Hi I’m Pat Sloan, the Aurifil Designer of the Month coordinator. I’d like to introduce you to our January Aurifil Designer, Susan Brubaker Knapp . Not only is Susan a very talented quilter, but she works in two worlds… traditional quilts and art quilts. I think this makes her work a very interesting blend!
Let’s meet Susan and see her amazing “Leaves of Green” project.
We are encouraging you each month to make our designers project. Post your photo at our Flickr folder and one quilter will win a prize of Aurifil thread! Post a photo of your completed top by February 6 to be considered.
Flickr folder -
- When was your FIRST quilt sighting? Did it inspire you to start quilting? If not, what did?
I have quilting in my blood… I have quilts made by my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother! I’m not sure when I saw my first quilt, but I made my first quilt with my mother when I was 10 years old, in 1973. It was a simple one-patch made with pieces left over from clothes my mom had made for me, and tied with yarn. Both my mom and I embroidered our initials and the date on it, and my kids love to snuggle under it today. I started quilting traditional quilts when I was in my late 20s, after a co-worker at The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader practically forced me to take a quilting class with her.
- What is your favorite type of quilt or quilt pattern?
I love all kinds of quilts, but I make both contemporary art quilts and traditional needleturn applique quilts. I call myself a “multiple personality disorder quilter.” I love making pieces of fiber art based on my photographs.
- We all have parts of the process we ‘prefer’ more than others. What part of quilt making do you ‘Prefer’ most and why?
There is no part of the process I don’t enjoy. From designing and washing and pressing my fabrics to the binding, I love it all!
- Do you do other crafts now? Did you do those BQ ‘Before Quilting’, what types of ‘stuff making’ do you connect with the most??
I do a lot of other crafts a little bit. My secondary craft is probably knitting, but I do mostly simple stuff now, usually to felt. I used to knit more complicated things, like Aran sweaters. I initially learned to knit from my maternal grandmother after I broke my leg in sixth grade, but took it up in earnest while spending my junior year of college at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The girls there could really knit! Learning how to knit pretty, well-fitting socks is on my to-do list!
- Did you have a career prior to making art, and what was it? Do you still do that career while having your design business?
I worked as a graphic designer, editor and writer. My graduate degree is in journalism, and I’ve worked in corporate communications and for two newspapers, most recently The Charlotte (NC) Observer. I’ve always loved making crafts, and art, but I don’t have any formal education in it. My last art class was in high school! I still do some graphic design work in addition to designing quilt patterns for my company, Blue Moon RIver. And a big part of my “job” is being a mom and keeping our household running; I have two daughters (ages 14 and almost 11). I feel so fortunate that I have a husband who has supported me while I have discovered and pursued doing what I love.
- How do you fill your soul? What I mean by this is – what makes you SO HAPPY that you know that if you do this you are experiencing a little ‘Heaven on Earth’.
Besides quilting? Gardening, cooking, photography, and being in nature.
- When you start a new project do you have a ritual you follow?
Challenges or competitions get the wheels turning in my head. And I am often inspired to start a new piece after taking a great photograph.
- What is your favorite weight of Aurifil thread? What are you ‘go to’ thread colors?
For my art quilts and thread sketching, it is Cotton Mako 50. It is so lightweight that I can do a lot of thread work and not experience puckering or draw-up. I wrote a series of six articles on thread sketching for Quilting Arts magazine in 2010, and I did all the pieces using Aurifil’s Cotton Mako 50. “Go-to” colors? I use them all!
- Do you travel to teach? And if so, how often and what types of groups? Guilds, stores, retreats, big shows? Is there a schedule on your blog or website?
I’m starting to travel farther afield in 2011 and 2012 to speak and teach at quilt guilds, retreats and stores. I’m hoping to teach at some quilt shows in the years ahead. My schedule is on my website here: http://www.bluemoonriver.com/programs.html
- How would you describe your personality? Are you process oriented, detailed, big picture, are you carefree, structured, unstructured, all over the place depending on the project?
I consider myself to be a basically happy person, fairly optimistic, passionate about things, opinionated, and strong willed. I think I am product oriented rather than process oriented. In my mind’s eye, I can envision how I want a piece to look, and then work to achieve that. It is important to me that I have something to show for my work when I’m done. That’s the reason I like quilting better than cooking: after people eat up your food, it is gone, but with quilting, the product sticks around! I am pretty intense when I am working. I tend to get very caught up in whatever I’m creating.
- If you could train with, or work with, or follow one person for a day.. who would it be and why?
I would love to spend a day with Susan “Lucky” Shie. I have never met her, but she seems to be a really authentic person, and I am absolutely in awe of her art. It is deep, so completely a reflection of her beliefs and values, and I respect that.
- The Book you are currently reading - I’m reading two, actually: “Every Last One” by Anna Quindlen, and “The Lacuna” by Barbara Kingsolver.
- Your Favorite Movie- I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” at least once a year, at a time when I’m feeling discouraged … it is good for the soul.
- A Song that makes you ‘dance the happy dance’ – “Miserere” by Gregorio Allegri (early 1600s). It is pure beauty and joy in sound.
- The Color you have always LOVED – bright turquoise blue
- Anything else you’d like to share?
I have a new DVD just out from Quilting Arts: “Master Machine Stitching: Thread Sketching Beyond the Basics.” It follows up on my first DVD, which focused on free-motion machine quilting and thread sketching basics.
I also love blogging; it is so much fun to share ideas and processes, and to connect with other quilters online.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Susan and learning about her work. Isn’t her gift to you the most amazing quilt ever!
Visit Susan Brubaker Knapp
Sign up for her newsletter at her blog!
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