Thursday, July 6, 2017


Copyright 2017 by Susan Brubaker Knapp

This is “Nikau.” It is 28-1/2" x 26". Commercial and hand-dyed cotton fabrics, cotton batting, cotton backing fabric; machine pieced and machine stitched. 

I started this piece in 2010 in a class taught by Cynthia Corbin at the Charlotte North Carolina Quilt Symposium. Cynthia Corbin is a wonderful teacher, and I adore her work, but honestly, I don’t know why I took this class. It was a real struggle for me to work in such an abstract way. (Maybe that’s why I took it, thinking back. I do try to push myself out of my comfort zone sometimes.) 

It was a design/composition class, and we started with a photo as inspiration. I started with a photo of the trunk of a Nikau palm (it’s the blue and purple vertical element in this piece). The Nikau palm is the only palm native to New Zealand, and it has a beautiful striped trunk. 

As I remember, my composition looked nothing like this when I finished class. The background pieces were big and blocky, and only yellow – all shades of yellow. I was unhappy with it, and set it aside. For a long time. This winter, I got it out and started completely over, working with tiny pieces, adding more color, and working improvisationally. I’m much happier with it now. I love how the background sparkles, and I love how I was able to use many special fabrics that I had hand dyed. The black and white bits in the trunk are a hand-stitched Shibori fabric I made about 12 years ago.


  1. Your piece turned out so wonderful Susan. You have such a great eye for color, perhaps letting it "marinate " for a bit helped you let it all gel. It is so unlike what you usually do, but I would say you succeeded in a big way. just lovely!

  2. I love your re worked piece.
    I am wondering if you would consider writing a blog describing how you approached all that piecing and adding pops of color and keeping the whole thing balanced. I am not sure i would een know where to begin.

  3. Thanks, Elaine! In the background, I kept all the yellows about the same value range, and then added the darker colors in tiny bits. I just cut lots of small pieces and sewed them together into units of about six pieces, then sewed the units together. If you look at the piece, you can see several large horizontal strips on the right side. It was completely experimental, and fun. But it took me a long time. There are LOTS of pieces, and some of them are about 1/2" wide.


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