I was snoozing this morning and had this tiny epiphany. I was pretty proud of myself for how clever I was, then I remembered that it was really just prompted by something I had read in a recent issue of Mark Lipinski’s Quilter’s Home Magazine. (I know, some of you probably hate his magazine, and this really doesn’t have anything to do with the magazine itself….nor do I offer any comment on the magazine…)
The article was basically this: some quilters are gourmet chefs (they design the whole quilt and they may even create their own fabric via dyeing or painting or whatever…) and then some quilters would rather go out to eat at a fast food restaurant (simple, everything’s handed to them, no thought required). And of course, it’s a spectrum between the two extremes, and sometimes the gourmet chef really just needs a quick night out at the fast food restaurant.
My take on the philosophy was more along the line of thinking about how to design and write pattern instructions. So here goes, (I’m a little worried that once I get this written it won’t sound nearly as fascinating as when I dreamed it up while snoozing…)
Quilting As Baking vs. Quilting As Cooking
When you are baking, you need to follow the quantities and instructions of the recipe pretty closely. If you don’t, you are liable to have baked goods that don’t rise or that taste really horrible. I think some quilters use patterns as if they are baking a cake: they want to be told exactly what to do and how to do it and the quilt they produce will not vary too much from the original.
When you are cooking, though, the recipe can be little more open to interpretation. If you really love garlic, you can throw some more in. If you are trying to cut back on sodium, it’s pretty easy to do so without sacrificing too much taste. And there are some quilters who will use a pattern as if it were a casserole recipe. They would probably like some guidelines, but they have no fear about veering from the instructions and adding their own flavor to the final product.
So there you have it. I suspect one of the tricks to successful pattern writing is striking the right balance between the needs of the two kinds of quilters. I’m still trying to figure out how to do that…
(p.s. I’ve gotten some awesome mail that I need to post about, plus an update on using recyclable shopping bags, plus some other stuff. There, now that I’ve said I’m going to do those things, maybe I’ll actually do them. Y’all have my permission to pester if I don’t do those posts soon…)
edited January 28, 2008 to add:
So I was just looking at my blog stats and was surprised to see that some of my viewers today were coming to me via Mark Lipinski’s blog. I buzzed over there to see how that could possibly be and found that I was included in a list of blogs that were either friend or foe of “the Pickles.”
I wanted to clarify that even though yesterday I didn’t want to comment on what *I* think of the magazine itself, I would qualify myself as a FRIEND. I did subscribe to his blog via my RSS Reader, and I will probably end up subscribing to his magazine, too. I would add, though, that his magazine is quite different from what us quilter’s are used to, and if you are easily offended, his blog and his magazine might not be for you….