Monday, June 18, 2012

Designer Interview

Continuing my series of interviews with Northcott designers, meet Sue Harvey, one half of Pine Tree Country Quilts.

When did you start quilting and how did that happen?

I began quilting in the late 1980s. I worked for many years as the financial director at a local hospital... about as uncreative a job as you can imagine (unless you are doing slightly illegal financial management!). I worked more than full time, had a small child, and was going to school for my Masters ... I burned out! When I became a woman of "leisure", I began to cross-stitch. Loved it. I did lots of home projects (repainting the outside, refinishing wood floors, etc.) that had been waiting for spare time, and I cross-stitched like crazy. Eventually I ran out of wall space and friends and relatives to give stitched pieces to. Fortunately a Georgia Bonesteel quilting show on public television caught my attention and our local high school offered a quilting class. Like lots of quilters, I learned to quilt with an Eleanor Burns Log Cabin pattern, except I reduced the width of my logs to 1" finished and changed the layout to the Barn Raising design. Right from the beginning, I loved the designing and "puzzle" part of quilting. Perhaps the math part came from my previous job, but it was certainly a far more creative way to use math!

You have a business partner, right? Do you design together or do you create separate designs?

Sandy Boobar and I have been business partners in Pine Tree Country Quilts since 2005. We design and make quilts for magazines, books, and fabric companies. We collaborate on all of our designs.

How would you describe your style? 

Eclectic. We don't think we have a recognizable style though people tell us they can always tell which are our quilts in the magazines that they get. Funny though, when we've asked how they can tell, what is it that gives us away, they can never pinpoint anything. Our main goal for most designs is a pieced quilt that is easy enough for an experienced beginning quilter, but a quilt that looks more complicated than it is.

What inspires you to create a new design? 

Nothing romantic here ... a fabric collection and a deadline. Since we are usually designing specifically for an assignment, we are using a requested fabric collection and working up a design to best showcase that collection.

Do you use technology when you develop new designs? If so, how? 

Yes. We use Electric Quilt for our designs and import the actual fabric images into the design. We sometimes begin with a graph paper sketch and then draw it in EQ. We never have fabric on hand before we design a quilt. We use fabric images only. We sometimes wait 3 months for the fabric to actually arrive to make the quilt.

Do you participate in other activities related to quilting? 

I have been a freelance editor and technical proofreader for quilting publications since 1994. I work with several fabric companies writing and proofing instructions for their free patterns. I work with several publishers as a technical editor.

What are some of your interests outside the quilting world? 

Reading (at least 2 to 3 books a week), gardening (another thing I got very involved in after I quit my "real" job), and lake conservation.

Anything else you would like people to know about you? 

I am married (37 years, OMG, I feel old!), have a married son, and an 8-year-old grandson. My husband and I have lived on a pristine lake in central Maine for 33 years. We have been volunteer lake monitors for 16 years, and I was an officer of our lake association for 14 years. I was a half-hearted fisherman (fisherwoman?) for many years when my son was young, but gave it up when I realized that since I hate fish (eating them), the smell of fish, and frigid, rainy days in a boat (the only "good" type of fishing weather) ... what was I thinking!! My grandson now wishes that I still would try to like it. He already has fish stories about the one that got away! Life is good!!

Check out Sue and Sandy's designs on their website.

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