No not another reference to Theresa May and the UK’s snap general election but the fact that I’ve cracked on and got this month’s bee quilt done for Siblings Together. Yes I do feel just a little smug!!
To some extent I always feel I’ve cheated when I finish off a quilt made up of bee blocks. After all it isn’t all my own work so you get a very clear head start. And this one, when I kicked it off earlier this month, is made even easier by a great design by Trudi Wood from the magazine Quilt Now which has lots of negative space courtesy of a large chunk of plain fabric. But what makes this quilt a bit special is the very speedy and prolific response from my lovely bee mates from the Siblings Together Bee 2. I did hint that I’d try and get the quilt done for this year’s camps. That spurred them on. And there are a good few blocks left and more to come to make quilt two in due course.
With great skill I managed to misplace the magazine so had to decide the measurements for the two large white sides on the fly. But it looks OK and I’m pretty sure the original quilt in the magazine was asymmetrical. I was going to check how Trudi had quilted it but decided to give it a simple design of echoing the squares. It has a nice jaunty but hopefully masculine backing fabric as this one is really being geared to older male siblings who go to the camps. Certainly it got a very big thumbs up from no. 2 son who is 14 and hallelujah! I’ve persuaded him that this design is perfect for his new large size quilt. He’d chosen another design but it was boringly dull and I’ve been putting it off for ages. So a win win all round even if after this quilt and the other made up with bee blocks there will be 3 of these in the end!!
Whilst blogging about this quilt I remembered it’s my first anniversary of blogging around about now and having read a couple of posts on blogging which got my brain cells firing I thought I reflect back on why I blog, what blogs I like to read and what that means for this blog.
I am a joiner in. I’m not one that likes to sit on the sidelines nor particularly somebody who wants to take centre stage but being part of a group and participating and sharing is something I enjoy in the various aspects of my life. When I started out quilting in 2014 I found quilting blogs really helpful and inspirational. Did I like everything – absolutely not. But it gave me ideas, tutorials in abundance and lots of insight into how and why people create what they make. And being a joiner in I wanted to make a contribution but also for me blogging is a record of what I’ve made and learnt along the way. To that end my blogs are useful references for me and I go back to them from time to time to remember a measurement/technique etc.
Yvonne of Quilting Jet Girl did a very thoughtful piece on blogging recently. She is a prolific quilter , vastly talented and regularly blogs. She is what I would call a professional quilter/blogger in that she has sponsors and giveaways et cetera. Amongst the many excellent points she makes is that blogging in the area of quilting at least is gradually declining. Others have also noticed this and with the growth of Instagram and the very immediate connection with followers that that app gives, many are preferring to share that way. I had an IG account at the time I started my blog and still use it frequently but I do like reading blogs because Instagram can only go so far with information about the why’s and wherefores of what people make. I’m nosy I like to know the details.
I have noticed though over the last few months I’ve been a lot more discriminatory about what blogs I actually open up and read. If the picture is a work in progress with little text and not a design that appeals then I’m likely to pass on. There are bloggers where everything is awesome. Fantastic for them but that’s not my life. I like to read the ups and downs of crafting and how life’s highs and lows impact. I enjoy the personal elements, the realism and the working through of problems and acceptance that perfection is a bit of a myth. Learning for me is seeing mistakes first hand and then knowing with some confidence how to improve or correct it. If I can learn by others traveling that path first so much the better.
I’m also not likely to open up blogs that are particularily commercialised unless I’m looking for fabric or interested in that book or fabric range. And this is where I’m in the fortunate position of sewing for pleasure and not a job. I don’t need to make an income from it and if that were the case it would in fact hugely put me off creating. But there are bloggers for whom their blog is in effect a marketing tool and they are often very well written and interesting but when they tip over to being too commercialised then I’m not as interested. Getting that balance right must be really difficult but many do in addition to Yvonne above there are others like Jo Avery of My Bear paw and Rachel of A Stitch in Time.
There are blogs I definitely look out for. A couple are daily bloggers. Barbara of Cat Patches is one. I love cats and her take on her own cats just tickles me. I find her dry humour very funny and craft wise, although she has skills particularily hand sewing that I’m never going to have, she’s adventurous, inspirational and prolific. I’m currently enjoying a short virtual break with her and her husband as they travel in Nevada!
Another daily blogger is Bonnie Hunter. Now Bonnie as any US reader will know is very, very big in the quilting world she is a prolific and very talented designer and teacher of traditional scrappy quilts. OK you could never call me a traditional quilter with modern quilting being more me but her absolutely boundless energy is infectious. She writes well and aspects of her life, like her new backwoods cabin are interesting (I quite fancy a log cabin bolt hole myself!!!). And although a supremely positive person keeps it real and shares the ups and downs of life.
Another blog I really enjoy but is totally different from the two above is Kate of Fabrikated. Kate is another prolific and talented sewist this time of beautifully styled and original but very wearable clothes (having an enviable figure helps!) and recently knitting. She writes very interesting discussion pieces usually centred on something she has made but not always. As my fashion guru she is very engaging and informative and her writing attracts some really interesting comments. In fact I often revisit her posts to read the many detailed and constructive comments which I don’t do with any other blog. The exception to that would be the occasional blog posts on more ‘out there’ bloggers such as Molli Sparkles. He is quite happy to rattle the cage and comments can get quite ansty. I love a bit of contentious passive aggressive commentary!! And the whole issue of gender, which is the subject of the post I’ve linked, in quilting is fascinating – one for another blog.
But what is interesting is some of my favourite bloggers make things that actually aren’t my thing. And yet their writing about the creative process, their lives and craft choices make me come back for more. I suppose this is like real life. I don’t expect my friends to like the same things I do or live their lives the way I live mine but our values and approach to life are the same which makes the connection.
There are of course some excellent bloggers out there who write and craft things that are more similar to what I make. Jayne of Twiggy and Opal and Debbie of A Quilters Table are two such examples out of many. Both are original and very talented quilters and are definite trend setters in modern quilting. I have shamelessly copied from them in both design and colours. They seem to have more hours in the day than me given what they produce alongside demanding family and work schedules. And of all the quilt newsletter type communications, in addition to their blogs, Debbie’s takes some beating.
So what does that mean for my blog? Well I won’t be aiming for encouraging passive aggressive comments you’ll be relieved to hear. And also for a start it’s never going to be a daily event. I enjoy writing but a daily journal has not been part of my habit. I tend to blog when there is something specific to show and try to weave in something more than just about that item. I will continue with that pattern. But my area expertise is still quite rudimentary and so aside from general comments I don’t have the expertise say of Kate who really does understand fashion and how to put colours and textures together. Mine are a bit more random I’m afraid. And sadly I don’t have the talent to be a trend setter!! That said I will aim to carry on blogging about what I’ve made and the lessons learnt along the way.
My blog I accept is not the most personal. There’s no picture of me for a start. Trust me that’s no loss but it’s a bit of a thing in this house that the children are banned from putting their picture on the Internet. Or at least that was the rule but now they are teenagers I’m pretty sure that rule has been ditched. But I know that they would be appalled if they saw pictures of themselves on my IG feed or blog and I wouldn’t do that without their permission. Okay I confess there maybe a picture of a sleeping child under a quilt but it’s not identifiable. I do put in the odd anecdote if it’s relevant because I think it connects with people and there is nothing new under the sun that we haven’t all had to face.
I’m also never going to seek sponsors or have sidebars with lots of buttons and links to other blogs and so forth. The fact that I have no idea how to link up a button has absolutely nothing to do with this design choice. My nose has just grown longer… but actually in truth I quite like the minimalist style of my blog even though it’s through ignorance not choice!
Thanks to everyone who has left a comment. Your encouragement, ideas and questions have been hugely enjoyable. I wish I were better at getting back to every one. But you know who you are.
So all in the plan is I shall carry on joining in and sharing what I’ve made and the ups and downs of life. There will be the odd anecdote thrown in and more realism than perfection, in fact none of the latter, but hopefully it will hit the button and resonate with those who link up and read it.