I have this interesting relationship with Kathreen Ricketson. She’s been kind of like a modern-day pen pal to me for the past six or seven years, even though we’ve never met. Kathreen, the founder of the popular craft blog Whipup.net lives in Australia. Before starting this blog I wrote for Whipup for about a year and a half. I became a huge fan of Kathreen’s and admire both her eye and her heart. I look forward to meeting Kathreen in person one of these days but in the meantime, I get to enjoy another of her charming books.
On this stop of the Little Bits Quilting Bee Blog Tour I sent Kathreen a series of questions about the book and about her life as a Craft Queen. Below are her answers. Enjoy!
1. How did you go about designing the quilts in the book? Describe your creative process.
I begin by forming a theme – in this case it was using pre-cut fabrics, and my love of bright colours – tradition and contemporary mixed together. I start by researching concepts, looking through books and magazines – including books like traditional shibori, Latvian embroidery, Indian architecture and Mid-century fabric design mixed with magazines on topics ranging from Indie music and designer interiors to vintage quilt pattern and sewing magazines. It’s all fodder for my inspiration. At the same time I am sketching up designs, taking note of colour combinations, contrasts, patterns and shapes.
Once I have my sketches, I choose fabrics – collecting fabric swatches from all over, both digital and real, I add them to my physical sketch book and to my digital sketch book too. I then design up the ideas in a quilt software program, which helps with calculating sizes. This is the most difficult part as the blocks in these quilts had to be sized for use with pre-cut fabric pieces, to allow as little wastage as possible. So there was a lot of back and forth on designing blocks, sewing up test blocks, and back again to get the right size block and quilt for the fabric that was to be used.
Once the quilt pattern was finalised and tested by me, I then had a quilt making friend and neighbour give them the once over as well, after discussion about what techniques would be used and how to efficiently cut the pattern pieces, I once again went back to the original quilt patterns and made more changes. At this point I wanted to be certain I had a good mix of easy, medium and difficult quilts, that I had some quilts with curves, some with improv sewing, some applique as well as some whole quilt designs. So again the patterns were tweaked, some tossed out and a couple of new ones added in until I was happy with the final group.
2. What was the hardest part of writing the book? The most interesting? The most fun?
Physically the hardest part was the sewing of the quilt tops, 20 quilts in 5 months – luckily I farmed out five quilt tops to some quilty friends, the other 15 I made myself and at the end of those months my back was aching and I had devised a method of sewing standing up. Mentally the hardest part for me is the math involved while designing the patterns.
The most interesting part – well I found the whole process interesting – taking my art and design and sewing skills to a new level was incredibly fun and satisfying. Learning a new computer program was interesting, but the most fun part was learning how to use my new quilting machine. All the quilts in the book (except for the hand quilted one) were quilted by me. I loved practicing my new-found free-form quilting skills, and the quilting is an essential part of their design.
3. What’s next for you?
When this is posted up I will be just back from my month long holiday and so am hoping to be refreshed and getting stuck straight into a whole bunch of new projects. Hopefully a new book will part of that – but definitely I am doing more with my Action Pack magazine for kids, designing new quilts and taking on new challenges too.
4. Describe an average day. Do you write everyday? Research for whipup? Work on Action Pack?
I get up early to answer emails, because I am in Australia I like to make sure to be online when the rest of the world is too – at least for an hour in the morning before breakfast – this is when I can answer questions or reply to emails. Then we have breakfast as a family, we always have a hot cooked breakfast – bacon, eggs and tea is our usual, the kids are usually so busy at school they don’t like to have a huge lunch – mostly fruit, homemade muffin or cake and maybe a bagel, so I like to send them off for the day with a hearty breakfast. After getting the kids packed off to school, I sometimes meet a friend for coffee and an hour of knitting or crochet, or else I go for a bike ride or do some groceries, then I head home and do an hour of housework, before working on whipup, Action Pack, or my current book project – whichever is the most urgent. I meet the kids after school and we have afternoon tea together and chat about the day, then I begin dinner, we might bake together or work on some craft projects or go to the park. Then its dinner time, we read a chapter of our family novel and the kids then go to bed and read their books for a while before lights out. Finally my husband Rob and I get a chance to sit down together – we might have a glass of wine or a cup of tea and discuss our day, our current project or our latest scheme or dream. And thats the day… It’s a mix of mothering, housework, writing, paper work, organisation, baking, craft, and I make sure to squeeze in some time for myself and for my husband.
5. You have a weekend all to yourself. You can have any supplies you need. What would you make?
I have so many projects on the go, a couple of crochet blankets, about five half finished quilts, a pile of fabric waiting to be turned into cushions, an upholstered headboard project that exists only on paper, a big pile of thrift-store clothes waiting to be turned into something plus a shelf full of delicious wool felt – all of these things are constantly calling to me. But give me a whole weekend to myself I might just take a bath and grab a book or hunker down with a hot chocolate and my crochet!
Chronicle, the publisher of Little Bits Quilting Bee, is offering to send a free copy to a US resident. If you’re interested in having your name in the drawing, please leave a comment. Do you use pre-cuts? Are you a longtime Whipup reader? Chime in.
Below are the remaining stops on the blog tour so even if your name isn’t chosen for the book here, keep trying because there are lots more stops.
Monday, November 7 – The Long Thread
Tuesday, November 8 – Craft Nectar & Comfort Stitching
Wednesday, November 9 – luvinthemommyhood & Elsie Marley
Thursday, November 10 – True Up
Friday, November 11 – House on Hill Road & CraftyPod
Monday, November 14 – Handmade by Alissa & Hello My Name Is Heather
Tuesday, November 15 – West Coast Crafty & Foxy Art Studio
Wednesday, November 16 – Patch Andi & The Last Piece
Thursday, November 17 – In Color Order & Duo Fiberworks
Friday, November 18 – Kristin La Flamme & Camp Follower Bags & Quilts