in memory of kathreen May 21, 2013

Like so many of us in the craft community, I was shocked and heartbroken to hear the terrible news that Kathreen Ricketson, founder of whip-up, and her husband and creative collaborator Robert Shugg suddenly passed away last week, on a beautiful adventure with their two children – who are safe with family. At a wrenching time like this, there just aren’t any words to reach for. My heart has been heavy and I have found myself in tears over and over and over again, unable to imagine such a wrong thing.

Little Bits Quilting Bee

I first met Kathreen in 2005 or 2006 when she contacted us asking to review Super Crafty, which we were all thrilled about. We stayed in touch over the years and especially before I had my own two young children, I contributed a bit to her marvelous whip-up blog and was always happy to hear and spread the word about what Kathreen was up to, in so many directions. Over the last five whirlwind years of new motherhood and freelance work, I haven’t had the free time for leisurely, inspiring craft blog reading (or writing!) that I used to… but Kathreen and I also shared a wonderful editor and publicist at Chronicle Books, and our parallel link there was a special one to me. Her kind words of excitement when my little boy Everett was born are especially precious to remember. I just thought so much of her.

Prismatic - Little Bits Quilting Bee

In the aftermath of tragedy we can only try to help as best we can, and hold our friends and loved ones tight. I spent the last weekend at Quilt Market here in Portland and it was a joy to be with friends from the craft and quilting community, seeing their new projects and fabrics and books, even as my heart was heavy with the terrible news of Kathreen’s sudden death. The chance to cry with my friend Monica for a few minutes and be overcome with sadness at her loss – but together – was a gift. This community feels like – is – a family so often, and I am thankful for the warmth and love that we share. In that spirit of generosity and support, Julie of Procrasticraft and other devoted friends and family have established a fund for Kathreen and Rob’s children Otilija and Orlando.

Prismatic - Little Bits Quilting Bee

Kay and Ann of Mason-Dixon Knitting are organizing an online tribute to Kathreen beginning May 24 which is open to all of us, and I look forward to participating in it. I am also (quickly) working on a special article for the winter issue of Stitch magazine honoring her, and I am reaching out to her friends and collaborators this week asking for the chance to share their favorite photographs, projects or memories of her work. If you would like to be part of the article, or have other people to suggest contacting, please email me – I would appreciate it so much. Kathreen collaborated with hundreds of us and reached thousands and thousands more, so by necessity this will be a small sampling, but I hope a colorful and beautiful tribute… and of course I am donating all of my writing fee to her children’s fund.

Garnets and Gold - Little Bits Quilting Bee

I was so happy to review her second book with Chronicle, Little Bits Quilting Bee, and would like to end with an excerpt of that post here. Getting to write about this lovely book and her work was such a nice chance to (try to) explain how special our world is, and how thankful I am to be part of it. I’m very sad and struggling with my words today, but I would like to share the ones that came more easily, in happier times.

– – – – – – – – –
from Little Bits Quilting Bee – November 15, 2011

Rhombus - Little Bits Quilting Bee

My PMQG guildmate and friend Monica Solorio-Snow gave me and Daniela each a jelly roll set of her Happy Mochi Yum Yum fabric line, and I have been saving this amazing gift for a special project. The fabric makes me happy (the name couldn’t be more perfect!) and I’m picturing such a gorgeous HMYY Rhombus, bordered in a bright solid. Lovely.

happy mochi yum yum jelly roll

Which brings me to my favorite part of Little Bits Quilting Bee – the bee. I love craft books that offer more than great projects – that tell a story or share history or resources we can all enjoy. Kathreen includes an engaging section at the front on the history and culture of community quilting, from traditional bees to online swaps and groups – I loved reading this part.

Community Quilting - Little Bits Quilting Bee

Of course Kathreen’s whip-up site has been a huge pillar of our craft community, and my whole life has been shaped so beautifully, and I have met so many people I treasure, through craft.


From my earliest days of learning to sew and getting a million ideas on getcrafty… to hosting naked lady parties and swapping tons of clothes and craft supplies… to our beloved Portland Church of Craft meetings, led by Sister Diane… to my partners in Portland Super Crafty… to Maker Faire… and now the amazing Portland Modern Quilt Guild I’m proud to be a member of, I am very fortunate to be part of our huge, beautiful craft community.

my Portland Modern Quilt Guild name badge <3

One of my favorite blog entries I’ve ever written, originally as a column for getcrafty in March 2006, was Start Your Own Craft Circle! – half fun details about a weekly knitting circle in North Carolina, and half tips on starting your own craft group. Except for a few links that could be switched out for their 2011 counterparts, it feels as fresh now as it did when I was interviewing the organizers five years ago! Thank you to my friends, everyone who inspires me with your crafts and projects, and to everyone who reads my books and stops by this little corner of the world, too.

Little Bits Quilting Bee

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