Thursday, March 9, 2017

Meet Your (quilt) Maker: Sue Brown

WHO'S EXCITED FOR QUILT CAMP?!? WOOT WOOT! (hear that in the voice of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). We are! And we have Sue Brown to thank, not only for making it happen, but for making it happen in such an organized and informative way!

Meet Sue:

What’s your favorite podcast/music/audiobook genre to listen to when you quilt?
Thanks be for the podcast!!! I gravitate to culture-oriented podcasts. My current favorites include The New Yorker Radio Hour, WTF, Bookworm, Here’s the Thing, and Pop Culture Radio Hour. The New Yorker issues a terrific short story podcast, but listening to fiction seems to take up just a bit too much brain space for me -- I can’t follow along while I’m also sewing.

What sewing skill are you most proud of?
More and more often, I’m able to control seams and points. A few years ago I joined the Quilter’s Way (RIP) block of the month challenge. I didn’t always like the colorways, but putting a block together was satisfying. Using the shop’s tips and tricks, and my own determination, I learned how to be a lot more precise with my seams. Is that a “skill?” Or is it OCD?

What skill are you itching to master?
Handwork, including hand-quilting. One of my WIPs is a sashiko-style, hand-quilting learning object. I’m really trying to be satisfied with the rough-hewn look (practice, practice, practice).

Do you sew for a living
Sewing is a creative pursuit that improves the quality of my living... Yes??

What kind of fabric are you most attracted to?
Fabrics with rich texture and deep color. I was into Japanese taupes and indigos for several years. Last summer I gifted myself a couple of shot cotton fat quarter bundles. I pet that shot cotton a lot; I’m a little challenged in getting it off the pedestal and into a project.

Also: Marimekko…

Tell us about the quilt that means the most to you and why. This doesn’t have to be one that you made. And we’d love to see a picture!
The first bed-sized quilt my mom ever made (1982). Even though I was in that awful stage of girlhood when I didn’t adore my mom, I adored that she made this quilt for me. Its calico glory is in my bedroom today.

My mom started quilting in the late 1970s and joined a guild around that time. She made fast friends with 6 ladies, who, going on 35 years, meet once a week to sew and chat. When I look at the quilt my mom made for me, it warms my heart to know my mom’s quilting ladies share these decades of creating and laughing and loving; these friends sustain one another.

How/When did you start quilting?
First, I had to get over the idea that quilting was a square, non-feminist activity my super-square mom did. (It was a different time, and I was a super-super square person.)

I saw a picture of an Amish around the world quilt in the early 1990s and absolutely fell in love with its unfussy directness (aka “modern”?). I completed my version of the top, which was likely made of a poly-cotton blend and also quite as likely lost in an apartment move at some point. Thinking about it makes me itchy to make another one...

(I love this: it’s not mine.)

From designing and picking fabrics to watching a recipient’s face when they see your quilt for the first time, what is your favorite part of the whole process?
Design is the best. I get a flash of inspiration and want to go make something. I usually go to graph paper and color pencils to play around with an idea. Maybe I get lost on the internet while I do this idea-churning. I’m really good at starting quilts, not so good at finishing. The satisfaction of transitioning from one project phase to the next is why I like to make things; yet I have trouble pushing through those transitions. Maybe this is why I have so many UFOs… Or maybe I have so many UFOs because I have trouble “committing” to my creative decisions…  

What do you do to get over a hump when you get stuck on a quilt?
I tend to pick up a project for a focused period of time, and then set it aside when the nonsense of life intrudes. So “getting stuck” is most often about “getting started.” Practicing the habit of doing something creative every day works best for getting unstuck. Yet committing to a daily creative practice is definitely a challenge -- namely because I over-prioritize boring things like work and my M.Ed. school work and vacuuming.

For 2017 I’m challenging myself to finish two of my UFOs.


What kind of other crafts are you into besides quilting?
I like to knit and needlepoint and cross stitch. I’m consistently slow at all my crafts. (True story: I take the Acela to NYC every 2 weeks or so, and am on a first-name basis with Johnny, the 6:05am Bos-NYC conductor. He said to me on one trip: “Susan [actually, he calls me “Susan” because that’s the name on the ticket he scans, so maybe our relationship is more formal that I had thought before telling this story]. “Susan: Are you EVER going to be done knitting that shawl? Just be done with it. We’re all tired of watching it grow.”) I *did* finish that shawl in 2016.

I’ve just ordered some pot holder looms because I saw some excellent ones Complete Cauchy makes. (When I grow up, I want to be Chawne Kimber…)

Where’s your fave place to eat in Cambridge?
Love Amelia’s on Portland St.

Do you have any favorite blogs/insta accounts we should know about? And where can we find you on the internet?
(Insta? I’ve been calling it “Insty”....) Back when blogs first got big, I lost *hours* of every week chasing the knitting blogs. I weaned myself from that addiction, and try not to lose myself in the interwebs -- there’s too much in the real world to do!! I check in on many of the CMQG members on Insty from time to time -- thanks for being generous with sharing what you are up to!
Anything else you want us to know about you?
Essentially I’m an enthusiastically  OCD, commitment-phobic, expensive-fabric-hoarding, crazy cat lady!! I’m so grateful to the support of the CMQG community, because along with you, I belong here!

Kitties in the sewing room. 
If you can't make it to Quilt Camp this year, we look forward to seeing you at our March meeting... Join in and share some of your sewing with us on Instagram this weekend, and you will be with us in spirit. 

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