To Reply, or Not to Reply? Blogging Buzz

I guess the first thing to get out of the way is to ask one of the big questions:

Question1

No, that’s not it.

The big question is: why do you blog?

And if you are like most of the blogs I see in Blogland, the answer falls into these categories:

  • making a living at quilting
  • want to make a living at quilting
  • will never make a living, but still have hope
  • pleasure of sharing my quilts
  • love to write and would write about making tires, if necessary

And then the next question:

Another question

Wrong.

Here it is: What do you expect of the people who visit your blog?

Should they leave a comment? Visit only? Not steal your content (it happens)? Not copy your ideas without attribution (it happens)?  Which leads us to the really big question:

JosephCampbellBigQuestion(from *here*)

When I first started my blogging adventure, in September 2006, I didn’t even enable comments, coming as I was from the “pure” experience of a Creative Writing degree where it was always expected that you would write from within yourself.  Soon after that, the digital world exploded and during grad school a few years later, even though we were still yearning for that isolated writing experience, the reality of the market now loomed large, and we had classes on marketing, selling your novel, pitching stories, being aware of What’s Out There.

And that now is the world in which we quilt bloggers find ourselves, I think, which means that the pure excitement of sharing our quilts, our ideas and just chatting up the room seems to be slowly sinking into the swamp of Making Connections, Pitching My Stuff, Pick Me! Pick Me!, and so on.  I think I participate in all of everything, as do most of us.  But I was quite struck by the thoughts on Carrie Nelson’s blog, LaVieEnRosie, about how so much of blogging has become about advertising.  Carrie is one of my heroes in the way she blogs truthfully about her life, so I really perked up when she next said:

With blogs, I’m also betwixt and between about responding to comments.  I feel horribly – terribly! – guilty when I don’t answer each and every comment with an e-mail but since I can’t bring myself to send just a quick “thank you for commenting” – I think we all know I’m a bit chattier than that – do I answer just some?  And if I don’t get to it right away, is it awful to respond a week or ten days later?  That might be worse than not answering it at all.  So I stick my head in the sand and hope the e-mails answer themselves.

Sometimes I think that comments are just comments–not requiring a reply.  When I leave a comment like “Great quilt!” I don’t really expect a reply at all.  But other times I’ve been pleasantly surprised when a reply has come, and over time it has deepened to a correspondence of some sort.  However (and she peers over the top of glasses), I know several bloggers who feel so swamped by their own success, of the imperative to thank everyone who comes by, that they withdraw from blogland, retreating back to their studios to Make Stuff, which is — if you think about it — the main reason to have a blog.  And I also cringe a little when I happen on a blog where they cheerfully say “I want to grow my blog!” as we are expected to carry away a task from that honest goal, and as I slink away I feel guilty, because certainly one of the true pleasures of blogging is building a community of like-minded folks.

So, does this strange cultural custom of expected replies to comments enhance your appreciation for a blog?  Do you leave comments regardless of whether the blogger will answer you back? And if you blog yourself, do you feel compelled (and I chose that word purposefully) to answer back all your commenters?

Do Tell.

Ginger’s Quilt Shoppe

Ginger’s Quilt Shoppe is about 30 minutes from my house, and that’s the place I went to when I was agonizing over what to put in Scrappy Stars to finish it off.  While I love online shopping, there’s nothing like a brick-and-mortar shop.  The address is 1120 Dewey Way, Suite B in Upland California.

The phone number is on the door, and the place is well-marked.

The first order of business was to get a bunch of bolts of fabric to try out my stars.  The lady who helped me was VERY cheerful about this, and made the final suggestion:

I loved the linen look of this fabric and was really happy with it.  After we settled on that, I picked a couple of more fabrics “for the stash,” then got her permission to roam around the shop and take photos for this blog.  As you can see, they have a lot of batiks, a well-stocked notion and pattern section, cute decor and a big room with a long-arm.  I haven’t been there enough to know the ins and outs of the shop, but my friend Tracy is a fan, and if she’s a fan–it’s a good place.  And interestingly enough, when I went to Utah to see my mom and went to her local quilt shop, one of the women who worked there, knew of Ginger’s and went on and on about it.  I’ll need to return–and soon!  (We do have a Quilter’s Run/Shop Hop coming up this summer.)

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Sewing Up A Storm (or a maybe a Breeze)

So why lead with this picture?

Usually I put up a quilt (keep scrolling, they’re coming!), so you quilters all go ga-ga and quickly pin it into a file or a pinboard, and because, mainly, I try to keep this site aligned along quilt lines.  But this is a prelude to explain what I did this weekend.  That is a photo of my daughter and I, and now she has a little girl–actually two.  But once upon a time, before puberty hit and all you-know-what broke loose, I used to sew us matching clothes.  This was a summer outfit: Laura Ashley jumper and blouse for me, sweet little ruffly pinafore with eyelet slip (and a blouse) for her.  I was a Clothing and Textiles major in college and sewed clothing before I could sew quilts, but have done them in tandem since I was young mother, like many in the blogosphere.

I haven’t sewn a lot lately, but last week on the way home from school I stopped *here* and bought this:

It’s some of the Riverwoods Colletion by Karen Combs, which looks batiky, but isn’t.  I bought extra of the one on top (who wouldn’t?) yet realized that it would make a wonderful summery skirt.

I got out my roll of Zyrtec examining-room-table paper, given me by a former rep for a drug company, as it is perfect for clothes patterns (ask your doctor for some!), and got to work duplicating a pattern of a favorite skirt.  Why, even though I have that pattern sitting there for a prop in the photo?  Because the skirt I like is cut on the bias, with a comfortable waist and the right amount of ease.

I wore it to school today.  And while you can’t see them, I have blue toes to match (that took six rounds of trying different blue nail polish).

And since I’m headed into making another skirt (Oooh–we wanted the Scrappy Stars!  Nope.  Not today), I thought I’d show you what some of my quilting friends are doing.

Bert Garino, who is the creator of the In Perfect Harmony quilt, flashed this picture up on Facebook one day.  Wow.  I was totally blown away (reference back to storm in the title of this post) by the colors she used.  Okay how many of you have made a quilt using the Storm at Sea block?  Okay.  And how many of you used sea and storm colors?  Yep.  Just as I thought.

It would take a woman of Bert’s vision to turn this quilt into a total stunner by using such delicious jewel tones in her quilt, and avoiding those aquatic sea-colored tones the rest of us use. So I wrote to her and she sent me some more pictures, including the label, as she is one of those wonderful women who makes stunning quilts and gives them away:

Thanks, Bert, for sharing these.

Lisa stopped by last night to show me her watermelon table runner, for which she’d borrowed my triangle ruler to fit the end pieces together.

She also has been busy with EPP, too:

Lisa’s daughter is in band — if you have ever had a band kid, you know what we’re talking about — but in case you haven’t, that involves sitting around a lot, waiting waiting waiting.  She said she would have gone nuts had it not been for piecing together her rose blocks.

My friend Judy went to visit her sister in Utah, and that sister and her daughter were working on the above quilt.  At first you can’t quite tell what’s going on, but then your eye begins to believe that you’re seeing hexagons everywhere.

And then you see that it’s a triangle–kind of a kaleidoscope/StackNWhack sort of enterprise that is happening here.

But instead of that awful (sorry, but it’s awful) dresden-plate looking affair with the stacked-n-whacked medallion plopped down into a sea of plain blah (like the one to the left–in the old-style way it is usually made) this quilt is sheer brilliance for how those pieces interact with each other.

The niece’s name is Lisa DeLong and her website is wholegrainart.com.  And maybe she has hexagons on her mind because she just entered a fairly prestigious worldwide art competition and was accepted, and her piece of art is based on hexagons:

Prayer Circles • Elise DeLong • Handmade watercolor and ink on paper

And last but never the least, is Elinor Peace Bailey, the dollmaker of quite-a-bit-of-reknown.  You know her daughter, Laura Gunn, as the woman who brings us that beautiful painterly fabric which we all love.  Elinor has been making dolls and dolls and dolls but her creativity just leaks out of her in boundless ways.  I was entranced with her recent bag, and asked if I could show it on the blog.

She said Yes, as along as I mentioned her upcoming hand-made journal-making retreat in July.  Here’s the flier:

Maybe since I put up the flier, she’ll let me show you a doll.

Title: Sweet Harper and the Clown.

I’ve always been in love with Elinor’s dolls–and certainly Elinor herself.  She’s actually my sister’s friend, and once gave me some very good advice when I was going through a divorce.  Elinor can cut right through the mustard on any topic you want, and I needed some mustard-cutting at that time.  Every time I think a clean, fresh modern look is for me, I haunt her blog and come away convinced that More is More and that I’d better go out buy some buttons and bric-a-brac or something and embellish a suface.  Seek her out and take a class from her; an experience of a lifetime!

Copyright Loose Threads

This is my final post on copyright, hopefully.  But it comes because not only did Ms. Spain put up another post on her blog, the New York Times ran an interesting editorial on stealing, which, in discussing the charges against Megaupload, a music file-sharing site, started out with this thought:

From its earliest days, the crime of theft has been understood to involve the misappropriation of things real and tangible.

From there the Times article notes that:

When Industrial Age Bob and Joe started inventing less tangible things, like electricity, stocks, bonds and licenses, however, things got more complicated. What Bob took, Joe, in some sense, still had. So the law adjusted in ad hoc and at times inconsistent ways. Specialized doctrines were developed to cover the misappropriation of services (like a ride on a train), semi-tangibles (like the gas for streetlights) and true intangibles (like business goodwill). . . . In 1962, the prestigious American Law Institute issued the Model Penal Code, resulting in the confused state of theft law we’re still dealing with today.  In a radical departure from prior law, the code defined “property” to refer to “anything of value.” Henceforth, it would no longer matter whether the property misappropriated was tangible or intangible, real or personal, a good or a service. All of these things were now to be treated uniformly.

The article goes on to discuss illegal music file-sharing, but it turns out that most don’t see this as stealing: “lay observers draw a sharp moral distinction between file sharing and genuine theft, even when the value of the property is the same.”

But the bit that jumped out at me was this line:

People who work hard to produce creative works are entitled to enjoy legal protection to reap the benefits of their labors. And if others want to enjoy those creative works, it’s reasonable to make them pay for the privilege.

So, if you sell me some fabric, haven’t I paid for that privilege?

In True Up’s post, titled “Fabric and the Man,” written some time ago, she notes that the use of licensed fabric cannot be restricted after its sale, pointing to a website of Tabberone, who discusses this at great length.  I was also referred to this website by a comment left here by dmdezigns and her view is that:

Once a fabric has been sold, the copyright holder can’t control what’s done with it.  You can resell it, make something with it, sell what you made, etc and they don’t have any control over it.

Which brings me to the picture at the top of the post.  It was sent to me by my friend Rhonda, who has been following the copyright muddle. We wondered if greed, or commerce, or as my Dad would say, The Almighty Buck, is the motivating force behind all of this.  We in the quilt world have enjoyed a pleasant sort of comradery thus far with sharing being the operative word.  Perhaps in the new attempt to get at a slice of the Quilt Commerce Pie, we’ve brought this on ourselves, as many commenters expressed their frustration with people selling quilt patterns of blocks that have been around since forever, yet claiming original design.  Ms. Spain, in her latest blog on this subject tries to smooth over everything by extending an olive branch to Emily Cier, sort of saying “no hard feelings, eh?”

Except this last weekend, as I was working on a scrappy quilt I pulled a range of favorite fabrics from my shelf to cut up into strips.  But I paused when it came to Kate Spain’s fabric.  I thought about all that I’d read over the last couple of weeks, paused, and put it back up in the closet.  I don’t know if my reaction parallels any of yours, but I’m much less inclined to use her fabric now.  Or buy it.

An unfortunate, unintended consequence.

Comments, Blogger, Frustration

For some reason, Blogger has been playing with me.  Not my blogger–YOUR Blogger.

Which means that I’ve not been able to leave comments unless someone had enabled the new blogger (a confusing mess if there ever was one) so that the new format for comments showed up.  I am an avid commenter when I’m not grading (which is what I should be doing now, but hey–it’s lunchtime and I’m taking a break).  But for about the past two weeks, I can’t leave comments.  So I tried to switch to a different gmail, thinking maybe Google had it out for my old one.

Surprise!  They’d deleted my alternate gmail address.  Just because they can.  And no, you can’t have it back.  Not even if you click through at least 25 very unhelpful screens trying to figure out why, but getting the same message over and over and over:

Give It Up.  We Rule the World. You Can’t Have Back Your Other Email. Now Go Away.

Sigh.  So I set up another email to match the web name on this blog, and tried to comment.

Nope.

I have to set up a BLOG in order to comment.  It’s not enough to have a gmail address–YOU HAVE TO HAVE A BLOG.  I already have a blog.  Like I have about nine blogs.  Like I love the digital world except for when I hate it.  Which is about now.

But remembering that Google rules the world (which is why when I have to search for a sensitive topic, like why mothers-in-law are the most hated people on the planet, or should I hand piece or machine piece, I go to a new favorite: duckduckgo.com which has a no-tracking policy. You’re welcome.), I knuckle under to their incessant demands that I set up another blog, which if I do all my stuff right should mirror over to this site. And so far, it does.

So if you see a new name on your comments, say like opquilt.com, with the above Gravatar picture, it’s me.  Elizabeth E.  The one and the same.

And now maybe I can stop banging my head against the wall, and finish up grading those student essays.

Quilting Valentine Quilt

I listened to the Florida Primary Vote returns as I pinned this quilt together for quilting, my WIP for this week.  I have two other quilts that bring up elections when I look at them.

The first is a For-Snuggle-Only flannel quilt (no name on this one), that I tied together on my living room floor while watching the national returns come in from the Bush-Kerry election in 2004, when I lived in Washington DC.  My husband is an avid watcher of the political landscape; I’m more of the I’ll-always-vote-but-wake-me-when-it’s-over type.  But the political spectacle can be interesting to listen to while quilting, my hands busy while the politicians’ mouths are a-going.

The second quilt is this that I began in a Judy Hooworth class, titled D.C. Dots & Dithers.  The political game is always on when you live in Washington, D.C. and I wanted a quilt to contain my memories of living there.

I scanned in my Inauguration Ticket, then printed it out for the top of my label.  Underneath you find. . .

. . . a description of the quilt, and my thoughts on it all.  I used an already-started quilt top, quilted it, then added the labels — and the meaning — as I worked.  Back to the Valentine’s Quilt: I began by stitching in the ditch around all the squares so I could get rid of the pins.  Trying to decide how to quilt is always a hard thing for me.  I scanned through blogs, my Road to California photos, trying to look for ideas.

I drew up a pattern in my quilting notebook (in the turquoise) and began.

A pause in the action for a beautiful sunset, and dinner (husband was at a business dinner), then when I came back up I looked again at the quilting I’d started.  Ugh.  Not for me, so I started unpicking the first part I’d started.  It may have been the thread (I was using a fine thread) or the too-busy nature of the circles, but it had to go.

So now I have two messes Works In Progress: one on the quilt, and one here, at my cutting table.  I’m off to school this morning, and will think about it all when I return.

Thanks to Lee of Freshly Pieced Fabrics for hosting us all on this WIP Wednesday.  While I’m linking back to her blog, you really ought to look at her good news of this week: one of her quilts hit print!  Congrats!

New address for this blog: http://www.opquilt.com, a birthday gift from my son.  Thanks, Peter!  No need to change address books–this new address refers over to this site but is easier to type; both addresses work.

Quilt Night for November 2011

Quilt Night was over at Jean’s house this month.  And guess what?  It was just Jean and I there–we chatted and visited, talked about how we met our husbands (we’re both in second marriages), our grown kids, pets, recipes, and of course, quilts.

But first, check out this beautiful spread of treats: caramel brownies, vegetables and dip, fruits (including some awesome fresh raspberries), salsa and Halloween chips in black and orange.  I must admit the brownies and the raspberries held my fascination.

Jean went first for show and tell.  She’d finished the quilt she had been working on at October’s Quilt Night, and was now sewing on the binding.  It is a stunner.

I couldn’t get a very good picture of it, but you can sort of see the beauty and complexity of her work.  She owns a long-arm, so she’d quilted it herself as well.  Jean’s a Renaissance woman!

Then we got to talking about combined fall/Halloween quilts.  She pulled this one from her table in front of her TV — one side is a beautiful fall fabric and the other side are these cute log-cabin-style pumpkins.  We also talked about the ebb and flow of Quilt Nights.  Sometimes after a big bash, we go small again, like tonight.  I was so ready for Quilt Night–it had been a long week and I needed to get out and go.

Finally, after working all evening, I have something to show: the Halloween House quilt was quilted.  I trimmed it up and sewed on most of the binding, but when it got to the end and I wanted to try to join the binding fancy-style, my brain gave out, so I gathered up and went home (with a few brownies for Dave).

I’m so glad I went and so glad Jean and I got a chance to chat and sew together.  Really, whether it’s two or twenty, isn’t that what getting together as quilters is all about?  Thanks, Jean!

Bloggers Quilt Festival-Fall 2011

All is Safely Gathered In
Original Design

When I was a young mother I moaned to MY mother about how I never got anything done.  The laundry always piled up;  sometimes as quickly I as I could move it from the dryer, fold it and put it in the drawers, it would be used, dirtied and find its way back to the blue plastic mesh basket in front of the washer.  Meals were a never-ending story, the bathrooms always needed to be cleaned, the floor rarely seemed to be free of crumbs or sticky places.  I began quilting because I wanted a something for my bed, however I soon saw the advantage of quilting.

It stayed done.

I didn’t have to resew a seam as it didn’t unpick itself in the night.  The patches would still be there, done, when I was ready to assemble them into a quilt.  And then somewhere this stitching and patching and quilting took a turn and became my art, my way of expressing creativity.

I think I moaned to mother for years and years. Then the children grew up, the bathrooms needed cleaning only once a week, then the children left.   The dust and dirt of housework and I have made our peace with each other, leaving lots of room around my job as am adjunct college professor (English) to happily spend time cutting and sewing and creating quilts.

So, today, here is All Is Safely Gathered In, a quilt about sowing and harvesting.  I began this three years ago, trying to work with an original block I’d drafted–simple in design but it carried a nice big punch with those new large-scale prints that we were all investigating.

When I was casting about for a name, I talked it over with my husband.  How about something about harvest? he asked, and the phrase from a favorite hymn jumped right out at me.  When I was that young overwhelmed mother, I could think of nothing more satisfying than walking around the house at night, the last child in bed, the open book fallen to the floor, the night-light casting its golden glow on the cheeks and hair of these children who kept me so busy during the day.  I fell in love with them all over again, storing up these feelings of satisfaction every night against the onslaught of the day.  And now, many many years later those children walk their houses at night, picking up the books, bending over to plant a kiss on their children’s soft cheeks.

I sowed children and stitches and tasks uncompleted and time and more time and I am now reaping grandchildren and quilts and houses that don’t get quite as dirty.  While I’m not done, I feel like I have some sense of the law of the harvest.  And it is immensely satisfying, I must say.

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Many thanks to Amy for hosting the Bloggers Quilt Festival!