I read your blog post this morning before you pulled it. I'm a little sorry that you did, not because I want you to be in the cross-fire but because I could relate to your motivation for writing what you did.
A dear friend -- who isn't on my payroll -- sent me the link to it. I read it and while I was a initially a little annoyed, I also understood the root issue. You started out by citing Sandi of Piecemeal Quilts and the post she wrote about the dumbing down of quilting. I had read that post and agreed with several of her comments -- ditto for her subsequent posts on the subject.
Back in January, I tried to write about some of the frustrations and challenges that were bogging me down. As you probably found out, it is a difficult subject to write about without venting a bit, ranting a bit, and being completely misunderstood by other well-meaning folks. Been there, done that. The thing is, quilting has been dumbed down. It isn't just quilting either, everything -- including us -- has been "dumbed down". From politics to entertainment, culture to the arts, everything is faster, easier and requires a whole lot less thought. I don't know if you read Newsweek magazine but they gave the US Citizenship test to 1,000 Americans as part of a study and 38 percent failed. The magazine listed 25 of the questions used in the test and then included the percentage of correct answers for each question. It was appalling and very, very sad.
And no, that wasn't my fault either. (I know that you didn't blame me for that... I'm trying for a little levity here.)
I don't know what exactly set you off this morning but I do understand your frustrations. Some of them anyway. Just so you know, I'm not on the payroll of the company you named. If I were, they wouldn't keep sending me invoices for all that fabric. And with the exception of Rosie and my Mom, there isn't anyone on mine either. Seriously. Do I send patterns and some fabric to friends? Sure. But guess what? They rarely blog about it and I like it that way. The truth is, I prefer it that way. If nothing else, it brings out the snarkiness in others who aren't on the "gift list". When I give something to someone, it isn't for the credit or the publicity. I've been very fortunate for much of my life and being able to give something to others makes me happy. Or it did. But don't worry, I'll get over being annoyed with your suggestion that I have an ulterior motive for giving stuff away. To borrow from Oprah, I know this to be true: (1) I know that you didn't mean to imply that; (2) I know that isn't why I do it; and (3) I know that they know why I do it. My conscience is clear... though I have to confess that for just a tiny moment, there was a little part of me wanted to offer an all-expense paid trip to Spring Market to anyone who would create an I Love Miss Rosie's Patterns blog just to tick you off.
I'm kidding! And don't worry. I won't do that. I promise!
Legal Disclaimer: To anyone else reading this, this is another attempt at levity. This is not a legitimate offer.
But back to where this all started -- the dumbing down of quilting. You're not the only person who thinks it. The subject has been raised by people in the industry, by magazines and by other bloggers. It isn't the fault of any one fabric company, nor is it the fault of a couple of sew-alongs or bloggers. I almost wish it was because then it would be an easy problem to fix. Do you read Mark Lipinski's Fabric Trends magazine? He answered a "Letter to Mark" in a recent issue that addressed this very same topic, what is essentially "the sameness of it all". (If I could scan and post the letter here I would but oy vey... the copyright infringement issues of all that.) It was a terrific, well-articulated response. If nothing else, it made me happy to know I wasn't the only one who was feeling that way. In a similar vein, several modern quilters blogged about this last year, to the point of pledging to blog about their process rather than just the result. Since you're obviously interested in the subject, you might want to read Rossie's post about Mutant Quilting.
As a quilter, I would love to see everyone making quilts that challenged them artistically, emotionally, and intellectually. But -- and here's the part that always hangs me up -- my idea of what that constitutes is different from theirs. That isn't why some quilters make quilts. I know quilters who have never made an "art quilt" in their lives and probably never will, but they take classes about dyeing, embellishment, surface design, re-fracting elements (no, I don't know what that is either) and all sorts of interesting techniques because they're curious. I also know of quilters who -- in 40 years of quilting -- never made a quilt with a triangle unless it was the setting triangles. For some of us, quilting is a passion, an artistic pursuit or expression, and for others it is a hobby. It's as simple as that. It isn't any different than any other pursuit, we do what makes us happy. Someone who has read every Harlequin ever published is a "reader" just as much as someone who reads Tolstoy, Hemingway and Dostoevsky.
As a pattern company, I would love to see everyone making Miss Rosie patterns and only Miss Rosie patterns! Uh... NOT! The truth is that I wouldn't want to see that -- not now, not ever! -- because it would be very, very boring. It would be like eating at McDonald's for every meal -- every meal. All the time. Yuck!
I wish I knew how and where and in which direction to take all this because it is a huge subject. While it would be nice to "blame" someone or something, all of us are at fault to some degree. But even that isn't entirely fair. I love picking fabrics for a scrap quilt but I also acknowledge that picking five fabrics can be worse than root canal for other quilters. While I love tweaking a quilt to make it different, I've also bought kits because I've seen a quilt sample and thought "I want that! Exactly that!"
Would it help to know that you're not alone in your frustrations? Many quilters feel the same way, including and maybe even especially, quilters who are in the quilting business. More specifically, I am referring to those quilters who just happen to be doing it as a business as opposed to the people whose business just happens to be quilting. Sadly, there is a difference and it definitely factors into that whole "dumbing down" process because there isn't a whole lot in quilting that is completely, entirely new. Everything is a riff on something else -- for better and for worse. Albert Einstein wrote that "the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." Albert must have known a few quilters.
In some ways, I think the problem can probably be traced back to the word "business". For many of us, quilting is personal, it is an expression of what we love and who we are. But business is not. We can put out lofty "mission statements" but the bottom line is the bottom line, and many decisions are made from a business perspective more often than from a creative one. I recently spoke with a shop owner who admitted that while the quilter in her would love everybody to be making Baltimore Album quilts, the shopowner in her loves putting together [insert specific number here that can be easily divided by 2 or 10] fat quarters for the ladies who have made a "particular" quilt a hundred times over.
I sincerely hope that you won't get any grief over this morning's post. If I were nearer to Philadelphia, I would take you to dinner -- Dutch, of course, lest anyone accuse you of being on the payroll too -- so that you could toss the crow. No need to eat it, you were frustrated and you vented. Been there, done that... thankfully, I have a really good spicy ketchup that helps with the taste.
The good news is that all of this will pass, and probably pretty quickly. There is a terrific quilt show opening Friday in New York City and I think that is going to be on many quilter's minds in the next week or so. If you're going to get to see it, let me know. Maybe we can meet up and you can slap me around in person.
I'm kidding! But I would like to meet you, I'm sure we'd have a lot to talk about.
Quilting, Near Phoenix