Featuring Jo — A Bloggers’ Quilt Festival Quilter!

With just three weeks until the next installment of Bloggers’ Quilt Festival, I am getting so excited!  I can’t wait to see which quilts you all decide to feature!  If you are interested in being a sponsor – let me know now.  I have a little over a week to get the rest of those details together!


Today’s featured quilter is Jo from Bearpaw – I hope you enjoy getting to know Jo better!

1. When did you begin quilting?

I began patchworking when I was 10 years old and my sister (who is 16 years older than me) taught me to paper piece hexagons. I made a little reversible clutch bag for my mum! I didn’t do any more until I moved in with my (soon to be) husband and had nesting instincts. I was 21 and had been there about a week before I went out and bought metal hexagon templates and an embroidery hoop (I was obviously very ready to settle down!). I started making the hexies out of old clothes and remnants from dressmaking and I never got round to using the hoop! When I finally finished piecing that top (after about 4 years) I joined the local quilt group so that I could find out how to quilt it. This introduced me to all sorts of things like strip piecing (which was quite new then!). Needless to say I got diverted on to making more quilt tops and STILL haven’t finished quilting that first hexie! A few years after this, an amazing exhibition of modern American quilts arrived in the UK along with some American quilters who came to give talks. I was lucky enough to see this exhibition at the Craft Council in London and also to hear Nancy Crow give a talk. Both Nancy and the exhibition had a big impact on me and I started making ‘Art Quilts’. I got very ambitious with these and also very involved with the (now disbanded) Green Quilt Movement. This was in the early 1990s. I had quilts exhibited all over the UK and Europe, but in the end I realized I could never make a living from this and at the time I needed to get more involved in my husband’s business. This Serpent Quilt is the last ‘Art Quilt’ I made. I really stopped quilting for a while except for the odd birthday or cot quilt for friends and family. But I wasn’t putting any real creativity into these. Then something changed about 5 years ago. I had a couple of weddings coming up and I realized I wanted to challenge myself with quilting again. Soon I had my old passion back again, and then I discovered the internet!! I don’t mean that was me behind the whole internet thing (I think it was invented back in the 70’s lol), I mean I discovered all the quilting and crafts on the internet, like your fabulous Blogger’s Quilt Festival, Amy! And that pretty much changed my life!

2. Why do you quilt?

A few reasons I think. First of all I love using things up and not wasting anything, so the whole original idea of making things from remnants and scraps really appeals to me. Secondly I love fabric! I love colour and pattern and putting these together to make something beautiful. So thirdly, I love the creative process of designing a quilt, sometimes this can feel like a meditation and sometimes it can be really exhilarating. And lastly, I love the physical process of sewing, it is very calming and comforting, that is why I still like to hand quilt, hand appliqué and embroidery. I do think that making things is good for the soul. Also, I just can not sit and do nothing – if I am forced to sit down and rest I have to be either sewing or crocheting or I will go crazy!


3. What was your most recent fabric purchase?

Due to our current financial situation (well the whole western world’s!) I can’t actually remember! I am trying not to spend any money at the moment. But I did just get an email from an online store with a beautiful new fabric from Cloud 9 called ‘Leaves in Sky’, which might be the NEXT fabric I purchase!

4. What is your favorite quilting tip?

A tip that I found invaluable recently, was to use polyester thread when free motion quilting as it doesn’t break as much as cotton thread – in fact when I used it on my last quilt, it didn’t break once!

5. What was your inspiration for your Quilt Festival quilt?

The quilt I entered in you Fall Festival was a classic Grandmother’s Flower Garden hexagon quilt, this was probably the quilt I found my way back into quilting with. It took me 7 years to finish, and I loved being able to pick it up for some comfort sewing and being able to take it with me to work on when I was away from home. After all the Art Quilts and after all the quilts I made for family, I wanted to make something traditional and pretty just for me. There is also a long story about why I started this quilt in the first place (involving a friend in hospital!) in my Festival post that would take me too long to relate here!

6. Do you sew other things?

Yes, anything really. I make lots of cushions for my shop (a real shop, not an Etsy one, in Edinburgh, Scotland), as well as smaller things like pincushions and needle cases. I love to make soft toys and dolls, and smaller projects like pyjama cases. I have just taken part in the Scrappy Pincushion Swap on Flickr and am currently obsessed with making ‘action pincushions’ (like the treasure chest with a hinged lid I just made), I have so many ideas for new pincushions I can hardly write them down fast enough!

7. Anything else you would like us to know about you?

I have synasethesia, this is where you have 2 or more senses connected. So for instance, I have grapheme colour synaesthesia which means words, letters, numbers are all experienced in colour for me. There are lots of different types of this, like music/colour, taste/words, (google synaesthesia for more info). I mention this because I am always trying to find other fellow synaesthetes and so far have only encountered one, in the Doll Quilt Swap (Sarah from Pings and Needles), and synaesthetes are, in the main, creative women, so there must be more of us out there in this community! A lot of synaesthetes don’t know they are anything special (as it seems completely normal and unworthy of mention until you realise how unusual it is). If any fellow synaesthetes would like to get in touch, I would love to hear from you and all about your own particular weirdness (only to others, not to me)!


Thanks for sharing Jo!

By |2017-02-06T09:18:38-06:00April 22nd, 2011|Featured Quilter|7 Comments


  1. Benta April 22, 2011 at 8:11 am - Reply

    Hey Jo, great to see you here, and to learn more about you. I love the snake quilt


  2. duff April 22, 2011 at 8:20 am - Reply

    thank you for talking about synaesthesia–I am familiar with the term but not this aspect/meaning of it. I can only imagine what that must be like. I did, however, go back and try to experience the quilts from a more grapheme point of view, knowing that it was created that way (which words come to mind as I look at these colors?) Extraordinary!

  3. Cornelia Gauger April 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Wow! JUST the other day, my 16-year-old son was telling me that certain numbers had a color and so did certain music! I didn’t really think much of it, since he’s always had a rather unique way of looking at the world. But I had no idea that this phenomenon actually had a name. You learn the darndest things on quilting blogs!

  4. Candy April 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Ooh, I think synaesthesia is so COOL! Thanks for introducing us to Jo, and Jo, thanks for sharing!

  5. beth April 22, 2011 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your quilts and such a personal part of who you are. Your gift is amazing! Smiles~Beth

  6. Allie April 22, 2011 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    What FABULOUS quilts -great interview!

  7. Love the Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt

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