Hi there! I’m Heather Kojan, and I’m excited to bring you the first in a series of interviews we’re calling Quilter’s Bucket List. As quilters, it seems we’re always looking two to three (20–30?) projects ahead and have an ongoing list of “some day” or “bucket-list” projects. Your favorite C&T authors are no different. They have bucket list quilts as well!
We’re kicking off the series with Bonnie Hunter! I first became aware of Bonnie Hunter about five years ago (I know, I’m a little late to the party). I had recently moved to Baltimore and met a group of quilty friends. They were all abuzz about an upcoming quilt cruise with Bonnie Hunter. Bonnie who? Clearly I needed to educate myself. After several hours of Googling and blog bingeing, I understood my friends’ excitement. Then I became lost in her world of scrappy goodness and leaders and enders. I was hooked. And now, a full-circle moment, as I interview Bonnie!
Bonnie, thanks so much for chatting with me!
First question: What are you working on now?
Along with working on quilts for my next book down the pipeline for a Fall 2018 release, I’m working on some things for ME as well! I’ve always wanted an initial quilt. My last name is Hunter, and after acquiring a couple of vintage H quilts during my travels, I started my own.
I’ve been making little H blocks for a bit more than a year, just out of scraps that found themselves on my cutting table. I’m up to adding the sashing and will soon be sewing the top together. I’ve enjoyed the whole process, designing as I go.
No name for this one yet, but I’m thinking of For the H of It… or H Is for… It will come to me!
I love the whole process of quilting, from a simple block idea, to how to set things, to the top assembly, to the quilting, and on to the binding.
Those H’s!! What a happy quilt! I think I need one of those too (being an H and all!)
Do you have a favorite quilt you’ve made?
Many! But if I had to pick one, it would be Pineapple Crazy from my book String Fling.
I paper-pieced those blocks while on the road, using gleaned scraps from student discards, as well as small scraps from my own projects, combining them all into one big, happy, scrappy mess.
This quilt makes my soul smile.
What a fabulous quilt! A memory quilt of your travels. I can see why you love it.
Do you have a favorite quilt you own (not made by you?)
I do! And at first glance, you might wonder WHY this quilt is a favorite. It’s not the most beautiful; it’s not museum quality and it doesn’t hold great monetary value. The points aren’t perfect, the fabrics are ordinary—everyday scrap bag!
This quilt is called Periwinkle Star or Hummingbird and was made in the 1940s. Of course, that cheddar orange grabbed me from the get-go, but I also love it because it is machine quilted.
If you look closely you will see that there is a section that has a huge “crazy-pieced” PATCH JOB right on top of the quilt, also machine quilted in place.
I love things that give us little life lessons, and as I go through life I realize that we all carry patches on ourselves from things we’ve been through and have overcome. Some things leave scars, but we are still valuable, maybe even more beautiful, as we go through the obstacles that life throws at us.
I wish I knew the story of this quilt, but I don’t. I just have to imagine that someone loved this quilt so much that they patched it with what they had so they could go on loving it and using it, making memories with it along the way.
So what’s on your Quilter’s Bucket List?
I have two projects that have languished in the hand-quilting department.
Life hasn’t given me time to sit and blissfully hand quilt those. I need to be in a very relaxed, unfrenzied place to pick up needle and thread and do hand quilting. Finishing those two quilts is on my bucket list. I need to MAKE myself carve out time for them, or I know it will never happen.
Anything non–quilt-related on your bucket list?
I want to take a cruise, just the four of us: The Hubster Dave, my two sons Jason and Jeff, and me. Go somewhere wonderful; make some memories, the four of us as a family, NO QUILTING ALLOWED! Okay, maybe a bit of hand stitching on the deck, but that’s it. Sometimes you just have to step away from the fabric, thread, machines, and projects and make some other kinds of adventures happen.
Sounds perfect! Book it now!
Just for fun, here are some lightning-round questions about how you quilt:
Barefoot or shoes?
It depends on the season, but mostly I sew with shoes. I bind barefoot! Or in socks. Because I sew on vintage machines, both electric and treadle, the foot pedals and the treadle pedal just work better with shoes on for me. My feet are more comfortable in shoes, even if it is a pair of Birkenstocks in the summer.
Quiet or music/movie/TV/podcast?
I love instrumental music when I need to think and don’t want lyrics clogging my head. If I’m writing or designing, I love my Pandora with the Jim Brickman channel on. If I’m happily piecing, you’ll find me with everything from 1970s and 1980s pop to John Mayer and Adam Levine.
If I’m in the mood to watch something, I am a Netflix girl. Drama, romantic comedy, and anything criminal/legal/police/detective-related.
Salty or sweet?
Salty. Mixed nuts. Chips & salsa. And fizzy flavored seltzer water.
Self-taught or schooled?
Self-taught, mostly. My fist projects came from magazines in the early 1980s. The first book I ever owned was It’s Okay If You Sit On My Quilt by Mary Ellen Hopkins. It’s the one that turned the whole “patchwork is basically just a grid” light on for me. There was no stopping me after that book. I still have it. Thank you, Mary Ellen—you are greatly missed!
I too loved Mary Ellen and her PPM (Personal Private Measurement).
Planned or scrappy? (Wait, don’t answer that—I think I know the answer!)
I am firmly of the belief that “once you go scrappy, there is NO going back!” That said, scrappy CAN be planned by choosing certain color families to work with and using that palette to add some uniformity to the quilt through color and value. But why choose one blue when you can have 42? It’s more fun on the scrappy side! I just want to play with the whole box of crayons.
Perfect or done?
Oh, definitely throw the perfection out of the window. Give it your best shot, but don’t let perfection be the main goal. Don’t be shoddy just to get it finished either. I often say that “I live happily in the Land of That’ll Do,” and it’s a great place to be!
And one last question: You’re so prolific—do you ever sleep?
YES! Oh my goodness, I have people ask me this EVERY day, as if I should be ashamed of what I get done in a twenty-four-hour period. I think we all work at our own pace, whatever that pace is. My pace just might be a bit more ramped up than the next person, but we all do what we can with our quilting around what life throws at us daily. This is my norm. This is the frequency I’m tuned into.
Do what you can, accomplish what you can accomplish. Choose what’s important and throw those things out of your life that end up being a huge time suck.
I also found that once I distanced myself from those things that were an emotional suck as well, my creativity was restored, wide open.
Please stop trying to keep up with your neighbor. No comparing! Quilt at your own pace. It should bring you peace and joy, not frustration that you aren’t accomplishing enough fast enough.
I take naps! I love naps! I’m an early morning person and get my best work done before noon. I love a midafternoon snooze.
I’m off to bed by 10:30 p.m., that’s when I turn into a pumpkin. And I am lucky that I do sleep well. And I’m ready to go again the next morning.
Bonnie, you’re a gal after my own heart: naps, naps, naps! Thanks so much for talking with me. You’re an inspiration (and an all-around really nice person!)
Do you have any more questions you would like answers to? Please leave a comment below!
Bonnie K. Hunter is the author of several C&T titles, including Scraps & Shirttails, Scraps & Shirttails II, String Fling, Adventures with Leaders & Enders, and More Adventures with Leaders & Enders.
Be watching for a new book release from Bonnie and C&T in the fall of 2016.
Bonnie is also the Addicted to Scraps columnist for Quiltmaker magazine, giving hints, help, and tips in every issue to help put your own Scrap User’s System to good use, making more quilts in less time.
Follow Bonnie’s Daily blog at http://quiltville.blogspot.com
Facebook Group: Quiltville’s Open Studio
Heather Kojan is a quilt teacher, lecturer, and author living in Baltimore, MD. She’s the founder of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild and a contributing author to Classic Modern Quilts. You can read more about her quilting life on her blog www.heatherkojan.com.