Cheryl Arkison is an author, teacher, writer, fabric and pattern designer, quilter, and Morning Make-r.  I love Cheryl’s unique voice, which comes through in both her quilting and her writing, and this is one of the interviews I was especially looking forward to putting together.

Cheryl sends out a biweekly newsletter where she a round up of what she  am doing plus interesting finds from around the world. [Scroll to  the bottom of the page to sign up]

Tell us a little about your creative journey
I come from a functionally creative family. My Mom sewed, but only as necessary – clothes, mostly. So I learned how to sew from her. My Baba, my Dad’s Mom, however was the stereotypical Ukrainian woman who gardened, cooked, and embroidered. All winter she sat in her tiny house and stitched. Now, I don’t cross stitch, but I definitely see her influence on my life – to surround myself and those I love with beautiful things! As a kid I wrote a lot and started university in Journalism School. Now, 25 years later I write professionally! It is as much of a passion as quilting. That – quilting – I started 20 years ago. From the get go it became a compulsion. The creative urges ebb and flow, but words and fabric remain constants in my life.
What inspired your Morning Make?
It was actually a Marie Forleo interview with Chase Jarvis. Both a those high energy business inspirational types. While that isn’t my go to for inspiration, on this one day something stuck. Forleo said the words “create before you consume”. I ran with that, getting up in the morning, leaving my phone on the nightstand and sewing, writing, or sketching in silence. I tried it for a week and it changed my life. That was a couple of years ago and I would 6/7 days a week it is my norm. Even on most weekends. We all have a better day if Mama gets her Morning Make. My best friend is big in to meditation, yoga, and Reiki. The way she talks about those practices is exactly how Morning Make positively affects my life. So take anything you’ve heard about those things, but start a daily creative practice and the results are likely to be similar.
Do you have a favorite quilt?
Ooh, that is kind of like picking a favourite child. To that end, it might depend on the day!
Current Top 3:
All The Sundays [pictured above]
Do you have a story behind a quilt you would like to share?
I am a firm believer that every quilt has a story. And that story starts the moment you put pen to paper to sketch, rip a photo from a magazine, pin an image, like a picture, or put a rotary cutter to fabric. The story continues through the making, the stopping, the starting again, the stitches, the interruptions, and the final knot. But then that story is not over. A whole new novel begins when that quilt goes out in to the world. Quilts hold secrets, spread love, keep warm, save lives, send hugs, catch spills, hide bashful eyes, and witness life.
All that being said, the back story to the Sewing Machine Quilt is that is saved me from a huge creative slump. For over a year I’d been going through the motions with quilting – making what needed to be made but not exciting or inspired to real action. But I still had to work. So it was that I found myself with a wonderful group of students at Quilt Canada, teaching an Improv class. I was demonstrating how to make an improv block with suggestions they threw at me. Someone said sewing machine so I figured it out. Then I suddenly got really excited. We got through the rest of the class, but as soon as I came home I pulled out some favourite fabrics and just started sewing. You can never predict the impact people or a quilt will have on your life, but I am thrilled with this one and it’s continued story.
You have written a few books and countless articles [and blog posts!] What pattern was the most fun to write, or do you have a favorite?
Another favourites question! A bit easier to answer, though. It still has to be The Missing U – the original slab quilt. It is the one that started me A) working with Amanda Jean Nyberg, still a good friend. And B) it launched my professional career. With the publication of Sunday Morning Quilts my life turned upside down in a good way. I still teach this technique, it’s become a go-to charity block for quilters world-wide, and the original quilt gets a lot of love in out house. I will say this though, writing a pattern for improv quilting is no easy matter!
March On by Cheryl Arkison 
I know you have been quilting for a long time. Do you have a moment where you realized, “Ah! I’m a quilter!”?
Almost immediately after taking my first class – 20 years ago. I was in grad school at the time and quilting became my perfect escape. If you don’t pay attention when you are a beginner quilter it can be dangerous! So I had to pay attention, which meant I didn’t think about making rent or what paper was due or how my parents were doing. Really, focusing on my Morning Make is bringing me back to those days, in a way.
 
Read more about Cheryl’s experience in the Artic here and here
Do you have a favorite story from teaching? Or a favorite place you have taught?
Oh my goodness, I LOVE teaching! I’ve had the extreme pleasure and good fortune to travel from coast to coast to coast in Canada. Whether it is a class five minutes from my house or across the ocean, students give me such creative energy. At the end of the day, we are all quilters. My favourite classes to teach are ones where it is essentially becomes directed play. I tell my students that I am there to simultaneously hold their hand and throw them off a cliff! Seeing someone get their spark and run with it is the best. It can also be wonderful to see someone simply embrace the time just for themselves to explore creativity – away from real life. I get to be the leader in all of that, it is a privilege for sure.
I won’t lie, the travel is also a privilege. Not just because I get to see amazing places like the Arctic ice roads or swim at sunrise in the Pacific but because that is also my time. I get energized by the creative force of the students with the bonus of private time for myself. Usually, when I am on the road my Morning Make takes the form of long walks with my camera. It’s delicious.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
When you get so into it the rest of the world falls away. Those moments when you dance in your seat because everything is just flowing and making you so excited! It might be a particular sentence or the way your blocks lines up perfectly. If we are talking quilting, however, then I must admit that design wall work is my favourite. Because I work improvisational 90% of the time there comes a point when I have to put order back in to the work. So playing around to make it all play nicely together is where I get to have the most fun.
Since I know you love favorite questions, any others to share?
My favourite colour is red, but I have never made a red quilt. And tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

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