Quilter making waves: Northwood woman wins category in national competition

Published 9:00 pm Friday, May 12, 2023

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NORTHWOOD — Kyra Reps loves quilting. She is a teacher, a professional long-arm quilter and a quilting competitor.

And last month, Reps took first place with her quilt — Pathfinder — in her bed-sized, machine-quilted category — at a competition in Paducah, Kentucky.

And while she has won awards for her work before, this was her first time winning at the national competition in Paducah.

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“You probably could have heard me screaming two towns over,” the Northwood woman said after learning she won. “I actually have won a lot of places but never won at Paducah before, and to get first place in my category knowing what my competition is was huge.”

The event was run by the American Quilters Society, who puts on shows around the country. Their events draw people from across the world.

Because it’s a show, people can take classes or submit quilts to be either judged or not judged.

Since Reps is a competition quilter, her quilt was judged.

“It’s kind of a big deal to win that show because you do get your big crystal vase and your big ribbon with the flower on it,” she said.

For her, competitive quilting pushes her to become better, especially knowing that if she doesn’t win she’ll know what to work on.

But Pathfinder, mostly composed of Jinny Beyer cotton fabrics, was never meant to be so big, except she did after Reps got everything on the quilt she wanted.

“I think I ripped her apart God knows how many times redoing sections, but she went together kind of like a puzzle,” she said. “Everything on the top of it is hand-stitched.”

She was inspired because of her love for dots, mandalas and what she could do with circles.

In total, Pathfinder, 98 feet by 98 feet, took Reps three years and 189 hours of custom quilting to complete.

“She’s big, she’s king-size,” she said, noting the quilt came together similar to how puzzles were assembled.

She did not expect to see Pathfinder grow so large, but wanting to incorporate a black center, white and black on the outside, she realized it needed to be that large for viewers to experience happiness with the bright colors.

“The world these days is not so colorful,” she said. “… I hope when other people are at shows and they walk past her they smile.”

Reps’ family was also proud of her and the quilting company she runs, Quilting Tranquility, where she quilts for others.

Reps has competed for roughly five years, but she started quilting back in high school.

“I didn’t do a whole lot with that cause then I got married, started having kids,” she said. “In 2009 my middle son was diagnosed with leukemia, so I spent four years and 118 days in the hospital.”

Rather than look out the window, she started quilting again, where she started meeting a variety of different people. And eventually, a woman asked if Reps would finish her quilt.

For her, Reps loves cutting up fabric only to resew them, quilt them and make them “come back to life.”

She also encouraged anyone in need of having a quilt done to contact her at quiltingtranquility.com.

Pathfinder’s next stop is to the 2023 Minnesota Show in June.