Threads of Change: A Quilting Story (Part 1)

Threads of Change: A Quilting Story (Part 1)

by Jodi Barrows

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802409379
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Publication date: 07/01/2013
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

JODI BARROWS has spoken to quilting audiences throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa, and Australia. The unique method that she teaches is called Square in a Square. Jodi has written twenty-four books, produced four tools, two video/dvds, five teacher books, and several fabric lines. Jodi has been commissioned to compose quilts for many state and national organizations as well as working with the Kansas Historical Society. Jodi was raised in southwest Kansas, has two grown sons, a granddaughter, and is married to Steve, her high school sweetheart.

Read an Excerpt

Threads of Change

A Quilting Story Part 1

By Jodi Barrows, Sandra Bricker

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Jodi Barrows
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8024-8721-6


Aprils in Lecompte, Louisiana, were spectacular, especially after a spring rain. New life was bursting forth with the world full of rainbow colors and delightful fragrances. The days could be long and lingering and the mugginess heavy, but it was all worth it in the beautiful countryside.

Liz sat across from her grandfather in the comfortable parlor. The essence of gardenias and magnolias floated through the open window and filled the room with their sweet scents. The curtains fluttered and hung on the breeze.

She always felt secure and calm with her grandfather. Even at his advanced age, he still seemed strong as an ox. He stood tall, with a thick chest and a heart of gold. His thick gray hair and whiskered chin gave him a ruggedly handsome look.

With a smile that reflected the wisdom of many years, Grandpa Lucas took his work-worn hands and patted her small ones.

"So our decision has been made?"

It was a statement as much as a question. He looked at his granddaughter, and she remained silent. Liz had made her decision the night before while standing on the white porch as the rain poured down. But could she live up to it now? She knew her attitude would set the mood for all the other women. This plan had been in the making for quite some time and wasn't new to any of them. But now, as the time grew closer and closer, she felt unsure. She had just lost her husband, Caleb, and now would be leaving her home too.

"Liz, I firmly believe this is the right thing to do. We will look back and be pleased with our decision."

Lucas Mailly had always treated the women in his family with respect and allowed them to voice their opinions. He encouraged their education and urged them to become leaders among their peers. He would never have forced any of this change on them.

Liz spoke softly and looked at his loving hands covering hers. "So do I. I'm ready to start planning and packing," she said as she smiled at her grandfather, reassuring him with her choice. "We can be ready in a few weeks."

Lucas stood up and faced the fireplace, his back to her. His hand went to the painting of his Claire up on the mantel and quickly moved to his face, making a rough sound on his cheek as an unexpected tear slid over the whiskers. This decision to leave, now upon them quickly, hit him unexpectedly.

Although he had turned away from her, Liz noticed as he wiped away the unwelcome tear, not meant to be seen by her. She blinked back a tear of her own and took a quick breath to steady herself. Trying to think of something to break the silence, she cheerfully said, "I got another letter from Abby and Emma yesterday. They received our letter and are coming with us! But their cousin Sadie won't be traveling with us. Sounds like her father told her no."

Liz knew that Grandpa Lucas Mailly had never been fond of the man who married his daughter. The Wilkes family owned a large plantation in Mississippi with many slaves. They had an arrogant nature about them and Lucas always felt they abused the women too. Katherine, his youngest daughter, had become a different woman after she married John and moved away to the Wilkes brothers' plantation. He didn't seem too surprised about Sadie not coming, and Liz knew he hadn't been quite sure how his other two granddaughters could get away with leaving, but he'd been excited nevertheless with their decision to go.

Her grandfather had explained that he wanted to protect his family from the growing unrest in the South, and he felt it better to sell his timber mill now than to lose it in a skirmish. His son-in-law wouldn't listen to him about selling out the Mississippi plantation and he called him a "crazy man."

"Well, it's just as well that Sadie isn't coming. You may not realize it, Liz, but not all females are like you and your sister. Sadie could hold you back, even be a problem. Your cousins are not as strong as you and your sister."

Liz blushed and answered, "It will be fine, Grandpa. I don't want you to worry over it. Abby and Emma will be just fine with it all."

She had grown accustomed to his praise and encouragement, well aware that women were treated differently in other families, and in the world in general.

Abby and Emma had confided in her and Megan about their father's ways. They were going West, with or without their father's blessings. But he was finished with the two rebellious daughters and more than ready to wash his hands of them. If their Grandpa Lucas wanted them, so be it.

Lucas paused, and Liz recognized the weighing of his words. "Liz, I know these last few months have been difficult. Caleb was a good man and a good husband. He was just like a son to me. And Luke isn't little any more. He has grown into a fine young man." Lucas covered his mouth and whiskers with his hand, holding his chin.

Liz spoke up. "Yes, this brings a thought to me. I've been thinking that Luke needs to stay here at the mill to work and go to school and ... if Caleb is found ..."

"Sweetheart," Lucas interrupted, "you know Caleb is gone. He won't be found. We all saw the accident at the mill. You've got to accept that he is not going to find his way back here." His hands rested on her shoulders as he lovingly but firmly spoke. "We have to move on. This thinking isn't good, Liz. I know you know that."

His eyes searched hers for a positive reaction. She blinked and shrugged. "It's just easier."

With a sense of urgency she stepped aside, brushed her skirt, and straightened her shoulders. She wouldn't let her emotions get the best of her. For almost a year, she had been a weeping widow. The timber mill accident never strayed far from her mind and she hated the sense of losing herself to the horrible nightmare. She'd been drifting for months, and she wanted to take control of her life again. Her mind and heart demanded something else; selling the mill and making a move seemed to provide that. Luke had grown up so much over the past months and had grown even closer to his namesake, Grandpa Lucas.

The process of planning the move nudged the sadness away. Liz wanted and needed a new beginning, and the lurking trouble in the South was just the push to get her started.

Her dear cousins coming along would make it fun as they embarked on this adventure together, all of them starting a new chapter. New fortunes were ready to be made, the developing western territories ripe for the picking. The tremors of unrest in the South shook louder and longer, and they made her Grandpa Lucas even antsier to get his plan into action.

"Are you sure about Luke going west with us? It could be quite dangerous. I would feel so much calmer if he were here, safe with you. Who will see after you?" Liz gave a sneaky smile, trying to coax him to her way of thinking. She wanted the only two men in her life safe, away from the uncertainty before her.

"I can't leave the mill and property until the sale is final. It could be months before I catch up to you." He swayed back and forth as he pondered Liz's request.

"Luke misses his dad, and he's so content with you."

He stepped closer to her. "Sweetheart, keeping Luke here won't stop him from getting hurt, and it won't bring Caleb back. I know it's easier to just think of him as being away, but ..." His loving blue eyes embraced her tightly. "You know if he were alive he would have come back to us. The war is coming, we have a buyer for the mill, and it is a wise decision to go west. It's not going to get any better for the South. With each election, the western expansion licks at the heels of the unrest. I've never had slaves at the mill, so some of it has eluded us, but nevertheless, we will get caught up in it."

"Sorry. These senseless tears, I'm so tired of them," Liz admitted, pulling a lace hanky from her pocket to wipe her eyes. Grandpa Lucas stepped back and ran his hand across a wet spot on her cheek as Liz noticed Luke standing in the doorway. She would never forget what Caleb looked like as long as she had her son.

Her grandfather followed Liz's gaze to the doorway where Luke stood straight as an arrow, his messy sun-streaked hair falling over his eyes.

Luke glared at Lucas as he pleaded, "Tell me you won't let that happen, Grandpa. Tell me!"

Liz searched her memory for the part of the conversation that had angered her son. "You promised. You both said I was going west with the wagons!"

Grandpa Lucas's expression told Liz he would handle the situation. "Yes, we are still considering all of the possibilities that lie ahead, Luke. The plans are still in the works. We know what you want and will consider that along with everything else." He patted Luke's shoulder as he walked through the doorway, finalizing the conversation.

"Good," Luke huffed, his face flushed. "I thought I might have to go joining up with those Yankees!"

Lucas never turned around as he let out a big belly laugh, grabbed Luke by the suspenders, and pulled him out the door with him.

Liz watched the two of them from the window as they continued to tease each other. She laughed. "Joinin' the union?"

As they disappeared, she sank into a parlor chair. The sweet fragrance of flowers drifted across the room, reminding her to water them. Her eyes landed on the green Irish chain quilt she had made for Caleb as a surprise anniversary gift. That quilt—and her son—had been the only things to get her out of bed each morning after Caleb died. She had made it for their thirteenth wedding anniversary, and somehow the fabric squares held all of the joy and excitement of her married life. The quilt represented a celebration of their future together, her grief for the loss of her husband woven into every stitch.

Liz closed her eyes and dropped her head to the back of the chair. In an instant, she wafted back to the day that had changed her life.

The gray and gloomy day in May of 1855 had begun with clouds swirling. The rain left everything waterlogged and cold. It was the sort of day where something feels bound to happen; the sort of day where life's brittleness is prodded from its sleeping place and made to crawl to the surface and roar for a while, out in the open.

The air didn't feel quite right, and Liz recalled thinking that the rain seemed too ... wet. She sat in the parlor, working on her most recent quilting project, the one she'd named CALEB'S CHOICE, when Luke crashed into the house, calling, "Mom, Mom, come quick!"

"What is it?"

"It's Dad. He's fallen into the logs."

The saturated grass looked limp and lifeless as she rushed to the mill, her mind racing as the wind blew fiercely against her progress. Trees bent. Leaves clung. Horrible thoughts and possibilities pulsed like the intense rain against her face.

"A horse to slide, a dock to fall," she'd said to herself as she approached the mill and waterway.

As always, they'd fallen behind on the timber orders. Grandpa Lucas and Caleb worked long and hard every day, never demanding more from their workers than they themselves were willing to give.

Rain-soaked and muddy, she stood there with her hair pressed to her head. She watched the mill workers standing in silence with faces completely baffled and afraid.

"He's gone, Liz. We couldn't reach him," Grandpa Lucas had confessed.

"I'm sorry, Liz; I couldn't get to him in time," Thomas, Caleb's best friend, had cried in disbelief.

Their words still shot through her like the heavy bullets from a steel pistol. She'd looked away and fallen to the ground. No one revealed how long it had been between that moment and the one where she awoke in her own bed. Maybe days had passed. She recalled that the sun had broken through, leaving the property dry and the grass a brilliant green. She'd glanced down to find Luke asleep across the end of the bed. Her sister Megan sat in a chair that hugged the side of the bed as she threaded a needle with embroidery floss.

The clopping of horses' hooves jolted Liz back to the present, her hands still shaking and damp with perspiration. She peered through the parlor window. Workers from the mill unloaded wooden crates and old cloths for packing.

On the other side of the parlor, Caleb's completed quilt rested over the back of a small chair. She walked over to it and brought it close to her face, hoping to smell Caleb on the quilt, even though he had never used it. She ran her hand over the sewn patches of tans, reds, and greens that represented their namesake.

Caleb would have loved this quilt, she thought.

Each piece and every stitch had come to memorialize his life with her. And now that completed quilt announced the final chapter of their book as well.


Luke had turned twelve, and Liz would reach her thirty-second birthday that summer. She'd been a widow for almost a full year. Several Southern gentlemen had made their courting desires known to Grandpa Lucas. He'd even tried to convince her to see Doc Gaither. He was handsome and agreeable enough, she supposed, but Liz loved Caleb. She missed his smile, and the two freckles on his ear.

Across the hall, the bustle of Megan's treadle machine brought Liz to the doorway. She watched as Megan sewed pieces on the new treadle. Petite, with dark and shiny straight hair, Megan had hazy green eyes, big and intent, their gaze revealing her passionate nature; playful and happy. She pedaled the machine hard, her shoulders even with the movement of the machine, her hair swaying this way and that as she pushed through the quilt top of vibrant creams, reds, and blues.

Darkness had begun to roll in, and Liz knew she'd have to light the lamp for the evening. She didn't like Megan to work by lamplight. With so much shifting and motion, she feared the lamp might fall and start a fire. Megan slowed the motion of the treadle wheel and looked up at her.

"I think Luke will probably go with us when we leave for Texas," Liz said.

"What happened? I thought you were against it," Megan commented.

"I told him that Grandpa and I would consider it. But now that I think of it, we could use him."

"I've thought so all along, really."

Megan adjusted the fabric under the needle of her treadle. She had taken to the new machine immediately. Learning the difference in hand piecing and treadle sewing hadn't troubled her one bit.

"What happened a little while ago with Luke?" she asked.

"He overheard us discussing whether he would go with us or not. He got mad and said he would join the Union Army if we forbade him to come."

They shared a giggle at Luke's idea.

"I know it is safer for him here, Liz, but I do think it would be better if he went with us. He can even go to school there." Megan brightened suddenly. "Oh, Liz! I didn't tell you. I got a letter today from Pastor Parker and his wife."

"You did? I must've been sleeping. Did you read it?"

"Yes, I did. By fall, they'll have the church prepared for holding classes, and they want Abby to teach there!"

"Oh, Meggie, that's wonderful."

"Yes, they're preparing a classroom in an extra room of the church. I can't wait to tell her."

"She will be delighted. Did they say when to expect them?"

"Their stage should arrive late Thursday afternoon."

"I must say, Meggie, I'm growing rather excited about our journey."

"Me, too."

"I wonder if Abby and Emma are as well."

"Oh, they must be!"

A wagon jangled as it rolled away from the house, dust trailing just behind. Liz watched as two lanterns dangled from the side posts of the wagon, realizing she must have dozed for longer than she'd expected.

"Where are the Lukes off to?" Megan asked.

"Grandpa wanted to take Luke for one final fishing trip. And they prefer to fish at night. Grandpa says that's when most of the fish are caught."

"Oh, maybe we'll have catfish for supper."

They shared a laugh without verbalizing their usual joke about whether or not there were any fish left to be caught in that pond at all.

"Is that Granny's pattern?" Liz asked, and Megan nodded.

They gazed at the cotton top, a lovely, pieced appliqué quilt with nine beautiful flower blocks. The various triangles had been meticulously stitched together so that the corners ran smooth and flat against the borders. "This is beautiful! I simply adore this pattern. Do you remember the one she made with pastel fabrics and paisley border? Granny always loved appliqué."

Liz traced her fingers over the seams and down its edges. She'd always felt that quilts were made to be touched. It was part of the process. Love poured from her fingertips, circling through the quilt and straight back into her.

"Yes, I do. It was very pretty," Megan replied.


Excerpted from Threads of Change by Jodi Barrows, Sandra Bricker. Copyright © 2013 Jodi Barrows. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Threads of Change: A Quilting Story (Part 1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Maggie59MS More than 1 year ago
This is nice story and a quick read.  The introduction of the characters and the backstory provided a good foundation of what I hope to be a long series.  
Its_Time_Mamaw More than 1 year ago
A Quilting Story, Part 1 Lucas Mailly has made the the decision to sell his home and business in Louisiana in anticipation of the war between the North and the South.  He is making the move to Fort Worth. Texas.  Four of his granddaughters will be heading out ahead of him on a wagon train. Along with the girls will be some of his most trust worthy hired hands to protect his family and their belongings.   The journey is not easy there are many dangers and mishaps including some bad weather before they reach there destination. What makes these women think they are ready for such a dangerous adventure into the Texas frontier. One of Lucas's granddaughters, Liz is recently a widow and the other three are single.  These young women are brave with a fortitude that amazes not only the hired hands but surprisingly themselves. They each are looking forward to building a new life which includes a mercantile, a dress shop and maybe even a husband.   This was a real page turner for me.  There was lots and lots of action packed in this one book. I had to keep running my family out of the room so I could read.  I definitely enjoyed reading this story. The author gave these women some major backbones for sure. The love of family for this grandfather and his trust in God to protect his granddaughters was heartfelt.  This is what it took to settle in the Texas frontier. It was as if the author had been an eyewitness on this journey.  In this story is romance, adventure and so much more.   I highly recommend this book. Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from MP Newsroom/Moody Publishers/River North for review.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
For Elizabeth Bromont, her life has been as changing as the quilts she works so hard to create. Now at the crossroads of a new life for her and her three cousins as well as her young son Luke, she has made a decision to leave her family home in Louisiana and head out west to Fort Worth, Texas. She's strong and determined, raised that way by her grandfather Lucas Mailly after losing her husband Caleb in a logging accident. Lucas has managed to convince Liz that with the possibility of a war erupting in the South with the recent tensions surrounding slavery, their hope for the future lies in selling the family timber mill and taking everything they own and head to a new life and fresh start. Liz and her three cousins, Emma, Abby and Megan arrange to pack up all the family's belonging into six wagons and take the journey west while her grandfather waits on the sale of the land and mill before joining them. He has managed to convince a couple of his best mill workers, John and Blue along with a close family friend, Thomas to join the women and ensure they make it through Indian Territory safe and sound. Thomas was Caleb's best friend when they first came to Lucas for work and it was due to his stubbornness that he sat back and waited too long, while Caleb stole the love of his life right out from under him. All these years he's sat back and waited for Liz to get over grieving for Caleb before telling him how he has felt all these years. He believes that is one of the reasons Lucas is so willing to allow Thomas to join the Mailly family on their trip to Texas. However the trip isn't as smooth sailing as any of them would have liked the trip to go. From unexpected storms, being lost in the wilderness and being stalked not only by Indians but a wild and deadly panther as well, it is surprising that any of them manage to make it to Texas intact and in one piece. One thing is certain, life on the wild frontier in the mid 1800's was a wild as it comes and soon that future that the Mailly family had hoped for would soon undergo the greatest test of the family's faith yet. I received Threads of Change by Jodi Barrows compliments of River North Publishing and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review. Being a huge western romance fan, this one really spoke to my heart and soul of just how hard life was not only for people living in the 1850's but how difficult it was for a single woman raising a young son as well. We always wish for more simple times and often times forget just how hard women had to work back in those days and how young they were when death came to greet them. This is the first novel in the Quilting Series and I, for one, am thoroughly looking forward to reading the next one. This one rates a 4.5 out of 5 stars in my personal opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Isn't this the book she wrote called Leaving Riverton????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Threads of Love is a must read. The characters are so well defined that you feel you are right there with them. One in particular reminds me of someone I know. Looking forward to future books by Jodi. Love the hand piecing and quilting instructions. Watch for it, you will also learn how to thread your needle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book! I am a quilter who grew up in San Antonio, Texas (lived in Fort Worth for a year as a child). Enjoyed getting to know the characters. Can't wait for the next book. Wish there were pictures/drawings of the quilts, though.