Sunday, May 27, 2012

Challenges Great and Small

Quilting as a hobby can be a challenge.  There's always obstacles to overcome when attempting a yet untried pattern.  Color choices can pose a challenge to some and the mathematics of it all can be Mount Everest to others.  Its a wonder with so many details to figure out some people find quilting a relaxing past time at all.  I'm one of those people.  I retreat to my sewing room when life's stresses begin to wear on me.  I find comfort and solace in my textile life when the daily grind gets too much.

A very dear friend of mine shared some sad news recently to me about her family and she has been on my mind alot.  I can understand all too well some of her feelings right now as many years ago I was in a similar position.  Yet we are each different in how we tackle what life throws at us and we all find our own way to a place of solace.   And as I think about her while sitting in my sewing room I'm hoping she finds that place too....

So that's how I came to this post - looking at my sewing room refuge and feeling very lucky indeed to have this place that envelopes me in a sense of quiet and peace.  I love every fibre within it; every spool of thread, every unused fat quarter, every scrap I've saved from the many projects I've done that I still have no idea why I'm keeping them or what I'll eventually do with them, every book.  I love it all.  When I wrap my head around a quilting challenge I'm able to get lost in a project and leave the rest of the world behind.  Submersing myself in needle and thread not only shifts my brain from high and stressed to low and calm, it also moves my memories to happy times spent in sewing contemplation.

Quilting is my crack.

So I'm off to 'get high' and work on Bee projects, a baby blanket, some hand piecing and a machine quilting project.  There are worse vices then fabric addiction I'm sure.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Am a Quilter

I love having the time to sip coffee and read a multitude of quilt magazines while relaxing on my patio settee. There something spiritually uplifting about having this time to recharge my over extended batteries and have a day dream about all the quilts I'd like to make. I always feel inspired after browsing my favourite magazines. Today's selections are Quiltmania, American Patchwork and Quilting and Quilters Newsletter. These three magazines will get my creative juices going.

I've been pondering a series of questions asked of me recently by members of one of my quilt groups. Most of the women in this group are traditionalist in their quilting style. They produce gorgeous quilts in every conceivable colour and technique with much of their work structured and symmetrical. I love their quilts and enjoy the group immensely. During one of our conversations I explained that I recently joined another quilt group that focuses on the modern quilting movement. Modern in the sense that quilts in this category tend to be produced in a less structured and free form way. Much of the focus of the finished quilt relates more to the fabric choices and overall look of the piece and less on the exactness of the individual blocks. To my surprise I received a mixed reaction. They all comments that they thought I was a traditional quilter - especially as I tend to hand piece much of my work. How could I join a modern quilt group? Was I switching my quilting allegiance from traditional to modern? Did it mean all my quilts were now going to be abstract and odd? Was I going to abandon my needles and thread for machine piecing exclusively?

I didn't expect that reaction. I suppose because in my mind I see the modern movements theories of quilt making as just another category to add to my repertoire of quilting knowledge. I don't feel a need to label myself in any particular category. I don't have to be a 'modern' quilter at the sacrifice of leaving behind my traditionalist roots. I am a quilters and with that title all that encompasses.

In quilting, as in life, people feel more comfortable and secure placing themselves into neat categories. It helps define and put structure into what we do. I'm no different really. I just suppose my categories encompass more grey then black and white.

After pondering the questions and giving them real thought I can happily answer that; no, I'll never abandon my traditionalist roots. I still love Civil War reproduction fabric, I dream of making a Baltimore Album quilt one day, and I adore the beauty of an intricately executed quilt encompassing an array of time honoured techniques. Are all my quilts now going to be abstract? No, certainly not.  But there will be quilts different from the styles I've produced in the past. My quilts have to change in order for me to feel I've grown as a quilter. I love a challenge. I love being presented with a new technique, or being shown a different way of looking at something. Experiencing that is what keeps me interested in quilting. Adding the perspective of the modern quilt movement into my knowledge base is like opening a window to my quilting life and letting a fresh breeze come in.

So how do I now title myself? As I always have - A Quilter. And I'll never abandon my plain old' needle and thread....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cooking and Quilting Related?

OK, this post is going to be a bit off topic.  But really, aren't cooking and quilting related?  Cooking, just as in quilting, means planning, pondering, gathering supplies, considering composition, and of course when finished - it's all about presentation.

And that's what this post is really about - presentation.

I haven't been too happy lately with my personal presentation.  Let me be honest.  I've worked my way back into my fat clothes.  Though I'd love to say it happened overnight, of course it didn't.  It happened ever so slowly when I fell off the wagon and began embrasing ice cream with banana's and chocolate sauce way too often.  *heavy sigh*  So in order to banish the dreaded clothes with no waist....I need to put my head into planning mode.  Just like I have to do when starting a new quilt.

Since planning when it comes to food is where I'm falling down, I've begone researching cooking sites and apps for my iPad that will make it easy and fun.  And Wow.  There is an amazing array of blogs out there on the world wide web discussing every aspect of cooking, from planning meals to presentation.  It's great!  I'm especially enamored with Eat at Home  which discusses the fine points of putting a good meal on the table (after a busy day of work/school/anything that makes you crazy...) in 15 minutes of prep time.  Now THAT's my kind of work week cooking experience.  And all the recipes from this blog can be saved ever so easily by sending it to ZipList - an absolutely awesome iPad/iPhone app that enables you not only to save, retrieve and add to a shopping list all those great recipes you see on-line, but it also have an unbelieveable meal planning section that sends the food you chose to eat for the week to your Gmail calendar.  Again Wow.  I love technology. 

So, I feel my journey back to the land of skinny jeans needs to start with the first step - planning. 
I'm going into this with the same mindframe I do when I begin thinking about an idea for a quilt.  I get excited about it, I think of colors and shapes and textures, just like good chefs consider ingrediants when planning an awesome main course.  The materials for each endeavor have to be the best and the techniques need to be refined and practised - it's all about even stitches and good gravy.   And at the end of the exercise the presentation needs to be perfection.....well, at least eatable and appealing to look at.

I wonder if my cooking and meal planning skills would improve if I were to dress myself in a quilt while preparing dinner in the kitchen?  No, I'd probably just set myself on fire!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Is Sharing Dead?

I read an interesting article in a blog I follow where the blogger was distressed that many of the quilt shows she goes to now do not allow photographs to be taken of the quilts. And if they are allowed, those photos cannot be reproduced (i.e. placed on a blog or even emailed from the photographer) without expressed permission of the quilt maker. It got me wondering, is sharing within the quilt world dead? Has commercial enterprise taken over in an area that has traditionally been predominantly free of financial entanglements?

I'm not saying that there hasn't been in the past money made from the art of quilt making. The 1930s quilting revival in the United States is a prime example of industrious women coming to the forefront of grassroots business designing and selling their quilt patterns. I certainly believe designers have every right to market their original designs. But have we gone too far in our attempt to 'protect' and copywriter every single twist on an old idea? I for one fight the urge to cave under the constant barrage of marketing hype every time a 'new' pattern design hits the market (which, lets be honest, is 99% of the time just an old pattern presented in a slightly different way) or someone introduces a new and improved whatever....when my old and lousy has been doing the job for me just fine for years. It's really a fine line to walk in my opinion from over commercialisation to fair market expectations. Perhaps as I learned the skill of quilt making from my grandmother and not from a fee paid class, I have a different attitude toward the art itself. Quilt making for me is about creative self expression as well as an opportunity to share freely amongst like minded quilters. Again I not suggesting that quilt teachers give away their time and talents. There is a time and place for everything. Which leads me back to the original issue of photographing a quilt and sharing these photos with others.

I share that bloggers frustration at not being able to photograph an exhibited quilt and then later share and discuss its merits and deficiencies among my peers. I ask you  - how many of us can really reproduce the spectacular quilting creations highly skilled quilters produce by just taking a few photos? What ever happened to just being flattered that someone even WANTS to photograph your quilt? My feeling is if you don't want anyone to 'steal' your design or ideas, don't place your quilt in the public arena. Keep it at home on your bed or wall. Quilt shows are not museums and unless you're a quilter with your own solo show, you're not a paid artisan. If you're putting your quilt in an exhibition I assume you want people to see it, faun over it, admire it. It's almost like a celebrity saying I want all the attention and adoration that comes with fame but don't take my picture unless I say you can.

This is just my two cents worth so don't send me hate mail. It's my opinion and you know what people say about opinions.....they're like a------s, everyone has one.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad