An Apology* for Required Summer Reading

I’m finishing up work on my own book right now, but I thought I’d throw this out there.  It’s about summer reading in junior and senior high, and reading things that are otherwise not going to cross your radar.  It’s pretty much taken directly from a comment I left somewhere else, but I thought it interesting enough to share, because I also think it applies to our quilting work, learning to do the things we don’t necessarily care for so we can be better disciplined and able to do all the quilty things.

In my teaching career, I’ve taught 5th through 12th grades (history and Latin, at the same time!), and college kids as a TA (history and Latin). In my personal experience, the kids that were best able to handle the college workload and make the most out of their education were the ones who could manage to do the work they found not to their liking all the time, which, frankly, will turn out to be a good deal of what they’re asked to do. They were the ones who realized that they didn’t have to like what they read or the exercises they had to do, so much as be able to understand it and apply what they learned.

And, most significantly to my mind, they were most often the ones who realized that the key to a good college education was often tied to the ability to stretch their mind by learning and doing things that are outside of the things they are comfortable or just like to do. Their answers were uniformly more thoughtful and creative, and more often showed a greater degree of insight and interest in the world around them. In group work, they were the problem solvers and leaders.  They were doing the drudge work, but making the effort to see how it could benefit them beyond the grade in the classroom.  The benefit to them is not only in terms of the material they learned, but also the active practice of discipline.

On a different more existential level, one of the reasons literature is assigned–in both history *and* in English classes–is because as a human being our individual experiences are self-limiting based on what shape our lives have. Reading literature is a way to learn about the human experience, through facing problems and loves and fears and dreams that we may never experience directly ourselves. Relating to a character or not can sometimes provide guidance as to who we are and what we value most about ourselves and our larger world.  Through reading, we can learn compassion and empathy, and also how to distance ourselves emotionally from characters that disturb us.  We learn to think about why we are drawn to some things and not others.  We learn who we are.  By reading things we’d otherwise not expose ourselves to, we stretch ourselves in new ways. So.  That’s why I think summer reading is necessary and important.

* I use the word “apology” in the sense of the ancient Greek ἀπολογία (literally “apologia”), which was first used as a literary device by Plato in the 4th c. BCE: It means to make a defense of your beliefs through the systematic use of information.

Come join me tomorrow!

Come join me tomorrow for a Bernina Webinar, where I talk about what I think about when I work out how I’m going to quilt a top!   This is a quilting design discussion, and applicable to domestic or longarm machines. Denise will also be talking about the QuiltMotion later in the show.

You do need to register in advance, but there are three different times you can attend.  Should be fun and informative!  Happy quilting, y’all.

Simple tip today: label your fabric

So I’ve been working with lots and lots of fabrics lately, some bundled and some not. Some of my choices are quite close in color, and some come from different collections, but need to be eventually grouped together in a project.  I like to prewash, so colors that are similar all get washed together. But, yeah.  You can see how this might be a problem, breaking up groups.  Or remembering quickly which is which.  Hrmph.

So here it is.  The should-have-done-this-sooner tip.

Write the name on the darn selvedge before washing.  That's it.  Then write the name on it again, if you cut it off.

Write the name on the darn selvedge with permanent ink before washing. That’s it. Then write the name on it again, if you cut it off.

Seriously.  *facepalm*

I’m off to go do this with all my various shades of white and not-white, including company name.  Some of them are awfully close.  While I liked the final look of the white and snow together well enough to incorporate it into many more quilts (this quilt is maybe 3 or 4 years old?), sometimes you don’t actually want that.  If, like me, you work in sometimes less than ideal lighting conditions, then knowing what’s what can make a hell of a difference.

Your Quilting Business: Do You Need a Media Kit?

One of the things that turned up several times in the comment thread for “The Problem With Free Milk: Giving Away Your Quilt Work”, was how to present yourself and your business as a bona fide business, and there was some discussion in the comments about media kits, what they were, and how they are used.

Sam Hunter at Hunter’s Design Studio has been working on her We are $ew Worth It campaign, and has been collecting resources to that end.  In Sam’s new post  We Are $ew Worth It Resources: Press Kits, she talks about the press kit she is putting together for a book event she is doing at Powell’s, and what she is and is not including.  It got me to thinking about what I would want to include, and how I would present it, both online and in print.  It most certainly wouldn’t be a static object, done once and never touched again.

If you have one, would you be willing to share your experiences in the comments here or over at Sam’s blog?  It would be much appreciated!

OK.  My deadline is in 2 1/2 weeks, and I have to put nose back to the grindstone.  Happy Quilting, friends!

How did I miss this Quilty-type fashion?

Well, honestly.  How did I miss this dress?  I kind of love it.  Granted, I don’t watch TV so I have no idea who the lady is (Apparently shes on Revenge,and her name is Ashley Madekwe), but I do love her dress.  It’s Monique L’Huillier, deconstructed black and white houndstooth.

(I don’t have rights to the image, which is why I am not posting it on my blog. That’s why I don’t post any of these kinds of pics, actually.  Sorry!)

Memories of the World Cup, 2001

In 2001, I spent the summer studying ceramics at the American Academy in Rome (specifically, I was studying Terra Sigillata from a site located on the Palatine Hill).  On occasion, the group of fellow analysts would take weekend trips to places, to see the ancient sites and collect information for future lectures and classes we were thinking of offering.

On weekend, we decided to go to Florence.  We left from Termini in Rome, and arrived in the mid afternoon, the same day Ethiopia was playing in the World Cup for the first time ever.  A little background: migrant workers from Africa and elsewhere are brought in (usually by mafia types and many from Ethiopia in particular) to sell knock off goods on the streets throughout the country.  It’s cheap labor, there aren’t many restrictions, and the lure of a better chance at life brings many hopefuls and refugees to Italy.  On the day we arrived in Florence, all of the TVs that usually displayed train schedules had been co-opted and turned to show the World Cup, where Ethiopia was playing, and every TV had a group of people around it, Italians, Africans from Ethiopia and elsewhere, tourists, kids, adults, you name it.  It was a cross-section of the city, right there.

We glanced at the screen, and then headed for the Duomo.  I hadn’t been to Florence, and wanted to see the square and have a coffee before we met up with the others.  As we were sitting there, at a table in the square across from this, I heard a faint sound way off to my left, almost like drums.  In a few more seconds, I heard the sound of drums for certain, this time to my right.  Then, louder and louder from both sides, I heard this jubilant singing and drum playing, clearly getting closer to the central square.

I will never forget, in that moment, seeing in the clear afternoon light, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in the background, the ecstatic faces celebrating Ethiopia’s win, celebrating the fact that this country, predicted to be knocked out in the first round, was still there and still fighting, and dammit, they’d won.   These men, and they were almost entirely men, were dancing the dances they’d been taught growing up, playing drums they had brought from home, and some playing whatever else they got their hands on.  Those of us who were there were clapping and cheering and sharing that moment of triumph and happiness with them as, draped in flags, decked out in every scrap of red, green, and yellow that could be found, they celebrated that they, too, mattered on this world stage.

Are you going to QuiltCon?

Y’all. Are you going to QuiltCon?  I will be there, and hopefully some of my quilts will be, too, both my own and ones I’ve quilted for others!

However, did you know that if you’re a member, you get a discount for the things you sign up for?  JUNE 13 is the last day to become an individual member and still receive the discount.  If your’e a member of your local Modern Quilt Guild, then the guild cutoff is JUNE 16.  Just a heads up :)


OK.  Back to book writin’.



Really worth a listen: Wide Ranging Conversation on Modern Quilting with Jacquie Gering

Allison Rosen over at Within a Quarter Inch has a really great recorded interview with Jacquie Gering.  They touch on a whole number of different topics, including things that I’ve touched on, such as working for free, the non-existent divide between traditional and modern (will update when I find the right post!), and taking ourselves seriously as professionals (are we a hobby or business?).  I’ve listened to it twice right now, and it’s really great.

I won’t lie.  It felt validating to hear Someone Important say these things.  I’ll be writing more on this later, when I’m done with some of my book stuff (one month to go… it’s hitting the fan, right??)

A quilt for Memorial Day

Right before Market, I quilted a sweet little thing for Scott Hansen at Blue Nickel Studios.  This quilt is made from the new solids American Made Brand from Clothworks.  Scott wanted something simple and linear that wouldn’t compete with the fabric or the design, an abstract American flag.  We brainstormed a few ideas, and settled on the idea of a road map.  What is more perfect and simple than the lines on a map?  Loved this collaboration!!

The lines themselves are in "mushroom" So fine by Superior, and the compass rose is in several layers of "military gold" Glide by Fil-Tec.

The lines themselves are in “mushroom” So fine by Superior, and the compass rose is in several layers of “military gold” Glide by Fil-Tec.

When it’s washed, this will really give the feel of a map worn with age, crinkled by being stuffed into someone’s glovebox, the ink smudged a bit where it got wet in the rain searching for where to go.

scottbackmap scottdetailmap

This Memorial Day, with our soldiers still overseas and our veterans here at home, I can’t help but think of these roads that connect all of us, spiritually and physically, and how travel between the states in this gigantic nation of ours really defines our national spirit.   We may not all follow the same religion (or any religion), we may not agree on our politics, but we do know that the freedom often is often protected by a few.

If you want to do this on your own quilt, think about the north/south and east/west main arteries (wouldn’t they look cool in red?)  Look at a map and see how a town or city looks, with its loops of interstate that circle it.  Think about open spaces and tighter packed urban areas.  Then don’t worry about backtracking and making it wobbly.  Most big interstates have an old road running alongside it for some distance, the precursor to the interstate system.  And have fun!  If you do make a map with your quilting, please share!

Hobby or Business?

In responding to a comment from the previous post, I thought the information about whether something was business or hobby was important enough to highlight on its own.  The IRS does distinguish between a “hobby” vs.  a “business”.  If you aren’t sure where to start to figure out which is a fit for you, then this page over at the IRS website might be a good place to start, particularly the questions from the site which I am pasting below:

  • Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?
  • Does the taxpayer depend on income from the activity?
  • If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control or did they occur in the start-up phase of the business?
  • Has the taxpayer changed methods of operation to improve profitability?
  • Does the taxpayer or his/her advisors have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
  • Has the taxpayer made a profit in similar activities in the past?
  • Does the activity make a profit in some years?
  • Can the taxpayer expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity?