Thursday, December 6, 2012

Going once, going twice...hey! Where are you going?

First of all, I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has purchased this year's QSMASB calendar. A lot of sales were made during's big promo and that has helped a great deal, but, sadly, this year's total sales are still far, far below last year's. Now I know much of that is my fault. I haven't been able to push and promote and ask people to spread the word as much as I could last year, so I'd like to try one more thing and maybe get your feedback on some of the details.

The S.O. of one of the models tried to order seven calendars to show off her nekkid man to all their friends, but oops, she ordered 2012 instead of 2013. was awesome and replaced the calendars for her, but didn't want her to return the 2012s, so she sent them to me in the hopes that I could do something with them. I thought about auctioning them off and asked my Facebook hive what I could include with them to sweeten the pot. So, based on their suggestions and my own ideas and a generous donation from the always awesome Sam Hunter, here's what I have to offer:

Each 2012 calendar will be autographed by me (yeah, I know - big whoop, but people kept suggesting it so there it is). One calendar will be offered with this:

And one with this:

And another with these:

One calendar will be paired with this set of 21 buttons from the incomparable Sam Hunter (my favorites are "sewinatrix" and "rhymes with stitch!"):

The amazing, intrepid, and always fan-fucking-tastic Sam has also donated EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HER PATTERN COLLECTION. EVERY. ONE. Including Blanket Statement, her incredible paper-pieced alphabet that also includes a CD of all the letters. See why I always talk about Sam in superlatives?

But that makes 5 and I have seven calendars. So, for the last two, I will add this: I will embroider a curse word of the winner's choosing on a 10X10 square of white Moda fabric. Of course, that would have a lot more impact if I had a finished example to show you but, just work with this for now:

I'll even add flowers and shit to make it pretty! Now, these will take a while, so you have to be willing to wait a month or two to get it, but I'll do my best to make it worth it.

So, here's what I'm thinking: I'll put each item up as a separate post, but I'll put them all up on one day. I'll leave the auction open for several days, and in that time you can bid on what you want by leaving a comment with the amount of your bid. I'll have comment moderation turned on, so I'll see your comments but no one else will. A couple times each day, I'll update the item's post with the current highest bid so you can bid again if you want. Once bidding has closed, I'll announce the winners for each.

Does that sound reasonable? I'd like to do this here rather than on eBay, so this seemed like a good way to go about it. Leaving it up for several days gives lots of people a chance to bid whenever and maybe no one will yell at me. And I also won't have to give a bunch of the proceeds to eBay in fees.

And second question: before or after Christmas? I know this is a rough time of year financially for lots of people so maybe this is the kind of thing you'd want to do after Christmas. I mean it is a 2012 calendar, so it's not like you HAVE to get it before January.

So, please let me know what you think and I'll let you know in a day or two how I've decided to go forward.


Douchy McAsshat

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sewn Hats: A Review

Note: Back a long, long time ago, way before I started working on GenQ, I had a whole bunch of plans for this blog, one of which was to occasionally do book and product reviews. But, you know, good ones, not just rah, rah cheery ones so that people will advertise and send me free stuff. I am trying to renew my commitment to keeping this blog alive and in that spirit, I give you my first book review.

I've pretty much decided that all patterns for all things should be written by people who have advanced degrees in some scientific field. I am fairly sure that this is the key to me not wanting to take the author of any particular pattern and smack him or her around for a while for writing such incomprehensible gobbledygook. When I was a new quilter, I stumbled and cursed my way through a lot of bad patterns, and the difficulty in interpreting poorly worded instructions kept me from attempting more complicated things, even when I was probably ready to do so. Fortunately, this is often what I wrote about and managed to turn that into a minor career as a quilting humorist, so THANK YOU, CRAPPY PATTERN WRITERS.

I had also avoided attempting to make clothing, except for the odd skirt that required only straight lines and some elastic in a tube. But sleeves? Hell, no. Zippers? There was no way anybody could possibly explain—with, you know, words and stuff—how to sew in a zipper. People who made things with zippers were clearly giving it to their moms to do for them and then lying about it on their blogs.

And then I discovered Carla.

Well, to be more specific, I discovered Sis Boom Patterns, which are created by both Jennifer Paganelli and Carla Hegeman Crim. (Carla also has her own line of patterns under the name The Scientific Seamstress.) I made the Patricia Tunic for me and the Marissa dress for each of my girls. Sleeves! ZIPPERS! And the instructions were so incredibly good, I kind of fell in love. Carla has a degree in molecular biology, and I have become convinced that the rigors of scientific research and writing (and the aptitude for such things) have helped make Carla into the incredible pattern writer she is today.

See, I love clarity, and I have a great deal of respect for anyone who can speak, write, or otherwise convey information in a way that is easy to understand without being overly simplistic. With the Sis Boom patterns, I felt like I had a teacher with me, helping me along and making sure I didn't sew my hand to my face while also letting me know that the techniques I was about to attempt were perfectly doable by anyone who was not completely (or partially, for that matter) drunk. AND I learned to sew zippers. Myself. No mom anywhere.

I have since purchased a bunch of Carla's patterns and more Sis Boom patterns, and when I heard on Facebook that Carla was publishing a book on hats I was SO excited, both for Carla because, yay—book!, but also for me. See, I love hats, but I never buy them because I have a gigantic melon head. Seriously. Hats do not fit me. They sit perched on top of my skull like something Princess Eugenie would wear to the gym. I turn every hat into a sad fascinator.

Sewn Hats has patterns for babies, kids, and adults, and the adult hats fit all the way up to Gigantic Melon. I know this, because she has a very easy-to-read chart that shows where your head circumference fits in the range of sizes that are given for each pattern. (And yes, I measured my head, and it is, apparently, freakishly huge, but is at least actually on the chart. Unlike some of my other parts.) And instead of an envelope crammed with tissue paper pattern pieces, which I despise, you  download a PDF of the project and print them yourself. If the pattern has different sizes, the first page will tell you which pages to print for the size you want. Then, if you want to make the hat again in a different size, you just print out what you need—no more trying to salvage those damn tissues you already cut up. This is pure genius, and is the same way all Carla's individual patterns have been done, but the first time I have ever seen it in a publication. I suppose it's possible that other books have been done this way, but if they have, I'm totally going to ignore it and give Carla all the credit.

The first chapter has a ton of great information about tools and techniques, so don't skip it. I tend to gloss over this kind of section in most books, because it's usually all "I'm going to teach you to sew in 4 pages" and doesn't tell you anything worthwhile, but Carla isn't doing that. This gives you specific info on the stuff you will be using to make these hats (think interfacings, glues, and starch), techniques you might not be familiar with, and tips on reading the patterns themselves.

The patterns are exactly what you would expect, considering the high praise I've already given. This is a curated book, meaning that Carla has her own patterns here but has also gathered patterns from many other people such as Melissa Stramel, Bari J., Betz White, Shelly Figueroa, and many more—but the patterns have all been written and edited and illustrated to be consistent with Carla's style. And that makes me confident about every pattern in the book.

And, oh, the hats are so stinking cute! I apologize for the crappy photography, but the book won't fit on my scanner.

There's every kind of hat you can imagine and several you probably can't. There's cute, pretty, silly, fussy, simple—even a good old do-rag. If you can't find a hat in here you like, well then you are clearly just a soulless hat-hater and no good can come from any association with you.

Just so you know, Carla did give me this book, but I have determined that I will never praise a book on this blog that I don't actually love, so if it had turned out that I hated it, you would never have heard about it at all. I don't give praise lightly, so when I do give it, you know I mean it.

By the way, your ass looks fabulous in that hat.

Monday, November 12, 2012

For lack of anything else to post about...

...I am going to share more of my Market pictures, ones that weren't used on GenQ. Enjoy!

Cool stuff from Tula Pink:

This is going to be sold as a kit with pre-cut hexies!

Can you see the quilted rope around the anchor?

Retro chic is still a thing.

Brights were big at Michael Miller:

See? Retro again. Bet you ten bucks somebody makes an 8-track tape quilt pattern soon.
I really liked these updated Dresden Plate patterns at EZ Quilting:

As usual, Amy Butler's booth was big and beautiful, and usually jammed packed with people. (I scared 'em away for the shots:

And David Butler's booth right next door was tiny (but awesome) and I never saw anyone in it. Except David:

And this was Melody Miller's booth. All that retro chic? Pretty much her doing. But she does it really well.

What shocks me when I go back and look at my pictures is how much I didn't shoot. I still feel shy about it, for some reason, like somebody is gonna go, "Hey, you can't photograph that!" And that is not necessarily an unlikely thing. As I have discovered, Quilt Market is a place where you can easily get a lot of, "Hey, you can't!" We were trying to pick up schedules for Schoolhouse, and the woman handing them out was desperately trying to weed out the undesireables by being as intimidating as possible. I'm surprised we weren't asked to show our papers.

I'm going to try to get a review of Sewn Hats up on Wednesday, and then be sure to come back Friday because I have some begging to do then and you know you don't want to miss that!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I hear Ty Pennington is hosting Extreme Introvert Makeover

I'm just going to say it. I'm going to just say it flat out and damn the consequences. I may be shunned and become a social pariah for the rest of my - OH, WAIT.

I really hate going to Quilt Market.

"But, Megan," you say. "How can you possibly hate meeting your quilting idols, being surrounded by so much eye candy, and receiving the love of GenQ/Bitchy Stitcher fans every day? Have you no soul?"

Yeah, I know. For a lot of people, all of those things are wonderful, and the networking opportunities are endless. I do enjoy looking at the fabrics and patterns and I did meet some really great people. But for the love of all that is good and holy in this world I was just never meant to be put in such close proximity to so many people for so many days in a row. By the end of the first day, I was so done, and I was actually praying for a major gastrointestinal event so that I would have an excuse to lock myself in a room and be alone for more than a minute and a half. I simply do not have the gene/gland/section of medulla oblongata that causes other people to walk into a room that is stuffed wall-to-wall with total and near strangers and go "WHASSUP, MAH BITCHEZ? IT'S PARTY TIME—WHO'S GOT THE EASY CHEESE?" Instead, I just feel a constant sense of dread and unease, and the stress makes me feel constantly ill. Yes, I know it's pathological and weird, but this is what events such as this are like for extreme introverts. (NEXT TIME, ON EXTREME INTROVERTS, MEGAN RESORTS TO HIDING HER HEAD INSIDE HER OWN SHIRT)

This is not to say that I don't like the people I went to Market with. On the contrary, I like them all very much. And I did have some great times with them over the course of the weekend. My roomie Bev must absolutely be my roomie on all future Market trips. I want to be her when I grow up, she is that awesome. She is friends with our editor-in-chief, Melissa, and comes to Markets to help us out in the booth, which she is excellent at. Woman can charm. She used to be a color commentator for car racing for ESPN back when women did NOT do that sort of thing, and I would pretty much give my left nut to see some footage of her work. And Tracy Mooney is just a pure pleasure to be around, despite the fact that she is tall, gorgeous, and built like the proverbial brick shithouse. There are few other people I'd do this with/for:

Nor are there many other people I'd go to a sex-n-hookah shop with when I'm already so tired I can barely see straight. This was directly across the street from our hotel:

A 24-hour smoke and porn shop. Naturally, we had to go. And naturally, when we walked in, another group of quilters was walking out. NO ONE CAN RESIST THE ALLURE OF GIANT DILDOS AND SEX SWINGS AFTER DRINKING ROBERT KAUFMAN'S FREE ALCOHOL.

And I know what your next question is: did I buy anything? Sadly, no. For one thing, I was truly exhausted, and one simply cannot purchase filth without a clear head. Also, the TSA has suddenly started rifling through my checked baggage. When did this start? I've never had my suitcase lock taken off before, never seen one of those "TSA was here" notes tucked into my stuff. I certainly don't need some bored government inspector getting his dirty mitts all over my brand new leather restraints. And, as usual, I just couldn't really afford anything. I mean, I suppose I could have bought some Dick Tarts or something, but yawn—been to that sex shop, bought that.

So, let's see. What were some of the other highlights?

1. Stuff. I know most people come home from Market with way more stuff than I had. For one thing, I couldn't go to Sample Spree (and frankly, Sample Spree is a total mystery to me. Everybody says that they only let certain people in, like the buyers for quilt shops, and then everybody and their grandmother shows up the next day and says how much they bought.). And for another, people just don't give me things. Again, other people? They go to a booth and say, "Hi, I'm from Generation Q Magazine," and suddenly they're all "Oh, my god, here, take some fabric and some books and some patterns and wait lemme look in my purse I might have some mints or an unexpired condom!" But if I go to a booth and say, "Hi, I'm the Creative Director of Generation Q Magazine," I get The Look.  The look that goes, "Uh huh. And I care about this because...?" And I'm lucky to get a post-it note with a website scribbled on it.

Still, I managed to come home with some cool shit. For one thing, I won a collection of Aurifil embroidery thread from Bari J at Schoolhouse, and then I won a set of Christmas embroidery threads from Presencia.

The swag bag from the Fabric 2.0 party was pretty sweet, and also included some magazines (ours included) which I cannot seem to find at the moment:

But the absolute best thing - and right now, for me, there is not much better than embroidery stuff - was this:

Carla Crim is truly one of my idols because her patterns are Just. So. Good. We became acquainted when I reviewed one of her patterns for GenQ and found out that we lived in relative proximity. Sadly, before we could actually meet and hang out, she and her family moved to upstate New York, but in the meantime, she had promised me a copy of her book, and she had one for me at Market! And even without the book, it was a blast to meet her and find out that she really is as cool as you would imagine somebody who is Just. That. Good. would be. She is definitely someone I will look forward to seeing again. (And I'm going to be reviewing this book more in-depth in the next few weeks.)

2. People. I amy not be a people person, but I did have some great moments with actual human beings. I got to meet these two ladies:

Those would be Kelly Biscopink on the right and Andie Johnson on the left, and they have written a new book called Modern Designs for Classic Quilts. I saw their Schoohouse presentation, and then was able to chat with them a bit in our booth later, and they were just very easygoing and funny, and I really hope we get to work with them in the future.

Of course, I saw this freakazoid:

That damn woman spotted me in the hallway during Schoolhouse and actually tackled me. TACKLED. As in ran to me at full speed, jumped on me, and threw us both to the fucking floor. I seriously love her.

And I got to meet the great Sam Hunter live and in the flesh:

Sam has become one of those great friends I've never met (until now, obvs.)—somebody I truly adore and respect whom I have only known through email, facebook, texts, and phone calls. She's also a kick-ass quilt designer. Go buy her stuff.

And there were a few people—not many, mind you, but a few—who stopped by the booth to meet me, and that was just so, so wonderful. I'm sure the reality of meeting me is something of a disappointment, since, you know, the introvert thing, and I just feel so tongue-tied and awkward and I think people expect me to be just the way I write and I can be, but only after I've known you for a long time, not at first, and especially not when I'm tired and overwhelmed and missing my family so much. So if you stopped by, and weren't particularly impressed, blame my faulty genes/glands/medulla oblongata. And if you stopped by—thank you. You made me feel really good.

3. And of course there were the booths and all the fabrics and just the way booths were decorated. Sadly, almost all of my pics were taken for GenQ and I can't use any of them until they have been picked through for the GenQ Market posts this week. And there was so much that I didn't manage to get pictures of, because I was truly overwhelmed by it all.

Still, I came away with even more excitement about my newest obsession: embroidery. I worked on two special projects before I left, so that I could literally display my new obsession on my person at all times:

A cameo! Out of french knots!

This is a cuff bracelet made from wool felt. I drew the vine freehand with a water soluble marker and used a quarter to mark the outline for the flowers/buttholes. These are both projects I hope to perfect and possibly share with you in the future if anybody might be interested. Sadly, no one noticed them, but it's not like they were easy to see. Still, I'm proud of them and I feel like embroidery is going to be a big part of my life for a while.

I'm sure there's a million things I've forgotten, LIKE THE FREAKIN' HURRICANE, but it is way past my bedtime. Plus, my eyeballs are totally sore and bloodshot from the embroidery I did all afternoon. You guys, it's like I'm cheating on quilting with embroidery. It's awesome.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A long overdue post

I have tried several times over the last month to write something, but the words just aren't coming. I was deeply enmeshed in getting the Winter 2012 issue of GenQ done in time, and at the end of the process I got sick and it took a while to recover. I've been plagued with headaches for the last couple of weeks. And most of the time, I just feel sad.

There have been bright spots. I discovered embroidery during the layout process of this issue, because we needed some for illustrations and, like with the pincushions from the last issue, I figured my best bet was to do it myself. So, my very first embroidery project was the word "Embroidery":

But then I thought that was too plain, so I did it again, with some embellishment:

I didn't end up using either of these, but by the time I had mastered four different stitches, I was hooked. So I decided I needed some underwater invertebrates on a pillowcase:

And then I made this for Devon (who is enamored of the idea of going to Paris someday) and she elected to have it framed and put on the wall over her bed:

Plus, I have three other projects in the works that I can't show you because they are seeeeecret! I have always wanted to have a secret project that I can't show you!

So, there's that. Plus, my dear friend Amy delivered her sweet new baby boy yesterday and there is nothing, nothing so wonderful as a new baby to snuggle. I know Amy was hoping that I could take care of him when she goes back to work like I did for her first child, but with GenQ, I know that I can't and it breaks my heart. I got to see him for a few minutes last night, and I'll be taking the girls to meet him this afternoon (they are as excited as I am).

And...Market. I leave for Market day after tomorrow and my suitcase is staring at me, empty, because I just can't seem to get motivated to go pack it. I hate trying to figure out what to wear to these things. I look like a sack of potatoes no matter what I wear, so it really shouldn't be such a struggle. But I decided that this time I wasn't going to look like a goddamn silverback gorilla. I am supposed to be the Creative Director of this thing, and looking like a middle-aged, suburban mom who has "let herself go" is just not going to cut it. I can't seem to change the sack of potatoes quality, but I can at least change the hair. I went for my usual cut, but got double process color. I wanted the lighter parts to be a LOT lighter, but this still works.

So now every once in a while I catch my husband looking at my hair with a little smile on his face, so I guess he likes it. Probably reminds him of the girl he married. Even Devon keeps saying I look like I did "in the olden days."

And still, I am in a funk. I keep thinking that I am going to just write out everything that happened on my trip to Tennessee, but I just can't. Not because it was so awful, but because I still feel so raw. I have cried for Jon many, many times before, but seeing him this time, seeing the changes in him and knowing what's to come just ripped me to shreds. And, see? Now I am in tears just writing about not wanting to write about it. I cried while making the girls' breakfast this morning. It's just there all the time. And I can't write about it (much) and there seems to be little I want to say about anything else, and so - no post for over a month.

If any of you are going to Market, we are in Booth 960, so please stop by. We've got a fun project in the works in our booth and everybody can participate. I'll also be attending the Modern Meet Up and Fabric 2.0 and probably the Robert Kaufman cocktail thing, so just look for the potato sack with the fabulous haircut—that'll be me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A brief journey

Tomorrow evening I fly down to Nashville to visit my brother. Right now, he is in a nursing care facility, having been moved there from a hospital rehab unit a month or so ago. The neurological damage he suffered as a result of his last brain tumor surgery earlier this summer is, apparently, irreversible. Months of intensive physical therapy have produced no improvements. He is in many ways now incapacitated.

Soon, he will have to be moved back home, as his insurance will no longer pay for this kind of care.

The day after I returned home from California, my sister called. The girls were already in bed and I was chatting with David when the phone rang. She was calling to tell me that she and my sister-in-law had taken Jon to the oncologist that day, and during the meeting it was decided that they would discontinue the treatment for Jon's cancer. The damage that would likely result from further chemo and/or radiation would almost certainly incapacitate him further, and thus would not improve his quality of life, but most likely erode it more. So they all made the very difficult decision to let the disease take its course.

I knew this was coming. I had some warning in conversations with my sister a couple months ago, and I thought I was steeling myself for the final decision. But you can't steel yourself for something like that. You just can't.

The thing about this cancer is it moves fast. Insidiously, viciously fast. I know my brother is strong, and I know he's already made it far, far longer than most people with this disease do. But I can't continue to count on that. And, oh God the weight of that is almost more than I can take.

I wish so many things. I wish I lived closer so I could do something, anything, so I could be of some use. I wish health insurance wasn't such a fucked up mess. I wish my brother could walk and get on a motorcycle and take his boys to sports practice. I wish that someone I love with all my heart wasn't being ripped from me, from us, because its wrong. It's taking the wrong person. I want to beat my fists against something and have it give way but there's nothing.

There's not a single bloody thing I can do but fly to Tennessee and kiss my brother's sweet face and tell him again what I know he already knows: that I love him, that I will always, always love him. And then I'll fly back home and try to hold my shattered pieces together as best I can.


I keep saying this a lot, but I do want to thank you all again. So many of you have sent emails or Facebook messages, letting me know you have been thinking of me and my family as we go through this. I will never have the eloquence to express what your kindness and support has meant to me over the last couple of years.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vision Statements

Last night I went to my kids' school for the annual Back to School Night. I'm sure everybody has this at their school in one form or another. The beginning of the evening was all the perky little PTA moms and one upsettingly perky PTA dad (I'm sorry, but men should not be perky. Men who are younger than me, and are wearing sportcoats and have that old man, parted on the side haircut and talk about PTA budgets like they're selling me vinyl flooring cannot keep my attention for longer than two minutes, tops.) shaming us into taking out a second mortgage to donate to the annual giving program. They have changed the name of this program, by the way. It used to be called the Direct Donation Campaign, but now it's called Invest In Your Child, and the vinyl flooring salesman was SO PROUD of this. You could tell he thought this was the key that would open the wallets of every person in the room. Because we are all too dumb to understand that you are still asking for the same $100 bucks you ask for every year. Oh, so now you are asking me to INVEST my money? IN MY CHILD? Well, let me go sell some plasma, because that's TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

Next we heard from the project manager who is overseeing the building of the new kindergarten wing, and that would have been great because, hey, actual information, but he was one of those people not used to speaking with a microphone and he kept gesturing with his microphone hand. So his whole presentation was "mumblemumblemumblemumblemumblemumblemumble THE RETAINING WALL HAS BEEN COMPLETED mumblemumblemumblemumblemumble SEPARATED BY A FENCE mumblemumblemumblemumblemumblemumble HEY AT LEAST I'M NOT WEARING A SPORTCOATmumblemumblemumble..."

The best part of the evening was, and is always, the presentation by the principal herself. I have no doubt that this woman is a sterling educator, with years of experience and a proven track record, but she has clearly been to way too many business motivation seminars. Her presentation this year was all about the Vision Statement for our school. For our public elementary school. It's not a special school with a unique focus that might need to be clarified for the benefit of parents and other educators. It's a basic K-5 elementary school. It has, despite the complexities inherent in the task, a pretty clear job. I seriously doubt that there are any teachers roaming the halls going, "But what's our vision? I cannot competently educate without a clear vision."

The Vision Statement she finally revealed was, as you can imagine, a masterpiece.

It is the mission of our Elementary School to provide a positive and challenging environment where all students will achieve academic, social, emotional and physical success. School staff, students, parents, and community working together will achieve and maintain an atmosphere of respect, support, and high expectations.

And that's fine. There's nothing at all wrong with this and I'm sure it does no harm, but I can't help but wonder if the effort that goes into writing and refining and then presenting these kinds of mission statements and vision statements makes any bit of discernible difference in how teachers do their jobs or kids do theirs. At one point she emphasized that she would be working very hard this year to make sure that everyone understands the Vision Statement. So, is somebody gonna go, "Um, I'm okay with most of it, I think, but I'm a little unclear on the concept of physical success. That means I get to beat them into submission, right? With big sticks?"

I think I just have a general problem with having the obvious spelled out for me as though there was no way I could have come to that extremely self-evident conclusion on my own, or that I will somehow be subconsciously compelled to do something more or better because I read some touchy feely words. Now, the magazine I work for has a need for a statement of purpose, because we are hoping to reach a certain type of quilter. Being able to clarify that makes it easier for us to communicate with potential buyers, advertisers, and contributors and to keep our own focus when we consider projects and articles for inclusion. Because it isn't immediately obvious what part of the niche we are trying to reach. But, if that statement were somehow just all about how excellently we are going to excellent our excellence, I would have a hard time reading it what with all the eye rolling. OF COURSE we want to do our work well. Success - yes. Excellence - yepperoonie. THAT GOES WITHOUT SAYING. Or at least it should. If you're doing a job and not intending to kick ass at it, ain't no vision statement in the world gonna make you start putting in an effort.

But, you know, maybe I'm just naive and that's how the world works. Maybe people really do give more money to the exact same program if it's called Invest In Your Child instead of The Direct Donation Program. Maybe people really do need to be told what their job is and that they're supposed to try to succeed at it in order to, you know, succeed at it. Otherwise, why would seemingly reasonable people spend so much energy creating Vision Statements?

So, I figure maybe I need some more Vision Statements in my life. I'm probably not being excellent enough because my vision is unclear and ill-defined. I decided to start with my family:

The mission of the Dougherty Family is to provide the matriarch, Megan Dougherty, with enough snacks, fabric, and solitude to enable her to make a damn quilt once in a while. In return, she will clean some things occasionally, and cook some stuff, and will provide hugs on demand for all the shorties in the house. She will, if asked in JUST THE RIGHT WAY, also provide more adult-type hugs to the family patriarch as long as he is not in the doghouse for a birthday infraction or because he didn't take any Beano with that big bowl of chili and is now crop dusting every room he occupies. Everyone will do all of this excellently, with success and dynamic thriving growth and stuff.

And so, naturally, I figure this blog needs one too:

The mission of The Bitchy Stitcher blog is to enlighten, entertain, and inspire my readers through blog posts and Facebook status updates, which will only occasionally be about quilting. Oh, and there will be penis jokes. Excellent, excellent penis jokes. With success and dynamic thriving growth and stuff.

That's pretty fucking excellent.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Off to Cali

Tomorrow morning I am headed to the airport to fly out to California for what amounts to about a day and a half, to meet with my GenQ partners Jake and Melissa to talk business talk and drink wine in each other's physical presence instead of listening to the sipping over the phone. The importance of face-to-face imbibing among professional colleagues cannot be overstated.

I find that I am far less nervous about flying this time than I was when I flew to Kansas City in May, though I still have nightmares about not being able to get to the bathroom while strapped in a flying tin can for six hours. But, strangely, I'm not freaking about getting strip searched by the TSA, because at least it would be some action! AMIRITE LADEEZ?

Sigh. That's what I've come to. Bad TSA sex jokes.

I'm still kind of reeling from the response to my next-to-last post. So many of you have written to me to express that you experience much the same every year, and I still need to say how grateful I am that you felt comfortable sharing that with me. I continue to get emails, got one this morning in fact that is still haunting me a bit, and I feel like this is something that I will have to revisit at some point.

There is a lot on my mind these days. My baby starting kindergarten. My brother's move to a nursing care facility. The demands of GenQ which will only increase in the coming year (which is a good thing but is still on my mind a lot). The books I still haven't written and the quilts I still haven't made. The weight I continue to not lose.

So lets keep our fingers crossed that I come back from California with a great story about how we all ended up naked and wandering around Topanga Canyon with Lindsay Lohan and Prince Harry and had to sell our iPhone pics to TMZ to buy new clothes and pay for a cab home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mercy buckets

Wow. You know, when I have these moments where something is overwhelming me and I make the decision to write about it here on the blog, I never know if I am just being self-indulgent, or if maybe something I say will resonate with someone else. Because every writer wants that, I think, that reflection coming back to them. On my good days, I hope to make you laugh. But on other days, days like yesterday, I can only hope that what I have to say causes somebody out there to say, "Oh, thank goodness it's not just me."

I don't have another major post for you today, but I wanted to say thank you. Everything you all took the time to write yesterday meant the world to me and truly helped pull me out of a deep funk, one that had been brewing long before my birthday rolled around. I wish I could round you all up and give you a big hug, but since I can't do that, I'll do the next best thing: your ass looks fabulous in those pants today.

To everyone who sent me messages and other things in my email: I will get back to each one of you individually as soon as I can. I have a sudden GenQ project I have to complete in the next 48 hours, but I'll be making my way through them as I go.

I truly love you all and your fabulous asses.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Crappy birthday to me

In 13 days, my oldest child will be back in school. In 17 days, my youngest will start kindergarten and this week will be the last week I have to pay daycare fees forever and ever. So, I should be in a pretty good mood, or at least feeling a lightening of the gloom that always descends at the end of the summer when I am desperately ready to have my house back. But then that thing happened—that thing that keeps coming around every damn year, every August, to completely destroy any hope I may have had of feeling happy for 5 minutes.

My fucking birthday.

I turned 43 on Sunday. And my family rarely does anything special for my birthday, but every year on David's birthday, I give the girls a budget and they get to go to the dollar store to buy him goofy presents. I get him a couple real presents, and then we decorate the kitchen and make a cake and have a little family party for him. So, David has finally clued in that I am trying to teach the girls that we treat everyone in the family special on their birthday, not just them, and so I think he might have done the same thing for me this year, but we are flat broke, so we couldn't even afford a trip to the dollar store. Still, I might have thought that they would have tried to do something, expend some small effort to make the day feel a little bit special for me, but they didn't. He didn't. And he so often doesn't, and it just makes me unbearably sad.

When my oldest daughter turned seven a couple years ago, she complained later in the day that her birthday wasn't fun enough. I asked her to think back and remember what they had done for my birthday that year. She couldn't remember, so I told her: nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not a card. Not a happy birthday, mom. Nothing.

If it wasn't for fucking Facebook, I would probably be able to forget it altogether, which seems like a damn good idea at this point.

If I mention that I feel ignored and sad on my crappy birthdays, he reminds me that he threw a 40th birthday party for me. Indeed he did. Do you know how many people came to my party? Four. It was at our friends' house and the guests were them and one other couple. We had takeout sushi and cupcakes. On David's 40th, I rented a really cool room, and had it catered. I had balloons everywhere and made these fun Japanese-themed gift bags for all the guests and invited absolutely everyone. My best friend and I made a huge chocolate raspberry cake with like five layers. And I loved doing all that for him.

And I know we couldn't afford such a thing now, and I know my friends are scattered all over the country, and I know he did his best, but it is still just so depressing to me that I am not supposed to hope for more than some takeout on a decade year. I know he's overworked right now, but this would have happened even if he wasn't, and I would have been happy with him making me breakfast, or taking the girls out for a couple hours so I could have some time alone. Shit, I would have been happy for him to just hug me and tell me happy birthday, but he couldn't even be bothered to do that. It's not the stuff I want. I just want him to want to do those things for me, to take pleasure in surprising me and spoiling me just a little.

And then, to top it all off, I called my mom to check on her while my dad is out of town, and she didn't say anything either. My own mom forgot my birthday.

And of course, I feel stupid and petty for even caring about this at all. I shouldn't give a shit about something so meaningless, and I am perfectly capable of doing things for myself, right? I can bake my own goddamn cake and make my own fucking breakfast and just tell him he's taking the kids because I'm going out and I'll be back when I'm back.

And then I remember I have almost no one to go see when I go out.

I want to be the kind of person that people want to celebrate with, but I'm not. I never have been. I remember once when I was in college, some friends shared a dorm room across a courtyard from my room, and I could see their room from my window. One of them was having a birthday, and they had a couple other girls over and cake and it wasn't anything major but it was a party and I had just seen them not long before and they didn't ask me to come. They didn't want me. I was always the sort of person who would be included if I happened to be around at the right time, but was never sought out. For a while, in my late twenties and early thirties, I found people I fit with and it was so wonderful, but then we had babies and more demanding jobs and people moved away, and now there is only one of them left. And I love her and am grateful to have her in my life, but still - the babies and the jobs mean I don't see her much even though she lives just around the corner. I have spent so much time alone over the last five years, and lost so much self-confidence, and have aged what looks and feels like 20 years in those five, that those parts of my personality that make me hard to approach and difficult to know have only become exaggerated. It's not that I am high maintenance—quite the opposite—but I'm just not bubbly.

I envy those people who can walk in a room and start talking to anyone and can be comfortable and never seem to feel like they are intruding or are unwelcome or alien. I always feel alien. And often, quite often in the last couple of years in fact, I can take that feeling of always being "other" and channel it into writing. I think that's where a lot of my humor comes from. But sometimes, like now, it just makes me feel freakish and lonely.

I'll get over this; I always do. I'm not always a whiny baby about this stuff. But I've had a LOT of shitty birthdays over the years, and sometimes one just gets to me more than the others. I'm not fishing for happy birthdays or suggestions. I just needed to get this out. Thanks for listening.

So, let's hear about the worst birthday you ever had.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Presenting the QSMASBC 2013

I know I have been out of commission lately and I hope you all will forgive my long absences. Each issue of GenQ is at least 6 weeks of long, long days (and nights), and once that baby is put to bed, I go completely brain dead until we have to rev up again for the next issue, which is in approximately 23 hours. But instead of watching endless episodes of True Blood and reading trashy novels until my eyes cross, this time I spent my week off getting the awesomest of awesome things ready for you.

The Quilter's Shirtless Man and Spicy Burrito Calendar is here! Check out these beautiful chunks—I mean hunks—of hot, steamy manliness. We've got cuddly guys. We've got lean and lanky guys. We've got cut and buff guys. And we've got a kilt, a horse, some sort of farm machinery, a boat, and a naked booty for Christmas!

A big smooch and hug and endless thank yous to the guys who posed and the friends and significant others who took the shots. You are all beautiful and wonderful and I love you all. If your shot didn't make it in this year, please try again next year!

Check out the beefcake that could adorn the walls of your home next year:

December 2012
Steve, I am told, insisted on going commando under his quilt and is already recruiting others to participate in the 2014 calendar. Go Steve!

January 2013
A long-haired man on a horse, wearing a kilt, and sporting tattoos and two nipple rings. I'd have included this even without the quilt and the burrito.

February 2013
Okay, that thing looks like a lawnmower, a backhoe, and a dune buggy had some sort of weird three-way sex and made a mutant machine baby. Dan, however, looks totally laid back and ready to mow. Or hoe. Or hit the dunes. Duuuude.

March 2013
It's The Big Man In the Little Boat!

April 2013
Mark, as you may recall, was our cover model and Mr. October last year. He and his wife Ida are just the most wonderful people and they sent me a whole CD chock full of epic pictures of Mark. That quilt was made by Mark's mom and quilted by her aunt. Mom loved to piece, but hated quilting, and Auntie loved to quilt but hated piecing. I need to get into a relationship like that.

May 2013
Richard's friend looks embarrassed. I hope Richard had pants on.

June 2013
This is June AND the cover. I had to put this on the cover. And then I had to spend a reeeeaaaally long time looking at it to make sure it was just right. I better go check it again, just to be sure.

I thought I wrote about this somewhere else but I can't find it, so you get to hear about it again. I got this picture on Christmas Day last year from Lori, whose kids had made her a calendar with all her quilts in it. And the last picture in the calendar was this beauty. The boys all agreed to let me use it for our calendar. The three on the right are performers and you need to go to their website right now and bask in how freaking adorable they are. I highly recommend the video of them on American Ninja Warrior.

July 2013
Y'all remember a while back when I posted on Facebook about a fellow quilter whose boyfriend had two bikes stolen and how a friend of hers was raising money for them to get him a new bike (and replace the other stolen one that belonged to another friend)? Well, he got the bikes, and this is him with the bike that many of you helped him get.

August 2013
Alex just started quilting last year and this is his first quilt. One assumes that this is also his first time posing with that quilt shirtless while holding a burrito, but you never know.

September 2013
I happen to know that Chuck here is also completely starkers behind that guitar. I also happen to know that they are from the Nashville area, so I assume that Chuck is crooning a country tune and using his burrito as a guitar slide.

October 2013
This is one of my favorites. And though I'm sure they have a fence or a thick hedge or something, I keep imagining that the neighbors were all very intrigued by what was going on next door. And since Rob and his wife had to take this multiple times before we got a shot we could use, I also imagine those neighbors probably have some photos of their own that they're holding onto in case there's ever a property line dispute or something.

November 2013
Oh, Murray. Murray, Murray, Murray. Put that thing away, honey, before someone gets hurt.

December 2013
Christmas booty! Neil sent me a couple tush shots on FB (he does figure modeling) before he took this, which I thoroughly—and I do mean thoroughly— appreciated. His wife made the fig leaf mini-quilt especially for this photo. Of course, it's a BIG mini-quilt. Jumbo, really.

And there you have it! The calendar is again being sold through, same as last year and is the same price at $19.99. Thank you again for helping me help my brother's family and for being patient with me while I figure out how to balance my GenQ duties with my beloved blog.