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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Coordinating a Program

I (foolishly!) volunteered to be program coordinator for my quilt guild this year. Unbeknownst to me, I was volunteering for a 2-year stint! Woe is not only me, but my poor guild!

Here is a photo of the first project nearing its completion, called the Cottage Square quilt.
The whole point of this project was this particular event, the Quilting Bee. Nobody at the guild had ever been to one, so I thought it would be a great idea!

I'm like that - I try to pick out things that I notice people haven't done and try them. There is actually method to this kind of madness - it's called challenging people. Encouraging (dragging?) people out of their comfort zones. Getting people to try new stuff.

In this case, the quilting bee is a very old "stuff," just new to us! And it was a learning experience (not another one!).

For instance, if we were going to do this again, I'd have people working on two rows instead of working on just one. Even though we sat across from each other, our arms and elbows still got in the way.

I did learn that you don't need a fancy quilting frame, just a couple of 2x4s: however, you DO need to clamp the 2x4s down onto a surface so they don't slide around. In our case, we clamped them down to a table on either side of our makeshift "frame."

We got seven squares done in half a day. When we reached the natural stopping point, we quit for the day, and the quilt is now being handed around to members of the guild for individual quilting.

I would do it again, but I'm not so sure of my guild! It was actually quite comfortable quilting that way - we could get our left hands underneath the quilt easily, and though we often had to stand up and twist to get around a curve, it was never for long. And I found I could go back and forth switching sides whenever I had to go around a corner. I thought I might actually set something like this up at home for the next large quilt I'll be doing by hand.

Onwards we go, to the Curved Seam Project!

Here we are, basting it for machine quilting on home machines. Yes, the idea was to pass it around so individuals could practise machine quilting on it. At the end of the year we'll draw for it.

We just had the demo on how to do the machine quilting last night. Everyone was enthralled, right up to the point where I asked who was going to be first to take it home. Then I was met with a room full of blank stares. What? We have to quilt it? Ourselves? On our own machines?

I was reminded of one of Murphy's Laws: If you explain something so clearly that no one could possibly misunderstand, someone will. 

In this case, everyone. Not a single person in the room understood that this was something they were supposed to practise on, in our homes, on our machines.


I have another project on the go too, the Appliqué project. I've been giving demo after demo. Most were well-attended. But I have yet to see any evidence that anyone is trying to actually do the project, which involves a simple pattern done in eight different techniques of appliqué. I keep showing them my sample. I keep handing out patterns. But I'd lay bets at this point that no one is actually doing it.

So here we are. I only created this program because people had responded to a survey saying what they wanted to learn. God knows it's been hard on me - I'm not an organized person, and I've had to have everything practised and perfected ahead of time all year.

I'm wondering just how serious people were, when they were answering last year's survey, about actually learning stuff!

Well, at the least, I've learned a bundle. Nothing like having to teach stuff to make you learn it!

Next year's program won't be half so ambitious. I'll look over the survey and pick ONE thing. One. Single. Thing. Then they can hire a teacher for it. And then I can go to meetings and watch. 

For anyone out there thinking of being a program coordinator, I have some advice. Take your surveys, but be careful about taking them too seriously. Yes, people tick off "I want to learn this..." but they don't necessarily want to learn it that year. It's like we all say we'd like to lose weight - right up to the point where someone takes away the cookie jar and says "Let's go for a walk!" You often find yourself walking alone.

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