I’ve been so saddened in recent days by the sudden death of Kathreen Ricketson, founder of WhipUp. If you haven’t heard what happened, here is the news story. Kathreen was a mother, a crafter, a leader in the online craft world. She was a forward thinker, a collaborator, and a unique voice. If you want to hear her voice I recommend listening to this interview she did several years ago with Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of the CraftSanity podcast.
I didn’t know Kathreen personally, but I followed her work for years. I read the blog that preceded WhipUp, Redcurrent, and I remember the day WhipUp launched in 2006. I contributed to one of her books, was featured in one of her calendar’s, and wrote several posts on WhipUp over the years. I read and learned from her and appreciated the way she appreciated craft.
It’s been difficult to know what to say about Kathreen’s death, but I feel compelled to say something here. Kay and Ann over at Mason-Dixon Knitting suggested that in order to remember Kathreen we look back through WhipUp to find posts that spoke to us. This felt like the right approach, for me to honor Kathreen’s memory in my own way.
Kathreen said she chose the name WhipUp for her site because it means:
to prepare quickly. to create. to manufacture. to build. to invent. to conceive. to push.to upset. to incite. to provoke. to excite.
In just these few words Kathreen expressed what I admired most about her: her leadership. She wasn’t afraid to say what she believed, even when it wasn’t popular. She wasn’t afraid to upset or incite or provoke. The post that stands out most to me from WhipUp was one she wrote in the aftermath of a really controversial guest post entitled Give a F*ck by quilter Chawne (Edited October 17, 2018: this post has now been deleted). More than 100 critical comments came pouring in about the offensive words Chawne stitches into her quilts. Comments such as:
“This is the most offensive quilting post I have ever witnessed. I am deleting my whipup link because you would even consider posting such an article.”
Many people would have balked at this feedback, doubted their decision to publish images of these quilts, and taken the post down. Kathreen wrote something so brave and so admirable in response, I’ve never forgotten it.
“WhipUp has always shown and will continue to show art and craft in all
its configurations – that includes the nice and safe and the raw and
real…I featured her work on WhipUp for precisely those reasons and will
continue to feature artists and makers whose work is real and raw, as
well as the nice and practical and the thoughtful and artistic, just as I
have done since WhipUp first launched over 6 years ago.”
“Many readers were down on WhipUp for posting this and some even
suggested that I remove the post as they found it ‘offensive’ and
‘disgusting’’…of course I won’t be removing the post, and I
will continue to defend and showcase a wide variety of crafts here at
whipup, just as it is your right not to read this website if you choose.”
In my life, both professionally and personally, I endeavor to stand up and say what I see as the truth. When I read those words I knew that Kathreen was a true leader. She stood by her beliefs. She had a clear vision of how things should be. She was someone to be admired. She was unafraid. Although I never met her, I miss her dearly. To you, Kathreen.