Friday, December 31, 2010

An addictive craft, and a new pursuit

I can’t say that I wasn’t warned, but making these felted wool balls is rather addictive. I made them with my mom and nieces when they came to visit before Christmas, I made them with my daughter and her friend, and I made them and made them and made them. Aren’t they beautiful? (If you didn’t read my earlier post, Judy Coates Perez has a fabulous tutorial for how to make these balls from wool yarn and wool roving.)

I have used hand-dyed perle cotton and wool felt to embellish some of the balls and make them into tree ornaments, but I am not sure if I am going to decorate all of them. They look great just grouped in this silver bowl on my kitchen table. 

As the new year approaches, I am gearing up to participate in The Sketchbook Challenge. I’m going to try to work each day – or as often as I can – in a sketchbook, following along with the challenges set up by a group of fabulous artists and announced on their blog. I’ll post my progress on my blog so you can see how I’m meeting the challenge. I’ve never been disciplined enough to work in a sketchbook for any length of time, and I’m hoping this will help me stick with it. 

One of the incentives will be a great bunch of prizes offered each month by their sponsors, including Quilting Arts, Cloth Paper Scissors, Golden Artist Colors, MistyFuse, Artistic Artifacts, Pro Chemical & Dye, 3 Creative Studios, Joggles, ArtistCellar, Sakura, Textile Evolution, Dharma Trading, Blick, Strathmore, and more.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

View SAQA’s Portfolio 17 online

SAQA’s Portfolio 17; the cover image is by Pat Durbin
For years now, Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) has been producing a printed portfolio of the work of its Professional Artist Members. The latest is Portfolio 17, and this year, everyone can see it without purchasing the printed book. The whole thing can be viewed online here. Just click on the little book icon. My work is represented in this portfolio by my piece Lepidoptera.

by Susan Brubaker Knapp
39" x 39" (2009)
You can search the portfolio by genre (abstract, color work, conceptual, figurative, nature, representational, sculptural, or still life) or by the location of the artist (including U.S. regions and international regions). I found it incredible how diverse, beautiful and inspiring the work is.
The printed version was distributed to thousands of collectors, interior design firms and museums that collect art or commission it for their customers. If you want your own printed copy, it is available in the SAQA Bookstore for $26.95.

What is SAQA?
SAQA is a non-profit international organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt through education, exhibitions, professional development and documentation. Founded in 1989 by an initial group of 50 artists, SAQA now boasts over 2,400 members: artists, teachers, collectors, gallery owners, museum curators and corporate sponsors.

SAQA defines an art quilt as a contemporary artwork exploring and expressing aesthetic concerns common to the whole range of visual arts: painting, printmaking, photography, graphic design, assemblage and sculpture, which retains, through materials or technique, a clear relationship to the folk art quilt from which it descends.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 Aurifil Designer of the Month Event

I don’t mean to be a tease, but the photo above is all I can show you of a project I just finished that will be offered as a free pattern through the 2011 Aurifil Designer of the Month Event. I’m so excited to be part of this neat program. Each month, host Pat Sloan will interview a different designer and show you some of that person’s work. 

But the best part is that there will be a new free project each month. Whether your passion is handwork, wool appliqué, machine embroidery, needleturn appliqué, or traditional piecework, there will truly be something for everyone here (take a look at the lineup of the designers and you’ll see what I mean).

Some of Aurifil’s designers at Fall Quilt Market 2010
And of course, there are prizes! Make up that free project and share a photo in our Flickr group. Thirty days after each pattern is released, Aurifil will select a winner – maybe you! The prizes are a different Aurifil thread collection each month.

So get ready now, in the last days of 2010! Take a look at the amazingly talented lineup below … visit their websites and blogs, friend them on Facebook, and get in on the fun from day one. It’s going to be a fun year!


And add yourself to the Aurifil Designer of the Month Flickr group here:

Susan Brubaker Knapp (January 6)
Linda Lum DeBono (February 3)
Kaye England (March 3)
Susan Guzman (April 7)
Sarah Vedeler (May 5)
Denise Clason (June 2)
Barbara Persing and Mary Hoover (July 7)
Jinny Beyer (August 4)
Edyta Sitar (September 1)
Marianne Byrne-Goarin (October 6)
Larisa Bland (November 3)
Sharon Pederson (December 1)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Judy’s felted wool ornaments

I love the work of Judy Coates Perez. And her blog is really fantastic. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but she has all sorts of fabulous tutorials, and is so generous in providing instructions. Today I whipped up this cute little ornament using the Felted Wool Ornament tutorial on her blog. Give it a try. It is really fun and easy. I’m going to make some of these with my kids and my nieces when they visit later this week.

I have not embellished this little beauty yet. Doesn’t it look glorious against that aqua plate?

A new coat for my Bernina

I don’t know what it’s been like where you live, but we have had quite a chilly December so far here in North Carolina. Our average daily temperatures are usually above freezing during the day in December, but we have had a month of mostly freezing temps and even a few days of snow. It was enough to make my sewing machine (a Bernina Virtuosa 153 QE) shiver! So I decided to stitch her a little coat. To keep her warm for now, and to keep the dust off her for later. (Dust? Yeah, like that’s a problem… barely a day goes by without me sewing something!) But it looks cute, too.

It is basically two fat quarters of fabric (these are both French General fabrics from a year ago, and I think they are “toweling” – heavier and coarser cotton, or perhaps cotton/linen fabrics). I measured my machine (side, top, and down the other side; and the length) and then trimmed the fat quarters to that size plus seam allowances. Then I cut batting the size I wanted the finished cover to be, and basted it to the wrong side of one of the fabric pieces. 

I placed the fabric pieces right sides together and stitched around the perimeter, leaving a 4" opening so I could turn it right side out. After clipping the corners, I turned it right side out, pushed out the corners, and removed the basting stitches. I pressed under the fabric at the opening, and then top stitched around the outside edge. I added pretty ribbon ties on both sides (you can see them above).

Then I dressed it up a bit by adding some beautiful old ribbon I bought from a friend. (I bought a bunch of old lace and tatting from her, and I’ll try to post about it and show it to you in the next week or so.) I think my machine looks quite fetching in her new coat, don’t you?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Review and Give-away: Confetti Naturescapes by Noriko Endo

Confetti Naturescapes: Quilting Impressionist Landscapes
by Noriko Endo
Dragon Threads, 2010
160 pages
I first saw Noriko Endo’s work in person at the opening of Quilt National 2007, where her Sylvan Ambience #2 had won Best of Show. The piece features one of Endo’s characteristic woodland scenes, with dark tree trunks dancing in the early spring sunshine, bright green and yellow leaves in the background, and a delicate sprinkling of pink wild azalea on the left side. It is magical. 

This is the same piece featured on the front of Endo’s new book, Confetti Naturescapes: Quilting Impressionist Landscapes.

Noriko was unable to attend the opening of Quilt National because it was the same day as her daughter’s wedding in Tokyo. “I nearly fell off my chair with astonishment when I received an e-mail from my friend, Georgia French, who attended the ceremony and knew my quilt had been awarded Best of Show,” writes Noriko in the book. “I thought this was a gift from God to me.”

Confetti Naturescapes features a brief biography of Endo, who was born and reared in Japan, and learned to love knitting and hand crafts from her mother. After earning a degree in English and American literature, she married, and lived with her husband and young children in the United States (Queens, NY) and Pakistan (Karachi) in the 1970s. She made her first quilt (a traditional log cabin pattern) in 1985, and her first landscape using her signature confetti technique in 1993.

The book documents how she started using the technique of creating designs using “toothpick size” snippets of fabric. It also has sections on finding inspiration, selecting photographs on which to base designs, and one project. There are also chapters on creating painted details, embellishing, and longarm quilting, as well as how to make a “rod pocket” (sleeve), and how to bind the piece. But most of the book (105 pages of it) is a glorious stroll through Noriko’s work from 1994 to 2010. 

Most of the spreads in the gallery section feature a full shot of each piece, as well as a detail shot where you can see the stitching and pieces of fabric up close, and comments and insights on the piece by Noriko. The piece in the photo above is Radiant Reflections (2008).

The detail shots in the book reveal the intricate stitching on Noriko’s work that might go unnoticed otherwise – irregular zig-zag stitches on the sides of the trees to imitate the sunlight hitting them, and in her later work, subtle leaf patterns.

The descriptions of her technique are very engaging; I had not realized that her compositions were created directly on top of batting. She places the snippets of fabric and larger, cut pieces – such as the tree trunks –  under a layer or two of tulle, and then heavily stitches them, either on her home sewing machine or on a longarm machine. Although she uses photos as inspiration for her work, she does not work directly from them, nor does she seek to faithfully reproduce them.

Everywhere, Endo’s love of trees is evident. “I love trees, especially mature trees,” she writes. “Most of my quilts are large, as I want the viewer to feel as if they are standing in the woods looking at the trees.” She also loves light – and the way it filters through leaves, changing their colors, creating a reverent mood, and diffusing down onto the forest floor. “When I began my woods series,” says Endo, “I wanted to show the trunks chased by the light.”
This shot shows Noriko with Linda Teufel, publisher of Dragon Threads (left), at the 2010 Fall International Quilt Market in Houston in October:

I also took the two photos below of Noriko’s Peony (2010) at International Quilt Market. This piece marks a bit of a departure from her earlier work, as it features heavy white machine embroidery of tree trunks and peonies on the surface.

Peony (2010; 48 x 45") by Noriko Endo

Peony (detail) by Noriko Endo
The inclusion of Noriko’s early work in the book allows you to appreciate that although her main subject (nature, trees, and light) has remained the same over the years, her technique, style and artistry have really evolved. Her work has become much more sophisticated, and she has started using more diverse materials (paint, yarn, Angelina fibers). While she has never wandered far from landscapes, her pieces now often include more intricate quilting designs, creatures such as herons, chipmunks and turtles; and her growing interest in the reflections in water is more evident. I look forward to seeing how her work evolves in the coming years.

See more of Noriko’s work at You can purchase a copy of Confetti Landscapes at Dragon Threads. (It will not be available from for one year.)

I have a copy of Confetti Naturescapes to give away to one lucky blog reader! Leave a comment after this post; I’ll pull one person’s name at random at noon EST on Wednesday, December 22. If you sign up to follow my blog (see the sidebar on the right side of my blog and look for the "FOLLOW" button), leave me a second comment that you have done so, and I'll put your name in the hat a second time. And if you help me spread the news about my give-away through your blog, Facebook or Twitter, leave me a comment about that, and I’ll put your name in the hat another time!

At the same time, Linda Teufel of Dragon Threads is giving away a copy of my new DVD, Master Machine Stitching: Thread Sketching Beyond the Basics. Leave a comment on her blog for a chance to win it!

WE HAVE A WINNER! The random number generator drew Ani from Wilmington, NC. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Great gift idea

If you are looking for a little gift for someone, this might be just the ticket. It’s The Art of Quilts Postcard Collection – Nature, by C&T Publishing, and my work is on the cover! It retails for $9.95, and includes 30 high-quality images of nature-themed art quilts by C&T authors, perfect for mailing or framing. It’s just been released. 

The piece on the box is called Purple Phalaenopsis. I finished it in early 2010, after almost burning it in frustration. You can read the long, sad story in my blog post here. As you can imagine, I now feel quite triumphant that I hung in there, fixed it up, and finished it.

Purple Phalaenopsis
by Susan Brubaker Knapp
23.75" x 36.5"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Art on my block

This wonderfully nostalgic mural is a new addition on an old building at the end of my street, where the residential part ends and the downtown begins, at the corner of West Center Avenue and Broad Street, in Mooresville, North Carolina. I just love it! It is the work of local artist Joel Morris, who lives in nearby Davidson and has a studio in Charlotte. He’s painted two other murals in town.
My neighbor (Marsha Keener) and her sister (Sheila Goodson), who own the building, commissioned the mural. They run a fun store called Tallulah’s downstairs. It carries darling gift items, antiques and cool old furniture in a very fun, funky atmosphere. Upstairs is the office for more of our neighbors, Kelly and Dave Sopp of Wry Baby. They make hilarious stuff that will make you a huge hit at baby showers. (Trust me on this… go check out the merchandise on their website.)
The mural honors Marsha and Sheila’s favorite soft drink, Sundrop Cola, which has been made in Concord, North Carolina since 1954.
It took Morris about eight weeks to paint the mural, which was sketched in first with charcoal. I watched it take shape every day I walked my dog down our street, and it was neat to see how he built the mural, layer on layer. I am glad that Marsha and her sister chose to commission an artist, and to give my town this gift. It makes our little corner very lively.

You can read more about Joel, Marsha, Sheila and the mural in a story in The Charlotte Observer.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book review and give-away: Little Girls, Big Style

Little Girls, Big Style: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe from 4 Easy Patterns
by Mary Abreu
Stash Books, 2010
128 pages, plus tear-out patterns

This book contains full-size patterns for 23 projects for little girls sizes 2-6.  The emphasis is on “boutique” clothing that “merges personality with a custom fit.” The book includes only four garments: a basic bodice, a peasant top/dress, pants and a skirt. BUT... and this is a big BUT… the patterns are almost infinitely adaptable, so you can create your own look very easily by altering the length, adding a ruffle or embellishment, changing the scale of the fabric print, or mix-and-matching something from one project to another.

All the full-size patterns are at the back of the book on perforated sheets you can tear out:

I’d almost buy this book for the photography alone. Where did they find so many cute, cute, cute little girls to model? (Okay, one of them is Mary’s daughter.) But not this cutie:

Photo courtesy of Mary Abreu
Because Stash Books are a new division (or “imprint”) of C&T Publishing, you can also count on them to be well designed, well edited, and carefully tested. Stash is dedicated to creating books for modern sewists that celebrate “fabric arts for a handmade lifestyle.”
There’s a size chart with chest, waist and hip measurements, so you can find the right size or add a bit extra or a bit less to fit your little girl perfectly. And with each basic garment, there is a page of 5 to 7 little line drawings to show how you can adapt the basic pattern to create just the look you want:

This is followed by detailed instructions for each variation, such as this one, the Barely Basic Top/Dress:

The written instructions are very concise and clear, and there are lots of photos to aid visual learners:

A description of basic techniques (backstitching, buttonholes, casings for elastic, shirring, topstitching, etc.) will keep even inexperienced garment sewers on track. Numerous tips scattered throughout the book add more valuable information to make things easier.

I met author Mary Abreu at International Quilt Market last month, and was lucky to score one of her books, and get it autographed! 

There’s only one thing about this book I don't like: my girls are already too big to fit in these patterns. Sigh. 

Mary dedicated this book to her late mother, and her darling daughter is featured in the photo on the cover. How neat to see generations of women connected by the craft of sewing! Mary is also a gifted journalist; she’s worked as an editor, writer and art director at newspapers and magazines in the Southeastern U.S., and won a Bronze award from the Parenting Publication of America for a story published in 2007. To learn more about Mary, click here.

Read more about Mary’s adventures on her blog, Confessions of a Craft Addict. Check out the Flickr group and Facebook page for more inspiration and insights.

I have a copy of Little Girls, Big Style to give away to one lucky blog reader! Leave a comment after this post telling me why you need this book; I’ll pull one person’s name at random at noon EST Saturday, December 11. If you sign up to follow my blog (see the sidebar on the right side of my blog and look for the "FOLLOW" button), I'll put your name in the hat a second time. And if you help me spread the news about my give-away through your blog, Facebook or Twitter, leave me a comment about that, and I’ll put your name in the hat another time!

This post is stop two on the Blog Tour for Mary’s book. So you have a lot more chances to win by checking in to the following blogs in the days ahead:
I have another fabulous book to give away next week, so please come back and visit me then.

We have a winner! Kat wins Little Girls, Big Style.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Froggie is hopping off to a new home

Red-Eyed Tree Frog
11-3/4" x 9-1/4"
by Susan Brubaker Knapp
This is one of my very first thread-sketched art quilts. I made it in 2006, using a method of capturing cut pieces of fabric under tulle that I learned from Bonnie McCafferey in her Portrait Quilts: Painted Faces You Can Do book. Now, it is hopping off to a new home! 

A few weeks ago, I got a message from my friend Kelly Jackson. She told me that she had asked her husband to buy her this piece for Christmas. Apparently he didn’t get the hint right away. She was in the jewelers having her wedding ring cleaned, and her husband told her to take a look around and asked if there was anything she’d like for Christmas. “I said, ‘I don’t see any Red-Eyed Tree Frogs,’” Kelly wrote. “He cracked up laughing.”

Then she kept checking on my website to see if the piece had sold (to her husband). It hadn’t. So she wrote to tell me that she was putting a check in the mail. “I’m having the Red-Eyed Tree Frog one way or another before someone else buys it,” she said. “I love frogs and I so admire your work that it will be wonderful to have it here to enjoy every day. I guess you can now brag that your work is more precious than diamonds and gold. :)”

What a fun story. And how flattering that she wanted my art – and something handmade – more than a piece of jewelry! I am totally thrilled. It is an amazing feeling to know that your work is going to someone who will love and appreciate it. Thanks, Kelly!

Red-Eyed Tree Frog (detail)
by Susan Brubaker Knapp

The shot above shows some of the thread detail on the frog’s chest. I know this is totally against the rules of the Quilt Police (and quilt show judges), but I often adjust the tension on my machine so that some of the little flecks of bobbin thread come up to the top. It adds really cool spots of color, and texture.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Eazy Peazy gargantuan giveaway!

Margaret Travis of Eazy Peazy
Allow me to introduce you to a very nice new pattern designer I met at Quilt Market this fall in Houston: Margaret Travis of Eazy Peazy designs. She has some wonderful patterns, including a special line for those who rely on wheelchairs and walkers. Her booth caught my eye because she had the most amazing encrusted walker on display, with a nifty saddlebag hanging on it. (That’s her, and it, in the photo above.)

Your Eazier Livin’ designs are fabulous… What inspired you to make them?  
They were inspired both by my mom and by a dear handicapped friend. I designed the Sassy Smock, and my special friend did the walker saddlebag and wheelchair backpack. I was happy to publish her two patterns under the Eazy Peazy name. It was inspiring to watch her write down her ideas, then the directions. All I had to do was edit and format them. All three were thoroughly researched and are functional for the handicapped.

It looks like you've had a LOT of people test your patterns. Why is this important to you? I do believe in testing of the patterns. Not all of the testers listed on my website test every pattern, but they are my “angels” and I especially appreciate those who will challenge every step and will test from the words on the page. It makes my product better. I admit to having nightmares about publishing a pattern with a bad instructions. My concept for my company was to have easy instructions that would be user friendly. Along the way I've improved my instruction writing. Little things like starting each step with a verb. Wish I had started it with the first pattern. I’m learning! One secret I have is a husband who is a golf writer who will edit for me. He has no idea how to sew, but can check grammar, tense, etc.  So, as you see, I have a “village” behind each Eazy Peazy pattern.

Tell me more about the Double Diamond Ruler you used in your beautiful Divine Diamonds Handbag. How does it work, who makes it, and where can you buy it? 
It was designed by Kim Templin of Bright Quilting Notions. It’s a fun ruler that takes out all the hassle of measuring and cutting exactly. You select either the 3.5" or 1.5" ruler (both come in the package). Fuse your medium- and light-valued fabrics with Heat’n Bond Lite.  Then fold and use your rotary cutter in the slots provided, fold back the diamonds, place on a dark piece of fabric and secure by quilting. It’s a great way to showcase your light, medium and dark fabrics.
Photo courtesy of Kim Templin/Bright Quilting Notions

Photo courtesy of Kim Templin/Bright Quilting Notions
You can purchase it from the Bright Quilting Notions website, other online retailers, and from quilt shops. (The retail price is $21.95.) Or keep reading, and find out how to enter for a chance to win Margaret’s pattern and the ruler, too!

You have another handbag (the Heavenly Textured Handbag) that uses Texture Magic. This is another material I've never used, but I've heard great things about it. Can you describe it a bit?  
Texture Magic is a great product when you want to play with fabric. It is a steam-activated shrinking fabric that can be used with or without batting and with fancy stitches and quilting methods. Without batting it resembles smocking and is great for garments. With batting, it is super in quilts and handbags. Another use is in art quilts with the varied textures which can be achieved. A version of the product has been used in the aircraft industry since the 1960s. In fact, in a recent trip to Fantasy of Flight here in Florida, a mechanic gave me a piece (but in a much heavier weight). Leave it to the quilters to find a way to repurpose an existing product! My Second Heaven Handbag pattern uses Texture Magic, too.

It looks like your patterns list exactly the products you use to achieve a designer look.   They do; here’s another example: I personally hate purses and accessories that have no “body.” Proper interfacings are key to achieving a beautiful product. The newest interfacing which found me by way of Annie Unrein at Houston Market is  Soft and Stable. You can buy it from Annie at her website, and I predict will be a big seller for quilting stores. It is a polyester-covered foam. The machine needle glides effortlessly though it, and it gives lightweight softness while providing super body. I'll be recommending it in future patterns.

You just started your company in 2009, and went to your first Quilt Market this fall, right? Yes. A year ago at this time, I had four patterns. Now there are 11, with the twelfth almost finished.  The decision to go to Quilt Market seemed to be the logical next step for growth.

What was your experience there like? It was amazing. Hard work but very rewarding… now I know some shortcuts for setting up a booth. I had the most fun meeting shop owners from across the country and Australia and Canada who were already stocking my patterns in their shops. It was gratifying to be able to thank them personally. The networking possibilities were endless. Going to Houston was one of the best business decisions I’ve made.

Have you been sewing for a long time? What other crafts do you enjoy? I've been playing with needles and thread since childhood. Fabric and sewing have always fascinated me.  Crochet is the only thing I've tried that has absolutely eluded me. My mentor and cheerleader is Marie Seroskie of Katie Lane Quilts. Marie helped me when I started quilting and continues to aide by answering questions via e-mail.

Is that Julie Creus from La Todera as a model on your pattern covers? She was in the booth next to yours at Quilt Market, right? Are you two friends? Yes, Julie Creus is a friend and fellow quilter. I twisted her arm to get her to pose for the covers! She just had the look I was searching for to represent my company. Julie and I jokingly call each other “Thelma and Louise.” We've been sharing information about pattern publication, printing, distributing, etc. as we grow our businesses, which we started at about the same time. It’s nice to have someone traveling the same road to bounce ideas off of. Together we swallowed hard, wrote our checks to go to Houston, loaded an SUV with our stuff and had a wonderful trip and experience at our first Quilt Market. 

Margaret has generously given me one of each of her 11 patterns to give away to my readers. Isn’t that sweet? She has a bunch of patterns for things that would make wonderful handmade holiday gifts (stuff like cell phone cases, coupon cases, and spectacle or rotary cutter cases). To enter this giveaway, please go to the Eazy Peazy website and take a look at Margaret’s patterns. Then leave a comment after this blog post and tell me which design you'd like to win, and why. I'll pull 11 names at noon EST on Dec. 10. 

The winner of the Divine Diamonds Handbag pattern will also win a Double Diamond Ruler, courtesy of Kim Templin of Bright Quilting Notions. (Thanks, Kim!)

I will also pull the name of a twelfth person to win a 18" x 58" package of Soft and Stable, courtesy of Annie Unrein of ByAnnie. (Thanks, Annie!)
Pattern and product photos courtesy of Margaret Travis.

Can you believe it? Margaret sent me another set of patterns. So lots of you are winners! I drew names at random, and when possible, matched you up with the pattern you liked best. 

Sassy Smock: MamaCrow and Tami@LemonTreeTales
Stroller or Wheelchair Backpack: Kathleen and Laura T. 
Walker Saddlebag: Robin C. and Debbie (Woolen Sails)
Bodacious Brag Bag: Jackie and Dolores
Divine Diamonds Handbag pattern and Double Diamond Ruler: Marcia and Rhonda G.
Second Heaven: TZel and Cara
Heavenly Textured Handbag: Mary Jo and Dinah T.
Spectacular Spectacle or Rotary Cutter Cases: Mimi and Karen
Captivating Cell Phone Caddy: QuiltNQueen and Sandee
Convenient Coupon Caddy:  and RustyBird
Luverly Luggage Tag and Marvelous MiniWallet: Fulvia and Gill
Soft & Stable: Di

I’m going to be on The Quilt Show!

I’m so excited… I’ve just been asked to be on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims! The filming will take place in April, and the shows will air starting in the summer. 

Don’t know about The Quilt Show? You should! It is “the world’s first full-servic interactive online video/web magazine created just for quilters worldwide,” according to Alex’s website. The web “TV” show is produced just like a television show, but viewed online for a monthly or annual fee. Each show features quilting inspiration and instruction from well-known quilters. Some of the episodes are shot in front of a live audience, and others are shot at interesting locations. You can watch a free show on the website before you decide to join.

When I first started designing quilt patterns, I dreamed on being on Alex’s “Simply Quilts” TV show, which aired on Home and Garden TV (HGTV) for 11 years. I watched it all the time, and I was so upset when it went off the air!

Alex went on to create this amazing new show with Ricky Tims, contemporary quiltmaker, author, musician and quilting teacher. The Quilt Show’s website is an online community of quilters nearly 70,000 strong. They have contests, projects, a quilt gallery, classes, and a store. They also offer some amazing block-of-the-month programs like this fabulous “Ruffled Roses” by Sue Garman (one of my favorite designers; I just adore her stuff!), coming in 2011: 

I’ve been a reader of Alex and Ricky’s wonderful Daily Blog for a while. I also love their new magazine, The Quilt Life, which is produced through the American Quilter’s Society (AQS). You can read more about it, and subscribe, here. It has great articles, very high-quality patterns and instructions, and to top it all off, it is really beautifully designed and the printing and paper are also top-notch (as a graphic designer, I pay attention to these things!)

When I was discussing my segments with Alex this morning, she told me that they are offering a free membership to The Quilt Show for the month of December. This is a great way to try it out for yourself before you decide to join. Just click here, fill out a short registration form, and you’re in. Enjoy!

Monday, November 29, 2010


Snow Squall
by Susan Brubaker Knapp (2010)
20" x 16.5"
Baby, it’s cold outside! Here near Charlotte, North Carolina, where I live, it is starting to get chilly, just in time for December. So I thought it the perfect time to share with you my latest piece, Snow Squall. This piece is featured in the current issue of Quilting Arts magazine (the December 2010/January 2011 issue).

We don’t get much snow here, just about 5" a year. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., where we got a lot of snow, and I miss it. This year I’ve been writing a series of articles on thread sketching for Quilting Arts magazine, and when I needed to make a piece about creating movement with thread, I stitched myself up a flurry!

I started with a dark blue batik fabric that was mottled all over, and used a mechanical chalk pencil to trace some snowflake designs and swirls onto it. I pinned the fabric to interfacing (Pellon 910), and thread sketched the swirls using varigated blue Aurifil Cotton Mako 50 thread, and for the snowflakes, the same weight thread in solid white. Then I highlighted a few areas with a bit of metallic acrylic paint. Doesn’t this look frosty?

Snow Squall (detail)
After adding batting and backing fabric, I quilted around the swirls and snowflakes to make them come forward, and quilted the background to accentuate the sensation of movement. 

If you want to stitch your own snowflake, you can download the design for one of these snowflakes on the Quilting Arts community website (go to Free Stuff, and then Online Extras). If you want my snowflakes instead, this piece is for sale. You can find all the details on my website.

Snow Squall (detail)