I am a third generation Arizonan and am honored to be a featured quilter. Recently, I was delighted to be selected as a member of the 2015 Quiltmaker Scrap Squad. It will be an exciting challenge. I grew up in Northern Arizona. One great grandfather helped found Lakeside and the other was an early missionary to the Hopi.
Quilts have always been a part of my life. Family gatherings often found grandkids sleeping around the living room even under tables on pallets made of folded quilts. These quilts were made with love using the fabric on hand: scraps leftover from garment making or pieces cut from old clothing. Both of my grandmothers were appalled the first time that I bought fabric specifically for a quilt. They thought I was being extravagant and wasteful.My quilts follow their same tradition. While I do buy fabric, I like to use up every scrap if I can. I make my quilts with love to be snuggled, tumbled, and washed as needed. It follows that they are machine pieced and quilted. I have yet to enter a quilt in competition. My favorite is “Bits and Pieces” based on a pattern from All People Quilt.com. I made it to practice machine quilting and liked it so well that it is still on my bed.
I started sewing when I was about 4 or 5. My grandmother gave me scraps of fabric, buttons, and a threaded needle. I remember sitting under her treadle watching the wheel fly as she sewed. Gram taught me to quilt. I recall hand quilting with her when I was about 8 or 10 helping her finish a Sunbonnet Sue quilt. She also helped me piece and tie my first quilt. My dad’s mother, Granny, was a scrap quilter deluxe. She taught me to recycle denim way before it was fashionable. Her denim quilts were known in the family as Levi tarps and every one of us had at least one. I enjoy garment sewing, purse making, embroidery, and crochet. I have never been able to master knitting.
I have been a nurse, a quality manager, data analyst, and project manager. Most recently, I was a national trainer for a segment of a Fortune 500 company. My husband and I will celebrate our 43rd anniversary this year. We have 2 married sons and 5 grandchildren. We also have a cat who tries to keep us both in line without much success.
I am a machine quilter all the way and love to use what is in my stash. I am inspired by all the great quilters and videos available to us in magazines and online. My quilts are made for love. I hope they will be used daily to snuggle and comfort the recipient. My favorite quilt is “Bits and Pieces”. I made this to practice my machine quilting and loved it so much it has a permanent place on my bed.
I have a studio all to myself set up with a Viking D1 machine set in a large table surrounded by fabric, thread, scissors, rulers, etc. I use a cutting table made by my father-in-law for my husband’s aunt. In fact, most of my tools, buttons, trims, some fabric, and furniture have family history. Over the years, I’ve collected a pretty large stash, but there is always a reason to buy more. Both of my grandmothers were appalled the first time that I deliberately bought fabric specifically for a quilt. They thought I was being extravagant and wasteful.
I usually work on one at a time, but have to admit that there are a few works in progress waiting in the wings.
My best advice to other quilters: Follow your heart and create what speaks to you in the way that works best for you. Really! No “quilt police” will show up at your door to tell you it’s wrong. Unless you are entering it into competition, you can make your own rules.
Keri Blankenship Gallery