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Issue 13: Minnesota

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You’re walking along Duluth’s waterfront path on a crisp autumn day. Lake Superior glitters in the sunshine; birds alight on the water. In town, the people — many wearing Vikings jerseys — are just plain nice. You pop into the quilt shop, where everybody knows your name and what quilt you’re working on. With your sewing group later that night, you toast and say, “Skol!” then enjoy some hot dish — extra tots. 

This meditation on the Minnesota good life provides key impressions of the state. But beyond being a place of casseroles and hockey, the Land of 10,000 Lakes is also home to many talented quilters living their own version of the good life. For Rose Marie Werner, this means studying her favorite topic: vintage quilt kits; for longarm quilter Karen McTavish, it’s sharing what she knows; for immigrant Suzanne Thao, the good life means passing on an important appliqué tradition. What’s your idea of the good life? Picture it in your mind — but first, let’s see how they do things in Minnesota.

See you up north!


Mary Fons
Editor in Chief

Previews from Issue 13

Gwen Westerman

Everywhere we went in Minnesota, we came across the work of poet, scholar, and quilter Gwen Westerman. This talented woman’s quiet strength and love for her northern land deeply inspired us. In Issue 13, you’ll see exactly what we mean.

"The Kits Are All Right"

There was a time when folks dismissed early 20th century kit quilts as being too commercial to really “matter.” But the tireless work of quilt scholar Rose Marie Werner has helped to change people’s minds. Werner showed us her kit quilt collection and shared her knowledge about these marvelous, previously unsung quilts.

Blue-Ribbon Quilts at the State Fair

One of the biggest state fairs in the country happens in Minnesota every summer, and we were determined to see it for ourselves. Naturally, we went on rides and ate fair food, but our main objective was to meet five blue-ribbon-winning quilters from years past. Their winning quilts didn’t disappoint, and the corn dogs were really good too.

The Beauty of Hmong Textiles

In the 1970s, thousands of refugees from Laos came to the United States to escape persecution. With them came a beautiful and touching textile tradition. Suzanne Thao and her daughter Chuayi Yang showed us Hmong story cloths, ceremonial sashes, and other pieces using masterful reverse appliqué and piecing so fine and colorful, you’ll hardly believe your eyes.

Cherrywood Forever

You’d be hard-pressed to find a quilter who doesn’t have at least a little Cherrywood fabric in their stash. We met owner Karla Overland and saw where the magic happens. Also in this issue: a selection of winning quilts from the 2019 Prince Cherrywood Challenge!

Karen McTavish

Wildly talented. Effortlessly cool. Always supportive. Fans of Karen McTavish already associate those words with this force-of-nature quilter, but if you’re not familiar with her work, you’re about to be. We drove up north to Duluth to spend time with McTavish and a few of her devoted students and it was a powerful visit, indeed.

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