photo of the BGs with their Book Club Challenge quilts

By the Book

Petriw, Chaplin, Jankunis and Wills
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Winter 2020

Do you know what happens when quilters and a book club in Lethbridge, AB, collide? Creativity flows and spectacular quilts are produced.

Over the past year, the BGs (also known as the Batik Group) have participated in a Book Club Quilt Challenge. It started with members bringing a book to our November 2019 meeting. We discussed each one and then decided on Switchback by Danika Stone because it was written by a local author (support local and Canadian) and set in nearby Waterton Lakes National Park, a place we were all familiar with.

photo of Mauie's Bear in Waterton quilt

Five members of the BGs read the book and then set about creating quilted items inspired by it. There were no size or style limitations and we had about 10 months to complete the challenge. In September 2020, we invited Danika to attend our “Reveal Night”. The evening was full of
anticipation as we had the opportunity to meet Danika and then reveal our creations. What an inspiring evening we had!

Mauie went first with Bear in Waterton. It was spectacular! In her own design she managed to include the sky, mountains, evergreens, a river, bear tracks, a rusted-out Honda, Red Rock Canyon and a bear head (inspired by Janet Fogg’s Black Bear Face pattern) looking down on a pile of her favourite library books. She worked with reds to depict berries, blood and killings in the plot; whites for the storms and avalanche; and blues, greens and browns for the topography. A variety of quilting techniques were used, from traditional blocks to modern art style and appliqué.

Donna’s interpretation was titled Park Warden’s Nightmare. She used a variety of squares, rectangles and triangles in a wide range of colours and designs to represent different aspects of the book. It was very creative as each piece of fabric had a meaning. She even managed to find a batik fabric with buffalo on it and surrounded them with a fence to depict the Bison Paddocks that are located near the Waterton Park gate. Donna’s quilt came with a legend to help us understand the meaning of the pieces in her creation.

Connie needed a quilt for the daybed in her family room. Her quilt was inspired by the park’s peaks. The story takes place in the late fall, so her mountains include the rusts, browns and oranges that beautify Waterton at that time of year. Other peaks are coloured with the purple of the setting sun or the gloom of the coming night. A threatening snowstorm can be seen looming over each peak. Wide side borders were added to camouflage the collection of UFOs that make their home under the daybed. Felix, the cat, has already tried the quilt out and claimed it as his own. Connie used the Scrappy Mountain Majesties version of the Delectable Mountain block; complete instructions for this easy block can be found on Bonnie Hunter’s Quiltville blog.

Marion created a Bully Me Not table runner with a very powerful message. This element echoed difficulties that she long endured at the hands of a colleague. She used the paper pieced Pineapple block to suggest the ripple effect that bullying has in our society, and a lot of pink, the recognized anti-bullying colour. In the bottom block, the central square represents an infant who is self-centered and pure in their interactions with the world, as represented by the radiating fuchsia fabric. The light pink extending toward the infant from the block corners indicates that the world treats an infant with tenderness. In the centre block, dark fabric surrounds the person being bullied; the mix of yellow, orange and red suggests self-centeredness and understanding. And the top block signifies a person who has come to understand that bullying is a symptom of low self esteem in the bully and has little to do with their target, other than that they too often have low self esteem. Radiating yellow fabric is used for the enlightened target.

Teresa chose cool blues for her quilt so that one would feel the chill of the snowstorm on the mountain, and a snowy mountain panel was incorporated into her nine patches. The dark blue steps represent the switchbacks along the trails, the 180° bends in the path leading up the side of the mountain. Longarm quilter Darci Rollingson added a swirling pattern with glistening blue thread to make it look like snow was blowing across the quilt.

We were all overwhelmed by the variety and creativity of the quilts and Danika was very impressed with our ability to portray her novel in such unique ways. Despite the fact that we had all read the same book, each quilt was very different. This experience has stretched our creative abilities in playing with fabric and thread and inspired us to plan a new challenge (you never know what we will be up to next!)

Are you up for a challenge? Find a few quilting friends, choose a book that you all enjoy, and then let the creative juices flow. You might find that a group like this will push you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Not only will you be inspired and encouraged, but you might make some interesting quilts and new friends along the way!

The BGs (Batik Group) consist of six quilters (Connie Chaplin, Elaine Josey, Marion Jankunis, Donna Kendall, Teresa Petriw and Mauie Wills) from the Lethbridge Centennial Quilters Guild who decided to form a small group. They have been meeting and challenging each other since June 2013. Over the years, they have shared the love of batiks and quilting while challenging and inspiring each other on.

Switchback was selected as one of the “Best Young Adult Books of 2019” by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and Danika was the Writer in Residence for the Lethbridge Public Library this past year.

Quilt Canada 2023

Quilt Canada 2023

Quilt Canada 2023, June 8-10, Halifax, NS