Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Multitasking Good and Bad

Multitasking Good and Bad

I was hoping to go into town yesterday to pick up the new computer, but it was snowing when I woke up. After listening to all the MVA calls on the scanner, I decided it would be better to wait. I stuffed down the feelings of guilt about spending the day sewing—they are still there despite giving myself permission to have a few weeks off—and got to work.

[I had taken out some beef to defrost for pepper steak and got it all assembled in the crock pot, but when I came back to check it a bit later, I couldn't understand why the crock pot wasn't hot. It was then that I discovered that appliances work better when they are plugged in. When I checked it again a bit later, I couldn't figure out why the crock pot hadn't heated up as much as I expected, but food cooks faster on "high" than it does on "warm." I finally took it all out and put it in the oven for a couple of hours. I related all of this to the husband when he got home and he said, "Multitasking gone horribly wrong, huh?"]

Things went much more smoothly in the sewing room. I got another 20 blue and white squares sewn together and sliced up, which added 20 more sets of HSTs to the supply for the Ritzville quilt. The HSTs still have to be trimmed down to size, but I am saving that job for another day. I also got out the bag of Kona scraps and the Accuquilt Go! cutter with the 3-1/2" square die. I put the cutter downstairs on the kitchen table because my cutting table isn't quite sturdy enough to support it. In between sewing and cutting the Ritzville quilt squares, I picked out scraps of Kona, pressed them, then went downstairs to run them through the cutter. It is a good mental exercise to try to position the fabric on the die in such a way that the die cuts the greatest number of squares with the least amount of waste. And it's fast. Each pass through the cutter yields 12 squares (two squares times six layers of fabric). Before I knew it, I had a very respectable stack ready for sewing into four-patches:

AccuquiltLittleSquares.jpg

All that going up and down the stairs was good exercise, too. I have noticed that I have far fewer problems with stiffness now that I am not sitting at a desk all day, duh.

I was also pleasantly surprised to discover a stack of 9" squares of Kona in my orphan block storage bin. I just need to cut some 9" squares from white Kona (probably Kona Snow) to pair with them. Those colored/white pairs will yield all the HSTs I need for the "sparkling diamonds" part of the Sparkling Diamonds quilt. This is coming together much faster than anticipated.

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Erin van Handel of the Sie Macht ("she makes") sewing blog had a great article about "How Jo-Ann Can Make Sewists Happy." She notes that their new concept store has features that are a step in the right direction, but then she gives a list of things they could do to really take it over the top. If Jo-Ann's corporate has any sense, they would take her list and run with it, but I am not holding my breath. Some of her suggestions include:

Have a PDF printing service: This would be mega-convenient for a lot of sewists AND basically a way for Jo-Ann to print money (if the pricing were right; I suggest a flat fee). Most sewists print out individual pattern pages and tape them together. I refuse to do that anymore. I buy patterns that include large-format files and then take them to the local blueprint copy shop to have them printed. Imagine being able to drop those files off in the Jo-Anns store and wander off to shop while they're being printed. Sign me up.

Recycle fabric scraps: Seriously, Jo-Ann — if H&M can recycle textile waste, you can, too. I think the store has a moral imperative to recycle fabric. Agreed. I don't have a problem recycling my quilting cotton scraps into an ever-growing stack of scrap quilts, but figuring out what to do with scraps of garment fabric is more difficult.

Be a champion for sustainability and ethical labor: Advocate for greater transparency about where fabric comes from and who made it. Offer sustainable and organic fabric options. Again, as the big dog in town, I think Jo-Ann has a moral imperative to use its influence for good. This is obvious.

Introduce the Big 4: My perception is that younger (millennial) sewists don’t vibe with Big 4 patterns. Host a crash course on sewing a Big 4 pattern and make the case for these legacy pattern companies. The Big 4 pattern companies are busy playing catch-up to indie designers. Sewists want patterns that are drafted to fit more than just a B-cup bra size and that address other fitting issues. If the Big 4 don't respond to those needs, they are going to lose a lot of market share that they may not be able to get back.

Her list of ideas is far more comprehensive and worth checking out. She also notes that they are missing on a few fundamentals, like fabric quality (inconsistent), coupon gymnastics (I get them by mail, as a text message, and in the Jo-Anns app on my phone to make sure I am not missing any), and knowledge deficit in their staff.

[I love that last one, because she compares it to the Ron Swanson—Parks and Rec—sketch where he walks into the home improvement store and says to the employee, "I know more than you." That always makes me giggle because that's exactly what's running through the husband's mind when we shop at Lowes or Home Depot. And I've often said that I should just put on a green vest and a name tag when I go into Jo-Anns because I usually end up helping people who can't find things.]

As I said, though, I am not holding my breath waiting for Jo-Anns to implement any of these ideas. Our store upped its game a bit when Hobby Lobby opened up, but now the store is coasting again. Competition from other stores seems to be the only thing that motivates some of these corporate giants.

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The husband and I watched a documentary on Netflix last night entitled "Sustainable," about a small farm in Illinois that went back to organic farming practices and established a co-op of local growers that supplies ingredients to restaurants in Chicago. It was very well done. I have to stop watching these gardening shows, though, because I am itching to get out in the dirt and it's going to be a few months yet. If I have more time to devote to gardening next season, I definitely will take advantage of it. I have all sorts of ideas percolating in my brain right now. Being without lettuce for a couple of weeks was awful. All I could find in the stores was spinach, and raw spinach and I don't get along. (I love it cooked, though.) We got some greens last winter from a place here in the valley with an aquaponics system, but they aren't running that system this winter. The husband suspects it was just too expensive to heat. That's why we don't grow lettuce in our greenhouse over the winter.

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