Sunday, April 7, 2013

Themes of Work and Friendship in The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini

Eight Hands Around Quilt Block
Of her first novel The Quilter's Apprentice, Jennifer Chiaverini wrote, "I wanted to write about women and their work, and about valuing the work we as women choose to do. . . I believe that if our work is worth the time, energy, and talent we commit to it, we ought to value it, especially if we expect other people to do the same.  If we don't value this work to which we turn over so much of our lives, then we ought to do something else.  Friendship was another theme I wanted to explore, especially women's friendships and the way women use friendship to sustain themselves and nurture each other."
        from Elm Creek Quilts by Jennifer Chiaverini and Nancy Odom
In The Quilter's Apprentice, Mrs. Compson teaches Sarah McClure how to quilt and has her make a sampler quilt to learn different skills and techniques.  The author made a Sarah's Sampler Quilt, which you can view here:   I thought it would be fun this month to make a block from Sarah's Sampler Quilt to represent our April book selection, The Quilter's Apprentice.
The author chose to include the Hands All Around block and the Sister's Choice block in Sarah's Sampler Quilt because they represent themes in the book.  The Hands All Around block represents the theme of work.  I could not find a pattern for it online.  However, it is found in Elm Creek Quilts: Quilt Projects Inspired by the Elm Creek Quilts Novels by Jennifer Chiaverini and Nancy Odom.  However, this Eight Hands Around Quilt Block has a similar theme, and its pattern is found online.  (It also contains NO curved seams!)    
The Sister's Choice block represents the theme of friendship in the book.  (It also represents the theme of sibling rivalry and conflict between Mrs. Compson and her sister Claudia.)  This pattern for the Sister Star Quilt Block is exactly like the pattern for the Sister's Choice block with some slight color changes.  (In the quilt block below, the green squares become green rectangles, and the only tan block is the one in the center.)    
Sister Star Quilt Block
What work have you found meaningful in your life?  It can be paid, unpaid, or volunteer work.  Please answer in the comments section below.  Inquiring minds want to know!

Just by commenting, your name will be entered in a giveaway for Marie Bostwick's next book, Between Heaven and Texas.  The winner will be announced on May 1.

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post:


  1. i think teaching 4-h kids to sew. that was the most fun i have ever had. frustrating and rewarding in equal dosesforthem and for me.the most worthwhile work i have done was foster care. so many kids need good adults in their life. it was also the most heat-breaking work i've ever done

  2. I tutor for Literacy....have been tutoring a Chinese gal.she and her husband have a Chinese restaurant....have 3 children and are really great.
    We have become friends....she has been studying for citizenship exam this year....she passed the exam last week and will become a citizen in a ceremony April 11th.....tutoring her has been a great experience...It has been a very rewarding experience for me ..

  3. Volunteer work has been the most meaningful to me. I love helping others. I have done many forms of charity work from raising funds for the Kidney Foundation to making quilts for those in need and many things in between. I belonged to a large charity organization in the USA called the Telephone Pioneers. One year I was Vice President of our chapter and the next year I was Vice President of it. We even built basketball goals for those in wheelchairs and soccer goals for those in wheelchairs. I tell ya, we did all sorts of volunteer charity work and it just makes my heart sing to help others in need.

  4. "WORK" ... Is raising six kids, work? Four foster kids, work? Teaching, work? Camp staff, work? Scouting? Turning kids on to nature? Homeless ministry? Most of those things, I can also recall the fun and the rewards ... and even sometimes, the joy of some kid, all grown up, coming back to thank me for something that made a difference in their life. I can look at my own kids and feel great satisfaction with the adults they have become, the way they are parenting their own kids, and the support they give each other. But when I read Sara's words, they hit a sensitive spot. Though I know what keeping foster children did for my own kids (eldest has three adopted kids) each of those children I will never know where they are or what happened after leaving our home. I remember my kids saying,"Mom, no one can love these babies more than we do"! Even as I reassured them, I could only hope my words were true, that there were parents out there wanting that child to love and cherish, and I will never know. Faith is hard work!

  5. Oh my - I have worked at a lot of jobs that I found meaningful. Just about every one. I think that I approach life with passion and that makes what I am doing meaningful to me.

  6. Being a Primary school teacher is so demanding but rewarding at the same time. A teacher gets to see and hear so many 'firsts' that the parents miss. As my own children grew up, I became a textile teacher in a Secondary school. The majority of the time it was challenging and frustrating as a lot of the students, especially boys didn't want to study the subject. But often as the project developed many would change their minds and then the real rewards were given, when pupils took the project further at home. For some I hope that I started them on a journey that they will enjoy for years to come. I still remember my sewing teacher, she was very scary but taught me how to stitch well.

  7. I would say every thing I have done is rewarding. I raised three children an am helping with two grandsons. I have taught preschool for many years and Literacy in the school system. Then I decided I wanted to become a CNA (certified nurses assistant. I also like doing charity work. I am a giver and everything I have done in my life revolves around who I am inside.

  8. Without a doubt my years as a public librarian were most rewarding. People from all walks of life came to the library seeking books and information to meet a variety of needs, from fun and relaxation to serious issues in their life. I came away feeling I was doing something I loved that really mattered and made a difference.

  9. One of the things that was most rewarding to me, and my boys were very appreciative of it (and still are) was reading every week to the 2nd grade class(s) in their school for 3 years. I'd come early, to eat with one of my son's, and the kids would all be asking me what books I'd be reading the next week, and, did I have another 'Strega Nona' book, or something. Several of these kids didn't have an interest in reading until I started reading to them each week. All of the kids were huge readers before the year was out. Reading is special to me, and, I'm glad that I could make it special to others, too.


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