25 January 2013

Modern Pill

After seeing about a dozen "I love my local quilt shop" posts on Instagram and the blogs with no explanation of where this ritual came from or who was behind it, I posted the following on Instagram:

 Under my image, people answered my question (Fab Shop Network--a trade organization for "independent quilt and fabric shopowners and design studios"is behind it) and some interesting and informative discussion ensued (you can see some/most of it here: http://instagram.com/p/U4_laWArMf/ )

However, elsewhere on Instagram, a post went up that stated that I had diminished the event:
The poster here (Rachael / imaginegnats) probably thought she was being polite by not linking to my post in hers, but it was almost certainly a poor choice because in my post I had only done the following:
(1) Asked a question: "Who is behind the 'I love my local quilt shop' thing?
(2) Stated my reason for asking: "This is weird to me."
(3) And stated my opinion of my LQS: "I only kind of like my local quilt shop."
She characterized my post as "diminishing the event" and being outside what she sees as the omni-supportiveness of the online quilting community.  Under her post, commenters (who may very well not have seen my post/known what they were talking about) go on to suggest that I am a dick, dumb, terrible, and that i have pooped on someone's good idea  (you can see that here: http://instagram.com/p/U5F4UJO-zB/ ).

I emailed Rachael this morning to say that I was writing this post and she was very sincere in responding, apologizing, and explaining where she was coming from (she works at a quilt shop) and that some of what was said (i.e., "people are dicks") are ongoing jokes with friends and not intended to be taken personally, though obviously, I couldn't know that.  Further, Rachael wrote,  "i am glad that you're writing that post. b/c i think it is an important discussion. we do need to make sure that we're supporting each other. and we all need to be aware of what that means (obviously myself included)... for lack of a better phrase, to act like grown-ups. and i am happy to own up that the choices i made were not ones i'm proud of."

So, I'm not writing this to call her out. The reason I've named names as I begin to write this post is because I think vague references and not naming names leads to people forgetting that there are real people on all sides. I'm not picking a fight, I'm trying to start a discussion.

So, with that introduction, I want to talk about four things today:
(1) What it means to be a dick.
(2) What it means to think critically and offer criticism.
(3) Things that have been said to me at my Local Quilt Shop.
(4) Advice for Local Brick-and-Mortar Quilt Shops.

These are all somewhat related in my brain. 

(1) What it means to be a dick.


Upon observing a collective behavior that was new to me, I called it weird (definition: out of the ordinary course, strange, unusual) and asked who was behind it.

Am I a dick?  A dick is a person who is a jerk or does mean and stupid things.  Sometimes, I'm a dick.  On this occasion I was not. Unless it's stupid to not know that the Fab Shop Network was behind the event (that information was not part of any Instagram posts that I saw and was--I went back and checked-- 2+ clicks away for the blog posts I read); because then, yes, I was stupid.

Am I dumb?  No, I am capable of speech.  If we're using this term in the (offensive and outdated) sense of "ignorant" than yes, I was ignorant of the root cause of the mass postings about local quilt shops.

Am I terrible?  According to some of my students, who think they write A papers and are given C's by yours truly, yes I am terrible (definition: harsh, severe, extremely bad, appalling).  Was I terrible on the occasion of posting a question and two personal sentiments on Instagram?  No.

Have I pooped on someone's good idea?  I did not literally or metaphorically defecate on anything.  I asked a question about an event.  I said I found the mass event unusual.  I said I kind of liked my local quilt shop.

Did I diminish the event?  If I have the power to diminish a nation-wide event by asking who is behind it, then something is very wrong. 

Was I unsupportive?  No, I didn't say it was a bad event or that people shouldn't have taken part, I was mystified by what was going on and why and asked a question.  I *am* only tepidly supportive of my local quilt shop, but that's well-earned on their part (I'll follow up on this below).

So, who's a dick?  Arguably, the people who misunderstood and mischaracterized what I posted and then posted insults elsewhere.  Unfortunately, I don't think this behavior is that uncommon.  Is it intentional?  I doubt it.   However, we're all grown ups, right?  We can think before we type, yes?  But here's the root of the problem as I see it...this online sewing community over-prioritizes and misunderstands what it means to be nice and it also under-prioriticizes and misunderstands what it means to be critical.


(2) What it means to think critically and offer criticism.


I'm an academic.  As an academic, it is my job to take nothing at face value. It is my job to value progress over banal politeness. It is my job to know random facts like the fact that the word “nice” spent centuries meaning ignorant and it still kind of means that. "Be nice," is often said instead of "shut up." 

I know that my professional world is strange.  How? I worked in corporate America for a few years. I have family and friends whose experience with Universities and the people that inhabit them is limited. They can find it exhausting to talk to me because I pick at every idea. I'm trained to be inquisitive, direct, and assertive; that's also my nature. I'm not easy going.  I'm insensitive (in both the sense that I'm slow to take personal offense and the sense that I am not the most intuitive about what will give offense).

Most importantly, I have this periodic blind spot in that I think that people should always, immediately, recognize the difference between picking at an idea and picking on a person. But a lot of people don’t see the difference. I try to remember this and be kind and limit my criticism unless criticism in specifically invited.

Nobody has asked for it here, but here are some thoughts that come to mind in regards to the local quilt shop love day:
1) There are two assertions floating around: craft business are experiencing a boom and local quilt shops are struggling.  Does anyone actually have any data to support these statements?  Would they share it with me?

2) If local quilt shops are struggling, why are they struggling? Are they losing business to online stores?  Are they losing business to chain stores?  Are they losing business because they aren't changing to meet the needs of the quilters in their communities?

3)Fab Shop Network is a trade organization for "independent quilt shop-owners."  Aren't most online shops owned independently?  Are they part of Fab Shop Network?  We will have a day where we recognize how online shops promote the craft, sponsor blogs and conventions and other places where people learn and grow?  Or are we assuming that online shops either don't contribute or don't deserve recognition or don't need recognition? Why?

4) If shops pay to be part of Fab Shop Network and then are blogging about this day without disclosing that connection, is that a "material connection" and if so, are they running afoul of Federal Trade Commission rules on disclosure? 

5) What does "local" mean in this setting?  Because if I were to map out the locations of the quilt shops I frequent, the one that is 2.0 miles from my house is an online shop.  Is it "local" or not?

To me, the above list is just a bunch of ideas flitting around that I would like to play with and find evidence to answer.  It's not about specific people.  It's not even about me.  It's about wanting to make a useful map of the world.   It's purposeful, reflective thinking about what the world and what it might be like.  It's critical thinking.

Here's some more:
Why does the national board of the Modern Quilt Guild claim to represent me/us?  Did I vote them in and forget?
In the context of art and craft, the word modern does not mean "what's popular now." Modern has a specific aesthetic meaning and it's a cop-out to pretend otherwise.
Will "modern quilting" be like every other upstart subculture...slowly watered down and co-opted by more mainstream forces? Reduced to a vaguely defined brand and used to sell things?

Again, these are just thoughts that I have.  They are things I want to talk about.  They are my responses to things I have seen and done.  I just want to think about things and make my own choices and do my best to be wise.

However, there have been numerous situations where I have been shushed or otherwise told these thoughts and questions are inappropriate.  Like a kid who starts to ask about Santa or sex in front of their younger siblings. 

And here's my big question:  Is it possible to have a healthy community when critical thoughts are considered outside of the realm of legitimate discourse? 

I don't think so.  I also don't think you can call a community supportive if it demands uniformity on a whole host of issues.

(3) I only kind of like my local quilt shop.


Here are some things that have been said to me at my local quilt shop:

"Are you going to use these fabrics together?" (With a tone that implies the correct answer is 'NO, I would never use these together. These are hideous together.')

 "Oh, I find this print so...interesting...what are you going to use it for?  I wouldn't have any idea what to do with a print like this!" (With a tone that suggests that what you I am about to buy is SO GROSS!)

 Dropping off a machine for repair, "This is the thread you use?"  (With a tone that suggests my thread is made out of poop.) Please note: the problem with the machine was not thread or lint related.  The thread was Aurifil.


I shop there sometimes for solids, because they have all the kona solids.  I also look through the prints and occasionally pick something out.  I get their emails about classes, but they aren't relevant to me since I'm not a beginner, and I don't sew garments or quilts from patterns.  I sometimes ask if they are going to get a particular line of fabric (ex: I asked about Lizzy House's latest, because I remembered them selling her older lines), I was told, "I don't know," and the salesperson didn't go and check with the owner.  I bought that fabric elsewhere.

So, yeah, I don't love the shop.  I know people that do, and I don't try to dissuade them from that opinion. My support for that specific shop is a bit tepid, but I do understand the value of local quilt shops and I saw them getting what I considered vague advice and some bum advice at Quilt Market, so I have written my advice here. 

(4) Advice for Brick-and-Mortar Quilt Shops.


Be kind.  Here are some neutral, chatty things that you can say, "What a lovely blue!"   "Have you decided what you're making?"   "Are you a quilter?"  "Do you spend much time a week quilting?"  "Are you making something for yourself?" Fire workers who can't be kind, you are in a service economy.

Don't assume you know more than your anonymous customer.  I have been in quilt shops all over the USA with quilt book authors, award-winning quilters, big name bloggers, non-quilters, and beginning quilters.  They all behave the same way in quilt shops.  They all look similar.  Ask some preliminary questions before trying to sell a person on your beginner's quilt class.

At Quilt Market, I sat in on Bill Kerr's schoolhouse class where he tried to explain how brick-and-mortar stores could try to appeal to modern quilters.  He said that fabric didn't matter.  I disagree.  Modern quilters know fabric lines and designers and are looking for specific things.  If I had a brick-and-mortar store, I would have a website that listed what lines I had ordered and I would update the website (and send email to interested persons) when the fabric came in. My employees would know this what lines were coming in and would look it up when asked by customers.  I would shelve modern fabrics by line, not by color; I would keep fat-quarter bundles and half-yard bundles of lines in stock.

If you're trying to get modern quilters to be regulars in your shop, you've got to cover their basics:  keep some solids in stock (always keep white, snow, ash, and coal; add in more if you have space) Stock some of the trendier blenders (text prints, pearl bracelets, bike path, sketch) and maybe some luxury solids (shot cottons, crossweaves, yarn-dyed linen).

Figure out a way to turn over your stock more quickly.  Things sell out really quickly online and brick-and-mortar stores can be a nice counter-balance to that.  However, some of the shops in my area seem to have the same fabric for years with no change, that's too slow. 

At a bare-minimum, for your online presence, make sure your shop is listed on Yelp! with the correct address and hours.  This should take about 10 minutes.  If there are no pictures or reviews, add pictures and ask customers to write descriptive reviews.


In conclusion:

  • Don't be a dick, whether you are an individual on Instagram or a worker in a quilt shop. 
  • You can disagree with people, but don't do it behind their backs: start a conversation.
  • Don't confuse critical thought with being unkind.  If humans didn't learn to think critically, we would have modern medicine or civil rights.
  • Not loving a particular quilt shop because of specific, repeated experiences there is not the same as pooping on all local quilt shops.

128 comments:

  1. I saw your instagram post and thought nothing of it. I have 4 relatively close quilt shops and like each of them, some more than others. And the "love your local quilt shop" thing was obviously a marketing ploy, which is fine, it reminded people to shop local as opposed to big box stores.

    Thank you for the thoughtful and well-written post.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

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  2. I really enjoyed this post, especially your thoughts on criticism. I agree wholeheartedly with the concept of criticism playing a vital role in a healthy community. As much as I love receiving compliments on my work (who doesn't?) I really wish there was more constructive criticism offered as well.

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    1. Maybe we can make a place where we post things we want critique on. It's worth thinking about.

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    2. That is a really great idea - I'd definitely be up for it (as would a lot of others I think! Maybe a Flickr group?)

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    3. I was thinking of a Flickr group, too. I'm chatting with a couple of people who have tried similar projects in the past to see how it might have the best chance of working.

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    4. I would love to read or even contribute to a forum where issues can be thoughtfully discussed. Criticism opens the mind!

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  3. I love your posts. Especially your critiques ~ you make very valid points. I just remind myself that most people are so pent up with anger they are just waiting for a reason or place to explode, unfortunately it happens online all the time.

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    1. I know. I try to remind myself of this, too. But reasons aren't excuses and grown ups need to grow up!

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  4. A well-written, articulate post - I thank you! I did do a post about my local, because I actually do love it, but I did it without instagram, hashtags, or linking back to the marketing ploy, but I agree with almost everything you've written. I think sometimes that as a 'community', we have a tendency to over-nice each other and then have an allergic reaction to genuine criticism as we've been conditioned to think of "critical" with only negative connotations. We've taken the idea that being supportive of each other means only saying pleasant or effusively positive things, even if we don't honestly mean them. We get rewarded with possible prizes for hitting the "like" button instead of being gratified at sharing something we truly appreciate.

    I actually thought your IG thing was kinda funny, but I didn't take it as mean, or poo-pooing. More a moment of awareness and identifying a source before proceeding further along a line of "pre-conditioned" thought...

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts. I wish I loved my brick-and-mortar local quilt shop. It would have the batting, thread, and fabric I like and the people there would be kind and efficient.

      It's weird to think that it's possible to have too much of a nice thing, but it does seem to be the case. I like the phrase "an allergic reaction" to characterize the response. It did seem visceral and automatic.

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  5. I appreciate your discourse and I agree that the quilting community isn't all rainbows and butterflies. We could do to be more direct (e-mail me! let's talk) rather than passive aggressive sometimes. I also agree that we should not blindly follow the masses if we don't feel something is worth the adoration. If I had a bad experience at Target, I wouldn't be singing its praises just because it's Target Appreciation Day. Bad service at a small shop--especially in the form of straight-up rudeness--is inexcusable because there's little opportunity for that to go unnoticed by management (in whose best interests it is to build great relationships with their local patrons). The way I see it, if you're cool being condescending to customers then you obviously don't need the business *that* badly.

    Anyway, good for you for having the courage to bring this up and, in doing so, running the risk of getting lambasted by people who will rudely tell you to be nice. ;)

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    1. Well, somebody needs to bring this stuff up! Thanks for seconding (at least some of) my thoughts.

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  6. I have personally been treated rudely in three of the six quilt shops I have had the ability to frequent. I continue to go to the shops because I appreciate the ability to just run out and pick up some thread or needles or whatever. But I have to say it baffles me that clerks (and SOMETIMES OWNERS!) act this way. I hope your conversation opens some eyes.

    For the record I did know about the event, I did go to my LQS and buy something (though they didn't have any of the things I was looking for,) and I didn't think there was anything at all wrong with your instagram statements.

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    1. Thanks Zegi. It is especially shocking when it's the owners!

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  7. Holy moly! To get slammed over confusion. Sorry for your pain.

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  8. I found the Flickr group fresh modern quilts awhile ago. It totally made me rethink how I created quilts. Now, your recent blogs are prodding me to think a little deeper about the ever expanding quilt universe. Your analytical thinking and big picture questions are welcome additions in the blog world. By the way, I had a very similar experience at my local quilt shop.

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  9. Thanks for the info on the love local quilt store day. I too had no idea where it originated.....why on a random Thursday when kids are at school and people at work. And how is it different than the international or national quilt day in March.

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    1. You're welcome! I'm still not clear why the source of the idea wasn't made more obvious!

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  10. I personally ask myself about the National Modern Quilt Guild's leadership all the time. I understand that someone had to start the movement and those people usually take positions of leadership until a more formal structure has been created. But then, the organization should look to it's members to determine future leadership for the group, so that it can accurately reflect the wants and needs of its members.

    When the National MQG recently announced a new board of directors, I wondered to myself how they were chosen and why? There were no nominations or elections that in which members of local MQG chapters could contribute. The 2013 board was chosen by the 2012 board. All of the board members are active bloggers. I realize that the internet has been a powerful tool to connect modern quilters together and enable the formation of this community. But then at the same time, I wonder about others within the organizational structure who feel strongly about the success of the movement, but may not have such a high profile as a blogger. Because quilting and blogging is not my full time job, does this invalidate any critical input I may have? Because I post infrequently to my blog and rely more on my local MQG to share my projects and experiences, does this mean that I don't deserve to have my ideas considered? It sometimes feels like it to me.

    There is really no way for most members of local MQGs to have any influence on the national organization. And technically, I'm not even a member of the national MQG organization because there is no formal process for becoming a member. And honestly, I would be loath to pay national dues to join the organization without a formal process for all members of the organization to have the ability to influence the national organization and it's leadership.

    A comment made on the national MQG's blog that announced the new board members struck me. Just a few days ago, "LeslieF said,"Next time around, you might want to look for more folks who are not (or not yet) known names in the community, but ordinary quilters who happen to have a set of skills that a Board like this needs: finance, nonprofit management, volunteer management. Just a thought from a retired nonprofit manager!"

    The MQG's response was, "Hi Leslie! Thanks for the tip. Happily a lot of our board, having careers outside of the modern quilting world, have many of these skills!"

    To me, this response seemed condescending. They completely brushed off Leslie's concerns about the qualifications of the board members who supposedly represent her. Shouldn't people like Leslie be presented with information about potential board members, including their qualifications, and make a decision for herself?

    Some might argue that the organization is still too new and there just hasn't been enough time to implement a democratic organizational structure. Yet they have somehow managed to organize an entire quilting show and convention over the past year. I would think they could have also created a governance structure by now as well.

    Continued

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  11. Continuation.

    And more transparency about the national organization would be appreciated as well, at least by me. Is the national organization profiting from hosting this convention? There are many big name sponsors. As members, should we have input into who we feel best represents the modern quilting movement through our inclusion or exclusion of certain sponsors? And if the national organization will profit from the conference, how will the money be used? And where is the money to be kept, in an organizational account or a personal account? Do board members get paid for their service to the guild or receive any benefits-in-kind, such as free admission to events or paid travel and accommodations?

    Also, since the guild is not yet a 501(c)(3) organization, any profits from the conference will be subject to taxation unless they can fall within the 501(c)(3) exception for organizations making less than $5000 a year. Shouldn't someone versed in nonprofit law and management have been guiding the board so as to avoid this problem? Shouldn't the guild have someone who can guide them in the creation of an organizational charter for when the guild does apply for 501(c)(3) status?

    I know that this comment has gotten long, but I feel that these are all valid concerns that no one seems to be talking about. As someone who cares about the future direction of the Modern Quilt Guild, I think we should be asking these questions and others of those who claim to represent us all.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to list out your concerns here. I do think there are some big questions that the Board of Directors need to answer and some big decisions that need to be made sooner rather than later.

      I do have hope on this point. Of the people that I know on the board, I do believe their focus is to take care of the burgeoning community, so hopefully, they will be more receptive to questions/offers like LeslieF's. I agree that the response seems condescending and obfuscating. There are so many potential pitfalls that I can't even imagine, I would take all the expertise and input I could get!

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    2. I'm going to commment in general below too- but wanted to make a note here too.

      Many of the points in this vain (the who does what and how are they chosen/where does the money go etc) have been points on various polls that the MQG has put out. Specifically a detailed one that I recall filling out - asking nearly all those questions should we have national due, what would those dues be used toward if they collected them? How involved should the MQG be in the local chapters? etc. At least it seems that they're considering such things.

      On another note I do know that a couple of the people on the new board have quite a lot of experience in some of those necessary subjects. Here's hoping it works out for the best.

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    4. Hi Jen,
      I think emedoodle misspelled something and that led to you read her statement as a personal attack. I believe she meant to write that "Many of the points in this vein" or "on this topic," rather than "in this vain."
      -Rossie

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    5. Thank you Rossie. I see now that her misspelling caused my confusion and therefore have deleted my previous post, but will quote the first two paragraphs below, because I still believe them to be applicable:

      "I filled out that survey as well, but just putting out a survey that asks questions about whether or not we should pay national dues is not the same as formalizing the organization and eliciting true feedback from members via nominations and elections of the board. I truly hope that things work out for the best as well, but very little information gets to people like me and, apparently, LeslieF. I guess I care so much because, through it's actions, the national organization claims to represent all modern quilt guilds around the world. Without formalizing the organization and making expectations clear, I worry about the fate of the modern quilt movement as a whole. I also wish for more transparency in the operation of the organization, which if they ever to obtain 501(c)(3) status, will be required by law.

      I am glad that you know the new board members intimately enough to know that they have detailed knowledge of nonprofit law, management and finance. But I do not know that to be the case, since these individuals were never vetted by the group at large and their qualifications were never explained to "members.""

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    6. Eeek! Sorry ladies. That's my poor ability to spell. Rossie was right in my intentions there.

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  12. Hi there. When I saw your post just now, I thought that you were just kidding. The language you used sounded jokey to me at first.

    I see now that you were not. You do know that, "weird" has a negative connotation and following with "I only kind of like..." just sounded a bit negative. I don't think you should've been jumped on like that. Someone should have simply sent you a private message asking about what you meant and I know that you would've cleared it up. I'm sorry, but I found your explanation a bit self indulgent. We all know what pooping and etc means. Your blog is great - simply stating that you meant nothing ill toward the idea would suffice and perhaps telling us why your LQS sucks could be saved until it is not connected with the "I Love my LQS" event.

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    1. I do know that weird has a negative connotation and that my Instagram post, in being less than 100% positive, could be read as "a bit negative." However, I think "weird" is mostly viewed as a negative term when folks are trying desperately to be normal. My intent was neutral.

      Plenty of people asked me on my actual Instagram post what I meant and I explained it there. There was no need for a background conversation.

      Yeah, my explanation was a bit self-indulgent. But, I don't think that simply stating that I meant nothing ill does suffice. I'm not defending myself. I am owning what I said and expecting others to own and think about what they said and also about the online quilting sommunity in general and the grand dickish niceness that is the elephant in the room.

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    2. It's your blog, isn't a blog rather self-indulgent by its mere existence? And I mean all blogs here.

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  13. The network does a lot of online shop hops as well. One each month, I believe.

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    1. Really? I've never noticed. Is this something that shows up on blogs and Instagram and I've just been blind to it?

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    2. I knew that they did, and I knew from the start that the local quilt shop day was one of their events. I think it was just luck that I saw it right at the start. I actually can't remember where I saw it first, but I know I saw it on about 3 blogs in a row a week or so ago, and that they all mentioned the fab quilt shop link. I'm wondering if they were Australian blogs, as I might perhaps read more Aust blogs (as I am an aussie) than you do? Can't comment on instagram as I rarely go there.

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    3. I haven't seen those shop hops on the "modern" or etsy-based fabric shops, but ones associated with brick and mortar stores, like here: http://www.fabricshack.com/.

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  14. I don't really have anything useful to add, but I did want to say that I enjoyed your post and the comments so far. They've been very thought-provoking. Thanks for posting.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know you're here and reading!

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  15. Glad I am not on Instagram. As far as quilt shops, I personally think they are, for most owners, their craft/hobby/quilt room. They run their shop, not as a business but, as a hobby. I think your four points could and need to apply to a lot of topic today, not just quilts. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, I enjoyed them.

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    1. It would actually be really interesting to know how owners think of their shops. I know that for some it is their livelihood and their family's livelihood, but I know that vibe you are talking about!

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  16. Hi Rossie-
    I just had a couple of comments. Really, more than a couple- I actually opened a Word doc to keep my thoughts in line. (I hope you haven’t closed comments by the time I am ready to post!) We don’t know each other but I’ve been following your blog for a while. I love the way you think. A little demographics for you: female, married, grad student (hell no, not English.) (Or psych, for that matter.) I am also a quilter, gardener, preserver and a nurse. I do not consider myself an “Academic” but I am stuck and working myself through “Academia.” I am also from Texas; have llamas and a farm. None of that matters. I am one of the new breed of quilters- I do not consider myself “modern” by any means. I love to look at patterns for ideas and color schemes, I read blogs. I need help sometimes. I can’t paper-piece to save my life. I like mystery quilts and scrap quilts and rainbow quilts and all quilts- except civil war repos (blah.)
    What caught my attention- and prompted this comment(s?) was that I felt the same way! I saw the posts and comments and pictures and couldn’t figure out why all of this was going on. I hate- yep, such a harsh word, one of my local quilt shops. The other one is nice and the staff is friendly- but they rarely have exactly what I am looking for- and they cater to the older generation. Although, they have managed to keep the really sweet and helpful young desk clerk, she must be a quilter/crafter, but she is always so busy helping everyone that I haven’t had that much time to really get to know her.
    Specifics:
    You are not a dick. I am not a dick. I agree with you completely and I am thankful you did the research and posted it- I have not had the time to look myself. (This is why I love to read blogs!)
    I am usually undeservedly judged for critically thinking and offering my thoughts. Thank you.
    FYI: the LQS to my farm closed for business this last summer: I am saddened. She always had exactly what I needed. But, I have found another LQS, even if it is 1.75 hrs away- it is a drive I make anyway for class. And, they always have exactly what I need too. Including, shot cottons! Some a struggling along- others are thriving. They should heed your advice.
    Thanks!

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    1. Oh my god, llamas. My friend Lia and I have a grand fake feud going on about which is better: the llama or the alpaca. It's amazing how once you start noticing these creatures, they are everywhere.

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who was mystified about what was going on!
      Thanks for all that you've shared here!
      And I didn't used to readily identify as an academic, but as I spend more and more of my time outside of that bubble, I realize how much I really am OF THAT world/mindset.

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  17. Thank-you for this post. Also, thank-you for your recent, honest, critical book reviews. I'm getting tired of the "everything is super awesome all the time!" attitude that seems to pervade the online quilt community. I dare not criticize (to the extent that "I don't like that and this is why" is criticism) for fear of the blow back. Even the compliments are insipid -- 99% of the comments on my work on Flickr say no more than "love this!" or "beautiful!" I would love to hear what, exactly, they like.

    As for the MQG I am struggling to understand why they are even called the MQG. They aren't a guild that one can join and aren't really associated in any formal way with the local, actual guilds. They perhaps would make more sense as the Modern Quilt Association or some such thing. The recent board announcement struck me as the creation of the cool kids' club, created purely for publicity. Why else would they need to announce the board members or have only big-name bloggers on the board? I never thought that any of them would do actual board work. It's completely unclear to me what the MQG even does, apart from organizing QuiltCon. I'd be curious to know where the profits from QuiltCon are going.

    My overall impression from the support your local LQS day was that I should support my local LQS purely because it is local and that my local LQS is more deserving of my business than an online shop. I disagree. A quilt shop deserves my business if it has great service, reasonable prices and products that I want to buy. Whether it is local or online is irrelevant. The woman running my favourite online shop is no less deserving of a paycheque than the woman who runs my LQS. Pretending that online shopping is evil is not going to make the unwelcoming LQS with terrible hours and classes offered only when people my age are working a successful business.

    FYI, it costs $100 a year to be a member of the Fab Shop Network. Registration in the "Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day" was free but the organization offered "toolkits" for $300 to members. I find their price list of all of the things they offer completely fascinating.

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    1. Thanks so much for appreciating that work!

      I think the MQG has an interesting year in front of it. I don't know too much about what board work entails, but given the amount of paperwork and bookkeeping involved in running a small business, I can only imagine that running a huge non-profit(?) organization like MQG is a bit of a nightmare. I also don't know how aware anyone on the board is of the fact that so many quilters expect certain things: elections, budgets, voting because of how their other guilds and professional organizations are run.

      The point about local LQS vs. online shops is an interesting one. I felt like the LQS day had an anti-online tinge to it. Other people felt it had an anti-chain-store ethos. Others thought it was just about going "yay" and had nothing to do with the worth of LQSs relative to other stores. Who's to say who is right or wrong? The fact that it comes off these ways is worth noting by the organizers, however.

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  18. First, my LQS's, three within 30 minutes, all stink. Not because the fabric they offer isn't my taste, but because they don't seem to know what customer service is, and yes ok, partly because of the fabric selection that seems to come right out of 1998. The one closest to me stocks the thread I like, so I go there when I have to. I wish I had a great shop nearby, bust since I don't, I shop at several friendly online shops. I didn't participate in any of the LQS day because honestly, I don't care that much. If I worked at a shop or had a good one, you bet I would!

    Since you used a screen capture of Rachael's instagram picture that included my image and screen name, as well as basing a lot of your blog post on the fact that I said "people are dicks", I think it would have been appropriate if you'd followed your own advice of "don't do it behind their backs: start a conversation" and let me know that I would inevitably be brought into the whole thing. Or does that just apply to other people, and not you?

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    1. Oh, sorry, it does apply to me.

      I was using the "dicks" theme because it is a meme:
      http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/wheatons-law

      And it even has a song:
      http://youtu.be/0la5DBtOVNI

      I didn't think that people might not be aware of the meme and might therefore think I'm banging on about what you said. But I see that that's possible now, so I should have emailed you when I emailed Rachael.

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  19. Awesome post. I am not on instagram & so missed your query. However, I did have the same question, "Who is behind this?" Then I saw this author & that big blogger posting about it on their blog or flickr. That really made me wonder, because in my opinion, a lot of what goes on behind the scenes is not transparent. Which is the point of my comment, all of these things: visit your local shop, MQG, QuiltCon, etc. lack transparency.

    You are not a dick. We are both very direct though.

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    1. The lack of transparency on blogs, in general, is odd because many things (sponsorships, getting free stuff, etc) have FTC disclosure guidelines that apply to them (in the USA). What if Congress decides to close some budget holes by fining bloggers for their violations? It's like $11,000!

      We should get together and talk very directly next time you're in Michigan (do you come to Michigan?)

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    2. This is one of the many reasons why I love your blog posts! I just googled FTC disclosure guidelines to be sure I was following them. I am. :) Whew!

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  20. Great post. Very thought provoking. I do not have a local quilt shop as the closest one is 1 hour away and I was not going to travel for this just to find out they had the same inventory that they have had for awhile. You brought up so many interesting points and I have a question that has been bothering me a while. i look at the blogs and see the pretty quilts and fancy longarm quilting and the perfect house and spotless kids.... where are the duds? As quilters, we have all had them. The quilts that looked so good in our head that we spent so much time on and then..... they look like %&^%. Why does no one post those? Am I the only one struggling to learn how to fmq? And have piles of laundry waiting to be done, dishes in the sink or a stray chip on a floor? Just curious? I'm sure this went off on a tangent that you weren't expecting, but inquiring minds want to know.

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    1. Every now and then you'll see a blogger post a picture of their filthy kitchen and it's awesome.
      I think that duds are often the WIPS that stay WIPS.
      We should do a dud day! Post your duds, people! No positive feedback allowed!

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    2. I had to laugh when I read your comment. If you look in the background of nearly every picture on my blog you will see a chaotic background (this is why many are cropped VERY close). So if you ever need to feel a bit better come by and see what I'm working on. I haven't been quilting long but already have several that I've admitted I definitely DO NOT love!

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  21. Just wanted to leave a comment about the type of fabric a shop has - I have one LQS that stocks quite a few 'modern' fabrics and solids, but is really very unhelpful and I simply don't enjoy shopping there, whilst my other LQS has no modern fabrics, specialising in repros and country style fabrics. The ladies who run this second shop are so knowledgable and enthusiastic about all quilting that I love shopping there! They are generous with their knowledge and always willing to listen to the customer, even if it's to learn something outside their area of expertise. I find fabrics on their racks that work with my ideas, (for example, the 'solids' of the French General ranges). I'm inclined to agree with Bill Kerr on this point, to a degree. Saying that, if they stocked some modern fabrics as well it would be perfect for me! I'm not sure that they would sell much in our area though, I live in rural Australia. Not a huge modern quilting movement out our way :)

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    1. I actually agree that it's not ALL about the fabric. I mean, to me Denyse Schmidt's fabrics tend to look like reproduction fabrics, and I see crazy good stuff that looks really modern being made with it.

      One of my favorite shops in Wisconsin is all civil war and reproduction prints, but I love it because the ladies are nice and the vibe is cool and they have so many bolts of fabric that I find these fresh-looking blenders and shirtings that I haven't seen 100 times on the internet.

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    2. I love to use shirtings!

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  22. I just had to shake my head at the comments. I don't understand what has happened to people. If I behaved or spoke like some of them, my mother would have smacked me upside of my head - figuratively - for being rude. As a matter of fact she probably still would even though I am 60 and she's almost 85. Even if you have to criticize someone, there are kinder, more civil ways to do it. I try to live by "if you you don't have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut".

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    1. I think people forget that they aren't just cracking wise and bolstering up their upset friend. They are making public statements about another person.

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    2. To "get away" with some of the things that people write, you need to be face to face so that your tone, facial expression, or body language can be read as well as your words. For some, like me, they are just too direct. I never learned to "sugar coat."

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  23. This back and forth is quite amazing. IMHO the LQS is about customer service. I will not support any local business where rudeness and insensitivity prevail. Guess it is not just my area...seems like others have this problem too. If the LQS wants my business, they should be friendly, helpful and interested in what I may want to buy. Any bandwagon to blindly support the LQS can be rightfully ignored if that quilt shop is making no effort to change to the new environment. I hope no one calls me a D... for this opinion..because I am with Paule-Marie on that one.

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    1. Well, I'm with you for what it's worth. It's amazing how many people report bad experiences at their LQS's. I wonder why this is a problem for this particular type of business. Maybe it is what the commenter above, Lynn, said about some owners thinking of the show as "their craft/hobby/quilt room"?

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  24. In all honesty, I'm not sure an online community can ever be critical as you describe. Part of it is the over-niceness you describe, and the inability to see/hear conversational nuances in those discussions. That's why so many people get their panties in a knot - they can't hear the sarcasm, the joke, the insight, the critique not the criticism.

    You and I have talked about this before, and I tried it with the Workshop in Progress, but people just aren't open to critique in the on-line community. Well, some are, but not as a general rule. I would love to see more advice asking and giving in addition to the look at what I did!

    One last point on the modern fabrics and appealing to modern quilters. You make some very good points and I like the one about staff knowing what is coming in re:orders. I do think that self-identified modern quilters also need to look beyond the designer's names and collections they read about on-line. I've found some great stuff in many a traditional store, even in the Civil War collections! The quilt community as a whole needs to look beyond their own self-identified boundaries.

    I actually see this when I give presentations at traditional guilds. I do identify as a modern quilter and I can always see the scepticism when I start talking. It may be my fabulous wit and charm (ha!) but I can see people open up and get excited by possibilities, by inspiration, by design potential by the end. Always. That's because, at heart, they are just quilters looking for some fabric to love.

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    1. RE: Workshop in Progress
      Did the people who had put their quilts up for criticism get upset?
      Or did it just not catch on and another structure might work?

      yeah, I was just talking above about how I like the blenders in Civil War fabrics. :-) I didn't mean to suggest that LQS must stock many full lines of fabric, or that people should be using lines in their entirety (you know that's not my bag), I really just think LQS's would do well to acknowledge the fact that because online shops organize things by designers and lines, quilters who are spending time online are used to that arrangement and are pleased by it.

      I want to go to one of your talks!

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  25. I saw the announcements about the LQS day, and I thought of it just like the other days you hear about- this week we also had Squirrel Appreciation Day, beer can appreciation day and pie day. If something doesn't float my boat, I am free to ignore it and just go about my business. And I guess except for the squirrel day, I just assume there is some sort of business association behind most of these days. I mean how else did we get National Oatmeal Month?

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    1. Maybe I'm just too plugged in, the LQS day things was all over my RSS feed and Instagram and everything. I literally could not ignore it. My favorite day is "Talk Like a Pirate Day." Yarrr!!

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  26. Thanks for the great late night read. Always interesting. As I know we talked a bit at a meeting or retreat, it is the Modern moniker that gets me. As an architect, Modern is a specific era in the mid-twentieth century. Michigan Modern is a great website and a really getting attention these days. And as an art historian in under-grad, again Modern is a specific era and not what is trendy today. But the question may be, is the Modern Quilting being produced today based on the principles found in the modern movement? or Modern because?

    No need to change, please remain critical and direct and not a dick at all.

    It is hard to grow if comments are only superficial "great quilt" "super" "cute" rather than supportive and critical "I like the balance but is there a reason you chose a monochromatic mix of fabrics? Did you think of resizing the block to focus on XX? I love to see what people are doing and my rule is to comment less often but more critically.

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    1. Hi Ann,
      Yes, the term Modern is problematic. You know how I do nationalism studies? In nationalism studies, "modernism" applies to the perspective that nations and nationalism emerged with "the modern age"--industrial revolution, enlightenment, etc. Very odd, because intellectually, the perspective is more post-modern than modern.

      We should have you do a lesson on modern architecture at one of out meetings!
      Also, if the modern movement flounders, we can call move on to post-modern quilting. :-)

      I really try not to throw more than superficial comments at a piece unless criticism is invited. It's a tricky business. Do you do this with friend's blogs only or with others as well?

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    3. I love talking about this and recently had an epiphany that the way we use the term Modern when we are talking about 'modern quilting' has become more of a brand name than anything else. I live in Portland Oregon and we have lively and interesting discussions about this (one of my favorite ones was about whether we were actually post-modern quilters!)

      If you are ever in PDX please let me know. I would love for you to moderate a discussion on this for our guild!

      PS I was asked to do a blog post for LQS and I was oddly flattered because I am not really a popular blogger. I decided to focus on a quilt shop in town that I really like and they got a real kick out of it and it made the owners really happy. Thanks for bringing up such an interesting discussion!
      Michelle

      PSS -I didn't realize I was signed on as PMQG - this is my personal opinion, and in no way reflects the Portland Modern Quilt Guild's opinion. Sorry about that.

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    4. Hi! I will be in Portland for Quilt Market in May. The market is the 17th - 19th, but I will be there for a few days before and a few days after because my brother lives in Portland (haven't bought the ticket yet, but will soon). I would love to get together!

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  27. (Sorry on my phone and can't figure how to reply to your reply) anyway when I was a shop owner, I got info about the shop hops. Fat quarter shop and pink chalk both participate in some of them. You click around and find a bunny. I personally thought people would just be clicking through and not really shopping much but it does get Views. I realize this isn't the primary concern of your article. And I have many many feelings and thoughts on online and b&m, modern quilting and more. But well ...

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    1. Oh, interesting. I do think I've seen the thing with the bunny before, maybe in emails from online shops? not from personal blogs and networks.

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  28. First of all thank you for such a great read! I can always count on your blog posts to give me something to think about.

    I have many points I could make on all of this, we'll see what I manage to type.

    I did write a blog post regarding this shop day this week, and I'm glad your blog post made me think a bit about why I wrote it. For me it's mostly because I'm really loving a couple of my local shops recently. I've seen a lot of support from them and even (possibly) friendships forming. However I'll add my name to the list of people who have a local shop that I dislike because of not being taken seriously. I swear, just because I'm 20-something doesn't mean I'm not a serious quilter.

    I did dig through links to try to make sense of the whole organized shop hop thing prior to posting about it. From my perspective it seems like even though the shops pay to register it's still pretty normal. I mean a regular blogger can get sponsors who will pay nearly that much per year (the $500 Wholesale level even). So I assume it's something similar - the shops are paying for an advertising service. I'm ok with that.

    I love your tips for quilt shops. Is there a non-dick way for me to email those tips to the one snobby local quilt shop?

    I left a reply up there somewhere - but I see your concern for the MQG. I prefer to think of it more as a movement than an acting guild. From what I know about it at least. They have done a survey thing recently and I'm sure they're trying to figure out what is what as far as the future is concerned. My local modern quilt guild officers recently met to declare a huge list of bylaws etc. They worked out the details of how the guild will be run, and what its members can expect from it. I can only imagine that the national guild would be working on the same.

    I'd like to see more discussion of these things. I like to think critically about the why and how of my art/craft (there's a whole discussion right there do I make art or craft). I'm working my brain around doing a weekly thought topic on my blog - I want more from this community than an "ooh that's pretty!" I want to think about why I do things the way I do, and why others do things the way they do. I'm still working my brain around the best way to do this though. Your post here gives me the thought though that if I do a weekly topic I should be absolutely clear to people that these are all my ramblings and not intended to insult anyone. Everything is bound to be taken out of context sooner or later though.

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    1. Omg, I hear you on the just because I'm 20-somthing, doesn't mean I'm not a serious quilter. The attitude I get in many (most) quilt shops just makes me furious. Also, joining a guild, and being asked "do you quilt?". Ummm, what else would I be doing there?

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    2. Well, it doesn't get any easier in your 30's. I once had a teacher assume I didn't know how to sew. Quite rudely too. Not an awesome feeling.

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    3. I also don't even understand why you have to be a "serious quilter" in order to be treated with common courtesy. Even if you only bought 5 yards a year, that's 5 yards!

      There probably isn't a non-dick way to email the tips to a local quilt shop. Unless you know they are specifically looking to expand their business/get modern quilters, then you could be all, Oh, I thought this might be of interested to you...

      Let's hope that the national guild is working out the same. It's just that the survey I completed was over a year ago and there's been no indication that anything has happened. It's also not clear if the survey is treated like "the members are voting" or if it is like when a business does a focus group and then uses that data as one small piece of the decision-making.

      Wow, a weekly topic would be an amazing goal!

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  29. Great article in general, particularly point 4. Living on a tiny sland I don't have a LQS so can't really add much. I just want to say keep up critiquing. I love 'warts and all' views because that is real life and we should all be able to deal with it in an open and mature manner, not get involved in school playground name calling.

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  30. Thanks for a really interesting and thought provoking post. I know that I am guilty of posting bland comments on blogs, partly because I am an addict and follow a million people, and partly because I do genuinely believe that things are "lovely" or "beautiful". I will try harder to be a little more engaged in future.
    I have an alarming tendency to take things at face value, so you have made me think about things that never occurred to me before. And for that you may have a chocolate biscuit.

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    1. Nom nom nom. Oh, I do as many bland comments as the next person. "I love this!" is probably my favorite. Maybe I should add specifics!

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  31. Rossie, thanks for taking the time to write up your post. I think you make a lot of very valid and interesting points. I certainly agree that there is a lack of publicly acknowledged critical thought in the online quilting movement. I wonder whether it ties back to many of the bigger bloggers being sponsored by or affiliated with fabric manufacturers/retailers and therefore being very reluctant to say anything or even condone anything would could jeopardise that relationship. I also think a specific forum for people to be able to speak openly and seek constructive criticism would be useful, because I don't see the whole community changing attitude any time soon. And gosh, all the behind the scenes stuff is not at all transparent. I wonder a lot about how those deals go down.

    I really agree with many of your points about local quilt shops. I am never going to do all my fabric shopping locally, because buying fabric online (even taking shipping into account) costs me less than half it would to buy here in NZ. However, conceptually, I would like to support local quilt shops - they can be a great quilting community hub, and there is often a lot of knowledge to be tapped there. However, I am a young quilter (late twenties), and the attitude I encounter in quilt shops is frequently negative, at least until the people get to know me and realise that I am an enthusiastic quilter. I find that bizarre - why wouldn't quilt shops want to gain a customer who will be buying fabric for another 50 - 60 years? Why should they need to know me to treat me with respect and be proactively helpful? There are great shops out there, and I will do what I usually do when buying anything - vote with my feet and my dollar.

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    1. That is strange. Most businesses work their butts off to get customers when they are young and keep them for a lifetime. There was a really interesting article I read a while back about how the chain restaurants near the University that I teach at have a much lower profitability than restaurants in other locations (due to the high rents charged near campus). However, chains are willing to barely turn a profit at that location because if they can get you to start loving Chipotle (or Five Guys or Potbelly or Jimmy John's) at age 19, they've got you for the long haul.

      I was just talking to someone about the price of fabric in other parts of the world. I wonder why it hasn't evened out more?

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    2. I don't know why the price of fabric hasn't evened out more - but to be fair, in New Zealand, all consumer goods are much more expensive than in the states, so fabric is just an extension of that. I suspect part of the answer is that in New Zealand, the retail price of fabric = (manufacturer's price plus shipping plus import duties plus NZ distributor's mark-up plus more shipping plus NZ retailer's mark-up) x 15% sales tax.

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    3. I think that if tehre were a forum for people to speseek and give constructive criticism, more people would make use of it than is realized. One of the really amazing things about a good LQS is that ability to take a quilt that isn't coming together as envisioned and get new eyes to give suggestions on how to make it better or salvage it.

      Also, it can be incredibly informative while critiquing work to get feedback from the quilter on why they made the decisions they did, or if they had thought about something else and rejected it. I don't often read comments to quilt blog posts because this sort of thing doesn't tend to be there.

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    4. Wow. My fingers stopped working. Please excuse my horrible spelling/mistyping there.

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  32. I really enjoyed your post. I saw some of the LQS stuff but ignored it as I'm in England and my nearest quilt shop is 45min away, not exactly local. I did feel though that is was being anti online shops which I mainly use.
    As it happens my fab online shop has just become a real bricks and mortar shop but unfortunately it isn't local.
    I wonder how the MQG will take into account non US guilds, after all it has become an international movement for getting people together.

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    1. Yes, one of my favorite online shops is going to be brick-and-mortar soon as well! Also, one of the shops that is about 30 minutes from my house started out as a brick-and-mortar and still is, but does the bulk of its business through online sales!

      That is interesting about the guilds outside the US. I'll be sure to watch for any information on that!

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  33. Well said! Unfortunately the social media revolution has led to an almost totalitarian condemnation of people who question the "accepted wisdom" on anything. Alternative points of view are no longer tolerated. Very sad,

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    1. Ah, but the Internet was supposed to be this miraculous place where everyone could have a day. Perhaps it will still turn out that way and we just need to tend to the culture a bit more.

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  34. I appreciate critique - but in the very nice quilt world it is very hard to say something that doesn't sound rude in the context of all the niceness. I sometimes see quilting things that I want to warn folks might fall apart in the wash - is that rude or helping them avoid a quilt disaster?

    The shop business is a really hot button because according to one of our local shops there is a huge problem of the "young modern quilter" not going into the brick and mortar stores and buying anything and not taking classes and they don't know how the businesses will survive into the future.

    I personally think as the younger quilters get more money they'll start hoarding more fabric and taking classes for fun and it will all even out, but that's just me.

    Anyway, this conversation about "why don't the modern quilters shop local??" is a big one in our local guild with our local stores.

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    1. We have some very experienced quilters in our guild who are VERY good at throwing necessary hints around. From what I can tell, they begin with a question: "Is that stretching too much on you?" They wait for the answer and then say either "Okay." or, "Would you like to try my starch? Let me show you what I've learned..."

      I said something above about unsolicited criticism (I try not to do it, especially if it is directed at a specific person). I think the same goes for unsolicited advice. If a quilt falls apart, they'll ask how to fix it/avoid it in the future.

      Also, sometimes people just don't care about the same things. I sometimes like to show stitches when convention dictates that they be hidden. I'm not fussy about points at all times. That's why I would start with a question.

      It's funny that the local shop uses the phrase "young modern quilters" -- I think the MQG survey showed that most of the respondents were in their 30s and 40s.

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    2. As a once younger quilter, but this is true today, if I could tell the brick and mortar stores anything about getting the "young modern quilter" to buy stuff at the store, aside from a respect thing, it has a whole lot to do with timing.

      All the quilt shops in my area, and most of the ones I know of in other places I've lived, are closed before I could get there out of work, and I get out early. And closed on Sundays. Which is understandable, but means I can rarely get there. Also, a lot of their classes are on weekdays or two day classes over Friday and Saturday. Stay at home moms can't often get daycare for a full day and working women, work. My friend can get to her quilt shop at lunch, but that's never relaxing and fun, which is what fabric shopping should be. I don't really know if that would crack the entire problem, but I do think it's part of it.

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  35. I'm in the UK and local quilt shops are a lot more limited, but funnily enough there is one just 10 minutes away, and mostly they sound similar to your LQS, in that they don't stock many fabrics i like, don't have much awareness of what is coming in, and don't really listen about what i would like to have in. I asked about solids in grey(!), which they have never had in, and said it's pretty popular and goes with lots of things, that was 6 months ago, and they still haven't ordered any, sometimes, it's the little things, and it's hardly a revolutionary ask!
    I had assumed the local quilt shop thing was somehow industry led and anti-online shops, and quite frankly i had ignored it because of that, it's a bit like someone who wants to sell more cards making up a random day and then telling me I should buy cards for it, feels a bit fake- i'm not saying it is in this instance, but still.
    I would love it if there was a real live great quilt shop nearby, as generally the prices per metre aren't that different in the UK (about £12 per metre, ouch), but there isn't so I mix real shop with online, and it's might right to choose where I shop, it's like anything, if the shops are good enough, and make good business decisions, then they wil survive, and if not they wont, surely that is the same in any business, its simple, meet your customers needs, and if you don't know what they are, ask them.
    Overall, I think it's fair of you to ask what the day was, and why it exists, and it just goes to show that the loveliness of quilting is not entirely true. We're all human after all, and lets be honest, I've met very few truly 100% nice people who are never negative about anything, and in my experience, they're not that interesting, I prefer people who aren't sheep and just follow, those who have an opinion, and sometimes it differs from mine, that's the stuff of life, surely, our differences. : )

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    1. Yes, I do think that there's something to be said for supporting local businesses and keeping money in a community, rather than sending it outside of the community. There's also a lot to be said for not buying the cheapest product if its being sold by a business whose ethics don't align with yours. I actually think that's why a lot of people get so frustrated when a LQS doesn't adapt at all...it's like a restaurant that doesn't have even a single vegetarian dish...you might really want to support the business, but a vegetarian isn't going to eat meat just for the principle of going local.

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  36. What refreshing honesty! Thank you. We have, for the most part, become as a society a bunch of (non original) thoughtless 'me toos' and heaven help you if you tell the honest truth as you see it. I think there are a lot of "Trolls" out there who's whole day revolves around policing the comments sections of public posts, and forums. When people ask for your 'honest' opinion, and then disregard you when you give it, it becomes pointless to have asked in the first place. This mentality means that when I ask for an honest opinion all I can be assured of getting are the 'me toos', because they don't want to hurt my feelings. Consequently I don't really ask anymore.

    Again, thank you for this open and honest post. I hope many will read it and take it to heart!
    Lynda

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  37. I love your #realtalk.

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  38. This is my first visit to your blog and I just wanted to say that I really appreciate this post. If I were to include all my reasons it would run to a novella - suffice to say that (a) I think that the majority of the online quilting community [sic]seem to now just want constant commendation and affirmation with little room for critique of any kind (b) I too wondered about the provenance of the campaign (I'm a Brit, so I just kind of ignored it too) (c) Don't even get me started on the MQG ... I have had some 'critical thought' or comment blocked several times.

    Don't get me wrong - I am not a negative person. I am not a dick. I am an academic and I often speak my mind, well in my head anyway. I'm also just recovering from surgery so my painkillers might just have initiated a load of old tosh in this comment.

    Now, I'm armed with a cup of coffee and am off to read the rest of your blog :) Happy Sunday and I for one am happy to have 'met' you.

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  39. Thank you ever so much for posting, I simply don't have the energy to educate the masses of pius quilters who cannot tollerate criticism, even if it's constructive.

    My local quilt shops cater to the retired persons or homemakers who don't work and commute an hour each way into the city. They're closed on holidays when we're available, close at 5:00 p.m. when we get off work and can't make it on time. Sundays are dedicated to housework, laundry, the only day they're open late is Thursday. Classes are held in the middle of a week day and yet they make money hand over fist here. It's bewildering to me. Further, they don't carry current fabric, they concentrate their buying efforts solely on batiks or other fabric I have no interest in.

    Yup, sometimes I'm a dick, aren't we all? I'm Tabatha at BendingPins.com but mostly to my friends I'm kind, generous and helpful but certainly not perfect.

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    1. Yep. Same here. Commute, work, no current lines, and weekends are at the ranch... I thought it was OK they had the shop thing but I didn't chime in for those reasons...I laughed at rossies comment. I thought it was cute.

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  40. Great post, Rossie. I saw all those posts to support LQS lasts week and just ignored them. I got tired of all those Baby go cutter giveaways and other promos. I'm a journalist and I'd prefer not to shill for anyone, or at least know what's behind some campaign or giveaway. thanks for raising these points.

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  41. This is a great post. I thought the LQS day was weird too. Like a giant commercial across many blogs. I like reading posts that are showing me someone's projects, opinions, tips, favorites... not posts that are trying to sell me something.

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    1. I think sponsored posts can be good, but sometimes they are a huge turn-off. It's a fine line!

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  42. Rossie- I saw your in post and understood what you meant...I laughed actually and thought your wording was funny. I order online mostly since a lot of my local shops don't offer as many of my favorite lines...so I just thought you did the same...but it never occurred to me that you meant anything more. I think the ppl who liked that other in post just read the first part about community and hit like before they read the rest?
    Either way, I got it and thought nothing more of it.

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  43. This is a great post! I live in australia. quilting is only done by a few and the local quilt shop which has lovely expensive things is a fire hazard. The part I relate to the most is how the owners 'suggestions' can railroad what I want. As I am relatively new to quilting I am not confident I can 'get it right'. I think online or local doens't matter. Quilt and enjoy. Support each other and share.

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    1. It must be hard to know who wants advice and feedback, and who doesn't!

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  44. Wow, lots of things to think about here. I, too, do not have LQS love. But when I travel, or when a new one pops up, I always check them out, and know that there are good ones out there.

    Your questions about MQG really struck a chord with me. I've thought some of the same things, and don't really get part of the organization. I'm currently a member of my local group, but have contemplated removing myself from it. Critiquing is definitely discouraged.

    You always give me something to think about. Hope we can chat more about this in a few weeks!

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    1. it looks like a lot of announcements about the MQG are coming soon.
      Going to LQS when I travel is the best! A nice little break from sightseeing to pet the fabrics.
      See you at QuiltCon!

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  45. Velly, velly interesting. Coming from a fine-arts background, I am used to having everything I do criticized. Criticism in the "let's talk about the successes, possible failure, the why, the how of this" vs what many people think criticism is "I'm a mean meany and you smell bad." Helpful and open criticism can be a wonderful way of learning new things, seeing different points of view and understanding that others do not, and perhaps cannot, see what you make and understand it like you do. Then you can find a way to make your art in a way that others understand and appreciate it. Art/quilting/crafting.

    I've been thinking of the MQG as a fun sort of club. Then it got confusing when you had to join a local MQG to participate in their challenges, when the local actual guild doesn't have much to do with the national group. More transparency? Please. If it is a business or non-profit it should define itself and have rules and regulations. There are real laws involved either way.

    I snorted in laughter when I read about having a post-modern quilt movement. Hahahaa, so funny! I ignored the LQS online buzztastic-ness as well. One of my local stores doesn't have a ton of fabrics that I like but the sales people are personable, knowledgeable and very willing to help and discuss. One of my favorite parts is that they will often give you an extra 1-5 inches of fabric on a cut just to make sure you are getting your money's worth if the fabric was on the bolt crooked. Another LQS, that a pretty big name blogger used to work at, makes me cringe just thinking of going to it. There is a "Hi, welcome!" usually. But for heavens sake, a year or two ago when they asked if they could help me I said "yes, I'm looking for grey fabrics" one lady said, "Ew, grey? You're going to use that in a quilt?! I don't know why anyone would use that in a quilt." In a quilt shop, where they sell grey fabric and are in theory trying to sell fabric. Next time I went in the owner/manager? was in and she asked how I liked shopping there and I said honestly it wasn't great. She apologized and invited me back. I went back another day and the same manager/owner was horrible at me. Condescending, snotty and kind of mean when all I did was ask about a frequent shopper card they had offered me. I was fighting back the tears paying for the fabric because I wanted to get out of there and felt so dumped on. I've been there since then and half (only half!) of the experiences have been nice/normal. I prefer a third LQS over them. They may not know what fabrics they will be getting in but are friendly and efficient and... not mean.

    Mmm, yeah. That was a long story. I originally only stopped by to tell you that your kelp quilt inspired a block I made in a round about way. Now I'll add that I love reading your blog and your honest opinions and humor. Looking forwards to more honest book reviews as well. Gracias!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I think a lot of folks coming from a fine arts background have a similar approach to those in academics...used to criticism and see it as a refining process.

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  46. Your comment on your experiences at your local quilt shop was what I have experienced so many times. I tend to figure out what I want a quilt to make and plan it out, colors and all. I've been quilting since I was seven, 30 years now (AH! I hadn't thought of that before). I would rather buy my fabric in a brick and mortar store because I have no patience. I want to see my fabric in person, feel it, and take it home. HOWEVER, I find myself shopping online most of the time. We have three local quilt shops I frequent.

    The nicest, the ones you can call to see if they have a line or a fabric, who are always excited to hear what you are working on, who will go out of their way to point you to something you might have missed, is an hour away in an area of town where the traffic is horrible. So I shop there more than I would otherwise, because I can generally find out easily by phone that my trip is worth it.

    The one closest to me is HORRIBLE. They have an awesome and large collection of fabrics, but I won't step foot in there, partly because it's hard to know when they are open (which is practically never, and then not for very long), but mostly because every time I've been in there the two women have been condescending and obnoxious, about their perception of my skills, about my choices in fabric mixes, and the fabrics themselves. Which always perplexes me. If they think it's that ugly and no one should buy it, why did they?

    So, on my days off, I go to the one in between. And I check out who's working before I browse. But they too always assume they have much more knowledge than I do, even when I'm not asking questions. And they do have this awesome sewing circle type get together, but it's always on weekdays, so I can't go.

    So, instead I find myself buying fabric from online stores, because there is no condescention and I can buy it when the whim takes me. But I miss the brick and mortar stores in places I've lived before. Those places where I felt like a part of a community. They do exist, and those are places I love.

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    1. It's interesting all the stories that people have about the shops near them. 30 years of quilting is impressive!

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  47. Apparently I too am a dick. There is a lot I disagree with in this quilting world. I don't go gaga over "celebrities", that's another ball of wax all together. I don't don't dig the exclusivity of the quilds, etc. And there's more.. BUT

    I love people that think outside the box.
    I love people that have swallowed a portion of humble pie.
    I love people that embrace everyone.

    I loved this post and am off to follow you on IG.

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  48. I go to my LQS as seldom as possible. I used to be a good customer (2 sewing machines in addition to classes and fabric). Then I observed how awful the owner was to his employees. The last straw for me was when he came up to me and made a remark about my "having deep pockets.). He and his wife are real "dicks" in my book!

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    1. Wow, that would be enough to turn me off, too!

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  49. great post. I think all LQS should get a copy.

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  50. Glad you posted this. I enjoyed many post written on "love local quilt shop day". I live where there are not a lot of choices to shop and liked seeing some of the nice places out there! I have had an employee of one place I shop at make some kind of "deep pockets" comment, but I only let it bother me for a few minutes. People often say things online and in real life that are thoughtless. But I like people who speak their mind in a thoughtful way. In my opinion, that is what you have done.

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    1. Thank you, its sometimes hard to know what to let go of ans what to stop and comment upon.

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  51. I'm lucky in that my local quilt shop has a really nice lady and sometimes her husband. She is not condescending but inquisitive. I feel like an equal who just has different skills to hers. A lot of my work is done with recycled or other wise not quilt shop sourced fabric. However, I too have definitely experienced the rude, off putting quilt shop owners who make the quilting world seem the like the perogative of just a privileged few and make you wonder why you ever dared darken their doors. I really appreciate bloggers who allow healthy discussions where not all have to have the same perspective. Thanks for your post. Cherrie

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    1. Thanks for your reply. I love the phrase "dared darken their doors"...so apt!

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  52. I followed a link from my modern quilt guild Facebook page to find your post. I really enjoyed reading it but I think my favorite part about it (because to be honest I really could care less about any of the "days" that are set up for random things--I know I didn't word that right but hopefully you get my meaning)is the talk of opening a Flickr group for critiquing. I sometimes get stuck on a project or would just like to hear others thoughts before I continue but since my blog only has a small following I don't get a lot of feedback. A group where I could put something and have people give me honest, but tactful, feedback would be wonderful! Please let me know if you get around to it!

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  53. Just had to chime in as well, as I am also an academic and I'm on your team here! My LQS specializes in those drab, dark, civil war fabrics and the employees are VERY unpleasant to me. I'm not sure if this is due to my age (20s) or the fact I don't buy much (my husband is in grad school, so I can't afford to pay premium prices). They upsell past the point of multiple refusals. They don't carry any modern fabrics or the batting I like or many solids. In short, I like nothing about that store and they make no effort to try to keep me as a customer or cater to others like me.

    In contrast, my local Hancock Fabric has awesome sales, stocks some great modern stuff, and is full of lovely and knowledgeable ladies who recognize me as a loyal customer and have never said a harsh word about my fabric choice or assumed that I was some kind of moron. If I want something from a specific fabric line, there is no need for me to see it in person so I buy it online from the dealer with the cheapest price.

    I buy local as much as I can but I'm not going to put myself through that kind of pain when the chain store is a much nicer experience. LQS have to understand that most younger quilters are drawn to modern fabric and if they want their stores (and heck, their CRAFT) to survive they will have to adapt. I belong to a local quilt guild where I am the youngest member by 30 years. (Median age is 62!!) Most make traditional quilts but they have been nothing but welcoming to me and have even asked me to teach a class about modern quilting. THAT is the kind of attitude that LQS need to cultivate.

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