Improv Patchwork Road Tales ~ Sweet Surrender

impov handbook for modern quilters road trip book tour

A road trip is a score, a set a of limits in which an unknown adventure can unfold, as quilt maker and improvisor Cinzia Allocca commented on my last post about flow:

…by accepting limits (chosen by me) I am removing distractions from the path I have set out for myself and my quilt. I am creating freely within a “safe zone”. The safe zone acts as a safety net.

The beauty of traveling across country on a performance/book tour is that all other distractions of daily life are removed and the primary goal is to arrive safely and on time, do your thing, and repeat. Often there wasn’t much time to spend in the actual cities I visited. Most of the time was spent on the road.

on the roadWithin these narrow limits however, there was a sweet surrender to the score of the ROAD itself and it’s adventures. My traveling partner and I said YES AND to the unexpected. We took as many back roads as possible and stopped along the way when we saw something that interested us.

eating local in blue ridge

–eating local – yes those are good ole’ southern grits.

southern illinois

— enjoying the scenery as we sped by.

vintage thrift road finds

— a man with a tractor trailer of vintage thrift items on a lonesome country crossroad.


— in the small town of Havana Illinois where I was warmly welcomed by the mayor and the local quilt shop Ma’s Got’a Notion that specializes in civil war reproduction quilting.


— we were driving a rental truck so I said YES AND to this sewing machine bargain also in Havana Illinois.

— discovering the Mite Society’s quilting bee space, also in Lamoni Iowa, behind the community thrift store. Founded in 1883 the Mite Society is the oldest quilting society in the state of Iowa.

— rescuing a large snapping turtle crossing the road in rural Nebraska. Then realizing a large snapping turtle was harder to rescue than you might think! Luckily a local stopped by to help us help the turtle. He simply picked the beast up by his very tough tail and flung him back into the grass. (Sorry – no pictures of this!)


–sleeping local.

on the road

— stopping for views.


— hiking in Zion

The last stop of my cross country road tour was in St. George Utah. I arrived the afternoon and night before the event scheduled at Scrap Apple Quilts early the following morning –a rare occasion to relax and enjoy the place. Besides swimming in the hotel pool I attended a free concert in the park –a John Denver tribute performance. It was a beautiful thing  –a warm, dry evening, the lawn spacious and strewn with older people and a few families here and there– everyone enjoying the easy and uplifting message of the music.


I was hooked! And some of John Denver’s songs I can’t get out of my mind, including this one which speaks so eloquently about the unexpected flow of life and the joy of surrendering to all that happens. Please listen!

When I arrived home in Oakland things had changed, another relationship hoped for came to an end, and the words of Sweet Surrender have been ringing true more than ever:

Lost and alone on some forgotten highway, traveled by many, remembered by few.
Looking for something that I can believe in,
looking for something that I’d like to do with my life.
There’s nothing behind me and nothing that ties me to
something that might have been true yesterday.
Tomorrow is open and right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today, and I don’t know what the future is holding in store,
I don’t know where I’m going, I’m not sure where I’ve been.
There’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me,
my life is worth the living, I don’t need to see the end.

Bird in the air at zion national park

Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care,
like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.

This song so easily applies to the process of improvisational patchwork – don’t you think? —I don’t know what the future (of this patchwork) has in store, I don’t know where I’m going and I’m not sure where I’ve been. But there is a spirit (internal cues) that guide me, a light that shines for me (the patchwork itself), this (patchwork is worth the making) and I don’t need to see the end!!!

Ps… my story telling is not linear. There are more road tales to come!

This entry was posted in Community, Personal Heritage, The Modern Quilt and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Improv Patchwork Road Tales ~ Sweet Surrender

  1. m moon says:

    I love the song sweet surrender I could sing it by heart at one time I have not thought of it years. Thank you for reminding me. I found your book at the library. Thank you for validating my not wanting to measure when cutting. I am glad I found you as a guide.

  2. Annemarie says:

    What a wonderful post. I listened carefully and really enjoyed the song. Taking in something slowly and consciously is such a good way to enhance those positive neuropathways.
    Thanks again for coming to the BAMQG. It was a thrill to meet you in person after experimenting with your book.

  3. thanks for another great post! i am packing for my roadtrip to see you at QBL. it will be my first solo roadtrip and I am ready for some yes and…!

  4. Ann says:

    What a good season to travel cross country. How enjoyable to visit places and become involved in what each offers. I’m glad you’re home again.

  5. Hillary says:

    Hearts and stars. Life is such a wonderful adventure if you choose to see it that way. And of course every story (life) has challenges to overcome and tragedy even but those golden moments . . . They are grand. Lovely stories

  6. Lovely pics! Just got your book in the mail today, and so look forward to exploring it – though, of course, I have lots of works in progress already, at least some of which must be finished before I can throw myself into something entirely new. But I can certainly read and enjoy the book!

  7. Lorij says:

    Sometimes an end to the old Springs a New beginning that is even better. Take a deep breath, give thanks and keep it moving. Things will be just fine.
    Blessings, Lorij

    • sherrilynn says:

      Thank you Lorij. That is soooo so true! Wise words. I will be sending you info about teaching in Lincoln soon. Hope your improv work group is going well.

  8. nan says:

    Look like you and your traveling partner had some great time. Welcome back and glad that you guys had a safe and happy journey.

  9. John Wiercioch says:

    Savoring the journey is the essence of being alive and the very best we can do. Kudos.

  10. Janet says:

    That has always been one of my favorite songs of his. (I even heard him sing it in concert years ago in NYC). I love that you brought it up in relation to improv quilting. The stars are aligned! See you at QBL!

    • sherrilynn says:

      See you at QBL – probably within hours – if you are taking the first workshop. Enjoying being here so far and can’t wait to get started sewing and improvising early tomorrow!

  11. Sweet Surrender — letting go is so nice on a road trip. My Liberated Quilt group is starting a series of sessions using your book and I commented that I wanted to see how the book ends first — like it was a novel. The good thing about your book is you don’t have to start at the beginning. A road trip, however, begins somewhere and usually ends back at home. I’m excited to see where this improvisational surrender takes me. I suspect it will take me back home somehow.

  12. Karen says:

    Looks like you took the time to live in the spaces you encountered. Road trips can truly be a gift!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *