Meet McKenna Ryan


McKenna’s beautiful designs have captured the imaginations of quilters for almost two decades. Her unique ability to create exquisite, one-of-a-kind art pieces stems from a love of nature that began as a child in Michigan, and later blossomed in Montana and the Pacific Northwest.
McKenna began her business, Pine Needles, in Montana after leaving a corporate career in Boston. On the outskirts of Glacier National Park, she produced her very first “brown-bag” patterns, which were unprecedented at International Quilt Market in 1995. At first a hand-applique artist, she took to fusible applique in order to achieve more intricate details while keeping the process simple. Her initial portfolio of patterns reflected not only the majesty of her environment, but her whimsical point of view, becoming instant classics in the marketplace, and establishing her as a pioneer in the art quilt movement.
From lively salmon to pristine mountain ridges, from clothesline kittens to barnyard cohorts, McKenna draws creativity from her natural surroundings. Her use of sophisticated color palettes and textures has inspired many innovative fabric lines in partnership with Hoffman California Fabrics. Her extensive line of signature ombre fabrics, which have been used in several of her most recent designs (Wind in the Whiskers, Dog Park, and From the Coast, With Love), illustrate McKenna’s wonderful sense of color. Often, McKenna will cut in the center of a yard to find the exact piece that will have just the right effect in the overall composition of her quilt.
It is this innate design sense and attention to detail that sets her quilts apart. She approaches each new project openly, and allows the composition to take shape gradually, as part of an organic process.
mckenna_ryan1]“When I can connect to the creative process as a part of Creation itself and let my work fulfill a higher purpose, then I am always pleased when the process is complete. It is not so much that I have created a new design, but participated in it. The better I become at trusting this process, the more I am able to access a certain grace that is inherent in the process. This grace or connection is what I believe makes art come to life. And I believe all great art is alive.”
Currently located in Portland, Oregon, McKenna continues to weave her story in the great Northwest. This month marks the opening of her new showroom to the public by appointment, and a host of many exciting announcements to come. The ease and fun of her patterns have inspired and delighted quilters the world over. It is only fitting that her company’s tag line, “Simply Beautiful, Beautifully Simple” should reflect the spirit of her artistic message.

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