Saturday, September 12, 2020

Hanging In There

We're mostly doing fine, just feeling headachy and stressed. Very thankful that so many of the people we know and love have been able to return already to an intact home. Today though, the fires are a few miles away and across the Columbia river. Much closer than we can possibly be happy about. No evacuation notices for our little town just yet, but it could come. Uggh. I've got a file box of important papers ready just in case, but nothing else. We're just tired. Weary. Sick that this particular fire was started intentionally. Some people have mental health problems, that's all I'm gonna say.
4-Block Tulip Medallion

In an impulsive move, I decided that there really should be something hanging up on that little design wall of mine. There needs to be something to look at and consider whenever I come into the quilt room. Something that doesn't take me having to pull it out of a tote just to look at. Decisions are hard right now. Even the silliest of ones.

All the pieces were cut using a small template
called a 'Mini Dresden' I picked up at Walmart

So  out came the 4-block Tulip quilt project. You know, the boring blocks? I'm making these pieced sashing strips to frame them. All the blues were cut strictly from the scrap bin totes and so the straight of the grain isn't always exact. I'll deal with the foibles of that later. Eight more sets to go and then I'll have to figure out the inner strip color and all the cornerstones. Probably gonna be applique there. I mean, why not?
Trying not to man handle them too much!
I've also been plodding through the steps to bring the T blocks to completed quilt top phase. This isn't a particularly inspiring quilt top, but all of it has come directly from the stash totes or a cut-up plaid shirt or two. It's kept me busy in a totally non-pressure way. 

Vintage T quilt top is completed!

In this quilt I focused on 'old tired oranges' and found some success with using up some languishing bits. Like I said in a previous post, the color palette was found in one of my favorites of my dads well-used plaid shirts. I'm pleased to say that another of his cast-off plaid shirts has also found its way into this very quilt. I've had it for a very, very long time and never found a good use for it until now. Seems rather fitting. And yes, he's still alive. Mom and dad both are, though getting more fragile with every year it seems. Much better to make this sort of quilt now than later when I would cry buckets, right?

Loving this green fabric so much...
I changed out the fabric on the plus block below three different times. Or was it four? Don't know why I even bothered as eventually this quilt will probably be used as a comfort quilt. Or not. There is that sentimental attachment after all! Some of the smaller orange rectangles are pieced as are the longer orange strips. It's all make-do and somehow sort of sweetly old fashioned. I don't love it, but I'm happy with the simplicity and {un}pretentiousness of it all.
It may not be special, but it's keeping me busy...

One evening I couldn't settle and finally went scrounging for a new fabric pull to cheer myself up. Funny how melancholy it looks with only blues, greens and blacks being represented, ha ha. Not so cheery after all unless you're a quilter. Then you probably understand.  Guess it will be a moody Judy sort of quilt if/when I ever cut into the fabric and give it a go!

I also have given the quilt room another good tidying up in the past week. Had a lot of fun opening up all the smaller totes of fabric stacks and also gave all the simmering stacks on the counters a good long look. Nothing went promptly back into the stash totes, so I'd say there's still some potential there in each and every one. In fact, my heart actually did the little 'pitter-patter' thing just imagining a couple of these worked into a quilt design. Couldn't quite bring myself to actually cut into anything this week, but ideas are slowly bubbling up in the back of my conscious. I can feel it happening.
A new stack of fabric to think about...

Finally found a window to watch an episode of 'The Quilt Show' featuring Sujata Shah and Freddy Moran. You can find the link over at The Root Connection though time is running out to access it for free. Am so glad I took the time to watch this as both quilters are long time faves of mine. Really made me aware {once again},  of how much I NEED a source of creativity in my life! Especially right now. Wowsers. Some nights it's all I can do to pick up the hand quilting hoop and stitch part of a hoop. The thing is, no matter how difficult it seems to be to get started, I always, always feel so much better afterward. Crossing my fingers this publishes properly as our Internet has been very erratic this past week. So there you go, another post from Debbie Downer desperately trying to keep her chin up. Things could be much, much worse and we're thankful they're not. One day at a time!


Friday, September 4, 2020

Still Playing With Fabric

Here I am with another finished quilt top. This one went together very easily after the details were sorted out.
Spring Flowers
I don't have a lot of time for writing this post, so will try to be brief.

Looking across...
Part of me is unhappy with the harshness of the finished look, but the other part of me is pleased to see something semi-coherent looking. You know how it is when the original idea drifts away on moonbeams. Finished is better than perfect!

Lots of energy in that border...
The bright, chrome yellow inner border is really interesting resting against the zingy brown and cream striped fabric. So much energy going on that it almost makes me cross my eyes. I'll almost definitely be giving this one away some day in the future as it just doesn't feel quite 'me'.
So hard to get a good picture of this one
So happy to see the flowers doing well in a quilt of their own though. Each quilt project seems to want to teach me something. Am I listening and learning?

Another oddball project going on in the quilt room is these new little T-blocks. The block itself has been on my bucket list for years and years and these colors were inspired by a fave shirt that my dad wears fairly often. As I have played around with adding in additional colors and attempting a potential layout, the temptation is pretty strong to toss them and give up. Sometimes the summer brings some very, very strange color palettes into being around here. The plan was for a nostalgic, retro vibe to hopefully meld with a soft, mellow tone and look. 

Love Apples for the win
Yep. It ain't happening. Too much crazy stuff going on around here of late, my brain totally feels like mush. The only thing that feels good to work on is these Love Apple blocks. Other projects were probably more in the 'priority' stack, but who cares about that?

The dreaded paper work is finished up through what I consider to be phase 2, which is amazing. So many hours to get there. After a long Labor Day weekend, I hope to get started on the third phase and then we're off on a week long work-week away from home {for the husband}. There will be visiting with family during that time so that's a bonus, but as soon as we get back then I hope to dive right into phase 4 and then that will be the sum total. My goal is to be completely through it all by the end of September. If I don't lose my mind and all my marbles in pursuit of reaching that specific goal.

An interesting thing happened this week when we had unexpected guests. Just a short visit, but it quickly became apparent to me that the woman friend was in desperate need of a hand work sort of hobby. For her mental health and well being? I let her lead the way in indicating interest, but before she left, I had given her a crash course in needleturn applique, scribbled notes in a quilt book and tried to hit the high notes on how to acquire a bit of fabric. Yep. Crazy, crazy days. I sent her on her way with one of my quilts, a little bag of fabric scraps plus all the encouragement I could muster! Have you ever met someone who was bursting at the seams to use their mind, heart and hands to create? Believe it or not, I was trying very hard not to push anything on her. I think it was as good for me as hopefully it was for her. Cannot wait to see where her creative journey takes her in the next year or two!

This year is definitely taking a toll on me as it no doubt is for many of you. Sometimes I walk into the quilt room and just blindly reach for something to chain piece. Other nights I sit down to hand quilt and find myself fiddling away on my phone for way too long. Just have to hit reset and dive into the things that pique our interests, whether the current projects move forward or not. At times like these, I feel very relieved to have stacks of fabric marinating on the counters and hand work all prepped and ready to go....

Monday, August 24, 2020

August Update

Decisions, decisions. It was either take the time to go quilt or take the time to actually write a post. Today I decided the post had to come first. 
Seedpod Flower quilt top is done!
What can I say about this quilt top? You already know that the flower itself was kind of an impulse, use-up-the-abandoned-bits sort of start
The full view
You also know that the inspiration pic was one that I fell head over heels in love with a very long time ago. Or did you? Regardless, I'm pretty impressed to actually see this interpretation finally come to reality. I do so adore a scrappy, utilitarian sort of look!
Scrappy goodness
I suppose this quilt would have looked fine without the Seedpod Flower center. Maybe. At this point I can't even imagine the quilt without it though. Once I wrapped my mind around how it all needed to fit together, then the top went together relatively easily. The anxiety and avoidance up to that point was stupid. Why do I always tend to overthink?
Trying to UP the 'busyness' factor with the prints this time!
All the economy blocks are the same size which means the horizontal rows are the exact same width. That was an important detail moving forward. The random placement thus relies strictly upon the differences in the various lengths of the connecting rectangles. 
A new color palette for me, but somehow it seems to work!
While they are not nearly as tall as the ones used in the inspiration picture, these started out from the scraps leftover from cutting the economy blocks. That was a good place to start. Hard to throw away the very narrow ones!  And so... determining approx. vertical measurements for the connecting rectangles became unexpectedly very simple. After all, I really didn't want the differences to be super extreme. A couple inches at most and there I was. Easy peasy.
Looking across...
Crazy how the bright, sparky applique addition to the inside border brightens everything up. I do wish the very slight, lighter blue outline above the curves still showed, but it ended up being turned under for seam allowance. This was just another one of those impulse rabbit trails that turned out to be a wonderful idea in the end. Sometimes it's nearly impossible to keep myself from traveling down the path of 'I wonder if x, y, or z would make things look better....'. 

Sometimes it works to the good and other times I find out that it's clearly wasted time. Never really know till you try though! I love how the yellow in the applique surround is more citrus than the rest of the yellow golds in the quilt. Yet it works as a very definitive framing for the Seedpod Flower, which of course, is the star of the entire quilt. Why not emphasize that even more!

This quilt top has a very distinctive mood, one that I can't quite put a proper label to. Is it retro? Vintage? Does it just convey fond memories of my grandmothers house dresses or perhaps it was the aprons she wore? Whatever it is, the mood as a whole, brings a smile to my face every time. 
Working on Spring Flowers
Another project that I've been spending time on in Spring Flowers. After seeing how washed out the flowers looked, I decided they needed a little bit of pzazz added in somewhere. After debating several different ideas {most of them ridiculously complex}, I ended up going with a very simple rail fence sort of block as the alternate. Lots of turquoise used to wake things up, but I also made sure to add insome clashy blue. For value and interest of course. There's just something about doing the unpredictable that always strongly appeals to me when it comes to quilting! The long narrow strips of the cream background fabric were added in after I realized that the flowers now needed some breathing room. So glad I had enough of that particular fabric because everything else just looked sloppy.
Auditioning border ideas
The brown and light cream striped fabric was something that I locked onto early on in auditioning border ideas. There's just something about a good striped border that speaks to me. Lots of ideas in play until abruptly I was completely done with dithering. The pink/rose fabrics were totally scrapped and simplicity became the name of the game. While I kept the strong chrome yellow, narrow, inner border {the blendy mustard gold fabric that seemed obvious was boring}, everything else got stripped down to basics. Will see how this border turns out in the end, but the thrill was just gone. Oh, and all the other orphan bits were dumped back into the totes too. So done with this particular project.Time to move on when it's not fun anymore!
Peachy Cameo in the hoop
The hand quilting is moving quite slowly on Peachy Cameo, but there's nothing very complex about what I'm doing. Sensing a theme here? One last hoop on the blue circle areas and then I'll be working on the two outside borders. I think they both will fit into one hoop {as far as width} so that's good. We're entering the long, long home stretch!
A closer look
As you can see, I often take the clamp off of one side when hand quilting. In this case, two of the blue 'circles' are right where the clamp would be, making it impossible to quilt in that area if it were to be attached. Honestly, I don't know if this is laziness or efficiency, but with this sort of quilting, having one clamp off is rarely a problem. The funny thing is, after all these years of working with only Perle Cotton thread and a long needle, my stitches are getting smaller. Still not super close together, but it's not exactly big stitching any longer. Oh well. Love the look regardless. All that instant texture is very addicting!

Will try to catch up with my emails and reading and/or commenting on other blogs in the next couple days. Have seen several posts in the Bloglover app that feel important to comment on, but the time simply hasn't been there. With time being diminished for quilting around here, often times there's really only one choice!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Good Finish

Not getting very far with the paperwork, but at least there has been time spent there. Just like with quilting, I figure every little bit accomplished equals forward progress. In better news, there's a new quilt finish! This has been such a cheerful quilt to work on. Can't believe it didn't end up in the hoop much sooner. Totally sanity saving, believe me! Why do people tend to believe that yellow isn't a positive mood enhancer?
Sweet Tarts
Maybe it's the combination of yellow and pink that works all the charm? This was a quilt top that was maybe started back in 2018? Can't find the original post now and don't want to scroll through pages and pages to find it. The beginning was sparked by an attempt at improv., free-style cut baskets and one of those stacks of simmering fabrics that are always begging to be next in line.

The full quilt
I seem to remember struggling with the inside of the baskets. Flowers? Leaves? And then somehow that morphed into adding little baskets too. Why not do both? There was a rough drawn design at one time, but it didn't take long to figure out that all the other border ideas didn't quite belong in this particular quilt. There is generally always that point in sewing a quilt top together, where the whole thing just kind of shrieks at you to 'go away' and leave it alone. Pretty please and thank you, with a cherry on top.
Close up of the little baskets
I loved the idea of framing the little baskets in simple half-squared triangle borders and using the bright, intense cheddar fabric just made the most sense at the time. Been itching to use it for years! And that pink floral fabric was just pleading to be included too. Didn't really know the very best use, but finally settled on super easy blocks. I like how the floral acts more like a background fabric in these understated blocks. Sometimes this sort of simplicity feels a bit like 'cheating', but what's the use of pretty printed fabric if we can't enjoy it?

Loving these larger baskets
I hand quilted around the edges of the baskets in organic, radiating rows {like usual}, but left the inside area free this time. It looks a little bit rumpled in the pics, but looks great in person. It's interesting when there are areas not quite as heavily quilted as the surroundings. See how the fabric looks so much lighter inside the baskets? It must be the thread color I used that appears to darken the outer basket fabric. It's a variegated cream/tan/light brown thread that seems all but invisible, but apparently not!

So happy with the cheddar/pink mix
After I posted the picture of this quilt being 'next up in the hoop', an observant reader emailed me and let me know that the cheddar triangles frame {on the very bottom right little basket} had a row turned upside down {check the second picture in the post}. Super kind of her to give me a heads up before the quilting actually happened!

In the end I decided to leave it be, though you can bet that I considered it very seriously for well over a 24 hour period--pretty much the time frame where it would have been the easiest to start ripping things out. It's something that I find to be charming and whimsical in another persons quilt, so whats the point of being fussy in mine? And there you go. Sometimes the mistakes just have to become part of the quilt around here. I had this feeling that it would be something to regret if this quilt ended up looking a little too perfect. And you know that I sometimes rip things out. I do! And would have this time for sure if I thought it would be something to bother me forever.

Some quilts just need the hand quilting love...
So funny that I had actually never noticed this mistake until the exact moment that it was pointed out! This quilt didn't seem demanding at all about the binding and so I went ahead with the scrappy look that seems to be my fall-back these days. There were several orphaned binding pieces in various shades of pink to make up the needed length. One of them is probably a little bit on the 'too light' side to perfectly compliment the quilt, but does it really matter? This quilt is striking enough not to have to rely on binding color for needful spark. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why those two little totes never seem to run out...
This one might have to stay with me
You may have noticed the sweet vintage-look floral used as the backing fabric. It's something that was bought last year at a senior citizens rummage room sale. Love it so much! Totally made my day to use it so successfully, though it probably would have been a fun challenge to incorporate it into the front of a quilt too. I had to smile at one of my daughters when she first saw it. Her face! Apparently this floral is an acquired taste. And here I thought it was absolutely fantastic!

Spring Flowers
All 18 of the Spring Flower blocks are finished up now too. Once I started hand stitching the leaves to the background it went really fast. Of course it helped that I was stuck in a vehicle for most of two days traveling to and fro a family funeral. While this was a very sad occasion, it wasn't exactly unexpected as the health issues had been ongoing and/or progressing for a little over five years.

All orphaned 'cut-out' circles and scrap bin fabric leaves
Of course, there's never enough time with loved ones, and I don't have a clue what to say to my sister.that would be the least bit comforting. Losing a companion is heartbreaking under almost any circumstance. We were just relieved that the graveside services allowed accommodation for all of the family who wanted to attend. Even a month or two earlier, the numbers would have been severely limited which would have made a distressing situation even more traumatic. As it was, my sister had to make unhappy choices within the Covid safety rules and just do the very best she could within those boundaries.

As far as these quilt blocks are concerned, something needs to be done to wake them up. I'm completely rethinking the colors/ideas for alternate blocks. Right now the blocks look very soft and cozy close up, but absolutely boring from a distance. Am keeping them on the wall until something interesting floats through my brain. Not feeling especially creative right now, but the hand stitching and hand quilting feels super soothing. Gotta take the 'feel goods' where you find them these days. And the rare moments of inspiration too...

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

A Little Bit At A Time

Life has been very disjointed and moody lately. We have deadlines and 'have-to's' out the kazoo. Things happening that seem quite heavy. Or at least it seems that way. It could be that our get-up-and-go is feeling recalcitrant, and everything seems to take an extra dose of effort just to get done. Our kids and grandkids came to visit last weekend, so that was a wonderful window of good times. Nothing like the honest joy of little children to make everything seem just a little bit brighter for a moment or two!
Coronacrazy progress
Governor proclamations and mandates have been getting especially wearisome of late. It feels like we're at permanent pause regardless of any available, pertinent data. I have family grappling with the public school question and I'm very relieved not to have to be dealing with that dilemma myself! Feel so sorry for the kids who will have to wear masks all day and not get to have any positive social time with their friends. Definitely time to seriously consider home school options, but if too many do that here in our valley, the result will probably be that our community permanently loses the school itself.

Good time to pull out the Coronacrazy quilt out and make a stab at moving things forward--put my crazy towards something beneficial. Just too many things completely out of our control! This picture above represents three hours of auditioning the layered flower bits and then taking off the pieces not needing to be tucked 'under' the hills. I'm not very much in the mood to do this particular applique at present, but it is all prepped and ready for when the time arrives. Which it always does.
Binding for Sweet Tarts
Lovely to have had the binding all ready for Sweet Tarts! It's well on its way to a post of its own here on the blog, and I must say, it will be very bittersweet to be finished up with this particularly sunny project. It's been a great mood elevator during these past weeks of having it in my lap.
Applique border on Seedpods
The Seedpod quilt has the applique addition all cut out, very carefully fussy cut from the remnants of a single fat quarter. Stumbled upon this fabric when combing through the stash totes and it seemed so obvious that it was the perfect choice to help make this centerpiece shine! Amazing what a little fussy cutting can do! Crossing my fingers all the colors work as well as expected....
Time for a basket!
This has been in the works for a couple weeks. One day I was perusing the multiple stacks of fabric marinating throughout the quilt room. This stack of older blues and pinks didn't seem very inspiring, but mixed with a few reds and greens, just had this little glimmer of possibility. 
A make-do background
On that particular day, I must have been feeling fairly invincible, as it was not the least bit scary to just start cutting and throwing things at the wall. In no time at all, there was a substantial basket looking back at me. Easy as pie to add more width to the chosen background fabric and then, next thing I knew, the preparation for applique was well on its way too. Love when a project barrels along, gaining momentum with every single decision made!
Figuring out the applique
I'm enjoying the faintly Scandinavian look/color palette to the applique, but you probably need to know that all the cues for this flower arrangement were taken directly from the darkest blue fabric in the basket. Still not 100% sure about the white stem and leaves, but am willing to try it out and see. The basket handle still needs some fine tuning, but otherwise, all is ready for hand stitching there too.
Next up in the hoop!
Though we did have a lot of distractions over the weekend, there is generally always a brief window for hand quilting around here too. Thankfully Peachy Cameo was already sandwiched and pinned, ready to be popped into the hoop at a moments notice! I've been dreading working on this quilt for some ridiculous reason, but finally the time had come. No more excuses or procrastination allowed!
Closer look at Peachy Cameo
Now that I've stitched a hoop or two, it seems like a rather silly 'dread' and I'm left wondering why? It was probably the open areas in the applique border that seemed rather intimidating. Sometimes it takes getting a quilt into the hoop before those decisions can ever be satisfactorily addressed in our minds. Gotta go through instead of trying to weasel our way around a problem.
Full view
Up till today, I've not had a boat load of problems with the New Blogger. Little bit of a learning curve, but not too overwhelming. Today was a doozy and I eventually just had to delete an entire post and just start over. Why? Something to do with {accidentally} engaging the link button and then trying to type out the entire post while in that particular mode. Definitely. Do. Not. Recommend. I've been working on getting a post out today for more hours than I want to admit to. You'd think I would have quickly figured it out, but no.... I'm not techy smart and it took me forever to understand why all my defaults had suddenly went pyscho. {Head banging stuff.} Blogger, you picked a fine time to change things up and I sincerely hate you. The end.

So the paperwork has been piling up around here and I've been ignoring it best that I can. {For a long, long time actually!} Thinking... Hmm.. Surely I can put it off till a less stressful time? Yeah. Not happening any time soon. I finally bit the bullet and started getting things organized for a big push in the home office. Will still try to blog here and there, but cannot guarantee any regularity. Or perhaps I will post pictures and leave off the wordy ramblings? Whatever. Will figure it all out in due time. Thankfully I have lots and lots of hand work prepped and ready to go for when I need the down time. 

Am currently trying to get my hand work bag sorted out with applique projects organized in order of priority. lol  Order of importance? Or order of interest? You tell me which ones more important...

Monday, July 27, 2020

Working Through the Steps

It was great to see Antique Crows finally come together for a true blue finish! The hand quilting wasn't always the most fun as I was stitching on the inside of each of the 'points'. That's what I wanted for the look and texture though, so just kept slogging along regardless of extra layers of fabric. 
Antique Crows for the finish!

The backing is a bought-on-clearance, Kaffe, woven, stripe fabric. Makes for a great drape and feel and especially wonderful for summer! I'm already using this on our bed although it's a bit girly compared to the colors I usually prefer in our bedroom. Just. Could. Not. Resist.

Full view

This was a quilt where I really pushed myself to use busier prints than normal. It's a little frustrating to see fabrics stacking up in the totes and never quite feel comfortable enough to use them. I'd been wanting to make a New York Beauty quilt for years and that has always been just a little beyond my comfort zone as well. 

Love the mismatched circles....

Finally, in the year 2017, I admitted to myself that the New York Beauty was probably never gonna happen and instead decided to draft this more simplistic, chunkier-look block. Hey, why not? I started with cream quarter circle cut-outs from behind some other {previous} quilt and that was it, I was charmed into following my curiosity. This particular stack of fabric caught my eye and I was off and running. Catch me if you can!

Such a happy, fun look!

Like most everything else, it was a lot harder in my imagination than it was in reality. I'm so very glad that I made up my own block and ended up with this folksy, happy looking quilt! The colors may be a tad modern looking, but overall the vibe seems fairly cozy which of course is always my end goal. The added whimsy of the blocks coming together into a mismatched circle totally makes me smile. How could it get any better?

Spring Flowers

Lots of jumping around from project to project this past week. There are other things that I should be working on, but these flowers went ahead and pulled me in instead. At this point, I have all the stems and flowers stitched down and now just need to attack the leaves.

Seedpod Flower quilt

Uh huh. That seemed rather boring and so I changed directions altogether. This is an oldish project that I last worked on around this time last year. Well, that's not entirely true because I'm pretty sure that I cut some of the blocks out in December. It just never gained any real traction because of that border around the Seedpod flower. It has always been just a little bit wrong and thus, made the whole project rather confusing.

Starting to put the parts together

So I totally ignored this project in the hopes that it would somehow fix itself. But it didn't. Of course not! Why do some quilts always have to be so unreasonable? Having a rare, relatively empty house over the weekend tipped me over into the red zone as far as guilt goes, though. The centerpiece is just too good to abandon forever. Best get crack-a-lackin' and figure something out! 

The little blocks were oh-so-tedious to sew together. I think there's over 150 of them? I knew they needed to be available for auditioning purposes before making any serious decisions about moving forward. And I was right about needing to have the border attached, whether it was exactly how/what I envisioned or not. That's the point where I had stopped last August. More like froze in total indecision! The way this scrappy block {look} goes together, it seemed critical to have the width measurement for those little blocks in order to feel perfectly okay about moving forward. I do so hate to have an excess of wasted parts and too, I only have a finite amount of appropriate colored fabric to use in this quilt. What's a girl to do?

Why couldn't I just wing it like I do with everything else you ask? I don't know! Everything within resisted so strongly, there seemed to be no other option. If there's one thing I've learned through the years, it's to trust the quilt. Just had to keep tamping down the panic trying to rise up and take it one step at a time. By the time the quilt was at the stage you can see in the last picture, ideas were finally, finally starting to well up in my brain. There's something very palpable about the energy that builds when chain piecing and 'thinking' without really 'thinking' about a specific problem in a quilt. Then, when trying to lay different colored blocks out and balance appropriately with the various fabric strips? It all just sort of gelled. Thank goodness! What about this? How about that? Until all the working parts started making sense as a unit.

So that's where my time and attention has been for several days. I've finally got everything sewed up into rows and a serious applique plan for dealing with the blue border. It isn't very complicated after all, just fussy cutting from a rather small hunk of what used to be a fat quarter. And the width of the border remains exactly the same. No lost time and effort there after all!*sigh  Don't you love it when a difficult quilt starts cooperating?

Sunday, July 19, 2020

10 Years of Quilty Blogging

Well, it's been 10 years of quilty blogging! Funny how the very first post still holds true. Probably still be trying to talk to myself if it wasn't for all my blogging friends! Here's one of the first quilts that actually made it onto a post. I was super selective back in the early days, terrified of posting too many pics. It's an American Patchwork pattern that seemed pretty intimidating at the time. You know what that means, right? Yep. I was thrilled and feeling proud. Still hangs in my living room today!

I seriously debated whether or not to forge ahead on the anniversary of that first year. There were definitely things that I was struggling with, such as being able to respond easily to comments. {Which thankfully took eons to start rolling in.} They were so wonderfully scary. Hey! Someone commented on my post! People get me!

I've pretty much figured out how to handle that particular dilemma, but others {run on sentences?}, I've completely given up on. Laughing, laughing, laughing.... In fact, it's become a feature, not a bug. How else to write in a conversational tone? After a little bit of trial and error, I think I've finally found my writers voice...

Another thing that I worried about, just a little, was my exuberant quilting process. Transferring all the quilty journal-ling to the blog meant that I had choices to make. Would I continue to simply do an end-of-the-journey wrap up for each quilt?  Or would it be more interesting to write about process all along the way?

Uh huh. I leaned in. Over time, this blog has become even more about the process. Always with the goal of helping me to better understand how to get from A to Z, even if 'Z' isn't really all that clear at the onset. Taking pictures and writing about the creative journey absolutely helps to clarify important details. I tell myself that it helps some of you occasionally too. Maybe that's just justification for endlessly long posts? Whatever. The thing is, for the most part I've gotten way away from using patterns and find great joy in going my own direction. Letting the quilt tell me what it needs/wants, and trying to figure out how to best make that happen.

There has unquestionably been growing pains in the past 10 years. How could there not be? We're literally talking about a decade of quilty blogging adventures! One thing that is very sneaky, but oh-so-real, is the tendency for most of us to want to please others. It can make the most self confident among us want to self edit or try to make everything look good and shiny. 'Here's my amazing masterpiece. Don't you love how it came to be without any hiccups whatsoever?' Or perhaps we start making quilts in the same style that generate the most comments and likes. People are generally very kind, but criticism IS criticism. Bloggers who show the 'warts and all' need to develop a thick skin and learn not second guess every creative decision.

It's a trap, and will only steal our joy. It also leads to paralysis and excruciatingly boring quilts. You know that's the truth! Best to make quilts to please us first, and and then in doing so, we more regularly fill up the well. There starts to be an organic sort of 'flow' from quilt to quilt as we continue in our quest for answers. So much more fun and satisfying in the long term!

And if a few friends come along for the ride? All the better! My very favorite blogs are the ones where the quilters are generous, open and honest about how and where they got to where they were going. Or even more interesting, to where they ended up. Lets hear about the rough starts and missteps along with the cool moments of triumph and victory! Recognizing myself in others 'process' has undoubtedly helped me to become the quilter that I am today. Today's blog posts can be liken to yesteryear's quilting bees where it's easy to help others out just by being real.

Some 'aha' moments were unquestionably monumental in terms of my growth as a serious quilter. So valuable to read about things that didn't make sense in the beginning, but became clear when reading about them through the lens of another quilter. There were things that unnerved me or seemed time wasting. Other things that made me feel inadequate or especially unskilled, even lacking if I didn't share the enthusiasm to 'better' some specific area of my quilting. 

Sharing back and forth with other quilters has enormously helped in clearing up many of those unrealistic expectations and unreasonable 'rules' many of us start out with. Do you know how cheering it was when I realized that there are actually other quilters out there who honestly work better on shhh...., eight or ten open ended projects rather than only one? Huh? This doesn't have to be a guilty little secret?

The virtuous, feel-good crowd {less a problem today than ten years ago} would have you to believe that 'start one, finish one' is the absolute, number one, most rewarding way to do things. Good for you if that is your special zen, but that doesn't work so well for each and every one of us! I get bored almost into a coma and instead of finishing a dozen plus quilts a year, the outcome drops to a pitiful few. 

The funny thing is, many of these ideas have been rendered meaningless simply by admitting to them here on the blog. Or unexpectedly reading a quilter admit that perhaps she doesn't bury her threads. What??? When a few quilters react positively to these confessions, taking the time to say, 'Oh, I do that too', well... then we can shrug off the garbage and get down to the business of making our wonderfully amazing quilts in earnest. 

After a decade of copious {quilty} oversharing here at Quilty Folk, I'm can't say that I'm particularly immune to disagreements and general unhappiness concerning my creative choices. People do tell me once in a blue moon that they personally disagree with a point or two, and oh yeah, that they fear for my sanity. Well, maybe not the sanity part, but you know that is probably implied! 

If I truly want to succeed at making original looking quilts, then I am going to have to take a different path than others once in awhile. It might be hard to understand. It might even make you uncomfortable as to the direction my quilting journey is taking me these days. You might think that what I'm doing is flat out ugly or that I'm wasting my time trying to figure out the color green. That's just the way that it works and I need not take offense. I've stopped following many quilters myself through the years due to diverging interests, and I'm sure others have stopped coming to here for much the same reason. In that same vein, I've started following completely different quilters who maybe didn't resonate with me so much, many years before, but now they do. 

I've learned that the diligent pursuit of individual passions, obsessions and yes, even the rabbit trails of all these various quilting adventures are vital. They are important because they are the very things that lead to finding our true quilting voice. This time I'm speaking to the style, elements, vibe, personality and feel of our quilts. That voice. That almost magical thing that so definitively says, 'This quilt was made by me'. It's truly special and I doubt that I'll ever be able to take it for granted. It's just too hard earned.

It's amazing to look back 10 years and see so much progress. I can't even hardly put it into words! Starting out, it seemed like an almost unfathomable, practically unattainable goal! I'm not 100 percent satisfied, not in the least. Don't think that. There is still lots to learn and explore! I might not be in the 'It' crowd of quilting {some of us sort of float between the most popular genres}, but it has never been my intended destination, that popularity.

Over and over, I have self corrected by reminding myself that a great, robust creative process is absolutely about the DOING. Being present in the quilting room. Pursuing as many ideas that intrigue as possible. Participating in self-made challenges {and also, the occasional community challenge}. Definitely chasing after unique incorporation of many personally beloved quilting elements, whatever they may be. I intend to keep doing exactly that. AND, I want to keep encouraging others to gain confidence in their own creativity and originality. 

Ironically, this moment in time comes with a faint feeling of blogging fatigue. I'm not saying that I want to stop blogging. I think there's just too much crazy in the world for an introvert like me not to get overwhelmed once in awhile. It wears on me. Taking the time for quilty blogging these days feels like a luxury I can ill afford, and yet I thoroughly enjoy reading through other quilters posts every chance that I get. It's like taking a 'time out of time' in terms of current events. Yes, lets do continue to talk quilts and all the things that make us happy. And lets make good quilts. The more the merrier!