Friday, March 25, 2011

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (Part 1)

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven"

A time for squares, a time for QST.
A time for yardage, a time for precuts.
A time for learning, a time for doing.
A time for simple, a time for complex.
A time for craft, a time for art.
...
A time for every quilter (and quilt) under heaven."

A day or two ago, as is my morning habit, I read Nancy's blog.  She referenced a post on Piecemeal Quilts about the "dumbing down" of quilting, in which Sandi lamented that certain techniques were being called "intermediate or advanced" when, in her opinion, they should be considered basic, beginner skills, e.g. pinwheels.   In a later entry, she added a survey where readers could reply on a variety of subjects from coordination of fabrics (pre- or post-)  (sorry, a library joke) (yes there is such a thing) to techniques used -- even what size quilts you make.  

In Nancy's post (since deleted), she expressed agreement with the "dumbing down" opinion and added a few words about choices sometimes made by quilters.  For example: fabric brand-consciousness (or not), replicating quilts exactly, etc., and, IIRC, seeing the same thing on multiple blogs and musing on possible "product placement" (for want of a better term). 

Apparently that post kicked off a number of comments that resulted in a well-thought out response by  Carrie, and three updates from Nancy, one in which she served herself crow for dinner, another that addressed some of the comments to her blog and acknowledged Carrie's gracious response, and the last  trying to disentangle the two subjects that had become entwined by some readers: the "dumbing down" of quilting and the idea of "quilt blogs as marketing". 

Still with me???  (If I have misrepresented anything it's because of my Swiss cheese memory.   I welcome corrections.)

Wandering from blog to blog over these past few days has been interesting.  I took a couple of side trips to other blogs to explore posts and comments, bookmarked several, but providing me with the gift of a little time to distill my thoughts.

I completely agree with Carrie that  "The thing is, quilting has been dumbed down.  It isn't just quilting either, everything -- including us -- has been 'dumbed down'.  From politics to entertainment, culture to the arts, everything is faster, easier and requires a whole lot less thought."   Emphasis is on being fast, fast, faster, and on producing more, more, and most.  Food must be fast. Gratification must be immediate. Consumption must be constant. Heaven forfend that we not be "busy" day and night, even to the point that sleep deprivation to one degree or another has become the norm. [ /C.O.W. rant about society] [ Back to quilting.]

All my life, I hated sewing.  But I loved color and fabric and pattern, and had the recurring thought that "someday" I'd make a quilt.  (Note the singular "a".)  The idea resurfaced about 12 or 13 years ago and I began exploring books in the library (this was pre-"everything's on the web") (another librarian's joke).  All the quilting books showed complex blocks and said the same thing: start with something small, e.g. a wall hanging.  Well, I didn't WANT to make a wall hanging -- I wanted to make something to sleep under!   Specifically, I wanted to make quilts for my daughters to sleep under.  Quite by accident, my older daughter (then about 8) asked me to teach her to sew.  See first sentence in this paragraph.  Never thinking of "quilting" but not wanting to pass on my dislike to the next generation, I suggested that the next time we visited her grandmother in Kentucky, she ask Grandma.  I knew Grandma could sew because when each of my daughters was born, Grandma had made and sent baby quilts, but I carefully packed them away, never to be used.  If I knew then... 

The next trip, Grandma had cut out (scissors and ruler or template), many small squares of the same size and demonstrated to my daughter how to sew them together to make a 9-patch block.

BINGO!  This was an easy quilt block -- one I could easily learn to do, and, if I simply made a whole bunch of them, I would be able to make something to sleep under.  Not long afterward, I came across photos of beautiful quilts with a variety of colors making each one unique. But the blocks themselves were (or appeared to be) 9-patches!   I remember thinking that, perhaps all my quilts would be 9-patches, but they didn't have to all be the same! Helped and encouraged by two other women in my life -- a neighbor with a mat, rotary cutter, and experience in hand-piecing and quilting, and my younger daughter's Godmother (a hand-quilter par excellence!) -- I designed and pieced (by hand) contrasting but coordinating 9-patch tops for each of my daughters and began hand-quilting the first. 

When I moved to "near Philadelphia", I found a community of quilters at my church and extending into the community.  And I discovered the joys (and efficiency) of machine-piecing.  Since then, with the help of that community, a lot of practice and, yes, the internet (what an amazing and endless resource!), I long ago discarded the idea that all my quilts would be 9-patches and have made dozens of quilts "large enough to sleep under," in a variety of fabrics, patterns, and degrees of difficulty.  Thanks to Sandi's survey I realized that I do pinwheels, HST, QST, flying geese, and a lot of traditional blocks -- mostly with ease.  I've made all-one-block quilts, sampler quilts, scrap quilts, a bargello quilt.  I've designed (simple, but my own) a setting, re-drafted blocks to a different size, done some paper-piecing. Haven't made a wall-hanging, done partial seams, nor tackled applique. Generally I don't "do" tiny blocks or those with dozens of pieces. Still, I consider myself firmly in the ranks of an intermediate quilter.

Not bad for someone who once thought she could happily make 9-patches for the rest of her life. 

This is getting to be WAY too, long so: To Be Continued

1 comment:

Pat said...

Damned girl, you write well. Truly excellent (not intermediately excellent) post!