Zooming into 2020

By now we all know what a Zoom conference is, we know not to angle the phone so people see up our noses, we know not to have a crunchy three-course meal on the Zoom chat, and we have learned the importance of the Mute button. That’s the participant side. This month I’ve been trying to learn what to do on the presenter’s side, getting ready to take my regular In Real Life (IRL) program to Virtual.

First up, gather a bazillion pictures of quilts and plop them into a PowerPoint slide program.

Secondly, do you-don’t-know-what and lose the last half of the slide program.

Third, re-construct what had been started and save it in TWO different places this time. It’s all a big fat learning curve. I did watch several different groups of people talking about going Virtual, and one common theme was the idea that when invited, they said “Of course, that sounds great! It’s very do-able!” Then the admission to those of us watching, was that they really had no idea what to do.

I can relate.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing the past two weeks:
PowerPoint Slide program — luckily a lot of the graphic arts skills I’d picked up this past year while learning Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher carried across onto this platform.

Buy a ring light and tripod. Figure it out. That’s me trying out light levels and light settings: White, Warm Yellow, Warm White. Or as I like to say, Death, Near-Death and Jaundiced.

In this view, there is a green border around the slide.

You can find that in the Advanced section of the Slide Share tools in Zoom. What that does is put a border around what the people on the other side of the screen can see when the desktop is shared. You can keep all your notes in a Word Doc if you want (see below).

Write notes for the program and rehearse. I did that last night, ring light on, running through the program, recording myself. With the ring light on, practicing looking at the camera, and trying not to freak out, I have to say I did okay. My husband is continually encouraging me onward; he used to coax his grad students through this ordeal. And by the way, the recording will be deleted, never to be seen again, but I’m glad we purchased a Zoom Pro account, so I can rehearse. I’ll make another one tonight, just to keep practicing.

Last tip: I set up another screen right in front of me when I was rehearsing (an iPad will do) so I could see what others could see. I doubt I’ll do that when presenting (I want to focus on looking at the camera), but it was helpful when figuring out how all the parts go together.

If you are a Guild, there are an equal number of tasks for you, too. In working with the current guild, the Program Chair has been terrific, as we worked to move this forward. Not only do they have to worry about getting the Speaker situated with Zoom codes, timing, technology, they also can’t just hand them a check when it’s over; payment has to be worked out as well, and not everyone has a PayPal or Venmo account.

And getting the patterns to them is also a challenge, because of that “not everyone has a PayPal account” thing. My patterns are digital downloads from PayHip, which requires either a PayPal or Slice Account, which has been a trouble for some of their members. So we worked out that the member would give a check to the Guild, the Guild would alert me and give me the guild member’s email address, and then I would send them a “how-to” PDF document and a code to enter to get their pattern. I plan not to do this again, if I can help it.

The contracts have to be re-written, or an addendum provided. I ended up scanning in the originals, adding the addendum and emailing them over. Some of the language I used in the addendum is in the “Zoom Explained” document below, available for download.

All of this post is to say, that we are headed over a cliff into the digitalized 21st Century, and we have to be our own superhero and figure it out ourselves. I plan to do that Lecture next week, the Workshop the next day (more on that, later), and keep going. I plan on my vehicle sprouting wings so I can zoom out over the landscape, and enjoy the view.

Nuts and Bolts of Presenting

After reading extensively, I wrote up a document outlining how I wanted to work my virtual teaching and presenting. You can download it below.

There are plenty of sources out there for the physical space you’ll need to set up. At the very least, invest in a ring light so it will throw an even cast of light across your face. Others have fancier set-ups. Try not to be overwhelmed.

In working with my fantastic Program Chair for the upcoming Guild, I thought it might be helpful if they had a checklist they could consult to make they had all their ducks in a row. You can download it below.

I have so much to learn, as do we all. But I’m actually pretty excited to go forward. In putting together my presentation I could include lots of views of my quilts in the slide show, things I normally wouldn’t be able to show them (like mood boards, quilts in settings, interim steps). There will be good and hard things about our quilting lives in the next two years. Let’s make getting together one of the more lovely things!

The Times We Live In

Zoom Chat April 1, 2020I was going to post a follow-up to the last post about masks, and I have (scroll down), but I wanted to write about my very first group Zoom meeting ever.  It was with the Gridsters, a group of women I’ve come to know over time.  Rachel and I have been doing parallel quilting together now for seven years, working in various small organized groups, and this was the first time we’ve talked face-to-face.  I met Linda this morning for the first time, as well as Nancy, who organized our Zoom conference.

We found out that Kelley, with her friends, has made over 2,000 face masks, while the rest have made smaller amounts, or masks for friends’ or personal use.  We each talked about our projects, how we are coping (Gov. Cuomo’s daily briefings were all mentioned as a must-see), and avoiding TV/print news in the evening.  It was fun to see the variety of projects, to hear everyone’s voice.  Each of these women, like you, have different stories, different situations, live in different parts of the country, but all of us quilt. We are so isolated now, doing our “i-sew-late” and really enjoying it, but it was amazing to get together to see each other, to make us feel a little less alone.   This meant more to me than I can say.

tiny nine patches

Now, the post I originally wrote, with good information about the Times We Live In:

Background: If you read one article about why we need to stay home, let it be Thomas Pueyo’s Coronavirus: The Hammer, and the Dance.  And if you listen to one podcast, I recommend this episode of The Daily, when a NYTimes editor gives a moving description of living with someone with a coronavirus infection — her husband.

Or maybe neither read, nor listen, to this, because they will scare you into staying home and taking it seriously.  They have made me more aware, having listened to/read these late one night when I couldn’t sleep, worrying about my children, my parents, and that terrible series of pronouncements when the GDP was of bigger concern than human lives.  But ever the hopeful, I believe in us.  We will figure it all out after this year is over (and yes, I now am leaning towards a year…hoping they’ll get a vaccine by that time).

Okay, on to more updates:

UPDATED NEWS ARTICLES/SOURCES:

  • Some hospitals are not collecting masks, some are.  Should we be sewing them?  While it’s evident that if you have a couple of boxes of N95s laying around, the medical centers would rather have those, but still, I can’t rule out homemade masks.
  • Deaconess Hospital list of Where to Donate Face Masks  Use the filter for your state, and scroll down.  It’s not always apparent to me that they are wanting home made masks, as some list N95s as their request.
  • Liz wrote in with these tips: “Using a modified Deaconess pattern, starting with two 7×10.5″ instead of 6×9, and stitching seam binding across the top and bottom of the mask (40″ piece for top, 36″ for bottom). Also very important to make an OBVIOUS FRONT and BACK side to the mask, by using two different fabrics or the reverse side of the main print on the back/inside portion.”  I think her caution to make an obvious front and back side, if you are using the Deaconess pattern, is a great idea.  If you are using the Orange Dot Quilts pattern, the shape of it denotes a front and back already.
  • It’s Time to Make Your Own Face Mask.

T-shirt Mask COVID-19

Click here to watch.

The new idea is that all of us need a mask to wear, unless we are at home.  So you put it on when you go out, and you take it off and wash it when you come home.  So maybe make a couple of masks.  The last link above has two mask patterns: one made from an old T-shirt (to see it to believe it) and one that makes the version with the curve shape for the nose).  I’m still an Orange Dot Quilts mask fan, and she now has the aluminum strips that go across the nose for sale.  There are some good comments on fitting the mask on the last post, if you want to read them.

This morning I found The Fabric Patch’s website about masks to be an invaluable resource, complete with videos and straight talk about the difference between the two kinds of masks and which non-woven interfacing to use inside your masks to make them better.  I’d recommend her third video, also gives information about what kind of wire to use to go over the nose bridge, and tie placement (don’t sew it at the edges).

Covid-19 Rivco projections.png

Here’s our county’s latest projections into May as of Tuesday evening (still no flattening of the curve, but I’m hopeful).  I like the new phrase: “Stay in Place • Maintain Your Space • Cover Your Face.”  

How to stay sane in these times of ours?  Gardening, reading, knitting, cleaning out, baking or whatever you choose, but realize that I am not raising children or trying to school them.  So one of my goals is also to support parents of young children, especially when you can’t go and help them out physically.

While I admit to being shaken off course by all the terrible news, angry some days, weeping on others, sitting glued to the screen on still other days, I’ve had more conversations with quilty friends than before.  In this time of uneveness and wobbly lives where pithy quotes can bring me to tears and #covid19memes can make me laugh, what steadies me is keeping my hands busy.

And of course, all of you.  Thank you for your notes, for your encouragement, for sharing your lives.

Keep quilting!

Stay Safe Meme.jpeg