An Interview with Weeks Ringle of the New Magazine Modern Quilts Illustrated

As background  …

I first met Weeks Ringle when I enrolled in her “Eclipse” class, a pattern that appears in her book The Modern Quilt Workshop. The class was like none other I had taken in that the discussion encompassed not just making the quilt at hand, but the idea behind the design, color theory, fabric selection, technique … During the class, she mentioned that she and her business partner/husband, Bill Kerr, would be hosting a quilt camp a few miles away later that summer; I signed up that night and anxiously counted down the months, weeks, and days. It was the first and only time since beginning a family that I took a week to just focus on quilting; the camp was not about making a particular quilt, but expanding students’ perspective about making a quilt. Since that time, Weeks and I and our families have become good friends.  I continue to be one of their biggest fans, so when I she told me about their plans for a new magazine, I could not wait for that first issue to come out, never failing to ask when I spoke with her “How’s the magazine coming along?” It has been well worth the wait – the magazine is beautiful, engrossing, and the patterns so easy to follow.

They have a lot going on over at the Modern Quilt Studio (a name change is also in the works – Modern Quilt Studio officially takes over from FunQuilts in 2012) these days, but Weeks took out a few minutes to answer some questions …

You have been busy writing books and patterns, contributing to magazines as well as making quilt commissions. What made you decide to start your own magazine?

Weeks:  We kept waiting for someone else to do a magazine for the modern quilters out there. Then we realized we had the skill sets to do it ourselves and that it would be a fun challenge.

How do you and Bill divide the work of producing a magazine and creating the content — the actual designing and making of the quilts?

We each design and make the quilts and sometimes we have an intern who helps with cutting and occasionally sewing. Bill and I can rarely look at anything and remember who did what. He is a professor of graphic design so he did most of the graphic design but I had ideas and input that also helped shape the look of the magazine. I tend to do all of the styling and art direction for the photography. I came up with the idea for Still Life with Pears but Bill actually made it entirely on his own, which is rare. I did most of Beatrix and he and our intern Jane did the sewing on Stacks. We also divide up the quilting and often quilt each others pieces. It’s almost entirely an issue of who is available to do a given task at a given time. We have too many deadlines to be territorial and as long as we’re both making things, we’re easy about who does what.

"Still Life with Pears" - Photo Courtesy of Modern Quilt Studio

What do you most enjoy about producing Modern Quilts Illustrated? What do you least enjoy? What has been the biggest surprise?

I love creating an entirely new look and feel to it. I don’t think too many of them will end up in the recycling bin. I think people get that there’s a lot of inspiration in it and they’ll hold onto it. The least enjoy answer would be having to come up with a whole new shipping sytem to accommodate all of the new orders. Working our way through new software and label printers was time consuming and not fun but it’s important to get it right. In the end, we’ve dramatically increased the efficiency of our shipping so it’s finally paying off. The biggest surprise was how many traditional shops have ordered it to “keep the younger quilters coming in the shop.” We expected shops with a modern customer base to order but we didn’t expect traditional shops to embrace it. One shop e-mailed us that they had totally sold out of their order in two weeks.

I would also say that the popularity of it among Australians has been surprising. Australian shops and individuals alike have been sending orders. Today I e-mailed back and forth to an Australian man who is ordering it for his wife for Christmas.

Where can quilters find the magazine? Do you offer subcriptions? When will the next issue of Modern Quilts Illustrated be available?

You can see if your local quilt shop is carrying it. We offer subscriptions for $30 for the first three issues. We have printed enough of Issue #1 that will still be available a year from now I’m guessing. We understand that some people might not find it until Issue #5 and they might want back issues. Issue # 2 comes out in late March and Issue #3 will ship in July. We made a decision not to sell to Amazon so independent shop owners will have something that is not available on Amazon.

You have another book coming out soon. Can you tell us about it and when it will hit bookstore shelves?

“Transparency Quilts” is expected to arrive at the warehouse on December 1. We hope to have it by mid-December but I know that Amazon doesn’t get it until January.

While many people quilt to unwind from their day, how do you unwind when quilting is your livelihood?

Exercise is an important part of our lives. We also love to play games with our 10-year-old daughter. We cook, garden, knit, read and draw in our free time, although there hasn’t been much of that of late. We’re hoping to have our weekends free in 2012.

I eat a mostly vegetarian diet but tend to shy away from serving a vegetarian menu at the holidays partly because I’m afraid it won’t come off very festive (and maybe I’m just not able to give up the turkey smell I so associate with the holiday). Since you and your family have followed a vegetarian diet for decades, what did you serve for Thanksgiving?

Well I’ve been a vegetarian since 1979 and Bill became one before we met so no one at our Thanksgiving table is interested in turkey. This year we served a delicious vegetarian pot pie, mashed potatoes, orange cranberry relish, Brussels sprouts with garlic and parmesan cheese and my favorite gingery pumpkin pie. We cook from scratch most days and especially on the holidays. For Christmas and New Year’s it’s often buckwheat crepes with spinach and cheese filling or broccoli souffle or our favorite goat cheese walnut individual souffles. We set a fancy table with nice linens, flowers and candles. We make sure the food is plated beautifully even though it’s usually just the three of us. I think it’s very festive but I don’t know if others would agree.

To see more of the quilts in the current issue of Modern Quilts Illustrated or to order the magazine from Modern Quilt Studio,  Modern Quilts Illustrated, visit Weeks’ blog, Craft Nectar, or their website

Photo Courtesy of Modern Quilt Studio

Photo Courtesy of Modern Quilt Studio

Happy quilting.  I’m going to e-mail Weeks to see if their new book is ready for shipping!

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