Roger Winchell




Roger Winchell




Roger Winchell


Alice Helms

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Fletcher, North Carolina


Alice Helms


[30 seconds of background noise.]

Alice Helms (AH): My name is Alice Helms. today is October 1, 2011. I'm conducting an interview with Roger Winchell for the Asheville Quilt Guild Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. We are at the Asheville Quilt Show in Fletcher, North Carolina and it is 1:30. Roger, tell me about the quilt you brought today.

Roger Winchell (RW): Okay. The quilt that I've entered in the show and that we're going to talk about is called "Quilter's DNA." This is only my second quilt--the second quilt I would enter in a show, I've done some small things just for practice--and last year I did a very geometrical quilt and this year I wanted to get a little bit away from that and I wanted to do something with lots of different traditional quilt blocks in it but I didn't want to do it in a rectilinear, right angle kind of fashion, so I played around with possibly doing the different quilt blocks like on the sides of cubes and putting the cubes together--that seemed a little bit too much like last year. And I don't know what I was doing one day with a piece of graph paper, I was just drawing curves to try to see if there was a way to do it with a curved shape to it and I happened to draw something that looked like a spiral and I said, 'Well, why not? Oh, what the heck, [laughs.] let's see what we can do.' This was back in about December of last year and Katie, my wife, was about to leave on a mission trip to Honduras. We also had a tremendous snowfall, this was the December snowfall last year and I couldn't get out anyway so I spent the week that she was gone, I spent drawing this thing out on graph paper and trying to decide what blocks to use and it eventually took shape and I got a sheet of black foam board and a bunch of adhesive paper and made essentially a model of it, a quarter-scale model, to make sure it was going to look as colorful and as imposing as I thought and I started working on it in January, I got the piecing done by--I think I brought it to the guild meeting in April and showed it and then I just let it sit for a while. I can't do free motion quilting. The last quilt that I entered was just all straight lines, just a series of straight lines on the quilt and that was easy enough, it only took a day or two, but I wanted to do something a little fancier on this one but I still didn't feel comfortable doing free motion. So I think it was in July, we had a workshop here with Charlotte Warr Anderson, and her topic was doing quilting with geometric shapes without marking on your quilts so she showed us how to use the blue painter's tape, marking on the blue painter's tape to get registration marks and just quilting between the--quilting zigzags and combining those into neat shapes. So that's what gave me the idea for all the quilting on it and I also bought her book from her, and there were a couple that weren't covered in the class that I liked so I used four, essentially five quilting patterns on the black part of the background. That part of it probably took probably three weeks to do all that, maybe a little bit more. We were still a couple months out from the quilt show so I hadn't panicked yet. The other thing I wanted to do is, I had done stitch in the ditch in some quilts before and I'm not that exact, when you look at my stitches they follow the seam pretty carefully but every so often, my mind wanders and it'll zigzag out a little bit and if you're standing a ways away you'd never notice it, but when you get up close, a good quilter would look at it and say, 'He needs to work on his stitching method a little bit.' So, the other thing that Charlotte talked about in her workshop was how she finished--when she was quilting, what she did with the ends of the thread when she finished and she showed, she had a little sample there and she sewed a little bit and then she flipped it over and she pulled the front thread, the machine thread, back through to the bobbin thread and she'd left nice long tails on them and she tied a square knot in it and then she trimmed the thread even and threaded them both on to a needle and buried the threads and pulled them so that the knot popped back into the fabric. I thought that was really neat. I said, 'I've seen the back of some quilts where you've got strings hanging down or they've backed up over them and they just didn't look that neat to me.' So I decided I would use her patterns for the background and that I would, rather than doing stitch in the ditch, I would do a quarter inch away from the seam, on the piece. The problem with that, by the time I finished, I think there's three thousand pieces in the quilt and every time I did--I didn't want to move the quilt around that much, I was using a walking foot so I wanted to keep straight lines, and if I wanted to do all the way around like a square, or in the case of my quilt, a parallelogram or something, there were two problems with that: one was that you had to move the quilt and it was very bulky and I was working on the dining room table with a Janome 8080, a fairly small machine, and so that was really bulky, and my shoulder got really sore from doing that. The other problem was that if you went all the way around, then you have four threads right at the end and trying to sort out which ones to tie together got confusing sometimes, and it just didn't look very nice, so I would do each one. If it was a quadrilateral of some kind, I would do two sides of it and I'd do that on every piece on each of the blocks and then I'd flip it over and I'd tie all the knots off and then I'd flip it back over and I'd do the other sides, so on the back of that quilt, there are something like 4,000 knots. [both laugh.] There's one piece on there, and in order to figure out a schedule for quilting I had another graph paper diagram of it and I actually wrote down the number of knots that I tied on each piece [laughs.] and there was one ten by ten parallelogram that I did that had 228 knots and I'll tell you I'm now pretty expert at threading two threads through the eye of a needle at the same time. I kind of played around with that and I finally figured out a good way to do it. So it was a lot of work. I'm indebted to Marti Cummins from Marti's Patchwork Cottage [in Black, Mountain, North Carolina.] because she helped me pick out the background fabric for the back and I didn't quite know what I wanted on there. She picked a really busy background so that even if I made some mistakes, they wouldn't show up at all. That's about it for this quilt. Everybody keeps asking me, well the first thing they say is, 'Are you an engineer?' And I say, 'No, I'm a mathematician. I dropped out of engineering to major in math,' and the other thing is, 'This looks so difficult to do.' Once you've got the design, once you understand the design, it's really not difficult, it's just extremely time-consuming and you have to be very careful of course.

AH: Do you think being a mathematician helps you design your quilts?

RW: It could be, but even when I was in grade school, I really liked to draw. I liked art a lot. So I think having an inclination towards art and then I guess I was smart enough, and my parents were smart enough, when I was growing up I realized that artists starve, engineers don't. So I always grew up thinking I would be an engineer because my father was a machinist and all the really wealthy people that he worked for were all engineers so when I went to college, I went into engineering. Most of the courses are incredibly dull so I wanted to switch to something a little harder and I switched to math. But the one course that I really loved was the drafting course and that's the same sort of thing, particularly when you draw the top view and the front view and the side view, but what I really liked was when they put the three of those together to get a perspective view, and I think having the mathematical bent and the artistic bent made that really easy. I tell everybody, actually my professor kept all my work because he wanted to show it off to future classes. He did that--the classes were 20 or 30 people and he kept the best ones every year so he could have sort of a gallery that could indicate how people were supposed to do it. So that was that part of it. I've also always liked calligraphy. I used to do a little calligraphy, so I guess it's just, I'm a mixture of an engineering-type person and an artist.

AH: To get back to the quilt, how many blocks are in it?

RW: There's fifty-four blocks. Essentially it's six bands, it's in the shape of a helix and some of the bands appear to go behind the other bands and everything. So there's six different bands. I like really bright colors so I used the six primary colors of the spectrum and each band is a whole bunch of pieces, mostly from our stash. Katie has a huge stash and I'm starting to build up a pretty good one and then once in a while I'd go up to Marti's shop or go to a show or something and add to it. So there's fifty-four blocks, they're all paper-pieced. I realized it would look really bad if I didn't have all the points matching and I also took Sara Hill's course, an intermediate quilting course at A.B. Tech [Asheville-Buncombe Technical College in Asheville, N.C.] and another course up at Marti's with her. The one up at Marti's was not paper piecing and my points almost never matched, but when I did the paper piecing in her intermediate class, I mean you just can't go wrong, they're always within at least a sixteenth of an inch. So I figured if I was going to do this, it'd have to be paper-pieced.

AH: Is every block unique?

RW: Essentially. There's a pattern. When you distort a square so that it looks like it's going around a curve, they're parallelograms then and that's like the middle section is ten-inch squares, the next one is ten-inch squares but they're distorted into parallelograms so it looks like they're starting to wrap away from the front one and then the next row is eight-inch so they wrap a little bit more, and then the next row is six-inches, they wrap a little bit more and then finally there's two-inch rows on the end so it looks like the typical kind of thing, if you're trying, in art, to shade something to look like a cylinder, you start drawing the shading lines closer and closer together as you get towards the edge so you just make your blocks narrower. It makes some of them almost unrecognizable. There's a pinwheel right over on that two-inch edge that unless you look closely, you'd never know it was a pinwheel. There were some on one side where they were partially hidden, I couldn't find a quilt pattern that even would be recognizable, so I just picked a very colorful print pattern and did solids for that. It worked pretty well.

AH: I just wanted to mention that the quilt is entered in this Asheville Quilt Show and it won a ribbon.

RW: It won second place for the Large, Non-professional category. So, I felt really good about that.

AH: And you should.

RW: Yes.

AH: And last year you had a quilt in the Asheville Quilt Show.

RW: Last year's quilt was probably equally bright, lots of dark background and lots of primary colors and that one got Best First Quilt and I broke some poor woman's heart. She had worked really hard on her first quilt and she was sure she going to win and then they hung us up side by side and she had to admit she didn't stand a chance. [laughs.] But she kind of chewed me out about it [laughs.] so I felt like she was able to get that off her chest. But it got Best First Quilt and there were some pretty obvious beginner's mistakes in the piecing and in the quilting especially, but it was in a room--oh and I didn't mention, it was a reversible quilt, it was colored on one side and black and white with just a splash of color here and there on the back, with a matching pattern, all the blocks were matching. So it had a very good display spot and I guess there were lots of guys who came in to look at it [laughs.] so they voted it Viewer's Choice last year.

AH: Oh, okay.

RW: I got Viewer's Choice, hoping maybe that I could do that this year too but there's so many nice ones out there.

AH: Well--

RW: And Katie still speaks to me. She's entered several quilts in the show. Her quilts are perfect, I mean she's still my inspiration, but she just, for one reason or another, she's just never won a ribbon yet, but she's very supportive, so she still lets me take her out to dinner [both laugh.] and stuff like that.

AH: So Roger, this quilt, the "Quilter's DNA," what are your plans for that?

RW: Actually, when I look at it I can see a lot of flaws in it, but also when I look at it I see that it's a lot different from other quilts. I'm thinking about going ahead, and for kicks, just write off to one of the AQS shows, one of the juried shows and see if somebody there might want a weird looking quilt, maybe I could get into a juried show, which would be really thrilling. If not, I'll probably put it some of the other local shows. One of the nice things about winning ribbons is they also give you money, or in this show it's really nice because they give you Warm and Natural quilt batting, so I got a nice queen-size package of batting for this too, so that means I can make another queen-size quilt for next year.

AH: That's right.

RW: They keep you going, they keep you coming back.

AH: So when it's finished being in shows, what do you think you'll do with it?

RW: We're kind of running out of wall space, with two quilters in the family. I've got a spot for this one set up, where I think I'll put it. We've recently remodeled our house and our foyer is a two-story foyer that's become our showpiece gallery. We had track lighting put in and everything so Katie right now has two walls and I have, since I only have one quilt, I only have one wall. I may replace last year's because I think this one is a better quilt in all respects, so I'll probably put this one up in the foyer with the track lighting. Everybody that comes in, I can brag on it and they can say, 'Let's go home.' [laughs.]

AH: I don't think so.

RW: It's hard not to get a big head when people flatter you all the time.

AH: So Roger, tell me about your interest in quiltmaking. How old were you when you started quilting and who taught you and why did you take up quilting?

RW: Okay. This is only my second year of quilting. I started back in October, two years ago. Katie has quilted for eleven years and I've always really enjoyed what she's done and you can tell when I talk about her quilts, she's just a perfectionist. She's been nice enough to sometimes ask my opinion on colors and stuff. She tends to choose more muted colors and when she wants to make something a little bit brighter, she gets my opinion. It's helped her a little bit too, I think. Sara Hill made a quilt that has been on display up in Marti's Patchwork Cottage for a while and it was also at Highland Farms Retirement Community. It was a puzzle quilt with twenty different blocks and there were ten pairs of blocks and what they did was each pair of blocks had exactly the same piecing pattern, the same triangles and squares in exactly the same orientation and I think hers was in purple and blue or something and she just rearranged the colors so that it was very difficult to tell that the two matching blocks were in fact matching. So it's a puzzle quilt and everybody got to stand there and say, 'Okay, that one over there matches this one over here.' I think the first time I saw it I stood in front of it for about twenty minutes trying to figure out where everything was, so then two years ago, just before I started the first quilt, the first show quilt, she was going to offer a course at Marti's in how to make that and I think we had five or six people in the class. Katie and I were going to take that as a team, because of the way we worked before with me helping her pick out colors, she knows I'm good with geometry and stuff so I was going to help do the arrangements of the colors and then she would do all the sewing and Sara wouldn't let us do it. [laughs.] She said, 'No, I've had couples in my class before and it's a good way to destroy a marriage.' She said the couples never finished. They would always get in a fight or something and one of them would decide not to continue. So she made me take the course separately and we each made a quilt. I do finally have that one almost finished. It's taken quite a while but that was sort of what got me into it. And we had done that for about two or three weeks. I'd never touched a sewing machine before. Katie showed me how to thread the needle and everything. I didn't know what a presser foot was, I didn't know any of that stuff. I certainly didn't know how to sew a quarter-inch seam but she's very patient and I'm a fairly quick learner so we got into that and I found that it was just really enjoyable, it was really relaxing. I've talked about my sore shoulders from doing the quilt, but I've never really gotten tensed up working, except for moving that big bulky quilt around, I've never gotten sore muscles from it or anything. It's very relaxing. I do everything right now by machine except for the bindings, the bindings--it's nice because I don't have to sit at the machine, so I can sit there, like today I'll probably go home and I'll try to find something to do by hand and I'll sit there and watch my college football games, but it's very enjoyable, very relaxing. I was a little reluctant at first, Katie would go up to Marti's on Friday nights, they have a little bee that meets at Marti's shop and I finally got up the courage to ask if I could go with her one night, but now that's part of my routine. It's just a really nice bunch of people and I think they've had to tone down some of their humor, [laughs.] since they've got a guy--

AH: No male bashing.

RW: No male bashing. Well, no, they still do it. They all accept me as a male [laughs.] and bash me as well as the others. But, that's very enjoyable.

AH: So you sit, and you mostly do handwork.

RW: That's right. I'm trying to learn some other stuff. Next year I'm hoping to do one that's mostly English paper piecing so I can work on it by hand because there's really not much room in her shop to set up a sewing machine--

AH: Right.

RW: --and work while we're there.

AH: A lot of times I'll just take, if I've got a block where I want to cut out shapes or something, take the fabric up there and do the cutting and stuff like that. Do some design work or something.

AH: Right. So how many hours a week do you quilt?

RW: Depending on the time of year, the quilting that I did on this one, I was working a minimum of three or four hours a day. That's more than I really like to do. Katie and I are--there's a psychological test called Myers-Briggs Personality Types--we are exactly the opposite Myers-Briggs types, except for the fact that we're both introverts. We disagree on everything but we never talk about it. [both laugh.] But part of that is that I'm the kind of person who likes to jump from one task to another, she's the type of person who will start a task and carry it right through to the bitter end. I've tried to learn a little bit of that, because I do like quilting, and I want to devote more time to it, but generally two or three hours is about all I do before I've got to go off and do some other activity.

AH: Unrelated to quilting.

RW: Unrelated to quilting. Well, maybe not totally unrelated, but I might go off and I might look through books or I might try to come up with designs. Since I've had two original designs now, I'm going to try--I don't want to make somebody else's quilt, even though I think you can pick a quilt pattern and there's a great deal of skill in picking proper colors, and proper quilting to go with it that will make it your own personal quilt but I kind of like the idea of designing one that's unique. I keep having some people, particularly there's a couple guys who are interested in quilting who I've talked to, who said, 'Do you have a book?' or, 'Are you selling the patterns?' and I said, 'Well, why would they want to make another quilt just like this one?'

AH: People do.

RW: They do. And the fact that I wanted to make a traditional quilt with all the traditional blocks indicates that I think it's perfectly all right. You can do some wonderful things. You see in the books, 501 quilt patterns--they're leaving a lot of them out, I think. The other thing I like to do with quilting is, I've taken a few workshops now and it's fun to, like at the Ricky Tims workshop, there was just a lot of stuff that he only lectured and you didn't get to try it out, so now I'm at home and I'm trying to work on all those things, but as he was lecturing, I was thinking, 'Well that's really great, but why doesn't he do this additional thing?' So, I can't think of an example now, well it's like the Dresden Plate that I put in the "Quilter's DNA" quilt was made with a pattern that I learned from Sara in her class, but what I did was I made a sheet of fabric that was stripes, various yellows and then rather than putting the template, where you reverse the template so that you can get it on a rectangular piece of cloth, rather than doing it just straight across the cloth, I just tipped it at an angle, and when I got it cut out, then you had the little petals of the Dresden Plate but there were bands of color that were going kind of diagonally across it. Well, when you put those together in a certain pattern you can actually form spirals, so I don't know whether I've done anything new there--[a beep is heard.] That's my watch, I haven't figured out how to turn it off.

AH: Oh, okay.

RW: So maybe I've invented a new Dresden Plate pattern, I don't know. [laughs.] I haven't ever seen that before, but that's the thing that challenges me is you see something, particularly some of Ricky Tims' absolutely gorgeous quilts, and you say, 'Wait a minute, I've got an idea that might--I could change it.' Somebody when they see my quilt in the show, they're not going to say, 'Oh look, he's done a Ricky Tims quilt.' They're going to say, 'Well, that's kind of like a Ricky Tims quilt, but look what he's done over here.' It's kind of really gets your creative juices flowing to take these workshops and read books and meet other quilters--

AH: And I think these--

RW: --programs at our guild meetings are fantastic, you always get ideas from those.

AH: Yeah, and I think these teachers would be very happy to know that they've inspired someone to think beyond what the lesson was.

RW: The stuff I want to do for Ricky Tims, I mean he's such a personable person--I guess you can be a personable person--if I come with anything, I'm going to be sure to communicate it to him because he's the type of person who will incorporate it into his techniques and he'll pass it on to other people and they'll get ideas, so it's a great hobby.

AH: Roger, what is your first quilt memory?

RW: Gosh. Frankly, I guess I noticed quilts when I was a kid. There are no women in my family who have done much in the way of sewing. My one grandmother died before I was born, one grandmother--she was kind of a pioneer in working, she worked for the railroad as a accountant or something, and I mean this was back in the 1920's and 30's, a real pioneer in the women's work force and my mother had some kind of brain fever, I don't know whether it was meningitis, when she was a teenager and her hands shook so badly that strangely enough she could still thread a needle and she could repair clothes and stuff but she never did quilting or any kind of needlework as a hobby. So Katie, I guess was the first person that I knew, Katie and possibly her mother, although I don't remember that she did much. Katie was the first one I ever saw doing a lot of quilting. Actually Katie taught me to knit when we were first married. I probably could fall back on knitting. I know a lot of the ladies go to bees and stuff. Sewing bees you don't take sewing along anymore but a lot of them take needlework of some form, just sit there and have a social time.

AH: Do you still knit?

RW: I know how to. I haven't done anything recently. That's another one of those things--I've talked about my attention span of about two hours--I started out doing an Afghan, like one that Katie had done for me, it had the yarnovers and it had added stitches and dropped stitches, it was a very pretty pattern and I got one strip out of about ten done and that was it. That was my knitting career. Maybe she'll teach me to crochet next. She's good at that too.

AH: So what do you enjoy most about quilting?

RW: I think the creativity part of it.

AH: Design.

RW: Well the colors, the colors. I can spend all day walking through the show here just looking at the vendors' booths, the different kinds of fabrics. I'm getting a pretty good stash at home now. We just ran across--I forget the lady's name now but she used to have a fabric store downtown and she just decided to clean out her storage shed, where she kept samples of all her different fabrics she'd ever sold, so we came home with $70 worth of fabric but it was $5 a pound.

AH: Was that Amy---

RW: I forget her name. And we almost had to go back to the car and get our--we keep some change in the car. We got to her place with $69.75, I think and it turned out it was $70 worth of fabric but she took pity on us [laughs.] and we didn't have to put anything back.

AH: What do you like least about quilting?

RW: Gosh. Not much. I think part of that is because I'm still new to everything. I'm still learning everything. So I want to try it. There is really no aspect of quilting that I dislike right now.

AH: Okay.

RW: I'm thinking that if I get into hand quilting particularly, I might get--given my attention span, that maybe that won't be my favorite part of it, but I still have to try it. We did Mary Stori's workshop, Katie and I together and some of the other folks in the guild. It was enlightening except I could't find a thimble that fit properly so I wound up trying it without the thimbles and I only could about an hour of the three-hour workshop before my fingers hurt too badly to continue. So that might be the least favorite eventually.

AH: Okay, describe the place you do your quilting.

RW: When Katie started quilting, and my son was already--I guess that was about the time he went off to college, we have a four-bedroom house and we converted one room into a computer area and office and he left, we kept our guest bedroom so hopefully he would come back and visit us but we had an extra bedroom so we converted that into Katie's sewing room and that was fine but after she bought about four hundred books and about Lord knows [ringing cellphone is heard.] how many yards of fabric, it got a little crowded so she would start working out on the--we have a great room--she would start working out on the dining room table. Last year we got a beautiful sunroom, twelve feet by twenty-four feet, put on one side of our house. It's a sunroom but it's actually turned out to be a very comfortable year-round room with windows all the way around and we're right under the trees so we can see all the leaves changing and the leaves coming out in the spring and the birds. So, we had originally planned to turn that into the sewing room but it was such a nice space and we spent so much time out there, that we decided to move Katie's--she has a Horn table for her machine--so we moved that out there and she's got this beautiful setup and that left the dining room for me. So now all of my area is about a third of the great room, I've got it set up there, I recently bought a used machine but it's a much nicer one than I did either of my first two quilts on. I've just built myself a big thick design wall so now all those things I'm trying for Ricky Tims, I've got five or six projects working at once but I can put them all up there and look at them at the same time. It's pretty comfortable. I'm thinking though that eventually since that sunroom is twenty-four feet wide, I can see a time in the future when we'll have two sewing machines side by side, but I'll have to pass that by the boss and see if she--[laughs.] She takes up quite a bit of space out there because we've got the ironing board and we've got a cutting table out there, so it would probably look too crowded to have both of us out there. The nice thing about all this is that the sunroom opens onto the great room and what used to be an outside window, in the great room, now is a window that opens into the sunroom, so we leave that open and then she's out there and I'm at the dining room table and we can talk back and forth and hold up what we're working on and say, 'Look at this.' It's kind of nice. It's great to have a common hobby that we can share.

AH: I agree.

RW: [looking at cellphone.] Let's cut this off, I think that may be my son and I think he may be lost.

[recording stopped for two minutes.]

AH: Roger, what do you think makes a great quilt?

RW: The ones that I admire the most are the ones that have just an incredible attention to detail. I'm much more impressed now by the quilting than by the piecing and of course that's where I need to work the most right now but when I look at the prize-winning quilts in here, the ones that I think should have gotten Best in Show or Best in Category are the ones with their quilting patterns that fit the background, that fit the pieces that they've used. I'm not a big fan of longarm quilting where you just do admittedly a beautiful pattern but it just goes all over the quilt and it doesn't match the background pieces. That looks okay, but to me that's not a beautiful quilt, that's just an adequate quilt. But our Best of Show this time is just--I'm just astounded that somebody can work in those little tiny spaces, do all those spirals and since I've taken a little bit of free motion quilting, I'm more impressed with things like spirals than stippling. I've found out that just about anybody can stipple. But that's it--the quilting itself is a fantastic part of the craft to me.

AH: Whose works are you drawn to?

RW: I have limited knowledge of quilts. I've been to a few quilt shows, we went to the Knoxville [Tennessee.] show and I have to admit that one of the quilters that I've, like most Asheville quilters come to love and hate [laughs.] is Linda Roy from Tennessee but I don't view her as competition because everything she does is hand quilting. It's absolutely spectacular but I don't see how anybody can create that many beautiful large quilts in a lifetime and she's done twenty years' worth of them, at least one large quilt a year. In our own guild, theres'a lot of people that I really admire, obviously Diana Ramsay and Barbara Swinea and Linda Cantrell are the big three but Sara Hill is perhaps the most inspirational because she's helping so many people with their love of the hobby.When we had the [Asheville Quilt Guild.] new member tea this year, we had about an equal number of new members and then people who had been members for anywhere--like me--from two years ago to thirty years ago and just about everybody, except maybe the thirty-year-ago members, when they got up to introduce themselves, said, 'Well my name is so-and-so and I got interested in quilting and then I took a course from Sara Hill,' [laughs.] and it literally was everybody in the room had taken courses from Sara. I think she's very inspirational.

AH: She's taught thousands of people, I think, at this point.

RW: I enjoyed taking her intermediate class and that was about the time I was working on my first quilt and she convinced me to bring it one time and they almost kicked me out of the class. [laughs.] I was supposed to be a raw beginner and I had this really nice looking geometric quilt. And the other thing that she does, Katie took both of her--she actually took the intermediate course and then thought she might have missed something so she took the beginning course and has actually substitute-taught for Sara--I can't think where I was going with this one--

[ten second pause.]

AH: Go on to another question?

RW: Oh. Katie had always told me that Sara's class was really great, it was a class for creating UFO's, unfinished objects, and so I got in there and I, being a little bit competitive, I said, 'I'm not going to finish this course with any UFO's,' and one of the first things I did was make a little fifteen-inch square block that was a finished quilt, of course, and it was an alien in a flying saucer with a big red circle and a bar through it--so, no UFO's. [both laugh.] But I did, I managed to finish, I think we did seven different projects in there and I got every one of them finished.

AH: Good for you.

RW: Like I said, everybody in the class hated me because she'd say, 'Anybody got anything for show and tell?' and I'd say, 'Well I finished this last week.' [laughs.] And I held it up and they'd boo and hiss, no actually that's one of the other things, is quilters seem to really support each other, and appreciate what you do, so it's competitive but it's no mean streak in anybody. They'll tell you--most of them will just tell you the good things they see about it, the really good ones will tell you what they like about it and where you can improve.

AH: Roger, why is quiltmaking important to your life?

RW: Well, I'm retired. I have lots of time and lots of different interests and I suppose I could do skydiving or something like that but this is a lot safer. [laughs.] I used to joke that every five years I'd take up a new hobby, and actually it turns out to be something like that, but I think this one will probably last longer than five years because it's a little more varied than some of the things I've done before.

AH: Well, we're about at the end of our time, so is there anything else you wanted to add to this?

RW: I just wish we could get more men involved. I think we've got four male members of the quilt guild now, they all do--of course Brian Fackler, that's his profession now, is doing longarm quilting. I don't know if I've seen any of his quilts, but somebody told me he's an excellent quilter as well--I mean piecer as well as a longarm quilter. Of course Jerry is-- [laughs.] I guess he's the rookie and I'm the seasoned veteran now, for the male quilters now. We have another fellow that just joined but I don't think he got anything in this year's show. But I think men will enjoy it if they just get past this, 'I don't want to sit around with a bunch of women,' kind of attitude. I think a lot of them are creative, they like color. You know we like machines-- [laughs.]

AH: Math?

RW: Math and machines and maybe we can fix our own machines if they break, I guess. [both laugh.] Katie has shown me how to at least clean and oil my machine. That would be the big thing, is get a few more guys interested. I would be thrilled if my son would ever get into it because he's very artistic. He's just got way too much in his life right now, to worry about that, but he'll retire some day, so maybe he can say, 'My father did this quilt, thirty years ago, or forty years ago.'

AH: That's right.

RW:--get him interested too.

AH: Okay, well I think that's it and this concludes our interview. It is now 2:15 and thank you, Roger.

RW: Thank you, Alice.


“Roger Winchell,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 18, 2024,