Friday, January 30, 2009

All Quilters Are Not Created From the Same Thread

WOW!!!! We go for months not hearing a word from Mark Lipinski and today we got a blog post from him and this is the title:


The full story can be found here. Please read Mark's blog post before reading on. It might not make sense other wise.

It is a little upsetting for me to here this. Yes, I know Jo-Ann has the right to carry what they want. I just think it's a bit upsetting that they would not carry the March Issue because of one article. To me this is like radio stations not playing the Dixie Chicks because of what they said about Bush (turns out they were right).

The magazine is even in a plastic wrapper. I have read this article and I have to agree with Mark at best it is only PG-13.

This kind of hit home to me for a few reasons. I have been thinking over the past few days that I wanted to do a post about acceptance, but was not sure how I would go about it. This is a great lead-in and it just goes to show you that not everyone is as open-minded as we would like or think.

I was a member of a quilt guild and would go every month. It was a lot of fun. I would learn neat new things and get to talk with friends that I only get to see at guild. The Kansas City Star even did an article about me being the only male quilter out of 160 some members. Each February is their Quilt Guild retreat and I thought I might like to go. With money in hand I went to sign up as it was first come, first serve. They took my check, but I was told they would hold on to it and see what they had left as I was the only male. They thought the place had a room available in the boiler room. I was o.k. with that because really, how much sleeping would I being doing that weekend anyways? It's all about making new friends, quilting and food. Well, to my shock, they called me to let me know they were sorry, but they were unable to find room for me and my check was being returned to me. I took this at face value, but after talking with the guild president who was one of my quilting instructors at the place I worked. She told me that they were wrong in what they had done and I should have been able to go. She told me to sign up as soon as the next person is appointed leader of the retreat. Well, long story short, I left the guild because of this. Here I thought the guild really wanted me around, but as it turns out, they did not. Only a select few wanted me around. I was the topic of the board meeting I later found out. They did make up a rule that people were not allowed to tell about up coming quilting class, because I would share the up coming quilting class for the place I worked. I was the Education coordinator and it was my job to promote all the classes. I did not feel welcome anymore so I left the guild.

I laid low for a while, not wanting to join another quilt guild for fear of the same thing happening again. I was talking to another instructor/friend of mine and she really wanted me to join her quilt guild. She told me I could be the guest speaker one night and share all my quilts for them by putting on a trunk show. I thought I would give it a try. Went to a meeting and thought afterwards that it was not too bad and maybe I would be welcomed there. As it turned out I knew more than a few of the guild member because of my job. This guild was also having a weekend retreat and I thought I would give it a try and not wanting a repeat from the last guild, I went ahead and just paid for a room of my own. I put my name on the list. A few days later I got a phone call telling me that I would have to pay extra for the room because only one person would be staying in it and they had based everything on double rooms. I was fine with this because I told them I would be bringing a friend and we would be sharing the room. She told me it was only open to guild members. I said that is fine, he would not be doing anything with the guild, just sharing the room with me. He could go sight-seeing when I with the guild and I would meet up with him at night. Well, a few days later the guild president called me to make sure that I knew how to "act in public spaces". I was confused as to why she would say that. She does know me after all. I knew her before joining the guild. I listened to what she had to say and told her that it was fine. So in her mind, she thought everything was handled and there would be no problem. Later after much consideration I decided that it was not their place to dictate what I could do while I was away from the guild. I woke up early one morning and wrote a full page letter stating how disappointed I was with their automatic belief that I would be doing something inappropriate. There was no question of anyone else being inappropriate, only me. Long story short, I quit the guild and asked for my membership dues back. I did ask a dear friend of mine to read the letter at the next guild meting and later found out people were sorry that the board of the guild would act that way.

I do not know if I can ever trust a guild again. I have been burned by two different guilds because I am a male quilter and it did not have anything to do with my sexuality.



  1. I'll be honest, I thought Mark Lipinski's magazine was a bit precious. I'm more of a Quilting Arts person. In fact, it was one of the first issues of Quilting Arts that got me interested in quilting, in particular, Susan Shie's work. And she writes diaries all over her quilts!

    But I shop at JoAnns a lot. There are two JoAnns on my drive home from work. So much temptation, right off the freeway! And, I'd just bought some batting there yesterday right before I read about this. I do some fairly edgy stuff that I don't display publicly because I'm well aware that it would bring out the pitchforks and torches. It irritates me to think that (a) the magazine has to be bagged as if it was some sort of pr0n and (b) that we can't talk about controversy in quilt subjects. I sent JoAnn an e-mail letter them know that I didn't appreciate them deciding for me what I can and cannot read.

    I think quilting is at a crossroads in general and some things are going to have to happen or quilting is going to die. This is one of them. Quilting is going to have to open up to other influences. It's not just for conservative older women. For me, as a working woman, it's frustrating that the local quilt shops have classes and quilt guilds meet on weekdays. Helllloooo! Some of us have to work! We are our families' support. How is quilting going to survive and attract people into the next generation if it doesn't open up to something as basic as when women are now working?

    So it's not just JoAnns, it's a general attitude of conservatism that pervades quilting. I'm lucky that I came to quilting through Quilting Arts instead of through some guild, or I'd have stopped quilting early. In fact, I lived in Utah for seven years in the late 90s, and I never once considered quilting as a hobby because it was so linked to the churchgoing that is prevalent in that state.'ve got to change or you're going to die. This is just another example.

  2. Interesting that I haven't bothered to join quilt guilds for just that reason. I have noticed that they say "the ladies are going to...." As if no man can quilt. Yet if they even thought they could get Ricky Tims to do a class they would slobber all over him because he is a big name. Also they tend to have meetings when those that could "carry on the tradition" are working as mirele said.

    If quilting dies out, those will be the people that killed it.

  3. I just found your blog through Pat Sloan. Love the whirlygig quilt..

    I went through a couple of quilt guilds before I found one that worked for me.

    Hope you find one that works for you soon. They fuel our creativity....

  4. I have belonged to 2 quilt guilds. The 1st one was so, let's say established, that even though they knew I was new and didn't know anyone there, NO ONE made an effort to talk to me, include me or make me welcome in any way and I'm female. End of that guild. Joined one in the next county cuz I worked there, but there is a bee closer to where I live so in that smaller group I found acceptance. As I met other guild members in the home county I found them much more friendly. Why don't you start your own guild with people you know and like. Then your guild can be the open minded one - I bet you'd get a lot of creativity going!
    Sorry that some closed mined people ruined it for you.

  5. My oh my! What a lot of thoughts have been running through my mind! First the censorship by Joann's and then the double standard being applied to going to a retreat! I agree that perhaps you should start your own guild. I have the same frustrations as Mirele about classes during the day! I am so, so...well, I don't know what word I want to use, but that people are so narrow-minded.

    I will have to see if I can dig up a copy of Mark's magazine...

    Take care, and thanks for your visit to my blog!

  6. i'm so sorry about the guild experiences charlie...i went with a blog friend last year...made it to two meetings, but found it stale and not welcoming. i really do want a supportive group of quilters that understand what i do and where i live (quilting wise). hard to find! as for quilter's home...arrrg...i think i need to contact joanns. we do have a LONG way to go in terms of not just tolerance, but acceptance.

  7. My heart aches and my anger rages. What is wrong with people?!!!! I would love to have male quilters in our guild, gay or straight, whatever! I can really understand your reluctance to give another guild a try. But perhaps if you kept trying, and the close minded (nicest thing I can think to say) people could get to know you and realize how wrong they are in their thinking. I know, I'm being naive. Anyway, my heart goes out to you. And if you are ever in my area you can come to a guild meeting with me. We are very welcoming!

  8. Hi, I am sorry to hear about your experiences. It is sad that a community doesn't act like it. I am glad you are still quilting and hope to see more of your work. I will have to go and check out the article that you mentioned.


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