Friday Salon: Making quilting more inclusive


I read this post over on Whilst She Naps recently hat uses a term at a quilting show (“Husbands’ lounge”) to make a point about making Quilting more Inclusive. Whilst I agree with the overall point of the post, I think the author missed a trick, and should/could have taken this labelling to be a symptom of the issue, rather than the actual source.  Ironically I also find that some of the language used in the comments is a rather strong and devisive rather than inclusive. I’ll let you go and read the post and the comments, and I’ll be here when you get back.

What I see as the issue

Quilting and the “creative arts” do have a perception problem, and is seen by many of all genders as “women’s work”.  Picking on a rest area being called “Husbands’ Lounge” is not going to change this perception. What needs to happen is a change to the value of quilting, knitting, sewing, designing away from being “woman’s work” that has little or no value and change it into something anyone should be able to do.

(As an aside, I saw person x ask person y on facebook how they could commission a knitted piece, cos they didn’t want to pay Etsy prices that were “too high”. Thankfully person y turned round and told x how prices reflected the time and effort knitting the piece, so x could cough up the money….or learn to knit herself).

I think we need to teach our children that there are no gender specific roles that are restricted to “”only boys” or “only girls”. Girls can be scientists, engineers, racing car drivers. Boys can knit, play with Barbie, become cooks (girls can be chefs!). Everyone can be a designer, a creator, a maker, a producer – the delivery method shouldn’t matter.

So what do you think?

I find the comments on the original post to be fascinating, and I think reflect an underlying fear and tension following the US Presidential election. The comments swing between “we need to be more inclusive!”, “there’s not a problem, get over yourself!” “I’m going to unsubscribe, but not before I tell you so you can beg me to stay!” and many shades in between.

As with many roles, it’ll take many a strong role model for people to follow – where are the male creatives leading the way? I believe that many (not all) of the currently visible creatives (such as the fashion designers) do happen to be gay, which – here I agree on the homophobia – men fear to follow as they dread to think they will be (wrongly) labelled as gay, so it will take more than one strong man to lead the way here.  It will also require a mind set change from both men and women that men are allowed to do this – several of the comments on the original article tell of how male visitors are derided by other men and women for taking more than nominal interest in the craft.

I do think that when it was common for there to be at least one person in every family who was knitting, making clothes etc, there was more appreciation for the inherient value of something – knowing where the materials came from, how long it took to make etc. If you can get a jumper for £5 on the high street, why would you pay £60 for someone to make something?


Crafty works in progress

Despite the lack of reading, I have been doing other stuff, believe it or not.

Back in the early 1990s, Laura Ashley issued some of their fabrics in precut squares, and I picked up a whole load of these packets, but never got laura-ashley-quilt-topsaround to doing anything with them. 20 something years later and I’m overflowing with fabric, so I decided I had better do something about the situation.   I’ve therefore been doing some paper piecing, and have got to the point of making some headway into a quilt/patchwork top. I have *no* idea what I’m going to do with it, or what happens next after I’ve completed the top – I’ve never got as far as backing and binding, but that’ll happen sooner or later!

Large Cross Stitch SamplerThe large sampler has been sitting out and about for over a year now, and I should get around to finishing it off. A couple of more weeks should do it once I get my act together – of course the nights are now getting darker earlier, so it means that I’ll have to get the clip on light to put on the frame – I once brought a specialty clip on light, only to realise I already had a book light that I never used and that would do just the job!



Having done The Festival Of Quilts a few weeks ago, and despite saying I’d not add to the stash, of course I did. That did prompt a tidy up of the stash – here’s an indication of what the stash looks like (excluding the crates worth of fabric!). I dare not look at the fabrics or the amount of wool that’s hiding around the place – there’s only so much a girl can take in one go!

So there’s plenty to be getting on with – I now just have to do some of it!



Summertime Blog and Reader Challenge – Non Book related hobbies

Summertime Blog and Reader challenge - week 4

It’s week four of Parajunkee’s Summertime Blog & Reader Challenge, where the week is about moving further away from books and blogging about the things we enjoy, other than reading. It’s Post 15 and we are asked to talk about our non-book related hobbies

My other main hobby is crafts, and I currently have a couple on the go.

I’ve had a stash of fabric that’s been following me around for years.  The bulk of it was a set of quilting fabric that I picked up from a company called Laura Ashley, in what must have been the early 1990s.  I think it’s followed me through 2 countries and 3 houses, so a few months ago I bit the bullet and started doing what’s known as “paper piecing”. At the moment there are several large squares of fabric (made up of 16 smaller squares) sitting on my dining room table. Sooner or later I will have to join them together and make something (though right now not sure what, beyond some kind of quilt top).

There is also other piles of fabric stash lying around the place (one of the reasons I decided I had to do something with the stuff I had). Some of this is specific from patchwork/quilting companies, and some have just been from shirts etc that have died a death and are otherwise no use to anyone.  Again, as with many crafters, I am a bit of a hoarder here and simply need to get around to using it.

I’m a sucker for making large pieces in cross-stitch, many of which have been given to family or are currently hanging on my walls.  I have one Work In Progress that I started at least a year ago, am about 2/3rds of the way through and need to finish it, if only to stop it looking at me and guilt tripping me for ignoring it!

Once in a while I get a fad for knitting – something that proved useful when I was sick and couldnt see well enough to read or do sewing. At least I didnt need to see to feel my way round a set of knitting needles!

What about you? What are your non-reading hobbies?

Friday Salon: Is every craft dominated by the Americans?

I’ve been to exhibition shows such as “Festival Of Quilts” and “Knitting and Stitching” enough times to know just how many people in the UK and Western Europe who have interest in crafts, from books, to sewing, quilting, knitting etc.

However, I’ve recently set up a few Alerts on Google, to see if there are any topics, items of interest etc. that I can post about here. And every single one of the items that come up are from the Americans. Blog posts, craft shows, you name it, the Americans do it (on the internet at least) more than the Europeans.

What’s the reasoning for this? Am I doing the alert wrong (it’s possible, but….). Of the thousands of people who go to the shows, support the fabric and yarn shops etc in Europe, does not a single one of them publish anything anywhere? A good percentage of the people who go to these shows are over 60, granted, but there are plenty of people under 60 who also go – do NONE of them write about what they do?

So in order to prove me wrong and show that the UK crafters are at least as good and as productive as the Americans – who should we be paying attention to? What websites, blogs, tweeters etc should we be following?  Who or What should I be on the lookout for?



Crafty tools – how do you keep yours?

I was clearing up some crafting materials yesterday, which lead me to realise just how many long tools I have stashed out of sight – knitting needles and paint brushes in particular.

Being put away is good in a way in that it keeps my flat nice and tidy – the downside is that I don’t see them, so forget they’re there, it’s one of the reasons I’m not using them as much as I perhaps should be.

I would like to at least get them neat and tidy but visible. Current thinking is that I have a number of house plant pots that I’m not using right now, which could be useful once cleaned up.

Meanwhile flatter items are kept in big plastic boxes on top of a wardrobe. This contain things like fabric scraps, stamps, papers, some charts and patterns etc. Buttons are kept in a small opaque multipurpose plastic box I use exclusively for this. Wool is kept in a cardboard box – simply because it’s what I had at the time!

WIPS (at least theoretical ones!) are stored in big plastic envelopes in my living room with all bits required to complete together in one piece. I also have a biscuit tin – dont we all! – that contains needles, cotton thread etc.

So how do you store your crafty tools? Do you have a separate craft room or do you have your tools placed around your living space (or neatly thrown into your wardrobe like me?).

Review: Back on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

Back On Blossom Street (Blossom Street #3)Back On Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

Macomber’s latest Blossom Street tale begins with a new knitting class at the shop Lydia Goetz owns in downtown Seattle. Lydia’s business is doing well, and in attendance are Susannah, who runs the flower shop next door; Colette, a young widow who lives upstairs; and Alix Townsend, a baker and former hoodlum engaged to a future minister. Lydia always tries to encourage friendship among her pupils, but this group is none too warm. Colette’s reticence is attributed to grief, but she is actually in hiding. Alix is trying her best to please her future in-laws, but as the wedding draws near, worries mount.

Another easy read from Macomber, I demolished this in a day. I think I’ve missed the middle book in this series, but no huge loss, as it”s virtually a standalone.

I like the pattern in the front, but wouldn’t dare to attempt to stitch it!

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Book Review: The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

The Shop on Blossom StreetThe Shop on Blossom Street; by Debbie Macomber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s a little yarn store in Seattle. It’s owned by Lydia Hoffman, and it represents her dream of a new life free from cancer. A life that offers a chance at love…

Lydia teaches knitting to beginners, and the first class is “How to Make a Baby Blanket.” Three women join: Jacqueline Donovan wants to knit something for her grandchild as a gesture of reconciliation with her daughter-in-law; Carol Girard feels that the baby blanket is a message of hope as she makes a final attempt to conceive; Alix Townsend is knitting her blanket for a court-ordered community service project.

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