Home Stretch: an Illusion

final inner corner

I finished up the quilting on the inner white field (background to the petal part) and thought–”Good!  I’m in the home stretch!”  Au contraire, mon ami.

narrow inner border

The next morning I got up and marked the swoopy quilting on the narrow inner border.  Yes, I’m pathetic enough that I feel like I want to mark every stitch.  At this point I’m watching millions of hours of longarm videos, as well as domestic machine (DM) quilting videos and everyone makes it look soooo smooth when they quilt.  I am really trying, but marking also just in case.  I stitch this and as I round the final bend, I realize that my stitching is more fluid and even that in the first foot or two of where I started.  I stop, unpick that section and re-stitch it.

crochet hook trick

Migrating threads can be taken care of by inserting a teensy crochet hook in between stitches in a seam, and pulling the thread out the side.  I’m successful at this about 70% of the time.  When I try this, I vow to study the quilts at the quilt shows a little harder.  Do they have this problem?  Do they worry about it?  I go back to studying longarm photos, seeing how even their stitches are, if they have wobblies.  They do, just fewer.  Is it fair to compare?  Not really, but I do it anyway.

quilting Colorwheel Blossom

I like it best when I can just go and go and the thread whooshes through and the machine hums and the TED Radio Talks are on in the background, not making me concentrate on anything.  I hate it the most when the thread breaks, or the bobbin runs out, or I bobble too much and feel like I need to unpick it and restitch it.

Quilting outer border

I take this photo before I go to bed that night and think “I’m done.” “Not so,” a little voice says.  Something’s just not right.

overlaying paper for ideas

I put that photo up on Instagram (IG) hoping for some feedback and the answer came back: the density of the quilting doesn’t match the inner field.  I knew that.  I just didn’t WANT to know that.  I overlay some transparent paper on the quilt and sketch in what’s been quilted, then try out some more bits and pieces.  I like the simplicity of the grid the best.

marking quilt again

More marking.

quilting done outer border

A ton more sewing.

colorwheel blossom beauty shot

And I finish.

Road Acceptance 2015

Somewhere in here I found about the acceptance of my quilts in the juried show of Road to California.  I’m dancing around on the bed, jumping around the house in complete and utter happiness.  For the last few years I’ve not gotten any quilt in and then to get all three??  I’m over the moon.

removing blue marker2

A very helpful Leslie, a quilter on Instagram, coaches me through the next step of getting out the blue marks.  I find a video on YouTube where the quilter uses a sponge and a cotton swab to get out the marks.  I follow her instructions.

removing blue marker

I’d done a teensy bit of grid right in the middle to tie into the outer border.

different between marked and not marked

As I take off the marks, I can’t believe how different (and better) the quilting looks!  I’m smiling as I swab. And then. . . of course.  I see all the areas where I’d missed stitching–there is one to the right of the vine in the photo above.

Colorwheel Blossom Drying on Bed

I checked my other expert I turn to for help: Linda of Flourishing Palms, and both she and Leslie suggested laying it out and putting a fan on it to let it dry.  So I put down my two cardboard cutting boards for a stiff surface, layered it with towels, then smoothed it out to dry.  Next up is finding and fixing all those missed sections of the quilt, and then the age-old question: how to bind this?  One of my quilty friends suggested a faced binding, and I’m leaning that way, for sure.

I’m pretty pleased with my work thus far, as I see it laying on the bed in the other room.  And I’ve really benefitted from a lot of encouragement from all of you here on the blog and in Instragramland.  But as I said to a friend today, why is it that I see all the mistakes?  And do I need to unpick them and re-stitch them?  I had the same experience with my Lollypop Trees quilt–and my uber-observant husband also found all the wobblies on that quilt (I’ve asked him to not do that again–one of me is bad enough!).  Leanne suggested living with it for a while before deciding, and after a couple of months, I didn’t notice the problems.  As much.

I’ve complimented others on their quilts and in return I get a litany of all the mistakes and the problems.  I don’t want — as Benjamin Franklin said — to look for the worm in the apple of my eye, nor do I want to see those flaws that others point out in their own work.  (BTW, my father always said the correct response when someone compliments you is”Thank you.”) So what is it about human nature that only sees the flaws?  Do you do this too?

All that being said, from the vantage point of the above photo, and my forays into the next room to check on the drying, I’m enjoying this quilt.  And happy to be at this (almost) home stretch.

 

Colorwheel Blossom in Progress

Colorwheel Blossom Quilt_in progress1

Because of all the wonderful and encouraging comments from last post, I kept going.  This is an in-progress update.  Inner blossoms quilted.  Inner background quilted.  Moving on today to small border, then final large border.

Making a quilty knot

Some asked about how I knot the threads to bury them.  When I begin stitching an area, I pull the bobbin thread up to the top, hang on to them and start stitching.  When I’m done, I need to deal with these threads. Before, I used to tie a square knot and then thread the tails through a self-threading needle and bury them.  There is a better way that I learned from Sue Rasmussen.

But first, there are two kinds of self-threading needles:

self-threading needle 1 self-threading needle 2The top kind, where you snap the thread into place, is a more reasonable cost, but occasionally it will shred your thread.  The side-threading needles retail for about seven dollars each (coming in a pack of three), but those who have them swear by them.  I did a search on “self-threading needle” on Google to find these.

But now I tie an overhand knot leaving the knot about a 1/4″ away from where I want to sink it into the quilt.  I grab the tails, put them in my self-threading needle, insert the tip of the needle where my threads originated and come out about 1″ away, pulling on the thread to pop in the knot.  If your knot is too far away, it will come loose.

Thank you again for all your encouraging comments.
Linking up to Lee’s Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday.

 

Don’t Let the Process Overtake the Purpose

Narrow Mountain cliffside road

So here’s a dream story. I was driving someone home on a cliffside road, maybe it was the side of a dormant volcano or something–things are awfully hard to pin down in dreams.  The road was carved into the side of a mountain and kept getting more and more narrow until I felt I had only about two wheels on the road, but somehow didn’t fall down the mountain.  I could see the village in the valley below, and the person in the front seat kept yakking on and on like there was nothing unusual, and I’m like, “Hey! There’s no road here!”

Leap of Faith Indiana Jones

And as only dreams can do, it suddenly got worse when a car was coming the other way and I’m like “Are you nuts?  I’m not pulling over. . . I’ll grind right into the mountain.” And the oncoming car got closer and closer and I was sure I was going to be killed–because it was a dream, and that’s how dream things go.

crusades1

I woke into that lucid dreaming sleep place, where you are half in and half out, and thought of that scene from Indiana Jones, where he had to take a step of faith, and then discovers that the land bridge is there, only he couldn’t see it.  I focused on that, trying to stop being so frightened about there being no road, when it suddenly dawned on me that this was all about The Quilt.  The one that has been done since MAY and the one that’s been hanging in the closet, as I was too frightened to start quilting it.  I just didn’t know how, didn’t know if I was up to it.  I had already purchased all the thread in two separate trips up to Utah’s Superior Threads, so it wasn’t like I didn’t have my supplies.

Colorwheel Blossom Quilt Top

I did this-and-that all morning, still avoiding The Quilt.  And at lunch I was reading the New York Times and found an interview with Janet Elkin, with the words from this post’s title: “Don’t let the process overtake the purpose.”  She went on to say that when she motivates her employees, instead of focusing on the negative, she says “Let’s talk about how we’re going to get better.  Let’s get started.”  I ripped out that article and went right upstairs and pinned it to my design wall where I could see it.  It was time to get started.

Quilting Ideas

When I’d taken my class this summer at San Diego, Sue Rasmussen, the teacher, recommended finding ideas even in clothing.  I had drawn up a small sketch of an idea some time ago, and in another “ah, ha” moment, recognized it as being from the skirt I was wearing that day.  So I pulled out that skirt, traced a quarter of my quilt onto tracing paper and started sketching some ideas in pencil, going over them in ink when I liked them.

Colorwheel Quilt_sketch

Although it took me a while to realize this, a lot of free-motion quilters use drawn shapes to help them get the quilting done, so I made some templates of repeated shapes and laid them out on my quilt.  I used a blue wash-out marker to trace them, as I wanted them to stay on the quilt for while, giving myself a road map. I kept saying to myself that I had let the idea of quilting this quilt — the process — get in the way of my vision of a finished quilt — the product.  The universe had delivered two strong messages to me, so finally it was time to get going.

Colorwheel Quilt_petals1

I drew on the design with a purple disappearing marker for the inner petals, found the threads, and stitched those.  Big breath. Keep going.

Colorwheel Quilt_petals1a

I have NO confidence whatsoever in my ability to free motion quilt feathers, even though I have drawn them out about a billion times.  So I drew on that next set of petals, found the threads and quilted those and before quitting for the day, I buried all my threads, using the new method taught to me by Sue Rasmussen.

Colorwheel Quilt_petals2

I matched up the colors for the outer petals this afternoon, but even though I’d made a sketch of what I wanted, I needed another road map.

Colorwheel Quilt_petals template

So I made  another template, and drew that on.

Colorwheel Quilt_petals3

Tonight before I stopped, I had finished up all the colorful petals of my Colorwheel Blossom.  Of course, I’m not out of the woods yet, because I feel like another cliffside road is coming up for the quilting of the white part, but I will go forward in faith, trusting that I’ll figure it out as I quilt.  I appreciate all the encouragement I’ve received from the IG crowd; their enthusiastic comments help to propel me forward.  Lastly, I don’t know if any of my quilts  will ever be “show-quilt” worthy, but I will have tried something hard for me, and traveled down a new road.

driving into the sunset

Sometimes that’s enough.

Moments of Friendship

collage

I had some enjoyable moments last week with friends and family, and a funny little moment in a fabric shop watching these two little future quilters in the lower right corner climb up the shelves of fabric.  I was also able to attend Andrew’s baptism at the age of eight, and I got all teary listening to the talks, the messages from the bishop of that congregation, and enjoying seeing my son interact with his sons (he has four boys).

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 8.35.54 PM

Another friend and I traveled to Roger’s Gardens in Costa Mesa (Orange County) to see their holiday decorations, newly revealed and loved all their arrangements.  But since we didn’t rob a bank before going, we took snapshots of a lot of them for you to enjoy (although I would have like to have sent you all that beautiful wreath in the upper right).

Signature Quilt Top

And to honor another friend, we finally gathered up all the signature blocks we needed in order to make a quilt for Lora.

Signature Quilt top2

Another reminder of how the weekend went was the chance I had to listen to still another friend who had just lost her father, and all the attendant issues that come with the dismantling of a childhood home, of caring for the remaining aging parent, of dealing with grief and loss.

listeningSome of us have known each other for 25 years or more, and like all friendships, our ties to each other have come about layer by layer and shared experiences and I have had a chance to reflect on why they had impacted my life so deeply. The salient characteristic was as Emerson described: they listened to listen.  They listened to learn.  They listened and then asked questions and our answers and questions to each other would ping-pong back and forth.

Bizarro About me and my stuff

They never listened to me in anticipation of getting the conversation centered back on themselves, a commonplace experience nowadays.  Slowly over time, like the process of building a quilt,  we learned about each other, the years sifting over us until we found ourselves at a dinning room table talking about seam allowances, a flood in a kitchen, how a child is doing in college, a child’s wedding.  Not all friendships can go the distance, and perhaps Emerson’s words are a golden nugget for me to think about again and again.  All I know is that time with a good friend is a treasure, and this past week I had more than my share.

Sewing Sewing Sewing Along

Peter's Pumpkin 2014

To get you back in the mood for this post, here’s my son’s pumpkin.  Did I tell you he has a great sense of humor and can write computer code that drives websites?

KeaganEgyptian_1

First up is Keagan, the Egyptian Princess.  I visited my daughter’s home in October and went right to work.  We had to double-line that white sheath because, well, it was white.  Keagan and I talked over costumes, looking some up on Pinterest before she went to school and then I headed to JoAnn’s.  I hate paying a billion dollars for patterns, so picked up one of the $2.99 Quick and Easy patterns that looked like it might work, and added on enough at the bottom to be long enough.  I used the bodice of the dress to fashion a collar out of paper and tried it on her.  Keagan had a few suggestions and I trimmed it to her specifications.

KeaganEgyptian_2

The drapey thing was pinned on in the back with a safety pin, then wrapped around some rubber bands.  Her mother and dad fashioned some gold bands for her (one solution is to cut a Pringle’s can into sections, then spray-paint gold) which she slipped over to hide the hair bands.  She also had some on her upper arms to complete the look.

MaddyasElsa_1

Maddy wanted to be Elsa.  She had VERY detailed instructions, and since she was recovering from a tonsillectomy I had her at my disposal for measuring.  The dress had to had see-through sleeves and silver at the top of the bodice, and Maddy was very specific about the drapey overcoat thing, wanting it to flow from her shoulders, but since I only had one day to get both costumes done, I went with a “coat-type” construction, made out of organza so it would have some body.

MaddyasElsa_2

We cut out a giant silver snowflake by tracing it onto the paper side of fusible web, adhering it to the silver lame.  We cut out the lame, peeled off the paper and fused it on.  Because the lame and the organza are kind of “open” this process left a residue of stickiness.  I told my daughter she’d better wash her ironing board cover so it wouldn’t stick to anything she ironed after that.

MaddyasElsa_3

I’m told both costumes were a hit.

Halloween 2014

Here they are with their brother who was a Mad Scientist-Zombie Guy.  Maddy is not wearing a crown (it’s a bush behind her).  Sure looks like a crown, though.

BarbarasTote_1

I was also able to get ahold of the pouch I made for Barbara and check it out, fully loaded.

BarbarasTote_2

BarbarasTote_3She says it works great.  I’m so glad I can sew! Thanks, Mom!

Circles Block #6–another view, EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

I told you in the last post that I’d made up another version of Circles #6, and today I’ll show you what I came up with.

Circles Block #6 duo

When I was sewing this up, I kept thinking what a great Christmas pillow it would make.

Christmas Star Pillow_front

So I made one!

EPP #6_auditioning fabrics

As usual, I audition fabrics to see what I like.  You can see which won.

EPP #6_1sewing together arcs

I lined up the Star Point with the lower inner arc and put a pin through the centers.

EPP #6_2sewing together arcs

It’s easier to stitch when you do it three-dimensionally.

EPP #6_3sewing together arcs

Cute little thing, isn’t it?

EPP #6_4sewing together arcs

EPP #6_ring to center

I made this  circle differently.  I think the method I showed you on the first post is much better, but here’s this one:  Stitch the inner ring pieces together, then stitch to the center circle.  There’s no need to ease; it should fit together neatly by taking a stitch or two at a time, then moving along.  Sew the final inner ring seam together.

EPP #6_stitching center to outer ring

Now stitch together the inner arc (red) and the small star point (blue) and add the left star points (more red, on either side of the blue).  After you’ve made six of those little units, start making the larger outer ring by attaching the large star points (white).  Like the first ring onto the center circle, it should “match” easily onto the sign.  You can see how I began here, by dropping the ring down and starting the stitching.  I did take time to figure out how I wanted the white star points to be aligned on the final block.

Circles Block #6 duo

See the two circles side-by-side, above, to see the different alignments.  The Christmas Star has a star point centered, pointing North, but the other circle has it differently.

Like I said, I think the other method is much easier.

EPP #6_center circle

Done!

EPP #6_back with papers

Ah, you know I love this view!

Circles Block Christmas Backgrounds

I had several backgrounds to choose from, but my granddaughter Emilee helped me choose the white one with the stars.

Christmas Star Pillow_front1

Papers out, and here we go a-quilting!

Christmas Star Pillow Back_quilting

One thing I learned from Sandra Eichner’s blog is how to let the batting poof up under a design element by stitching towards it.  First I did the red pieces in between the star points in a meander, trying to quilt toward the star points large and small.  Then I went for the outer margins, having fun and letting the machine roll.  Black thread and a tiny stipple for the inner ring, dodging the berries, and then outline the angel in the center in order to control the fullness of the batting.  Lastly, I outlined everything, using my even-feed straight-stitch foot.

Christmas Star Pillow_detail front

Christmas Star Pillow_front

Yay!  A new piece of Christmas fun.  Hope you’ve enjoyed seeing both of these Circle Blocks.  I’m taking a break during December and will be back in January for the last six circles in this project.  Yes, I’ve decided I’m stopping after twelve EPP circles.  That ought to give you enough to play with!  If you are making these blocks, please shoot me a photo, and I’ll post it up on the blog.  We “Circleers” have to stick together!

Circles Block #6, EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circles Block _6final

Circle #6: Star of Wonder
(but stay tuned. . . another variation of Circle #6 is coming in a couple of days)

Welcome to my series of English-Paper Pieced Circles!  I decided some time ago that I needed a new hand-work project for those night when you just want to sit around and stitch and watch TV or a movie.  I liked circles, and hadn’t found any EPP versions, so decided to create my own.  All my patterns are hand drawn, but they are free.  I do test-make them to get rid of any quirks before I present them to you.  I’ve already done five circles and this post gives you the sixth.  Here they all are together:

First Six BlocksSM

This sixth circle, based on a six-pointed star, is all English Paper-Pieced, except that I do appliqué the larger circle onto the background square, having gotten the best results with that.  And since this center circle does not need go over a series of joining seams, it can be paper-pieced right into the circle.  I can’t remember where my inspiration for this one came from, but I do like that secondary star pattern that forms in-between the golden star points.  The center of this star is suited to a medallion-type piece of fabric, so drag out those large prints and see which one works.

EPP #6_pattern drawn

As usual, these blocks start with a hand-drawn circle, and then I trace off the patterns.  And then I realize that it would be better if I had one more of THAT star point and one less of THIS arc.  And then I realize that I don’t have enough of the circle rings, so I cut and paste and cut and tape and finally here is a sheet you can print off and use: EPP #6  (This particular pattern looks pretty cut-and-pasted!  Someday I’ll have some fancy software to help me out.)  Please do attribute the source of this to Elizabeth at OccasionalPiece-Quilt  (or OPQuilt.com) and do not print off copies for your mother or your friends.  Please direct them here to get their free copies.  Many thanks.

Printer Settings 100percent

Please remember to set your printer for 100% scale.  This time I didn’t staple the wad of three sheets together, as I used to in the past, but instead cut more carefully around each piece.  Tedious, but they go together better at the end, I think.

EPP #6A_9trying out the pieces

I’ve pinned the pieces on, cut around them, then I lay them out to check for color/pattern.  I liked it so I moved forward.

EPP #6A_1

I did this circle in three different states at five different houses and a hospital room.  EPP travels very well.  Here I have stitched the ring pieces together, sometimes attaching them to the circle as I go.  Now I’m starting to attach the star points.  I think it looks like a clown hat at this juncture.

EPP #6A_3

I try all the points on, lining up with the seams in the blue-and-green polka-dotted ring.  I stitched them on, one by one and set it aside.

EPP #6A_4

Next is stitching the inner sections together.  First join the upper small star point (red) to the lower wedge (white).  Then attach one (blue) arc to the side, then the other.  The first time I tried this I got all confused, but remember to lay the longer flat side of the arc along the small star point and you should be fine.

EPP #6A_5

Trying this out.

EPP #6A_6

I took this photo to show how I attach those inner wedges: first one side, a stitch at the point, then the other side.  I also take a stitch at the top of the blue arcs, holding one to the next.

EPP #6A_7circle complete

Ta-DONE!

EPP #6A_8

I lay the circle on my 14 1/2″ square of background fabric.  I’m visiting a brother-in-law in the hospital at this point and am doing this on his bedside table while he is sleeping, so instead of being able to iron four neat creases into the background fabric to help guide me for placement (as before), I finger-pressed in what I could and eyeballed the rest.  As you’ve noticed, there is a bit of extra fabric all around the circle, so I’ll be able to correct any missteps later.  It was at this point I realized that my center medallion was not centered on its axis.  It was kind of keeling on its side, pointing a bit to the Northwest.  AAAGH.  I still appliquéd the circle down and checked my suspicion with my husband when I got home from traveling.  Yep.  It’s a re-do.

EPP #6A_10center missing

The circle without its center.  I just snipped loose the stitching (it’s amazing how easy it was) and centered it again.  This time I loosely (about a stitch per seam) basted in the center and checked it often as I did the regular EPP stitch.  I did this step as we drove to see our grandson at his eighth birthday.  It’s incredible how portable this Circles Project can be.

Circles Block _6final

So here it is. . . all done, and ready to go into the quilt.  I made this circle up in a different coloration and will show it to you at the next post.

First Six BlocksSM

But here are the first six, arranged digitally.  I hope you have been able to keep up with our progress, but these patterns will be here for a while if you haven’t.

Now come back for the next post, where I show a completely different look to this circle.

Circles EPP Button

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Also linking up to Live A Colorful Life’s Choose Your Own Block-Along.

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i-voted-sticker

Occasionally my blogging software places ads at the end of my post so I can blog for free.  I do not control the content of these ads.

Jazz, Light, Montreal, a Four-in-Art Quilt, November 2014

4-in-art_3button

JazzLightMontreal_frontJazz, Light, Montreal
#5 in the Urban Series

When the challenge theme was announced, of Light, I started looking and noticing urban light–both that which sheds or projects the light, and that which receives the light.  Multi-hued lights intrigued me, as well as light fixtures (as you saw before).  I was also interested in reflections of city lights on windows and in rain puddles.  But in the end, I went with a memory–the graceful arching lights of Montreal, swirling over the Jazz Festival that was in its final days.

montreal-street-lightsMontreal City Lights

Yet the artistry in that photograph comes partly because of the different widths of the light poles, changing from thicker to more slender as they were sited in the field of view.

JazzLightMontreal_construct1

I fiddled and widgeted my stuff, moving and trying to get that look but with my bias tape, I could not really manipulate the widths easily, although I tried.  So mine resembles a spider the day AFTER Halloween, squished beyond recognition.  How appropriate that today’s reveal date is November 1st. Since this little foray into representation is not one of my favorite art quilts I’m not going to do a deconstruction post.  I tried out multiple brown fabrics and thought about trying to mimic the interesting placement of windows as shown in the photo above, but in the end, went with one that conveyed the pane-pierced facade.  Okay, maybe not so much, but I gave it a try.  I fused it on, satin-stitched around it.  Sewed down the light posts, then used a zig-zag stitch to quilt clouds into the sky.

In fact, the more I write about this, the more I realize that not every art quilt will challenge me to learn a new technique, which is what I want to do.  Sometimes you come to the project tired and worn out and your brain cells look more and more like the spotted building in my art quilt, or perhaps that splayed spider thingie and pulling out the stops means Getting It Done and Moving On.

JazzLightMontreal_back

I do like the back quite well.  No complaint about that Anna Maria Horner fabric from eons ago.  And ever since Betty started putting labels on hers, I’ve copied her example and now have a lovely collection of art quilts, properly provenanced.  The quilt is 12″ square, and I used a fancy little bit for the binding (hoping it would redeem the front?).

Montreal-Jazz-Festival-DAE-ESE

But the best thing is the memory of that horribly hot night, sitting on the steps listening to jazz, getting photo-bombed by a tourist behind me who turned out to be a quilter, and we spent a long time showing each other quilt photos from our phones.  I look somewhat different now, but it was a great night watching people bee-bop to the doo-wap (try and find them!), sitting under that graceful swirling street light.

JazzLightMontreal_bylightNormally we only have four challenges a year (hence, the name: Four-in-Art), but this year we decided to jive up to the calendar year, and so added in this last challenge, making it a #5.  In the next cycle we’ll be back to four, and we’re trying something different.  Our overall theme will be Literature, but each quilter will think up her own quarterly challenge, instead of having a group challenge.  We’ll still reveal on the first days of February, May, August and November.  We have also had some subtractions and additions in the last few weeks, so won’t have a full compliment of eight quilters until next February.

JazzLightMontreal_label

Come see what other quilters in our Four-in-Art Group have done!
Amanda at www.whatthebobbin.com
Betty at  Flickr//www.flickr.com/photos/toot2/with/12251011196
Nancy at patchworkbreeze.blogspot.com
Rachel at rachel-thelifeofriley.blogspot.com
Simone at  quiltalicious.blogspot.com
Anne at SpringLeaf Studio

and please head *here* to vote for Anne’s Cascade quilt, a finalist in the Craftsy Pattern Design Awards!!

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Circles EPP Button

Coming in a couple of days. . .

Circles Block #6!

Ralli Quilts and Conversations

Ralli_1 Ralli_2 Ralli_2a Ralli_3

I was fascinated by all the comments left on my last post about whether to not you choose to answer every comment on your blogs.  The trigger, of course, was a couple of articles from 99U which is a site geared toward business types.  In talking about this with Cindy, of Live a Coloful Life, we both remember the early days of blogging, where reply comments were not the norm, but instead of replying to a comment, you’d head over to their blog and leave a comment.  A couple of comments referred to this, such as this one from Barb: “I also would rather someone comment on my blog rather than spending time replaying to my comment on theirs. That would be a great agreement; instead of replaying, comment more on others blogs.”

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Some of you came up with your own name for those snippets of comments. I liked Susan’s observation: “‘Nice Quilt’ is what I would consider a conversation ender. If someone says something like “that’s a really nice quilt, I like the blah feature” then I consider that a conversation opener.”

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Nancy echoed many comments when she wrote “I like the interaction between people, albeit virtual, through blogs. I have made some blogging friendships of which I am truly glad. I leave comments about blogs that have given me inspiration, a lesson, beauty, a smile, or something to think about–the start of maybe a brief conversation.  I think of blogging as a way to interact with others of like interests. In my smaller physical community, it is difficult to find the more artistic quilters or those who self-design, so I turn to blogs.”

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I’ll leave the final word to Claire about our blog reading, as she describes exactly how I feel: “All this assumes a normal day with a leisurely coffee break while I read email and blogs. Other days I skim and probably miss wonders.”

Well said, Claire.

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All of these quilts are from an exhibit I recently saw in Utah at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art.  They are known as Ralli Quilts, and are from Pakistan and India (see map at end of post). I was amazed at all the stitching, the detail, and the colors (like the quilt above–I couldn’t get my camera to adjust to the deep reds).

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These were all found by Dr. Patricia Stoddard, a friend of my sister Susan (who tipped me off to this exhibit).  The website about these quilts is found *here* and is interesting reading. Her book, a veritable catalogue of the quilts, can be obtained *here.*

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I loved the contemporary look of these quilts, many made in the 1970s.  There are several sites that sell newer ralli quilts and can be found by a search on Google.

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This reminded me of the Trip Around the World Quilts, a sensation on Instagram last year.

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Improv piecing anyone?  Often the women saved time by piecing printed textiles together, rather than doing their appliqué.

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One of my favorites; I put the closeup on Instagram.  It was a good afternoon there at the museum, looking at quilts that are out of our quilting mainstream, a good antidote to the quilt market frenzy on social media.  Their vivid colors and patterns reminded me that time spent with patchwork and colors can bring a quiet satisfaction and an entry into the wider world of quilting.

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Map

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

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Our Four-in-Art quilt group will be revealing their final challenge of this year on November 1st.  Occasionally we have an opening for someone who wants to play along.  No shipping required, just a willingness to engage in new ideas, new techniques of your own choosing.  Leave a comment and your blog address if you are interested.

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And then a couple of days after that, I’ll have my November Circle Block ready to show you, plus a variation that may interest you for the holidays!

Thinking about our Dialogue: Comments


E-Mail Concept
(illustration from *here*)

Okay, quilters, fess up.  How many of you feel compelled to answer back every comment that shows up on your blog, whether it needs an answer or not?  Those comments land on our blogs, our IG feeds, and sometimes Flickr posts, then often make our way to our email boxes.  Do you need to respond to them?  Should you respond to them?

According to the 99U article on being efficient with our time, we should not respond unless there is a question.  Yet Seth Godin observes that “many people do, because there doesn’t seem to be a great alternative. It’s asymmetrical, and productivity loses to politeness.”

So according to Godin we choose being polite vs. being productive.  You should know that I am the Thank-You-Note Queen of the Universe, taught well by my mother.  I try to write a thank you to every gift, or acknowledge some kind gesture.  I believe in thank you notes.  But the digital universe is not the same thing as the real world.  I say, if the the comment requires some response or has a question, I try to answer them. However, I don’t write back to every comment on my blog because some are of the “drive-by” quality: “nice quilt,” or “great colors” or “Awesome!” I’ve left a few “drive-by comments” myself and I’m just acknowledging the blog post or the blogger’s work or the subject, and I certainly don’t expect a response.

In a related article, Elizabeth Saunders recommends that “Before you send a reply, ask yourself: are you responding just to reply, to show you’re paying attention, or just to say “thanks?” If so, you’re typically wasting time that could be spent producing something of value and only encouraging people to respond, thus adding more email to your inbox.”

She has a great point, but some of my treasured long-distance friendships have come about because of the correspondence that developed from their first comment, and I’m loathe to pass up a gold– or a silver – friend.  As Scott Belsky says, “My thinking: email may drive us crazy, but it is still a form of communication with people, and communication helps build relationships.”  It’s a balance. Often comments springboard me to a new post, as engaged readers have interesting things to bring to the conversation.  I often view this whole process as a dialogue, reading each comment carefully, weighing and considering what was written, enjoying our discussion.

What do you do?  Do those comments in your inbox nag you until you answer them all?  Or do you use Saunder’s advice, responding when needed?