Thursday, October 31, 2013

You are worth more than sofa crumbs.

I think this happens to every quilter—hell, to every person who makes stuff, especially if the stuff is not considered fine art. Somebody in your little world gets wind that you like to make stuff and says, "Huh. I would like to buy a thing that is made by you. That you obviously do in your spare time. With materials that pop into existence when you close your eyes and wish really hard. Here is some change from my sofa. No, no! Please take it. It would be my honor to give you a small token of—oh, wait. Those are Cheerios covered in cat hair."

And the thing is, lots of us just go ahead and accept the cat-hair Cheerios, because—hey—it was more than we had in our pockets yesterday. We look on Etsy and see seller after seller offering quilts for barely what the materials would cost, and we figure we have no basis for asking for more ourselves. Add in the fact that no one who isn't a quilter or who doesn't sleep with one has any real idea of just what goes into making a quilt. Until you step in my shoes, and spend countless hours debating whether to buy the Tula Pink FQ bundle that is going to be out of print soon until it is in fact out of print and there is therefore no more reason to go on living, you cannot know the true psychological cost of my "little hobby."

My friend Sam Hunter, of Hunter's Design Studio, is a woman on a mission. She wants to see the value of our quilts go up, both concretely—in terms of pricing, as well as abstractly—in the value we and society place upon the work that comes from our hands. Please go here and read what she has to say about how you can start to calculate the worth of the things you make. Then go here and read what she has to say about where this devaluing of ourselves and our products comes from. And then go here to see the tools she is offering you to start doing something about it. Seriously—go read all this stuff. Sam is far more eloquent about all this than I could ever be, and her passion for this mission shines through every word. If you don't come away from all of that invigorated and inspired, you are the walking dead and you should look out because I have my shotgun trained on your skull right now.

Sam has titled her campaign We Are $ew Worth It. And we are. It's time we let the world know it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dots winner!

The winner of the Dots set according to the Random Number Generator is commenter #130: Carol Harrison, otherwise known as Fire Tornado! Carol, if I have your email, I will email you shortly, but I seem to recall you live in Wales, yes? So, I'll have to get a set of the Dots myself and then mail them to you from here because of foreign country and customs and whatnot. Let me know if you want pins or magnets!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Quilt Dots!!! (and a giveaway)

I got an email out of the blue last week from a company called Quilt Dots. They make itty bitty pins and magnets with quilty stuff on them (plus other things under the larger Zappy Dots aegis) and the magnets are cool because you can get a special necklace base that they attach to and wear your magnets as jewelry. And possibly ease the arthritis in your sternum. Apparently someone had contacted them and asked if there was a way to get my Don't Drink and Quilt logo on their product, and thus their email to me. And they said if I wanted I could do 6 designs and have a Bitchy Stitcher set. IF I WANTED? Oh, hellz, yes.

I've been working on some new t-shirt designs that will also eventually become embroidery patterns, so I adapted those along with some existing designs for the dots.

Here are the designs:

And here are the Dots!

Pretty cool, huh? The magnet set is $12 and can be found here. The pin set is $6 and you can find those here. (The necklace bases are sold separately on the site and can be found here. They are each about 1-inch in diameter.

WOULD YOU LIKE A SET? I am giving away a set of Bitchy Stitcher Quilt Dots magnets or pins (your choice). So, let's see...what should I make you do this time? We already did porn star names. Let's do superhero names. I totally made this one up:

Be sure and add a "The" where appropriate. For example, I am The Chocolate Octopus. And yes, I rigged it.

So, if you want to win a set of Dots, leave me a comment telling me your superhero name. If you share this post on any social media site, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc, you will get an extra entry if you come back and leave another comment telling me you did so. (One entry per social media platform.) Be sure to leave me a way I can reach you!! Contest will be open until midnight EST on Monday, October 28 and the winner will be announced here the next day.

Good luck!

The Chocolate Octopus

Monday, October 21, 2013

Quilting Isn't Funny - A Fable For Our Times. Not really; it's just my book.

I realized this afternoon that I have probably mentioned this nowhere except on Facebook: I'm making a book! And when I say making, I mean it: I not only wrote all the words, I designed it, did the layout, and will be publishing that sweet mess all myself. (When I told someone who shall remain nameless I was going to "print it myself," he wanted to know how I was going to hold all the pages together. WITH MY MIND.) This won't be no print-on-demand nonsense this time, no sir. This will be the real thing in several boxes that will take up tons of room in my hallway and cause me to break my toes as I stumble to the kitchen in the middle of the night for emergency cookies. Plus, there will be a downloadable PDF version for those who prefer to read on one a them fancy ee-lectrick doo-hickeys. And this isn't one of those things I say I'm going to do and then never get around to. The layout is finished and I just got the first round of corrections back from one of my fabulous proofreaders.

The book is a collection of every humor article I ever published in Quilter's Home, plus all the ones that were posted on the GenQ website - all in one handy volume, plus a brand-new piece. So, those of you who have been hoping to get your hands on a copy of A Quilter's Survival Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse or A Brief History of Quilting will be able to get those—as well as all the others—in one convenient package. I am also including a little bit of commentary on each piece, just to give you a little background and info on how each article came to be, what inspired it, and how many nasty e-mails from readers I got as a result. See, I figured it might be helpful for you to know that there are people out there who are pretty sure you shouldn't put the word "penis" in the same sentence as the word "Jesus." And certainly not with reference to applique. I make these mistakes so that you don't have to. You're welcome.

BUT. In order to print it, I will need funds, and for that purpose, I will eventually be taking pre-orders, possibly through Kickstarter. My timetable on this is up in the air right now; I don't know if I'll be pushing for this before the holidays (so that people could potentially order in time for Christmas), or if I will wait until after the new year starts. Setting up a Kickstarter campaign is kind of daunting, and there is the whole rewards thing to consider. (I mean, yes, there will be books, but should I also offer to make a quilt? Or something else? And then the economics of that are a concern - building in the shipping costs, supplies if I make stuff, time. It all makes my head spin.) Plus you have to make a video and I don't think I can convince someone to pretend to be me in time so I'd probably have to take it on the chin and do it myself.

My goal is to take the book to Market in the spring and hopefully get it picked up by a distributor, and maybe sell it to shops directly if possible. Again, daunting, and I keep vacillating between being all excited, working on it feverishly, and remembering that—once again—I don't really know what the ever loving hell I am doing. But, as I have recently learned, I do some pretty cool shit when I don't know what I am doing, so why should I let that stop me?

Once this is all done, I'll get started on the next book. Yes, another one! Only not so much with the reprinting articles and more with the quilting and whatnot. You'll see! I hope. I won't say too much at this point except it will be fun to read. Hey, you know me. I'd make patient brochures on colonoscopies fun to read if I could.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Despite all the fun and success of the latest incarnation of our super-awesome calendar, I have been feeling really low lately, and, as I often do, I sat down to see if I could force out a blog post in the hopes of making myself feel better. But I won't feel better until this goddamn, cocksucking government shutdown is over and my husband gets back to work and I won't have to lie awake at night wondering if we are going to lose everything because our government is run by moronic asshats.

So, that meant I added another draft post to the long list of posts in my Blogger dashboard, and that got me looking at all the posts I started but never let see the light of day. Some things just never went anywhere after I started writing them. Occasionally, I sit down here and start writing something that I have already formed in my head, and sometimes I just spew and see what sticks.

I thought it might be semi-interesting for you to see some of the spew that didn't stick. I thought about going through and commenting on each of these, but that would require effort and I am far too depressed at the moment for that. So, the best you get is a handy little row of stars to show where one abandoned half-post ends and another begins.

Enjoy, and, if you are the praying type, please pray that something in Washington is resolved soon. Thanks.


First of all, thank you to those of you who have helped support the creation of Generation Q magazine with your contribution to our Kickstarter campaign. Believe me, there is nothing I hate more than asking for money, but it doesn't feel quite so much like begging when you use Kickstarter because you actually get something for your cash. Still, it was hard for me to ask, so to those 18 of you who didn't roll your eyes and go, "Oh, crap. Another Kickstarter campaign?" I say thank you, thank you, thank you. We are 90% funded and we've only been campaigning less than a week, so I think I have to actually make a magazine now.

And thus my advance apology. I am in charge of the actual design and layout of the magazine. I KNOW. I've done design and layout before, but nothing on this scale and never with so much at stake. Of the four of us, I'm the only one who has any experience at all with this and it's a huge undertaking. So I am using every available moment to work on it, and my work goes slowly. It's very possible that, until my deadline at the end of April, I may completely lose my ability to be amusing on the internet. Of course it's also possible that won't happen, and it may even help, but on the chance that I have little to say over the next couple of months, I wanted to apologize in advance. I promise to make it up to you with completely made-up stories about the quilt celebrities I meet at Market ("Which semi-famous quilter showed up at Schoolhouse completely wasted and tried to do a strip tease in front of David Butler before she was tackled by Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner? Yep, that was me. Oopsie!")


Once upon a time, I had the perfect sewing room. I had everything arranged perfectly, and the room contained not only my sewing paraphernalia, but also my computer, a large couch that becomes my very comfy bed at night, a bathroom, three closets, two big windows, and a betta fish named Hamish.

Now, it's a stinking pile of poo.

The only way I could photograph the quilts for GenQ was to put them on the wall behind my beloved sofabed, but that meant moving the sofabed, which in turn meant moving everything else. At first this was kind of fun. I suffer from that common affliction that makes rearranging furniture seem like the equivalent of a day at Disneyworld. That, combined with a husband who likes to use my requests for help with the rearranging as a way to extort certain "favors" out of me—ones I would happily do anyway, but, apparently he likes it if I owe him—means my house never looks the same way for very long.

But after the rearranging was done, and the hell of trying to pin and photograph quilts was over, I realized that my room was now completely ruined because I no longer had a place for my tall, long cutting table. I thought I could manage with everything else in a different spot, even though the Meg Shui of the room was completely fucked up at this point. But my cutting table! This:

has been reduced to this:

Maybe you can't quite tell from the photo. but the table, while still tall, is way smaller and no longer has room for me to walk all the way around it, which, it turns out. is not a feature I am happy to give up.  My sewing area, which used to look like this:

now looks like this:

There is no room for anything anymore. There's no good place to put the ironing board; I can barely get to the closets. Now, every time somebody says. "Well, now that you're done designing the magazine, you can get in some sewing," I actually cry a little. No, I can't. Because I hate my room.

While I take great satisfaction in having built a magazine (and yes, I'm going to harp on this topic A LOT for a while), sewing is my meditation. Sewing frees my mind and lets me forget the never-ending pain in my belly, the constant worries over money, all the crap that piles on me day to day, week after week. Some people run. Others drink. I sew. When I cannot write, I can sew.

And yes, I can technically still sew with this arrangement, and I know this sounds whiny, but I need this space to be what it was again, photography be damned. The photographs weren't really that good anyway, and David is already brainstorming ways we can find other spaces for it. So, when I get back from Market, the first order of business will be to get my room back the way I need it. Because I don't want to start drinking, and I sure as shit ain't gonna start running.


Good grief. I haven't written anything since September 6th? I apologize. Truly.

There was a lot to process after I came back from visiting my brother, but not a lot of time in which to do it, as we were in full swing for production on the Winter 2012 issue of GenQ. Becoming a graphic designer has been an odd thing for me, creatively. When I hit my forties and finally began to write in earnest and in my own voice, I felt as though I had finally reached what I had been blindly flailing towards in the previous decades: The Person I Was Meant To Be. Quilting and sewing was like a meditative exercise, a way to nourish one section of my creative brain while giving the other part fodder for the words I would write. And the more I wrote, the more I began to visualize what I could write, and I started making plans and outlines.

Then GenQ came along, and we had no way to afford a professional graphic designer and couldn't spend the time molding and nurturing a student. But I had layout experience - limited, but experience nonetheless - and so it fell to me. I spent several months with my head in my hands thinking, "I can't do this. I am going to fail. I am going to let everyone down."

But I didn't. I succeeded, and as far as I know there has not yet been any talk of replacing me, but they're pretty good at keeping things under their hats, so who knows?

The thing about designing the magazine for me is that is it such a different mental process from writing. On the one hand, it is like a big puzzle, only you get just a few pieces at a time. You have to figure out how to make the words and pictures fit, how to make all the articles and ads fit, and you can spend hours just changing the size of one photo in micro-increments in order to see how it changes the flow of text so you don't have one word dangling at the top of a page somewhere. There are hundreds of details to manage and hundreds of files that must be organized perfectly. And yet there is the visual element of arranging all these pieces on the page with just the right illustrations and graphics, and I am now a photographer for Pete's sake. I take tons of pictures for each issue. I make things in order to photograph them so we have enough art. (I got the Trendology article on pincushions very close to the end of production only to discover we had NO pictures of pincushions to go with it. So, besides soliciting pictures from my readers on Facebook, I made three pincushions on the spot so we'd have something besides a red tomato to illustrate the piece.) I now think in terms of boxes and fonts and photos and writing has become painfully difficult.

When I came back from my trip to Tennessee, I wanted to write about it, but I was very conflicted about doing so. When you open up your emotional life on the internet it crosses all sorts of boundaries and yet to write the same things and have no one read them...well, either way, my motivations are all screwed up. And writing in general has been so hard that everything I try to say just feels wrong. I second guess every phrase, where I used to just write what I felt. And what I felt used to be at least occasionally humorous, and I haven't felt funny in a while. I hate being so serious all the time, but there it is.

So, this last week, as I've been contemplating all my not-writing, I get an email. From somebody I don't know, whom I'll probably never meet, who somehow came across this blog and spent a couple days going back and reading the entire thing. And then wrote me to say thank you. Not just for the funny stuff but all of it. The kind of thank you that puts a big lump in your throat and makes you realize you have to keep going. Whether it seems funny or not, whether it seems good or not.


So, several weeks ago, I noticed that my GenQ publisher, Jake, had pinned an image of my Don't Drink and Quilt t-shirt on one of her thousand and eleven Pinterest boards. She had, apparently, re-pinned it from Baby Lock, the sewing machine company, who had re-pinned it from someone else. The image did not link back to anything. If you know Pinterest, the idea is to have boards of images, sorted into categories, and have them link back to where they originally came from. So, if you happen to see a great t-shirt design, you can go find it and perhaps even, oh, I don't know, BUY IT. It drives traffic to blogs and commercial sites, and that is a good thing. Except when somebody downloads the image to their own computer, then uploads it as a Pin, and doesn't add a link. And that seems to be what happened. I don't think the person who originally pinned the image did so with an evil laugh while rubbing her hands together and going, "I'm going to spread an image across the internet WITHOUT GIVING PROPER CREDIT! MMMWA HA HA HAHA!" I think she just maybe didn't know how to use Pinterest yet. A lot of her early pins were like that, and her later ones all have links, and some are repeats of old pins she had done the other way, as though she was correcting herself.

The think about Pinterest and Facebook is that it is easy to share images, and their origin is rarely questioned or researched. So yesterday, Quiltmaker Magazine posted that same image on Facebook. As of this morning, it has been shared over 800 times, and almost all without credit or link to me or my Cafe Press shop.

So, how should I feel about this?

I posited this question on Facebook last night, and most people were urging me to light flaming arrows and shoot them at anybody who would dare to post my work without credit to me. And while I enjoy a good snit as much as the next person, I'm not sure that this warrants quite that much vitriol.

For one thing, how many times have I seen something cool on Facebook and thought, "Oh, I have to share this," and then just clicked the Share button? How may times have we all done that? Do you stop and look at every image and think about whether there is some reference to the person who created it, and if so, whether it is correct? How much work would you have to do to be absolutely sure that a photograph or something was not meant to be a meme shared anonymously across the internet, but perhaps instead was a design that ought to be credited to the company or artist who made it? And what exactly IS our obligation to do just that?

It has been pointed out that I could have watermarked the original image, but that is not the case. This particular image, because it has a black background, I know must have come from the Cafe Press site. I only created that image in a white background for white t-shirts and a transparent background to be used on dark t-shirts. If the image is on black, it came from Cafe Press. The way Cafe Press works is, you upload the image to use on the shirt, and then they use it to create thumbnails of the shirts themselves and the colors the shirts come in with the design laid over them. If I had watermarked them, the t-shirt design would also be watermarked. If I am wrong about this, I am sure someone will let me know.

At the time I created it, I went back and forth about including small text at the bottom showing the url for my blog. I always go back and forth about that, because linking to my blog is tricky. We're kind of a self-selecting group over here. Either you can tolerate lots of fuckity-fucks and boner jokes among the quilty stuff or you can't, and these days the name, The Bitchy Stitcher, doesn't immediately alert people to the fact that there might be some naughty talk. I have refused to link to my blog inside the pages of GenQ for this reason. I'd rather people find me through friends who say, "Hey, you don't have a large stick up your ass - you might like this blog!" than have Aunt Tillie click a link she saw on Quiltmaker's Facebook page and have a heart attack from the cognitive dissonance of Quilters and Potty Words in close proximity. So, I decided not to. And really, this was back in 2009, when about six people read this blog. Now we're up to, what, 10? 20?

While I think Quiltmaker would be nice to post that they now know where that funny design came from, I'm not going to get all bent out of shape if they don't. If I don't want images that were created by me shared on the internet, then I shouldn't put them there or I should do more to make sure they can't be misattributed. And I didn't do that, because I never in a million years thought anybody would ever pay any attention to anything I do. I'm not quite that naive anymore.

And unless someone is explicitly saying, "I made this image," when they didn't, or is selling something with that design, I don't thing sharing it is necessarily a bad thing. The response showed that people do think it's funny, and maybe it would sell better if I could find a way to market it more. She said, for the millionth time since her life turned upside down.

The thing is, I am not ready to scream COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT at the drop of a hat, because I'm not convinced that there was any infringement here. Everyone is so ready to draw blood over these things and we've already seen what can happen when some famous designer like REDACTED gets a bee in her bonnet and decides to let the lawyers loose. Then people like me make fun of her endlessly on the internet, and who wants that?


So, 2012 is almost over as I type this, and once again I am full of plans for the new year, only—once again—I have no idea whether I'll be able to fulfill those particular dreams. But I'm really going to try, because I've been putting some things off for way too long and I have a long personal history of sweeping my own desires and goals aside because I'm so easily convinced that some other path someone else wants me to take must be better.

This year, my baby girl started kindergarten, my husband got an important promotion at work, and I figured out how to design and layout a magazine. Not bad.

But I didn't get serious about my health. I didn't finish my book, or work on the other one that's in progress, or start designing quilts with my sister, or keep up with my blog, or promote the calendar enough, or...I won't bore you. There's a list. It keeps getting longer.

Everybody says this when someone they love becomes ill and faces death: seize the day. And for a while I thought I had done that because I did what I needed to do to let my brother and my sister know how deeply I love them and how much I treasure the bond that the three of us have. But I stopped there. "Seize the day" doesn't just mean "be sure and tell the people you love that you love them," though it does mean that. It also means: Do. Don't just dream. Don't just wish. Do. Because there could so easily come a day when you realize not only that you didn't, but now you can't.

I see a lot of people choosing a word for the new year, and if I had to pick a word for what this last year was for me I might choose Prove. A lot of what I did this year was about proving to myself that I could do anything I set out to do. Not to anyone else; just me. Because I'm the only one who ever looks at all the things I've ever done in my life and still says, "Maybe you can't do this one. Maybe you shouldn't."

So, for 2013 my word is Do.


Besides my little identity crisis, one other thing has happened to me as a result of my year moving nothing more than my wrist and index finger.

I have become an enormous cow.

When I walked out of my job as an optician 8 years ago, I was a mere slip of a girl, mainly because the job allowed no time to eat and I was so miserable there I couldn't eat anyway. I remember the manager of the Chicos just a few doors down in our strip mall stopping me on the sidewalk one day to ask how I lost all that baby weight so fast. I told her it was a diet of bitterness and resentment.

Two weeks after I quit I got my first magazine job, and it was at a desk! A desk with a real chair, not just a hard metal stool forged in the fires of Mount Doom. I had a chair and a window and little drawers where I could keep my stuff! AND A LUNCH BREAK. A real goddamn lunch break like normal people with normal jobs and normal employers have. I lived so close to our apartment, I could dash home for lunch. Or I could go to one of the bajillion restaurants in town. And I loved my job, so I actually had an appetite again. I think I gained 30 pounds that first year.

Then I got pregnant again and put on a ton of weight, since my hips were completely fucked up and I couldn't walk around much. I dropped some of it when I was nursing, but gradually it came back, particularly when I started taking anti-depressants for post-partum depression. My doctor told me I might notice an "increased craving for carbs." Uh, yeah. I started habitually eating uncooked ramen noodles. Like, all day. I would break them up into a baggie and eat them like chips or nuts. I sometimes ate three packages a day, maybe more. But I wasn't curled up in a corner sobbing, so it seemed like an okay trade-off at the time.

Until I realized I was approaching the dreaded 200 pounds.

I never did cross over that mark, at least not by my home scale's readings. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I got off the anti-depressants, kicked the noodle habit, and dropped 10 pounds rather quickly, but then struggled to lose much more than that. The lowest I have been in the last 4 years is 169. I have never been happy with how I look or feel, but at 169 I looked and felt a hell of a lot better than I did at 197. Then I noticed a couple months ago, that I was looking and feeling pretty crappy again. I blamed winter colds, allergies, grief. All of those things were real, but the other reality I had to face was that I had eaten myself back to 190 pounds.

It's probably a habit that started at that first desk job, but when I am sitting in front of a computer screen, I feel compelled to shove food in my face. Fruits and vegetables all taste horribly bitter to me without loads of sugar or fat, so I mostly ate carbs. There are these little crunchy things in bags that are like rice cakes, but made of soy? I am STILL finding the crumbs from those in my cleavage, I ate so many. Added to this was my Dr. Pepper habit. I have been addicted to the Doc for as long as I can remember. Whenever I go to my parents house, I bring my own supply, just in case they forgot to buy some, which is rare because they know how much I drink. When we visit David's parents, his mom ALWAYS has it in supply because she's as addicted to it as I am. It's something we've bonded over.

I would keep a stash of 2-liter bottles on hand and fill up a 12-ounce thermos thingy with a straw in the lid...I don't even know how many times a day I would refill it. I was too scared to ever count.

Okay, this one I'll explain. I got one of these scam emails, and I found it much more entertaining than the usual ones that claim to be from PayPal demanding my account information. So, I responded, hoping for one of those entertaining email exchanges you sometimes see. Bitch never wrote back.

OHMIGOD KANDI. What are you doing in the Phillippines and when did you get a cousin what the hell is a critical uterine fibroid and who the bloody hell are you? I totally forgive you for not writing or calling me before you left since I'm pretty sure we don't actually know each other and you aren't Kandi Kelderman. I don't know who Kandi Kelderman is, but I'm guessing whoever does is mighty surprised to hear about the Filipino side of the family. That always comes as a shock to people. "Filipino? Really?" And then they struggle to remember where the Philippines are and whether the people there are too brown for their taste. Apparently, your cousin has also had some sort of sex reassignment as well, which I hear is way cheaper in the Philippines, so it's surprising that a hysterectomy is prohibitively expensive. Then again, if you can get that kind of surgery for $1500 down there, I'm sure there are hundreds of Americans roaming around having elective parts cut out. Maybe you should hit up one of them.

Oh, no, wait, I get it. You want the $1500 in order to bring the cousin back here. Does this mean you're going beg for more cash when you get back? Because I seriously doubt your cousin has medical insurance. Or you for that matter. You are probably a large, middle-aged man. With back hair. And waaaay too many Hotmail accounts.

Tell you what, email me a picture of you with your critically-ill, transgendered, Filipino cousin. It probably won't get you any money; I just want to see if you'll try to do it.

Sincerely, your seventh cousin, twice removed
Kandi Kelderman- Santos


We were all very excited when Devon started kindergarten last fall, but underneath it all was the dread of What Will We Do Next Summer???? Devon would not be going back to daycare, and since my car finally bit the dust at Christmas, we have had car payments to deal with, plus the stupid government thing that took away the payroll tax holiday pretty much ate up the raise David got from his promotion last fall. All of which is to say, we ain't got no money for no fancy camps and vacations. We tried to use our tax refund to put together a Disney trip, but do you know how much it costs to take a family of four to Disneyworld? A hell of a lot more than a motherfucking tax refund, I'll tell you that.

So, what we did manage to do was get a membership to a local pool. There are a lot of community pools around here, but I chose one that is a little farther away. We love living where we do—it's convenient to a lot of things; the neighbors are, for the most part, not lunatics; and the schools are amazing. But it is one of those affluent, super-white, conservative communities where every woman is a fucking uptight stick insect. They all have three or four kids and they all are so skinny and toned and perfect that I have no choice but to hate them on sight.

So when Devon's daycare provider, who lives in the next town over, invited us to swim at her community pool last summer, I figured I was in for a day of sucking in my gut in a desperate attempt to make my whole body half its size. But no! The pool was full of normal women! With normal bodies! AND HALF OF THEM WERE WEARING BIKINIS! And no one gave a shit. No one cared about the woman with the saggy belly. No one cared about the other woman with huge thighs. It was the first time in years that I wore a bathing suit in a public place and didn't feel like the one pitiful mom who "let herself go" and probably shouldn't get too close to other mom's kids lest I start force-feeding them Twinkies (as fat moms are all wont to do, of course). We had all let ourselves go!

We spent hours there that day and we all had a blast, so we decided to purchase a membership there. We've gone everyday that the weather has allowed (we're getting a LOT of thunderstorms this summer) and I am already bizarrely tan, despite my obsessive use of sunscreen. Of course, the "tan" is actually just the effect of a million new freckles, but whatevs. We'll still call it a tan. I hate, hate, hate getting sunburned (just a small burn makes me feel like I have the flu) so I have all kinds of cover-ups and a huge hat and my 110- SPF sunscreen and yet I have still managed to burn a few times. My skin is like flash paper. But the kids are having fun and are occupied, so I suppose it's worth it.

We've been taking other trips as we can afford it.


I have always had a love/hate relationship with quilt binding, as I'm sure many of you do. I was terrified of it when I first started quilting, because the hand stitching part made no sense to me. How on earth were you supposed to stitch something down on one side without the stitches showing up on the other side? And I could not find one single tutorial, video, book, or interpretive dance that explained this to my satisfaction.

Then, well, I just sort of figured it out. And I stopped being so scared of it, and after doing some applique, my stitches got super tiny and evenly spaced, and I would sit happily draped in one of my creations, beatifically hand sewing away, smug in the knowledge that I was Good At Binding.

But I haven't done it for over a year, so, I'm a bit rusty. I used my walking foot, and forgot that I cannot keep a good 1/4-inch going with that foot, so now I have to really pull that binding to get it over the stitches on the back.

And I have only lightly quilted this one by stitching in the ditch, so there's not a lot of quilting to try and push through — but I keep finding my stitches are showing through the front!

Damn it all anyway! I have my finger on the other hand under the needle so I can supposedly feel if I'm poking through, but something clearly isn't working.  And my corners all look like crap:

Oh, well. There's nothing amusing here. Just frustrating.

Meanwhile, I am getting ready to pack the kids in the new van and drive down to Tennessee to visit my parents. I think it will do them good to spend a few days with their granddaughters. This time, though, David is not going with us, as we are saving up his vacation days for other trips we hope to take later. It seemed like a great idea at the time. We have a reliable and comfortable vehicle now. The girls are old enough that I don't need a spotter when taking care of them on trips. Why shouldn't I just pack up and drive 600 miles when the urge is upon me?

Because I'm kind of terrified.

I hate road trips, and I always feel that we are putting our lives at risk when we decide to use major highways to get somewhere. On all the road trips we've taken to visit family (and we've taken a lot) we've never had an accident but we've witnessed several. Once, driving on a two-lane rural road in Indiana, we watched an SUV lose control on a turn and go flying off the road, the vehicle flipping over several times and bouncing, finally landing upside down. We pulled over, and as soon as I got out of the car, I could hear someone in the car, a young man, screaming. We've had to take long detours because of highways shut down for major accidents. Some of the places we drive through, the speed limit is 70 miles an hour. Seventy. Yes, I long for the days of the national 55mph speed limit. That was reasonable. Seventy is ditch-the-cops speed, not mom-and-two-kids-in-a-mini-van speed.

We all have our little neuroses. I guess fear of dying while traveling is mine. Or one of them, anyway.

But I will gird my loins and do it because I promised. If I manage to post anything on Monday, it will probably be all iPhone pics of my kids at various McDonald's between Maryland and Tennessee.


We have been cleaning out our storage room this weekend and I have come across a lot of fun things, most of them pictures of my husband when he was young and spotty and skinny and had a Dorothy Hamill/Beatles-at-Shea-Stadium-in-1965 haircut. One thing I found buried in a box was an invitation to our third annual Oscar Party, circa 2001. (Cripes, that means I was about 31.) The first one had been hastily thrown together when my dear husband informed some relatively new friends that I was a freak about the Oscars and thought we should all get together to watch them. The second year was more organized, though it included just our little group of friends, and it was dubbed Oscar 2: Electric Boogaloo. I even made us all t-shirts. The third year, we decided to branch out and invite other people and that was a mistake.

My friend Corey and I were the main instigators of Oscar Night, and so we decided to send out invitations:

We figured everyone would appreciate our sense of humor, and so we decided to have our usual Oscar ballots, but this time with prizes. We purchased the prizes at our one local sex shop (and frankly, any community this size that can only support one sex shop is a community that needs to re-think its priorities). As I recall, everyone received a gift bag with such treats as DickTacs and TittyPops and I believe the grand prize was a pair of fuzzy handcuffs. Second prize (which I won) was this psychedelic blinking LED light thing that you were supposed to insert in your belly button. We thought this was a riot. No one else did. Corey ended up drunk and stayed out on the porch smoking all night and none of my quips about what people were wearing and why we hated Russell Crowe were as funny without her next to me. So we just had a lot of uncomfortable people crammed in a tiny apartment watching something they didn't really care about that much and glancing at their Titty Pops like they might suddenly come to life and demand to be licked lasciviously in public.

Oscar Night became a private affair again after that, and sometimes it was just me and Corey. We always had champagne and these puff pastry pinwheel things that Corey would make. Then babies came and friendships faded, and Oscar night is now me alone in my sewing room trying to stay awake and wondering if it's worth the effort.


My 44th birthday is coming up next week, and some of you may remember that I went on a little rant last year about my husband and kids doing nothing for my birthday once again. I probably got more comments for that post than any I have ever written and that was because so many people out there feel ignored on their birthdays while generally being the one in the family expected to make everybody else's day special.

After I wrote and posted it, my sister called and apologized for forgetting as did my dad and mom, and though I had mentioned my mom forgetting in the post, I really didn't care about that so much, and I felt bad because I really didn't need birthday acknowledgement from anyone other than my husband and kids. That post was about them and about me, and not about my family or any other friends who may have assumed that I expected them all to make a big fuss over me. I didn't and don't.

In the flood of comments that came from that post was one from a woman to decided to tell me just how horrible and selfish I was to want a little Happy Birthday love from my husband and kids because there are, she informed me, PEOPLE IN CANCER WARDS WHO WOULD BE THRILLED TO HAVE A BIRTHDAY AT ALL and I should be ashamed of myself. Naturally, she also told me my cursing is offensive.

I ended up never approving deleting her comments and then deleting them entirely (and yeah: comments—she wrote back to tell me I was a coward for not posting her attack comment) from both the comment system and the email alerts I get. I considered approving them, or posting them on Facebook, or even devoting a new post to them, but I didn't, because I didn't feel like doing any more ranting. She hit a major nerve, and not the one she thought, and I just didn't want to admit at the time—and if I addressed her comments publicly I would have needed to—that a very big part of the reason for my rant was that it was far, far easier to scream and yell about my birthday than it was to scream and yell about the person in my life who was in a "cancer ward" and would probably never see another birthday.

The decision had not yet been made to stop my brother's cancer treatments and to let the disease run its course, but at this point, I knew it was coming and it was just a matter of time. I knew that there had been no improvement in his physical condition after his surgery and that it meant there likely wouldn't be any. There were days when I was fine, but in August and September of last year, there were many, many days when I was not. And I never really felt like I had a place to turn, to let it out as often as I needed to. You never want to burden anyone, even the readers of a blog, with as much pain and sorrow as that. There's just so much of it. And because the grief often comes in waves, and often when you're alone and brooding, people around you just aren't attuned to it, so they can't see that the sorrow you feel so deep in your gut just makes everything worse sometimes.

So I had a birthday, and the people closest to me didn't do anything, and what I couldn't explain to them, or to anyone, was how much I needed something good and sweet and special right then. I needed to feel loved. I needed something other than grief, just for a little while. I needed the people I take care of every day to want to take care of me, just to want to.

I would have skipped all of this this year, but someone very nice and well-intentioned decided to create a Facebook page about my birthday in the hopes, I assume, of getting my Facebook "fans" to join in and wish me a happy on the day. I don't think anyone has actually seen the post she put on my timeline, because I have a feeling that nobody sees what other people post there unless they look for it, so it has maybe 2 "likes." I don't know who that person was (though I have a couple guesses), but I'd like her to know that it's okay if nobody joins in. I'm good. I don't need a fuss. (But I'm not gonna reject one should it happen—I mean, hey, I'm not crazy.) Just the fact that somebody wanted to do something is more than enough. So thank you, mystery Facebook page maker person.

And thank you again, dear readers, for all your support. love, comments, and emails with links to dick-related pictures. You are all a gift to me.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Presenting the QSMASBC 2014

Whew! I have been slaving away over a hot computer for DAYS, staring at men and burritos and wishing I could wrap them all up in a big, quilted tortilla and just squeeze them into one big man sandwich with hot sauce. Seriously, I fall in love a little with every guy who shows up in my inbox (and okay, that sounded a wee bit dirtier than I intended), because who wouldn't fall in love with a guy who is willing to strip off his shirt, get on a quilt, and hold a burrito while somebody takes his picture? No one, that's who. And that's why I think this calendar is so great; you can't help but love these guys just for joining in the fun.

This year we had twenty submissions. TWENTY. That's a new record, which is great, but it also meant I couldn't give every single guy his own page. And that made me cry a little. Okay, a lot. As you will shortly see, there are some pretty epic guys this year, and I had to make some hard choices, but I managed to fit almost everyone in. (With one exception - I got one submission that was so small, it would only have printed clearly at thumbnail size. And I was so sad, because he was a hottie.)

Enough of my whining about how hard it is to pick pictures of half-naked men. Let's start with the cover:

That right there is Scott Hansen of Blue Nickel Studios. He's also the community editor at Generation Q (and yeah, that's his own product placement there.) I lost a LOT of sleep over which picture to put on the cover, and I kept coming back to this one because look at that smile! How can you resist a man in a bathtub smiling at you like that? You can't. You pretty much want to crawl right in there with him. He's going to freak out that he's on the cover, but it's his own fault for being so stinkin' adorable.

The Rogues Gallery! Man, I hate it that there aren't nineteen months in a year (and that a nineteen month calendar is totally cost prohibitive). Dan up there in the top left was the guy on the dune buggy backhoe thingy last year. This year, he's in an outhouse! Rick has got his burrito in a lathe. That should be a new saying: Don't get your burrito in a lathe, dude! Joe is all suave with his glass of pinot and a fresh chicken-n-cheese special. Though that bench arm has got to hurt. Henry was the Big Man in the Little Boat last year. Stormtrooper Andy is the son of Mr. June and John is the son of Henry and Michael is Mr. January's dad. It's all one big family!

Again, I just love all these guys so much. See how hard my job is?

Here is Mr. January:

Enno is a baking student from Bremerhaven, Germany who only makes it home on occasion, so his mom grabbed the opportunity to get some shots of him in the garden. I like to imagine he comes home to mom and dad with boxes and boxes of pastries and cakes. He could have been holding an eclair. Do they even have burritos in Germany? They're probably called something like tortentillenbeanenschnackaschnackayumyumsies over there.


David here is not only insanely gorgeous, is not only wearing a kilt—which is always unbearably sexy—he also wins the award for BIGGEST BURRITO.  He can barely get his hand around that thing. Congratulations, David. I hope it's gratifying to know you make other men feel inadequate about their beef and bean wraps.


And here we have quilter Scott Murkin lounging around in his hammock. I am loving my Scotts this year - both are accomplished quilters and designers and both are adorable cuddle muffins. They probably talk about that whenever they meet up.


I've got a soft spot for Rick because he reminds me so much of my brother. Jon rode a Harley and was always rocking some sort of mustache/beard/goatee combo. He had that same kind of silver hair too, though towards the end it looked almost all white. I believe that quilt is made of Harley Davidson t-shirts, and my sister is making one of those for Jon's wife out of his vast collection of them. So, thanks for looking like a badass, Rick, just like my big brother.


It's the amazing, the fabulous, the glitteriffic Molli Sparkles!!! I had gotten the word that some of my Australian readers were putting pressure on this guy to submit, and I threw a few hints out there as well. I knew if he decided to go for it, he'd come through in grand style. And he so did. This picture has it all: lights, feathers, glitter, and bright pink underpants.


Jym here is married to GenQ technical editor, Vicki Tymczyszyn and is also dad to the mystery Stormtrooper in the Rogue's Gallery. I absolutely adore his purple swim cap. He should talk to Molli about putting some glitter on it. The quilt was made by Vicki as a tribute to Jym's triathalons. Plural. I always figured once you do one triathalon you wouldn't really need to do another one, right? Or maybe that's just me.


ISN'T HE THE SWEETEST THING EVER? Jimmy's mom is also known as That Moxie Girl, and if you have seen anything about Selfish Sewing Week around the interwebz lately, you have her to thank for it. We also have her to thank for little Jimmy as well, since he is also her creation. AND APPARENTLY SHE MADE HIM OUT OF SUNSHINE AND UNICORNS AND PANDAS AND CANDY. Nice work, Moxie Girl.


Gentlemen, take note. Alex is Working. It. With the burrito in his pocket. I can't even tell you how happy this picture makes me.


Cover boy again, in a slightly different shot.


Ron has so much going for him here. He's got kick-ass hair. he's wearing a skeleton apron and is stretched out upon a quilt of skulls. And, if you look closely, he's wearing a TOE RING. For some reason, I find this just ridiculously endearing.


What's not to love about Jeff? Tats, a cowboy hat, the mustache/sideburn combo thing, and the chopper. I have never figured out how people actually ride these kinds of bikes. There's no back on the seat and the handlebars are way up over your head. That can't be comfortable. Wouldn't your hands fall asleep? I mean, if your back didn't go into spasms first. These thoughts plague me.


Mark always comes through for me. If you recall, he was the iconic cover model from the first edition of the QSMASBC. He and his wife Ida always go scouting out for great locations and then send me a CD full of pictures. Mark scared the piss out of everyone this year when he was hospitalized with pneumonia—the on-a-ventilator, touch-and-go kind of pneumonia. To everyone's great relief (particularly Ida's) he got well and is looking mighty fine. He sent me so many good pictures this year, I told him I could do a calendar of just him. It took me days to settle on just one.

Now, Mark is such a great sport, he also heeded my call for naked Christmas booty. See, for each of the past two years, I have had one man willing to bare his buns and he has traditionally been placed in December as a little Christmas gift to us all. However, last year, many people wrote and complained about the booty. "What about the children," they cried. "Won't somebody think of the children?" Apparently, many people don't want a man's naked buns on display anywhere where small children could see them and discover that men have butts. So, I had thought that this year I would make two calendars—one with booty and one without—to give people a choice. But THEN I remembered all the emails I get every year from people who have trouble ordering and want ME to fix it, even though with a print-on-demand service, those things are totally out of my hands and have to be handled by the company that prints and vends them. So, I knew that were I to offer two calendars, somebody would inevitably order the wrong one and then demand restitution from me personally.

So, I am keeping Mark's booty under lock and key here at Bitchy Stitcher headquarters, to be used someday in the future, either when I can finally get enough money together to print my own calendars or when the inevitable QSMASBC All Mark All Year edition comes out.

So is it me, or is this—despite the lamentable lack of Christmas booty— quite possibly the BEST CALENDAR YET? (Though I do miss the Platt brothers. I almost put them back in just for the hell of it.)

Once again, it is being sold through but this year the price has dropped to $18.99. Click here to order. And you can use coupon code FBC18 to get 18% off your order (the coupon is good once only)

PLEASE NOTE: My husband's father passed away on Saturday, and we are leaving shortly to go to Indiana for his funeral. If you have questions or problems, I will do my best to address them, but you should not count on being able to contact me until this weekend. Thanks.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Monday, Monday, Monday

The Quilter's Shirtless Man and Spicy Burrito 2014 Calendar is almost done! I have been slaving over a hot (and I do mean hot) computer all week, choosing chunks of beefy man-flesh and getting everything all laid out (heh, heh: laid) and set up (heh, heh: up) (please stop me!) to go live and on sale Monday morning.

Come back here on Monday, October 7 and you'll get to meet all the beautiful guys who stripped down and burrito-ed up for a good cause.