2013 Faculty Interview Series – Kathy McNeil

Kathy McNeil

Greater Seattle Area, Washington

Kathy has taught for Road before. She is judging for the 2013 contest, and is a valuable asset to the Road family of teachers. She is teaching classes 3401 “Learn to Love Landscapes”, 5009 “Dancing Cranes” (my personal favorite), 6010 Embellishments, and 8501 “The Creative Provess – Front to Back Pictorial Quilting.” Hurry and sign up for a class with Kathy!

Matt: Where were you born and what is your birth order? (Only Child, Oldest, Youngest…)
Kathy: I grew up in a small mountain community in WA. There were 30 students in my graduating class! My two older sisters thought I was a major pest, so I spent lots of hours playing in the woods with my younger brother. He helped me find lots of little animals. Remember the days when mothers could send their children off to play for hours and not worry about their exact location, that describes my childhood.
Matt: Where did you grow up?
Kathy: I grew up at St. Lukes Hospital School of Nursing in San Francisco. A big city for a small town girl. I remember the patient who jumped off the Oakland Bay bridge and was blown back and run over by a car. He was in our ICU for months. I have always hoped that he found the purpose that God obviously still had for him.

Matt: What motivated you to begin quilting?
Kathy: I loved the community quilts that guilds made for patients at my hospital. When my daughter asked me to make her a quilt for her dorm room and I vowed to try. We went to the quilt store to buy fabric and I saw my first pictorial quilt. It was like being hit by a lighting bolt of excitement. I still wake up surprised and excited that I have found this thing that makes me so incredibly happy.

 Matt: Describe your “quilting studio” – is there something in it that you just can’t live without?
Kathy: My studio is the family room of the house. Yes there is a design wall, a Bernina, baskets of thread and fabric, but the best thing is; it’s where the grand babies have their toys, the dog her bed and my husband his desk and lounge chair. If I didn’t have to go to the kitchen to cook, I might never leave.
Matt: Does anyone else in your family quilt?
Kathy: No, although I have two daughters and have tried and tried to interest them. My three year old grand daughter loves to sit on my lap and help push the fabric through the machine, so I have hight hopes for the future. Check out the picture of my 18 month old doing her first painting with ” Oma”.
 Matt: Do you have any other hobbies besides quilting?
Kathy: Reading travel books about other cultures and history. We are going to Italy for the first time this year and I am knee deep in everything Venitian right now. My other abiding passion is Mother Nature. Walking on the beach, through the woods and really looking at the infinite beauty of our world sustains my spirit.

 Matt: Do you have children, grandchildren, etc?
Kathy: Two daughter and two sons. Two of my children were adopted from Korea. We consider ourselves a bi-cultural family. The kids know a lot about Scotland and Korea. We have two young grand daughters who live just down the road and delight me with their infectious giggles almost every day.

Matt: Do you have any pets?
Kathy: Maggie the 108 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback . She is a 10 month old puppy who thinks she needs to sit on my lap while I am watching movies. Seriously, I think I am too old for this size of a puppy. She pulls me down the beach and I can not hold her if she wants to run. We are making slow progress civilizing the sweet beast.

 Matt: Do you have a favorite food, what is it?
Kathy: All things Asian. I really think I could eat Asian food every day of the week. Well that and a good bag of Cheetos every now and then.

Matt’s Tip: Make sure to check out Panda Inn while you are in Ontario. They serve some of the best Chinese food in the area. It’s well worth the wait!
Matt: What is your favorite recipe for entertaining?
Kathy: Wrap anything in Filo dough and it looks fancy and people think it is special. I love baking too. My husband retired this year and he is cooking at least 50% of the time now. There is a lot of BBQ but as long as he cleans up, I will eat what ever he tries.

Matt: What would be on your “Bucket List” if you could do anything and money was not an object?
Kathy: I should come up with something fun but after 35 years as a critical care nurse my answer has to be— End substance abuse. It destroy so many lives and families.
Matt: What is the best class you have taken?
Kathy: Hollis Chatelain class on thread as a design factor.

 Matt: Where have you traveled in your quilting career? Any favorite locations?
Kathy: Teaching has helped me to see a lot of our great country. I have stayed in a restored Vanderbilt hunting lodge while teaching at the Shelburne in Vermont and in someones out building with no heat or running water in a chilly Oregon. The life of an itinerant teacher is varied and always interesting. Road is my favorite location of course. Actually anywhere with sun is a big plus for this girl from Seattle. Thanks to those crazy Canadian quilters too. I always have fun on teaching trips to Canada. The new Quilt Festival in Ireland is on my dream list.
Matt: What is the last book you have read, and who is your favorite author?
Kathy: “Imagination, How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
“”The brain is just an endless knot of connections. And a creative thought is simply … a network that’s connecting itself in a new way.”” This is a really good book. Another favorite this year was Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Its about the women who designed the Tiffany Lamps and never received credit for it. “

Matt: What’s the best thing about teaching?
Kathy: Watching my students gain the confidence to bring out what has been in them all along. I love helping my students find their own creative voices and always encourage them to take my projects and turn them into their own. I also love getting pictures of projects they have started in one of my workshops. See the student gallery on my web site for some great pictures. My students ROCK!

2 thoughts on “2013 Faculty Interview Series – Kathy McNeil

  1. birdy

    Hi Kathy,
    You are a “Wonder Woman”. Every time I come across an article on you it’s always so interesting.
    I can’t wait for Rd 2 CA. I am still going to try and talk you into doing an internet class. I won’t give up. I will be like a fly on the wall.
    I just can’t get over you work. Just too beautiful for words.
    Hugs, CM

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