My name is Maddie Day and I’m an amateur quilter. There, I said it! I don’t make elaborate hand-quilted covers. I’m not a perfectionist cutter or seamstress, so sometimes corners don’t line up quite right. But I still think you can make beautiful hand-made gifts for friends and loved ones without spending all your time on it – or at least I can. Because I have books to write, after all.

My latest quilt was for my dear goddaughter’s new baby last fall. Anna and her mother (my best friend) have lived in West Africa. I have, too, and I made Anna’s baby quilt thirty-four years ago. My treasured “cloth bank” is still full of gorgeous fabrics from West Africa, so I put together a pretty, soft cover for little Cosima to cuddle in and play on.

But I “tied it through” as my mother used to call it – I ran embroidery thread at each corner from the top to the bottom and back up, then tied a square knot and clipped off the thread.

I did the same with a high-speed quilt I made for a dear friend who was dying of brain cancer a few years ago. She attended Quaker Meeting with me, and we both lived in Japan long ago. So I found some beautiful, warm Japanese fabrics and made a lap-sized cover with white squares interspersed.

I took the white squares to church and had people sign messages to Susan and her husband. I tied that quilt through, too, and got it to her in time to provide some comfort.

My mother, who taught me to sew at a young age, was a master quilter in her retirement, turning out a hundred quilts for family members and charities. She had started a second full-size quilt for me, consulting with me about colors, but a minor stroke left her unable to continue.

After she died in 2012 I brought the bag of partly completed squares home to Massachusetts. Last year I was determined to finish it. I again hit up my African cloth bank for the border and backing and put it together, with some of my corners still a little imperfect. This time I hired a local machine quilter to quilt it. Mommy lived near the Pacific in California, so I chose a pattern called Waves, and I was very happy with the result. It’s now our bed quilt.

I once heard a story about a Japanese potter who always purposely left a small flaw in each piece, so God wouldn’t get jealous. That’s my Lazy Day story, too, and I’m sticking to it.

 

Restaurateur Robbie Jordan is ready for the boost in business a local music festival brings to South Lick, Indiana, but the beloved event strikes a sour note when one of the musicians is murdered . . .

June’s annual Brown County Bluegrass Festival at the Bill Monroe Music Park in neighboring Beanblossom is always a hit for Robbie’s country store and café, Pans ‘N Pancakes. This year, Robbie is even more excited, because she’s launching a new bed and breakfast above her shop. A few festival musicians will be among Robbie’s first guests, along with her father, Roberto, and his wife, Maria. But the celebration is cut short when a performer is found choked to death by a banjo string. Now all the banjo players are featured in a different kind of lineup. To clear their names, Robbie must pair up with an unexpected partner to pick at the clues and find the plucky killer before he can conduct an encore performance . . .

Includes Recipes for You to Try!