is?

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"I loved this western romance. Ms. Albright provided us with old fashioned romance, a mystery, and Christmas --all of my favorite things."
Teri Donaldson - Amazon Reviewer


    He breathed hard trying to catch his breath while looking back and listening to make sure they weren’t being followed. With any luck on their side, the cougar had been protecting its kill. When they left it would have settled down to eat. He turned back to attend to Miss Starling. “I think we’re oka—”
   She gripped his vest hard, and tucked her face into his chest, breathing hard. Her small shoulders shook.
   Surprised by the sudden change in her, he didn't know what to do at first. "It's okay, Gemma." He looked down on the straight part in her brown hair. Her hat had fallen off during her wild ride and how hug by its ribbons on her back. "We're safe. You're fine."
   Her breaths came in disjointed gasps.
   He didn't know what the heck to do with his arms, flummoxed as he was by her sudden move to cling to him.
   "Is it gone?"
   "I think so." Her hair know was half out of its coil and falling down her back. He breathed in her jasmine scent. What had happened to Miss 'I can do it myself'? He was beginning to realize there was a lot more to Miss Starling than she cared to admit.
   "Wha...what happened?" She spoke into his chest, her breaths still coming in gasps.
   "Not sure. Probably the cat was being protective of its kill."
   "Are we safe?"
   "Yeah." He said it, but he wasn't all that sure. He listened for the big cat, which was foolish since cougars hunted quieter than any other large animal. It would be on them before they knew it wanted them.
   Finally, he slipped his arms around her shoulders and simply held her. It was awkward at first. He felt stiff. She hadn't wanted to close the gap to call him Craig, but here she was in his arms. He didn't know what to make of it. Then she shifted on her saddle, moving closer. He tightened his hold. "Take a big breath and let it out slow."
   She did as he said, her breathing still unsteady, her body still shaking. She was a tiny thing. The only other woman he'd held in his arms was Charlotte who was a good five inches taller than Miss Starling. Bigger frame too. Feeling Miss Starling's shoulders heave with every small gasp made him want to hold her tighter and ease her fear. He brushed the tendrils of hair off her cheek. Her skin felt even smoother than it looked. His fingertips tingled and the urge to repeat his stroke tugged at him.
   After a while, her breath evened out. She pushed away from him, breaking the moment of comfort. "I'm all right now."
   He studied her, liking the way she looked all disheveled with her cheeks flushed and her brown eyes soft and self-conscious.
   She pushed a hairpin back into place.
   He snorted softly. "Don't think that'll do it."
   Her cheeks pinked up.
   She was embarrassed. He found it rather fetching.
   "If I may just take a moment..." She then proceeded to comb out her hair with her fingers.
   The sight of all that rich brown hair flowing loose, the sunlight glinting on it, did odd things to his gut. This was a most intimate part of her day and he was suddenly privy to it. He would have liked to reach out and stop her. He would have liked to do the combing with his own fingers and touch those silky waves. Instead, he gripped his reins tight and simply stared, fascinated.
   She rewound the thick strand with a practiced hand and coiled it again upon her head. She repinned it and then set her hat just so to cover the slightly mussed-up appearance of her hair knot. Her gaze skittered to his as she tied the ribbons under her chin. "I hope my horse was running the right way."
   It took him a moment to pull out of the spell she'd cast over him. He pointed with his chin to the small cross-section of road ahead of them. "Smart horse. Knows the way home."

Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff
Copyright 2016 by Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.
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Kathryn Albright writes sweet historical romance. Her stories celebrate courage and hope with a dash of adventure. Kathryn's stories have been finalists in the distinguished RWA Golden Heart and the HOLT Medallion as well as several other industry contests. She enjoys hiking, long road trips with her husband and being caught up in a great story. She lives with her family in the rural Midwest.

Kathryn's Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads