Irritated by the Internet

Map of the Internet

classic visual map of the internet, image can be attributed to artist Barrett Lyon

Lately I’ve been irritated by the Internets.  And by blogs, although I’m someone who still reads them, someone who still writes them, and still thinks the longer form is useful.

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This post is divided into parts.

All is not well in Blogland, and like the song from Music Man where he sings about Trouble and it means the new billiard table in town, our trouble is the concept of “monetize.”  It can be lucrative to place ads on blogs, and I have no problem if  a blogger wants to make some cash.  Money is always good, and hey, it’s their blog.

But I do get irritated when some of the ads have positively gotten out of hand, so much so that ads pop up on top of pictures, intrude on the blogger’s writing, and blink and pop across content. Some of the ads are disgusting (see below for examples), with that creepy crawly worms thing the worst.  Because of this, I had stopped reading some blogs, but in the end, I liked the quilter and what they did, so had to find new ways to read.

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Using a Reader to read blogs

So I started by using a reader. I subscribe directly to some blogs, and their post notifications come directly into my emailbox.  But I don’t want all my blogs to come there.  A reader will gather all your reading into one list, and can categorize the blogs (I read both ways).  One well-known reader in quiltland is Bloglovin’ but I have moved over to Feedly.com.

I used to use Bloglovin’ a lot, but  I found it frustrating at how many clicks I had to use to get the blog to leave a comment (I love a good conversation).  And then I started noticing this:

Bloglovin ID blog

They won’t send you to the blog, they send you somewhere in their universe, which as a blog writer, is not helpful news.  It means a reader might might never actually visit a blog, to see the layout, the way the blogger has designed their space. Some writers believe that Bloglovin’ has taken content (without permission) for their in-house blog, broadcasting it on their website.  The blogger-who-wrote-it will not see any of these comments.  Yes, this has happened to me, and frankly, it’s kind of weird, like somebody stole my content.  They will link back to me, but it’s after the fact, so that if I’m not on top of it backstage, I will never know it happened.

Waving goodbye

So I said, I’m done, and left them for Feedly.

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opening pages

I never log in with Facebook, instead setting up an account using my email.

Feedly Screeshot

This is what I see when my Feedly page pops up, with the category Fabrics/Quilting highlighted. I chose the magazine view, but you could also choose a list view.  It allows me to read the first few lines of any blog post, and then decide if I want to expand it.  I find I am actually reading more of my colleagues’ posts this way, as I also don’t lose them in the deluge of emails.

The blogs I added (see the very bottom left: +ADD CONTENT to add the blogs you want), I arranged by categories.  The numbers show the unread blogs.

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Here’s Afton’s Quilting Mod, as an example.  I clicked on it from my list and the full blog shows up.  I scroll through and read it, then decide I want to leave a comment.

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At the bottom of the page, I click on VISIT WEBSITE, and I’m sent to her blog in a new window in a new tab (although this preference can be changed).  Notice the address that shows up in the lower left — I’m referred directly to Afton’s blog to leave a comment, a real plus.

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Using the Reader View in your browser to make posts easier to read.

Reader View 1

Sometimes I’m not in my Feedly, and have clicked on one of my ad-filled blogs. So I use the Reader View.  Safari has always had this, and now Firefox has it too.  First, Safari.

There is an icon of stacked documentson the left in the address bar.

Reader View 2

Click on this, and you’ll be taken to the above view (compare them).  All you are getting is the writer’s content, plus their photos.  All animations, ads, colors, and videos are removed (although you will see placeholders for them).  Click on the stack icon to go back to their website.

Reader View Firefox

I just downloaded the newest version of Firefox.  Above is the webpage without the Reader View.

Reader View Firefox1

The webpage with Reader View.  Click on the little grey page icon on the right of the address bar to be taken to their Reader View.

See also those little greyed icons at the upper left?  Those are also new.  I’m quite interested in the third one, the soundwave icon.  My mother is mostly blind, and now I can now have my Dad set up the webpage for her in Reader View and it will read it to her.  Hooray for easy accessibility for webpages!

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Ads placed to drive the blog writers to pay.  It worked!Quilt Abecedary title
I’d developed an alphabet of improv letters when I ran the Spelling Bee blog some time ago.

 

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Knowing that if I put them down somewhere in my Sewing Room, they would disappear, I documented how I made them and put them up on a blog.  For a while, WordPress and I had a bargain: they could put up an ad on the bottom of my post, and I’d keep using their stuff for free (I had converted this blog over to a paid blog some years earlier).

Then I started seeing this:

Bad Ads

The dreaded creepy crawly ads I hated were now in between my text, obliterating the the instructions for my wonky and fun letters and words (see the one in the box in the upper left).  I didn’t want to pay a yearly fee to have them keep the ads out (and I suspect — just a little — that some of the more obnoxious ads were designed to encourage me to pay), so I did the next best thing: I moved the entire blog.

Quilt Abecedary New 2019

It’s now back in Google’s arms at: https://quiltabecedary.blogspot.com.  I have links from this blog, above, so you don’t have to remember the address.  But if you ever need some wonky improv letters and words, don’t forget that it’s there.

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White I spend a lot of time on Instagram, I still think that there is a place in our lives for blogs: it’s where we put up tutorials, we comment on the state of the world, we have space to write about quilts and things that interest us (by the way, congratulations if you made it this far).  I don’t want to see blogs go away, so I hope this post will make your reading easier.

NOTE:  If you want to start making your own Feedly list, I’ve put just about all the blogs I read way below, in the footer, but like anything, it’s a work in progress and subject to change.  I update it about every quarter.

 

Power of Pattern: Central Asian Ikats

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Among the most colorful clothing in the word, ikat robes — which hail primarily from the “the Stans,” or Central Asia — employ “creative use of scale, proportion, and orientation.” They are created by dying the warp (or vertical) threads of silk and cotton, sometimes multiple times.

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This past week, my husband and I had a chance to head into Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to see this collection.  Here’s the notice in the gallery:

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Note the embroidered cuff.

Ikat_5 Tajik Wedding Ritual

This photo of a Tajik Wedding ritual (1865-1872) shows the rich patterns of both men and women in their ikat robes.  I did a Google Image search, which has lots of results, but these older robes, as shown in LACMA, are rarer now.  In that Image search, I saw lots of machine-made ikats, which don’t have the subtlety of the hand-dyed.

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On the right is a series of threads which will form the warp threads in a loom, showing their various patterns from dying them using a resist process:

“Fabricating an ikat design demands vision as well as time. Before any actual weaving takes place, the lead craftsperson must picture a fully fleshed-out color pattern. Next, assistants soak the warp threads of the textile-to-be in a series of dye vats—up to eight in total—accumulating hues along the way. Prior to each dying phase, all stretches of warp are strategically bound with dye-resistant greasy thread, leaving exposed only those portions meant to be colored.

“By repositioning the dye-resistant thread before every immersion, textile makers gradually cover the entirety of the warp in an array of different tones. The most skilled designers will subject some sections of the material to multiple immersions, combining red and yellow dye to produce sunset orange, or red and blue dye to yield rich royal purple.

“Finally, when the Technicolor warp is ready, loom operators stretch it taut and gird it with a cotton or silk weft. The result is a long, narrow oblong textile bearing the designer’s repeating geometric pattern. This can be shaped into an eye-catching coat, or alternatively kept two-dimensional and made into a wall hanging” (from an article in the Smithsonian Institution Magazine, when they mounted their exhibit of ikat).

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LACMA’s didactic label in the exhibit

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I love the visual doubling and tripling of pattern and color in this robe.

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I think the guards thought I was crazy when I came to this robe.  I kept crouching down, zooming in, trying to capture the details of what I would call a type of kantha stitching, embroidery, hand overcasting.  It was a riot of color and texture and pattern:

You can see the nature of the ikat weaving, which blurs the edges as the weft yarns are woven through those pre-dyed warp yarns.  To make velvet, two rows of weft yarns are needed, instead of just one, so velvet robes were considered top of the line.  In the outfit above, it is the outermost robe.

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I took so many photos, that I’m not really sure which title goes with which picture, but I enjoyed reading the names of the clothing: a woman’s robe is a Munisak, a woman’s dress is a Kurta, and a man’s robe is a Chapan.

“Defined by an hourglass sihouette produced by the gathered fabric at each side of the waist, a munisak was used throughout a woman’s life for significant events, from her wedding to her funeral.  As such, it was an important part of her dowry” (LACMA text).

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Recently, my friend Judy had traveled to this area with her husband, so I was familiar with the term “the Stans,” and what the area looked like.  Although some consider that term a snub (“stan” means land, as in Afghanistan is the land where Afghanis live), I think it works well for those of us not familiar with where these countries are:

Map of The Stans

Image sneaked off of her travel blog, *here*

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Women and their Ikat Robes (2017), from *here*

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Turkish Coat, pattern #106

While we were in the LACMA exhibit, I told my husband that many quilters have used FolkWear patterns to make a similar robe, and added detailed surface decoration.  I first learned about ikat when I took a class in Houston several years ago from Roberta Horton, a reknowned quilter, who showed us ikats from her line of fabrics, made in India:

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Although I was a Clothing and Textile Major in college, I’d didn’t remember hearing about this fabric before; perhaps that why I wanted to blog about it today.  But in the quilting world, we also have variants of these colorfully patterned robes worn by these people from Central Asia.

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I’ve seen the Tabula Rasa jacket and all its variations, from a pattern by FitForArt.  Perhaps it’s the blurring of the lines between our patterned quilts and these beautiful ikat robes?  The more surface decoration the better?

crocheted jacket

Not always. I’ve also seen some not-so-great versions of handmade clothing that were patterned to within an inch of their lives, certainly showing their makers’ skill but not always on the level of what was in that exhibit.

The brilliant thing about these ikat robes is the sense of balance that is present.  Even in the layering of the different patterns, something pulls them together, links in either color or design.  A worthy goal for our own creating, wouldn’t you say? whether it be in quilts or robes or clothing.

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This was another experience that showed me that old truth: it’s always good to get out of my head, my studio, and the endless loop of social media, in order to gain inspiration from other places in the world.

Happy traveling, and Happy Father’s Day!

Wedding Day for Us

The day my husband became a father to four children.

Making, Not Knowing

I was intrigued by the phrase Making, Not Knowing, when I read about the artist Ann Hamilton recently on the website BrainPickings, and learned of her essay with that title, adapted from her 2005 commencement address at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She writes:

One doesn’t arrive — in words or in art — by necessarily knowing where one is going. In every work of art something appears that does not previously exist, and so, by default, you work from what you know to what you don’t know….You have to be open to all possibilities and to all routes — circuitous or otherwise.

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But, she cautions, “Not knowing isn’t ignorance.”  It is a manifestation of a “willingness to trust, leaving knowing in suspension, trusting in possibility without result” much like pulling a stack of fabrics from our stash to make our next quilt is the epitomy of “knowing in suspension.”  Who knows how these colors will work? Sometimes we try to circumvent this process of Not Knowing, by following a pattern, using the fabrics that the designer specifies, ordering wads of fabrics we may not ever use in future quilts.  I am not opposed to this, as you know. But then this becomes more about checking off the boxes, and that idea of Making, Not Knowing is cut short, because I do know what it will be.

Sometimes I think we are hampered, as Maria Popova of BrainPickings notes, by social media: “In our own culture, obsessed with celebrity and panicked for instant approval, what begins as creative work too often ends up as flotsam on the stream of ego-gratification — the countless counterfeit crowns that come in the form of retweets and likes and best-seller lists, unmoored from any real measure of artistic value and longevity.”  Our eyes can glaze over from countless IG posts, or blogs (not this one, of course) and we forget what our real task is: a life of making.

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“A life of making isn’t a series of shows, or projects, or productions, or things; it is an everyday practice.  It is a practice of questions more than of answers, of waiting to find what you need more often than knowing what you need to do….Our culture has beheld with suspicion unproductive time, things not utilitarian, and daydreaming in general, but we live in a time when it is especially challenging to articulate the importance of experiences that don’t produce anything obvious, aren’t easily quantifiable, resist measurement, aren’t easily named, are categorically in-between.” (Hamilton)

Finally, Hamilton notes:

“Every act of making matters. How we make matters. I like to remember, and remark with regularity, that the word “making” occupies seventeen pages in the Oxford English Dictionary, so there are multiple possibilities for a lifetime of making: make a cup, a conversation, a building, an institution, make memory, make peace, make a poem, a song, a drawing, a play; make a metaphor that changes, enlarges, or inverts the way we understand or see something. Make something to change your mind — acts that amplify.”

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While this sounds like an improv challenge, I don’t work that way.  After many years of quilting, I know what makes me happiest, and my style is my sandbox, the edge of my picture frame.  But in cleaning out my sewing room yesterday, I found little bags of cut pieces of fabric — obviously even though I had an idea, it was the process of Making, Not Knowing which yielded discarded shapes, fabrics, designs, steps on the way to my art.

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So, get into your sewing room, your studio, or drag cartons out from under the bed, whatever, and pull out fabrics.  Sketch out a new pattern, go for a walk, go for a walk through a museum, capture what you see and let the making flow from your mind and your hands, even though you don’t yet know what it will be.

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Be open to all possibilities.

Art Muses/Art Musings

Everyonce in a while it’s good to leave your tribe and take a look at what other artists are doing.  It also helps to be in recovery from shoulder surgery so when that rabbit hole in Instagram opens up, you have too much time are free to follow where it leads.

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Photo: Polly Apfelbaum assembling “Mojo Jojo,” Pérez Art Museum Miami, 2013. (from DrawingCenter on IG)

I first followed the Polly Apfelbaum hashtag.  She is an artist about my age, and still producing interesting and thoughtful works of art, many which seem to intersect my world of quilting. I grabbed this screen shot from DrawingCenter, who also had a series of quotes from her, which I loved:

“Her interdisciplinary approach is most notable in her floor pieces that she refers to as “fallen paintings,” the series of work that she best known for. Laid on the floor in intricate and somewhat psychedelic patterns and forms, the paintings are made of fabrics that have been dyed brilliant hues. The striking use of color aligns her work with abstract expressionism, but rejects the hypermasculinity of the style through the use of fabric and horizontal orientation. Apfelbaum explains that “[the] floor was a place that was inclusive but I could also be reverent.” By installing on the floor, viewers are able to walk around the art making the piece more fluid and approachable.”

She goes on to say “that she wanted “a relaxed sense of form, a form that was more abstract, a form that could kind of be chameleon-like, it could go from talking about minimalism, but could also talk about maximalism…and to craft.” Indeed, the dialogues around her hybridized work are wide-ranging and include feminism, religion, outsider art, and domesticity.”

Loved the “hypermasculinity” idea, reminding me of when I proposed a show of quilts to my Art Professor in college.  “Over my dead body,” he said.  It was then I realized that quilts were essentially, in his mind, NOT art, but I daresay they might be called “hyperfeminine” with the use of fabric, of soft construction.

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Apfelbaum also works by creating shaped woodcuts, which are then inked in vibrant colors, then placed in a design.  Of course I think it looks like a quilt. More images, below:

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This last one is especially quilt-like, I think, in terms of the shapes.  Is the quilting world is having an impact on others?  They probably don’t know we exist, but I do believe in the idea of cross-pollination:

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These last two are by Luis Zerbini, a Brazilian artist.  The second one is definately an Orange Peel block, or a Wedding Ring variant, if you ask me.  Even housework can inspire art:

Lynn Aldrich‘s Coral Landscapes made from house cleaning items; the one on the left is titled Marine Preserve.  I wonder if the one on the right is a wannabe Lynn Aldrich?

Anyone for some Nine-Patch?  With pieced sashings? Start cutting up your solid scraps into squares.

The art world can also be an interesting way to learn about value, a classic part of creating an interesting quilt.  I’ve tried to include the sources so you can go and have a look:

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Bringing this to a workshop would certainly get everyone’s attention about the impact of using those light-to-dark values.

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I’m pretty sure she does this with make-up.

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A screen shot of my Saved images from this morning.  I’ve started making categories and put some of these in the Random Color/Art category of my saves.  Just after you hit that little ribbon to save, the prompt comes up: Save to Collection.  Tap that, and then either direct the save into a category, or make a new one.  It helps in finding things.

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You might want to try to what I call “focused browsing” if your eyes are glazing over after looking at three billion quilts in your feed, and you’ll scream if you see another heavily curated shot with threads and scissors everywhere where you feel like you are trapped in the Dungeon of Cute.

Color theory and effect

a screen shot of the #colortheoryandaffect hashtag on IG

Some of the hashtags I followed were #gridart, or #hardedgepainting, or the names of the artists themselves. @DurhamPress also had some interesting images. Sometimes I would go to an artist, click on the name of the gallery they were showing at, then look at what the gallery had.

Yes, a little focused browsing might just clear the mind a little.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Happy New Year 2019

That saying in the title is Welsh for Happy New Year, and one custom is that the children in old Welsh villages would “rush around the village visiting as many houses as possible to collect sweets and money. The visits had to be made before midday, so it was often a race against the clock!”  The gifts were called calennig, and often referred to a skewered apple that the children would carry around.

I have no gifts for you, other than myself.  But then you aren’t rushing around knocking on my door, either.

I have some new readers, and thought I’d re-introduce myself at this time of Happy Old Year Ending • Happy New Year.  (I first learned to say Happy Old Year ending from a well-traveled friend, who said it was from somewhere on the African continent, and although I’ve never been able to corroborate that, I still like the idea of being happy with an ending.)

I’m Elizabeth Eastmond and I am the sole writer of this blog.

 

I first began writing in 2007, sliding quilty posts in amongst my then regular blog, OccasionalPiece, which at this point, is resting (it’s been resting for several years).  The blog name, OccasionalPiece, morphed into OccasionalPiece~Quilt, then I dropped the tilde (~).  When I started trying to find a web address, I shortened it even further to OPQuilt, because who wants to try and spell Occasional or Piece?

Piece originated not in the term “piecing” but from the fact that at the time I started writing online, I was in Graduate School, getting my degree in Creative Writing.  We called our writings “pieces” as in a “short story piece” or “a piece of my novel.”  In my mind it expanded to include my cloth piecings, and any slice of my life–so that’s why you’ll see some travel, some family, current events, cooking, and yes, an occasional piece of writing.  Oh, and art.  We’ve got to have art!

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Sculpture on the High Line; the birds perched there, but they are not a part of this piece of art

I keep a listing of my quilts–or as we say in Creative Writing, a catalogue of the body of my work–up above on 100 Quilts, 200 Quilts, and am starting on the 300 Quilts list.  Everything is linked, but not illustrated, and I’m sorry about that.  I would like to have a listing of photos, but that’s in my Someday category.

While it’s traditional on this week to do a year-end round-up of Quilts I’ve Made or lists of Hope I Finish These This Year, and while I love other people’s inventory, this year I found my own lists and write-ups pretty boring (really, can we stand one more look at Frivols?) except, perhaps, for the lovely one below, gifted at a new baby shower:

Deneese baby quilt

Personal stats: I have four lovely and clever children, eleven brilliant and handsome grandchildren, a perfectly amazing and wonderful husband. Our last family photo, since we are scatterered over four states was two years ago, and one was missing even then.  I like the word lovely and use it a lot. I’ve been divorced, remarried, had two major surgeries, a scattering of small ones, but consider myself healthy, and try always to follow my grandmother’s advice to keep my whines to myself, with the caveat that if something interrupts the output of quilting, I might put it up on this blog.  I make mistakes.  I cherish my faith and crave harmony.  I love going to quilt shows.  I like to sing, mostly to the stuff coming in off my playlist.  I am not totally in love with Smart Technology (still having fights with our new Christmas gift: “Siri, why are you singing in the middle of the night?”), but adore my mobile phone and its capabilities. I like to laugh, have a fairly honed capacity for snark, and cry in tender and emotional scenes in movies. In short, I am like you.  I am not like you.  But I hope to count myself as someone who writes something that you’d like to read.

But generally, this blog is about quilts.  Quilting.  Our quilting world.  Things that pertain to it.  It might be about a quilting personality, or quilting commerce.  It is not a newsletter.  It’s my calennig, my gift to you.

Happy Reading.

Happy New Year!