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Issue 19: Northern Florida

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Even people who don’t live in the US know that Florida is one of the most unique states in the country — a melting pot, heated by sunshine, that blends wildly disparate climates and lifestyles. The excitement that Florida inspires is directly related to its astonishing geography, politics, and culture. 

One of the starkest examples of Florida’s multitudes can be found by identifying the state’s southern and northern halves. In southern Florida, words like “tropical,” “humid,” and “Cuban coffee” will come in handy, but up north, you may hear more about “fall foliage,” “rolling hills,” and “pecan pie.”

Many locals, either natives or transplants, say northern Florida belongs more to the American South, whereas the population and culture of southern Florida has closer ties to its neighboring continent South America. Northern Floridians enjoy relatively cooler air, a bit more space, and a lifestyle that involves front porch swings rather than Miami nightclubs.

Roughly 1,000 people move to Florida every day, and you can bet some of them are quilters. In Northern Florida, Valerie Goodwin and Carolyn Friedlander make quilts that combine their love of art and architecture; Kathy Metelica Cray and Teddy Pruett keep the nation’s quilt traditions alive; and from her homestead, quilt superstar Vanessa Vargas Wilson has built a global empire with tomato plants, family ties, and a passion for quilts.

Watch for gators and grab a slice of Key lime pie; it’s time for some “Northern Florida” sweetness!

Writers for this issue: Meg Cox, Mary Fons, Cate Coulacos Prato, Carmen Schell, Victoria Slind-Flor and Alissa Lapinsky.

Photographers for this issue: Melanie Zacek

Photo Stylist: Kimberlee Zacek

164 pages, offset printed and perfect bound, full color on uncoated paper. Printed in the USA.

Previews From Issue 19

Vanessa Vargas Wilson

When given the option to become a lawyer or a full-time quilter, Vanessa Vargas Wilson followed her instincts and chose quilting. And it is a good thing she did! Today, Vanessa is known on social media as “The Crafty Gemini.” What started as teaching a simple quilting course on YouTube (with the help of her husband) has since turned into attracting 600,000 YouTube subscribers who are eager to watch her countless videos on quilting, knitting, garment making, embroidery, patchwork, farming, and more!

Marilyn Wagner

Sometimes it just takes one person to inspire a non-quilter to make a quilt. For Quiltfolk’s production assistant Carmen Schell, that one person was Marilyn Wagner (mother to her wonderful stepdad, Larry). Though Marilyn passed away unexpectedly at 81 years old, she left a void keenly felt by her loved ones. Quilting was her obsession, especially appliqué. She entered quilt shows, winning awards both locally and statewide. Carmen’s mother always said that she would love to have some of Marilyn’s quilts for herself, and now she does. But she also has quilts from Carmen — who may never have started her own quilting journey if it wasn’t for Marilyn’s passion and legacy.

Valerie Goodwin

“Do real architects quilt? And will I still be taken seriously as an architect if I do?” These are some of the questions Valerie Goodwin asked herself as her work as an architect and professor led her on a circuitous path into quilting. Valerie is now a prominent studio art quilter whose work reflects her love of maps, often inspired by aerial views of landscapes and cities. Many of Valerie’s quilts have been accepted into major quilt shows in Paducah, Kentucky, and Houston, Texas; displayed at Quilt National; and acquired for the permanent collection of the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. It turns out that real architects can be really talented quilters after all!

Teddy Pruett / Kathy Metelica Cray

Teddy Pruett is a native Floridian. Kathy Metelica Cray is a Florida transplant. Their personalities and quilting styles couldn’t be more different, but their friendship is strong nonetheless. They work off of each other’s differences in the best way possible — and at the end of the day, their shared passion for “telling stories with old quilts” is all that matters. Read Issue 19: Northern Florida for more about Teddy’s knack for storytelling, Kathy’s interest in vintage textiles, and how quilting formed a special bond between these two women.

Carolyn Friedlander

Carolyn Friedlander grew up in a family of makers, but if she hadn’t been laid off as an architect due to the 2008 recession, then she may have never taken up quilting as a career. Carolyn is now a prominent artist and teacher specializing in modern fabric designs, quilting and sewing patterns, and quilt making with intention; she has designed several fabric lines for Robert Kaufman and published the book Savor Each Stitch: Studio Quilting with Mindful Design. The landscapes surrounding her parents’ orange groves and cattle ranch in Lake Wales, Florida, inspire much of her work. And while her pattern designs and fabrics lines are more modern in feel, she is always pleased to hear that they also work with traditional textiles. The recession was truly architecture’s loss and quilting’s gain!

Making Waves

In Issue 18: Illinois, we staged a charming quilt show in the snow, but the weather forecast in Florida called for lots of sunshine. If you love the smell of the salty sea air and the warm feel of the sun on your skin, then you will revel in the beautiful quilt photographs we captured at Canaveral National Seashore — with the ocean as our backdrop.

Helen Midge Baudouin

Love and art. Art and love. For Helen Midge Baudouin, they have always been intertwined. Art was also an integral part of her life with her wife, the late artist Allison Stilwell. Midge has fed her creative soul since childhood — whether it be embroidery, woodworking, macramé, mixed media, or collage, she “loves the idea of working with complete abandon.” It was Allison, however, who inspired her to try fabric collage, which quickly became one of her favorite techniques. Midge and Allison — together with Allison’s sister, Tracy, and Tracy’s spouse, Sue — also ran the art supplies company Artgirlz. Midge shares a beautiful story of her life creating art and quilts with Allison, reminding us to “leave the world a little kinder and gentler and a little more beautiful than the day we showed up.”

Lauren Austin

Lauren Austin’s interest in quilting sparked when she was 7 years old. A family friend was changing his tire, and the spare was wrapped in an old, oil-stained quilt. Somehow, she knew it was special, so she asked if she could take it off his hands. Soon after, she went to the library and learned how to restore it. And she did just that! The “old rag” was cleaned and repaired — a moment that marked the beginning of her lifelong love of quilts. Today, Lauren’s travels influence her quilting projects. Much of her work evokes nature themes as well as how the natural world intersects with Black life and culture. She is also known for hand dyeing and layering her fabrics. Lauren believes that all quilters are telling a story, written in stitches. She aims to make her work accessible to everyone — the emotion behind her craft shines through the details.

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