Visiting Susan Brubaker Knapp

Last weekend we had the opportunity to see some of the Orange County Artists Guild open studio tour. Our first stop was at the studio of Susan Brubaker Knapp, who makes really remarkable quilts. She also hosts a quilting art TV show, which is how most people know her.

Susan in her studio

Susan is a gracious hostess, and answered many questions for both me and the non-quilter friends who were with me. Her work is absolutely amazing!

One of Susan’s beautiful quilts

She discussed her methods, which you can read more about on her website. She also hosts Quilting Arts TV, so that’s another useful resource if you’re looking for information on how to make art quilts. A lot of her quilts are whole cloth works, painted with textile paint and then extensively quilted on one of her Bernina machines. The quilts are based on her own photographs, and she often begins by tracing a photo on white fabric.

The sheep quilt is amazing, and Susan loves chickens so she has them in a lot of quilts

The body on this butterfly is 3-dimensional

Here are more photos Susan allowed me to take during our visit. Please note, however, that she copyrights her designs.

I am in awe of Susan’s detailed work, and it was lovely to get to visit with her. You can find her teaching schedule on her website if you’re interested. When I expressed amazement at her free motion quilting, Susan pointed out that she has thousands of hours of experience with it! Nevertheless, her skill is amazing.

Poke weed is a native plant and is well represented in this quilt

This is my favorite! I’m happy to say that pitcher plants can grow in the yard here given the right conditions.

Here’s the back of one of the quilts so you can see Susan’s amazing free motion quilting

Of course every quilter needs a vintage machine on display in her studio

You can see much more extensive pictures of her studio on her website, here. Additionally, she has several tutorials on her techniques. You can also visit her blog and subscribe to keep up with what she’s doing. That’s how I learned about the tour. And if you have questions about her techniques, look at both the tutorials and the blog in detail.

A Great Little Shop!

I love to visit quilt shops when we travel. Different shops are a great source of ideas and, of course, fabric 😀

We recently travelled through Northern Maine, where we lived early in our careers, and were very pleasantly surprised to find the Majestic Touch Quilt Shop in St. Agatha. The owner, Sandra Bosse, agreed to let me her picture.

Sandra Bosse with one of her long-arm machines

Sandra told me she made her first quilt about 20 years ago. She was unhappy with the quilting done on it by someone else, so she bought a long-arm machine and learned to use it–just like that! I was amazed to hear this for reasons most of you probably understand. Clearly this lady is willing to take on a challenge!

Sandra’s business has changed over the years. She now does quilting for others and sells both long-arm machines and fabric. Her quilting is very much in demand and she is currently scheduling about 3 months out!

We talked about running a quilt shop 4 hours from the nearest “city” (Bangor, Maine, with a population of under 32,000). On the plus side, hers is the only quilt shop for miles around AND she is close to the Canadian border, so customers come a fair distance to shop and take classes. St. Agatha had a population of 730 in the 2020 census, but people in Northern Maine are accustomed to driving to little shops in little towns when they want something.

On the minus side, it’s expensive to get merchandise shipped to her and the fabric reps won’t come that far from the city! Sandra says they send her catalogs, and that’s the way she has to order.

In the photo above you can see just a bit of Sandra’s fabric shop. She has a lovely selection of batiks, and says they are especially popular with her Canadian customers. She also has so many beautiful printed fabrics from the major companies that I had a hard time sticking to my budget 🙂

Here are a couple of fabrics I was “forced” to buy. I haven’t seen them anywhere else, though maybe I just don’t visit enough shops 😉  She had both prints in many colors, with coordinating fabrics as well, and I had a difficult time choosing!

Sandra doesn’t have an online shop, but you can find her on Facebook here.  (The internet tells me that 6-8 yards of fabric can fit in a USPS flat rate envelope, and I expect Sandra would send you pictures if you want to shop with her.) BTW, her prices were lower than those in the bit city.

PS: Hurricane Ian came this far into North Carolina, so I am writing this with the generator powering the house and my computer. We had a neighbor’s tree come down in the yard. It took out our weather station, but that was the only real damage. Steve has left for the hardware store to get supplies for the chain saw, and I am getting geared up to use some beautiful fabric!

I hope all of you are safe and stitching along happily!

 

A Visit to the Mint Museum Uptown

Several years ago my husband and I visited the Mint Museum of Craft + Design in downtown Charlotte (N.C.) and were very impressed. The museum has since constructed a new building (now called the “Uptown Charlotte” branch of the Mint Museum) so we were eager to visit.

The new facility is lovely, but the craft exhibits were disappointing. For example, the previous venue had a large Chihuly piece hanging from the ceiling in the entrance. I know I didn’t dream this, because I was able to find it on Pinterest as shown below.

This photo was found on Pinterest, where it is attributed to “rtencati on flickr”

There was no evidence of the chandelier in the new building, though the lobby is still impressive with a huge colored window, shown below. It is 3 stories high!

There were many fine crafts, especially in glass and ceramics, but if there were quilts I somehow missed them. Here are a few things I did enjoy.

Acrylic chair by Patrick Norguet

Marimekko fabric designed by Maija Isola, 1964. 

Wolf Crest Hat (in glass) by Preston Singletary.

Threshold, by Danny Lane is a huge piece made of stacked glass. The wall of glass is lighted from behind, and there are a variety of objects behind the glass, providing interesting shapes and colors. This was one of my favorite pieces.

Unfortunately, the two pieces below were the closest the museum came to having quilts. These are pieced by Anna Buckner and mounted on small stretchers, but are not quilted.

I miss the old Mint Craft + Design museum, but there was still plenty of inspiration in the new version. 

P.S.–I’ve added a dragonfly to the “summer rain” quilt over the stairs.

This came from my jewelry box. Someone crocheted the wings and assembled the whole by hand.

Susan’s Ideas Explode

I took a class with Susan Cleveland at AQS-Paducah this year and it was excellent. Susan manages to be both pleasant and precise as a teacher and has many, many tricks for improving quilt making skills.

Thinking of Susan’s creativity and sense of humor, I decided to make my SAQA donation quilt a picture of ideas exploding out of her head.

Here’s the resulting piece:“Susan’s Head Explodes”, 12″ x 12″, a tribute to Susan Cleveland

Susan is known for (among other things) her binding techniques, prairie points, and Dresdens. All these involve her signature precision and attention to detail. I used some of her techniques in this little quilt and added several of my own. Here are some details.

First, the martini glass. Please note that I have no idea whether or not Susan drinks alcohol; I just couldn’t resist this use of a prairie point!

You can see my binding up close in this detail photo. I used a flange to accent the edge. The little spheres are wool balls cut in half, a technique I learned from Susan.

The red exclamation mark is made with Kraft-Tex to avoid any risk of fraying on such a small element.The flamingo is a plastic button! Following a suggestion from a reader (Elizabeth, in response to my Habitat House), I removed the shank and glued the button to the quilt.

For one of the prairie points, I put a clear spherical button inside to hold it open a little. This button was one of my happy finds in Paducah, so it deserves to be in the piece!

The wool blend felt used for batting was a suggestion in a recent book by Sue Bleiweiss. It worked quite well in terms of being stable and easy to use.

Quilt Stats:

Name: Susan’s Head Explodes!

Designed and made by: me, with inspiration from Susan Cleveland

Finished size: 12″ x 12″

Materials include: Commercial cotton fabric, hand dyed fabric (Cherrywood), hand dyed embroidery thread (Artfabrik, Laura Wasilowski), Kraft-Tex (C&T), plastic buttons, commercial rick rack, wool felt balls, a polymer clay button, wool blend felt for batting, and various commercial threads.

Note: As always, the links in this post are for your convenience. They are not affiliate links.

AQS Paducah 2022

After a 2 year wait due to you-know-what, 3 quilty friends and I finally met up in Paducah for AQS Quilt Week.

Paducah is an interesting town to walk around. There are lots of old houses as well as some interesting new ones. These two were next door to each other!

Then there is the gigantic Hancock’s of Paducah, a must-visit for fabric collectors. I saw a woman there wearing a shirt that declared, “Quilting and Fabric Collecting are Two Different Hobbies”. Apparently I agree 😀

There used to be a number of other fabric shops, including Eleanor Burns’ Quilt In A Day, but they have closed due to COVID. We did find an interesting shop, though.

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Tuscan Rose is a wonderful shop selling clothing, apparently collected from thrift shops and then overdyed. Of course I bought a shirt, and so did one of my friends. Tuscan Rose also had such beautiful hand dyed yarn that I was tempted to resume knitting. (As a favor to the beautiful yarn, I left it to be bought by someone who actually knits well!)

The quilt show itself was something of a disappointment. There were hundreds of beautiful quilts, but before long it was overwhelming. The workmanship was exceptional and I think I would have enjoyed seeing a few of them, but after a couple of dozen my head was spinning.

Modern quilts were rare. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Kandinsky’s Sewing Circle by Holly Hull

Morning Fog by Sarah Lykins Entsminger

I also liked this one, but I can only assume that nobody at AQS understood what “one in every four” referred to, based on the AQS history of avoiding even a hint of controversy.

One in Every Four by Carolina Oneto

I didn’t hear that any of you were going to Paducah. What is your experience with AQS shows?

Can This Quilt Be Saved?

Ha! Many, many years ago there was a column in a women’s magazine called, “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” I have no memory of reading the content, but somehow the overly-dramatic title has stuck with me. (I just asked Ms. Google, and I’m not the only one who remembers this: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/can-this-marriage-be-saved_b_58404189e4b0b93e10f8dfdf)

Anyway, in moving I have come across some experimental pieces that I’ve kept. I learned something from each of them, but sometimes what I learned was that a particular piece was not especially attractive!

Well, this didn’t work

The above piece was an experiment after reading a book by Freddy Moran. It’s well made but not especially attractive. For me, the colors don’t “gel” and the prairie points are entirely too regular in their arrangement.

This unquilted piece, approximately 42″ square, is the THIRD attempt to make something with these dotted fabrics! The other versions were no better, but I’ve saved some of the fabric by cutting out circles and using them as applique.

Rescued Dots

I think the “rescue” was pretty successful, and I’ll probably do something similar with the rest of this fabric. So I guess that’s 4 iterations of a design with those dots before finding something successful! 

And then there’s the Stuffed Olive Block. Never mind why I designed it in the first place. I made it into a pillow, but really, we have more than enough pillows. I think it just has to go!

I’m a firm believer that no experience is wasted, so we’ll call it good even if some of these just go out with the trash.

Of course that’s nowhere near all the experimental pieces I came across, but that’s all for now 😀

P.S.: I enjoy seeing “barn quilt” blocks as we travel, but this one struck me as unlikely:

 

 

Cheater stripes!

Studio Stitch has had this beautiful striped fabric for several months and I’ve been wondering what I could do with it.

Then I found this pattern: Oriana by Alison Glass. It’s intended to be made with strip sets, but it was just perfect for this fabric!

Those sharp points weren’t the easiest thing to do, but I love the way they worked out.

I made this quilt with just part of the number of circles called for, and it finished at 47″ x 48″.

I’ve loaned the quilt to Studio Stitch to display, and I’ve written a “cheat sheet” for them. If you  want to use striped fabric instead of making strip sets, they’ll give you a copy when you buy the pattern, which they have in stock. (I’m not sure it’s on their website, but you can phone them at 336-288-9200.)

And here’s a money saver: Alison had intended to have templates available, but COVID has held that up. This means all you have to do is trace her printed templates (in the pattern) onto LARGE sheets of template plastic and make your own. That really was pretty easy.

So of course when I went to Studio Stitch to show them the quilt, they had this new fabric in…

Just sayin’ 😀

Saved! Sort of.

Today is Grandparents’ Day, in case you didn’t know. So, along those lines…I’ve found things during our move that I swear I’ve never seen before, though of course that’s unlikely. One such item was a very large damask tablecloth, probably linen.

I thought it had belonged to my grandmother, who was very much into fancy tables. (We’re talking multiple sets of china, flatware, etc.) However, the monogram marked it as having belonged to my great-grandmother, Ida Miller Ownbey (1862-1923).

Despite the beauty of the cloth and the handwork, there were several holes in it, and too many Sunday dinner leftovers to save it.

I threw it in the trash.

THEN I needed to spray baste a small quilt. I retrieved the tablecloth and used it to cover the garage floor for the procedure. Ha!

I was so glad it wasn’t wasted. May we all be so useful at age 100!

 

Stars Again

I’ve probably made more stars than any other type of quilt block. For some reason the design just appeals to me. Here’s the latest.

The original inspiration was this quilt called “Scrappy Stars II”, found on Pinterest. The post from which it was pinned is here.  I also found a similar pattern, called “Night Sky”, at the Missouri Star Quilt Company, here.

I didn’t care for the way it was arranged and I wanted to make it bigger anyway, so I redesigned it. First I drew the basic idea in EQ8, as I had found it on Pinterest, but with a border added.

HST Stars, drawn in EQ8 as a starting point for my design. Sources in preceding text.

I used this drawing to lay out my HSTs (half-square triangle blocks). Then I started adding rows and fiddling with the design. This was during the time we were in temporary housing, so there was a LOT of running up and down stairs to view the design from the loft. It was extremely easy to get pieces turned the wrong way!

The back is a sheet I got at my favorite thrift shop.

Quilt Stats

Design based on two sources noted above

Finished size: 78″ x 53″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

An Unusual Fabric Find

It has been our privilege for the past 15 years to live in the woods on land that backs up to a national forest. Even better, there is a waterfall just a mile above the house and we hike there often. The mountain is rocky, so there are numerous other small cataracts everywhere.

We love it, so we hike often (especially now, when we know we’ll be moving away).

Although we do see signs of other people on the trail, we have never in all this time met anyone in the woods! Recently we saw another sign of someone on the trail:
Since it appeared to be fabric, I picked it up and turned it over.

And took it home and washed and dried it.Now it will be part of a quilt. I’m still thinking, but it may be an art quilt commemorating that trail.