28 April, 2011

Quilt Snob?

Am I a snob?

Okay, don't answer that right away.

There has been a lot of talk and entertaining posts lately about a lot of quilt arena issues - modern versus traditional, rants about designers, plain old rants, beginners feeling shamed, quilters being snobby, and more. I'm not going to repeat them all here, and I doubt I've even seen them all. But if you want some really interesting posts read them here, and make sure you read all the comments too. Note: I've included different opinions here, only this post is my own.

It is actually the comments I'm reading that are pushing me to write this post. Many folks are upset with "quilt snobs". Unfortunately, it isn't always clear to me what defines a snob.

The way I define a snob is someone who intentionally works to make someone else feel bad for the way they act, dress, define themselves, propping themself up higher on their already high horse in doing so. When it comes to quilting snobs, what does this mean?

... Disdain for one style of quilting over another?
... Talking smack about a fabric line you aren't a fan of, and by extension, the designers?
... Shooting down bloggers who maybe don't have a fancy camera or can only take their pictures late at night when they have a spare moment to work?
... Judging people who are trying to make a living at quilting?
... Being openly critical of bee participants?
... Just another name for the quilt police marking down missed points and skipped stitches?
... Big Name Bloggers refusing to comment on other blogs?
... Groups of friends that are collaborating/chatting and defined as cliques?

I've been critical of charm packs/pre-cuts and the reliance on them. I struggle with group projects where the simple quality of the workmanship is lacking (ie. no 1/4 seams, lack of pressing, and no squaring up of blocks). I'll admit that I'm tired of plain patchwork quilts. And stippling. (I've done more than my fair share of both)

All this, however, doesn't make me a snob. Anytime I think these things I keep my mouth shut (until today, obviously). If I visit a blog I like and see a quilt I don't then I move on to the next one in my Reader. I like to challenge myself so that's why you don't see me do many things twice, but that's me. I have no interest whatsoever in making someone feel bad or trying to make myself feel better with an off-putting or off-colour comment.

I will never condemn you for your pattern choice. I will never judge your fabric choice, but I will share my considered opinion if you ask. I will never shoot someone down in a public forum for their own creativity, work, family, or anything quilty related.

Rather, I want more people quilting. I want blogs to inspire. I want new or hopeful quilters to come to blogs and think "I can do that!" Or, if they are intimidated by the work (and not the quilter) think, "I can't wait until I can do that!" I don't think I'm alone with this goal. I want people to feel motivated to finish their quilts however they like, with the emphasis on finishing.

In pursuit of this goal I will continue to share my own inspiration, my work - both easy and difficult - tips and tutorials and yes, challenge the conventions. I will always encourage people to break free from patterns, charm packs, and single line quilts. I will always, always stress care in construction. I will always answer questions you send my way. I will push for people to be open with their process

This doesn't make me a snob.

Or does it? Be honest, I've got skin as thick as an elephant. But remember, my Dad just died.

(That was a joke.)

What makes a quilt snob? Have you had any run-ins? What's your strategy for dealing with the quilt snobs you encounter?


Abby said...

My response to a quilt snob? Leave the discussion and ignore them. Life is too short!

Amy said...

Love this line, "I want people to feel motivated to finish their quilts however they like, with the emphasis on finishing." I may want to do things a certain way when I make a quilt, but the beautiful thing about this world is that we are not all the same and do not always do things the same way.

I teach sewing (and quilting) and, while I prefer to be as precise as possible and take care with my construction as well, for some people that takes all the fun out of sewing. If that's the case, so be it. I would much rather everyone had fun and liked their end product than adhere to my methods.

Life's too short for everyone not to enjoy it, no?

KristyLou said...

I think people need to be honest when asked. And quiet when not. If everyone liked everyone else's stuff, we would all have the same quilts... BORING. We all have opinions, its just a matter of judging when to share them. Here is why I don't think you are a snob: "If I visit a blog I like and see a quilt I don't then I move on to the next one in my Reader. I like to challenge myself so that's why you don't see me do many things twice, but that's me. I have no interest whatsoever in making someone feel bad or trying to make myself feel better with an off-putting or off-colour comment.

I will never condemn you for your pattern choice. I will never judge your fabric choice, but I will share my considered opinion if you ask. I will never shoot someone down in a public forum for their own creativity, work, family, or anything quilty related."


Tara said...

I'm with Abby. I just can't be bothered. I question those that write and sell patterns for quilts of the simplest construction, but really, I don't have to buy them. Encourage, encourage, encourage.

And my thoughts are with you and your family on the death of your father. I hope this can be a time of rest and healing for you all.

Jennifer said...

I just ignore them! I have better things to do like worrying about myself and enjoying my own quilting process. Sometimes an easy quilt is what I need to make while I have other projects that are more complicated and long term. I do what makes me happy and fufilled as a quilter. The way I figure it, if I'm a fufilled quilter then hopefully that will encourage others to jump into quilting as well.

I am so sorry to hear about your Dad... my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Jennifer :)

Julie said...

We all have different tastes, preferences, and abilities- that's what makes the quilting world so vibrant and alive. I love seeing and learning things that are outside what I "like" as I usually can find something that makes me go "wow"! We are all in a different place in the quilting journey, it would be great if we could all honor that.

Megs said...

Thank you for your thoughtful post. I've been aware of the various debates going on but haven't engaged. Mostly, I think it's sad when people feel the need to exclude (via comments, cliques, talking smack about others' work, etc.).

When I think about quilting and the quilting community that I feel fortunate to be a part of (both in real life and blogland), I feel connected to the generations of women before me who gathered to create quilts and support each other. I think of people working together to make items both beautiful and useful.

Do what you love. Learn what you want. Challenge yourself - or don't. Be as precise, traditional, modern as you like using whatever fabric you like. Make it your own - just MAKE it!

Lesly said...

I have steadfastly refused to blog or leave comments about all this because I want it to just go away and I think that any attention to it merely fans the flames - but I just thanked Kaye for her defense of grandmas and now the dam has burst. Kind of. The only thing I want to say is that I think "intentionally working to make others feel bad" is not a necessary part of being a snob. I am positive that the bloggers who are perceived as snobs do not have such an intention. The problem comes, in my opinion, when people express their own opinion on their blogs, and readers internalize that opinion as a personal slight. So what to do? I have many opinions I do not reveal because I am conflict averse. And because I learned in high school the hard way that what you say to one group of friends gets twisted mightily as it makes its way through the halls. (I don't have a big footprint in the blogopolis, so it probably wouldn't go that far, ha ha.) Also from the comments I have seen, I think there is a general impression that the Big Bloggers never look at anyone else's blog but those of their own inner circle. And that gives rise to the feeling of cliques, and a feeling of despair that one will never get noticed by the cool kids. Just like high school. 'Nuff said.

two hippos said...

Thank you for this post. I've posted a bit about these debates and left comments on some posts as well. I think the label "snob" demonstrates the quickness with which people judge -- and assume the worst. In contrast, I think the expression of opinions is healthy and good, contributing to rather than weakening community. There are plenty of things I don't love, but I don't make a habit of complaining. Sure, I recently confessed that there are some fabric lines I don't love, but no one can love every single piece of fabric out there, the same way no one person will love every book, every person, every anything out there. I really don't think I've run into a quilt snob outside of a recent quilt shop worker unimpressed with my fabric taste. I don't see the negativity others see; I see opinions, and opinions -- fairly expressed -- are reasonable and normal, whether or not I agree with them.

badlandsquilts said...

I was involved in a bee that you utilized your own fabric to make a block for other participants, and some times I felt that the suggested preferences/desires were just a very narrow list of designer fabrics and not in the spirit of enjoying a block made for them by someone else. I made blocks that I thought would be enjoyed but chose not to go buy fabric that I didn't have. In one way I did feel my frustration was a bit hypocritical because in the same bee/situation I did want quilt shop quality fabric for blocks for me to ensure I wouldn't have colors running and a ruined quilt. My strategy for this situation was simple...once participants were not keeping with the spirit of the bee... I dropped out.

stitchinpenny said...

There is a place for everyone in quilting as there always was. Some people will have more resources and the ability to by more and better fabric, some will be more talented, and some will have passion. I have old quilts from my granrmother and her mother. Some are perfect, some are unevenly stitched with flour sacks, but all were made for a purpose and they served that, some were prize winning and some just coversfor cold feet. We all have different reasons for quilting and even the best quilter could learn from the very worst even if it is just what not to do. If you don't love it don't do it. If you do try to to appreciate all levels of quilting for what they are there will be less stress.

By the way I am a pleasure quilter who makes quilts that I know aren't perfect or maybe even good, but they are all given to friends family or charity with love.

Momma Made This said...

Oh Cheryl! I really enjoyed your post! (I am very sorry that you lost your father.)

I was not aware of any debates, but I guess I'm not on any groups. I read the blogs I enjoy and don't read the ones I don't enjoy.

And with new lambs hitting the ground each day, I'm reading fewer at the moment, but I'm so glad I caught this post!

Like you, I have my own preferences, and like you, I hope quilters will learn to shy away from quilts made from pre-packaged layer cakes or jelly rolls, etc. I encourage quilters to put their own spin on their quilts, and use an assortment of unrelated fabrics that really speak to them. But I won't post my dislike of certain fabric lines! Say something nice or nothing at all. So whatever "debates" are going on, I'm ignorant of them, and blissfully so.

I'm not a Modern Quilter, but I enjoy looking at many of the modern quilts being made!

Let's quilt!

~ Ronda, heading out to the pastures to see what new lambs have been born.

Meg said...

My reaction to quilt snobs is to ignore them (they're entitled to their opinions, certainly, but it doesn't mean I have to agree), and to feel sorry for them. Really, in my experience, anyone who thinks they have it all figured out? Is missing opportunities to grow and learn. And that's just sad.

~Michelle~ said...

I agree with Two Hippos that I think the "snob" label comes from those reacting quickly to the words they are reading. Also, I'm sure that words that were written with some haste and definite passion have been interpreted as more harsh than the writer intended (*cough* my own *cough*). I know I was certainly reminded that most people don't speak "Michelle" and I perhaps ought to have rephrased some things.

I think people are entitled to their opinions, and I think no one should be too terribly upset that these opinions are expressed - this happens in every other niche, why can't it also happen in the sewing community? I also think readers should remember that some of these opinion writers are better than others at phrasing things in ways that come off less harshly, and try to figure out the underlying sentiment, rather than just reacting to the words themselves. If that makes sense... (I'm clearly in the not-so-great opinion expression camp, lol!)

I think constructive criticism is warranted if it furthers the collective opinion that quilting is ART. I feel like too many people don't take quilting seriously, and quite frankly, the sunshiney portrayal of it all doesn't really help matters any.

Argh! The problem with one opinion is that it quickly leads to other related thoughts - it's difficult to keep the discussion narrow! My apologies for the rambling, I'm reigning it in now!

Token Asian Friend said...

The difficult part about this being a web-based community is that there is very little personal interaction. I think if we knew each other, we would be less critical, and who knows, we might even like each other even if our quilting likes and dislikes vary! All I know is, I have learned from every blog I have visited, and I have nothing but gratitude for the people who post about their quilts and their passion for quilting.

And, Amen to Abby's comment.

Trudi said...

I love reading your blog, and especially your opinions. I comments when I want to, or not. You a snob? No definitely not, keep doing it your way :) Here's to a lifelong venture in self expression :)

vikkii said...

Amen !I believe the judgements should be left where they are meant to be in a quilt show. Lets make quilts and share our love for doing so.

Sonia said...

quilting snob: a person who would not dare buy fabric at joann's or hobby lobby, and loves to blab it all over the internet.

Oh, oh....and those who go by name alone. Some bloggers/quilters only go to Joann's now because they heard they are carrying Denyse Schmidt. The fabric is cute/pretty, but there's MUCH better fabric there, and just the same qualty and price.

Betty Crocker Ass said...

I think people have too much time on their hands! I skimmed a few posts, a few comments, got cranky and moved on to sewing! I mean really, I think I finished my king quilt in the time that some people spent reading/thinking about this. Totally serious here.

As a new quilter, you were one of the first blogs that inspired me, taught me and encouraged me to do better. I mean heavens you literally taught me how to iron!

People who are quilt snobs have probably always been a snob and will continue to be a snob.

Wait, now I forgot the question?

Whatever it was I totally agree with you and think all this should end and everyone should get back to their lives and creating!

sulu-design said...

Who knew there was so much going on behind the scenes at these quilting blogs?!? I read a few because they've got pretty pictures, but I had no idea how deep opinions ran on quilting. Wow - kind of exciting to know opinions are so strongly held!

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Cheryl, y ou have inspired me to try quilting with your blog and your enthusiasm. Your compliment when I sent you a pic of my first really homemade piece inspired me to continue. You are NO snob-not even close.

I am so sorry about your father passing, Cheryl. I remember well the quilt you all made of his garden for him-a lovelier piece I‘ve not seen in a long time. May great memories take sorrow’s place for all of you.

Suzanne said...

I think quilt snobs are those who look down on their noses at people who do things differently than they do. I have done a good job skirting the latest debates and snarly conversations in the quilting community. I started to read about it and ultimately decided to stop because it was only bringing me down. I read a lot of quilting, knitting and creative blogs and I recognize that those tutorials, posts and projects that people share take time to create and then document. I do not have a blog (yet) where I share my own projects but I'm considering it. I would hope that if people had negative comments, they would keep them to themselves or share what them constructively. No one benefits from hurtful words. I appreciate your blog and always get something from your posts. (and I agree with Betty Crocker Ass--I iron differently now because of you.)

Anonymous said...

I like quality and try to teach my students proper technique. I tell them that now they know and it is up to them to do it or not. The petty, cutting people down is too junior high for me. People practice, people are challenged, people get better, that's why bees are good, but many blocks haven't made it into my quilts and that's ok.

I'm sorry about your Dad. I hope you have many fond memories that keep him alive in your heart. We know that disease all too much in our family.

Samantha said...

Am feeling a bit better about falling away from the blog world over the last year after hearing that there's some of this un-fun stuff going on.

I love coming by here as you always inspire me :-)

Much love to you on the loss of your dad...so sorry to hear it.

Jocelyn said...

Yes, I've been called a snob (not a quilt snob, per say) and I think it's been born from a sense of my passion for something. I'd admit that I'm a snob about some things.

I think the snobbery is born from a lack of objectivity or willingness to be conscientious of another's passion. I've noticed this is particularly bad at, of all places, the local modern quilt guild where the discussion inevitably becomes a bashing of traditional quilters. If these ladies were a bit more aware, I hope they'd recognize that most of the quilts they consider 'modern' actually have a very clear tradition foundation.

Anonymous said...

So sorry about your Dad. You're gonna need that elephant skin. My Dad died 17 years ago and it STILL sucks!

Your sense of humor is going to get you through just about anything :-)

PS: I didn't know a quilt snob debate issue was going 'round. Think I'll stick my nose in the air and ignore it ;-)

Melissa said...

I actually followed your comment from that post to your blog. I didn't comment on the post, but I appreciate your post diving deeper into it. I pretty much ignore it. I stopped following people I didn't feel were very 'nice' for lack of a better word. I just enjoy everything I do and to heck with those that might want to bring me down. I have to live with what I make, not them.

Susan Being Snippy said...

No one wants to be called any sort of name, even snob. If the definition of snob is to want to do things in a certain way then I probably am on every single day in a multitude of ways. I like my coffee made a certain way -- when my hubby thinks he is making a cup of coffee for me, I quietly go and dump the pot and remake it how I like. With quilts, there are ways of sewing seams and cutting fabrics that make it easier to continue to the next steps in quilting. If your seams and points match the quilt will lay flat and be easier to quilt, even if you stipple it. If a person wants to be messy about the beginning work, the final product may please the maker, but the effort would be obviously lacking when someone else looks at it -- and that is okay if they keep their mouth closed. Everyone progresses in the things they do and discover new and better methods of achieving the end product.

It takes time to learn and if you or me or anyone is going to critisize work, that person should also be willing to kindly show a better, easier, or more accurate method to create the same thing.

My first few quilts were not at all well done but my toddlers thought they were wonderful and 30 years ago, there were no QUILT SHOPS so I had to learn by books or by Kay's Quilting on TV.

If you ask me, I will gladly share the things I learned. My father used to say, the first part of life is for learning the last half of life is for teaching...

jess said...

You kill me. The dad comment had me laughing- when I lost my own father a few years ago, he left me his very sour humor. :)
I think you have the right idea! I don't know why bloggers want to talk smack about other bloggers and quilters- what, exactly, is the point? I want to make my own work better, and I am glad you like to encourage quilters to take pride in their work. And break away from patterns. :)
Take care. ::hugs::

jess said...

Sonia said...

quilting snob: a person who would not dare buy fabric at joann's or hobby lobby, and loves to blab it all over the internet.
^ What she said. :D

amandajean said...

It's interesting to hear your thoughts on the subject. I have a lot of thoughts on all of this too, but I'll limit my comments. A lot of these issues would go away if people would just treat each other with kindness and respect.
As far as big name bloggers refusing to comment on other peoples' blogs....i'd love to have a conversation about this on the side.This one must hit close to home, because it's hard to not feel defensive about this one. I don't refuse to, but i wish i would take more time to comment on other blogs. When it comes down to it, there is only so much time in a day. As you well know.

Live a Colorful Life said...

I spent way too much time reading comments on this very topic, when my time would have been better spent sewing. And then I wrote my own thoughts on it, on how things are mostly just variations on a theme, and we should just do what makes each of us personally happy.

Can't we all just get along?

Thanks for your comments and now I'm off to do some sewing...

Coralee said...

G'day! I'm from Australia so we really don't have traditons or generations of quilters with opinions, unless I'm just outta the loop!
I am so surprised to see such venom in the quilting world. Isn't this a craft that spreads love and comfort, where is that?
I have been quilting for some years and here there is not a lot of traditional quilting, hand piecing and the like- what my local quilt shop (which was my only contact with the quilting world till I discovered blogs) was quick machine strip work, applique and some embroidery, all depending on what pattern was put in front of us.
Thanks to blogs I don't need a pattern anymore, I can truely be creative, I can see different techniques and try them for myself, I'm actually enjoying paper piecing, who would have thought a quilt could be done all by hand! I have found it hard to learn how to just hand piece. What stitch do you use? How can it be accurate? What is a set in piece and how do you do it? These are things you all in America probably know, over here, we are just learning. Learning.
So I really appreciate giving people like you that teaches me how to do circles, how to improvise, add a little tradition and inspire me with pictures of quilts I will never feel confident to start or attempt to make (your Dad's roots quilt is so beautiful and amazing) but encourage me so much to push myself to try new things. Thank you.
I don't believe the quilt snob is you, did you read the comments on some of those, they may find pinwheels easy, good for them, but if I don't have someone to show me, how will I learn. They have no idea of the damage they do. Keep up the good work.
P.S. Have people forgotten- If you have nothing kind to say, shut the hell up!

liz said...

Cheryl, thank you for this thoughtful post. I found myself nodding my head as I read it, agreeing with the points you make.

And thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. You are an inspiration in my quilting life, to be sure!