The first mini challenge for this event is all about mixing your non-reading hobbies with books.

My major non-reading hobby is quilting.

The Persian Pickle ClubThe Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas

“It is the 1930s, and hard times have hit Harveyville, Kansas, where the crops are burning up, and there’s not a job to be found. For Queenie Bean, a young farm wife, a highlight of each week is the gathering of the Persian Pickle Club, a group of local ladies dedicated to improving their minds, exchanging gossip, and putting their quilting skills to good use. When a new member of the club stirs up a dark secret, the women must band together to support and protect one another.”

I love Sandra Dallas’ books. She writes historical fiction about women in the western United States. Most of them involve quilting at least peripherally. If it isn’t a major component of the story, then the main character does a least a little quilting at some point in the story.

The Quilter's Apprentice (Elm Creek Quilts, #1)The Quilter’s Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini

“After moving with her husband, Matt, to the small college town of Waterford, Pennsylvania, Sarah McClure struggles to find a fulfilling job. In the meantime, she agrees to help seventy-five-year-old Sylvia Compson prepare her family estate, Elm Creek Manor, for sale. As part of her compensation, Sarah is taught how to quilt by this cantankerous elderly woman, who is a master of the craft.During their lessons, Mrs. Compson reveals how her family was torn apart by tragedy, jealousy, and betrayal, and her stories force Sarah to face uncomfortable truths about her own alienation from her widowed mother. As their friendship deepens, Mrs. Compson confides in Sarah the truth about why she wants to sell Elm Creek Manor. In turn, Sarah seeks a way to bring life and joy back to the estate so Mrs. Compson can keep her home — and Sarah can keep her cherished friend.”

This is the first book in a long series. I have mixed feelings about it. The author made up the town of Waterford in central PA. The only problem is that I grew up in Waterford PA which is not in central PA and not a college town and not most of all the other things in this book. It is totally jarring for me to read about.

She also has a very annoying tendency to use the phrase “master quilter” like it is a distinct level you can achieve. I don’t know if the quilting fairies descend and anoint you with a magic sword or what. The closest thing I can find is a program where you submit a quilt to be judged by a committee who will let you into a Master Quilters club if you pass. No one does this. No one cares. But in the books everyone seems to know what a “master quilter” is and whispers it in awe when the person walks by. Yeah, no.

Other than that the series is good.

Those are the only books about quilting I read. Another book that is about handicrafts usually done by women that is really good is

The Lace Makers of GlenmaraThe Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri

“Overwhelmed by heartbreak and loss, the struggling twenty-six-year-old fashion designer follows her mother’s advice and flees to her ancestral homeland of Ireland, hoping to break free of old patterns and reinvent herself.

She arrives on the west coast, in the seaside hamlet of Glenmara. In this charming, fading Gaelic village, Kate quickly develops a bond with members of the local lace-making society: Bernie, alone and yearning for a new purpose since the death of her beloved husband, John; Aileen, plagued by doubt, helplessly watching her teenage daughter grow distant; Moira, caught in a cycle of abuse and denial, stubbornly refusing help from those closest to her; Oona, in remission from breast cancer, secretly harboring misgivings about her marriage; Colleen, the leader of the group, worried about her fisherman husband, missing at sea. And outside this newfound circle is local artist Sullivan Deane, an enigmatic man trying to overcome a tragedy of his own.”