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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Welcome to the Blogathon - Quilting in the 21st century

How do you like it?

What is it? It's a QR code - hmm, though most people who are actively following a blogathon probably already know that. (It's like a bar code, but a cell phone can read it. You get the app for the phone, point it at the qr code, and the app then takes you straight to the web page. It also remembers it for you. No need to write down interminable URLs any more.)

I had hoped, when the idea first came to me, to actually get this made into a quilt before the blogathon, but life, as usual, got in the way.

You can make them in different colors, by the way, and they can still be read. (No pun intended!)

You can even, if you're very advanced technologically, put images into them. I will - one day - but for now it will be probably blue and white, and I'll make one for my guild, as a sample of 21st-century quilting.

A lot of us have been dragged into the online world (kicking and screaming!). My guild (Mosaique) recently held our bi-annual quilt show, and for the first time none of us were allowed to register by filling in a piece of paper - it had to be done online. The reason? It was me doing the registration, and I'm notoriously disorganized. Had it been done by papers, the papers would have been lost. Not an "if," but a "how many!"

Now, some of the ladies needed a bit of help. I took dictation from one lady to make sure she sent in her quilts to be exhibited. She's a repeat prize-winner, so it was necessary to help her along if we were to get her entries into the show. And yes, she won a prize, again!

And I made two mistakes anyway, in the transferring of data from one program to another, but it wasn't lost and I managed with help to get everything fixed in time for the show. (whew!)

But it made me think...

We quilters are practitioners of an ancient and honorable art. Our heads are full of thread count and color, patterns, techniques that have come down to us, mostly through family members, over generations. We are not necessarily the most technologically-oriented individuals.

And yet...and yet...Didn't long-ago quilters, women who were denied any education beyond how to cook and clean, work out complex patterns that go way beyond my (educated) understanding of geometry? Didn't they invent clever systems of dividing fabric and multiplying patterns without our modern systems of measurement?

The patterns I'm willing to try pale by comparison to those of these pioneers.

I'm an AV Technician. I grew up playing with machinery. But even I'm being left behind in the dust of the information revolution. I am struggling in my day job to keep up with the young whippersnappers and "propeller-heads" who I work with, me trying not to look too stupid in their young eyes!

In the guild, I'm pretty near the forefront of technology. At least I'm not actually afraid of it. But while technology is a tool, and a very powerful one, it is not the driving force behind quilting. Social media doesn't actually replace social get-togethers.

The simple act of putting a needle into fabric I find to be a calming, almost meditative, practise. A way to calm my mind, to re-connect with the past, to slow down for a little while and do something that can be done faster, better, and cheaper by machine. But I take pleasure in it.

And there's the key - we people who are drawn to the needle arts take pleasure in this physical activity which calms our minds.

Technology is a wonderful tool. Here we are in a blogathon, women from across one of the largest land masses in the world, who don't know each other, sharing pictures, ideas, tips, techniques... But above all, sharing a fascination with fabric and thread.

We can use technology the way we use thread - to hold us all together.