Saturday, July 18, 2015

It Takes All Kinds of People to Make a Quilt

Image from a vintage Coca Cola ad                                                                              





I recently joined an online quilting board, called fittingly, www.quiltingboard.com.

What I love about the board is that the quilters there are welcoming and not the least bit snobbish or cliquish.  I'm not saying that that's unusual, but I'd been warned by a publisher of a well known quilting magazine that some of the quilting boards could get pretty nasty.  I don't know why I was surprised by that revelation, but at the time I found it shocking.  Why would anyone get nasty about quilting?

I suppose I shouldn't have been shocked because during my 40+ years of quilting I'd encountered more than a few unhappy people.  I assume they were unhappy, because otherwise why would they be so difficult and annoying?  I've known happy people who can be annoying, (sometimes they're just too darn happy all the time!), but difficult people are notoriously cranky folk who would never be accused of holding a half full glass of anything.

Most quilters I've met seem to genuinely enjoy meeting other quilters and sharing tips, information, and even fabric.  However, as my mother always says, "It takes all kinds of people to make a world."  When she says this I knew she isn't talking about the sweet, easygoing folks.  It's those difficult people in our lives that drive us crazy, and can even drive us away from something, (like quilting), that we love.

I've heard from several people with horror stories of relatives, friends, and fellow quilters who behave like jerks and seem to get a kick out of making other people feel worthless.   I referred to them a few years ago as "Crabby Killjoys" and even made my own flag to wave at them:


After hanging out at quiltingboard.com, I thought about how great it was that I hadn't seen any of the members posting anything other than encouraging comments.  It got me thinking about how we all need to be grateful when we don't run into the crabby killjoys of the quilting world.

Of course, we all know they're out there so I guess it's better to be forewarned.  Here are my least favorite types:

Quilting Snob:  These are the folks who only use the best.  They wouldn't be caught dead shopping at Joann's or sneaking in a print from Hobby Lobby or Walmart.  They support their LQS, and they let everyone know it.  It would be nice to be able to blow a wad of cash on every Japanese print in the store, or to buy the latest machines, or attend all of the big shows and take all of the classes from the most popular teachers.  We'd all love to be able to do that.  However, being able to do it is one thing, but putting people down who can't is quite another.  I hate the "you have to buy from the LQS" lecture, and the "you must buy the ($5,000) machine I own" comments.  Yeah, I'd love to do both, but I like to eat once in a while.  These people can be intimidating because they make a lot of events and classes their little private clubs, and make other people feel unwelcome.  The biggest non-secret about these quilters is that most of them aren't very good.  (Now I'm acting like a quilt snob....yikes!)

The Know-it-All:  Ok, some of these are also quilting snobs because they love to lecture.  However, most of them are just your garden variety annoying quilt guild member, relative, or co-worker.  They know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING and they make sure you know it.  Your stitches aren't small enough, or are too small, or that fabric won't work, (and they'll tell you why).  They love to pontificate on how this should be done and how that should be done and how you should never do this that way or should always do it this way.  The fun part is when there are two of them together and they get into a disagreement.  Now, that's quilting gold!  Two know-it-alls finding out that what they think is right isn't, at least to somebody else.  I have no problem with other quilters giving me suggestions but telling me how to do it and where to do it just makes me want to do the opposite even if they are right, (which they are...once in a while!).

The Backstabber:  These people often get away with a lot before people catch on to their devious ways.  They are often charming and complimentary, while all the time they're sizing you up and deciding whether or not you're worth worrying about or not.  If you're an average quilter just out and about having a good time, they'll generally leave you alone.  However, if you're talented and any threat to their Queen Bee status they will seriously take you down.  It's usually done subtly and behind the scenes, but before you know it rumors are flying about you and you find yourself persona-non-grata in the guild or local quilting community.  Some of these folks have serious power so if you encounter one, run to another quilting organization as quickly as you can. Even if they haven't set their sites on you, they make everything unpleasant.  

Quilt Meanie:  This person has all of the bad personality traits of the above, with absolutely no redeeming qualities.  They enjoy making people suffer and seek out the weakest and most vulnerable.  Frankly, they're bullies, some of whom are just tremendously unhappy, and some of whom are certifiably mentally ill.  These people need to be weeded out of your life, and any organization they attach themselves to needs to get rid of them too.  Unfortunately, they don't go easily but will sometimes respond to being called out on their behavior.  Of course, if you do call them out you risk them making you their next target. But then, that's what bullies do. 

The fact is that any large group of people is going to have a majority of nice, reasonable folks, with enough annoying, difficult ones to keep things interesting, (not usually in a good way).   I suppose it's human nature, and it makes for great stories to share.  Do share yours in the comments!

Happy Stitching,

Susan

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Susan, You Got Some 'Splainin' To Do!

Boy do I ever!

I've been trying to get back to this blog for a long time now, and I just realized when I opened it up that the last post I made was nearly 4 years ago!

OMG!

In the spring of 2011 I had a business opportunity I couldn't turn down.  It had nothing to do with quilting, but I was very interested nonetheless.  Frankly, I'd hoped it would turn into something profitable and I admit to loving the challenges involved.

We did well for about 6 months, and then the situation changed, and it all started to fall apart.  Several times we rebooted, but circumstances beyond our control intervened.  As it turned out, the timing just wasn't right.

I have no regrets.  It was an amazing experience in so many ways.  The best thing was that my business partner became one of my very best friends, someone for whom I feel a great deal of admiration and affection.  He is also an amazing cheerleader, and in many ways was the inspiration for me going back to this blog.  There is something so wonderful about someone who's encouraging without being insincere, and who believes in what you can do without reservation.  What a gift!

About the same time my father's Alzheimer's disease was hitting him, (and our family), hard.  Six months after my last post my mother had to make the painful decision to put him into a care facility.  It was traumatic and painful.  My mother is an incredibly strong woman, but putting my father into a home almost killed her.  So, while Dad was in care, my mother was suffering and we were doing what little we could.  There's not a lot you can do except be there.

He was at the assisted living home for about two years, and then my mom had to move him to a memory care unit, where they were able to give him more care.  Thus began a round of falls and emergency room visits, and the sinking realization that Dad no longer knew us or understood what was going on around him.  It was hard to watch this brilliant man struggle, but at the same time he taught me so much.  Even in the worst of his illness he was kind and considerate of others, and always said "please" and "thank you" and expressed his appreciation for everything that was done for him.  He was a very special man.

On November 3, 2014 he passed away.  We knew it was time as his body had failed even more than his mind, and when the time came it was a blessing he went so easily.   He lived to be 80 years old, and he and my mother celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary two weeks before he died.  I was very lucky to have him as my father and cherish his memory.

I admit that I have done very little sewing or quilting in the last 4 years.  My design business suffered because of my other business interests, and my father's illness.  I didn't feel right about taking on clients when I didn't know if I would be available when they needed me.  So, about two years ago I closed it down.  I was offered an opportunity to work for a small start-up on a long term contract and am still working for them doing design work, updating their website, and consulting on various projects.  The owner is another very good friend so she was able to work with me through my Dad's illness.

I have had this blog calling to me for a long time.  I still get emails from time to time from my followers asking for advice and wanting to know when I'll start posting again.  I feel like now is the right time.  I feel like I've been tested, and that in the testing I've learned a lot more that I can share.

I'm also a little older and wiser, and since I've been out of the quilting world for a while I feel like I'll be learning along with my readers.  Everything has changed so much since I started blogging the first time. I'm looking forward to hearing from you again, and hopefully we can help each other navigate the joys, frustrations, and silliness of dealing with the world of creativity and imagination.

It took me a while to get back, but it's great to be home!

Happy Stitching!

Susan