Since the publication of the first Elm Creek Quilts novel, it has become a tradition for me to recreate the quilts my characters make in my stories. In my novel THE SUGAR CAMP QUILT, Dorothea Granger sews a quilt using the Album block, a traditional “friendship quilt” pattern. Instead of the customary signatures of her friends, Dorothea obtain scraps of muslin autographed by authors and “other personages of note.” She stitches a signed piece into the center of each block, sews the blocks together, and raffles off the finished quilt to raise money to build a public library. Dorothea’s project inspired me to create an Authors’ Album opportunity quilt for an organization close to my heart: Capital Candlelighters, the Madison, Wisconsin branch of the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation.
Capital Candlelighters is a non-profit organization serving families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer, especially those treated at the University of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital. Its mission is to educate, support, serve, and advocate for children with cancer, their families, survivors of childhood cancer, and the professionals who care for them. The director happens to be my best friend, Anne Spurgeon, whose name you might recall from the acknowledgment pages of my novels. Anne is not only a dear friend, a talented historian, and an exacting reader; she is also the mother of a childhood cancer survivor (as well as two other great kids). For years Anne has passionately supported and advocated for other families facing the ordeals and uncertainties that follow a diagnosis of cancer. She continuously impresses me with her tireless dedication to others, and I wanted to do my small part to help.
I set about collecting the autographs of the authors I know personally and gathered more from authors whose book tours brought them to the Madison area. With the help of my editor, Denise Roy, and my agent, Maria Massie, I obtained even more signatures. Other authors responded to requests sent through the internet. As support for the Authors’ Album quickly grew, Anne suggested that we share the proceeds with the national Candlelighters office, which would allow the quilt to benefit even more children and their families.
The pattern for “Authors’ Album” appears in my third pattern book, More Elm Creek Quilts (C&T Publishing, 2008).