Welcome to another (hopefully recurring) series on the blog! Each Friday I'll share with you a written interview from a maker (or makers) I admire and whom I think have wonderful stories and tips to share with us. At the end of the blog, I'll post their contact info, so be sure to check them out on social media, and leave a comment here, too!
Lynn Rinehart and Pam Cobb are the dream team behind The Stitch TV Show on YouTube. Both are experienced quilters, and Pam also hosts a quilting podcast, Hip to Be a Square. These two productions were my "gateway drugs" to the world of quilting podcasts and the Twilters Facebook Guild (are we a guild? I guess we are now!), where I have found a strong sense of creative community. A few weeks ago, Lynn and Pam released their first three patterns at Red Hen Fabrics in Marietta, GA. I was excited to meet them in person, and am THRILLED that they agreed to do this interview today! So, without further ado:
(for some reason, the font sizes are a hot mess in this post, and I'm a noob and can't figure out how to fix it. Please try to ignore that, and I'll work on my font-adjusting skills!)
How and when did you start quilting? What did your first quilt look like?
LYNN: I technically started quilting in 1991 but took a class from my pastor's wife in college on how to quilt. She taught us a log cabin Quilt in a Day by Eleanor Burns. But I didn't know what a 1/4 inch seam was so half my blocks where bigger then the other half because I used different sewing machines and the lines on the machines were different. I still have the quilt it has polished cotton fabrics that where popular in the eighties. It is hunter green color very 1980's. But honestly I really didn't learn until I did the Saturday sampler program at Little Quilts in Marietta Georgia. Sadly the shop has closed but Mary Ellen Von Holt, the former shop owner, has become a great friend and mentor.
PAM: I've been sewing since I was 5 thanks to my mother and grandmothers, but I didn't started quilting until I met my husband in 1998. His mother is a quilter, and being chronically socially awkward I was cast about for something we could have in common (other than her son, obviously!). My early "quilts" were cheater panels that were sandwiched with polyester and quilted with a regular sewing foot around the images printed on the panel. My first attempt at piecing was some chopped up Hawaiian-themed fat quarters that I sashed with 1 1/2" pieces and gave to my mom. She still brings it out on rotation to display, but I sort of cringe when I see it now.
How do you consider your work to be most different from the other's? What do you think is the other person's greatest strength that she brings to y'all's creative partnership?
LYNN: I think my work tends to be more "art" focused where Pam tends to do more piecing work. Our brains work differently and we approach things from completely opposite perspectives. We just took classes from Bonnie Hunter and during her lecture I leaned over to Pam and said I totally get that your brain works like hers. From breaking blocks down to basic elements and building the block back from the elements to even how Bonnie stores her fabric that seems to be how Pam thinks and approaches her quilts. I understand this but my approach isn't that way. The next class offered from our guild was a class from Jacquie Gering, who is a modern quilter, where she talked about how she stores fabric and approached blocks. Although Pam wasn't in the class I felt like I totally got Jacquie. Not that Pam and I are Bonnie and Jacquie we are not. Jacquie and Bonnie are both are extremely creative and talented quilters with completely different approaches. I think that is how Pam and I work together. I love that she looks at a quilt differently than I do, it keeps me honest and really we compliment each other. Pam is an amazing friend and it is really fun to be on this adventure with her.
PAM: I like to say that if Lynn brings the artsy, I bring the fartsy to the partnership (partially because I have a 12 year old son and a finely honed radar for a bodily function humor). My engineering brain is wired such that I'm constantly optimizing processes in my head; for example, when we have poor quality days in Atlanta because of smog, the advice from the news media is to "consolidate errands", and I'm always surprised that this doesn't occur to people naturally. In my brain, of course you do your errands so that you start with the furthest away one, then work your way back home and end with the grocery store so your perishables won't sit in a hot car. I approach quilting the same way - obviously you have to cut pieces before you can sew them, but to optimize the process and get more done, I think through what small units or BOM I could piece as leaders and enders for the "bigger" project I'm actually working on, which means cutting more than just the current project.
Lynn is great because she is unhindered by all these artificial rules in my brain that make me twitchy - she has great color sense that pushes me, because my default would be to put a white background on everything and coordinate like a Granimals set with pre-matched fabrics and colors for me.
Lynn, can you tell me more about how you approach quilts as art?
LYNN: I think I approach quilts as art at its most base level. As I think quilting has been an outlet for women in history as art, a way of expression to their lives, politics, and family. So I think it is just an emotional approach to the process of quilting.
How is the quilting community important to you? How does it influence your work?
LYNN: Oh I love this community, it is my tribe. I know that I can't learn enough techniques and every time I learn a new technique I usually make a series of quilts or pieces that use it. It is all about learning for me. I love taking classes and learning more about quilting. Now there are skills I prefer more than others. I'm not a fan of doing English paper piecing but I have mentioned that a few times on the show. I love looking at it and appreciate looking at it but don't enjoy doing it.
PAM: Because of some of very bad experiences in adolescence, I had a fairly strong distrust of other women for a long time. I went to a male-dominated engineering school (go Jackets!), worked in male-dominated jobs and industries, and generally was very cautious about forming female friendships. It wasn't until my mid-late 30's when I was looking into expanding my quilting skills and seeking out guilds that I had to face the realities of being in a female-dominated quilting world. There was a lot of personal growth I had to do to find my place in the quilting world, and I've been blessed to find a group of strong women that I am proud to consider my closest friends now.
I've always considered sewing and quilting a way for me to continue to connect with my grandmothers and my mom; although both of my grandmother's has passed on and my mom doesn't sew anymore, thinking of how Grama Eddie would love a dash of red in a quilt or Grandma P would think a particular design was practical or would look in her farmhouse continues to keep them close to my heart.
Outside of directly quilty things, what other arts, activities, and/or places inspire you?
LYNN: First and foremost I know that my creativity flows from my personal relationship with God. I love creativity at all levels, art, films and books inspire me. People inspire me.
PAM: My 10 year old daughter is pretty artistic, and she and I have talked about collaborating on things; she loves to draw and I've done one art quilt based on one of her sketches. I'd like to do more, but I'm not sure how many Pokemon quilts I need in my life!
I tend to think of shapes first and colors second since I do more traditional piecing than art quilting, so angles and jigsaw puzzles intrigue me. They don't always make it into a final design, but figuring out how things fit together is another way my engineering brain works on quilts.
What word of advice would you each give to quilters to take their work to the next level, whatever that means for them and where they are at?
LYNN: Keep doing it, practice and have fun.
PAM: Practice! Try something new, and even if you're not happy with something on the first try, turn it into a potholder or the lining of a purse or just release it into the wild (aka, the trash) and chalk it up to a learning exercise. A lot of my practice pieces get turned into mats for my cats to sit on in various places on my studio, and since my cats are equally happy to sit on a piece with perfect points or a completely jacked up mess, they are pleased with either.
Thank you, Lynn and Pam for sharing with us! What a treat to learn more about each of you and about your collaborations with each other. Your responses made me smile and laugh and were wonderfully authentic. Thank you!
Y'all, be sure to check out and enjoy The Stitch TV Show, Hip to Be a Square Podcast, and Instagram with Lynn, Pam, and The Stitch! While you're clicking, be sure to follow me on Instagram, too, @stringandstory and leave your thoughts below in the comments!
"Quilt Long and Prosper!"