09 October 2013

this one's for you, kathreen

I've been going through stacks of quilts this week. stacks of my mom's beloved quilts. I've been marveling at pattern and color. at meticulous hand-stitching and quirky construction, at worn parts, lived-in and well-loved parts. I know now why she loved them so much, could never ever seem to pass a good one up. or let one go. I always knew. I mean, I thought I knew but after spending hours going through them this week, folding and unfolding, carefully examining each one, I really and truly (fully and completely) know-- in a way I didn't before.

in a serendipitous, completely coincidental turn of events (and just before my trip home to illinois), I received this in the mail:

I'm not going to pretend I know anything about quilt-making here. I do not. which is why I hesitated when I was approached to write a little bit about kathreen's new book, to participate in a  legacy tour of sorts honoring her final work. I don't know anything about quilts and I don't really do things like reviews here in this space. but here's what I know: I love quilts. I love what they represent. I love the idea that they even exist, that the people who make them, who pour so much love into them exist. here's what else I know: I loved kathreen. she inspired me. and I know she inspired a lot of you out there too, so this is not so much a book review as it is a love letter-- to the late, great kathreen ricketson, a small thank you on behalf of all those she inspired. because what we're talking about here is inspiration, quilt-related or not.

I first met kathreen in those early, early blogger days, back when none of us really knew what we were doing. just stumbling along, sharing words, work, bits and parts of our day, never really sure who was reading, if anyone was reading. (and, in some cases, not even really caring if anyone was reading). it wasn't long before a like-minded community began to form-- artists, crafters, writers, photographers, mothers. we were connecting in small but profound ways (often daily) and we were from all over the world. I first met kathreen when I was busy shooting photographs of pretty much everything out there but myself. and then self portrait tuesday happened, which eventually morphed into the self portrait challenge. every week, a different self portrait and kathreen was behind it. selfies before people even knew what selfies were. selfies before the word became an internet punchline. it was kathreen who challenged us each week, encouraged us. what started as a small collection of participants grew into something exponentially larger, something that exceeded all expectations. because that's the thing about the internet-- you never really know what happens when you put stuff out there. where it will go, what it will do, how it might (or might not) be received. you never know. if you would've told me I'd meet some of my best internet (turned in-real-life) friends through the self portrait group, I would not have believed you. furthermore, if you'd told me just how much it'd crack open the way I view photography, I would have laughed. but there it is. and I have no one but kathreen to thank.

we kept in touch over the years. email, twitter, facebook, instagram, blogs, the usual. I could always count on my sweet australian friend for a kind word. I always hoped we'd meet one day, never dreamt we wouldn't get the chance. when the news spread of her passing, I was shocked, completely heartbroken. I couldn't fathom it, I just couldn't. I felt a longing for that early group of bloggers, that raw, special time and I wondered if I'd ever really told kathreen just how much she'd inspired me, if I'd ever really taken the time.

now is my time.

dear kathreen, you inspired me. endlessly.

thumbing through your book, one thing is clear: your wildly creative spirit practically jumps off every page. your heart and soul, your love for what you do just spills out all over the place and you will only continue to inspire those who come in contact with your work. I hope you know that, friend. wherever you are.

here's to you, kathreen. quilt-maker, photograph-taker, lover of life. mother, artist, crafter extraordinaire. here's to the book you always dreamt of writing. here's to me holding it in my hands and honoring you. here's to you, lovely lovely you.

(kathreen's legacy tour continues, please follow along here)


  1. That was a lovely review, in every possible way. I'm not familiar with her nor did I know your mom, obviously, but they were so clearly the best kind of creative people.

  2. Gut punch. I had no idea she passed. Everything you wrote captures that time for me too Andrea, and I just saw the strip that you, Jess and I took in NYC the other day, made me a bit nostalgic. SPT and then the SP challenge shaped me as a photographer, certainly a self portrait artist, and it saddens me to know that she passed.

    You're post here is beautiful friend, as are you.

    With love xo

  3. Cheers to Kathreen! She is sorely missed.
    I bought Kathreen's Miini Quilts book for my own mother who is a quilter (and collector) and who passed on her love of making to me. I suspect this book will also be added to mother's collection of quilt books as well.

  4. This was a beautiful post. I wasn't around during the early years of blogging, but I wish I had been. I just want to take this opportunity to say "thank you" to YOU. The life changing inspiration and gratitude you feel for kathreen is what I feel visiting you here.

  5. Andrea, that was beautifully written and better than any kind of book review a person who makes a book could ever dream of. Seriously, friend.
    Wherever she is, she's smiling.

  6. so nice to read this here my friend.
    i just had a SPT flashback. XO