For anyone who is active in the online cray quilting groups you will know Gerry Krueger of Older Rose. If you don’t the name you will remember the lovely hand painted buttons she sells. I have a couple which I admit are in my ‘too nice to use’ or perhaps use ‘use on something very special’ box. Gerry also writes Older Rose a very good blog with lots of tips, tutorials and advice on everything from design to step by step directions for projects. Have a good poke around the side bar “labels” on her blog as there really is a huge quantity of stuff if you just dig. Gerry also kept a second blog called “Block Talk with Gerry” which she describes as “I LOVE talking about blocks, studying blocks, and playing with them in Photoshop… I am always on a quest for great blocks and trying to figure out what makes them so great …” Once again I encourage readers explore the labels in the side bar to discover the hidden gems as Block Talk with Gerry is also rich in advice and tips that are generously shared. If you are interested in crazy quilting I cant stress strongly enough how much there are on these two sites if you just dig a bit.
One thing you will notice if you read Gerry’s blog is that she is constantly pushing herself and trying something different to see if this or that works. Her enthusiasm for trying out and idea is very appealing and contagious. Anyway without further ado I would like to introduce you to Gerry Krueger of Older Rose
TAST Interview with Gerry Krueger of Older Rose
First I’d like to thank Sharon for asking me to participate. She more than anyone one else has influenced my crazy quilting… the way it see it, the way I plan it and the way I do it. Most of all I appreciate how freely she has shared her knowledge and skill.
Why do you like hand embroidery and hand work? How has it influenced your life?
The key word here is “hand” as it’s my belief there is a direct link from hand to heart…whether it is cooking, needlework, or gardening, etc. Taking the time to do it by hand is doing it with love I also encourage people to hold, examine and fondle my needlework. I feel that holding my work in their hand is the best way to appreciate what has been done by my hand. It made a lasting impression on me when I took a workshop from Sharon and everything was where you could not only see it closely but, best of all, actually touch it.
How did you start? Were you taught by your mother, school or taught yourself online? If you taught yourself what attracted you to embroidery?
At about nine years of age an elderly neighbor taught me to embroider and crochet things for my doll. As a consequence, all my life a needle has been at hand and a sewing bag by my side. For me the rhythm of a needle is both soothing and calming.
I love working from a theme and especially about things I love. I’ve done projects about my sheep, my dog Morris, my mother, my marriage, etc. I advise students to start with something they love…. old lace, a special color, a family home, a favorite pet, or a favorite flower is always good…roses, violets, poppies, etc. I did a block I called “Ode to daffodils,” my favorite flower . Working with something you love allows so many pleasant memories as you work, a definite plus.
Do you work with purchased designs or do you design your own projects?
I always design my own work. Probably not the best character trait to have, but I’ve always had to do things my own way…. which may not be better but it’s my way. Creative thinking was not a big thing when I was in grammar school and I was often marked down and disciplined for not following directions. If there were drawings of 30 gray cats on the wall and one green one, you could bet the green one was mine.
My last project was a crazy quilt to commemorate our 40th wedding anniversary this year. The inspiration was a counted cross stitch sampler I did the year we were married. The quilt includes hankies belonging to my late mother-in-law, vintage lace and lots and lots of hearts and cupids.
Without a doubt I’m most proud of my crazy quilt dedicated to women’s suffrage. It was many years and much research in the making and was a finalist in the Houston Quilt Show. Every single seam is a replica of a seam on an antique quilt. When I put a call out on my blog for black glass buttons of that era, I received buttons belonging to suffrage relatives of women all over the country. This crazy quilt is dedicated to “all the unnamed, unheralded women from all walks of life who gathered up their skirts and joined the cause and tenaciously fought for rights for girls yet unborn.”
I ‘m dedicating this entire year to finishing UFOs I have a lot of pieces that need just a little fine tuning and binding and will work on them throughout the year. But I have four others that need a significant amount of time to do them justice. One is my peacock challenge block that is undergoing so many changes that it has become transformed.
Do you have stall points? If so how do you get past them? Do you have any tips to share about this.
Of course I most definitely get stalled and I have three things I do. First I take a picture of the project and put in on my computer. Looking at it on the screen gives me a different perspective and I always see things I didn’t see before. I highly recommend this.
Second, I have several cork boards in various sizes and I pin the piece to a cork board and place it where I’ll pass it often. Having a design wall in your work room is all well and good, but having your project where you will pass it often is even better.
Third, I look for just one thing to change…just one thing, no matter how small and invariably when you change that one thing, other possible changes pop out at you.
If all that fails I put it in my UFOs until a later date.
Do you have ‘go to’ stitches?
I don’t really have stitches I use over and over. When I started CQ I immediately embraced trims, buttons, charms, laces, and ribbons. It took me a while to fall in love with fancy layered seams but once I did I became obsessed with them and wanted every seam to be a different…. every single one. For me researching the seams is now one of the most fun parts of crazy quilting. I use TAST, antique quilts, Sharon Boggon’s button quilt (a long time favorite source), and Carole Sample’s book “Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches.” among other sources. Once I find an interesting fancy seam, I give it a twist of my own as a final touch. You don’t do that many actual seams, so why not make each one unique?
Do you have a favorite embroidery thread, or something you use all the time? If so what is it?
Good old DMC cotton is my favorite just because I have so much of it. Although I do love silk thread, I couldn’t afford or live long enough to acquire the amount and diversity that I have in DMC. I love having 40 shades of any one color and I love using two closely related colors in my needle at the same time as it gives stitch work a subtle variegated look that adds interest.. I have all my threads on hoops hanging on a revolving shoe rack. Besides being pretty, it makes all my threads very accessible. I have my ribbons the same way on another rack.
What advice would you give to new hands?
Never miss an opportunity to look at someone else’s work and I mean really look… and then look again. Try to pin point what you like about it.
Even though there might be just one or two things that draw your eye, invariably I think that you’ll find it’s how it all works together. I say that because I know I’m always drawn to work that is harmonious….”all the parts relate to each other and to the whole.” We can get so caught up in all the bits and pieces of embellishment, we lose sight of the fact that all these “bits” must relate to each other to be successful.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Challenge yourself! Every time you start a project add at least one new thing to try… a different color scheme, a new material, a new theme, a new skill or technique and so on. Don’t add so many that you’re overwhelmed but one or two each time will do nicely. Years ago I entered a challenge specifically designed to get me out of my comfort zone. It was so successful that to this day I continue adding new things to my list.
I hope you have enjoyed this TAST Interview with Gerry Krueger of Older Rose. I know I certainly enjoyed discovering more about Gerry’s approach to crazy quilting and her enthusiasm and creativity has bought pleasure to many a morning cuppa as I read her blog. Don’t forget to follow the links in this post and take some time out for browsing both blogs.
This interview is part of series that will run during 2017 as the Take a Stitch Tuesday Challenge has been running for a decade. Throughout the year I will interview stitchers about their hand embroidery and feature their work.
Have you seen my Stitchers Templates?
As someone who loves crazy quilting and embroidery I designed these templates with other stitchers in mind. With my templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to apply to your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily and they are compact in your sewing box.
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