Monday, March 16, 2015

{Behind the Blog} Chawne of Completely Cauchy

Today I feel honored to include one of my favorite voices in the quilt blogging community in this Behind the Blog interview series.  Chawne of Completely Cauchy is an inspiring maker and candid communicator, whose blog often reminds me to slow down and enjoy the process.  She quilts, knits and stitches with layers of meaning.  Come meet the woman behind this fantastic needlework self portrait, made up of 40,400 stitches!

::YOUR BLOG:: The purpose behind keeping a blog tends to evolve over time.  As we enter the new year, what does your blog mean to you? 

This is a hard question. I started my blog about 10 years ago in a different incarnation just as a place to share my craft works with my family who all live far away. Then it quickly developed into a member of a small community of makers. Things were much, much different and smaller-scale then. We shared tips and tricks, wrote tutorials for each other, and became real friends united in a mission to wrap the world in cozy colorful textiles. Things changed once more folks joined and now that community is far-flung, colder and commercial.

My blog now is just a place where I share some of what I’m making and attempt to engage in small conversations about the community, current events, and our mutual love of colors.

::SOCIAL MEDIA::  Do you participate in other social media from a quilty perspective?  If so, which and what do they "add" for you?

Flickr was once my hub, but now you can find me on Instagram (@cauchycomplete). Quick daily posts serve as a jot-journal and a place to get some gut-reaction feedback and advice.

::SELF-EXPRESSION:: One thing I really appreciate is your candor as a blogger and quilter. One gets the impression that you make exactly what you'd like to make, no apologies, and enjoy using quilts to make emotional statements. Having met you, you are soft-spoken and a self-described introvert. Have quilts and crafting allowed you to express yourself more openly than you would otherwise?  Asked another way, how has quilting brought out who you really are?

Thanks! A few real-life quilt friends have asked me the same thing. Yeah, I’m definitely quiet and unassuming in person, though there’s a fire in my belly that bursts forth when I’m eager to help folks. My first quilts were definitely more of a projection of that mild-mannered personality. They are all blue and white (and gray if I was feeling wild!) and made with micro-managed precision. I even made an intricate log cabin quilt pieced using just one solid off-white fabric. You don’t get any quieter than that!

But when my father passed away, I made a couple of quilts for my siblings using his silk ties. They were bright and splashy---totally his personal style. One was precision pieced and the other was one of my first improv designs. Not only were these quilts therapeutic, they also broke me free to be expressive in my quilting. Soon thereafter, the textual quilts started as a way to work through some conflicts in my town. That was the first time I just followed all the instincts and made a series. Even today, I’m not sure how those ideas came to me, but they certainly allowed me to “say” things that I couldn’t actually say out loud.

please read for context

::SHOWING QUILTS:: In 2014 it seems that many of your quilts were exhibited. Were some made specifically for exhibitions? Does the anticipation of exhibiting change the process for you? What motivates you to exhibit your quilts?

I feel quite honored and grateful to get to have my quilts join the conversation in the art world and the quilt world. My approach is to make what comes to mind and then find a venue, if a piece seems worthy. I’ve re-made a quilt to fit an exhibition’s size requirements, but haven’t yet targeted projects to specific calls-for-exhibition.

Self Study #4:  The one for T, Exhibited at QuiltCon 2015

Exhibiting has been a nice way to meet artists and curators around the country and learn from them. It’s humbling to put one’s work into different contexts to see if the self-expression is effective. It’s been transformative.

::DESIGN:: Thinking about your quilting style, is it important to you to do original, somewhat unique work or are you just as happy working in classic or popular styles of patchwork?  What excites you most in the design process?

I prefer to do my own designs, though I love to study traditional and historical quilts. Some of my quilts are twists and variations on traditional themes, while others are artistic “minimalist outbursts” inspired by current events.


Practicing traditional techniques provides the skills to work in an expressive frenzy and yet still produce artwork that is of sound construction. The two genres are hand-in-hand for me. Learning new skills and figuring out new ways to play are the two exciting bits of the process. I make lots of small “swatches” of ideas and new-to-me techniques and those are often more fun than making the full-sized quilts they inspire. In the familiar dichotomy, I am a Process-maker rather than a Product-maker. Process is everything.

::YOUR STYLE:: Please share a quilt that is a favorite, as far as expressing your quilt style.  What about it represents you or excites you most?

Snuggleshott. Working under constraints can make one more creative in designing. I’d been given a charm pack and some fat-eighths of Oakshott’s iridescent shot cotton in their 60+ colors. I wanted somehow to use ALL the colors in an improvisational way that wasn’t too riotous but still showed the blends of color. How do you exert order among a bright mess?

I think the precision-sewn hourglasses help the eye rest amidst the cacophony but also take the eye on a journey around the quilt. Plus, in person, the colors shimmer due to the way the fabrics are woven.

::SCRAPS::  At times you have been an avid fabric scrap user, with scraps inspiring or driving your work. Is this a significant influence on your current work?

I definitely prefer scrappy quilting because it connects back to the quilts my great-grandmother made and the make-do approach to life. Because I mainly use solids these days, I don’t really generate my own “scraps.” There’s still a scrappy feel to it because I am using smaller pieces in my patchwork, however, and small bits from one quilt feed right into the next one. So…I guess I’m still scrappy? Just in a different way.

::TOOLS::  What sewing machine do you use for piecing and for quilting?  Are you happy with it?  Do you do most of your own quilting?   What thread do you use most often and why?

I use a Juki TL-2010Q, an industrial straight-stitch machine and I love it. It’s not for everyone but it’s perfect for the rough and constant usage it gets in my studio.

Yep, I do most of my quilting, though I prefer hand quilting. As for thread: I use any cotton thread that is readily at hand.

Thanks so much, Chawne, for gifting us your time for this interview.  I'm so glad you've remained part of the conversation through your blog and through Instagram.  I look forward to continuing to hear from you!  If you haven't yet, do go explore, reflect and be inspired at Completely Cauchy.


  1. Great questions. Great answers. Fabulous work. So glad to know Chawne and be inspired by her work and her words.

  2. Rosemary B here:
    Wow! beautiful quilts here.
    I love the George quilt
    and the Bright Mess quilt too,
    Chawne is very expressive.
    Thank you Rachel for sharing her and her cool blog with us.

  3. Fanfuckingtastic. I am blown away and love it! Thank you.

  4. Wonderful interview and inspiration.

  5. Fabulous your work, Chawne!!!


Related Posts with Thumbnails