Festival of Quilts and Stash – I’m a hoarder am I?

It’s early August, which means that the Annual Festival of Quilts is now a matter of weeks away. I’ve taken my eye off the big “shows” the last couple of years – I already have more stash than I know what to do with, and have become very disappointed with what’s been on offer.

A few weeks ago I attended the “Sewing for Pleasure” and “Hobbycrafts” event up at the NEC, and only went because I had nothing better to do. There was a time when this show took up two of the larger halls of the NEC, and had little unused space around the edges. This year, it was in one hall, and there was a lot of noticeable empty space. However, the aisles remained narrow, resulting in blockages where people stopped to look or chatter, and the units looked to be the same size as normal.  One of the good things about crafting is that it’s very inclusive for people on reduced mobility – the downside is that there are plenty of people with crutches, walking sticks and mobility chairs. which are not a problem *in themselves* but are a problem when the aisles are barely big enough to let two pass each other, never mind allowing people to stop and look at stands. I don’d understands why, when there is plenty of free space, that aisles can’t be a few inches wider? Continue reading

Friday Salon: Making quilting more inclusive

husbands-lounge

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?

 

Summertime Blog and Reader Challenge: Marking Special Occasions

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 14 and we are allowed to post a Random Non-Book Related Post.

I’m seeing a lot of internet traffic (primarily from the US, naturally) about marking significant moments such as 9/11, often by making quilts or using some other crafty skill.

I was just wondering how you marked an occasion, either good or bad? Do you make anything for weddings, christenings, birthdays, major holidays (Christmas, Passover etc), funerals, passings etc?

Do you make a quilt or patchwork from clothes from someone you’ve lost (e.g. a grandparent)? Do you have someone in the forces that you’ve made something for them – either whilst they’re out there, or for when they’ve come back?

I’ve made some things for family: a large sampler for my cousin’s 40th; a cross stitched cushion cover when my first niece was born; a Lavender and Lace sampler when my brother got married; a copy of a photo for my sister’s birthday. My mother has also had several large cross stitch pieces given to her for birthdays etc, when she’s seen it in progress and expressed interest in having it.

And of course, there’s a whole industry around Christmas, which often starts in July!

Have you had anything made for you? Or have you made anything to mark a moment, for yourself or anyone else?

Parajunkee’s Summertime Blog and Reader – Random non book related post

Parajunkee Summertime week 2

This is Parajunkee’s Week 2 Summertime Blog and Reader – Random non-book related post. We are, apparently, allowed to talk about anything but books today!.  One of my other interests is crafts, especially quilts, so this is what this post is about – marking special occasions.

I’m seeing a lot of internet traffic (primarily from the US, naturally) about marking significant moments such as 9/11, often by making quilts.

I was just wondering how you marked an occasion, either good or bad? Do you make anything for weddings, christenings, birthdays, major holidays (Christmas, Diwali etc), funerals, passings etc?

Do you make a quilt or patchwork from clothes from someone you’ve lost (e.g. a grandparent)? Do you have someone in the forces that you’ve made something for them – either whilst they’re out there, or for when they’ve come back?

I’ve made some things for family members – a large sampler for my cousin’s 40th; a cross stitched cushion cover when my first niece was born; a Lavender and Lace sampler when my brother got married; a copy of a photo for my sister’s birthday. My mother has also had several large cross stitch pieces given to her for birthdays etc, when she’s seen it in progress and expressed interest in having it.

And of course, there’s a whole industry around Christmas, which often starts in July! I’m currently working on using fabric I picked up in the 1990s to produce a quilted item for no better reason than: I have this fabric and it’s about time I used it.

Have you had anything made for you? Or have you made anything to mark a moment, for yourself or anyone else?

Review: The Master Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Master Quilter (Elm Creek Quilts, #6)The Master Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After two books focussing almost exclusively on Sylvia, this book turns back to the other Elm Creek Quilts members, with a chapter dedicated to individual members.

Covering roughly the same period of time, we get to see how the start of the new season affects each person. Sylvia and Andrew are now married, but without a wedding quilt, so the group band together to make one for them in secret.

Bonny, whose husband almost had an affair 5 years previously, finds out that her marriage – and the quilt shop – is coming to an end.

Mary Beth, the “arch nemesis” president of the Waterford Quilting Guild – and Diane’s next door neighbour has some shocking home truths to learn about her children and the Guild.

Summer moves in with her boyfriend, and confronts the fact that she is stagnating in Waterford, in no small part because her mother has manipulated her to remain.

All members of the group end up making life changing decisions, which will have an effect not only on themselves but on the wider group

It’s good to see the author changes her writing style enough to keep things interesting for the reader and moving along. It will be good to see new characters come in (and possibly some of the other characters leave or fade into the background).

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Review: The Quilter’s Legacy by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Quilter's Legacy (Elm Creek Quilts, #5)The Quilter’s Legacy by Jennifer Chiaverini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Resolving to locate her mother’s heirloom quilts after so many years, Sylvia Compson embarks on a cross-country investigation of antique shops, quilt museums, and other, more unexpected places, where offers of assistance are not always what they seem. And as Sylvia recovers some of the missing quilts and accepts others as lost forever, she reflects on the woman her mother was and mourns the woman she never knew.

Following on shortly after book #4 (the Runaway Quilt), this continues to focus on Sylvia and her investigating her family’s past. Sylvia and Andrew are now engaged, and Sylvia is shocked and disappointed to find that her estranged sister sold off all their mother’s quilts before she died. In a desire to have her mother’s wedding quilt for when she and Andrew get married, she starts searching for them to mixed success. The book interweaves chapters between Sylvia and her mother, a supposedly sickly woman who elopes with one of the Bergstrom men.

Once again this book combines a lot about Quilt history and the difficulty attributing quilts to specific people (especially when the pattern has been published in a magazine and the quilter doesn’t name and date the quilt). Family relations continue to run through the book, especially of those between mothers and daughters.

Some threads are left open for the subsequent books. One thing that I wasnt convinced by was Andrew’s children’s objections to the marriage – Amy in particular seemed to object to it over much on what seems to be a fairly flimsy excuse – Sylvia being 7 years older than their father and already having had an excuse, they object cos they dont “want her to be a burden when she gets sick again”.

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Review: The Quilters Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Quilter's Apprentice (Elm Creek Quilts, #1)The Quilter’s Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Sarah McClure and her husband, Matt, move to the small town of Waterford, Pennsylvania, to get a fresh start, Sarah struggles to find a fulfilling job. Disheartened by failed interviews, she reluctantly accepts a temporary position at Elm Creek Manor helping seventy-five-year-old Sylvia Compson prepare her family estate for sale after the recent death of Sylvia’s estranged sister. As part of her compensation, Sarah is taught how to quilt by this reclusive, cantankerous master quilter.

During their lessons, Mrs. Compson slowly opens up to Sarah, sharing powerful, devastating stories of her life as a young woman on the World War II home front. Hearing tales of how Mrs. Compson’s family was torn apart by tragedy, jealousy, and betrayal, Sarah is forced to confront uncomfortable truths about her own family — truths that she has denied for far too long. As the friendship between the two women deepens, Mrs. Compson confides that although she would love to remain at her beloved family estate, Elm Creek Manor exists as a constant, unbearable reminder of her role in her family’s misfortune. For Sarah, there can be no greater reward than teaching Mrs. Compson to forgive herself for her past mistakes, restoring life and joy to her cherished home.

Given to me as a late Christmas present, this is the first of the “Elm Creek” series.

Slowly but surely it tells the story of the recently married Sarah, who has moved to near Elm Creek with her husband and whilst looking for a new job, helps the owner of Elm Creek to clear the place to make it ready for sale. Sarah manages to chip away Sylvia’s secret life, whilst learning how to quilt and introduce both of them into the local community. Their relationship allows them to confront the troubles in the here and now whilst making for some forgiveness of the troubles in the past.

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