Quilt Journalist Tells All Newsletter
From Meg CoxFebruary 2011
February Contents
Mary Fons Follows in Her Mother's Footsteps
Mark Lipinski's Kidney
Meg's Favorite New Books

"This book is absolutely, mind-bogglingly out of this world..."
says Mark Lipinski.

book cover

Click on the book cover to order it from Amazon, or pick it up at your local quilt shop.

Red & White valentine quilt

Isn't this the perfect quilt for Valentine's Day?  

This is one of 650 red and white quilts that will be displayed from March 25-30 at the Infinite Variety show in NYC.

The show itself is completely FREE but the American Folk Art Museum is offering some educational programs, including one I will moderate, that require tickets. You can pre-order tickets NOW. Call the museum or check the website.


One more tip: If you are going to be in Manhattan the weekend of March 26-27, the Empire Quilters guild show is a must-see.

Quick Links...
Visit my website:

"Not only did we have one of the largest turnouts for your program, but everyone raved about the presentation. You were entertaining, informative and inspiring."
Barbara Berdy,
Warwick Valley Quilters Guild

Want to hire Meg? For info & fees for lectures and workshops on either modern quilting or family traditions:
meg@megcox.com or call 609-924-9135.

Read her columns in The Quilt Life, Quilter's Home and Fab Shop News.


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Dear Friends---

     Welcome to all my new subscribers, and thanks to everyone for all the lovely comments. My new format seems to have gone over very well and I'm feeling like a moron for not switching earlier. I'm really having fun playing with these new toys and trying to enhance my words with images and creative layout. I hope you'll feel free to comment on what you like -- and don't.
     Lots of news and reviews this month, so I'll head right to the meat. 
Mary Fons is Funny: Ask How I Know
mary fons

     Sometimes when the kid of a celebrity shows up in the same field, people carp about the rookie's awkwardness. But in the case of Mary Fons, daughter of quilting legend Marianne Fons, that's actually part of the point.
     In her chosen fields of writing and performing, Mary is a seasoned veteran, working professionally as a freelance writer and earning a place for herself in Chicago's cutting-edge theater scene. She's well known for her work in poetry "slams" (which are more like stand-up comedy than staid readings), and writes both books and plays. Her first full-length play - in which she stars- will debut in Chicago in the spring. 
    Although she grew up in Iowa making the odd doll quilt with her mother, Mary never thought she'd take up quilting at all, let alone professionally. "It wasn't automatic for me, it didn't seem recreational," she says in an interview. "Quilting was something my mom did, for work."
     But in recent years, several events pushed her in that direction. Shortly after getting married and settling down, Mary suffered a serious, prolonged illness and her priorities began changing. "I was forced to sit still," she says, "I went back to some things from my childhood."
     As she healed, she got a proposition from the producers of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting , the TV show that is shot in Iowa and airs on PBS. Her mother's long-time co-host, Liz Porter, was ready to retire, but Marianne Fons wanted to keep going. Who could be her new partner? They wondered if Mary Fons would like to try out.
     "They knew I was a performer and that I get along great with my mother," Mary says. "But I had to sort of go to boot camp and train as a quilter." 
      She did this with enthusiasm and dove right in, which most viewers appreciated. But not all. "It's like when Kermit didn't sound like Jim Henson anymore. It was hard on some fans," she says. Some viewers were very specific in their criticisms, she recalls, "They said 'She talks too fast,' 'I don't like her clothes,' and in one case, 'She talks too much about her manicures.' Well, I probably did at first: I was nervous."   
     Those who loved seeing Mary included experienced quilters who were still waiting for their daughters to take up the craft. The producers of the show came to realize there was value to having a newbie on the show asking questions. "I ask the questions a rookie aks, and lots of people don't know these things," says Mary.
     It went so well, that after taping one full season alongside her mom, the producers signed her up for a second. But as she got deeper into quilting her own projects, discovering a passion for traditional scrap quilt patterns executed in today's vibrant fabrics, Mary started thinking about how "there just didn't seem to be a show for new quilters in the YouTube generation."
     She decided to create one herself, and went to the Fons & Porter producers for a modest budget to shoot an internet-only program closer to her current home. Called "Quilty," she films at a hip Chicago quilt shop called Quiltology. Her aim is for the show to be quirky, funny, fresh and educational. It is all those things and more.
     "Quilty" debuted in January as one of the internet-only quilt shows on QNNtv.com, with episodes of 6 to 10 minutes released weekly. Since only people who already consider themselves quilters are likely to visit QNN, Mary Fons insisted that "Quilty" also be posted free on YouTube. 
     Mary was born to do this, in my opinion. Her confidence as a performer and passionate quilter combine with a feel for her generation's cultural touchstones (she is 31), like famous rappers. She breaks quilting down to very simple steps -- like how to shop for fabric, how to use a rotary cutter -- and often is teaching an actual first-timer how to do these things.
     You can watch the initial episodes of "Quilty" on QNNtv.com without being a paid subscriber (click on Watch Now), or go to YouTube and search for Quilty and Mary Fons.
     You heard it here first: she's gonna be a big star in Quiltlandia!

     More at www.maryfons.com.

Mark Lipinski's Kidney News
Mark on his Creative Mojo radio show     As most cupcakes must know by now, Mark Lipinski, aka "the bad boy of quilts," founding editor of Quilter's Home magazine and co-host of QNNtv's "Quilt Out Loud," has had to cut way back on his travel and appearances lately due to a serious kidney disease. Trust Mark to actually ask his Facebook fans if they'd donate a kidney to him! 
     An astonishing number said "Absolutely! Take mine if we're a match." This shocked me, but I have since learned that people actually have found kidney donors on FB. Not Mark, as it turns out.
     Mark is a good chum of mine, but the way I found out the identity of Mark's kidney donor is by listening to his awesome new radio show, Creative Mojo. The person giving Mark a life-saving kidney is a neighbor of his, Mary, who went on the radio show recently to explain that when she heard Mark was sick, she volunteered immediately: giving a kidney was actually something on her "to-do list."
     The transplant surgery is expected to occur within the next month, and while Mark's hospital stay will be brief, he'll be pretty much confined to home for a matter of months. To make sure there are no gaps, Mark's been busy taping extra episodes ahead for fans of both Creative Mojo and Quilt Out Loud.
     A few words about Creative Mojo: if you haven't listened yet, I highly recommend it. It's absolutely free and you can hear it live every Wednesday from 3 to 5 pm (EST), by going here www.toginet.com/shows/creativemojo/.  (If you lose that link, just go to Mark's website and you can click right over.)  You can play it on your computer while doing other work, or download it at iTunes and play it whenever on your iPod or other MP3 player. 
     Mojo started last fall and was an immediate hit. As the name implies, it goes well beyond quilting and covers all aspects of craft and creativity. Mark will jump quickly from interviewing a beading expert to an organizational guru to his favorite psychic, switching from unknowns to famous folk in a flash. He'll talk about the novel he's reading or his latest pet peeve. I'm amazed at his range: he's introduced me to so many interesting talents, ideas, blogs and books. 
    Even during his recovery phase, Mark will be able to continue hosting Creative Mojo, because he's got a studio all set up at his home on Pickle Road. See the photo above? I took that last October, when I had the pleasure of co-hosting the show with Mark.
    Get well soon, my friend! 

                              circle of nine book cover 
Book Reviews: 2 Great Choices Now
     Circle of Nine: 24 Stunning & Creative Quilts, One Unique Quilt Setting by sisters Janet Houts & Jean Ann Wriight really rings my chimes. I love books like this that have a clear, simple and flexible system that can be used to make many gorgeous quilts. Working with 12-inch blocks that create a circular design around a center element-- without the need for curved piecing --they create dramatic looking quilts that even a confident beginner can tackle. 
     (Landauer Publishing, $24.95)

     Another book that captured my heart is The Artful Bird: Feathered Friends to Make & Sew by Abigail Patner Glassenberg. Now I know from reporting on pattern trends that quilters are buying tons of patterns for non-quilt projects. But up to know, nothing has tempted me to stray from the quilty path. Until this. The birds are so varied and charming, including everything from a lark to a flamingo, and the directions seem very clear. 
     (Interweave Books, $24.95)

     Well, I think that ought to be about enough for February. I hope if you enjoyed this newsletter you will recommend it to others. I've got some real fun stuff coming next month! 
Quilt on!
Meg Cox

P.S. Don't forgot: you still have until March 7 to make a 16 inch by 16 inch quilt for the Alliance For American Quilts! Check out the contest rules-- www.AllianceforAmericanQuilts.org.