Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dot Party!

I am poking my head out from under the pile of virtual paperwork I am currently being attacked by to tell you that my friend QuiltDots is having a big party and she's giving away tons of prizes. Today, you can win a whole bunch of my dots, a jewelry base, a set of bookmarks, AND a copy of my book. Plus, there's a short interview with me where you'll find out exactly what I order when I go to Starbucks. I know you were just dying to know that. See? I live to serve.

So, head on over and enter (there are 5 ways to enter) and good luck!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Odds and ends and Hipster Ariel

We went to Tennessee last week for the girls' spring break, and we buried my mom's ashes in the same cemetery where my brother is. We had a very small service with just family, where we talked about mom and cried and laughed, and then we went out to visit both grave sites.

My brother's stone.
Mom's in this section. Her stone isn't up yet.

The cemetery is in a beautiful area, surrounded by rolling green hills and lots of trees under a big sky. It was a great comfort to us all that Mom and Jon are there together, since we all seem to imagine them laughing together somewhere like they always used to.

* * *

When my sister and I were going through my mom's things back in January, it was decided that I would take her sewing machine, since Kelly already has a Bernina and I have something probably made by oppressed people in appalling working conditions. I have to admit, it has worked well for 4, maybe 5, years now, but I have been wondering whether many of my accuracy issues would resolve if I had a better, more precisely engineered machine and one that wasn't psychically imbued with the blood of innocents.  But then again, maybe that's how the Swiss do it; I don't know.

I couldn't lug it home with me on the plane, so I brought it back on this trip. It's a Bernina 1230, which is apparently an "old style". I'm pretty sure it's against the modern quilting rules (Section 12, Subsection G) to use anything "old style" but they can kiss my wonky butt.  

The only thing is the poor baby has no feet. Well, a walking foot, but that's it and I hate using those unless I have to. I have no idea what Mom did with them, and why they weren't with the machine or anywhere else in her sewing room. I've been scouring eBay and calling local shops, looking for feet, and drove out to one shop that said they might have some only to discover they only have a ruffler and eight hundred cording feet. Another shop answered an email this evening and claimed to have "lots," both new and used, so I'll head out there tomorrow and see if they're yanking me. Even if they are, I have one on order, so eventually I'll be able to start playing. I've been told by many, many people that this is a wonderful machine, one of the best Bernina ever made, so you can imagine I am anxious to test that out.

(Update: After I wrote this, I drove out to the aforementioned shop and found out that emailing them is a bad idea because it goes to the owner and according to the ladies who work there, the owner doesn't know squat about what they do and do not have. They reluctantly looked through bags (everything these people do is reluctant and that's why I never shop there) and we found a foot that looked like a basic zigzag which I bought. It doesn't fit. It looks exactly like an old style Bernina foot, except the two little prongs that stick up at the top (the "dinglehopper") are too big. But as I was removing the walking foot to try this one out, I discovered that it was not a Bernina walking foot, but a generic with an adapter! Well, now I'm all excited because maybe I can use the adapter to employ the feet I already have! Yes and no. If I use my Brother, the foot sits too high and doesn't touch the fabric. But! I have an old, old Singer foot that looks like it will fit on the adapter—and it does, beautifully, except it's too low and there's about a micron of space between the bottom of the foot and the feed dogs. Sigh. Ebay says the one I ordered might arrive by Friday. Obviously, I am not terribly patient.)

I think I'll call her Hipster Ariel, The Sewing Machine That Longed For Obscure Feet.

* * *

My posting might be sparse over the next few weeks because I took on a ton of extra work for the next issue of GenQ. I will be working right up to Market, then I actually GO to Market (I KNOW), and I'm guessing I'll be frantically working again as soon as I get home. 

I actually designed and ordered my own business cards this weekend, as well as bookmarks to promote my book (the real one) at Market. There has been vague talk of a "book signing" at the GenQ booth, but I have no idea how that works. But if you happen to be at Market, I'd love to see you, whether I sign a book for you or not. If I'm not in the booth, I'll be wandering around with my camera, being GenQ's Jimmy Olsen. I may or may not try sneaking promotional copies of the book into the bags of unsuspecting quilters. On the one hand, it would be good to get it out there, promote, publicize and all that. But you know, I am not everyone's cup of tea:

Granted, this is the only bad review. But still!

You wouldn't think so, but it is actually very hard to tell just by looking which quilters were dropped on their heads as children and now have no sense of humor. It is often only revealed when you attempt to make jokes about quilting that are a tad more interesting than "I'm so addicted to fabric" and it turns out that, for some people, humor like that is akin to juggling kittens. But then, on the other hand, you sometimes find out that people you would never expect—like, oh, editors of major, long-running and highly respected quilt magazines—think your jokes are a hoot. 

That's why promoting myself—beyond the shyness issues—is so hard for me. How do you tell people, "My book is really funny, if you don't mind zombies and Buddha and drinking and mild vibrator jokes. If you do mind those things, you're going to just HATE this." All I can do is put it out there and let the vitriol fall where it may. I have to admit, I re-read one of my pieces from the book last night, and I think it's damn good. Whatever anyone else thinks, I am proud of what I've done. 

So if you're going to Market, I'd love to see you, meet you, say hi. I have a vision where all of us highly introverted quilters who end up at Market agree to meet somewhere for a drink and we all sit at separate tables and text each other all night. Hell, we could just do it from our hotel rooms! I plan to be in mine as much as possible.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Quiltpatternspro is a scraper site

Please see this Wikipedia article to understand what a scraper site is:


This is not a quilter. This is not the person who pinned your quilt yesterday. This is not the person who emailed you with a nice note asking if she could share your quilt on her blog. This is an automated scam system that is rampant throughout the web.

There is a name at the bottom of the quiltpatternspro website. It says "Pachyderm theme by Caroline Moore." Caroline Moore is NOT the evil genius behind quiltpatternspro. She is a web developer or graphic artist who made the pretty background - one that is probably cheap or free for anyone to use - just as many of you have gotten Cutest Blog on the Block themes for your blogs. Please do not start targeting people named Caroline Moore or Carol Moore and accusing them of stealing.

The best thing we can all do is keep contacting GoDaddy and inform them of the infringement. I do realize this would be a lot more fun if it was some crazy lady who's gleefully reading all our blogs and manually posting them all day long in a frenzy of jealous rage, but I'm afraid it's just not that sexy and we're most likely never going to see or know a face or name behind it. It is something we all need to be aware of and we all need to know what we can do to protect ourselves. Yelling at poor people named Caroline Moore isn't going to help. Sorry.

Let's all take a few deep breaths and look at Tom Hiddleston for a minute to center ourselves, m'kay?

He can steal my content anytime.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Quilt Writing

Some time ago, I revealed all kinds of juicy secrets about getting published in magazines, (quilting magazines in particular, but it applies to many smaller publications as well). Secrets so juicy I may never work in that business again. Since I wrote that for newbie, unpublished writers, I thought it might also be of some help to have some tips about the actual writing of an article. How you turn an idea about trampoline-enthusiast quilters into an actual article may seem like a big mystery, but maybe we can shed a little light on the process and help get you started. If it doesn't go well, we'll just resort to Tom Hiddleston pictures.

Did you ever see the movie, The Big Chill? (If you're as old as I am, you've seen it a hundred times.) Jeff Goldblum's character works for People magazine and when one of the others asks him what it's like to be a big-time journalist, he answers,

"Where I work we have only one editorial rule: you can't write anything longer than the average person can read during the average crap."

I've always wanted to cross-stitch that and hang it on my wall.

Anyhoodle, here are my tips for writing articles in the quilt world:

1. This isn't actually a post about quilt writing. No, the point of all that above (which is taken from an actual post draft) is to tell you about a website that has been posting my blog content without my permission. In fact, I believe they have been doing this to many, many quilt bloggers. It seems that they are taking the content from our RSS feeds and posting it as their own. They are not linking to me. they are copying my words and images and by doing so implying that it is theirs.

This pisses me off.

From now on, all my posts are going to contain this graphic:

The site in question is quiltpatternspro.com. I urge you, if you are a quilt blogger, to be on the lookout for this site, and to take steps, as I have done here, to try and protect your content from this kind of piracy. The idiots have a search box on the page, so you can easily look up your work.

If you do have a blog, or are connected with many quilters on Facebook or other social media, please help spread the word about this site and lets shut them down by showing them that we will not tolerate this shit and that we are damn good at exposing thieving assholes for what they are. Please feel free to link to this post or to share the above graphic as one idea of how we can subvert this kind of piracy. And if you have any other ideas, please post them in the comments.

The site is apparently hosted by GoDaddy and they have procedures for dealing with infringement. Please go here to see what you need to do if your content has been taken. The more people who do this, the more likely it is that the site will be shut down.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Shuckydarn, Yeah!

Good grief! Three posts in one week! Where will it end? Well, right here, probably. I've got work to do.

Thanks everybody for having fun with me yesterday and thanks especially to all the traffic I got from QuiltingBoard as someone linked to my design wall project but didn't link to the specific post, just to the blog, and some people decided the apocalypse was nigh.

I was actually more concerned that someone would get all huffy that I was making fun of modern quilting, which I wasn't. I actually consider myself a modern quilter, though not a Modern Quilter, if you get my meaning there. I started quilting just as it was really beginning to boom on the 'Net and I watched as this influx of new fabric designers and brighter, more graphic quilts and a community of quilters centered around online communication turned into Modern Quilting: The Brand. It amuses me to see how companies and people have tried to jump on the bandwagon and soak up some of that sweet, sweet cash even though the makers of The Brand would turn up their noses at many of them. The whole phenomenon amuses me, so I made up a crass book that was attempting to cash in on the trend without a solid understanding of modern quilting—the movement—just a familiarity with Modern Quilting: The Brand.

This is how my brain works. I'm not just throwing out naughty words to shock the straights. Also, there is a thriving 'tradition" of the "Fuck, yeah!" moniker on many, many Tumblrs, which, if you are not a Tumblr denizen, you might not get. See here to see what I'm talking about.  (Of course, I put mine after the noun, which puts it more in the South Park category I guess. See? With me you get humor, commentary, aging cultural references AND the occasional shirtless dude.)

ANYWAY. Humor's no fun if you have to explain it.

I have actually been doing some quilty things, but I'm not ready to show you quite yet. I finished a quilt top and I've been practicing some free-motion feathers which I may or may not use when I finally get around to quilting it. I really like the top, but can't decide if it's just something cool for me to have or if it's a DESIGN. I swear, I struggle with this concept all the time, and while I'm brain wrestling with myself over whether something I've done is original enough to warrant being called "my design" I see yet another quilt on the cover of yet another magazine "designed by" so-and-so and there's nothing different or original about it. Pretty? Sure! So does "design" mean "come up with a fairly unique arrangement" or "use traditional blocks but write a pattern to go with it"? Seriously, this plagues me, especially as these same people try to copyright the design as well as the written pattern. Look, I'm getting all frothy over it already and I haven't even had lunch yet.

Let's get back to happier topics, shall we? Can someone please explain to me why my targeted Etsy ads always contain fake poo?

Just curious.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My New Book!

I am so excited that I can finally announce this after months and months of lies and subterfuge. When Fantastical Books of Berkeley, California contacted me about producing my own quilting book, I was hesitant, because I have always assumed that I would be self-published until the end of time. But the great team at Fantastical convinced me that they could bring my dream to fruition without compromising my unique artistic vision. I warned them that I would be a big, whiny diva baby throughout the entire process, and they assured me that they had plenty of medicinal marijuana and it would not be a problem at all.

Now, I have never liked labeling myself as any particular type of quilter: traditional, contemporary, socialist, etc. But I have been so inspired by modern quilting and the piles of cash it is making for so many people, that I knew exactly the direction I wanted my book to take. And, to be quite honest, I have had this title in mind for several years and I'm so jazzed to finally have the chance to see it in print.

Sadly, the people at Fantastical Books were not willing to go full F-bomb on the cover, so we had to compromise with the little asterisk there. I designed the cover with no quilt photography in order to signal to the reader that this book would not be the typical "quilts draped on couches" thing which is really more catalog than book. I want the reader to be able to envision their own quilts without being hindered by contrived notions of domesticity and unattainable perfection. Also, all that negative space is modern as fuck.

The quilt designs all employ solids in bold motifs that practically scream "I once saw a Josef Albers book at the library but didn't check it out or anything."

For example, here is one design titled Far From the Madding Crowd:

 And this one, called Meadowlarking:

This one, entitled, Dream Your Explosion, Tiffany, is a study in tension and contrast:

And finally, what modern quilting book would be complete without a portrait quilt of New York minimalist composer, Philip Glass?

Please look for Modern Quilting: F*ck Yeah! on sale at Amazon and fine booksellers and quilt shops everywhere this summer.