Katie Winchell




Katie Winchell




Katie Winchell


Alice Helms

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Sandra Anne Frazier


Asheville, NC


Alice Helms


Alice Helms (AH): Today is January 29, 2010. I'm conducting an interview with Katie Winchell for the Quilters' S.O.S.--Save our Stories project. We're at my home in Asheville, North Carolina and it is 1:40 p.m. Katie, tell me about the quilt you brought today.

Katie Winchell (KW): Well, this is a quilt that I made with my mother. She originally taught me to sew and do all kinds of handcrafts, but I grew up in Miami [Florida.] so we didn't do a lot of quilting. But I did sew clothes and she taught me to knit and crochet and that sort of thing and after she became older and came up here to live in an assisted living [facility.] near me, I thought she'd be interested in starting doing some quilting because that's what I had gotten involved in at that point. And so I took her to the Linus Bee in Black Mountain [North Carolina.] and we commenced to make quilts together and this is a Project Linus pattern, and what I found was the best for her was if we did it paper pieced, which I like to do and she could cut pieces close to the right size with scissors in her assisted living, and then I could do the paper piecing and we could put it together and she seemed to get a lot of satisfaction out of that and so this is one of the quilts we made together and [laughs.]she had more fun rearranging the Xs and Os, trying to not get two colors together the same but keep the Os and the Xs in the right lines and I finally just had to say, 'Stop. That's it. That's where it's going to be.' [laughs.] Because she kept moving them around and moving them around and moving them around. Originally it was going to go to Project Linus but I had made her a quilt for her eighty-eighth [corrected to eighty-ninth.]birthday and when she passed away in a rehab facility, someone took the quilt. And when I went to gather her belongings, her quilt was not there, and so I would have liked to keep that as a memory of her but, since that one was gone, I decided that I would ask Sara Hill, who is in charge of the Linus Bee, if I could keep this one because it had special memories of making it with her. So it was sort of my replacement quilt for the one I had made for her.

AH: So what's the name of this pattern?

KW: Hugs and Kisses, which is sort of appropriate too.

AH: So why don't you just describe it.

KW: Well, it has alternating rows of Xs and Os that are paper pieced and in all kinds of bright colors because I originally planned for it to go to Project Linus and I made a replacement so that Project Linus wouldn't be missing a quilt [laughs.] and it's got lots of greens and purples and blues and reds and then an inner border that uses those same colors in alternating little pieces that go all the way around and then the beige background that's behind the Xs and Os is also the border and then a dark binding on it.

AH: And, why did you choose this quilt to bring to the interview?

KW: I think because I probably wouldn't have gotten into quilting if my mother hadn't taught me to sew and do handicrafts and always be a busy person, you know the idea, idle hands are the work of the devil, but she didn't really believe in the devil [laughs.] but she did like to stay busy with handcrafts and I sort of picked that up and continued it. Probably because she taught me to sew and I was comfortable with sewing, I got into quilting fairly easily once I finally thought I had time to work on quilting.

AH: How do you use this quilt?

KW: Actually, it just sits over the back of a rocking chair in my living room. [laughs.] I don't usually drape it over me or anything, it's just background decoration in my living room.

AH: And what are your plans for this quilt?

KW: Not much. [laughs. ] It's probably just going to sit there in my living room until my son inherits it.

AH: Okay. Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking. How old were you when you started quilting?

KW: Actually I didn't start quilting until fairly recently, probably around 2000 or so. The thing that got me started--I think I always thought that I would want to do quilts at some point, but I knew they took a lot of time and a lot of effort and I just wasn't ready to devote myself to a new task until I saw a book in the store by Marti Michell called "Quilting for People Who Don't Have Time to Quilt." And that one, I thought 'Aha. That's me. I don't have time to quilt but I would really like to learn how to do that.' So I picked up that book and I started looking through it and I thought, 'Okay, I can do some little projects,' and I did some oh, like table covers and equipment covers for my office and a bag to carry my things around to the office and those went relatively well. I didn't know a lot about how to put it together or colors or things like that but they looked like quilts to me [laughs.] so then I started doing a little bit more.

AH: So were you self-taught?

KW: Basically. I've been to classes. I don't know really whether the construction of those early projects was anywhere close to correct but then after I saw that quilting might be possible, I might actually have time to do it, then I started taking classes and I took a Stack-n-Whack class from Sara Hill in Black Mountain and I was still not very comfortable with a quarter-inch seam at that point, because people who've sewn clothes do a five-eighths inch seam and I just thought that was not enough seam and I didn't know how to use a rotary cutter really well so I was like sawing with the rotary cutter and she had to correct me on that [laughs.] and then I took her classes at AB Tech. [Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville, North Carolina.] After the Stack-n-Whack class she told me I knew enough so I didn't have to start with the Beginners [class.] so she told me to come to the Intermediate Class and then I went back later and took the Beginner Class because I thought there were probably basic techniques that I didn't know. So I thought it was always good to go back and review the basics. And I've taken her intermediate class several times plus workshops in the Asheville Quilt Guild.

AH: How many hours a week do you quilt?

KW: Well that varies a lot. [laughs.] I probably try to get to something at least once a day but there are probably days when I don't get to do any quilting and then sometimes when I go a retreat or something where I quilt for two or three days but I don't have a regular schedule where from 9:00 to 11:00 every morning I'm going to quilt or anything like that, just whenever it seems to fit in my schedule and there's something that I want to work on.

AH: What is your first quilt memory?

KW: Growing up in Miami, we didn't have quilts and I don't know of anybody in my family who quilted so probably the memories that I've made with my quilts are first. I don't really have a memory. I probably saw them in craft magazines and things like that but as far as having a quilt on my bed or anything like that, that didn't happen.

AH: But something made you want to quilt at some point.

KW: Yeah, I think because I'm so much into needlecraft. I did counted cross stitch, and embroidery and knitting and crocheting and sewing and it just seemed like a natural thing to get into after all the other crafts that I was into. And I think it's a good artistic outlet. I don't think of myself as an artist, but somehow it feels artistic when I'm doing it. [laughs.] I think of myself more as a technician than an artist. [laughs.] So I love to follow someone else's pattern. [laughs.]

AH: How does quiltmaking impact your family?

KW: They have to put up with a lot of clutter. [laughs.] I think they like having quilts around. I think they're intrigued by them. I've given my son two quilts and he keeps one of them on his bed. The other one, unfortunately for him I made it out of slick fabric, sort of like of taffeta, before he got himself a cat and so now he doesn't dare put it out because he's afraid the cat will destroy it. But he likes it and he wishes he could put it out but he has another one, I made him a cotton one that he can put out and he and the cat can share. My husband really enjoys quilts. I made him a log cabin quilt, he seemed to always want a log cabin quilt so I finally made one for him. And now he's gotten into quilting. He's a mathematician and he loves the geometric shapes and fooling the eye sort of, and the three-dimensional quality that you can make with quiltmaking, and he was doing some stained glass but he finds that putting quilts together is much faster and in some ways more satisfying, because there's so many different types of fabric you can use. So just very recently he started making a quilt himself.

AH: Did you teach him how to quilt?

KW: I taught him how to use the machine and what was important, like the quarter inch and making the corners neat and things like that, but he's sort of taken to it pretty naturally and he has an enormous quilt in progress right now. [laughs.] Actually two of them. A puzzle quilt and a three-dimensional-looking quilt.

AH: He designs them himself?

KW: Yes. That's the part he likes. I don't think the sewing is all that satisfying to him, he just likes designing them and then seeing his designs in cloth evolve and people go 'Ooh and ah' when they see it. So that was an unexpected wrinkle in my quilting life. [laughs.] He hasn't taken any classes. The good thing is he doesn't know what's supposed to be hard so he just does it. Sara knows that he's working on it now and people will say, 'Does he know how hard that's going to be?' and she said, 'Don't tell him. It's better if he doesn't know, [laughs.] if he just goes for it.

AH: That's great. [pause for 6 seconds.] Katie, have you ever used quilts to get through a difficult time?

KW: [pause for 6 seconds.] I can't really think of anything where I just turned to quilting to avoid something or get through something. I think that quilts are special that remind me of different times and people that I've made them for or times that I was working on things, but not specifically to get me through a difficult time.

AH: Okay. Tell me about an amusing experience that has occurred through your quiltmaking.

KW: Well it's the one that I talked about earlier with my mom rearranging and rearranging all the Xs and Os until I finally just had to blow the whistle and say, 'Stop. [laughs.] That's where they're going to go. I don't care if there's two of them beside each other that you don't think should be beside each other.' I mean she must have spent two hours rearranging those Xs and Os and going, 'Oh. Wait. I think I've got it. Oh no no, there's two that are side by side.' [laughs.] So that was pretty fun and we had a lot of fabric donated that would go to the Linus Bee and Sara has the back of her car full of fabric and she used to love that we could go shopping in Sara's car, was the way we put it because it's all donated fabric so you could go out to the car and she'd say, 'Ooh this is all free? Oh let me see what I want to use here.' [laughs.] She could pick out anything she wanted and try to figure out how she wanted to make a quilt out of it. So it was fun to see her get into that as a new craft at age 89, 90.

AH: So you've taught quilting. A little bit.

KW: A little bit. Just pinch hit because Sara had a medical issue. She teaches at AB Tech and I sort of took over her classes one time. But other than that, no. I don't consider myself to be an expert enough to teach quilting.

AH: So what was that like?

KW: It was pretty intense. Mostly because you had to do a lot of preparation for each class and I was just kind of trying to keep ahead of where the class was going next and I kept forgetting that there were two beginning classes and I had to have two demos for everything I did. So I'd think I was all ready and then I'd go, 'Oh no, I need another demo for the other class.' But they were all very forgiving and very helpful and so it went pretty well considering.

AH: Do you think you'd do that again?

KW: Hmmm. [pause for 7 seconds. ] I don't know. That's a big commitment to do that that frequently and be committed to go every week for eight weeks or whatever. And there are a lot of people in the classes, her beginner classes usually had sixteen or seventeen people in them so I'd have to think long and hard before I made that kind of commitment.

AH: Tell me, what do you find pleasing about quiltmaking? What are your favorite things about quilting?

KW: Well, I actually like hand quilting, although I don't do it as much as I would probably like to. Just the rhythmic, sort of mindless quality of it, that's sort of like the relaxing aspect of knitting, where you're doing the same thing over and over again, which for some people would be boring but I find it almost like meditative. I like seeing how the quilt starts to evolve as you're making it. I'm always nervous when I'm picking out the colors. I never know if I'm doing the right thing. Somebody recently said, 'If you come from clothing making, you're trying to match everything and quiltmakers tend to not really match things, they tend to get more movement and, well just not match colors, try to have a little bit of more contrast and more different colors that you wouldn't normally put together if you were making clothing. So that's hard for me to pick out the right colors and get enough variety in it so it doesn't just look like something that was printed on the cloth. I really like contrast in quilts, which is not always everybody's first choice, but I find that I use a lot of lights and off-whites and beiges and things like that because I want contrast with dark colors. I don't like just all medium to darks, or whatever, I like to have some contrast in the background.

AH: What aspects of quilting do you like the least?

KW: Believe it or not, picking out designs and quilting the borders. That drives me nuts. By the time I figure out what I want to do with the quilting in the main part of the quilt, I feel so good when I finish the middle of the quilt, 'There. I've got it all quilted. Oh yeah, there's that border.' [laughs.] Now I've got to think what I'm going to do with the border which isn't always obvious to me, what to do with the border. So, if somebody would take my borders and quilt them for me I would be the happiest camper in the world. [laughs.] I can never figure out what to do with them and it seems like it's punishment or something when I get the middle done and then I have to think about the borders. Maybe I should plan those ahead of time. [laughs.]

AH: Tell me about the quilt groups you belong to.

KW: I belong to the Asheville Quilt Guild and that was real intimidating at first because there are so many good quilters in there but I just decided to take the plunge and start going there and see what I could learn from them. And I belong to several bees, which are smaller groups affiliated with the quilt guild. So I go to Little Bee, which is a night group, it's been going for twenty years I think. And East Enders, which is a very new bee and we're still sort of trying to mesh with the bee and figure out what we want to do and where we go and that one's during the day, in the afternoon so sometimes we take field trips with that one and do other activities. And then I've been starting to go to Friday at Marti's [Marti's Patchwork Cottage in Black Mountain, North Carolina.] which is at a quilt shop where people just drop in if they have time and have anything they want to work on and just want to chat for the evening. And then I've just joined Mini Bee, and that one started out as a mini group, they're not doing so much minis anymore but they may get back to that. It's just another group, and that one meets in the morning so I have all different times.

AH: So you mean they would make miniature quilts.

KW: Yes. I think that's how they started. I'm real new to that bee so I can't really speak for them that much but they seem to have activities they do, exchanges of blocks and things like that, just different activities than my other bees. We don't oftentimes do things that we give to each other in the other bees.

AH: That's quite a few groups.

KW: I know. [laughs.] It is.

AH: And then there's Linus.

KW: [laughs.] Yes, the Linus Bee too, thank you. And that's just once a month and that one's held at a senior center, like a community center, and we do a lot of bringing quilt tops and sandwiching them there, we have tables that we raise up so we can work on sandwiching things and cutting kits and basically just kind of getting people on to the next step in their quilts. Sorting fabric, whatever, we don't usually do much sewing there unless it's piecing a back or something and then we collect all the quilts that people have made for Project Linus, and I take them to the Project Linus meeting which meets once a month also, and deliver them there and we sew on labels and sort and measure them there.

AH: Have advances in technology influenced your work?

KW: I'm sure they have although I didn't quilt back in the template days. [laughs.] Or before rotary cutters. I'm so new to quilting that I'm just taking advantage of the technology changes that have come along. I'm always on the lookout for new gadgets. I love the new fine line chalk pencil that's just come out. It's like a mechanical pencil for making fine lines for appliqué and that's been a big boon that I just found last year or so. And the hair clips for doing bindings. I keep watching out for all the new gadgets that are going to make things easier, more straightforward, things like that. But I didn't have to struggle before rotary cutters with templates and that sort of thing. [laughs.] I just didn't know about all that stuff. I think that may have been one of the things that kept me from quilting a while back though because I was just thinking, 'Gosh, you have to sew so many little pieces together. I just don't know if I want to handle that many little pieces and try to put them together.' And I didn't know that there were other techniques that didn't cause you to have to sew little one inch squares together and half inch triangles and things like that. I thought that's what quilting was.

AH: Describe your studio or the place you make quilts.

KW: Well after my son moved out and went to college, and we realized that we really didn't get that many overnight guests, I just commandeered the guest room and I think I had all my yarn and knitting supplies and things in there before but they were all in the closet pretty much, I didn't have to really have space out in the room for that kind of thing, so I just took a couple of large bookcases and put them up against the wall and put my cloth in that and another large bookcase for all my craft books and magazines and that sort of thing. I think I was mostly sewing on the dining room table at first but that's not really very efficient and finally, I think it was after I taught the class or maybe it was another time when we displayed some quilts at the Biltmore House that I got some money for some things I did and I said, 'I'm going to buy myself a sewing table.' So I got one of the sewing tables where your machine can sit down in it and be flat across and so that takes up a big part of my room now and I have a folding table that's elevated that I can use as a cutting table and I do have a design wall, a piece of cloth that I have actually thumb tacked to the wall where I can put things up if I'm working on them. So I guess my whole spare room is quilting now.

AH: And now you share that space with your husband.

KW: No, he's taken over the dining room table. [laughs.] I just bought myself a new sewing machine last spring and he's got the old one. They're compatible so each of us can use the other one's machine if we need to. He's spread out on the dining room table now.

AH: So you do use a design wall. Do you think that helps with your creative process?

KW: Well I probably don't use it the way it was intended to be used. Sometimes if I have something I'm working on and the pieces are getting scattered all over the place, I'll stick them up on the design wall just to get them out of the way mostly. [laughs.] I don't really design on the design wall as such. I've actually stacked things in front of it so it's kind of hard to get to. But at least, I was recently making a scrap quilt where I really didn't want a lot of things to--I wanted to change the colors a lot from block to block so I did put them up there to make sure I wasn't making the same block twice. It's more like a backdrop to my sewing area [laughs.] than a design wall as such.

AH: What do you think makes a great quilt?

KW: Probably visual impact is the first thing for me and then if you want to get really close and see whether the points match and that sort of thing, I suppose that's important [laughs.] when you get down to the nitty-gritty but I think visual impact is probably the most important thing for me, if it's going to be displayed, if it's going to be where people are going to see it or whatever, if it's just for warmth it may not make that much difference but I think the design and the visual impact is really important.

AH: What do you think makes a great quiltmaker?

KW: Somebody who enjoys doing it. [laughs.] I think that probably influences whether the quilt is something that has visual impact, that's well done and that sort of thing. I think somebody who really doesn't like it or is doing it because they have to or somebody's assigned them to do it or whatever, they're not going to make a great quilt. I think they have to first fall in love with the design and enjoy doing it and then follow through to finish it.

AH: Are there quilters who you're particularly drawn to? That you admire?

KW: Not so much, not any particular quilter. I just look at the quilt and see whether it speaks to me, not any particular designer I don't think. I don't think I have enough experience in the field to know different people's work as much as other quilters do.

AH: Maybe a workshop you've taken, or something like that?

KW: Well because I like paper piecing, Carol Doak comes to mind. I like her designs but I don't have wide experience with quilt designers.

AH: How do you feel about machine quilting versus hand quilting and longarm quilting?

KW: I think whichever one seems appropriate at the time is fine. I don't have a longarm so I can't say I enjoy that [laughs.] but sometimes I machine quilt--most of the time I machine quilt--I think because it's easy and fast, pretty much, but I enjoy hand quilting as well if I can set aside the time and I have the right setting to work on it so I'm not fighting with the quilt while I'm working on it. I guess another big problem with me is figuring out how to mark the quilt so that I feel confident to work on it and know what design to put on it so if all of that were determined for me, then either way would work. [laughs.] I would hand quilt or machine quilt, whatever seemed appropriate at the time. I think I agree that our foremothers would have used machines if they'd had them.

AH: Do you ever have your quilts quilted by a professional longarm quilter?

KW: I did one time because it was just so big and I haven't mastered the technique of doing it in sections yet and I hope to do that soon. [laughs.] But I don't have any problem with having a longarm quilter do it. I would have the same problem there, I don't know what design I would want particularly put on it and I'd probably let them tell me what they thought it needed because they probably have more experience. The one that's on my bed right now was quilted by a longarm quilter because it's queen-size and I just couldn't do it.

AH: Why do you feel quiltmaking is important to your life?

KW: I've been thinking about that a fair amount and I really like the service aspect of it. It's interesting, my husband and I were at a church service one day where they were talking about thinking about a term that sort of drives your energy, that gets you up and going in the morning, that sort of thing, and it was very interesting to me because we wrote it on a little piece of paper and I don't know if they collected them or we kept them or whatever it was, but anyway I asked him after the service, 'So what was your word?' and he said, 'Learning and knowledge and that kind of thing,' and I said 'Gee, I think mine was service.' [laughs.] So I really enjoy the aspect--well I'm the Community Quilts Chair [for the Asheville Quilt Guild.]now--and I really enjoy the aspect of making quilts that make a difference to other people and it doesn't have to be a perfect quilt and it doesn't have to be any particular design, it just has to warm their body, heart or spirit and so I really enjoy participating in Project Linus and the Linus bee and making quilts that other people will enjoy as well. Eventually you make enough quilts for your family that they say 'Okay. Enough quilts.' [laughs.] And I enjoy decorating my house with quilts as well.

AH: So what are some of the ways you've decorated your house with quilts? You sleep under a quilt.

KW: Yes. [laughs.] I have a quilt that goes on my bed, at least in the winter time. I have a couple wall hangings on the wall. I have Storm-at-Sea and one that has autumn leaves on it. I have quilts draped over most of the chairs in the house. [laughs.] Over the backs of the chairs. I have one that I made, it was a string quilt that I made in a class at the John C. Campbell Folk School [in Brasstown, North Carolina.] and that one's a table cover for a side table next to my couch. So there's just a little wall hanging of a Dresden Plate [corrected to Drunkard's Path.]block that I made at a class, I think the class at AB Tech., that's next to the doorway to my kitchen. So they're just scattered around here and there.

AH: What does it mean to be Community Quilts Chair? What does that entail?

KW: It's the person in the Asheville Quilt Guild that finds places to donate quilts and encourages members to make quilts and cuts kits and make them available and gets batting if people need it and just generally try to encourage projects that the guild members can make to benefit the community at large, sort of give back to the community from the Asheville Quilt Guild, which is a non-profit organization.

AH: So who are some of the recipients of the quilts?

KW: Well obviously Project Linus and they distribute to probably thirty different agencies that benefit children. They give to the hospital, they have quilts that are put in the trunks of police cars for children that are in accidents. Guardian Ad Litem, Red Cross, you name it, any place a child might be in distress or whatever they distribute quilts. We've made some for Habitat for Humanity this year, we make them for the seniors at Mission [Hospital.] and also for Meals on Wheels, and we just started making some to sort of decorate the new Humane Society. So there's a lot of agencies and organizations that distribute quilts to people who need some cheering up or kept warm or whatever.

AH: So about how many quilts a year are distributed?

KW: Well this year we've already given out over five hundred items, that's not necessarily all quilts, some of them are what they call butterfly pillows for Hospice to make Hospice patients more comfortable. Some of them are adult bibs that go to nursing homes. There's a variety of different things that we make, but over five hundred items have already been made by the quilt guild members this year, which is pretty good because they only have about three hundred members so obviously people are pretty active. Oh, premature babies--we make preemie quilts as well.

AH: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life?

KW: It feels like it's a fairly uniquely American craft, at least that's the way I thought about it at first. Now I'm finding out that they make quilts in Europe and they make quilts in Japan. The Japanese have really gotten into quiltmaking. But originally I felt like it was a pretty uniquely American craft, just a way for people to use up clothing and blankets and things that were no longer useful in their original form that they could piece back together to make a blanket to keep the family warm or whatever, but they didn't just put it together willy-nilly, they actually thought about how they put it together and made a design to make it beautiful in spite of the fact that it was all scraps, it was all just pieces of other things. I think it's neat when someone makes a quilt from clothing as children grow up, saving their clothing and cutting it into pieces and making a quilt out of that so it evokes memories of their childhood or whatever. I think I have a quilt, I don't know where it is, I made it when my son was a baby that I actually have a picture of him being changed on, but it must be up in the attic somewhere. [laughs.] That was before I really thought about quiltmaking.

AH: Do you know what's happened to the quilts you've made for friends and family?

KW: Well, since it hasn't been that long since I started making quilts, I think they all sort of exist where they were, except the one my mom had and I have no clue where that one might be but I've two different thoughts about that, one was I thought when I realized it was gone, of course at first I was angry and I called and said, 'Find that quilt.' Then after the fact I thought, 'Well, she doesn't need it anymore and I made it to keep her warm and to make her happy so maybe it's doing the same for somebody else now.' And then another friend of mine said, 'Yeah, but you know the person who took that quilt will never rest under it.' [laughs.] So it's sort of interesting, the different thoughts that are evoked when something like that happens. It certainly wasn't any kind of award-winning quilt or anything like that, it just had tea cups all over it, because she loved a cup of tea. But the other quilts I think are pretty much where I put them. I gave two to my son, I made one for my sister's grandbaby and that one she just got last fall. I made an I Spy quilt with all the different critters and identifiable shapes on it and things like that so I assume that's in her bedroom someplace.

AH: So what exactly is the I Spy quilt?

KW: The one that I used is hexagons, with triangles in between, different color triangles to connect the hexagons and each hexagon has an identifiable shape that a child could say--apple or tiger or porpoise or whatever shape, you choose fabric that has an identifiable shape in it that a child might be able to pick out and name so it helps a young child.

AH: And are they all different?

KW: Oh yeah. Every one is different.

AH: That's a lot of collecting of fabric.

KW: Yeah, I had some of the people in my bees helped with that. They had made I Spy quilts so they pulled out their stash and gave me pieces of it, because I didn't need a very big piece of each one. But I did have fun going shopping for them and then I did something that one of the people in my bees actually suggested, that I print pictures of the child and her parents, just her and her parents, in some of the hexagons in the quilt so in the center is a picture of her as a flower girl at a wedding and then I had pictures of her as a baby and then pictures of her parents and her and her mother at the [rehearsal dinner for her.]wedding and so there were five blocks on the quilt that had pictures of her or her family in them and they were mixed in amongst the lions, tigers and bears, so to speak. [laughs.] And then her mother said that she was crazy about sea creatures, she liked whales and porpoises and fish and things like that so the blocks that actually had sea creatures in them, I clustered those around her picture in the middle of the quilt and just put the other ones wherever, and I found some whale fabric for the back, so that was fun.

AH: Sounds very nice. What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

KW: Hmmm. Hmmm. I'm a little worried about the perfectionism, that everything has to be exactly to the thread, perfect. And also the amount of quilting. If you're going to enter it into a show, and my quilts have been entered in the Asheville Quilt Show but not because I intended to win any prizes or anything like that, but they seem to require them be to almost stiff with quilting now and everything has to be exactly perfect and you have to have designed it yourself and la la la. So I say that I put my quilts in the Asheville Quilt Show so that the average person coming by could say, 'Oh, I could've made that. Maybe I should be a quilter.' [laughs.] Because you know I think it's about the beauty of the quilt, the feelings that are evoked by the quilt, the memories that maybe people have about a quilt but I don't want to spend the rest of my life on one quilt. I just don't find that very satisfying. So people who want to do that, that's great, [laughs.] that's their choice. But I don't think that's a route that I'm going to go to try to make an award-winning quilt. I think that's not where my interest lies.

AH: Okay well our time is almost up but is there anything else you'd like to add before we conclude?

KW: Well, I've really enjoyed feeling like I had an artistic outlet in quiltmaking that maybe wasn't available in other areas. I'm sometimes amazed by what actually comes out when I make a quilt and I think, 'Wow. Did I really think of that? Did I really do that?' [laughs.] Because I don't consider myself an artist, when it comes out looking sort of artistic, I'm like, 'Wow. I think this is a medium where I can play around and maybe make something that looks like art. Isn't that amazing?' [laughs.]

AH: Okay. Well on that note then, this concludes our interview. It is now 2:40, no 2:22. Thank you, Katie.

KW: Thank you.


“Katie Winchell,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 16, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1859.