Catching Up with Kathy York, QuiltCon 2015 Best in Show Winner

i Quilt by Kathy York

We caught up with Kathy York, the QuiltCon 2015 Best in Show winner with her quilt, i Quilt.

MQG: Can you tell us about the inspiration for your Best in Show quilt?

Kathy: I was grieving the loss of a close friend and feeling very lonely, and just needed to piece some blocks without thinking about it too much. I was inspired by a series of quilts made by Heather Pregger Blair with blocks in the shape of tuning forks, or to me the letter h. I decided to pick a different shape, the letter i, and make lots of blocks.

MQG: Why did you select this color palette?

Kathy: I picked green to be the neutral color in this palette, mostly because it was my daughter’s favorite color. This quilt started out as the back for a quilt I was making her. But, she didn’t like it, so it became a quilt of it’s own. I wanted to keep the i shape less obvious, so I picked blues of similar values to the greens. I also wanted little pops of warm colors for the dots on the i shapes, kind of like flowers in a meadow, to help add movement to the quilt. I also used some pastels in the lighter-valued blocks to keep the i shape slightly more subtle.

MQG: Can you share more about the quilting on this piece?

Kathy: I really like straight-line quilting, and I wanted the quilting motif to function in a way that enhanced the overall quilt design. To help the giant white block look more like the dot on an “i”, I selected a spiral-shaped quilting motif. The rest of the giant white rectangular “i” shape had straight vertical quilting lines and the green background and simple horizontal quilting lines.

MQG: What was the most challenging part of making the quilt?

Kathy: I rarely work without knowing exactly what the plan is, but this one was an exception. I made many different attempts to arrange the blocks in a way that looked good to me. Eventually, I decided to use my lighter-valued blocks and make the giant i shape. That’s when it all came together, and I just needed to make more blocks to fit the empty spots.

MQG: Thinking back, tell us about your initial reaction finding out that your quilt won Best in Show at QuiltCon.

Kathy: I knew my quilt had won a prize because I was volunteering that year to help hang the quilts. I was told not to worry if I couldn’t see my quilt because it had been hung in a different location. When I went to the awards ceremony, I was pretty excited to find out what prize it had won. Then they gave out all the prizes and didn’t announce my quilt. Before they realized the mistake, I knew. There was only one award left, and it had to be mine. I remember feeling very happy and very proud, but also a kind of numbness and disbelief. It was a confusing mix of very strong emotions. Then Jacquie Gering got back on the stage and announced my award. I was glad that I had a minute to realize what was happening before it actually happened. It was a wonderful moment!

MQG: Did winning this award change your quilting path at all?

Kathy: I have no idea. Maybe? I would like to think that I didn’t need external validation of my work, but it is hard to ignore the really good feelings that came with winning this award. The experience changed me and the way I feel about myself. Maybe it gave me even more freedom to pursue my interests in quiltmaking? I also know that after the moment is over, I still face the hard work every day in my studio to make the next compelling idea, whether it leads to a prize or not.

MQG: Where in the world is your Best in Show quilt today?

Kathy: It’s been acquired by the International Quilt Museum.