Friday, December 21, 2012

Modern Quilters, Apps and the Net

Keeping up with technology is a challenge.  I was an elementary teacher for 25 years and spent most of those years teaching in the school library.  The teacher-librarian was the one who usually got trained to implement computers in the school.  At the beginning there were only a few computers in the school and the library was a great place for them so many students could access them.  I remember the first computers with magnetic cassette tapes, the first coloured computers that had an amazing 64 colours and the first time we had to do report cards on the computer with dot-matrix printers.  Now, keeping up with the rapid changes is hard. 
Last year I got an iPad and really like what I can do with it in the store.  Someone says, 'I saw it on the internet.'  No problem, we can look for it on the internet.  Someone says, 'I'm looking for this ruler.'  Out comes the iPad and we see if I can order it from my suppliers.  Like so many other areas in retail, customers are more aware of what is available.  That makes customer service even more important to an independent small retailer like your local quilt shop. 
Blogging is a great way for quilters to gain information, like this one you are reading.  I love looking at the stats to see who is reading what I take time to write.  I wish everyone was close enough to visit but knowing you are reading this means alot.  Some of my favourite blogs, which you may enjoy, are:
Fibermania by Melody Johnson
Yarn Harlot- she is a knitter but there is alot we have in common
A Stitch in Dye by Malke Dubrowsy because I love her fabric lines
The Quilt Rat by Jill, who is local and shares her trials and discoveries
Moda BakeShop because there are tons of great patterns

For the quilters getting into smart phones and tablets there is a whole other technology explosion called Apps.  Apps are applications designed for the phone or tablet, many of which are free.  You download the app onto the device you have so you can take advantage of it.  Apps are not as  involved as a computer program but those darn small screens can be a challenge for us... with more life experience.  (I really didn't want to say older).  I found a couple of apps that are really useful.

FabricStash-  this one isn't free and is about $5.  You can take photos of your stash and organize projects.  I have been taking photos of fabric I am ordering for next February to June.  There is a space for notes about what patterns I can use, who I ordered the fabric from and when it may arrive.  I can imagine young quilters keeping track of the stash they are building and being so organized in a way we never could.  It will never replace sorting through your bins and piles, touching the fabric and marvelling at your fabulous collection but you will be able to take it shopping with you so you know what more you need.

BlockFab- this one is free.  It helps you design quilts with traditional blocks, calculate yardages and plan colours.  Once you start working with it you will discover its great usefulness.

I have to go now.  I went to Google and typed in 'quilt apps'.  There are loads of them to check out.  One talks about an electronic round robin!  Who knew?!  I should probably turn off the computer and finish my Christmas quilting gifts. What to do, what to do?

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