Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Sea of Serpents

WARNING! Stylized and colorful representations of snakes below!


I made a quilt. I call it The Sea of Serpents.


Are you afraid of snakes? A lot of people are. One day, I was coming home from a walk and I saw a neighbor at my door. I called out to her, and she turned around and said, breathless, "Oh, Megan! Thank goodness! Is David home?"

"Yeah, he's working from home today."

"Is he scared of snakes?"

Now, I actually have no idea whether David is scared of snakes, but I knew he didn't have time to deal with one, so I told her, "I have no idea but I'm not!"

She told me her husband was out of town and a snake had gotten into their finished basement and she couldn't get it to leave. It had crawled up and into a corner between the fireplace and a wall and nothing she did would make it come down. So I said, okay, let's see what we can do.

But as we were headed over, my neighbor Sam returned from his run and she saw him. Believing, I suppose, that a man was better equipped to brave the big, bad boa in her den than little old me, she appealed to him for help instead and he, despite being terrified of snakes himself, managed to find some sort of long tong-type things and grab the poor little guy (he was quite small) and toss him out into the backyard. There may have been high-pitched squealing, not by me.

Sigh. I really wanted to touch the snake.


There are approximately 2600 species of snakes (that we know of) in the world, and about 400 of those are venomous, or about 15% In the United States, we have about 130 snake species, and 21 of them are venomous, 16%, and these are mainly in the groups of rattlesnakes, coral snakes, water moccasins (also known as cottonmouths), and copperheads.

It is estimated that roughly 5 people per year in the United States die of snake bite. Five. To work my famous math skills again, that's like a fraction of a fraction of a percent. Now there are somewhere in the range of 1000 to 8000 bites from venomous snakes per year, and that's a slightly bigger percentage of the population, like a bigger fraction of a fraction. (Stop me if all my crazy math is too much.) Even if you get bit, you probably won't die, because anti-venom is readily available.

And some people want to kill every snake they see.

The thing is, you have a much greater chance of being hit by lightning or of dying from a bee sting than from a snake bite. Snakes, for the most part, (I can't speak for that one copperhead on my parents' deck that one time—he was looking shifty) aren't sitting around going, WHO CAN I KILL TODAY? Well, they are, but only in a what's-for-lunch sort of way, not in a murder-murder-kill sort of way. They're not legless psychopaths.


It's very easy to be afraid of every single snake that exists just because a very small number of them will bite you if they think you will do them harm. But we are human. We have consciousness and reason, and we have the capability of ameliorating our own fears through understanding.

But most of all, if they are not all out to get us (and they aren't), and if they are not a vital food source for us (you can eat snake, but not many do), then I say, let them live. Better yet, let's learn to appreciate them. They really are quite beautiful.

Especially in quilty form.


The Sea of Serpents is an appliqué quilt of my own design. The beautiful longarm quilting was done by Amy Helton, whom you can find on Instagram as @longarmyogigal. I am working on a little story that goes along with it and you may not like it. It's not even remotely funny. But when I am done with it I will link to it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It will.



The comedy gods smiled upon me today.

One of our toilets started running and the plumber came this morning. He's been here before and is a pretty affable guy. He rooted around in the tank for a while, and seemed to have fixed the problem, but he kept standing there looking at it and shaking his head ruefully.

"Problem?" I asked.

"How long have you had this toilet?"

"Um, we've lived here 8 years—I have no idea how long it was here before that."

He sighed. "Do you have issues with it? Like, you know, stuff not going down?"

"Oh yeah, all the time."

"Well, technically, it's fixed, but I've gotta tell you—you've got an inadequate flapper."

Dear Reader, I lost it. Just cracked up. And if you know me, you know that I'm actually quite shy in real life and I don't joke around with people I don't know. But I couldn't help myself.

"Dude! I can't believe you just called my flapper inadequate. That's a hell of a thing to say to a lady. Didn't your momma raise you better?"

Now he's laughing, but trying to explain why this particular brand and model toilet sucks, and what we should get instead if we ever need to replace it, but all I can do is think about the phrase "inadequate flapper." Finally, he leaves and tells me to have a real nice day.

"I will! Well, you know, as much as I can with an inadequate flapper." I watch him laugh and shake his head at the strange lady as he walks back out to his truck.

I tell you all this just to warn you that this phrase may pop up again here and there.

"Dammit, my machine isn't working right." "Yeah, it's probably an inadequate flapper."

"When you're paper piecing, shorten your stitch length and make sure your flapper is nice and adequate."

"Did you hear about the 20s-era woman who couldn't make it as a party girl? She was just an inadequate flapper."

And, of course:

"Thanks for the unsolicited dick pic, dude, but it looks to me like you've got yourself an inadequate flapper there."

So, now you have been duly warned. And you'll know what the hell I'm talking about if it comes up again.

Which it will.

Oh, yes. It will.



Thursday, January 5, 2017

At least the bunnies are on fire

Note: I wrote this right after spring Quilt Market LAST YEAR then tucked it away in the drafts folder. My drafts folder is strange place where posts disappear for awhile, then pop up again months later, asking, "Why have you never published me?" Well, I'm publishing you now, little bunny post.


Remember back in my April Fool's post when I said the next animal trend in quilt fabric would be bunnies?

I WASN'T KIDDING.

Behold:

House of Hoppington - Violet Craft for Michael Miller


Luna Sol - Felice Regina for Windham


Nightfall - Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery


Dutch Treat - Betz White for Riley Blake
(okay, it's mostly birds - but the bunnies are in there!)


Thicket — Gingiber for Moda

Wonderland - Melissa Mortenson for Riley Blake

Slow and Steady - Tula Pink for Free Spirit

I've been scouring all the photos coming out of Quilt Market this past week (plus, I pay attention in general so I knew about a few of these already) to document all the bunny fabrics I could find that are debuting there. Obviously, I was not disappointed. And for all I know, there are more that I just haven't found yet.

Now, before everybody starts hippity hopping up my butt about this—I like bunnies just fine. I'm not saying you can't like bunnies. I mean, they're super cute. They're also poop factories with weird pee, but if that's your thing, I ain't judgin'. You can bunny up all your shiz and I will not say ye nay. And all of these fabrics are really quite lovely. I will most likely be getting some of them myself (those first two kinda rock and just the colors on the second one make me swoon). No, this isn't about me rolling my eyes and going, "Ugh, bunnies, amirite?" This is about one thing. I just want to know, I STILL want to know:

Is there a secret mystery society—a shadowy cabal, if you will—that decides these things? Are there confidential, closed-door meetings where cigars are smoked and whiskey is imbibed and money changes hands in locked briefcases? Is the Next Animal Trend in Quilt Fabric decided via some sort of sinister lottery, or maybe even just by the roll of a solid gold die on the naked belly of a high-priced escort? And then how does the decision about The Final Animal make its way down to the designers themselves? Are all fabric designers given a special phone, one not to be used for any other purpose, that only rings when it is time to be told The Sacred Creature? Or does it happen via subliminal messages, with images of The Chosen Beast placed seemingly at random in the designers' everyday worlds until they are each inspired, nay—COMPELLED to recreate it in quilt cotton? 

Or maybe they all have alien implants. Somebody should check that.

Now I understand that trends are trendy for a reason. I don't necessarily know what that reason is, mind you, just that in some psycho-sociological study out there I am sure one has been posited. It probably has something to do with feelings of familiarity combined with wanting to feel like a part of a special group combined with apparent novelty plus not wanting to miss out on stuff. Or something. Plus, if it looks like the quilt fabric-consuming public is eating up the rabbits with a spoon, so to speak, then more manufacturers are going to want to get on that—which is why we'll probably see even MORE fluffy bun-buns next year. It's just that, being the curious and cynical sort, I'm truly fascinated by watching the process unfold. I noted the deer trend only after it had already reached Peak Antler, so I didn't really get to see how and when it started. I didn't know, and couldn't really deduce, if it sprang from one line, one designer, or if, as may be the case here, there was a moment when several people had similar ideas at roughly the same time. Now I have a chance to see if this is truly the beginning of a major cottontail happening—if these rabbits will reproduce like, well, rabbits—and you can rest assured that I will be reporting periodically on this story as it develops.

For Incredibly Unimportant News Network, I'm Megan D. Good night, and good wabbit hunting.





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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mini Quilt Madness

The railing for the upstairs landing of my house has been a quilt display rack and storage spot for some time now, but since my left shoulder froze up it has also become Quilt Top Limbo. My shoulder is starting to improve so I am able to do short periods of rotary cutting now, but I still can't baste or quilt anything much larger than a mini without later wishing for sweet, sweet death to come take me from this living hell.

I've mentioned my sampler about a bajillion times, I know, and I'm not showing it because I keep thinking I'm going to turn it into a pattern or do a quilt-along with it, or a BOM kinda thing, but I feel like I can't do any of that until it's an actual quilt and not just a top - so that's on the pile.

Then there's the quilt I made for a friend so I can't show that either and I can't send that one out to be quilted because I am pathological about needing it to have been done by only MY HANDS.

After I made my Weird and Wonderful Thing,  I decided that I really wanted to make the koi quilt from Casey York's book, Modern Appliqué Illusions.


Then Harper felt a Halloween quilt was in order and she really wanted one she had found on Instagram. Turned out to be a free pattern from Andover. We scoured our already ample Halloween stash and added a few more pieces and made this:


So that's four quilt tops just hanging out on my railing. And yeah, I know most of you are rolling your eyes and going, "FOUR quilt tops? That's nothing. I haven't quilted a top since 1974 and several of them have fused together under the weight of them all. I spit upon your puny, unfused collection." But puny as it may be, I still don't like amassing tops I can't finish. My Weird and Wonderful Thing showed me that there's a lot of creativity and satisfaction to be found in smaller projects, so I decided to focus on mini quilts for a while.

As I have mentioned ad nauseam, Instagram is really becoming my social network of choice. I'm increasingly unhappy with Facebook as both a personal social medium and a business one. Facebook doesn't want to show you my posts unless there's a lot of engagement on them, and they seem to actively suppress posts that they then want me to "boost" by giving them money. I'm not entirely opposed to that, but they keep telling me I have offensive content and though they take my money anyway, my "boost" doesn't reach very far because they're making some sort of super-safe guesses as to who can safely view my extremely incendiary prose. Fucking cockwankers.

Instagram, owned now by the algorithm-happy folks at Facebook, has historically been a little more straightforward (though even that is changing). And I just like the simplicity of it. Just photographs and comments. No links. (I could go into a long treatise here about why the links on Facebook are detrimental to everyone's well-being, but I'll refrain. We've all been through enough this week.) In fact, Instagram is where I discovered swapping and the joys of mini quilts.

But like everything that involves people, we can't have nice things. Not for long anyway. I found that some people were being pushed out of swaps because their skills were not as good as many of the other people swapping, and that's where I had to draw a line. But then I also realized that what I really liked about swapping was not so much getting something but being creative within a set of rules set up by someone else. Like, for instance, a Disney-themed swap and the recipient really likes appliqué, Alison Glass fabrics, and the color teal.  I like having a set of constraints like that and then seeing what I can do within them to make it fun and challenging for me. I just didn't want to do it from swapping anymore.

So I came up with an idea I decided to call Mini Quilt Madness. On Instagram, i posted a series of choices, and went with the majority vote. Rather than work in a color scheme, I decided to use one collection, but gave people a choice to vote from four:


The overwhelming choice was for Sherlock down there on the bottom left (Raindrop by Rashida Coleman-Hale). Then I asked if I should do patchwork, appliqué, or paper piecing and everybody wanted paper piecing, so I gave them several choices and the majority went with Up and Away by Whole Circle Studio.


Now that I had my parameters, I set to work and posted update photos each day.


But I really felt something, or someone, needed to be riding in that balloon. Something that would really make this little quilt feel like mine.

So, naturally I added an octopus.


By the time all was said and done, I had done paper piecing, appliqué, trapunto, embroidery, free motion quilting, and hand quilting. I freaking loved it.



And then I gave it away.

Yep. Every time a person participated in one of the choices I offered, their name went in a hat, and when it was all done I chose one and sent the quilt to her. Now there's a lovely lady in Montana who has this hanging in her office, and I couldn't be happier.

I love making things. I love stretching my creative muscle just a bit farther each time I make something. I don't need to keep everything I make.

But apparently I do need to put an octopus on it.

I'll be doing this again soon, so if you aren't following me on Instagram you can find me as @thebitchystitcher. (And yes, you really need a smartphone or tablet.)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A pep talk, in case you need it

As I have mentioned before, I belong to a couple of the big quilting groups on Facebook, and I love them. People get weird on occasion, but for the most part, they are earnest and kind. And no, most of the quilters on these groups aren't creating masterpieces—and that is precisely why I love them. I love seeing people make things just for the love of making them, and doing so according to their own aesthetic, however that aesthetic was developed and even if I don't necessarily share it.

The other day, I was scrolling along on FB, and I came across this post, which pretty much stopped me in my tracks:



There were so many things I wanted to say to her, but I knew that, for one thing, any comment would be eventually lost in the sea of comments that flood the posts on these groups. And for another, I had a LOT to say. So I'm going to say them here instead, and maybe my thoughts will work themselves around to her someday, or maybe they'll help someone else who is feeling something similar. Or, maybe I just like hearing the sound of my own...keyboard.

So, here goes:

No matter how good a quilter you are, someone will always be better than you. Maybe that person is better than you right now, or maybe they existed 50 years ago, or maybe they haven't been born yet. Maybe they are famous. Maybe no one knows who they are at all. But they're out there somewhere in the space-time continuum, you can be sure of that.

And the converse is true: No matter how bad a quilter you are, someone out there is worse.

See, some quilters have natural talents for color and design, and some of those quilters have been able to develop those talents through education. Some quilters have had the luxury of time to be able to practice and practice and practice, and the luxury of money to make endless numbers of quilts that weren't quite good enough until they got it right. Some quilters have access to specialized or higher-quality machines that make some of the more difficult techniques a little easier. Some quilters are able to attend classes and workshops to learn new techniques or improve upon the ones they already know.

But the key word there? Some. Some quilters.

Not all.

Not even most.

Some.

The internet and social media are distortion fields. They are funhouse mirrors that make some things seem bigger and better than they really are. It can be very easy to scroll through Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest and assume that everybody is creating masterpieces while you are still trying to figure out how to sew in a straight line.

But let's think about numbers.

The 2014 Quilting In America survey estimated that there are about 16 million quilters in the United states alone. Sixteen million. And because of the way that survey is conducted, many people believe that a large number of quilters are left out of it, so the number may be even higher. But we'll work with it for now.

The group on Facebook called "Quilting" has 76,000 members and is, as far as I can tell, the largest such group on FB. Even if ALL the people in that group were expert quilters, they would still only represent .4 percent of the total number of quilters in the US. That's two fifths of one percent (if my math is correct, and I grant you it may not be).

Instagram quilters are harder to quantify, but let's look at the #quilting hashtag there. A search for that tag pulls up 523,256 posts. Undoubtedly, many of those are multiple tags from the same person, but barring any way to actually check that, let's just assume that it represents 523,256 individual quilters. Who are all better than you. (For the sake of argument.) Those half million quilters still comprise only about three percent of the 16 million.

And how many people can you even see on Instagram anyway? Even if you looked at a photograph from a different quilter every second for 24 solid hours, you would have seen the work of only 86,400 quilters—.5 percent of the quilters in the U.S.

In other words, even if you try to start making the assertion that every quilter is better than you, you start to come up against the fact that you cannot actually create a reasonable number of social media users you could potentially be exposed to that even approaches a majority of all the quilters in the country. So, if you are using the images you see on the internet to make yourself believe that a vast majority of quilters are better than you, you are using evidence from a vast minority of all the quilters in the country, not to mention the world.

I'm throwing all this math at you because I really want this point to get across: the internet is not a window into reality. It's more like a petri dish, where the right things in the right environment will grow and spread. But some of those things will be penicillin and some will be E. coli and it's important to know the difference.

So where are all the other millions of quilters? Oh, lots of them are online too; it's just impossible to actually come across 16 million of anything. And lots of them are just making their quilts and giving them to friends or family or charities, or keeping them for themselves, and not bothering to set up a photo with soft, reflected natural light on reclaimed barn lumber—a photo which, because of the angle and the distance of the camera from the subject and the fact that you are viewing it on a phone and you really need to update your reading glasses, may conveniently camouflage the fact that none of the points match up, the quilting is kinda herky jerky, the binding didn't actually get sewn all the way down in several spots, and the back has pleats that could double as pockets.

So many of the quilts we see so artfully photographed online are not as perfect as they seem. How do I know? I've photographed them. As the former art director of a fledgling quilting magazine, I often photographed the quilts for the project pages, and while all the quilts were lovely and perfectly suited for being quilts, none were perfect, and some were very far from it. And those imperfections had to be hidden as much as possible because a magazine is supposed to be aspirational. We don't buy magazines to see images that reflect our reality; we buy them to see images that reflect what we wish our reality could be.

And when it became possible for individuals to display their own images to thousands, maybe even millions, of people on the internet, people began to gravitate towards those bloggers and Flickrers and now Facebookers and IGers whose photographs of their quilts had that aspirational quality we had depended on magazines for before. We are instinctively drawn towards these pretty, well-lit, almost professional-quality photos, and we just as instinctively scroll past the ones that are too dark, taken on the floor instead of a fence on a misty country lane, most definitely not professionally shot and not professionally sewn either.

So while it may certainly seem as though, as seen through the lens of an app or a browser, that the entire world is a better quilter than you, it isn't. It couldn't be. The numbers just don't add up. Some are, yes. Maybe lots. But not all.

I cannot tell you how many times, when I post something about what I have recently made, somebody says, "I could never do that." My own mother once told me she felt bad when she saw what my sister and I have learned to do in quilting because she never advanced that far. And then there's our friend from Facebook up there at the top of this post.

So to her and to all those people who write to me and tell me they'll never be as good as me, and to my dear departed mom, I have one last point. If you make ANYTHING, you are a magician. A quilt, a table runner, a placemat, a block, even just two pieces of fabric sewn together and dropped on the floor—hell, even one piece of fabric cut out of a larger one—none of these things existed in that form until you brought them into being. You are Minerva freaking McGonagall, transmogrifying fabric and thread until it becomes something new, something that, no matter what it looks like or how skillfully it was constructed, is greater than what its parts were before you brought them together. That's magic. That's art.

It's okay to make crappy quilts until you make better ones. It's okay to not want to learn how to do blindfolded origami paper piecing. It's okay to like the fabrics and colors that you like. Just the fact that you are creating something is wonderful and worthy of celebration, no matter how many other people in the world are actually "better" or "worse" than you. Just making something as lovely, as warm, as comforting as a quilt is adding a bit of loveliness, warmth, and comfort to a world that, right now, desperately needs those things.

So, please. Don't give up.



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Crafty Bastards

I do love a good craft fair. I don't go to many, unfortunately, but after our sojourn this past Sunday I'm going to make an effort to go to more. Many craft fairs, I find, are rather stodgy affairs with lots of "safe" crafts. Beaded jewelry. Nature photography. Pleasantly scented soaps. A lot of things involving ducks, for some reason. I always scour these fairs hoping to find that one vendor, often tucked into a dark corner because the organizers aren't sure they belong but needed the booth fee, who actually has a sense of humor. I mean, ducks are nice and all, but give me a good platypus any day.

Enter the craft fair of my dreams: Crafty Bastards.

Crafty Bastards happens twice a year in D.C. and is devoted to independent, alternative artists. Many of the vendors were local to D.C, Maryland and Virginia but others came from as far away as the west coast. The October event takes place next to Union Market, near Gallaudet University.


I never made it inside Union Market itself—the fair was under tents in an area to the right of the photo—but all indications are that it is a hipster foodie paradise. David took our daughters in there to eat while I wandered the booths and the girls returned utterly offended that the fries they got were sprinkled in ROSEMARY and fried in DUCK FAT. David said they were the best fries he had ever eaten and did not feel sorry for our children's unsophisticated palates in the slightest. There were also food trucks and we were pleased to see a truck from a Baltimore restaurant we've been dying to try: Dangerous Pies. We got a slice of chicken pot pie and roasted apple cinnamon chess pie to share and while we weren't calling out to God in ecstasy we did enjoy them very much.

I was pretty tickled that the very first vendor I saw was Resident.


Each one of these animal heads is made of folded paper AND they are sold as kits! The pieces are all cut and scored, and they come printed in a way that indicates how to do the folds. The kits come with instructions and a small bottle of glue. They are also expensive—but, c'mon, look at them, totally worth it—and someday, oh yes, one will be mine. But not yet. Because I am a woman who has a deep, abiding love for faux taxidermy of all kinds and I had another maker on my radar:



Zooguu! I've been following Jen Gubicza for a while now on Instagram and when I saw that she was coming to Crafty Bastards, that cemented my plans to come to the show. I even did a quick fabric sale on IG and sold a couple of my beloved Tula pieces so that I would have enough money to get one. I almost brought home a blue narwhal, but then Jen and my husband convinced me to have her make me one in colors of my choosing, so in a couple weeks I will be the proud owner of a lilac narwhal with a silver horn, mounted on wood to be buddies with my beloved Yeti, Grushenka, made by Yetis and Friends. Have I shown you my Yeti? If not, this is her. Isn't she the best thing ever?


And while we're standing there I notice that there are bins of some very interesting prints in front of her counter, and we're all flipping through them, exclaiming about them, and Jen tells us that it's all the work of her husband, Brian Gubicza. And as I'm flipping through, I hit upon this and any resistance I might have had just dwindled and I knew it had to come home with me:



This whole craft fair was murder on my wallet. But so many things were JUST SO ME. Such as these 5x7 certificates made with scout badges by Snarky Scouts:


It was a freaking miracle I stopped at four.

Then I came across Ugly Baby. I knew about Rosalie Gale's work because of a post on Abby Glassenberg's blog from 2015. In it, Rosalie wrote about how she and her husband built a business around waterproof rubber shower art. With glitter and tiny letters and little plastic toys, they created these wonderful and hilarious pieces that are meant to hang by an attached suction cup in your shower. How weird and wonderful is that? But then one day, on the site Instructables, someone who was definitely not Rosalie or her husband posted that they really loved these pieces made by Ugly Baby, so much so that she decided to post detailed instructions on how to make something very similar. At first, Rosalie was horrified to see her work used like this, just out there for anybody to do themselves and not buy from her. But then she thought about it and talked to her husband and realized that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I urge you to go read the post, because it really made me understand a lot about art and ideas and inspiration and with all the folderol with the MQG and their ill-advised post on derivation, I think Rosalie's conclusions are important.

SO OF COURSE I HAD TO BUY ONE.


And put it in my shower.


Also I have a weakness for notebooks and journals, and bookbindery is a craft I've always wanted to learn. So, I stroll over to Moonlight Bindery where I discover a book bound in one of my favorite Kokka prints:


HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO RESIST THAT? That's right—I wasn't.

I knew at this point I really had to stop. It was getting absurd. But then my youngest, Devon, and I discovered Cuddles and Rage. Sadly, I did not get any pictures at their booth, but their combo of cute and disturbing was right up Devon's alley, so we got her a tiny magnet shaped like a happy stack of pancakes (which she has spirited away already and I can't find it) and this wee little book:





At this point, I had to declare bankruptcy and stop, plus my kids were tired and getting bored and they had been real troopers, allowing me to see everything at least twice. But there were so many great things and all the makers were such lovely, friendly people it was all I could do not to hug each and every one of them and be all "I ADMIRE YOU SO MUCH." I just love people who throw their creativity out into the world and even dare to try and make a living from it, and I absolutely adore all those who bring a wicked sense of humor to the endeavor. None of the makers I met there really knew it, but they are my people. I'm happy and proud to put some money their way and if I have to have a little less Tula Tree of Life fabric to do so, well then so be it.

Totally worth it.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Five out of five stars—would post again!

I am still plugging away at my new humor book, so we're going to revisit another old favorite this week. This was from 2014—TWO YEARS AGO. How in the hell does that happen? Anyway, if you missed it the first time, please enjoy, and if you didn't, I added a whole new bit at the end just for you. 






Sew-Rite 6000 Sewing Machine with Extendo-bed
2 out of 5 Stars
I bought this sewing machine because it was the first item that came up when I did a search for 'bestest sewing machine ever in the history of the universe' so I trusted that I would be getting a good one. It even has a picture of a country music star on the box, so that was another indicator of quality. I was impressed with how lightweight it was—I mean, why do they make stuff so heavy you have to ask a guy to carry it and then you remember you don't have a guy and then you get all depressed and eat donut holes and write One Direction fan fiction until you pass out? That's not really serving the customer. I also appreciated the inclusion of a box of Sharpies for 'personal customization.' I drew Harry Styles giving me a foot rub. All in all, this was a pretty great machine.

However, I am only giving it two stars because the country music singer on the box is sleeping with my Harry and I hate her and I hope she dies in a freak sewing machine accident.


Stitch Master plastic bobbins, pack of 100
1 out of 5 stars
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY BOBBINS I ONLY NEED 10 BOBBINS NOT A HUNDRED PLEASE MAKE A SMALLER CONTAINER OF BOBBINS SOME OF US DON'T SEW THAT MUCH YOU KNOW

ALSO THEY SHOULD BE PURPLE. I LOVE PURPLE.

AND CATS


Making Old Quilt Patterns Look Original, by Trudy McQuilterpants
5 out of 5 stars
I was SO excited when my dear, dear friend Trudy sent me a copy of her new book. Since we are such dear, dear friends, I knew this book would be something special. And boy was I right! This book has it all: lots of pictures of quilts draped across sofas, quilt patterns that have been around since time began but are now totally different because they're, like, way bigger and not brown, and writing that doesn't dare to get too interesting. I hope to be famous someday just like Trudy and I totally don't mind that she stole my idea for this book because now I'm sure she'll let me sit by her in our next guild meeting! Call me, Trudy! Love ya!


6.5-inch square acrylic ruler
4 out of 5 stars
This is a great ruler, but I just got a new pattern and I need 4-inch squares. So now I have to buy a new ruler. They should come in a set of ALL the sizes, not just one. Also, does anybody know where to get purse-shaped rulers?


Blankets-n-Bulges 2015 Calendar
1 out of 5 stars
THEY ARE QUILTS NOT BLANKETS. ALSO BULGES APPARENTLY MEANS MUSCLES NOT WANG. DISAPPOINTED.


A Quilt to Remember, by Lavinia Havisham-Toshington
2 out of 5 stars
Perhaps Miss Havisham-Toshington is unaware of the long, long tradition of quilt-related fiction into which her novel falls, but someone needs to inform her that in this tradition, people simply do NOT do naked, dirty things with each other. I purchased this novel assuming, as anyone would, that I would be reading yet another wholesome account of how a quilt brought together a community or a family and that my heart would be warmed by a tender account of friendship and potluck suppers. Instead, the only thing warmed was an unmentionable place and I feel violated. I did not appreciate being subjected to several long chapters devoted to extremely energetic couplings between Lance, the gorgeous ne'er-do-well farm hand with a shady past, and Sasha, the beautiful eldest daughter of a cruel man who inherits the family farm and vows to show her father that she can grow corn and milk cows and save the land from foreclosure while lusting after a man she knows she shouldn't want but does anyway. The only reason there's a quilt in the title is because there's an old one in the barn and they keep explicitly fornicating on it instead of quietly going into a bedroom after getting married and then not talking about it like normal people. I had to buy the entire series just to see if they were all as bad and they certainly are. In fact, I have to keep reading them over and over because I honestly can't believe people like this stuff and maybe I'm missing some redeeming aspect of the story, but it's all just bosoms and buns and hay bales. I would have given this zero stars, but I imagine some of those "modern" quilters might like this.

Grip-Tite Finger Covers for Free Motion Quilting
3 out of 5 stars
To be honest, I bought these without really looking at the picture because they were recommended by someone at my guild, who shall remain nameless. (DONNA.) All she said was they were grippy things that go on your fingers to help you hold on to the quilt, but she failed to mention that they are actually super-short condoms. I mean, they don't have a reservoir tip or anything, but they are basically rainjackets for cocktail weenies. I have no idea whether they grip as advertised, because frankly I can't get past my hands looking like some sort of phallic bouquet. And I probably shouldn't mention this, but I threw them in the garbage can and my husband, Chet, found them and accused me of having an affair with our neighbor, Tom, and I can't quite figure out why he singled out Tom but I'm guessing it might have something to do with the size of Tom's, um, tool—and now that I possibly know this I can't face him but he's always out watering his tomatoes and so I can never leave the house again. Plus, HOW WOULD CHET KNOW? So, I'm sure this is a fine product, but I'm docking two stars because I'm pretty sure a quilting notion shouldn't make you question your life choices.

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You can read a whole book of my humor columns from my years at Quilter's Home and Generation Q magazines, Quilting Isn't Funny. Get a signed copy or a PDF here or order from Amazon (paperback and Kindle editions available.)