How do I close this can of worms?

Posted by on December 4, 2010 in Uncategorized | 8 comments

A person who opens a can of worms tries to solve a problem, but in doing so creates a lot of new unanticipated complications.

I was afraid I had done just that with my What If blog post . . . and was sure of it when I read Janet’s reaction to the discussion on her blog, Renaissance Living.

It broke my heart to think that I could be discouraging anyone, or that anyone could be worried that they’ve been making “problem blocks” that no one wants.

KEEP CALM & QUILTWhen I talk about changing how the block lotto works or asking how we might do something better, it’s not because there are BIG problems.  It’s about tweaking the well-oiled machine just a little so that it will continue to be better and better.

For example, I get feedback about “bad” blocks–which is almost always expressed as concern and a desire to help the quilter who made them–only once or twice during a WHOLE year.

I know that many people have learned a lot and upped their quilting game by being a part of the Block Lotto.  I still have a vivid memory of one of the winners from January 2006 telling me about how receiving a bunch of well pressed, beautifully made blocks taught her the importance of pressing seams as she sews.

I am truly sorry if my post or any of the discussion that followed became upsetting for folks.  In my effort to be transparent with you about the things I think about for the Block Lotto, I simply shared too much information . . . and made some very small things seem HUGE.

I DO have a genuine concern that we could outgrow the limits of blogger in terms of their hard and fast limit on the number of authors.  Did you notice today that TWO newbies posted blocks for the first time?  Two more newbies have joined in December already.  Six people joined in November.  Not everyone will make blocks, but . . . we’re still growing in numbers at a faster than ever rate and getting closer and closer to the maximum allowed. 

I AM curious about whether many of us are spending a lot of time on Facebook and whether it would make sense to have a presence there.

I WAS thrilled to find out that there’s interest in organizing some charity quilts next year and to LEARN that I was misunderstanding about Picasa–I think we will be fine for photo space for a long, long time.

The question about how to ensure we are making blocks that every winner will be thrilled to win 100% of the time, is probably more of my personal fantasy than anything else and, again, it’s really a very, very infrequent problem. I truly do appreciate everyone’s feedback and suggestions–it has me thinking about how to redesign the tabs (pages) linked at the top of the blog to make them more useful to everyone and to make the information more findable for newcomers.

After seeing the open can of worms above and the negative connotation, doesn’t it make you wonder why ANYONE would title a quilting book with that particular turn of phrase? Imagine my surprise when I was searching for an image of a can of worms (there are thousands of them) and this quilt book cover popped up.The image is linked to Amazon, if you’re curious.  A “worm” in this context is a 2.5″ wide strip of fabric 😉

If you want to read more about the origins of a “can of worms,” check out the Word Blog post where I found the disgusting photo)


  1. I think you posted some valid concerns, and am so relieved to hear that the feedback is rare and in kind form. I know I don't play all the time, especially with these liberated blocks (give me the EXACT instructions and I can go, thise loosie goosie ones are pushing me out of my comfort zone) but I want to be a long term member…I am excited to see where we go from here, and I must tell you I talk about the lotto a lot! I think we will keep growing as long as people are enjoying it (and boy are we!!!)

  2. Sophie I learned of the time warp of FaceBook while I have been down. I always looked at FB before, but only for a short time. The time warp comes when you play the games tied to the site. That I can leave alone when I must (though something is always cooking in Cafe World).
    However, several site – Joanns, J&O Fabrics, FabTalk, Clotilde, etc – have FB presence and use it to advertise sales, present new items and to provide free patterns. The Block Lotto could be used similarly though I don't think it would be ideal for posting finished blocks.
    I prefer to stay where we are and if necessary, have one or two designated "authors" to receive emails and then publish the pictures they receive via email. This would be only as we reach the final limits of authors. Just thinking out loud.

  3. I'm thinking that one of the future blocks be made with 2 1/2 inch strips….and it can be called, Closing that Can of Worms! I am off to work on wonky trees. I can't find my big wad of black…time to break out some fat quarters for variety!

  4. Cute idea, joe tulips! Sophie has such great ideas, I know she will come up with something good for that.

  5. That's a great idea, Julie (Joe), and–can you believe it–the block I am planning for JANUARY IS constructed from 2 1/2 inch "worms."

  6. Mary Jane, thanks for the insight into the wonderful world of Facebook. I was really thinking of using it to share updates about the block lotto (for any of us that operate within Facebook), but agree with everyone that we'll keep sharing photos and information on this blog, as the official "home" of the Block Lotto.

  7. I also spend way too much time on Facebook (the games are a time suck, but there are other reasons I like to be there – being an ex-pat a long way from her original home, it's a great way to keep up with friends from HS and university from thousands of miles away). One of the apps on FB is called Networked Blogs and it publishes to FB every time a blog associated with a FB member is update (if you use that app) – something like that might be useful for the lotto. Or simply a quick note when there is a new block posted, or winners or something. I'm not sure it's essential to have a presence, but it might be fun.

    As for running out of slots for new members, perhaps we could do something like Mary Jane suggests – when we reach our limit, we could have some designated authors who could help handle the over-run and publish photos for those people. As you cull the less active members, people from the waiting list could become authors, etc. This probably wouldn't work if we got hundreds and hundreds of authors, but it would certainly work as a stop-gap measure.

  8. Hi Sophie, I was one of those who immediately thought something might be wrong with my blocks and wouldn't mind if a winner contacted me with a GENTLE critique of my blocks.

    As someone who is liable to be an intermittent member, I would not mind having to go through an intermediary as Mary Jane suggests–if there are such dedicated souls in the ranks.

    I am also on FB, but have tried to keep that just to friends and family and separate from commerce, groups, etc. But Mary Jane's post makes me think I'm missing out on something!

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