Member spotlight: Kristin S.

I’m Kristin Gwena on facebook, MissEnota online and Kristin Schwarze in the real world.

Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in southwestern Montana and the west metro here in Minnesota. Now, I live in Buffalo with two grey and white cats and a bearded guy I love. I’m a ten-year US Army veteran (deployed to Bosnia and Iraq) so that experience finds its way into many of my conversations.
Professionally, I’ve been a Subway sandwich artist, a video store clerk, a cook, a factory cog, a military intelligence analyst with a Top Secret clearance, a camping gear salesperson, a belayer at an indoor climbing wall, and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone) operator. Now I’m unemployed, working on a history BA and occasionally I do public speaking engagements regarding my time in the service.
If you know anyone who’d hire someone who’s been out of work for awhile…
Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business?
Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
I am a collector (some people call it hoarding) of many things such as baby Jesus figurines, anything with a buffalo on it, metal first aid tins, butterprint Pyrex…maybe you get the idea.
We home brew beer, fish year round, love to be outside (camp, hike, swim, boat) and travel. I have a 100cc scooter and an affinity for sewing toys and stuffed animals. I can knit, embroider, cross-stitch, do simple woodworking/carving, enjoy drawing, and like to try my hand at creative pursuits whenever they come along. I’m also a movie lover. Chances are I’ve seen it or I want to see it or I have an opinion on it in any case.
How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
I started sewing in January 2012 with a machine my mom picked up off the curb. My fist practice project was a pieced and machine-quilted potholder. I’ve been piecing blocks for many months but have only finished a few small quilts -- mostly minis for swaps on Flickr.

How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
1 potholder, 1 doll quilt, 4 mini quilts for swaps, and 1 baby quilt. I have about six UFOs and lofty plans for around five more.

How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
It really varies from about two to sometimes twenty+ of sewing in general…much more thinking and reading about it.
Describe your first quilt.

After the potholder I didn’t make another quilt until April when I found a doll cradle on the curb and just had to make bedding for it. I actually found the tutorial for the mattress on Vanessa’s blog and then I made this little quilt the next day.
Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why?
My mini quilts are all my designs and I really learned a lot with them. I’ve given them all away in swaps.

Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments.
After a few months of sewing at the kitchen table, I moved into our former guestroom/office and completely took it over. I have a bare space behind my ironing board that I plan to set up as a design wall soon. I listen to music and drink copious amounts of tea and coffee.
I believe tools should be as cute as they are useful and I tend to surround myself with things I think are adorable. I’m sort of “known for” the albino ceramic frog named Chips; he holds my Olfa rotary cutter.
Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
I haunt the sale sections of online shops and the coupons locally—because that’s what I can afford right now. When I travel, I like to stop in little fabric shops and I always try to get a FQ or two. Mostly I have bright, graphic, novelty prints and a few solids. I keep everything in baskets and bins for the most part. I adore Kaffe Fasset, Tula Pink, and Pam Kitty among many other lines.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
Favorite is the addictiveness and community.
Least favorite would have to be cost and snobbery.
I also tend to chafe at gender or age rules/biases for fabric and quilt patterns (or for just about anything else too.)
What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
Just quilting them myself would be a real triumph. I’d love to make a quilt for my own bed that my husband and I both love that my cats’ fur wouldn’t show up on too much…so there’s that to look out for.
I’m also really interested in computerized pattern drafting (for paper-piecing blocks) and learning quilt math.
What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
I want to learn how to FMQ as well as hand quilt and to piece curves and hand applique.
Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
You all in the MMQG! Also: Blogs, Pinterest and Flickr, fun fabrics, and showing off projects to my mom.
What advice do you have for new quilters?
I think blogs are a nice way to motivate yourself and document your progress (You know, Oprah-journal style!) If you keep an idea notebook (I do) or a Pinterest project idea board, make sure you actually produce some of them.
I’ve been told I point out the flaws in my work too often but then I firmly believe in not ripping out mistakes unless structurally necessary. So my advice would be to take pride in your work, flaws and all. Learn from it and move on to cool new ideas.

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