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I love it when people reach out to show me what they are up to! Karen O'Brien recently sent me a photo of her completed Lizzy Albright quilt, which she did with her grandchildren after reading the novel. Her story touched me because this specifically was what I had in mind when Kat and I wrote the novel and, as many of you know, my dad and I bonded over a love of quilting (stay tuned for more on that next week!)
Wanting to learn more about how Karen integrated the Lizzy Quilt into quilting lessons for her grandchildren, I asked her a few more questions. I learned that Karen is teaching her grandchildren just as her grandmother taught her! Read on to learn about Karen and the Lizzy Albright adventure she and her grandkids enjoyed together.
How did you learn to sew/quilt?
Karen O'Brien (KO): Growing up in a large family, I enjoyed the special attention sewing with my grandmother. In the 1960's, in Kansas City, I sewed simple A-line dresses in the summer for school. I met my husband in high school, age 15 and he remembers the simple gray dress I was wearing when he first met me. We will celebrate our 50th wedding Anniversary in 2022
How long have you been sewing/quilting?
KO: I began sewing in the 1960's and quilting in the 1970's in Lawrence Kansas while attending graduate school in Nursing at KU. Kansas was quite progressive in bringing quilting back to life in the 1970's. I'm especially interested in art quilts which use fabric medium.
Why has it been important to you to teach these skills to your grandchildren? KO: I have such fond memories sharing special sewing time with my grandmother and want to share this gift with my 5 grandchildren. Even if they don't pursue the skill, hopefully, they will remember time we spent together. My grandchildren's guest bedroom is also my quilting room.
How did you go about teaching them to sew/quilt?
KO: Start with asking the child their favorite colors or design, such as mermaids or animals. Even preschool age children can sew a simple patchwork doll quilt or a pillowcase. My 10 year old granddaughter sewed "dog" theme quilt to enter in the Sisters Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon. Unfortunately, the Pandemic put this trip on hold.
Did the Lizzy quilt lend itself easily to teaching a child how to quilt?
KO: The Lizzy book was such a great inspiration and a great introduction to "traditional quilting." I used Ricky's recommendations on which blocks would be easiest for children. My 10 year old granddaughter completed the "Rail Fence" block and the 14 year old grandson completed the "Sawtooth Star." It was very helpful to have a sewing machine with a button to control the stitching instead of a pedal on the floor. Many children cannot reach a floor pedal. The quilt, as well as the Lizzy novel, lives in our family cabin in Wahatoya Canyon Colorado near La Veta.
I hope future generations will enjoy reading the book while sleeping under the Lizzy quilt.
Do you have a favorite block from the quilt?
KO: My favorite block is the Mariner's Compass. I made the quilt during the 2020-21 Pandemic and the North star pattern served as a constant stabilizing force, plus I learned I like paper piecing!
Does your grandchild have a favorite block?
KO: One 12 year old granddaughter likes the "Snail's Tail" as it reminds her of ocean waves and the youngest 4 year old loves the "Scottie Dog" MacDougal.
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