Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Life Update

We have a new addition to our family!

Meet Roscoe:


Roscoe is a butt-ugly La-Z-Boy recliner with a freaking motor because this is what my life has become. I have completely destroyed the delicate feng shui of my studio in order to accommodate this beast and have it situated directly in front of the television. But, no, not because I have given up on life, but because I am having surgery. Again.

If you recall, two years ago I had part of my colon removed for diverticular disease, and though it was technically done laparoscopically, there was still a 5-inch incision in my lower abdomen. Unfortunately, the incision site herniated a few months later and in May of 2016 I had hernia repair surgery. Which was awful. Recovery was far more painful than I had ever anticipated and took a whole lot longer, too. Unfortunately, the surgery didn't work and I now have to have it re-done this Friday.

So Mama's new boyfriend is this insanely comfortable chair which for the next 2-4 weeks I will only leave in order to pee and if I can find a way around that I will. I distinctly remember the first day after the last surgery, having my husband help me out of bed so I could get to the bathroom, and I thought the pain might make me pass out, and when I finally got to the bathroom, all of that hurt so much I basically just sat there and cried. SO FUN!

Besides watching a metric shit-ton of TV (I have been saving a whole bunch of good stuff to watch), I hope to get some writing done since I now have an iPad/keyboard writing system that works. Details are still to be worked out, but if all goes well, I may have a new venue for some of that writing! Plus, I have another surprise in store, which I will hint at here:


Remember, if you subscribe to my newsletter, you will be the first to know about it and get special pricing. (And if you are worried about junk mail, if you sign up for my newsletter, I don't do ANYTHING with your email address other than send you my newsletter, and I do not send out tons of them.) And Instagram is where you will see any quilty/stitchy projects in progress, and there should be one that gets finished from my sick bed, so come find me over there: @thebitchystitcher!

Wish me luck and I'll see you in July!


Friday, May 19, 2017

Quilters Unite!


Oh, dear.

Yesterday Facebook was all up in arms because it had been discovered that some people had started a secret Facebook group just for quilters who identify with one end of the political spectrum and wanted to have a place to talk smack about the people on the other.

Except, they didn't just talk smack, apparently. They also in at least two cases, tried to get people fired. And, as though they wanted to offer up a gift to comedy writers everywhere, in one case they tried to write to a particular quilter's boss but because he is self-employed they were actually writing to the quilter himself! You cannot make this shit up.

More than enough attention has been given to these people already, but I just have to say one thing. And I know you all know this already—I mean, you are my readers, so you're pretty much the smartest, savviest internet users out there—but all of this political rage, this need to talk about The Other Side as though it is comprised of mostly pedophiles and serial killers, is being fueled, at least in part, by Facebook itself because it makes you stay on Facebook longer and see more ad stuff! Every time you scroll through your feed and you see some link to some article that's probably not even straight up reporting from a major news outlet, but is some off-brand site, your heart rate goes up just that tiny bit because the headline was written in a very particular way in order to make that happen, in order to make you feel aggrieved and insulted. Because when you feel aggrieved and insulted you start looking to your peers to bolster you, to shore you up in the face of so much travesty, and because they are also aggrieved and insulted, they do! On Facebook! And now you've all been on Facebook far longer than you would have been if you were just looking at pictures of people's chickens and you've been exposed to 20 ads instead of 2.

I also don't have to tell you that treating half the country like they are all pedophiles and serial killers doesn't actually change anything because IT'S HALF THE COUNTRY. If you get all mad and call me and all my friends stupid doo-doo heads, it doesn't make us all go, "Huh! Why yes. We ARE stupid doo-doo heads! Thank you for pointing that out! We will now completely change." No, if you call us stupid doo-doo heads, we are just going to hunker down and become more firmly rooted in whatever it is we are doing that is making you call us doo-doo heads. We can always find oh, roughly 159,000,000 other doo-doo heads to hunker down with.

And also—and again, I know you know all this but I just can't help myself—it's basically common knowledge that the best way to encourage and maintain group cohesion is to have a common enemy. So, the fact that we are all human beings who want to be safe and free and happy and want a better world for our children doesn't mean shit if we can divide up into teams and hate each other over how best to accomplish that instead of, I don't know, debating the finer points like intelligent adults or something. You are more likely to get up off your butt and vote if your vote is not just for something but also against something—or someone—else, like stupid serial killer doo-doo heads.

But I get it. I do. Hating people is fun and there seems to be a deep, primal need for it. So if we do need a common enemy to fight, we need to keep sight of what's truly important here: quilting. Are we really willing to let the entire quilting world go to war against itself and tear apart over politics? I mean, the slime alone could ruin your stash, and then where would you be? Alone and sad, with a slimy stash, that's where.

I say that we are at a crossroads. We are witnessing a threat to the very fiber of our quilty existence, but we can't exactly unite against politics itself. (See above, re: slime) But we can unite, as quilters—whether conservative, liberal, libertarian, green, socialist, Marxist, or serial killer doo-doo headian—against the real enemy: A Different Crafter Group. Which one? Doesn't matter! Let's just pick one and start a campaign to trash talk them into oblivion! It'll be fun and cathartic and we can go back to appreciating each other for our beautiful quilts and stop hating each other for manufactured bullshit that has nothing to do with quilting and everything to do with lining someone else's pockets. Here are some options:


  • Knitters. So, what the hell is the deal with knitters, right? All they're doing is knotting up a bunch of string with pointy sticks like that actually accomplishes something. I mean all that string doesn't even have any animal motifs on it! You can't exactly slap a deer head on a pile of twine, can you? And do you know what they call it when they screw up and have to unknot a whole bunch of knots? Frogging. So, you know, they're probably all French too. Assholes. 
  • Polymer Clay artists. Oh, so you basically fart around with Play-Doh and ruin perfectly good pasta machines, and we're supposed to be impressed? Can your stupid beads keep someone warm? Can you wrap someone in love with your dumb animal figurines? No. No you cannot. Shitheads. 
  • Woodworkers. One word, just one: sawdust. Asshats. 
  • Hand letterers. Goddamn calligraphers with their fancy pens and and their swirly words that nobody can even read. Since when is that loopy monstrosity an "R", for fuck's sake? Look, just because you can write a Gandhi quote that probably was actually said by Mussolini or somebody in pink princess cake lettering with glitter accents doesn't mean you should. Losers. 
  • Cross stitchers. Oooh, look at me, I'm cross stitching: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. I would do some more, but I just bored myself into a coma. Dipshits. 


SEE? ISN'T THAT FUN? Just think of the possibilities here. We could start our own not-so-secret Facebook group where we could freely insult our chosen enemy. We could come up with a super cool name, like Several Quilters United Against Bullshit (SQUAB for short) and print up t-shirts and buttons and when we wear them and people ask us about it we can be all, "Oh, it's because I'm against bullying or bake sales or something" but really it's all about hating on the stupid knitters or potters or cake decorators or whatever it is we all finally decide on.

And if we're really lucky, we'll get them to form their own group to hate on US! Because what's the point of coming up with really clever, funny insults if your target isn't going to cleverly insult you back?

I'm telling you, this could usher in a new era of peace and understanding. Among quilters anyway. And isn't that what really matters?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Sea of Serpents

WARNING! Stylized and colorful representations of snakes below!


I made a quilt. I call it The Sea of Serpents.


Are you afraid of snakes? A lot of people are. One day, I was coming home from a walk and I saw a neighbor at my door. I called out to her, and she turned around and said, breathless, "Oh, Megan! Thank goodness! Is David home?"

"Yeah, he's working from home today."

"Is he scared of snakes?"

Now, I actually have no idea whether David is scared of snakes, but I knew he didn't have time to deal with one, so I told her, "I have no idea but I'm not!"

She told me her husband was out of town and a snake had gotten into their finished basement and she couldn't get it to leave. It had crawled up and into a corner between the fireplace and a wall and nothing she did would make it come down. So I said, okay, let's see what we can do.

But as we were headed over, my neighbor Sam returned from his run and she saw him. Believing, I suppose, that a man was better equipped to brave the big, bad boa in her den than little old me, she appealed to him for help instead and he, despite being terrified of snakes himself, managed to find some sort of long tong-type things and grab the poor little guy (he was quite small) and toss him out into the backyard. There may have been high-pitched squealing, not by me.

Sigh. I really wanted to touch the snake.


There are approximately 2600 species of snakes (that we know of) in the world, and about 400 of those are venomous, or about 15% In the United States, we have about 130 snake species, and 21 of them are venomous, 16%, and these are mainly in the groups of rattlesnakes, coral snakes, water moccasins (also known as cottonmouths), and copperheads.

It is estimated that roughly 5 people per year in the United States die of snake bite. Five. To work my famous math skills again, that's like a fraction of a fraction of a percent. Now there are somewhere in the range of 1000 to 8000 bites from venomous snakes per year, and that's a slightly bigger percentage of the population, like a bigger fraction of a fraction. (Stop me if all my crazy math is too much.) Even if you get bit, you probably won't die, because anti-venom is readily available.

And some people want to kill every snake they see.

The thing is, you have a much greater chance of being hit by lightning or of dying from a bee sting than from a snake bite. Snakes, for the most part, (I can't speak for that one copperhead on my parents' deck that one time—he was looking shifty) aren't sitting around going, WHO CAN I KILL TODAY? Well, they are, but only in a what's-for-lunch sort of way, not in a murder-murder-kill sort of way. They're not legless psychopaths.


It's very easy to be afraid of every single snake that exists just because a very small number of them will bite you if they think you will do them harm. But we are human. We have consciousness and reason, and we have the capability of ameliorating our own fears through understanding.

But most of all, if they are not all out to get us (and they aren't), and if they are not a vital food source for us (you can eat snake, but not many do), then I say, let them live. Better yet, let's learn to appreciate them. They really are quite beautiful.

Especially in quilty form.


The Sea of Serpents is an appliqué quilt of my own design. The beautiful longarm quilting was done by Amy Helton, whom you can find on Instagram as @longarmyogigal. I am working on a little story that goes along with it and you may not like it. It's not even remotely funny. But when I am done with it I will link to it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It will.



The comedy gods smiled upon me today.

One of our toilets started running and the plumber came this morning. He's been here before and is a pretty affable guy. He rooted around in the tank for a while, and seemed to have fixed the problem, but he kept standing there looking at it and shaking his head ruefully.

"Problem?" I asked.

"How long have you had this toilet?"

"Um, we've lived here 8 years—I have no idea how long it was here before that."

He sighed. "Do you have issues with it? Like, you know, stuff not going down?"

"Oh yeah, all the time."

"Well, technically, it's fixed, but I've gotta tell you—you've got an inadequate flapper."

Dear Reader, I lost it. Just cracked up. And if you know me, you know that I'm actually quite shy in real life and I don't joke around with people I don't know. But I couldn't help myself.

"Dude! I can't believe you just called my flapper inadequate. That's a hell of a thing to say to a lady. Didn't your momma raise you better?"

Now he's laughing, but trying to explain why this particular brand and model toilet sucks, and what we should get instead if we ever need to replace it, but all I can do is think about the phrase "inadequate flapper." Finally, he leaves and tells me to have a real nice day.

"I will! Well, you know, as much as I can with an inadequate flapper." I watch him laugh and shake his head at the strange lady as he walks back out to his truck.

I tell you all this just to warn you that this phrase may pop up again here and there.

"Dammit, my machine isn't working right." "Yeah, it's probably an inadequate flapper."

"When you're paper piecing, shorten your stitch length and make sure your flapper is nice and adequate."

"Did you hear about the 20s-era woman who couldn't make it as a party girl? She was just an inadequate flapper."

And, of course:

"Thanks for the unsolicited dick pic, dude, but it looks to me like you've got yourself an inadequate flapper there."

So, now you have been duly warned. And you'll know what the hell I'm talking about if it comes up again.

Which it will.

Oh, yes. It will.



Thursday, January 5, 2017

At least the bunnies are on fire

Note: I wrote this right after spring Quilt Market LAST YEAR then tucked it away in the drafts folder. My drafts folder is strange place where posts disappear for awhile, then pop up again months later, asking, "Why have you never published me?" Well, I'm publishing you now, little bunny post.


Remember back in my April Fool's post when I said the next animal trend in quilt fabric would be bunnies?

I WASN'T KIDDING.

Behold:

House of Hoppington - Violet Craft for Michael Miller


Luna Sol - Felice Regina for Windham


Nightfall - Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery


Dutch Treat - Betz White for Riley Blake
(okay, it's mostly birds - but the bunnies are in there!)


Thicket — Gingiber for Moda

Wonderland - Melissa Mortenson for Riley Blake

Slow and Steady - Tula Pink for Free Spirit

I've been scouring all the photos coming out of Quilt Market this past week (plus, I pay attention in general so I knew about a few of these already) to document all the bunny fabrics I could find that are debuting there. Obviously, I was not disappointed. And for all I know, there are more that I just haven't found yet.

Now, before everybody starts hippity hopping up my butt about this—I like bunnies just fine. I'm not saying you can't like bunnies. I mean, they're super cute. They're also poop factories with weird pee, but if that's your thing, I ain't judgin'. You can bunny up all your shiz and I will not say ye nay. And all of these fabrics are really quite lovely. I will most likely be getting some of them myself (those first two kinda rock and just the colors on the second one make me swoon). No, this isn't about me rolling my eyes and going, "Ugh, bunnies, amirite?" This is about one thing. I just want to know, I STILL want to know:

Is there a secret mystery society—a shadowy cabal, if you will—that decides these things? Are there confidential, closed-door meetings where cigars are smoked and whiskey is imbibed and money changes hands in locked briefcases? Is the Next Animal Trend in Quilt Fabric decided via some sort of sinister lottery, or maybe even just by the roll of a solid gold die on the naked belly of a high-priced escort? And then how does the decision about The Final Animal make its way down to the designers themselves? Are all fabric designers given a special phone, one not to be used for any other purpose, that only rings when it is time to be told The Sacred Creature? Or does it happen via subliminal messages, with images of The Chosen Beast placed seemingly at random in the designers' everyday worlds until they are each inspired, nay—COMPELLED to recreate it in quilt cotton? 

Or maybe they all have alien implants. Somebody should check that.

Now I understand that trends are trendy for a reason. I don't necessarily know what that reason is, mind you, just that in some psycho-sociological study out there I am sure one has been posited. It probably has something to do with feelings of familiarity combined with wanting to feel like a part of a special group combined with apparent novelty plus not wanting to miss out on stuff. Or something. Plus, if it looks like the quilt fabric-consuming public is eating up the rabbits with a spoon, so to speak, then more manufacturers are going to want to get on that—which is why we'll probably see even MORE fluffy bun-buns next year. It's just that, being the curious and cynical sort, I'm truly fascinated by watching the process unfold. I noted the deer trend only after it had already reached Peak Antler, so I didn't really get to see how and when it started. I didn't know, and couldn't really deduce, if it sprang from one line, one designer, or if, as may be the case here, there was a moment when several people had similar ideas at roughly the same time. Now I have a chance to see if this is truly the beginning of a major cottontail happening—if these rabbits will reproduce like, well, rabbits—and you can rest assured that I will be reporting periodically on this story as it develops.

For Incredibly Unimportant News Network, I'm Megan D. Good night, and good wabbit hunting.





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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mini Quilt Madness

The railing for the upstairs landing of my house has been a quilt display rack and storage spot for some time now, but since my left shoulder froze up it has also become Quilt Top Limbo. My shoulder is starting to improve so I am able to do short periods of rotary cutting now, but I still can't baste or quilt anything much larger than a mini without later wishing for sweet, sweet death to come take me from this living hell.

I've mentioned my sampler about a bajillion times, I know, and I'm not showing it because I keep thinking I'm going to turn it into a pattern or do a quilt-along with it, or a BOM kinda thing, but I feel like I can't do any of that until it's an actual quilt and not just a top - so that's on the pile.

Then there's the quilt I made for a friend so I can't show that either and I can't send that one out to be quilted because I am pathological about needing it to have been done by only MY HANDS.

After I made my Weird and Wonderful Thing,  I decided that I really wanted to make the koi quilt from Casey York's book, Modern Appliqué Illusions.


Then Harper felt a Halloween quilt was in order and she really wanted one she had found on Instagram. Turned out to be a free pattern from Andover. We scoured our already ample Halloween stash and added a few more pieces and made this:


So that's four quilt tops just hanging out on my railing. And yeah, I know most of you are rolling your eyes and going, "FOUR quilt tops? That's nothing. I haven't quilted a top since 1974 and several of them have fused together under the weight of them all. I spit upon your puny, unfused collection." But puny as it may be, I still don't like amassing tops I can't finish. My Weird and Wonderful Thing showed me that there's a lot of creativity and satisfaction to be found in smaller projects, so I decided to focus on mini quilts for a while.

As I have mentioned ad nauseam, Instagram is really becoming my social network of choice. I'm increasingly unhappy with Facebook as both a personal social medium and a business one. Facebook doesn't want to show you my posts unless there's a lot of engagement on them, and they seem to actively suppress posts that they then want me to "boost" by giving them money. I'm not entirely opposed to that, but they keep telling me I have offensive content and though they take my money anyway, my "boost" doesn't reach very far because they're making some sort of super-safe guesses as to who can safely view my extremely incendiary prose. Fucking cockwankers.

Instagram, owned now by the algorithm-happy folks at Facebook, has historically been a little more straightforward (though even that is changing). And I just like the simplicity of it. Just photographs and comments. No links. (I could go into a long treatise here about why the links on Facebook are detrimental to everyone's well-being, but I'll refrain. We've all been through enough this week.) In fact, Instagram is where I discovered swapping and the joys of mini quilts.

But like everything that involves people, we can't have nice things. Not for long anyway. I found that some people were being pushed out of swaps because their skills were not as good as many of the other people swapping, and that's where I had to draw a line. But then I also realized that what I really liked about swapping was not so much getting something but being creative within a set of rules set up by someone else. Like, for instance, a Disney-themed swap and the recipient really likes appliqué, Alison Glass fabrics, and the color teal.  I like having a set of constraints like that and then seeing what I can do within them to make it fun and challenging for me. I just didn't want to do it from swapping anymore.

So I came up with an idea I decided to call Mini Quilt Madness. On Instagram, i posted a series of choices, and went with the majority vote. Rather than work in a color scheme, I decided to use one collection, but gave people a choice to vote from four:


The overwhelming choice was for Sherlock down there on the bottom left (Raindrop by Rashida Coleman-Hale). Then I asked if I should do patchwork, appliqué, or paper piecing and everybody wanted paper piecing, so I gave them several choices and the majority went with Up and Away by Whole Circle Studio.


Now that I had my parameters, I set to work and posted update photos each day.


But I really felt something, or someone, needed to be riding in that balloon. Something that would really make this little quilt feel like mine.

So, naturally I added an octopus.


By the time all was said and done, I had done paper piecing, appliqué, trapunto, embroidery, free motion quilting, and hand quilting. I freaking loved it.



And then I gave it away.

Yep. Every time a person participated in one of the choices I offered, their name went in a hat, and when it was all done I chose one and sent the quilt to her. Now there's a lovely lady in Montana who has this hanging in her office, and I couldn't be happier.

I love making things. I love stretching my creative muscle just a bit farther each time I make something. I don't need to keep everything I make.

But apparently I do need to put an octopus on it.

I'll be doing this again soon, so if you aren't following me on Instagram you can find me as @thebitchystitcher. (And yes, you really need a smartphone or tablet.)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A pep talk, in case you need it

As I have mentioned before, I belong to a couple of the big quilting groups on Facebook, and I love them. People get weird on occasion, but for the most part, they are earnest and kind. And no, most of the quilters on these groups aren't creating masterpieces—and that is precisely why I love them. I love seeing people make things just for the love of making them, and doing so according to their own aesthetic, however that aesthetic was developed and even if I don't necessarily share it.

The other day, I was scrolling along on FB, and I came across this post, which pretty much stopped me in my tracks:



There were so many things I wanted to say to her, but I knew that, for one thing, any comment would be eventually lost in the sea of comments that flood the posts on these groups. And for another, I had a LOT to say. So I'm going to say them here instead, and maybe my thoughts will work themselves around to her someday, or maybe they'll help someone else who is feeling something similar. Or, maybe I just like hearing the sound of my own...keyboard.

So, here goes:

No matter how good a quilter you are, someone will always be better than you. Maybe that person is better than you right now, or maybe they existed 50 years ago, or maybe they haven't been born yet. Maybe they are famous. Maybe no one knows who they are at all. But they're out there somewhere in the space-time continuum, you can be sure of that.

And the converse is true: No matter how bad a quilter you are, someone out there is worse.

See, some quilters have natural talents for color and design, and some of those quilters have been able to develop those talents through education. Some quilters have had the luxury of time to be able to practice and practice and practice, and the luxury of money to make endless numbers of quilts that weren't quite good enough until they got it right. Some quilters have access to specialized or higher-quality machines that make some of the more difficult techniques a little easier. Some quilters are able to attend classes and workshops to learn new techniques or improve upon the ones they already know.

But the key word there? Some. Some quilters.

Not all.

Not even most.

Some.

The internet and social media are distortion fields. They are funhouse mirrors that make some things seem bigger and better than they really are. It can be very easy to scroll through Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest and assume that everybody is creating masterpieces while you are still trying to figure out how to sew in a straight line.

But let's think about numbers.

The 2014 Quilting In America survey estimated that there are about 16 million quilters in the United states alone. Sixteen million. And because of the way that survey is conducted, many people believe that a large number of quilters are left out of it, so the number may be even higher. But we'll work with it for now.

The group on Facebook called "Quilting" has 76,000 members and is, as far as I can tell, the largest such group on FB. Even if ALL the people in that group were expert quilters, they would still only represent .4 percent of the total number of quilters in the US. That's two fifths of one percent (if my math is correct, and I grant you it may not be).

Instagram quilters are harder to quantify, but let's look at the #quilting hashtag there. A search for that tag pulls up 523,256 posts. Undoubtedly, many of those are multiple tags from the same person, but barring any way to actually check that, let's just assume that it represents 523,256 individual quilters. Who are all better than you. (For the sake of argument.) Those half million quilters still comprise only about three percent of the 16 million.

And how many people can you even see on Instagram anyway? Even if you looked at a photograph from a different quilter every second for 24 solid hours, you would have seen the work of only 86,400 quilters—.5 percent of the quilters in the U.S.

In other words, even if you try to start making the assertion that every quilter is better than you, you start to come up against the fact that you cannot actually create a reasonable number of social media users you could potentially be exposed to that even approaches a majority of all the quilters in the country. So, if you are using the images you see on the internet to make yourself believe that a vast majority of quilters are better than you, you are using evidence from a vast minority of all the quilters in the country, not to mention the world.

I'm throwing all this math at you because I really want this point to get across: the internet is not a window into reality. It's more like a petri dish, where the right things in the right environment will grow and spread. But some of those things will be penicillin and some will be E. coli and it's important to know the difference.

So where are all the other millions of quilters? Oh, lots of them are online too; it's just impossible to actually come across 16 million of anything. And lots of them are just making their quilts and giving them to friends or family or charities, or keeping them for themselves, and not bothering to set up a photo with soft, reflected natural light on reclaimed barn lumber—a photo which, because of the angle and the distance of the camera from the subject and the fact that you are viewing it on a phone and you really need to update your reading glasses, may conveniently camouflage the fact that none of the points match up, the quilting is kinda herky jerky, the binding didn't actually get sewn all the way down in several spots, and the back has pleats that could double as pockets.

So many of the quilts we see so artfully photographed online are not as perfect as they seem. How do I know? I've photographed them. As the former art director of a fledgling quilting magazine, I often photographed the quilts for the project pages, and while all the quilts were lovely and perfectly suited for being quilts, none were perfect, and some were very far from it. And those imperfections had to be hidden as much as possible because a magazine is supposed to be aspirational. We don't buy magazines to see images that reflect our reality; we buy them to see images that reflect what we wish our reality could be.

And when it became possible for individuals to display their own images to thousands, maybe even millions, of people on the internet, people began to gravitate towards those bloggers and Flickrers and now Facebookers and IGers whose photographs of their quilts had that aspirational quality we had depended on magazines for before. We are instinctively drawn towards these pretty, well-lit, almost professional-quality photos, and we just as instinctively scroll past the ones that are too dark, taken on the floor instead of a fence on a misty country lane, most definitely not professionally shot and not professionally sewn either.

So while it may certainly seem as though, as seen through the lens of an app or a browser, that the entire world is a better quilter than you, it isn't. It couldn't be. The numbers just don't add up. Some are, yes. Maybe lots. But not all.

I cannot tell you how many times, when I post something about what I have recently made, somebody says, "I could never do that." My own mother once told me she felt bad when she saw what my sister and I have learned to do in quilting because she never advanced that far. And then there's our friend from Facebook up there at the top of this post.

So to her and to all those people who write to me and tell me they'll never be as good as me, and to my dear departed mom, I have one last point. If you make ANYTHING, you are a magician. A quilt, a table runner, a placemat, a block, even just two pieces of fabric sewn together and dropped on the floor—hell, even one piece of fabric cut out of a larger one—none of these things existed in that form until you brought them into being. You are Minerva freaking McGonagall, transmogrifying fabric and thread until it becomes something new, something that, no matter what it looks like or how skillfully it was constructed, is greater than what its parts were before you brought them together. That's magic. That's art.

It's okay to make crappy quilts until you make better ones. It's okay to not want to learn how to do blindfolded origami paper piecing. It's okay to like the fabrics and colors that you like. Just the fact that you are creating something is wonderful and worthy of celebration, no matter how many other people in the world are actually "better" or "worse" than you. Just making something as lovely, as warm, as comforting as a quilt is adding a bit of loveliness, warmth, and comfort to a world that, right now, desperately needs those things.

So, please. Don't give up.