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Local quilter appears in national show: fiber revolution rolls on

TRR photo by Fritz Mayer Litchman has another design in the works.

By Fritz Mayer
March 8, 2012

YOUNGSVILLE, NY — In about 1988, Katharina Litchman was working in the Swiss bank UBS in Manhattan when a colleague showed her a picture of his wife’s quilting work. She thought the work was gorgeous. “I ran out—there was a quilt shop on the Upper East Side—and bought fabric and made my first quilt.”

Shortly thereafter, Katharina and her husband Ron bought their home near Youngsville, and Katharina’s quilt-making took off; she made many quilts for friends, family and customers. But during that period she was making traditional quilts.

She said, “I was working with traditional shapes, squares and triangles with traditional patterns and colors. Then I took a class with a teacher called Nancy Crow; she is an unbelievable sort of revolutionary in this whole fiber art movement.”

That was in 2003 in a program called “Quilting by the Lake” in Auburn, where she created her first contemporary art quilt, called “Liberation.”

Katharina said, “I called it ‘Liberation’ because you just stood there and you did it. In the traditional model, you knew exactly what you had to do, but in this case you put strips together and you put them up there and you made a composition.”

She said the more contemporary designs appealed to her. “Shortly after that I had a showing at the Blue Victorian, and that quilt was a huge success. I was just not willing to sell it at the time.”

Now, the quilts on her website ( are divided into five categories: abstract, Amish inspired, buildings, fauna and flora and small works.

Of the Amish-inspired work, she said, “Most of them are made of hand-dyed fabric, not commercial; hand-dyed fabrics have a different quality.” She said last year she also started dying her own fabrics.

This year, one of her contemporary quilts of a cat called Mufasa is on display at the American Quilting Society’s show and contest from March 14 to 17 (one of four shows the national organization produces each year) at the Lancaster County Convention Center, Three East Vine St., in Lancaster, PA.

She also belongs to a group called Fiber Revolution, which will have a show at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance in Narrowsburg in July.

Katharina is also a member of the local Calico Geese group, and was installed into the Catskill Mountain Quilters’ Hall of Fame last year. She was the first art quilter admitted to that traditional organization.