So, now that QuiltCon is here I finally get to share this quilt. It’s already been out on the social media places, but I wanted to reserve this spot for a bit more than the snappy snap…


Martha is actually the first quilt for my book; in fact it was the only quilt I had in mind when I pitched the book, and in many ways exemplifies what the book is all about. Oh, and in reality its title is In Defense of Handmade, and it is a healthy 88″ square. I can’t talk too much about that at the moment, but I do want to share a couple of things here:

First off, I just wanted to share the brief statement that goes with the quilt for QuiltCon (a very truncated version of the mini essay that is in the book):

In defense of Handmade is a large-scale reproduction of the UPC code for a mass-produced Martha Stewart quilt sold at Macy’s. Using the UPC code of a mass-produced quilt as a starting point, this quilt takes the point of sale as a point of inspiration. The ubiquitous bar code becomes a place for color and play, for injecting individuality and personality in lieu of the homogeneity of the factory-made. The rigid perfection of the bar code stripes gives way to the subtle variation of the handicraft, reflecting the texture of a lived life rather than a simple purchase.

Secondly, Lisa Sipes is freakin’ amazing. Not only is the quilting gorgeous, please not that it never goes over a millimeter of the prints. Yep, that’s an insane quantity of tying off. Some of those white strips in the barcode are just a half-inch. Yep, crazy-ass awesome. It took Lisa two weeks to do this quilt, but every small decision is just exactly right. I love her skills and her eye, but more than anything I love my quilt-wife’s brain. She just thinks about the quilting in such truly insightful ways. I am a lucky, lucky man.


So, in brief, that is Martha, one of the many insane quilts Lisa and I have done together thus far and will continue to do. Lucky for me she has done/is doing all of the quilts for my book. Can’t wait for Martha to come out in the book along with the rest of the quilt.

Oh crap, the book!!! Manuscript due in 21 days!!!

Yay quilts!!!


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35 Responses to Martha…

  1. 1
    Barbie K In NC says:

    Inspiring. Insanely fascinating, EPIC!

  2. 2
    Colleen says:

    Ive been wondering about this quilt and I love it! Only other handmade enthusiasts/quilters really understand. Amazing. I cant wait to see your book.

  3. 3
    Skye says:

    Stunning work by both of you & I *love* that you took this stand. In such a beautiful way.
    I am looking forward to your book.

  4. 4

    WOW, THIS IS EVER SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE SNIPPET FROM FB!!!!! IT IS simply FANTASTIC…… I thought is was cool yesterday, but to see the whole thing and the story behind it, (I admit I was a tad confused and intrigued about the little pic I saw yesterday, but today…….. IT’s FANTASTIC!!!!!!! (and I am no longer confused, I knew there was a reason for your madness of all those tiny bits of random color!!) It’s GORGEOUS and beautifully quilted by Lisa. I cannot wait to see the other quilts and own the book. Great job, Thomas!! Now hurry up and lecture, so you can get to writing the book….we want it!!!!

  5. 5
    Lisa says:

    I’m not sure I can write in words here what I said out loud when I saw this, but this is just amazing. Cannot wait for the book.

  6. 6
    Joanne Jones says:

    This is completely awesome! Clearly a team to be reckoned with.

  7. 7
    Michelle says:

    Obsessed. Stalking your book!

  8. 8
    Paula Prass says:

    So absolutely amazing. I just keep staring. A perfect teaser for your upcoming book. xoxo

  9. 9
    Maggie Magee says:

    This is a wonderful quilt!

  10. 10
    jill says:

    Awesome quilt. Can’t wait to see the book – love the fact that there will be essays (I was hoping both essays and quilts would be in your book, frankly). yay essays!

  11. 11
    Emily says:

    This is fantastic! And that quilting… whoa!

  12. 12
    Jill says:

    Fabulous work! It’s not only beautiful work, but the message is spot on!

  13. 13
    Ralitza says:

    It is lovely! I saw lots of pictures of the upper part and was not sure whether it is a stripes play or something else. Bar code makes it perfect and the starting point is so good too. You are both lucky to work together.

  14. 14
    kate says:

    What is the connection to Martha Stewart? Did you say that she’s going to be selling this as part of her Macy’s quilts, or am I daft?

  15. 15
    monaluna says:

    Hey Thomas – just wanted to tell you that I think this quilt is so freaking brilliant! Loved your lecture at QuiltCon, enjoyed meeting you briefly in the hallway, and am looking forward to more of your work.

  16. 16

    Absolutely brilliant, in so many ways!

  17. 17
    Hilary says:

    I am so happy that I got to see this thing in person at Quiltcon! It is absolutely amazing, and I love the message behind it.

  18. 18

    This quilt spoke to me in a very personal way, considering that they keynote of QuiltCon was FOR the mass-production of quilts for sale.
    I really enjoyed seeing it in person and also shared it on my blog along with other wonderful QuiltCon pics and Lisa’s excellent work. Thanks to both of you for producing such a quality piece!

  19. 19

    I’m feeling a little slow: I only just now realized you two were married! I’ve been following Lisa through her blog and the Gammill forum, and had signed up for her MQX classes months ago, but just hadn’t put the two together.

  20. 20
    isabel says:

    Another great quilt. Can’t wait for your book.

  21. 21
    Casey says:

    My one regret from Quilt Con is that I didn’t tell you how much I love this quilt, both aesthetically and conceptually. The fact that it reproduces an actual barcode is the icing on the cake. Would it be ok for me to mention it on my blog?

    • 21.1
      thomas says:

      Feel free… And yay. And I hardly got to really talk much with anyone. Was pulled all over the place and was essentially broken by dinner time each day…

  22. 22

    […] of mass production and the depersonalization of our relationships with the things that surround us. According to Thomas, the quilt reproduces an actual barcode found on a mass-produced Martha Stewart branded quilt, […]

  23. 23

    […] Thomas Knauer (Utica, New York) tells about his quilt, In Defense of Handmade. […]

  24. 24
    Lesley says:

    I really enjoyed your comments on your In Defense of HOmemade quilt. When I first got interested in quilting my Mother bought me a “handmade” quilt from T.J.Maxx. I felt it was just wrong and asked her to return it-basically for all the reasons you stated. I am also really enjoying your blog and all the thought you put into talking about quilts. Thank you

  25. 25

    […] In Defense of Handmade by Thomas Knauer […]

  26. 26

    […] wrapping ourselves up in objects that speak to others and ourselves. One of my QuiltCon quilts—In Defense of Handmade—was made for the book. I wish I could go into greater detail, but that’s going to have to wait […]

  27. 27

    […] monochromatic nature of it. I wrestled with what to do for awhile, and then the Thomas Knauer quilt Martha came into my […]

  28. 28

    […] likely not totally unique.  Then there are new designs because they didn’t exist before, this bar code quilt by Thomas Knauer, which I understand.  And I love how it came to be.  Read his blog post about […]

  29. 29
    Linda Card says:

    This is so clever and the quilting is just fabulous.

  30. 30

    Absolutely fantastic quilt! Just stumbled onto this now, but remains a fantastic statement as well as a beautiful piece of art! And the UPC code is readable and takes me to the quilt! Wow!

    You should be very proud of the work that the two of you did (and do)… if only my spouse were a little bit like you, I’d be a happy woman!!

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