Road 2014 Faculty Spotlight: Meet Karen Witt

Karen will be teaching on Thursday #4018 Civil War Sampler, Friday, #5016 Tree of Life Medallion Quilt, Saturday  #6016 Making Reproduction Quilts-19th Century Nine Patch, and on Sunday #7011 Rug Hooking 101Profile

Personal: Karen Witt is all about quilt books. They are her favorite genre to read, especially when they are about antique quilts. (The last book she read was Primarily Quilts by Di Ford).  And Karen has written a quilt book with her daughter Erin published by Kansas City Star titled, Like Mother, Like Daughter.Amazon book cover

Throughout her life, Karen has lived in areas that are known for quilting. She was born in West Virginia, grew up in Ohio, and now lives in Kentucky. She has three children (2 sons and one daughter) and 12 grandchildren. 

How did you get started in quilting? I have always sewed.  I was given a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt top made by my great grandmother and was fascinated to think that she had made it and that the fabrics were from her own clothes. When I was working for the University of Kentucky, I was asked to teach a color and design course for quilters. The combination of these events led to my own desire to quilt.

Does anyone else in your family quilt? Both of my grandmothers made utilitarian quilts. They had large families and needed to keep everyone warm. My mother sewed clothing and home decor and made one quilt — a Laura Wheeler pattern from the Cincinnati Enquirer — using scraps from all the clothes she made for me. My daughter Erin is a quilter. She has two degrees in textiles. We have worked together in the quilting industry for several years — as vendors at all the major quilt shows, designing patterns, and making quilts for Market and magazine publication.

Where do you find inspiration for your quilting? I love the antique quilts and feel a real connection to quilters in the past. I spend a lot of time looking at museum exhibits and studying quilt history.

What do you like to do when you are not quilting? I’m a gardener — including lots of herbs that I like to use in cooking and to dry for winter wreaths and bouquets. I also enjoy traveling — either teaching and meeting other quilters or with family and friends.

What is the one quilting tool that you can’t live without? A needle — and thread! I love hand piecing, applique and quilting. I can improvise when I don’t have all the 21st century gadgets so I’m pretty basic when it comes to necessities. And, that’s all the women had to work with in making the antique quilts that I admire so much.  thread and needle

Where is the farthest you’ve travelled that is quilt related? I taught in France for Quiltmania magazine. I had to have an interpreter for the class and all the pattern instructions were converted to centimeters. I was delighted to learn that European quilters love our reproduction fabrics and my patterns!

What do you like best about teaching? It is so exciting to meet quilters in other places! I love to see them use my patterns and personalize these designs to make their own unique creations that reflect their interests and personalities.classpict

What is your best tip for quilters? Have fun!  If you’re not having fun, STOP! Ask yourself, “What can I change to make this fun?”  The best way to make it fun is to make every project “yours.” After all, it is your quilt! If you don’t like the colors, change them. If you don’t like the design, tweak it. We don’t need quilts for warmth. If you’re cold, buy a blanket! Be creative. Take a chance. Just have fun with your quilting!

What do you want your students to get out of your class? I try to create a relaxed, pleasant, affirming classroom and help each quilter discover and develop her/his individual creativity. Since I specialize in making quilts that are reproductions of antique quilts, I like to give my students an understanding of the heritage of quilting and how we share with those from earlier generations.

Visit Karen at