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President’s Message – August 2019

President’s Message – August 2019

We live in a nation and a world that seem divided across many fault lines. I don’t think anyone could deny that – all it takes is a quick look at the news headlines over the past couple of weeks (or months, or years) to confirm it. And unlike the olden days (that would be the 1950s and ’60s, when my parents were in politics), compromise is now viewed as something akin to heresy, rather than as the means of getting good governance done. These days, I read the news and look at the state of the world and come close to despair, wondering how we’re ever going to recover from the fractures that threaten our society.

And yet, a couple of weeks ago I was once again in the judging room at Maine Quilts, the state’s annual quilt show. For those of you who have never worked in a judging room, it involves a lot of moving parts – I was coordinating two judges, 16-18 volunteers, and 80 quilts which needed to be judged over the course of two half-day shifts. This year, one of the volunteers was a friend who is an amazing quilter. (She’s won the “Best Domestic Machine Quilting” ribbon at the show ever since we started awarding it, four years ago.) We’ve known each other for years, as members of the same quilt guild and running club, and a year and a half ago, she sent me a Facebook “friend request” which I accepted. I was shocked to discover then that, outside of our common interests, our social and political views were roughly 180 degrees apart. (I’m sure she was stunned too.) Some other friends advised me to “unfriend” her – cut all ties because there was no way we could be friends if we didn’t agree on how to fix the problems in the world. But I didn’t want to do that. We had been quilting and running buddies for a long time, and despite our newly-discovered differences on other topics, I really liked her.

I confess I was a little nervous about working with her for ten hours in the judging room, because we hadn’t spent much face-to-face time since our unsettling discovery – but it turned out that in this context, none of our differences mattered. After judging, we went to dinner with some other friends and talked about quilting stuff, and life stuff (it’s vaguely reassuring that someone who is so talented at both quilting and running still struggles with parenting her teenagers!). She won the Domestic Machine ribbon yet again, and we had a long talk about why she should be stretching her wings in some bigger shows (again, vaguely reassuring that someone so talented suffers from the same anxiety about her skills as I do!). We had fun together and we parted, after the show, looking forward to doing it all again next year.

And maybe that’s what it will take to heal the divisions we see now in the world. I’m certain that in our guild, there are people with whom we all disagree on any number of matters (statistically, with a group of almost 100, it’d be impossible not to!). But every month, when we come together for a couple of hours, none of that matters. We focus on what we have in common – our shared love of fabric and the beauty we can create with it – and that shared love makes it very hard to demonize each other over any other differences we might have. This seems like a pretty good metaphor and message for the world at large – a reminder that what we share in common can be a starting place for doing the hard work of discussing and resolving our differences. Of course, our 401(c)3 status means we’re not allowed to engage in any political activity, so I’ll stop short of suggesting that we stage a coup (though wouldn’t “A Quilt on Every Bed!” make for a great campaign slogan?), but – if I can push that metaphor dangerously close to its breaking point – maybe quilters are exactly the people the world needs right now to pick up the torn fabric of our society and put it back together in beautiful and unexpected ways.

See you at the meeting,

Pam

President’s Message – July 2019

President’s Message – July 2019

I recently found myself with an unexpected day off – because the Fourth of July fell on a Thursday this year, the school where I work decided to make Friday a holiday too. What better time to round up a couple of friends and make a field trip to one of our affiliate member shops? Thus it was that on the Fifth of July we piled into the car, took ourselves out for a decadent breakfast, and then headed for Quilt ’N’ Things Fiber Arts in Altadena.

I’m introverted to an extreme and usually shop alone, so I had almost forgotten how much fun it was to visit a quilt store with friends. They helped me match fabrics for a new project (I’ve taken tons of color theory classes, but still sometimes have a hard time translating that into practice), and we chatted with a visiting quilter from Michigan and took part in some impromptu fabric selection discussions with a couple of other people in the shop. I am often reminded that in the quilting world, there’s no such thing as strangers – just friends you haven’t met yet! It was a fun day, and I’m glad we decided to make this field trip.

Summer can be a great time for quilt shop travels, whether organized or off-the-cuff, to one shop or many. Coming up this month is the Southern California Quilter’s Run – Manny Caldera brought some brochures to the last guild meeting, but if you missed those, you can get the details at quiltersrun.com. This year the theme is “Main Street” and each of the participating shops (including some of our affiliates) will represent a different type of small-town store (Cotton & Chocolate Quilt Co. is the “candy store” – how appropriate is that?!). When I first moved here, I took part in the Quilters Run as a way to get to know the area – it was a terrific excuse to travel to places I might not otherwise have visited.

Lots of shops are also participating in the “Row by Row Experience” (rowbyrowexperience.com) which started in late June and continues through the summer. This year the theme is “Taste the Experience,” and is all about food! Visit participating shops to get a free pattern, or to buy a kit – and since Row by Row is now an international project, you can find a participating shop or two while you’re on vacation, too, which is a great way to pick up some unusual souvenirs. (And since some of the shops on the Run are also doing Row by Row, nothing says you can’t double-dip…)

If you don’t want to take part in someone else’s organized shop hop, you can always create your own. How many of you (other than Manny) have visited all of our affiliates? (I haven’t – yet.) Touring those might be a fun adventure (and will take a few days – there are a lot of them!) Or maybe pick a day-trip destination you’ve always wanted to visit, and stop at a few quilt shops along the way – the Quilters’ Travel Companion (quilterstravelcompanion.com) can help you map a route.

Whatever summer quilting adventure you decide on – have fun, stay cool, and be safe!

See you at the meeting,

Pam

President’s Message – June 2019

President’s Message – June 2019

Although summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21, the current weather strongly suggests it’s already arrived. While much of May seemed to be chilly, drizzly, and gray (the outdoor graduation ceremony at my school was absolutely miserable!), we’re now in the midst of a string of 90+ degree days as I write this, and I’m remembering just how much I dislike the heat.

Quilting does not, at first glance, appear to be an ideal hot-weather activity – after all, bed quilts and lap quilts are largely intended to keep people warm, and during the final stages of construction they tend to end up draped over the person working on them (at least they do in my case – maybe I just need to find a better system…), which is not always fun when the temperatures are soaring. Of course, the invention of air conditioning has helped a bit – but it seems counterintuitive to crank up the A/C just so I can stay comfortable while I hand-quilt something layered with wool batting. Besides, for some people living where power cuts are being planned when the fire risk grows too high, that’s not always going to be an option. Plus, during the summer there are lots of other things that demand our attention. Plenty of quilters I know are also gardeners – I guess the creative spirit and a love of color cross over into non-fiber-art activities, too! Summer also tends to be filled with family events, travel, etc., all of which conspire to pull us away from our sewing spaces.

Still, I would argue that there are ways for quilters to cope, even on the hottest days. Summer is a good time to work on summer-weight quilts – we need pretty beds even when the weather is hot, and summer-weight quilts, with either light flannel batting or no batting at all, are just as much a part of quilting history and tradition as are their heavier-weight cousins. Working on smaller pieces is another way to avoid being smothered by heavy batting in hot weather – don’t forget, we have a boutique coming up in a few months, and the more items we have to sell then, the better! Community Outreach quilts also tend to be smaller than full-size, and can be finished without risk of heat stroke – and if you look at the numbers of Outreach quilts we’re distributing each month, you can see that we’ll need lots more of those as well. (And this seems like a good place for a shout-out to Marilyn Brisendine, who organizes our Outreach project, and to all of you who donate the quilts to keep it going!) And on those days when it’s absolutely too hot even to THINK about sitting down at the sewing machine, maybe you can still find a patch of shade to sit in with a glass of iced tea and those quilting magazines and books that you haven’t quite gotten around to reading, and re-charge your reserves of inspiration and ideas.

However you keep in touch with your quilting over the summer, I hope you manage to stay cool! See you at the meeting,

Pam

President’s Message – May 2019

President’s Message – May 2019

I still haven’t gotten the hang of gardening in southern California. I should have figured it out by now, but I seem unable to remember how much drier it is here than I’m used to, and how much more often the pots on my balcony therefore need to be watered. At this point, I’ve mostly given up, unwilling to slaughter any more defenseless plants.

Despite my horticultural failures, though, I very much admire gardening done well by others – so it was an absolute joy to take part in the Fiber Arts Day in the Huntington Botanical Gardens on May 4. The weather was mostly perfect (although the breeze picked up a bit in the late afternoon, and caused a number of our information fliers to live up to their name), and the roses (we were set up under a tree in the rose garden) were in full bloom and smelled wonderful. During a break, I took a stroll through the herb garden, where the plants used for dying were highlighted (I couldn’t get close to the yarn dying demo, though, because the crowds were thick there!), so now I know what woad and indigo actually look like. About a dozen guild members came and demonstrated various hand work techniques, from appliqué to EPP to hand piecing to sashiko to quilting. (Thank you all!) We chatted with visitors from as far away as Ireland and England, as well as some who lived close enough that we hope we’ll see them at a future guild meeting. The head gardener has already said she hopes we’ll come back next year – and I, for one, would be delighted to!

Events like the Fiber Arts day are important for the guild because, besides giving us an excuse to sit outside on a gorgeous day and stitch, they help to fulfil the education requirement that comes with our shiny new 501(c)3 status. There are now a lot more people out there who know that quilting is not a dying art and that we’re about lots more than just making cute pot holders (although we can certainly do that, too, if we want!). The next time there’s a chance to volunteer for something like this, I’d urge you all to sign up. Sharing our passion with the public is really a lot of fun – and a day spent quilting under a tree while occasionally stopping to smell the roses wasn’t half bad, either.

See you at the meeting,

Pam

President’s Message – April 2019

President’s Message – April 2019

Last month I went to Virginia for a conference geared toward people who own creative arts businesses. Most, but not all, who attended are fiber artists. It was a really great meeting filled with lot of interesting sessions and plenty of networking. (I am not one of nature’s networkers, but my roommate made me do it…) Because my brother lives in the area, I arrived a day early to do some sightseeing (great quilt exhibit at the DAR Museum!) and spend some time with family. It was a really great week. Then, on the return trip, a virus followed me home. Airports and airplanes are horribly germy places, and this is why I hate traveling.

I’m now heading into week three of feeling dreadful, and it stopped being amusing about ten days ago. The fever is finally gone, thankfully, but the cough is still annoying to me and to anyone within earshot. If I move suddenly, I am dizzy, and if I do anything really strenuous – like getting dressed – I need to sit and rest for a while. Most ironically of all, for someone who just came back from a creative arts summit, I have absolutely no creative ideas about anything right now. And that includes this column. As I write this, I’m well past deadline, and can’t think of a blessed thing to say.

Because you can find anything on the Internet, I tried searching for “how to regain creativity.” Based on the number of articles that turned up, this is apparently not an uncommon dilemma. There were several that suggested various forms of exercise. Not really an option when a walk across campus is as daunting as a marathon. And it’s a small campus. One essay suggested overcoming a fear by doing something that really scares you. Yeah, not going to happen. When you’re a viral Petri dish, skydiving, SCUBA diving, and bungee jumping are definitely not on the agenda. (Okay, you’d never get me to do any of those things even if I weren’t sick. But that’s beside the point.) Another essay suggested taking some time away from your usual creative endeavors. Again, not an option when a deadline is receding in the rearview mirror.

On second thought, maybe it is. Because anything else I try to write at this point is probably going to degenerate into gibberish. So I’m going to go drink more tea with honey, and take my cough medicine, and concentrate on vanquishing this virus before the Yard Sale. The rest of this space is intentionally left blank…

See you at the meeting,

Pam

President’s Message – March 2019

President’s Message – March 2019

Robert Browning might have preferred April, but as months go, March has a lot in its favor.

For those of us who have lived in the frozen northland, March is the month when it finally seems that winter might be loosening its grip. It’s fickle, to be sure, and I’ve definitely seen my share of March blizzards – but there are also days when the temperature rises above freezing, and the eaves start to drip, and you might even dare to crack open a window a bit without fear of hypothermia. If you’re lucky, March is when you might start to see some bare ground, or even a few patches of spring growth. (I’m not sure lifelong SoCal dwellers can truly understand the sheer exuberant joy that comes from seeing the first crocus of spring poking up through the snow!)

March is the month when two of my favorite saints are celebrated on the same day. March 17 is the saint’s day for both St. Patrick (patron saint of Ireland) and St. Gertrude (patron saint of cats). As far as I know, the record is silent on St. Patrick’s opinion of cats, although he’d probably have approved of at least one of mine, who shared his drive to rid the world of snakes. (And in case you were wondering – no, my cats and I do not celebrate the day by drinking green beer. Ick.)

March is also National Women’s History Month, and March 8th is International Women’s Day. It’s a great chance to learn about some women who have done amazing things. If you’re not already familiar with them, take a moment to look up Dr. Mary Walker, Bessie Coleman, and Rosalind Franklin, to name just a few. Also, if you haven’t yet seen it, this would be a great month to watch the movie Hidden Figures, and learn about some of the incredible unsung heroes of NASA.

But perhaps most importantly to everyone reading this, March is National Quilting Month! Okay, to be honest, I looked at several “official designation” lists and couldn’t find this on them – but it DID appear on some quilt-related websites, so that’s good enough for me. Plus – and this one is official – March 16 is National Quilting Day! It was created by a resolution at the 22nd annual show of the National Quilting Association in June 1991; the NQA is, alas, no more, but National Quilting Day continues to be observed every year on the third Saturday of March.

In honor of this momentous occasion, WFQG has reserved the small classroom at The Sew N Sew in Glendora on the 16th, and will be holding a special all-day sew-in! (I mean, what better way to celebrate, right?) The hours are the same as the shop hours that day, 9:00-4:00, and we have room for up to 16 to be sewing at a time. Even if you didn’t sign up at the February meeting, do stop by – we still have room. There will probably be some boutique item kits for people to stitch, or feel free to bring your own project. If there’s not space for everyone to sew at once, you can always have a snack (it’s illegal to hold a quilting event without snacks) and maybe do some fabric shopping. Hey, we’ll be in the right place for that, and it seems a shame not to take advantage (don’t forget, the shop has a guild-member discount).

Hope to see you there,

Pam

President’s Message – February 2019

President’s Message – February 2019

T.S. Eliot said that April is the cruelest month, but for my money, February has it beat. I lived most of my life in the north where, by February, winter has already held sway for 2 or 3 months, and spring is still a long way off. Even though February is the shortest month of the year, it always felt like it dragged on forever. And here in *sunny* California, a large chunk of the month so far has been grey and rainy. I’m grateful for the rain, of course, and glad there have been a few sunny days mixed in—but still, day after day of gloomy, chilly weather can certainly dampen anyone’s mood.

So it’s a good thing we’re quilters. Because we know that on the darkest of days, all we have to do is visit our stashes or our local quilt shops and immediately we can find ourselves immersed in COLOR! (Okay, to be fair, there are quilters out there who create amazing works of art with taupe and grey and other neutrals. I admire these quilts, and their makers, immensely. But there is a time and a place for taupe, and February is not it.) No matter how dreary the day, spending some time arranging and rearranging colors will always brighten it up.

Speaking of color, have you seen the “Color of the Year”? Every year since 2000, Pantone has selected a “color of the year” based on color trends their “Pantone Color Institute” has observed (in branding, design, pop culture, etc.); in turn, their selection drives color decisions for many, many products (including fashion and fabric design) for the coming year. This year, they’ve chosen “Living Coral,” which they describe as “an animated, life-affirming shade of orange, with golden undertones.” (I think it looks more pink than orange—but I’m not the color expert.) They also describe it as a color of carefree happiness, which “symbolizes our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits.” And who couldn’t use more carefree happiness and optimism in their life? Keep an eye out for it, because you’ll be seeing it pop up more and more throughout the year!

Kona (from Robert Kaufman Fabrics) also selects a color of the year, although I haven’t been able to find any information on how they make their selection. It doesn’t seem to be related to the Pantone selection (last year’s Pantone color was dark purple, and Kona’s was bright orange), so it’s probably just a happy coincidence that this year’s Kona color is “Splash,” a clear light aqua that seems to work beautifully with Pantone’s coral! (If you like it, you might not want to wait—one shop’s website says that this Kona solid will be retired at the end of the year.)

If these colors make your heart sing, I bet you’ll be able to find plenty of fabrics that include them when you come to The SewNSew for National Quilting Day in March (more on that elsewhere in this issue). And if they don’t—no worries! One of the great things about color is that there’s always plenty to choose from. If you pick fabric colors that make you happy, even the greyest of February days can’t bring you down.

See you at the meeting,

Pam

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.