Thursday, April 30, 2015

Zorgon the Swapper

Those of you who are not on Instagram (and I do not blame you one bit) will have missed this, since I think I only posted about it there. I joined Instagram about 2 years ago and I have found it to be a nice alternative to Facebook. I hate Facebook so very much, yet I have to maintain a personal account in order to have a page for my blog, and my blog page is a huge and important marketing tool for me so I can't give it up. But, oh, if I could I would drop my personal account in a heartbeat. I had thought that FB was going to be a great thing for me since I am so introverted I'm practically inside out, but it turns out that all it has done is completely confirm my general dislike of humanity. I keep trying to look at it as a tool to observe people, to take notes on human nature (particularly quilter human nature - hoo boy!) but apparently human nature just makes me mad.

But Instagram, for me anyway, gives me a little more distance and I guess I also see it as an offshoot of my blog and not so much as a way to socialize. I like just popping up a picture and an innocuous caption, and seeing the same from friends and strangers alike. I've yet to see anyone get overtly political (though I'm sure people do) and the biggest foofaraw I've yet seen there was about people who sell fabric on IG charging outrageous prices for Tula Pink. (Seriously, y'all, if you have any old Tula fabric you don't want, go sell it on IG - you can make serious bank.) And of course, every few months comes the "Why are people so mean?" post and it makes me SO MAD that I don't know what the hell they're talking about. I've never seen anyone say anything mean on IG, and just like with the whole "quilt bullies" thing, I often suspect that "mean" is being equated with "mildly critical or just not dripping with unequivocal praise." 

Swaps are a big thing on Instagram, and I often see posts of people announcing swaps, joining them, and preparing the items they are making for their swaps. IG swaps have a lot of interesting themes, from certain designers to color schemes to fandoms and dirty words. In fact, earlier this year someone started a cussin' swap, called The Bitches Get Stitches Swap,  and I immediately signed up for it. The idea was to celebrate our mutual love of profanity by making something that used it in some way. You get assigned a partner and though your partner doesn't know who you are, you get to find out a little bit about them via a little survey everyone fills out, plus you can follow them on IG and other social media such as Pinterest to get a sense of what they like. All I could really gleam from my partner's stuff was that she liked "the f-word" and the color blue.

When my friend Sam Hunter came out with her book Quilt Talk, I fell in love with the fabric buckets she designed for it:

I decided to make my swap partner a special bucket. In Sam's book, you can use her paper-pieced alphabet to label the bucket, but what I wanted to say wouldn't have fit well that way, so I replaced the pieced panel with one I printed. I chose a blue Amy Butler print for the outside and a Kaufman print for the inside that I thought worked well.  This is what I made:

Why I have not yet made one of these for myself remains a mystery.

My swap partner was from Brazil and she decided to attempt embroidery for the first time. I think she did a fabulous job and also managed to intuit my deep, deep love for The Big Lebowski:

My second swap is a Lizzy House mini quilt swap. I have a ridiculous amount of Lizzy House fabric that I've been sitting on for a long time, and I thought it would be wise to give myself a reason to cut into it. It's so stupid to have all this fabric and never use it (though I could potentially solve our how-the-hell-are-we-going-to-pay-for-college dilemma by selling it). My partner indicated that she loved Lizzy's Constellations line, and that's what I happened to have the most of, so I hemmed and hawed over design until I finally decided on this:

But I couldn't decide if I liked it enough, and thinking about my Tula quilt, I thought I'd whip out a Lizzy rainbow Dresden plate as an alternative.

I love that pearl bracelet center so much.

Swaps are always a gamble because your partner may not be technically skilled or could even turn out to be a flake. Flakes are the people who commit to a swap and then don't put out. This is enough of a problem that some swap organizers have started keeping a list of the worst offenders. Some swappers volunteer to be "angels" who will make an item for someone whose partner has flaked out (or legitimately dropped out for personal reasons). with all of my fussing over getting things right, I will actually end up with two of each of these minis, so I can easily be an angel in this swap if needed. But I kinda hope I get to keep at least one.

If you are interested in joining Instagram, it works best as a phone or tablet app (you can access it via a desktop computer browser, but it doesn't offer the same functionality). If you want to see the kind of stuff I post, just click my big purple Instagram button at the top right of this page (those of you who read my blog posts via email can also click here) or you can search for me on IG by The Bitchy Stitcher or by my IG name: @meganzdougherty. The Z stands for Zorgon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Please (neglect to) Nominate Me For This Prestigious (non-)Award!

National Quilters Circle Blogger Awards - Nominate Me badge

A few days ago, I was contacted by a marketing person for something called The National Quilters Circle. He informed me that this circle thing is holding blogger awards and that my blog had come up several times in nominations, presumably for Most Humorous Blog. He thought that I might want to encourage my readers to go and nominate me in this category, so that I can win the coveted title and lord it over all the other quilting humor blogs out there. When quilting humorists get together, I can wear my 2015 National Quilters Sphere Most Humorous Blog Award Winner t-shirt that I will totally have to make myself because they don't actually provide such a thing to the winners, and I can puff out my chest, where the logo is located, and be all, "Do YOU have a 2015 National Quilters Rhomboid Quadrilateral Most Humorous Blog Award Winner t-shirt? NO YOU DON'T." And then that one blogger will rip off her jacket, revealing her own self-made t-shirt and then we'll have to take it outside where I will most definitely mess her up because mama don't play.

So you can see why one might think I would be keen to win such a thing. Now, these contests have come up before, and I have on occasion half-heartedly posted a link on Facebook and suggested that maybe if people had nothing better to do they might want to think about going and nominating me. And a small handful of people always responds. But I have never actually gone on my blog and begged for nominations and votes. BUT NO MORE. Today I stand before you, my hat in my hand, my heart on my sleeve, my Cheetos on their way to my mouth because it's totally snack time, and I entreat you: please go to the National Quilting Illuminati Triangle and nominate my humble little blog for Most Humorous Quilting Blog.

I'm totally kidding. Don't bother. Here's why:

The National Quilters Circle is not a circle of any kind unless you are familiar with the Italian poet Dante. It is the brainchild of a company called TN Marketing, and they specialize in something called "affinity content marketing." The basic idea is that they develop and host video content related to something in which a large number of like-minded people might be interested, such as quilting or recreational dishwasher repair. In fact, the National Quilters Circle is a thing this marketing company came up with themselves. They were not hired by quilters to do this. They also came up with "The Woodworkers Guild of America" (which is not a guild of any kind) and "The Personal Defense Network" (which is not a network of any kind). All of these sites are built on the same platform: there are free videos and there are "premium" videos. You become a paid member in order to access the "premium" videos, and this can be paid as a monthly or a yearly fee. There's a blog. And a couple items thrown into a store for sale, mostly DVDs and more portals for the "premium" service. That's it.

In addition, I looked at some of the free videos, and I immediately noticed something. A couple years ago, (itself a part of Fons and Porter and which I don't even think still exists) asked me to review their site, and I got access to a video of my choice. I took screenshots of some of the videos and they were all filmed in this same little studio:

Now check out the background (and the teacher!) of this free video from That National Quilters Circle:

Now, I can't imagine a marketing firm being willing to actually set-up, film, and produce quilting videos themselves; it wouldn't be cost-effective. So, they have to get the content from somewhere—perhaps a place that already produces and markets videos and has extra ones on hand to sell or one that couldn't make their own paid content business model work and can sell it off to another company who wants to try to make a go of it.

None of this is secret and took me literally five minutes of internet clicking to figure out.

Now, before the rabid Randian capitalists among you start calling for my head, let me just say this: I do not care that this company is trying to make money. We're all trying to make money in some fashion. And in an economy that is becoming more and more internet-based, people have to be a bit more creative about how they make that money. I get that. But I also have this old-fashioned streak in me that thinks selling stuff should ideally be a little more straightforward. I have stuff to sell. I hope to have more stuff to sell fairly soon. When I do, I will show you my stuff, and direct you to the place or places where you can purchase it if you wish. If you buy my stuff, it helps my family and keeps me off the streets so I can keep writing goofy shit on the internet for you to enjoy. It's the Circle of Life. But I'm not going to suggest via a cleverly crafted name that buying my stuff makes you a member of some elite club. And I can be totally open about where the stuff I'm selling comes from: me. When The Bitchy Stitcher pops up on your Facebook feed, it's just me. And there's lots of us out there trying to honestly make a buck or two without having to resort to weird branding schemes to do it.

I don't want you to march over to their Facebook page and loudly declare that you will not be taken in by such schemes. I'm not looking for anyone to write nasty emails or blog comments. I just want to help you be a little more aware as a consumer of stuff and content on the web just how often you are being marketed to in this way. If I had just posted a link to The National Quilting Circle blog nominations page, would you have looked a little deeper? Would you have looked up the url for the website (which is different from the blog nominations page) and scrolled down to read all the About Us and Contact Us and Terms of Service info that would, if you paid attention, lead you to the name of the marketing company that runs it and then to their website which declares that they made this up themselves? If you shared a link from someplace called The National Quilting Circle, wouldn't it feel as though you were linking to something produced by a prestigious organization on par with AQS? Of course it would—that's the point.

If the videos obtained by and now sold by this marketing firm are genuinely helpful and good and worth your dollars, then spend and view in good health! There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a commodity to sell and nothing wrong with buying it if you want it. There's nothing wrong with companies using this firm to help them market themselves via video content. I just hope that the next time you see a contest, a Facebook page, an ad for something that calls itself a circle or a club or a network, take the five minutes it took me to do some Googling and read some fine print to see what it's really all about.  That exclusive group you just joined might really be a group of marketing execs hoping you'll hand over your credit card info after giving them some free advertising.

But remember: if it's a Movement, you totally want to join that shit.

Monday, April 13, 2015

New from Effluvia Fabrics

Last week, I was perusing the interwebz for sale fabric and I stumbled across a small, unassuming little notification in an online shop that a collection of scented fabrics would be available soon.

Scented. Fabrics.

For a moment, I hoped I had read this in error and it really said sentient fabrics, because that would be less terrifying. But no. Scented fabric. Fabric imbued with some sort of alien stink technology that you can probably never wash out and which eventually infects every other fabric it touches with its invisible stench rays.

I honestly cannot imagine who thought this was a good idea. Probably somebody who has never been to a guild where half the membership wants the entire group to sign a pledge never to take a shower in the same bathroom where somebody has once stored a sealed container of Bath and Body Works shower gel within 2 weeks of attending a meeting. People are freaky about smells. Some people really do have reactions to perfumes and need to carry an Epi-pen at all times or they get migraines if exposed to certain smells, but lots of people just hate to smell anything they didn't cause.

And you just know the available smells are going to be pretty predictable: strawberry, lemon, grape, some sort of rosy flower, maybe cinnamon. Lavender. In the fabric collection I saw, there was a grey one and the name of it didn't indicate what the smell was supposed to be, so I'm hoping it's something like Storm Runoff  or Dust Bunnies or That Chair That Grandpa Won't let Grandma Throw Out Because It Still Smells Like The Cigars He Used to Smoke Back In The Days When A Man Could Enjoy A Nice Stogie After Work Without Somebody Getting All Up In His Grill About Lung Cancer. Of course if you want that smell, just buy some fabric on eBay.

In fact, here are some of the smells I think they should offer:
• Salted caramel (because let's face it, that's just good business—every quilter on earth is apparently in some sort of intimate relationship with salted caramel. I have no idea if you can even smell the salted part, but I guarantee you no one will care.)
• Tom Hiddleston's neck
•, that's it. That's all I got. Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?

And why stop with smell? Surely even now fabric scientists are hard at work developing a viable formula for flavored fabrics. And again, the offerings would probably be pretty obvious: strawberry, lemon, grape. Chocolate. The tears of one's enemies. I would buy a ton of taco flavored fabric just because I could, but only as long as it didn't smell. Smells are gross.

I bet what those little Howard Starks are actually keeping in the vault is acoustic fabric—fabric you can hear. Using a special type of nano-thread that can record several seconds of sound, the fabric stays perfectly silent until it is touched. Then it sends signals through the nervous system directly into the ear drum, so the fabric communicates directly with the consumer. Naturally, several companies would see this strictly as a marketing opportunity and embed ads in the fibers, but the truly enterprising would realize that this is the best way for quilters to listen to dirty audio books while sewing. Or if you could buy fabric with one word per color or print , you could create a quilt that sends a message as you run your hand over it, such as "Get your dirty, stinking mitts off my quilt, bitch."

Who knows what's next on the horizon, but scented fabrics are really a thing that is coming to invade your nostrils. I only wonder if somebody remembered to send them the deer memo?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ode to My New Semi-Colon*

A week and two days ago I went into the hospital to have part of my colon removed. I have had diverticulitis since 2009, and yeah that's a long time to suffer with that kind of pain, but it took a while to get it definitively diagnosed. I have some other stomach problems as well, which I won't go into in detail because I am a benevolent blogger and don't actively hate any of you at the moment, but the addition of those things made all the issues hard to treat as treating one would exacerbate another. I finally got my diagnosis over a year ago, but it took me this long to get brave enough to have the surgery, even though I probably had 4 or 5 attacks in that time. I have a muscle imbalance in my eyes and have had 5 surgeries for that in my lifetime, the first when I was 2, plus I had my gallbladder removed about 12 years ago, and I have had enough of anesthesia and hospitals and trying to pee while attached to a pole. 

 I worked up the courage to talk to a surgeon in January. I had to just pick a name from a list of surgeons who take my insurance, and I chose the first woman on the list. Turned out, I hit the freaking surgeon jackpot. I'm not terribly fond of surgeons, and if any of you happen to be surgeons I would apologize to you for my prejudice except I am totally justified. My experience with surgeons is they all generally see people as objects to be worked on rather than people to relate to. I kept trying to make jokes to the dude who took out my gall bladder 12 years ago, and he was not comfortable with that AT ALL. He kept looking at me like WHY WON'T YOU JUST BE A CADAVER? And when I was an optician, we had a number of medical professionals as customers/patients and the surgeons were all like that, even outside of the doctor/patient relationship. Except the neurosurgeons. They think they're the hotshot mavericks of the medical world ("Anybody can cut out a fucking appendix—I put my hands into your very soul.") and they want everybody to know it. (This one time, one of our favorite neurosurgeons came running in to get his glasses fixed and breathlessly told us that just hours before he had a patient "on the table" whose heart stopped during surgery, and he, being the fast-thinking, god-like hero he was, jumped on top of the guy and pounded on his chest until his heart started beating again. And we were like, "Dude, we fix glasses for free, you don't need to impress us with that COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS STORY." But we only thought that to ourselves because frankly we thoroughly enjoyed repeating his tale—complete with chest-pounding gestures—for years afterwards, and knew that we would. Never shoot a comedy gift horse in the face, or whatever the saying is.)

So, the surgeon I picked turned out to be a very personable and funny woman who gave me so much information about the surgery, hospitalization, and recovery that I was left with exactly zero questions for her. I liked her so much I wanted to do lunch or go shopping or something. And it turned out she knew my primary care doc, a wonderful CNP whom I also adore. So when I went to see her for my pre-op physical, she told me even more great stuff about my surgeon. "You have one of the best surgeons in Annapolis, if not the best," she said. Well okay then.

Oh! And my friend Kimberly made me this bag to take to the hospital, because she totally gets me:

In the 12 years since I had my gallbladder removed and my last eye surgery, they built a completely new hospital complex and I have to say it's pretty sweet. David got to wait for me in a comfy waiting room with a big digital board that had each patient listed (by a secret code number) with their current status: in prep, in surgery, in recovery, transferring to room, etc. The prep nurses and techs were all friendly and chatty and even the anethesiologist was a sweetie pie (I've never had much luck with them either.) 

And while I was waiting in the prep area before surgery, THEY PUMPED WARM AIR INTO MY HOSPITAL GOWN AND I LOOKED LIKE VIOLET BEAUREGARDE:

The surgery went well and didn't take as long as they had said, so I was in my room by late afternoon. when you have colon surgery, they need to know that your colon is "waking up" and functioning properly after being taken apart and put back together, so everybody asks you every five minutes if you have farted yet. But, of course, they call it "passing gas" because, dammit,  this is a hospital not a barnyard, Jim! 

I was introduced to my friend, the morphine PCA, and encouraged to press that button every 10 minutes like a good girl so that I would feel no pain.

Now, I have always hated narcotics because they make me itch like crazy, and I explained this to the doctor, but she said, "Well you have to have something and we're giving you morphine." And within 24 hours I was indeed itching but I kept using my pump, figuring I could handle a bit of itching in return for controlled pain and a legal high. But by the end of Wednesday, my face had gotten quite red (though nobody but my husband seemed to notice it) and I was starting to shiver a lot whenever I got up to go to the bathroom. By Thursday, my arms had turned bright red as well and were extremely hot to the touch, though I didn't register a fever. And worst of all, my arms hurt—far, far more than any of the pain from the surgery—and the pain would increase with even the slightest movement. By now the nurses and techs were listening to me and they took me off the morphine and gave me Tylenol and Benadryl and after about 20 solid hours off the morphine, I could finally use my arms again.

Since I no longer wanted or needed the morphine and the reaction was dissipating, and because I was stinking up the halls like a champ, my surgeon let me go home Friday afternoon. 

My staples came out yesterday (I know you were dying to know that), and so now I have only to take it easy, know my limits, and give myself another few weeks to completely heal. I plan to get lots of reading done and binge-re-watch The Walking Dead until I see Daryl's greasy head in my sleep. And if all goes well, I 'll be able to work on some recent quilty projects that I've been waiting to show you—because I'm planning to turn them into patterns! This is just the beginning of what I hope will be a new phase for me, so I hope you'll stick around for it. I promise I probably won't mention staples again. I probably will talk about farting though.

*Hat tip to my friend Melissa Z., who made the semi-colon joke and made me jealous that I didn't think of it first.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I designed a quilt!

Waaaaay back in the spring of 2013, I was driving to Wegmans with my husband on one of the rare days when he was off work but the kids were in school and we could go eat sushi and Indian food and shop for cheese without two shorties wondering loudly every five minutes when they would be rescued from this, their own personal hell. It tends to make us a bit giddy. He was driving and along the way, I happened to notice a truck for a printing company that had an interesting logo.  The picture that I snapped from the car is gone, but here is the logo:

Naturally, I started thinking about quilt blocks. As one does. After we got home, I sat down at the computer and contemplated the logo. I knew it wouldn't work as it was, as I didn't want to just copy it anyway. But seeing it from far away in a moving vehicle during a light drizzle made me start thinking about blocks that were essentially half negative space, and constructed like a log cabin block. Set on point. As I played, I saw that I didn't want all the strips to be the same width, I eliminated green from the palette entirely, and I didn't use as much negative space as I had first envisioned. There was a lot of mind changing. And mouse clicking. I ended up with two blocks, and I loved they way they worked together.

After I worked out the design on paper, I figured out my fabric requirements and wrote out instructions that I would then have to follow myself as I constructed the quilt, to see if it actually worked. And by some miracle it did. I called it Breaking The Waves.

I was still working for Generation Q at the time, and I showed the finished quilt top to the editors, who said that they wanted it as a project for the magazine. Crap! That meant I had to quilt it, and I really didn't want to do that myself, so I begged Lisa Sipes to fit it in when she could. Lisa was in such demand, I figured she might never get to it and this would effectively eliminate any chance of my creative effort put on display for the world to see and judge, which was a win as far as I was concerned. I'm still a little shy about these things sometimes.

She brought it to me all finished at spring Quilt Market last year, and I brought it home to bind and be-sleeve. (Technical term, that.) Despite the wait, GenQ still wanted it, so I took it to our local beach to photograph for them.

They scheduled it for the January/February 2015 issue, which has just been released and should be appearing on newsstands now. And not only is this my first published quilt pattern, they even put it on the cover!

Big thanks to the GenQ art director Lisa Lauch for making my quilt (and my photos) look so pretty on the page. I am obligated to tell you that you should totally buy this issue and if you can't find it in a local store you can buy individual copies here or go to this page to find an online retailer that carries it. And while I do hope you buy it, what I really hope is that if you see it on a newsstand somewhere, you will pick it up and wave it around while yelling "I KNOW HER! I KNOW THE WOMAN WHO MADE THIS QUILT! AS MUCH AS ANYONE CAN REALLY BE SAID TO 'KNOW' SOMEONE ELSE THROUGH BLOGGING AND SOCIAL MEDIA. BUT STILL." But after that they'll probably make you buy it or pay some kind of restitution or fine, so be prepared.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Blog Tour: Fast-Piece Appliqué by Rose Hughes

First. I must say that I am very honored that Rose asked me to participate in her blog tour for her new book, Fast Piece Appliqué. Of course I'm always honored when anybody asks me to do anything, because I'm kind of used to everybody being scared of me ("What if she uses a swear word???"), but I'm particularly honored this time as Rose is truly such an accomplished quilter. This is her fourth book, all of which have, in one way or another, focused on her unique appliqué technique.

Before I get into that, I am going to tell you how I know Rose. Rose has been a reader of my blog for a while, and I did know her a little bit from there, but she is also good friends with one of my former employers at Generation Q. When we went to our second Quilt Market in Houston back in 2012, Rose stayed in the group of hotel rooms GenQ had reserved for staff. She hung out with us and on one night a bunch of us went out to dinner and then shared a cab back to our hotel. Our hotel was quite nice, and happened to also be situated directly next to a rather large, um, adult-oriented shop.

Naturally, we had to check it out. So, I am one of the few people in the world that can say I have been post-Quilt Market late-night sex store shopping with Rose Hughes. Well, sex store looking, as we didn't buy anything, but still—it was a bonding experience and I am sure Rose and I will be friends for life because of it.

It was around that same year Rose published her third book, Design, Create, and Quilt, and I bought myself a copy. I was incredibly impressed with that book because it was really a series of lessons in art and design and composition, with each project illustrating a different lesson. She even starts you out with a folder project so you'll have something beautiful to store all your art inspiration in.

So, when she asked me to participate in this tour for her new book, Fast-Piece Appliqué, I said OH YES PLEASE, not only because I'm happy to support her work, but also because I got a digital copy of the book and I couldn't wait to see what she had done this time.

As I said, all Rose's books cover the Fast Piece Appliqué technique, but this one really dives into it. She also explores in depth the idea of taking a scene, a photo, an idea and reducing it to its simplest elements in order to make a bold graphic statement—and a quiltable one.

I'm not going to spoil the technique here—you'll need Rose's book for that—but I will tell you that it gives you a way to make absolutely ANYTHING you can think of. It's all done by machine and there's no fusible web involved! I will also tell you the main thing you will learn that you may have never done or even considered before is couching—where you lay down yarn and attach it with a zig zag stitch by machine. It's not hard, so don't be scared of that, and when you read the book and see how it's used you'll be all, I CAN TOTALLY DO THAT.

Now, have you ever heard that old Schoolhouse Rock song, Three is A Magic Number?

The number three has a lot of interesting mathematical properties, none of which I will bore you with here, but to me an interesting mathematical property is pretty much the same thing as magic, and Rose clearly had magic in mind when she made her projects for this book. Each quilt in some way includes, illuminates, embodies the number three:

(images courtesy of Martingale publishing, photography by Brent Kane)

Some of them are three-panel quilts; others are single quilts with three main elements. Rose has clearly been communing with the divine.

If you have not been following the tour, Rose has a special love-themed project download at each spot, perfect for making a love-ly quilt or wall hanging:

Or some super sweet pillows:

Each blogger on the tour got to choose a word for her download and I chose...LUST!

Naturally, someone already commented, "Of course YOU would choose 'lust'!" I have absolutely no problem with anyone thinking of me as 'lusty.' Lust makes life interesting, especially when you are a silver-haired forty-something quilter. And hey, I'm trying to write a romance novel, so I better have a good love affair with lust! Also 'lust' was the naughtiest of all Rose's words, and you know I can't just be sweet. I have to add a little salt.

To download your pattern for LUST click here. And to win a digital copy of Rose's book, leave me a comment telling me who or what you lust after. Riches? Chocolate? A lifetime subscription to Biblical Archeology? Danny DeVito's furry tush? There's no judgement here, you know that, right? I love all you freaky weirdos, so TELL ME EVERYTHING.

I will pick a winner on Sunday, January 18 and announce on Monday, January 19.

Please visit all the stops on the tour to get all the word patterns and more chances to win:

Jan 5th-  KISS-- Victoria Findlay Wolfe
Jan 6th - SOUL-- Natalie Barnes
Jan 7th - SEXY --Maddie Kertay
Jan 8th - SWAK-- Teri Lucas-Generation Q
Jan 9th - LEAP-- Mandy Leins
Jan 12th- LUST-- Megan Dougherty
Jan 13th - HUGS-- Jenny Wilding Cardon
Jan 14th - FIRE-- Sam Hunter
Jan 15th - SING -- Rachel Biel-TAFA
Jan 16th -- Rose Hughes

UPDATE: Did you know it is already January 19th?  I have no idea how that happened. Anyway, the winner of the digital copy of Rose's book is Debby E! You kindly gave me your email in your comment, Debby, so I will forward that to the pertinent parties and you should have your e-book soon.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best of 2014

I have started this post a bajillion times, each time thinking I'm going write about all my accomplishments from the last year, and instead I find myself whining about how the last year pretty much blew chunks. Again. Seriously, y'all, I am kind of tired of looking back on the year and thinking, "Well, thank Gof THAT'S over." (I realize I typed "Gof" instead of "God" but now I'm imagining some personal deity who looks over my life and determines how shitty my year is going to end up being and apparently his name is Gof. All hail the mighty Gof!)

I keep having these conversations with my husband where I tell him that I feel unmoored, that I don't know what to do with myself, that nothing, no project or endeavor, seems like the right thing to pursue. Should I try to be a novelist? Should I keep working on the everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-quilting-but-all-the-other-quilting-books-were-too-stuffy-to-tell-you book instead? A newsletter? Embroidery designs? Quilt designs? Nothing appeals to me, and then I remember that I know so many people in this business who are trying to make a living doing these things and here I am going, "La dee dah, what shall I occupy myself with today?" and I feel guilty.

Unmoored. that's the word I keep coming back to. I feel so unmoored.

Despite my lack of moorings, I have managed a few things, not the least of which is the I'm A Tula Fan quilt. Do you know Karlee Porter? Well, allow me to introduce you. Karlee is a very young (like twenty-three or some such nonsense) longarm quilter who has developed a style she calls Graffiti Quilting. She uses several different design motifs and combines them, producing this really cool effect that is, frankly, kind of mesmerizing to look at. All of the work I had seen of Karlee's had been very high-contrast, but I imagined it on the Tula quilt just in the background areas and only adding texture, not color. It just so happened that Karlee had been playing with monofilament thread and that is what she used on the Tula quilt. She then did a very regular looping pattern in each dresden plate and a kind of casual, free motion circle around and inside each center.

I bound it with a black and grey Tula print from the Moonshine collection and placed the last stitch on the label on Monday. I think it's freaking magnificent and I cannot stop looking at it.

A million thanks to Karlee for giving this quilt a soul.

So generally sucky was 2014 that I assumed there was nothing else for me to go back and point to as an "accomplishment." Certainly, there were no other quilts this year, but upon review there were some pretty good blog posts. In fact one of them set massive records for views and comments, even though it wasn't the least bit funny. So I thought I'd just list them all here, in case you maybe missed one or two.

So, here's to a happy, healthy, prosperous and well-moored 2015. Thank you again for joining me on this ride and for not once telling me this past year to watch my language.

Design Wall—or The Drywall-Destroying Panels of Doom? 
In which I discover a really cool way to make a design wall that, as of today, has still not come crashing down on my head.

My New Book
One of my favorite activities is to make an April Fool's post and then wait for somebody to link to it on Quilting Board. Those people are APPALLED by me and it's so entertaining.

Traditional neo retro post-industrialist modern punk quilting or TNRPIMPQ 
You want to create a quilting 'movement" that isn't really a movement at all? I got your movement right here. Movement. (This was also the second most popular post of all time for my blog.)

The Laughter Quilt
I thought it would be really cool to collect quilt squares from all my readers and turn it into a massive quilt devoted to the power of laughter. I may have slightly overestimated my readership or how willing people would be to write down what makes them laugh on some simple little quilt blocks, but I will not give up! About 100 people immediately responded. I still need about 600 more. I do still get questions as to whether I am still accepting blocks (even after I re-post links to the original post as a hint, hint). YES!!! I am still accepting them. Otherwise, the Laughter Quilt is basically a Laughter Table Topper.

Quilting With the Big Dogs
This actually started out because of some appalling behavior I was watching from a fellow Quilt Industry Professional and I had thought of trying to make some aspects of that person into an animal character, but then I started writing in the voice of a dog and realized I really love dogs and didn't want to make my quilting dog into a total asshole. Also, cats get way too much attention.

Behind the Bolts
I interviewed a JoAnn's employee and wrote about what she told me.  The most viewed and commented-on post of all time.

Super Helpful Amazon Product Reviews
Sometimes, even when I'm feeling pretty low, I still manage to entertain myself.

I'm A Quilting Fan, I Think
One of the most gratifying things about writing this blog has been hearing from people who appreciate seeing something they have often thought or felt put into words. I didn't think that would happen so much from my expression of quilting ennui.

Texting With Mom
Fake texts are one of my favorite forms of comedy. Once I finally figured out how to generate them (even though I forgot which bubbles are the sender and which the receiver), I was in giggle heaven. Another moment where I made myself laugh and that was all that mattered.

Happy New Year, everyone!