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 – 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?

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?

Book Review: Alice’s Tulips by Sandra Dallas

alicestulips

Alice Bullock is a young newlywed whose husband, Charlie, has just joined the Union Army, leaving her on his Iowa farm with only his formidable mother for company. Alice writes lively letters to her sister filled with accounts of local quilting bees, the rigors of farm life, and the customs of small-town America. But no town is too small for intrigue and treachery, and when Alice finds herself accused of murder, she discovers her own hidden strengths. Rich in details of quilting, Civil War-era America, and the realities of a woman’s life in the nineteenth century, Alice’s Tulips is Sandra Dallas at her best.

It took me a while to get into the writing style – it is where one sister (Alice) writes letters to her sister Lizzie. Some of it is a little forced (reminding her sister as to how many brothers they’ve got for instance) in order to get the back story in, but it’s minor and soon got over.

The letters are one sided (you never get to read the replies) and tells of two years on a farm with Alice, her mother in law and various waifs and strays, all whilst Charlie is off fighting in the Civil war.

Alice tries to bear the unwanted attention of a local womaniser, but never contemplated that she would be accused when he turned up dead on their land. There are also diversion in some of the other women in the town (you hear little of the men).

Once I got past the slightly unusual format, I enjoyed reading this book! Although reading through this review again, I can remember little of the story itself now, and it has blended with several other civil war quilting books that I’ve read in the last few years, so dont know if that reflects well on this book or not

 

Book Review: The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

alohaquiltThe Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

Another season of Elm Creek Quilt Camp has come to a close, and Bonnie Markham faces a bleak and lonely winter ahead, with her quilt shop out of business and her divorce looming. A welcome escape comes when Claire, a beloved college friend, unexpectedly invites her to Maui to help launch an exciting new business: a quilter’s retreat set at a bed and breakfast amid the vibrant colours and balmy breezes of the Hawaiian Islands. Soon Bonnie finds herself looking out on sparkling waters and banyan trees, planning quilting courses, and learning the history and intricacies of Hawaiian quilting, all the while helping Claire run the inn.

As Bonnie’s adventure unfolds, it quickly becomes clear that Claire’s new business isn’t the only excitement in store for her. Her cheating, soon-to-be ex-husband decides he wants her stake in Elm Creek Quilts, which threatens not only her financial well-being but her dearest friendships as well. Luckily she has the artistic challenge of creating her own unique Hawaiian quilt pattern to distract her and new friends like Hinano Paoa, owner of the N’Mele Hawai Music Shop, who introduces Bonnie to the fascinating traditions of Hawaiian culture and reminds her that love can be found when and where you least expect it

This is practically a stand alone novel in the series, and concentrates on Bonnie, one of the original members of Elm Creek, travelling to Hawaii to help her friend Claire establish a new quilting retreat, whilst putting some distance between herself and her husband during a rather acrimonious divorce.

The new setting allows Chiaverini to introduce her readers to a new way of quilting – this is number 16 in the series after all! – as well as giving a potted history of Hawaiian history (no idea if it’s right or wrong but fair dues to her for even trying!).   The Elm Creek Quilters are barely seen until the end, for various reasons, so is pretty much a standalone book.

The divorce has been a long time coming, so it’s a relief that it’s finally over, even if it’s a small part of the back story.

Claire is the opposite of Bonnie – the former ignoring the things she sees as negative, where as Bonnie takes everything the wrong way and thinks it’s for the worst.

I have to admit I did skim the occasional small set of pages in this book – there were parts that it did seem to be more of what us Brits call “a party political broadcast on behalf of…” so it ran very close to being a lecture on how bad things had gone for the Hawaiians over the years.

So in summary: a fairly standalone book in the series, that gives the reader a decent overview of Hawaiian quilting, and finishes one of the long running threads in the series, but little more

Book Review: The Last Runaway by Tracey Chevalier

lastrunawayThe Last Runaway by Tracey Chevalier

The stunning new novel from the bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring. Honor Bright is a sheltered Quaker who has rarely ventured out of 1850s Dorset when she impulsively emigrates to America. Opposed to the slavery that defines and divides the country, she finds her principles tested to the limit when a runaway slave appears at the farm of her new family. In this tough, unsentimental place, where whisky bottles sit alongside quilts, Honor befriends two spirited women who will teach her how to turn ideas into actions

You cant fault Chevalier for her research whilst writing a book – this has Quakers 1850s America, the Slave trade, bounty hunters, and quilting all wrapped into a plausable story about an Englishwoman coming to America and being tested over principals, marriage, slavery and what humans are prepared to do to each other.

Chevalier manages to find different ways in progressing the story without bogging herself or the reader in too much detail (changing between a straight narriative and Honor’s side of the letters to the people back home, and back), allowing for whole periods to pass in a few pages.

Not sure the relationship between Honor and Jack quite works – she’s a Quaker who gets married after a quicky fumble in the corn field. She didnt seem to expect anything different, despite having no passion for Jack (unlike what she feels for the dangerous Bounty hunter Donovan) and seems to feel no regret for doing the dirty without even a hint of a promise.

There’s enough detail in the Quilting to keep casual quilters happy, though I’m sure that the more adept quilters would like to try and find fault.  Some reviewers complain about there not being more information about the Underground Railroad, and whilst there wasnt much, I think it was appropriate – after all this is a foreigner who stumbles across the situation rather than being sought out to be actively involved – and I know that for safety’s sake most people would only know about the stop either side of them, in order to reduce others being caught out.  These were difficult times for all, so that most people (especially the free black people) weren’t suddenly going to share their secrets with women who they barely knew.