Friday, April 7, 2023

Literary Sewing Circle: Finale & Project Roundup

Today is already our final day of the Literary Sewing Circle focusing on Theresa Kishkan's Sisters of Grass!

I hope you've had the chance to read the book, and both the first and second inspiration posts, and are getting lots of ideas for a project of your own. 

The project linkup will be added to the bottom of this post: as soon as you are done your project, just pop a link to your post into the linkup and we will all be able to visit your blog/instagram etc. and explore your creation -- remember, it can be sewn, or knitted, crocheted, embroidered... any textile art that you practice.

And thanks to our sponsors, Helen's Closet, who will be giving away one PDF pattern, and DG Patterns, who will be giving away 3 PDF patterns! The random draw for winners will be held on April 22 after our project link up closes. Get your projects in :) 

UPDATE: Our prize draw has been completed thanks to a lucky dice roll, and the winners for this round are:

Helen's Closet pattern: @jan.conlon

DG Pattern pack: @atoptimiste 

Congrats to you both! 

I shared a lot of my thoughts on the book in our earlier book talk post. You can explore those for some of my thoughts; today I'll share an overview of my impressions of this novel. I hope you will too!

Looking at this book from a librarian's perspective, I note that the 'appeal factors' that are most evident are the writing style, the setting, and the characters. The plot, such as it is, is not one that will keep you flipping pages to find out what happens. That's not really the point of this story! The story is most notable for its poetic writing; the descriptions, imagery, and atmosphere build a compelling setting that then sets off the quiet daily lives of the characters, both the current day ones and the historical ones. 

I loved the beautiful, poetic writing. Although this is a slower paced book, I found that it was well balanced and easy to read. Margaret's life is the thread that holds the narrative together, and provides the arc. I found the style, the way that Kushan moved fluidly between past & present, a key element in my appreciation of the story. 

I was also drawn in by the representation of so many different women’s lives. Margaret’s and Anna’s of course, but also Jenny & Grandmother Jackson, the Stuarts, even Emma Albani and the female photographer in Kamloops. So many hints of lives being lived that we might not always see in the historical record. It felt like this focus was inherent to this book, in its focus on material history and the more overlooked parts of our past. The thoughtful pace of the storytelling really spoke to me.

Questions for you: What was your overall impression of this book? Does it make you want to visit the Nicola Valley? How did you feel that the natural history fit into the progression of the narrative? What did you think about the conclusion?

Please share your thoughts on the book, its themes, characters, or anything you noted about it -- either in the comments here or on our first Book Talk post, or on your own blog with a link to your longer thoughts in the comments so we can find it. I love to talk about the experience of reading so feel free to comment no matter when you're reading this post; if you've read this I'd love to hear your thoughts.

What project have you made, inspired by your reading of Sisters of Grass? Share a link to your project on this post as soon as you're done! The linkup will be live until April 21 --  you have another 2 weeks of sewing time to finish and share. Don't forget that anyone who enters a project is in the draw for pattern prizes from our two sponsors, Helen's Closet & DG Patterns!

(If the linkup does not work for you please leave a comment with your project)

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. I am about halfway through the book and I really love Margaret's storyline! I love the theme of connection with the earth and the old ways. I love the moments when the author describes the artistry of handmade practical items. That's what we makers are all about! I knew what fabric I wanted to use right away on the first page when I read the word "rabbitbrush" 😋

    1. So glad you had an idea of what to make right away! I agree that the blend of the stories between Margaret and the natural world, and Anna and textiles, was so enjoyable here. I really loved her respect for the smallest handmade thing, even a tea towel.

  2. I was inspired by the book "Sisters of Grass" by Theresa Kishkan to make a top in lavender as a gift for my mother for Mother's Day (don't let her know if you see her).
    The book takes place in rural British Columbia. The grasses, flowers and herbs do so much to create sensory atmosphere in the book. Lavender is one of the scents and sights, and since it's a favorite color of my mother's, I decided to use it as inspiration.
    This is a pattern called the Sublime Shell that I have in development. It's in testing and will be ready for sale in May.
    Thanks to the Literary Sewing Circle for the prompt - it was a rewarding experience!

    1. Thank you for reading/sewing along! I'm sure your mother will love her Sublime Shell in lavender. There is just something about the atmosphere in this book that is very inspiring. I'm glad you felt it too :)

  3. I am so impressed by the style of writing in this story. I could almost 'feel' being in Nicola Valley. I did a google search and this was the first sentence in the description I read - "....Imagine a magical place where the sun shines on most days of the year on grasslands, rolling hills, historic ranches and shimmering lakes ..... ". How apt was this? Theresa Kishkan nailed it!!

    The last chapter also made a poignant statement which had a very personal meaning to me, - "... our history might be followed as a series of threads, silk, wool, fine textiles or rags, which outline the shapes our lives have taken - the samplers of girlhood, the tea towels of domesticity, quilts of practical warmth, and the yoking together of joy and grief in the long recollection of age."
    I think of all the textile related items I have from my great aunt, grandmother and mother, and through them I am constantly reminded of different periods in their lives, and my history. With textiles, as opposed to purchased objects, we are constantly aware of the hands that made them and imagine the fingers stitching away, and what was going through the minds of the maker at the time. It is all part of our history.
    Sewing is just so great, it is not only about the finished item, it is a very complex activity and it can really tell us the story of people's lives.

    I have made a Nicola bag which I am thrilled about - because the strap is removable I can actually make several, totally different bags and just clip on which one I feel like using on the day. I am trying to finish my second one before the final day - nearly completed. The instructions were very clear, an enjoyable sew. And I will probably always think of the Nicola Valley when I use it.
    ....... Sara

    1. What a lovely comment, Sara! I too found that final quote so touching. There was a real sense of reflection and respect for the past in this book and I'm happy that you felt it too.

      Also happy you found the Nicola bag an enjoyable sew, that one is tempting me as well. I look forward to seeing yours!

  4. At last! I have my image uploaded. This is the hardest part. I sewed the Nicola bag and loved the pattern (thank you for inspiration Melanie!) , clear instructions, very clean interior with binding on sewn edges. Because the strap is removable, I am making other Nicola bags to mix and match as the occasion demands, including a denim bag with 'sashiko' design. So, same strap, several bags. Unfortunately I cannot finish this next bag in time.
    ....... Sara

    1. Oh what a great idea! Will look forward to seeing your new bags as you finish them :)

  5. Sorry everyone - it looks like the linkup closed at 12 noon instead of 12 midnight -- if you have a last minute entry, please add a link here in the comments!


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!