Mom and Dad right before getting married

Mom and Dad right before getting married

OK, I’m new to modern quilting, but not to fabric, color, sewing, and just about any form of craftiness out there. I grew up as a fourth-generation Mormon, and I have been handed down a legacy of craftiness that started with my pioneer ancestors.

My paternal great, great grandmother sewed and embroidered kid skin gloves to sell to the Native American traders for extra money to put food on their table.

Her granddaughter, my Grandma Marita, was an oil landscape artist, and when she would visit us in California, from Arizona, she would bring a suitcase full of paints, canvases, paper, and paint brushes. That is a very formative memory for me, painting our little renditions, delving into the colors and losing ourselves in creativity. There were also always beautiful patchwork quilts at her house, and I loved looking at all the patterns, recognizing an Aunt’s skirt or wondering what was originally made out of this fabric or that. Her Christmas trees were always covered in starched little star-shaped doilies, that she made using the almost lost art of tatting. Every Christmas each of us girls received a package of padded hangers from her, that she crocheted covers for, in bright-colored yarns. I still love those hangers to this day! I also have two afghans that she crocheted for me when I was in high school.

My Grandma Kerby crocheted doilies, embroidered pillowcases, and made gorgeous quilts. I remember when SHE would come to visit, when I was very young, they would throw up the quilting frames, and her whole visit would be spent with us hand-quilting a new quilt. I loved watching… I even did a little of the stitching myself. (So I guess quilting isn’t TOTALLY new to me afterall!)

My earliest memories are of my mother sewing in my room late at night — The only place in our small house where she could wedge out a small space to do her sewing in. In the sixties, my mom lead our church womens’ group in what was called “Homemaking.” A monthly get-together where they gathered to learn the next new way to make their homes and/or selves more aesthetically pleasing. I remember grape clusters made of colored resin, jewelry made from findings with crystals glued in to make earrings and necklaces. Tall candle sticks made by stacking various sizes of cottage cheese, sour cream and other plastic containers, then gessoed, embellished with lace and other textures, then painted and antiqued. They were actually quite pretty. I dusted those things for YEARS before I remember them disappearing.

Brimhall Family Portrait
Brimhall family portrait

My mom is also a very accomplished seamstress, and made all her own clothes as well as all her kids’ clothes when we were growing up. Yep, even my brother’s! She was a “Stretch ‘N Sew” officianado and made him T-shirts and even his wool suit in the family picture on the left. If I remember right, he got to (HAD to?) model it at a church runway show, and everyone ooed and awed at her talent!

Mom & Dad holding Cynthia on her 1st Birthday
Mom & Dad holding Cynthia on her 1st Birthday

I love looking at the old pictures from the 50’s of all my mom’s and us little kids’ darling outfits, all sewed by her, late at night after we went to bed. I wish she’d kept all these dresses — uh-hem… not that I could fit into any of them. I was not blessed with her tiny frame! But nonetheless I love looking at these pictures!

Mom, Dad and Cynthia

Mom with Cyndi, Sue and me in 1958. Again, I’m the cute baldie. I think my hair came in around the time I turned four! I don’t think I’m j/k either.

About 2 years ago, I started perusing online fabric stores, and came across the world of the fabric designers! My first jolt of sensory overload (in a GOOD way!) came when I saw Amy Butler’s work. Oh my gosh I loved what I was seeing. This world did not exist back in the day when I made all my clothes in the 70’s, 80’s and half of the 90’s. At least if it did exist I didn’t know about it!

Then I discovered Jennifer Paganelli, Heather Bailey, Kaffee Fassett, and many others. Many times I spent hours online, filling up shopping carts on various fabric sites, dreaming of what I could do with all of this color and textile yumminess… But it seemed there was never enough money to go around, so I always ended up closing my Internet browser before actually buying.

Until, this last summer. My husband sprung a divorce on me (another story, another place) so I high-tailed it out of Arizona and came back to my old stomping grounds in Utah, just to get away and make a new life. Again, I found myself surfing online fabric stores, and using Photoshop I started designing quilts for myself. Then I decided it was time to finally BUY some of these fabrics, and get started!

“Karen di Bee” was my Dad’s funny way of saying “Karen B.” when I was a kid.

I’m a young at heart (aren’t I still 29?) lover of all things bright and vibrant. I’m inspired by the clear “wow” colors of nature. Breezy trees in both the vibrant greens and blooming hues of spring and the stark silhouettes of winter. I love the intensity of color brought on by sunlight, the blues of water and sky, the many colors of sea life, birds, flower gardens, and the greens and browns you see on a mountain hike. I have not been able to leave behind the colors of childhood. I can’t get enough of bright, clear color in my life. The visual can open my heart — It just makes me happy! Drab just doesn’t do it for this girl. Think Van Gogh, Matisse, Cezanne, the Fauve era.

I started my life as an artist when I was five. It was the day my artist grandma brought paints, canvases and brushes to our house and lead my sisters and I in a day of bright fun.

I began my life as a sewist around the age of 10, the day my mom brought out the fabric and taught me to use her old black Singer. She had me sew along the lines of several sheets of striped cotton broadcloth, then fold them in half and sew along the lines again, then keep folding and line-sewing until they were the size of potholders. Then she bound the edges and I was very proud of my creations.

So creativity is in my bones. In grade school, art hour was what I lived for. Forget math and science… Studying? Nah… give me some crayons or a pen and paper to doodle with. I’ve been a scrapbooker, polymer-clay bead and jewelry maker, paper arts crafter, painter, and decorator. I’ve delved into embroidery, batik, basket weaving (really!), calligraphy, batik, and making stuffed toys. (Professionally I’m a graphic artist and web designer.)

I’ve been inspired by so many talented people out there in Internet-land, and my latest creative discovery is the world of the modern quilter. And I’ve decided to join in!

So I’m starting this blog to catalog all my new creative endeavors, quilting being the craft of choice for me, for the time being. I also have an attic full of other projects waiting in my brain, and I can’t wait to share it all with you. I hope you will come along and have some fun with me!

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