3 decades… that’s a long time to teach quilting! Kerry Karram, fiber artist, pattern designer, writer and award winning quilter, has guided hundreds of students on patchwork and applique in this time. Always evolving, her recent focus has been wool work. Her passion is hand embroidery and embellishment on multi textural fibres. She has been hand dyeing felted wool, linen and velvet in small batches since 2002, and is the owner of Wool Penny Rug Supplies. Her kits and wool have been shipped all over the world.
Q: How did your company, Wool Penny Rug Supplies, come to be ?
A: Back in 2002, I took a class in Sisters, OR with Barbara Crib, on wool appliqué. The class required students to bring dyed wool, and I absolutely couldn't find any where I was. So I went to the thrift store, bought some white and cream wool skirts, and dyed my own. I found out that I loved the process! So much has changed since then. At the time there was no choice of threads for that type of work either, apart from embroidery floss. I saw a real need, so I started dying wool, and Wool Penny was born.
Q: What are your thoughts on the new trend of wool appliqué?
A: I think, in this busy world, people are looking to calm down, slow down and downsize. I have been teaching quilting for 34 years. In the early days, a class would be full of machines going at full speed and joining piles of fabric all day. By the end of the day, students would be exhausted from trying to piece a large quilt in a day. Now I find people are loving smaller, simpler projects. Quilting also requires a lot of space, which many people don't have. Cost is also a factor, and people can get into wool appliqué for a relatively small initial cash outlay, so that makes it appealing. Still, the two worlds are joining together, as people will spend the time to do their hand, wool appliqué work, then take it to a custom quilter to have it quilted. I think that is fantastic, and produces some really beautiful, unique pieces.
Q: What do your classes look like these days?
A: I usually have a maximum of 20 students, but like to keep it around 10-12 students, so they can gather around when I am demonstrating a stitch. My goal in my classes is to make people feel comfortable in their own creativity, and not feel like they have to fit into anyone's version of 'right' or 'wrong'.
Q: Do you think most people take up slow stitching for relaxation, to create an heirloom, or to make gifts?
A: I think it is a combination of the three. Most of the quilters I know are now in their late 50's and have grandchildren coming. Rather than just restricting themselves to making quilts, they are also now making wall hangings, that won't receive the wear and tear and can last for ages.
Q: What are your favorite stitches? Favorite threads?
A: My favorite stitches are the drizzle stitch, colonial knots and the fly stitch. I like to use drizzle stitches and colonial knots for filler, because they give such great texture. My favorite thread is WonderFil's Eleganza #5. If I need a bit of sparkle, I will chose Dazzle, and I love Razzle for the shine and vibrant color.
Q: What is coming up for you in 2019?
A: I have a piece accepted into the juried show at Quilt Canada, and also have one entered in the Grand National Exhibition. I am going to teach some classes in Juno, Alaska in June. Last year, I entered 7 pieces in the Fall Fair on Pender Island, and all 7 pieces won; that was a fun surprise!