There's been a lot of talk lately in my online social circle (and I'm sure in many others) about blogs, the act of blogging, and their relationship to all of the other social networking options that have sprung up in the last few years. I've had some friends declare that blogging is dead and that everything is moving to Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Google+. Others (myself included) think that many of the really regular bloggers are doing so because they have a reason to - their book, their online shop, or simply the ads in their sidebar. The rest of us have largely dialed back our posting because time is taken up by other social networking. Some of us by a lot. Ahem. Others who still blog have resisted the pull of concentrated social networking sites and stick with what now seems a little old-fashioned - with their blogs and email. Sometimes I wish I had too.
I got the text from a mutual friend. That she was losing the baby - her nearly-ready-to-be-born baby girl. I sat on the low wall in my back yard, in shock, and I cried. How can this possibly happen?
Most of the women that I've become friends with through blogging make things. I make things (although I don't blog about them as much as I used to). I didn't have anyone local who did the things I did. Who loved the things I loved. I tiptoed into blogging by talking about knitting. Then, because life was about more than just knitting, I talked about more. About kids. About food. About starting to sew again. It gave me an identity that I had been lacking since I had stopped working. I commented on other people's blogs and they found their way back to me. Comment replies turned into long email exchanges and into friendships. We would meet when we were lucky enough to be in the same place at the same time. We found our way onto Facebook and Twitter and the email exchanges turned into group conversations about everything that was happening in our days. Our personas, carefully crafted through the words and photos on our blogs, were both reinforced and blown apart by the truths we shared in more immediate daily snippets about life.
Stronger friendship networks were formed around the conversations we've had on Facebook and Twitter. These friends are not my blog friends or my Facebook friends. They are my friends, plain and simple. They are the people that I call with a problem to solve or a funny story to share. If they can't all live in my neighborhood, then we can all live in our little corner of the online social networking world. It's not the same, but it works. It has to. I think that more immediate connection has been good for our friendships, but not so good for blogging itself. It's become harder to commit the time to it when there are so many other distractions.
I called back. No more texting. We have to do something. What can we do? Nothing we can do is enough. We're not there to make food and hold hands and wipe tears. But I have to do something, or I won't know how to process this grief for our friend and her family. For one of our best friends. What about a quilt? I asked. Yes. A quilt. she replied. I called another friend. She too, had thought of the quilt.
Here's the thing about Twitter and Facebook. They reduced our desire to blog, unless we had other motivations for doing it, because they can be such a compelling time-suck and we all only have so much time. Blogging can sometimes seem like just too much. Too time consuming. Too self indulgent. After all, hasn't everyone already read about what we've done on Facebook? We already posted pictures there too, with Instagram and instant uploads from our phones. What's left to blog about if you're always present elsewhere online? Is there a point really? Does anyone have time to read what we write anymore? I often wonder about writing 600 or 900 words when 25 can do just fine.
Emails, Twitter DMs, and Facebook messages went out. Phone calls were made. So many people had wanted a way to help. So many people love her. A quilt was planned. Yellow, aqua, grey, and red was the color scheme. Traditional blocks in a modern colorway, framed by white. A family quilt for them all. Something that could wrap them in our love for years to come. Generations, hopefully.
I don't know where blogging is going. Heck, I don't know where I'm going with this blog. I'm guilty of neglecting it for other ways of communicating. It may be that they are becoming marketing tools. Or, as the big social networks change and become less personal, more like marketing tools themselves, maybe we'll turn back to our blogs. Maybe we'll return to the place where our community formed and tell our stories more slowly again, with thought and editing and care. I'd like that.
The timeline was moved up because she was coming here to get away with her husband. They were going to the beach to sit by the ocean and try to heal their hearts. We wanted her to bring it home with her. I brought my things to my mom's house and pieced the back. When I came home, the mailbox was filled. As I opened each envelope, I was overwhelmed by the love and care that went into each block and by the sweet notes and small gifts that came along with them. These are such good people, I thought. Late nights and early mornings were spent at the sewing machine, stitching together all of the love. Thinking about these wonderful friends. This post formed in my head as I sashed everyone's work.
And here is where the stories merge. Where this small online community made a quilt for one of their own in her time of need. Blogging has brought us together; an old fashioned quilting bee can come from a group of women who have never all gathered in the same room. Because, while these friendships may have formed in the not-quite-real world of blogs and Facebook and Twitter, they are true friendships indeed. We are here for each other to celebrate our triumphs and joys, and to hold one another in grief and sorrow.
I sat with her and watched the tears well up as she read the card. I watched her hands flutter as she unfolded the quilt, touching each block with wonder. She said "I can't believe you did this" and I replied "but you know us. It's what we do." From afar, we can wrap one of our own in the labor of our hands and she will know she is loved. Her daughters will snuggle in it and spill juice on it. The quilt will wipe away tears and warm little bodies on cold winter mornings. This is how we all came together. We make things. We started blogging about what we made because we were looking for something - for an identity or a showcase for our work or for a way to share our knowledge. We may not have known what we were looking for or what to expect when we found it. What we found was each other. It has been an incredible gift.
We love you, friend.
Made for the Carleton family. Completed in September 2011.
62" wide by 74" long with 10" blocks. Fabrics mostly from individual stashes with added embroidery on some. Pieced back from the Denyse Schmidt Proverbial Quilt Pattern.
Quilted by Tillie Studio.
Made with love by Sarah Jackson, Jade Sims, Grace Snow, Erin Harris, Cathy Gaubert, Beki Lambert, Laura Capello, Lori Hanson, Alicia Alferman, Amy Harding, Michelle Needham, Emily Demsky, Sarah Brundage, Lisa Clarke, and Stacy Dinkel
presented with a original watercolor card by Heather Smith Jones
Photos, courtesy of Chris.