Dear Reader: How do you take your blogs?

What I mean is, how do you read me? Do you come here every day, every three days, or once a week to check if there’s something new? Do you only read in a feed reader, and never come here for real, unless you feel compelled to comment? Did you stop by once in the beginning, never to return except via RSS feed? Or do you use the RSS feed to tell you when there’s new content, and then visit the site to take it all in right here?

See, I take my blogs up close and personal. I’ve always visited the site directly to read the latest. After my feed reader told me there was something new, I would click through and read the post and see the pictures in their native environment, as the author intended them to be seen. I like looking at blogs with nice layouts and links to pictures and other blogs (though I did stop visiting a couple of blogs regularly that blared music at me as soon as the page loaded, sorry). I don’t even think reading the whole post in my old reader was an option anyway, or if it was I never knew it, and visit the blogs I did.

Then I switched from my old reader to Google Reader, and now I see that I don’t have to go to the site to read what’s there, I can just read it all and see the pictures in the feed reader. This works for most sites, but not for all. Even so, I do still visit the actual sites for most of the blogs I read, because I like to see the original stuff, and the comments, which you don’t see in the reader, at least not in mine. That’s part of the whole blogging thing is the interaction and conversation that happens across the miles, and the sense that you’re visiting with someone in their “home” on the Web.

If there’s other content, like tutorials or photo galleries that are not in the blog chronology, if you never visit the site, you’ll never know it’s even there. If the author publishes a new post, but then goes back and edits it, if you read the post in a feedreader, you may be seeing the original version of the post, and not the edited version. (I’m a huge after-posting editor; three seconds after I click “publish” I always have to make corrections or add some afterthought, and this can sometimes go on for a quarter-hour.) If the author changes a picture, you might not see the new one, because the feed that your feedreader originally pulled has the old information in it.

These are just some thoughts running around in my head. So let’s discuss. How do you take your blogs??

Thank You to Friends (the New Year’s Post that wasn’t)

I’ve been meaning to write this post since yesterday, you know, one of those “here’s what was good and not so good about last year, and here’s what’s on the to-do list for next” kind of posts, but to be honest, I’m just not feeling all that introspective at the moment. Introspection requires hard thinking, and I’m still enjoying the (relative) leisure of the holiday for what it’s worth.

I could go back and read last year’s New Year post (and I actually did read it yesterday), and think about the things that I wanted to do that went undone (and eventually got dropped altogether for various reasons), and try to figure out what all I want to accomplish this year, but I’m already down for that runaway train that is the quilt book publication and all the other projects that go along with that, and taking the time to list it all out task by task probably isn’t going to get me anywhere at the moment. That and all the rest of the more personal and family things will either get done or they won’t, as time allows.

I will say this: there’s sometimes a lot to be said for being too busy doing to think too much on what’s happening or not happening in life. Events often happen in a certain order and at a certain time because they’re meant to happen that way, despite the fervent massaging we often do trying to make things happen. And that’s about as far into deep introspection as I’m going to go right now.

More importantly, the point of this “New Year’s post that wasn’t” is that I want to tell you how much I appreciate you being here, reading, lurking, commenting, sharing. I enjoy knowing each of you through our conversations here and on your blogs. Thank you for inviting me to share your life at your blog; I’m glad I get to see the world through your eyes every now and again. Have a peaceful, prosperous and happy 2009, friends!

A Cup of Gratitude to Go Along with Thankful

Kreativ Blogger Award BadgeIrene has nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award! How lovely of you Irene, and thank you!

The rules of the award are:

1. The winner may put the logo on her blog.

2. Put a link to the person you got the award from in your blog.

3. Nominate 3 blogs – it was originally 5, but Irene changed it to 3, and I’ll do 4.

4. Put links to the blogs.

5. Leave a message for your nominees.

Here are my nominations for the award:

1. Kristin overflows with creativity, on blog and off. Her theme interpretations for the Twelve by Twelve projects are amazing, and I’m green with envy over her blog photos which always look as if they belong in a magazine.

2. I’ve recently discovered Jodie at Vintage Ric-Rac, and if this gal isn’t Kreativ, then no one is. She sooo needs to be writing a book featuring her selvedge art. And again, her photography skills leave me green!

3. Kimberly is always creative, and she’s always so busy I don’t know how she gets it all done. Check out her free Mystery Quilt on her site; it’s one of many that she designs for various shows, magazines and workshops, and it takes some talent to keep coming up with awesome quilts, again and again!

4. It wouldn’t matter whether Jane Ann was a quilter or not, I’d read her blog for her Kreativ way with words. Her writing is simply beautiful, and regularly brings a tear to my eye, even when she’s writing about happy things—she’s that good. Her textile creativity is right up there with the best of ’em as well.

Exciting News!

AQSI’m packing like a mad woman getting ready to fly to Houston for Quilt Market, and at the last minute, I’ve received some super exciting news! While I was in Des Moines, I submitted a book proposal to the executive book editor for AQS, and I was excited to read What a Great Show on the AQS Publishing Blog. The pertinent part of that post was this:

My week was spent meeting authors old, new and wanna-be, and every single one was delightful. We received interesting proposals and scoured the vendors for what’s hot and what will be The Next Big Thing. Too much fun to call it work!

I spent the time since Des Moines, and especially since reading that blog post, hoping that my proposal was one of the “interesting” ones. The editor really seemed very receptive to my proposal and ideas when I met with her, and very friendly and easy to work with. I left our meeting feeling pretty good about it all, but you know how things like this are; sometimes you have the utmost confidence that it will all go your way, and other days are the exact opposite! Writing a book is a lot of work (and a lot of quilting!), but it’s something I’ve been working on and toward for a number of years now.

After what has seemed the longest week and a half ever, the editor emailed me this evening to say that AQS wants to publish my book!!! OMG! Can you believe it? I almost can’t! We were out for a family dinner at Wingers when I got the email, and I was so excited, I almost bounced out of my chair! I don’t know when it will be out (it’s not even ready to submit completely yet, of course), and I don’t know what they’ll decide the title will be or anything yet, but I couldn’t wait to share the news! The editor wrote in her email:

Congratulations! Bet you fly to Houston on your own steam!

She’s sure right about that! I’m off to finish packing now, and then go to bed since I have to be up soooo early for the flight, but I just know I won’t be able to sleep at all tonight! I won’t promise to blog from Houston (though I will try), but I will try to take lots of pics and notes to share when I get back…See you on the other side!

WFMW–Sizing images for your blog

Adding pictures to the posts on your blog is a good thing, providing interest and illustration and giving readers a glimpse into your quilty world. Sizing images correctly is a must though, since images that are too big for the layout of your page will cause other elements like sidebars to move around and end up out of position, and pictures that are too small are just difficult for readers to see. Here’s a quick tutorial (I use Photoshop Elements, but the theory is the same for any graphics program):

Open the image in Photoshop (or whichever graphics editor you use) and edit the color, fix red eyes or crop the image to delete any unnecessary background from the shot. Once you’re satisfied with the image, you need to know the size of the space where the image must fit, in pixels. That’s the important part here. Inches mean nothing, it’s all about the pixels.

I generally worry more about the width of an image, because that’s the dimension that will cause the layout of my pages to break if it’s too big. I use a tool called MeasureIt, which is an add-on for the Firefox Browser. When you have MeasureIt installed, you can click on the icon and then click and drag on your screen to measure an area in pixels, like this:

Finding the pixel size of an area with MeasureIt

I’ve measured the width of my post area, and I know that my image can’t be wider than 491 pixels. I usually stick with about 450px, because I like to leave a little room around the image, and it’s an easy number to remember when I’m sizing the images in Photoshop.

In Photoshop, there are two ways to size the image properly. You can use Image>Resize>Image Size, and then enter the width in the Width field, making sure that the box next to “Constrain Proportions” is checked at the bottom, and that the drop down menu next to the Width field says “pixels.” Once you enter your desired pixels for the Width, the Height will change automatically if “Constrain Proportions” is checked. Click “OK” to resize the image and save it. Read More

Time Out for Blog Maintenance

You may notice a few new things on the Weblog here, one good, one kind of annoying unfortunately, and one hopefully interesting. The first: I added the option to subscribe to comments. When you leave a comment, you have the option to subscribe to subsequent comments to that post, so that you’ll receive an email when a new comment is posted. Hopefully, this will make it easier to continue discussions here on QE without checking back in to the original post if there’s nothing there.

Second: The things that go on behind the scenes are sometimes bewildering, really. I received a not-so-nice message through the contact form about the Quilted Whispers Contest. Obviously, I’ll have to put in a filter for “those words” that don’t have anything to do with quilting. That part isn’t the whole crux of the issue though, it just led me to dig through my stats a bit, looking for an IP trail so I could just ban that obnoxious user if possible, and I found some rather puzzling referral pages there. I found links to this site from another, which would be good, except that this other site has taken my blog posts, in their entirety including hotlinkng to my pictures (aka stealing my bandwidth), Read More