“Thread Maven” Sue Ferguson to host virtual lecture for Art Center of the Bluegrass

Published 10:02 am Friday, August 14, 2020


News release

When you get Sue Ferguson talking about quilting, you know right away that you are in the presence of passion. Or maybe it’s the 29 finished quilts in her home that gives it away – or the dazzling array of quilting and embroidery threads, with skeins numbering in the thousands. 

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On Wednesday, Aug. 19, “Thread Maven” Sue Ferguson will share some of that passion with the public via an online presentation for the Art Center of the Bluegrass.

Due to rising COVID-19 cases in the region, the Art Center’s monthly Lunch with the Arts program is being conducted virtually, via Zoom meeting. Preregistration is required and can be completed on the Art Center’s website at www.artcenterky.org/lunch-with-the-arts.

Sue grew up in Buffalo, New York, where she was inspired at an early age by her Irish grandmother to put her hands to good work — knitting, crochet, and eventually sewing her own clothes. From her grandmother, Sue gathered many practical skills as well as cherished memories. 

During her junior year of high school, Sue disregarded her school counselor’s direction to take AP chemistry and scheduled an art class in its place. As Sue’s understanding of colors, textures, media, and proportion grew, so did her enthusiasm. She pursued a college degree in the arts, graduating with a BA in Art Education.

Unfortunately, in the mid-1970s many public schools managed fiscal challenges by minimizing art programming.

So, after about three years in the classroom, Sue explored numerous other career options including driving a forklift and working in fine dining management. The latter experience ultimately led to another undergraduate degree — bachelor of science/dietetics.

In the 1990s, Sue discovered knitting, as the timeless craft experienced a resurgence in popularity. She developed a fondness for creating beautiful sweaters – and a commitment to high-quality materials. 

Sue’s mantra became “good work merits good materials.” If you are going to spend a lot of time and energy on any quality project, it’s worth spending a lot for good materials.

It was during a period of habitation in Baton Rouge that Sue began to experiment with wool felting. After all, it was too hot for sweaters in Louisiana. 

She participated in the Baton Rouge Art Market selling slippers and purses. Six of Sue’s large felt pieces will soon be on display in a Lexington law office. She will have a variety of smaller pieces to display during her presentation, along with quilts and other projects.

From felting, Sue next discovered fine needlepoint embroidery. She worked for a needlepoint store in Baton Rouge for five years and never took home a paycheck, spending all her earnings on new materials. She actually owed the store owner $300 when she left! 

A number of Sue’s needlepoint pieces focus on the Mexican holiday Dia de Muertos.

Sue and her husband John settled in Danville in 2007 and she quickly found kindred spirits in a quilting group that met at the Boyle County Extension building. Sue currently serves as the Chair of the Boyle County Cooperative Extension District Board. 

In 2017, she initiated the Quilt Show hosted in conjunction with the Great American Brass Band Festival.

For her online presentation, Sue will share her history and experiences, while also showcasing a variety of her completed projects. This event is the perfect lunchtime escape for anyone who makes – or appreciates – quilts and other fiber art. One lucky participant will also win a trio of quilted penguins, created by Sue.