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Meet Kathy McNeil: Road 2016 Director's Choice Winner and Road 2017 Teacher

Kathy McNeil of Tulalip, Washington, won $5,000 for Song of the Sea, from sponsor Moore’s Sewing Center.Director's Award

Before Kathy McNeil became an award winning quilter, she was a hospital nurse for over 35 years. During that time, she loved the community quilts that guilds made for her patients. When Kathy’s daughter asked her mother to make her a quilt for her dorm room, Kathy vowed to try. They went to the quilt store to buy fabric and that is where Kathy saw her first pictorial quilt. As Kathy remembered, “It was like being hit by a lightning bolt of excitement. I still wake up surprised and excited that I have found this passion that makes me so incredibly happy.”Kathy McNeil Kathy got the idea for Song of the Sea from a trip to the Seattle Aquarium with her grandchildren.  The octopus came out and literally danced across the glass in front of them. Kathy thought the octopus, “was so incredibly, a real diva of the deep.”  Kathy wanted to capture the octopus’ playful, intelligent spirit. The word “diva” that Kathy used to describe her encounter with the octopus inspired the unusual setting of the quilt. As Kathy says, “What better to show off a diva than an Art Nouveau setting?”Judy- picture from Seattle Aquatium It took Kathy about 400 hours of turned edges using the Apliquick technique to make the quilt. Kathy is a US distributor of those tools and loves watching students gain confidence in turning the smallest little shapes so quickly.  Kathy shared her progress with the quilt in her monthly newsletter.Ophelia the octopus It was her readers that chose the name of the octopus—Ophelia.  The biggest challenge for Judy was figuring out how to make the suckers for the 8 octopus legs. She finally came up with making 321 tiny silk organza yo- yo’s to fit the visual look and texture that she wanted. When Kathy heard she had won the Director’s Choice at Road 2016, she said, “I leaped, I twirled, I danced, I sang and shouted with joy….. Thank you, thank you for falling in love with my crazy octopus.” Ophelia has been loved by so many people as she has traveled to different shows. She has won two “Best Original Design” Awards and an international art collector has purchased her to be part of a collection of “sea creature art.” Winning the Director’s Choice was such an unexpected gift that Kathy and her husband decided to use her winnings to make some awesome family memories. They took their daughter and her family on a cruise to the Panama Canal while Kathy was teaching.Kathy's family What is on the horizon for Kathy and her quilting? “A wonderful balance of teaching trips, time with Mother Nature for inspiration and taking the summer off to write a new book on borders. I wake up every day feeling very blessed to be part of the quilting community.” To learn more about Kathy McNeil, please visit her website.]]>

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