Monday, April 4, 2011

Dumb? Who Me?

I don't usually join in on these kinds of debates or conversations because my mom taught me a long time ago that if you can't say something nice you shouldn't say anything at all.  Well in this case I don't have anything mean to say so I think I'm safe.  Apparently I live in a bubble because I had no idea that there was a debate going on about "Dumbing Down Quilting" but once one of my regular reads responded I did a little research and I have to admit I was shocked at what I found.  It seems like everyone has an opinion on the subject.  And like everyone else I have an opinion too.  It seems like what started this whole debate was the complexity of a pinwheel.  Did anyone stop and think about this?  There are lots of different pinwheel blocks.  I made this set for charity and I would agree.  Easy peasy, doesn't take a lot of time but leaves you with a fantastic looking quilt at the end of the day.  When I was brand new to quilting I hated these blocks because those pesky little points in the middle never seemed to line up just like I wanted them too.

Then over the last year as I developed as a quilter (at least I like to think my skills have improved, although to some that might be a questionable point) I was asked to make pinwheel blocks for one of my fellow bee members for a pinwheel sampler quilt.  You can see the blocks I made here.  Some of those blocks were not easy for me.  Maybe they aren't what some would call advanced or even intermediate but for me they were more challenging than what I personally would consider a basic block.  Humm maybe that's the point here.  Opinions are after all subjective.  So maybe what I consider to be intermediate you think of as basic.  But I don't think that makes me dumb. 

I am really looking forward to developing my skills as a quilter but as a 20 something (okay thirty something) quilter right now my focus is on my job and building my family.  Quilting for now is a hobby.  Something I enjoy doing but sadly falls to the bottom of the priority list.  As much as I wish I could spend time everyday with Bertha (my machine if you're new around here) that's just not realistic for me right now.  So I join in things like quilt alongs and quilting bees.  Some of the women in my life that I consider my best of friends are women I've meet through these experiences.  They are my friends not only in this online quilting world but in real life too.  They are the people I trust to ask for advice and to share my bad days with.  But they are also the ones who challenge me to become a better person.  Not only in my quilting but in my life as well.  I don't think you can cheapen that experience by somehow implying that those experiences have been unproductive by not advancing my skill level.

On that same note one of the things I love about quilt alongs is the fact that while everyone is working with the same pattern the quilts all look different.  Each person brings their individual skills, taste, and twist to the project.  Take the postage stamp quilt along for example (since it was my most recent experience we can look at those) this quilt, this one, and this one were all made as part of the same project.  So on first glance one might be seeing the same quilt on a ton of blogs all at once.  But if you look a little closer you will see that it's because it was part of a project each quilter chose to participate in and then you get to appreciate the differences of each quilt.  Same basic pattern, each with it's own special twist.

I love my quilting community that embraces me, challenges me, and shares with me.  Maybe I don't yet know what kind of quilter I am but the journey is where the fun lies.  I look forward to continuing to develop my skills, try out new things, and quilt with great fabrics that I love (even if they aren't the same ones my mom or grandmother would pick).  Because I choose to believe that just by being fellow quilters we have a shared passion no matter how we choose to express it.


  1. I hate all the hating that's going on over this. I especially hate what I read in many of the comments (hardly ever in the actual posts) that make it an age-related thing. As an "old bag" (yes, I saw that somewhere), I take exception to anyone prejudging my tastes and inclinations based solely on age! But I also have to wonder about people who say they choose to do what they do because they are busy moms - I wonder if that argument holds up when you consider what our great-grandmothers accomplished, with more children and far fewer mod cons than we have (for example, all those hand-pieced/quilted works in the recent Red/White show). In my opinion, better to just say "I do what I do because I like it and I'm the Queen of Me"! Also, I think one of the problems is that, because of this unfortunate (and I think inadvertent) conflagration, people are reading blogs that they don't normally read, where people have different tastes and styles, and getting feelings hurt needlessly - because those people have always been there, always liking different things and placing different values on various aspects of quilting, but we have largely ignored and been ignored by them - so why get so irritated now? I have been wanting to write a blog post about this, too - but have refrained so far since I don't want to add oxygen to the blaze even by mentioning it. Thanks for letting me get my $.02 in here!

  2. Bare with me this is long but, there is a reason! Let me begin by announcing, those BEAUTIFUL pinwheels you made last summer, made their way to ME and I LOVE and cherish them and will use them to create something special. I love the fact that each of my bee members put their "twist, personality, efforts, and skills" into something I requested. I have read bits and pieces of "others" opinions on dumbing down. I REALLY don't care, I sew for me! I try to create new challenges and expand but, it is at my pace and what I feel comfortable doing. I had a not so great experience in a bee group where I received fabric with VERY vague directions and sizes were different on the pattern than what this person was requesting, so I asked if she could be a bit more specific and I got slapped with this (an EXACT quote!)... "I had assumed every one has dealt with traditional patterns and was accustomed to cutting half square triangles and the such, maybe I have assumed to much. Being an older lady I am thinking maybe you younger ones are into more modern quilting techniques." and her suggestion was I asked someone who might be comfortable with this pattern! I WAS comfortable with HS triangles but, it was her LACK of directions that confused me. I was VERY put off by this person, I did her blocks to what I thought was right and sent them on. It was at that point I decided I would never make a person feel "less" for their skill level or questions they may have. Funny thing is I am older, almost 50 but, have only quilted about 5-6 years and find myself stuck in the middle between the classics and modern quilting. I LOVE both and as time goes on I plan to dabble on both sides of the fence. BUT, I quilt for me!!! I could go on and on about this topic, thanks for the space, Greta. I LOVE watching your projects and find you inspiring!

  3. I think "ditto" is the word I am looking for. I think its odd that people would judge another simply because their skill set is different. I'm horrible at certain things but really good at others. For no real reason at all. Are the only things I am good at the "easy" things. Well no. I've been told that. Its simply they are easy for me. So how can we define easy for each other? I think you are right to say its all subjective and that there isn't one of us that is dumb simply because we are good at or love to make or look at a particular pattern or block.

  4. I've read a bit on this, and I think it so off that someone would accuse a blogger of making simple projects to post more often and get more readers...who cares? Vote with your mouse and don't read the blog, then! No one is forcing themselves on anyone else.

    My philosophy? Do what you want, what you are comfortable with, what makes you happy...and forget anyone who tries to change that!

    I've been composing a post about this in my head and just haven't gotten around to actually writing it!


I love comments! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.