Friday, January 30, 2009

Extinguish burnout with quilting passion

One glimpse of Karen McTavish's smiling face, especially after receiving Teacher of the Year award from MQX, you know she has passion aplenty. The photo captures the excitement at the Machine Quilting Expo in Manchester, New Hampshire, April 2008. This award is presented to instructors who have made an impact on the longarm industry in the prior year.

Karen's quilting h
olds testament to her passion for the craft. One look at her quilts and there's no doubt she's dripping talent and innovative creativity. But she has multi-passions. Her family most definitely, and her music. When not quilting, writing books about quilting, judging, or teaching groups and individuals the art of quilting, Karen performs with her heavy metal band "Grounds for Dismissal."

Note her 'passion' for tattoos that reflect her quilting patterns
as can be seen on her upper arms.

Photo: Silver Threads Shadow Trapunto - this award winning trapunto quilt was a combined effort with her mother, Janet McTavish who had a dream and asked Karen to come up with a design to surround Janet's silver hand embrodiery work. This quilt has taken Viewer's Choice at the Minnesota State Quilt Show in 2007. The shadow work uses black velvet under batiste.

And now the guest blog in Karen's own words:

Quilting is (or should be) passion.

If you don't have passion - you wont get anything done when it comes to quilting.
This is especially true if you have too many ugly quilt projects that you are no longer in love with - you will "burn out."

Dudes, you have all been there - let's talk about it. For example, if you have a teenager who is skipping school or a son who is playing video games 13 hours a day - you will want to quilt to escape this situation. Or if you have too many dishes, or you can't face cooking another meal for your family - you need an outlet - which, my friend - is quilting.

So - too avoid household chores, - we quilt.

To stay sane, we quilt - and avoid our responsibilities as good parents who have out of control children, we quilt.

You will know you are burned out on quilting when you would rather scrub the floor than go applique'.

You will know you are burned out on quilting, when you would rather bring your daughter to her AA meeting than quilt.

Here is a list of things to do in order for you to avoid "quilters burn out": -

  • Never, I mean, ALWAYS - get obsessed with your quilt project. The quilt you are obsessed with, always gets finished.
  • Remind yourself that if you stop working on this quilt project, it will add to the other projects that are half way done, and this one will never get done and it wont happen again!
  • Keep your eyes on the prize - never think about how long a quilt will take to complete - stay in denial as long as possible.
  • When you give that amazing quilt to a friend or family member, who says "Thanks for the blanket" not get burned out - simply use this as an excuse to cut them out of your life. Forever. They were never really part of the family anyway.
  • When your sister, gets kicked off a plane, for not shutting off her computer, and you are now the official "good daughter" because you have never been escorted off a mid-air flight - you get to feel like a supreme being, a much better human being than say....I dont know...your can run around buying thread and fabric, knowing in your heart you deserve this - because you are after all, the better daughter.
  • Always, I mean, NEVER, worry about how much things cost, or whether you need them or will eventually need them, you just don't know it yet.

When you are truly, in a burn out situations - I highly recommend a big ass pair of scissors just to cut your batting with. Having these scissors will make you feel special.

And if you forget that you are special -- remember, you have not been escorted off a plane by Air Marshals.

And your sister has.

Contact Information:
Karen McTavish
McTavish Quilting Studio
Duluth Minnesota

Longarm machine quilting allows Karen to combine her two passions: Wholecloth and Trapunto. She specialize in crafting award-winning heirloom quilts using techniques which allow machine quilters to replicate traditional hand-quilted effects. Karen have been featured on PBS Quilt Central, and HGTV Simply Quilts. Her work has appeared in Joanne Line's books, Quilts from the Quilt Makers Gift #1 and #2, Helen Squire's Mix and Match Patterns and numerous national magazines and journals. Karen has authored four books in four years with On-Word Bound Books. For information on books and other products please see

Karen has been a full-time professional longarm quilter since 1997. She works and teaches from her studio and travel all over the country teaching McTavishing, Trapunto, Wholecloth Design and advanced longarm machine quilting workshops. If you are interested in taking in a class please contact me at any time. She lives in Duluth, MN with her family - Dan, her partner, daughter Allison (20) and son Storm (age 3).


Stacy Hurt said...

You know; I want to hate her... But I simply can't, her essay on burn out has me laughing so loud the business next door want's to know what's up... Thank you so much for posting this. Made me day!

Rebecca Grace said...

LMAO!! I think one of my sisters is also secretly sisters with Karen McTavish...

Kitchen Benchtops said...

Karen is awesome and an amazing woman with pure honesty. Thanks for sharing her with us!