Here is the basic information you’ll need to participate in your online class

(If have not registered for an online class but would like to see course listings and register, click here.)

Getting to Class: A few days before class begins, a password-protected page for the class is set up on this blog.  Registered students receive the password to access the page via email.  Keep the password handy in case you need it again.  (You computer might remember it as a “cookie” and give you access to the class pages without re-entering the password.)  The same password will give you access to the main class page and the work-in-progress pages of each class participant.

In addition to the main class page, each student has their own “work-in-progress” page — like a scrapbook, sketchbook and virtual studio — where I’ll post your photographs and we can communicate about your work.  These pages are open to the other class participants (but not to the public) so everyone in class has the opportunity to share and learn from each other.

Getting Class Materials:  Each Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. EST during the class period, the materials for that week are posted under the main class page — just click on the page title(s) to open the page and access the materials. (Since WordPress doesn’t accept EQ files as uploads, any EQ live files will be sent to you via email.) You don’t have to be online at that time — just work on the project at your own pace during the week. 

It is a good idea to set up a physical notebook to keep and organize your class materials.  These can include not only materials that you download and print out, but can also be your working sketches and materials you gather to inspire   you.  It’s also a good idea to set up a class folder on your computer, where you can keep together any computer files, images from the web, etc.  If you don’t know how to do this, there is likely someone in your home or a friend who can show you.  The “Help” button on the top bar of your computer can also provide this information — just search for the topic “create a folder.” 

Participating in Class:  How much you do in class is completely up to you.  Some people send in photos of every assignment, some prefer to work quietly on their own.  All students have access to all students’ pages, so even if you don’t communicate a lot yourself, you can watch and learn from what other people are doing.

The pace that you work at is also up to you.  If you have less time one week and more time another, you can catch up later in the class (but not after the class ends).  You are welcome to print out class materials for your own personal use at another time.  At the end of the class period, class materials and student pages are removed from the blog.

Do I need to buy a book? As you probably know by now I have two books: Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts (published in Fall 2008), and Magnificent Spiral Mandala Quilts, (published in Fall 2010).  Both book deal with spirals quilts.   People often think of SASQ as the “introductory” book and MSMQ as the more “advanced” book.  The fact is, both books have the same technical information about how to draw and sew spirals. (The information in MSMQ has been updated a bit, but you’ll be fine with either book.)  What’s the difference between the books?  

SASQ focuses on individual spirals, how you can create variations within them, and how to use them in a variety of quilt settings.

MSMQ focuses on how spirals connect, and the designs that are created by these connections.  In terms of quilt settings, this book focuses specifically on the round, kaleidoscopic quilts I call “spiral mandalas.”  (The good news is, they are way easier than they look — anyone even a beginner — can do them.) 

Do I need a book for the classes?  Yes.  The books and the CDs that come with them provide many of the basic materials used in the classes; the class provides additional depth and one-on-one help as you learn and/or design your own spiral quilt project.  Spirals 100: Spirals Crash Course is based on SASQ (but can also use MSMQ).  Spirals 203: Magnificent Spiral Mandala Quilts requires MSMQ.  For other classes, check the class description to see which book is required. 

How do I buy a book?  Click here  If you purchase a book at the time you register for a class, you’ll receive a 20% discount off the cover price of the book.

Communicating with me and other class members:  Whenever you have a question about your project, just go to the “Leave a Comment” box at the bottom of your work-in-progress page.  Write in it and click “Submit.”  When you do, two things happen: your question or comment is saved to the page, and it is automatically sent to me as an email.  I will then respond to your comment in the same comment box, so there will be a running dialogue between us. 

To leave a comment for another class member, go to that person’s work-in-progress page and write in their comment box.  Your comment will appear on their page, and I will receive a copy by email.

Email addresses of class participants are not shared, but if you wish to communicate privately with someone you can post a comment to their page, asking for their email address. 

Just a note about comments: I’ve noticed a trend lately in email communication, where people seem to forget that they are actually talking to a person.  Email can sometimes seem brusque because we don’t have the benefit of body language to convey the emotions behind our words.  Please remember that beyond the screen you are looking at are human beings with tender feelings, so please be positive in your praise and gentle in your suggestions.  We are quilters — we like things (and words) that are warm and cuddly!

If you want send a question or comment to me privately, email me directly at ranae@ranaemerrillquilts.com.

Creating a Profile (optional):  If you wish (and this is COMPLETELY optional), you can go to the WordPress home page (www.wordpress.com) and create a profile for yourself.  As part of the profile you can attach a photo of yourself or any other image that you wish to represent you.  Then, when you write a comment to your page, your picture will pop up next to your name.  It helps make things more personal and friendly.

Posting photos to your page:  Since you can’t include a photo in a comment, send them to me attached to an email, and I’ll post them on your page.  Please, please, please send your photos in this format

JPG format ONLY (no bitmaps (bmp), gifs, tifs, EQ files or zipped files!),
300 pixels wide
(the height doesn’t matter). 

Most email programs now give you two options: “Attach” and “Photos”.  Do not use “Photos.”  This will create a bitmap file and embed it in the email.  I cannot take the photo out of the email, and I cannot use a bitmap image on the blog.  You must use “Attach” to attach the photo to the email as a separate file, and the photos must be in JPG format for posting on the blog. 

Since there are quite a few programs out there for editing digital photographs and scans, I can’t tell you exactly how to shrink a photo to the correct size in your particular software.  If you do not already know how to do this, please find somehow to teach you.  In general you should first make a copy of the image file (don’t edit the original, just in case), then find the function in your software that lets you re-size images.  You can usually just crop the image, or you can specify the size in inches or in pixels. It’s really quite simple, and is a skill that you will likely use again and again, once you know how!  (To make this process even easier, read on about a one-step resizing tool you can install on your computer.)

Here’s a little more information about sizing and sending images that you might find helpful:

Easy “Image Resizer” from Microsoft:  (It works in Windows, but I don’t know if it works on Mac.) You can read about it on this page: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx.  Look in the right-hand column for the link to download and install it.  Once it’s installed, here’s how to use it:
— Download your photos (of any size) from your camera to your computer.
— Find the picture on your computer.  Right-click on the file name for the picture.  In the list that pops up you will find “Resize Images”.
— Click on Resize Images and a dialogue box pops up asking you what size you want. For purposes of the class, choose “Small”. The application creates a copy of the photo with the word “small” at the end of the file name, and puts it in the same folder that the original picture is in.  (This image will be a bit larger than 300 pixels wide, but it’s small enough I can use it on the blog.)
— Go to your email program, compose your email and ATTACH the small photo to the email to send it to me (see above). 

If you are scanning: Set the scanner to 75 dpi/ppi and to JPG format before scanning, then crop the image before scanning to include only what you want me to see.  If you do this, you may not need to re-size the image, since you already scanned it at the correct resolution.  If you scan at a higher resolution, or if the image is still larger than 4″ wide, you will still need to re-size.  Some scanners let you set a “target” size before you scan so that the image it creates when it scans will be the size you want.  Or, if the image is still too large, you can use your image editing software or the Resize Image application after scanning to shrink the scanned image.  (Do not enlarge JPG images this way.)

If you are working in EQ:  Please do not send me EQ files.  Rather, export your images from EQ as JPG files and send me those.  In EQ6, click on “Export Image”, select a location and give the file a name.  Then, the next dialogue box asks for the following information:  

Width: Select 4 inches
Height: this will automatically set itself if the “Retain aspect ratio” box is checked
Resolution: Select 75 pixels per inch
Format: Select JPG

After exporting the image, you can email this file to me and it will be in the correct format for posting on your page.  If you export a larger JPG file from EQ, the Image Resizer application described above will work on the exported image.

If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to ask — just send me an email at ranae@ranaemerrillquilts.com, or just use the “Leave a Reply” box below.

“See” you in class!

RaNae

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