Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Big Ambitions

I was thumbing through a catalog of new books I had (owning a store you get stuff like that in the mail) and as I looked at some of the titles and description it got me thinking:  I should write a book.  Now my planned opus will not be overly ambitious, the  title will be   "Ninja Quilter" or something cool like that.

What follows is the introduction for my upcoming book.  Feel free to comment and if you know somebody that knows somebody that knows anything about what it takes to get published let me know, throwing this book together should be relatively easy getting published will be the trick.

Quilt Nazis: An Introduction

They don't call me Ishmael, but even if they did I am not sure why you would care because this literary masterpiece is not about me. I suppose this is where I tell you what this book is about and the intended audience and all the other crap the intro is supposed to bore you with. I won't. The index is pretty self explanatory, look up a topic of interest and turn to the appropriate page for enlightenment. The intended audience is whatever poor soul gets sucked in by the cover and/or title.

Instead I shall use the introduction to tell you why I wrote this book. Aside from destroying the environment by wasting paper on its printing I wanted to use this book to combat the Quilt Nazis.

Nazi: a person who is fanatically dedicated to or seeks to control a specified activity, practice, etc.

Quilting is a hobby, something you do by choice for fun. If you are not enjoying it you are doing it wrong. This book is intended to be nothing more than a guide to keep it all in perspective and maximize your pleasure.

fun: a source of enjoyment, amusement, diversion, etc.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's the software stupid

If you are in the market for an embroidery machine, consider this... the software.   The big difference between the low end and high end machines aside from maximum hoop sizes, is the on board editing features.  Admittedly the color touch screen makes laying out and tweaking patterns easy, but if the pattern is perfect before you start those features may not be so important.  That is where the software comes in.

Every manufacturer offers their own version of embroidery software usually ranging in price and features, some are better than others.  Your software needs just two things to start you on your embroidery career.  A variety of fonts and a decent digitizing feature.

Brother's software package that has these features MSRPs at around  $400.  Now many of you that have gotten into embroidery may have paid closer to $1000 for your software, and Brother has that option too, but I don't think it is entirely necessary.  The only thing that the high end software offers that the mid level may not is more robust image editing tools.

Now something to keep in mind is that machine embroidery is more a work of graphic design than it is sewing.  Following that line of thinking,  graphics design programs  work great for embroidery.  GIMP.NET,  or PAINT.NET are  free programs that have everything you need to manipulate images, and a heck of lot easier to work with than most embroidery software.  Do your logo or graphic up in paint.net than "digitize" it with your embroidery software add lettering with built in fonts and you will have a decent finished product with software that cost half of what you should have spent.

This technique is also nice because you can play with paint.net at no cost and if you discover that graphics design is not really that much fun, you may want to reconsider your embroidery craving.

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments section, I am far from an embroidery wizard, that won't happen until next week.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12 Days of Christmas

When I was a kid I always thought that the "Twelve Days of Christmas" was a reference to Hanukkah.   The theory was wrong on so many levels, the least of which is that Hanukkah is only eight days long, four days shy of my twelve.  So I have decided that this blog post will be my Christmas Special written in the spirit of that kid whose Twelve Days of Christmas was Hanukkah.

For those that are not familiar with my full body of literary genius, I sometimes make oblique references to a wandering Jewish philosopher and his entourage of fishermen.  I go to church on Sunday and I happen to think that the Jewish man in question has a sense of humor (if  He doesn't I'm in trouble, Matthew 24:20 is his only joke on record.).  My personal view of Christmas and the world in general is founded in large part on that guy, so keep that in mind as you continue reading.

Christmas for the most part was a political move for the early Christian establishment to co-opt competing pagan festivals and strengthen its power base. (Yes my love of conspiracy theories goes way back but pine trees and yule logs have nothing to do with a carpenter's kid from Nazareth.) So when I hear about this group or that group protesting Christmas in schools, or making a stink because some governor put up a "Christmas" tree instead of a "holiday" tree I have to laugh.   Christmas is a hodge podge of beliefs and traditions that some how all got glued together by the story of a baby boy.  With that thought I am now going to launch into some religious history and theories to spread a little bit of tolerance and love this Christmas season.

We are going to start with Abraham.  At least half of all the worlds religions think Abraham was a pretty important guy.  He had two kids with two different women, and a lot of today's problems can arguable be traced back to Abraham's dysfunctional family.  His oldest kid, Ishmael spawned the Islamic faith and they feel that by right of primogeniture they are entitled to Abraham's inheritance.  The Jewish and by extension the Christian faiths claim Abraham's inheritance through Isaac who was the chosen son because he was the only child of Abraham's actual wife. Both have valid arguments, but I don't think either makes a good enough excuse for blowing up the other.

Isaac's kid Jacob had twelve kids by four different women (consider that next time you want to get all judgmental on the Sister Wives, "polygamy" is integral to the Judeo-Christian narrative but it would take an act of God to convince me to try it, I have a hard enough time with one wife).  One of those kids was named Judah.  His tribe became known as the Jews.  So Jews are a specific branch of Jacob's family tree, and if you read your Good Book Judah was not even the good son, If memory serves me correctly they had to talk him out of killing his brother for a styling coat and he had to settle for just selling the the poor kid to a couple of passing Egyptians.

But despite the dubious family lineage this Jesus fellow that every one made a big fuss about was born Jewish and died Jewish, so to player hate a tribe for a few bad apples doesn't seem very fair.  If you believe a Jewish kid from Nazareth is the redeemer of the world or not how is a day of celebration a bad thing?

We all want to be Mexican on the fifth of May regardless of our stance on illegal immigration.  We all claim an Irish uncle on Saint Patty's day, so why can't we pretend that the Jewish kid is an Irish Mexican who got some gifts from a few wandering queens (see how I worked in the Hispanic vote and the gay vote, maybe I should run for president).  Peace on earth and goodwill toward men can never be bad thing and I believe the "Christ" in Christmas makes that possible in my little corner of the world, and if you want to be culturally sensitive think about how happy Daddy Abraham will be that we remembered his Great Grandson's birthday even if the day is conveniently close to the winter solstice and the Day of Mithra.