President’s Message – January 2019

President’s Message – January 2019

Those of you who remember my September column already know that I’m not a huge fan of starting the New Year on a random day in the middle of the winter! (There would be a certain logic to starting a new year on the solstice, but January 1? Seriously, who picked that date?) Unfortunately, despite my rants and diatribes, most of the rest of the world disagrees with me, and so at the start of January, we rolled over into a brand new year.

I only bring this up again because WFQG begins our new membership year in January. This means membership renewal forms, new officers and committee chairs, and new events and challenges for everyone to participate in!

If you haven’t renewed your membership, please do that as soon as you can. Donna Owens, our intrepid Membership chair, is getting ready to put the annual roster together, and you don’t want to be left out. Also, if you are a fully paid-up member by the January meeting, you can participate in to the Road to California challenge, and maybe help the guild win a $500 prize! (More on that elsewhere in this issue.)

Many thanks to the outgoing officers and chairs (1st VP Alison Dingeldein, 2nd VP Susan Winnie, Secretary Carol Walker, Ways & Means chair Midge Schuyler, SCCQG representative Chris Vail, Challenge chair Jane Davidson), and many thanks to those who have stepped up to fill those positions (1st VP Linda Rasmussen, 2nd VP Alison Dingledein [she didn’t get far!], Co-secretaries Irma Caldera and Wanda James, Challenge co-chairs Judi Romine and Gina Danner, and BOM co-chair Elaine Zamani [joining returning chair Maggi Gordon]). Thanks also to the board members who are continuing in their positions this year. To steal a phrase from a much better writer, the WFQG is truly an organization “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We need the participation of all of you in order to continue to flourish.

And fortunately, the new year brings LOTS of opportunities for you to participate in LOTS of things! If you were paying close attention in the last paragraph, you noticed that we have two positions which haven’t yet been filled. We’re still looking for a Ways and Means chair and a SCCQG rep. Descriptions of the positions can be found in the bylaws section of your roster—if you think you might be interested in filling either of those slots, let me know. (I actually attended the January SCCQG meeting just before writing this column—it wasn’t arduous, it was pretty interesting, and there were snacks! Who wouldn’t want a job that includes snacks?!)

If you don’t feel ready to join the board, you can participate in any number of other activities this year. I know you may be tempted to skip the January meeting, since there’s no interesting speaker—just a business meeting—but if you don’t come, you’ll miss hearing about the new Challenge event (it’s even a secret from me!) and updates on our retreats (big news about the Winter retreat—you really don’t want to miss it). The guild has also been invited to participate in a demonstration day at the Huntington Gardens in May, and we’ve been invited back to the Stitches show in November, so we’ll be looking for people to sign up for both of those events. There are lots more ways to be active in the guild, but my word count is climbing and I don’t want the editor to yell at me—so you’ll just need to come to the meeting to hear about them!

See you there.

President’s Message – November/December 2018

President’s Message – November/December 2018

Did anyone make it to the Stitches show in Pasadena at the start of the month? If you didn’t get a chance to see our booth and our quilt display, check out our guild’s Facebook page – both venues looked fabulous! Thanks to the setup crew of Terry Simon (and her Sherpa, Howard), Robin Clarke, and Marilyn Brisendine, who did a terrific job. And many thanks to all of you who volunteered to staff the booth during the show. To be honest, when we were invited on such short notice, I really didn’t think we’d fill all the slots – but you all proved me wrong! The show was mostly geared towards yarn artists (kintters/crocheters), but there are enough overlapping interests among fiber artists (I bet a lot of you knit, too) that we generated a fair amount of attention – traffic was reportedly slow on Sunday, but on Friday and Saturday we handed out about 40 copies of our newsletter and about 100 fliers about the guild. Stitches is coming back to SoCal again next year, and we’ve already been invited back – the organizers tell us that they’re interested in increasing their target market to quilters as well as knitters, so they’re planning to offer more fabric vendors and items of interest to quilt folk next year. Stay tuned for more details!

We’ve also been invited to demonstrate at the Fiber Arts Day on May 4, 2019 at the Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens. This is another event that traditionally has been geared toward other fiber artists – we are the first quilt guild ever to be invited. (In May, we’ll be sharing space with 4 spinning and weaving guilds.) The venue is outdoors (under the trees, which will be nice!) with limited-to-no access to electricity, so demonstrations will have to consist of handwork (no machine demos). It’s a full-day event, which we’ll probably break up into several shifts, and we are allowed free entry for up to 12 demonstrators from the guild. After the craziness of the December holidays is past, we’ll be offering sign-up sheets for people who are interested in participating – another great opportunity to showcase the guild to people who might not yet know they need to join us!

While volunteering at outside events like these is a great way to support the guild, we also need people to volunteer within the group as well. As you heard at the last meeting, we DO have a full slate of nominees for the elected offices who will be voted on in November and installed in December – again, many thanks to all of you who have agreed to serve! But in addition to the elected officers, there are quite a few unelected slots to fill – just take a look at the first page of your membership roster to get an idea of how many people it takes to keep the guild running smoothly! I haven’t spoken with quite everyone yet – but I already know that, while some of these Directors and Chairpersons are willing to continue, others are ready to hand their roles over to someone else. We’ll be letting you all know which positions we need to fill once we have our full list. The job descriptions for the various Directors-at-Large and Standing Committee Chairs are on pages 19-20 of the current roster – please take a look, and if you think you’d be interested in filling any of the open positions, please let me or another Board member know! Remember, it takes a village to run a quilt guild. Or something like that.

See you at the meeting.

President’s Message – October 2018

President’s Message – October 2018

One of the hardest things about being guild president – at least for me – is coming up with topics for this column every month. This month was supposed to be easy – I was going to be able to write about the Mystery Hop! Alas, the best-laid plans… A few days before the hop, I started having cold symptoms, and by Saturday morning they were severe enough that I had to admit I was too sick to join the group (and Terry Simon kindly stepped up to take over as Mystery guide – thanks, Terry!).

It turned out that I wasn’t the only one having a bad day. Just a few days before the hop, we had found out that the online advertised time for the rental van pickup was incorrect – instead of 7 AM, we wouldn’t be able to get the vans until 8 AM, and so the start time had to be pushed back by an hour. On the day of the hop, the start was pushed back by another hour because of mechanical problems with one of the rented vans. Many, many thanks to Susan Winnie and Cindy Caldera who offered their own vehicles to ferry half the group! The hop couldn’t have happened without you, and I’m hoping that, despite the two-hour delay which wreaked havoc with the planned itinerary, people still managed to have some fun on the hop.

But all of this left me with no topic for my column, and still swarming with too many viral particles to think particularly clearly. So instead of a past event, let’s talk about an upcoming one.

From November 1-4, the Pasadena Convention Center will be hosting “Stitches,” a multi-fiber-art expo with exhibits and vendors of interest to quilters, knitters, crocheters, and more. WFQG has been offered a free booth at the expo, where we’ll have a chance to promote the guild to lots and lots of show attendees! We have also been offered discounted admission, and discounts on classes at the events. (If you are on the guild email list, check your email – the card that you’ll need to show for your discount, plus the link to the class list and the class discount code, were emailed to you a few weeks ago. If you don’t receive email, we’ll have some copies of the flyer available at the next guild meeting.) Their promo promises “over 100 vendors offering the latest fabric, yarn, crafting supplies, book signings and [a] new Crafters Playground with free demonstrations and opportunities to try equipment and learn new techniques.” It sounds like this could be a lot of fun!

Of course, if we’re going to have a booth, we need to staff it. The response to the announcement about this at the last guild meeting was quite positive, but we still need a few more booth-sitters: we have one slot open on Friday, Nov. 2, from 4:00-6:00; one slot open on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 12:00-2:00; and two slots open on Sunday, Nov. 4, from 10:00-12:00. We could also use some help with the booth setup on Thursday, Nov. 1, from 3:00-5:00. If you can help, please let me know (pjwnmd@gmail.com).

You can find out more about the show (including our booth location!) at www.knittinguniverse.com/SoCal2018.

See you at the meeting.

Upcoming Meeting News

Upcoming Meeting News

On November 14th we will have our annual Affiliates Night. A few of our affiliate members will join us and show us some of the new things they have in their stores.

We will also be revealing our Round Robins from this year. There will be 22 quilt tops to look at.

On December 5th is our annual members-only Holiday Party.

President’s Message – September 2018

President’s Message – September 2018

September has always seemed to me a better place than January for marking the start of the new year. Seriously, who decided that a random day in the middle of winter was a good date to start a new year? There is, on the other hand, a certain logic to marking a new beginning in September. Summer ends, and harvest time arrives. Time pauses, balanced on the equinox, and then tilts towards autumn and on into winter. A new school year starts—and even long past graduation, it’s hard to shake the influence of all those new school years that shaped our childhoods. For those of us who were crazy enough to go back to school in middle age, the pattern runs even deeper. I suspect I will never be able to rid myself of the almost Pavlovian urge to rush out and buy spiral-bound notebooks at this time of year.

(I was pleased when I learned that I’m not alone in this conviction—the Jewish calendar, unlike the Gregorian one, does celebrate the new year in September. By the time you read this, Rosh Hashanah will have ushered in the year 5779. So, Shana tova—happy new year, everyone!)

Regardless of when the new year starts, I’ve never been a fan of making resolutions. They tend to focus on big changes, and big changes are hard to maintain. I really don’t need the guilt that comes along when I fail to live up to my resolutions, so I generally avoid making them in the first place. On the other hand, I have no objection to using the start of a new year to take stock and perhaps shape some intentions for the months ahead. (Intentions are less binding than resolutions and don’t carry the same sense of obligation, so there’s less guilt if I maybe don’t quite carry them out as fully as I had intended.)

One of my primary intentions for the new year is to finish more projects. I am great for coming up with ideas and starting things, but less good at carrying through. That leaves me with both lots of UFOs, and plenty of ideas banging around in my head that have never even gotten underway. The guild’s UFO challenge would have been one good way to deal with some of these, but I knew I’d be too busy to meet all those deadlines, so I didn’t sign up (guilt, remember?). But having an intention to finish more projects will be my way of focusing on the goal without setting stringent deadlines and adding stress to my quilting time—which, after all, is supposed to be fun, right?

My second intention is to expand my skill set and get better at machine work. I’m really pretty good at hand work, but unfortunately working by hand takes forever (maybe part of why I never get anything finished…) and despite years as a quilter, my relationship with my machine is still one of wary mistrust. “Precision” is not the word that comes to mind when you look at my machine piecing and applique, and let’s not even talk about machine quilting, thank you. But a couple of recent deadlines have made clear just how useful it would be to be better at machine work, and so I’ve decided I really need to put in enough practice to build a better working relationship with my machine and to move me into the “at least competent” category. (Striving for “good at this” will probably have to wait—another intention for another year, maybe.)

These are modest intentions, but I hesitate to be overly ambitious—there is so much going on in other parts of my life (school, work) that I don’t want to overreach, because that way lies failure and frustration, and like I said, quilting is supposed to be fun! But I hope that having some intentions for the coming year—and having put them out here in public for all to see!—will help me stay on track and make some progress. After all, more finished projects will mean more space on my fabric shelf, and with our upcoming Mystery Shop Hop, I just might be needing that!

See you at the meeting.

President’s Message – August 2018

President’s Message – August 2018

Is everyone enjoying the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer? Speaking for myself, I’m not a huge fan of hot weather, which is one of the reasons I run away for part of the summer. This year, it’s not helping a whole lot – the weather in Maine has been hotter than usual (though not quite as hot as California), with a healthy dose of humidity thrown in, to boot. Not exactly ideal quilting weather! For that reason, if nothing else, fall weather will be welcome when it arrives.

Still, there are ways of coping. One option for dealing with the summer heat is to find a nice, air-conditioned quilt show to attend. As I mentioned last month, late July always brings the Maine state quilt show, where I spent a fun few days (both in the judging room beforehand, and then at the show itself). This year was even more fun than usual, because our membership director Donna Owens, who was in Connecticut at a family event, drove up for the show! She arrived before the show opened, on Wednesday afternoon, and I immediately put her to work, helping hang ribbons and name cards on the judged quilts. It wasn’t all bad for her, because signing her in as a volunteer meant she got free entry to the show the next day! I also introduced her to as many of my Maine quilting friends as I could, because I hold to the theory that there are no strangers – just quilters we haven’t met yet. I hope she had as much fun during her visit as I did. Remember: if you’re planning a summer getaway for next year, Maine during the last week in July is a great place to visit!

Another way to deal with summer is to start making plans for fall. Did you all see the flyers Terry Simon brought to the last guild meeting? Save the date, because on October 6 we’re holding our first Mystery Shop Hop! We’ve reserved a 15-passenger van, and on the morning of the hop you’ll climb aboard with absolutely no idea where we’re headed! (We will bring you back to the starting point at the end of the day, we promise…) All we’ll say is that it’ll involve multiple quilt shops, plus a stop for lunch, and a snack (most likely ice cream, because I’m the one planning this…) before we head home. A mystery adventure and fabric shopping – seriously, it doesn’t get much better than this! We’ll have a sign-up sheet at the August meeting. If we fill the first van, we’ll be happy to rent another one – but we’ll need someone to volunteer to drive it, so be thinking about who you know who might be willing to do that. (Bonus: the driver comes on the hop for free, and gets her/his lunch paid for!)

Stay cool, and see you at the meeting.

President’s Message – July 2018

President’s Message – July 2018

By now, many of you will be well on your way to finishing your July challenge entries. I’m sorry I won’t be here to see them all, but sadly I’ll be on the wrong coast—as you are getting ready for the potluck and challenge reveal, I’ll be at the opening preview for Maine Quilts, recovering from two days of running their judging room. So between these two events, the topic of quilt judging is very much on my mind right now.

Quilt judging comes up occasionally in an online group I belong to. As it’s a hand-quilting group, the discussion usually focuses on how impossible it is for hand quilting to compete against machine quilting in shows, because everyone is much more impressed with flashy machine quilting. Every time this happens, I have to sit on my hands to keep from typing, at the top of my voice, “THAT’S NOT HOW JUDGING WORKS!”

First of all, any judge who knows what she’s doing isn’t going to be judging “hand quilting” against “machine quilting”—she’s going to be judging each technique according to its own levels of excellence. By those standards, a hand-quilted entry that demonstrates even stitches, hidden knots, and a balanced distribution of quilting across the piece is easily going to beat out a machine-quilted piece with visible starts and stops, obvious tension issues, and snarled thread nests on the back.

Also, competent judges know not to let their personal preferences interfere with their evaluation of a quilt. Of course they have personal preferences—they’re human, after all! (At least the ones I’ve met are…) But they won’t allow the fact that they really do prefer machine quilting (or love blue quilts, or loathe chartreuse) to interfere with the aforementioned task of judging each quilt on its artistic and technical merits. (The exception to this rule is, of course, “Judge’s Choice” awards, where they can be as partisan as they darned well please.)

It’s also important to remember that quilt judges are not the quilt police. (Spoiler: there are no quilt police. And anyone who tries to act like one is just wrong.) Of course there are exceptions (see above re judges being human—and I have to confess that I’ve worked with one or two nightmares), but by and large, the people who become quilt judges do it because they truly love quilts, quilting, and quilters, and want to help you become the best version of your quilting self that you can. This doesn’t mean you’ll always agree with the comments you get on your entries. And that’s okay! The judges disagreed with some of my design decisions on the first quilt I ever entered for judging; I love that quilt, and still don’t regret those decisions. But even when you don’t agree, at least think about the comments and try to understand why they were made. It’s a great way to learn, and (one hopes) to improve.

I could go on and on, but right now I have to go and re-read Linda Rasmussen’s chapter in the NQA Guide to Judged Shows book to refresh my memory on setting up a judging room. (It’s a great chapter which I review every year, and I’m not just saying that because Linda’s in our guild!) Have a great time at the challenge show, and I’ll see you all next month.

President’s Message, June 2018

President’s Message, June 2018

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, no matter how much fabric one has in one’s stash, it is never quite right for the new project one is planning. Thus it was that a few weeks ago I found myself meandering through one of our affiliates’ stores where I fell into conversation with another woman who was similarly meandering. (It’s another universal truth* that, in quilt shops, there are no strangers—just quilters you haven’t met yet.) She was smitten with a Betty Boop print she had found, and wanted me to share in her delight. Now, I’m not a huge fan of Betty Boop myself, but I do think life would be dreadfully dull if we all loved the same fabric, and so I was happy to agree with her that it was a terrific find. She was even more thrilled with a bag on display which had been made from the Betty Boop fabric—but when I suggested that the shop probably carried the pattern as well as the fabric, so she could make the same bag herself, she said, “Oh, no, I’m not a quilter; I’d never have the patience for that!”

*Make that a near-universal truth. It turns out that some people in quilt shops are just there to pick out fabric for a friend.

This is not the first time I’ve heard the “no patience” explanation, and I imagine most of you have heard it too. Apparently the world would contain many more quilters were it not for the fact that quilting requires patience. Personally, I find this logic flawed, because I am probably one of the least patient people you will ever meet. If I have to wait in line more than a few minutes at the grocery store, I become annoyed—and don’t even get me started on some of the lines I’ve been in at the Starbucks drive-thru! But spending weeks, if not months, to finish a quilt? Not a problem.

Like any good academic, I approached this seeming dilemma by returning to the fundamentals: “define your terms!” According to Merriam-Webster, “patience” is defined as “the capacity, habit, or fact of being patient,” which in turn is defined as “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain; not hasty or impetuous; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.” And there we begin to see the solution: whether you think quilting requires vast reserves of “patience” or not depends on how you define “pains, trials, opposition, difficulty, adversity.” Okay, quilting may involve some pain and difficulty on occasion—anyone ever discover after sewing a border to a quilt that you should have double-checked that they were “right sides together”? Frog-stitching (rippit, rippit…) an entire border seam might indeed be a trial which prompts complaint, not to mention wailing and gnashing of teeth. But mostly, quilters regard cutting fabric into little pieces and then sewing them back together as soothing, or exciting, or [insert positive adjective of your choice here]—not painful, or difficult, or trying.

So, when people say, “I don’t have the patience to quilt,” what they’re really saying is that they don’t think it’d be fun and they really aren’t interested. I get it, because I’ve used the same excuse myself in other contexts. (Cake decorating comes immediately to mind.) But that’s okay! The world would be dull if we all loved the same fabric, and the world would be dull if we all followed the same passions. Besides, thanks to all those people who don’t have the patience to quilt, there’s more fabric for the rest of us.

See you at the meeting!

Upcoming Meeting News

Upcoming Meeting News

Get ready for a night of Community Outreach on May 23. Don’t forget your machines, tools, etc. for a fun, rewarding evening of making Community Outreach quilts and bags.

Coming up on June 27, Leah Zieber will visit us with her antique children’s quilt trunk show and lecture on “Tiny Treasures, Petite Pleasures.” Have your own tiny treasures? Bring them to share.
The following Saturday, June 30, she’ll have a workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  in Arcadia on “Tiny Treasures Done Right” during which you’ll make a one-of-a-kind tiny treasure of your own, featuring orphan blocks, ugly tester blocks, border pieces that didn’t quite work and scraps.

In July we will have our annual Challenge event. This year’s challenge theme is “International Day of Quilts”.

President’s Message, May 2018

President’s Message, May 2018

I hope you all had a wonderful time at last month’s Yard Sale, and were able to give new homes to lots of deserving fabric and books! I was sorry to miss it but unfortunately was on the wrong side of the country, attending a conference in Washington DC. Since my brother lives just outside DC, I also built a few extra days into the trip so I could visit him and do some touristy stuff.

I am a huge fan of the Smithsonian, and every time I’m in DC I try to get to at least one or two of the museums. One of my favorites is the National Museum of American History—at least in part because that’s where the Smithsonian’s quilt collection is housed! I had hoped to be able to see the famous Harriet Powers “Bible Quilt” on this visit, but unfortunately it wasn’t on display—but I did get to see a quilt being shown in the “American Democracy: A Leap of Faith” exhibit.

Well before women were allowed to vote, they used their quilts as a means of political expression—think of how many traditional quilt blocks are named after presidents! Women also made creative use of political campaign ribbons (the 19th century equivalent of today’s campaign buttons). The quilt I saw was made by Abigail Ann Lane; her husband was William Bagley Lane, an engraver/printer in Philadelphia, who printed (among other things) these sorts of ribbons. The Lane family history suggests that Abigail’s quilt was probably made from overstock. The quilt’s center is a small pieced star, but the rest is made up entirely of political ribbons—432 of them in three different designs. The most prevalent ribbon design was printed in honor of William Henry Harrison’s inauguration in 1841 (as you’ll recall, he was the president who died after only a month in office, which prompted a re-release of the inauguration ribbons with Harrison’s date of death added at the bottom!). The quilt appears to be in magnificent condition after almost 180 years; sadly, the exhibit notes didn’t give any information on whether this quilt was ever actually used, or just made as a “show” piece.

I don’t think that anyone would argue that some aspects of quilting have changed a lot since 1841. There have been huge changes even since I started quilting in 1989: that was the year Caryl Bryer Fallert scandalized the quilting world by winning the AQS Best of Show award with a machine-quilted entry, and my first quilting teacher was still sure that rotary cutters were a fad that would never last. But in other ways, we’re still very much like our quilting ancestors, using our art to express our opinions on a vast range of topics—anyone who attended QuiltCon (in either 2016 or 2018) saw plenty of social and political commentary in the quilts on display. I love the fact that, while our techniques may have evolved in ways our19th-century forbears could never have imagined, Abigail Ann Lane would still find something familiar in the quilts we make today.

See you at the meeting,

Pam