Friday, April 25, 2014

In the Works!

The air is still a bit on the brisk side here, but the grass is bright green and flowers and trees are blooming bright... all of that has me revved up for working with color! 

I'm also excited as I am playing around with a new block that I am developing. It combines fun improvised piecing techniques in a really easy to do sequence... resulting in similar, yet individually unique blocks. So far I am really pleased with the results! More to come in the following weeks...

Till then, have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, April 7, 2014

All's Well That Ends Well!

Thanks to each of you for your thoughtful comments. After reading them all it is apparent to me that; A) as quilters, we will all be faced with this sort of thing from time to time, 
and B) there are many paths to take when it does happen... 
the important thing is to find the one that feels right to you and follow it.

It was midnight when I wrote about my botched quilting in my last post. After I posted it I went to bed and when I woke up in the morning I had decided to re-quilt what I had ripped out, and then finish quilting the whole bugger, mistakes and all,
 (and believe me the quality of the quilting did not improve any). 
The end result would be to give it to my dear dog, who I knew would love it no matter what. 
(I was warmed to see that a couple of you suggested this as well.)

It took me a few tries to adjust my attitude accordingly, which meant letting go of what I had thought it was going to be, and accepting it for what it was. It helped to keep my happy little dog's face in mind, and know how delighted she would be by this quilt.

Once I got it all quilted, I did a really quick machine binding, then washed and dried it in the hopes that the desired crinkling from the washing and drying process would help blend in the non-wanted, machine-quilted puckering boo-boo's. Once the quilt was out of the dyer, I headed over to my pup Eleanor, to show her her new quilt, but was intercepted by my husband who wanted to see it. 

Now, my husband is a dear and supportive man, but truthfully has never shown a great interest in my quilts, outside of a quiet nod, followed by, "It's nice, I like it. And that is that. 
(He is a man of few words, unlike his wife, who is rarely at a loss for them.)  
But on this quilt, he started to hold it, stroke it and sing it's praises.

I tried to show him all that had gone wrong with it, the way the quilting had distorted and pulled the blocks, how the fabric had fed unevenly thus turning under hear and there creating a puckered mess, how the whole thing wasn't even squared up... he would hear none of it.
To him it was the best thing I had ever made, and he preceded to lay it over him,
while he watched TV and eventually fell asleep under the warmth of it.
Luckily, he and Eleanor like to snuggle together, so I guess they can share the quilt. :)

I know now that this very humble, little lap-sized quilt has come into being to reinforce in me some lessons that I  need to continue to learn over and over again, (and I am not just talking about the quilting lessons!) The real lessons are about love, forgiveness, gentleness, acceptance, patience, humor, happiness, giving, non-judgement and staying present in the moment... 
all things that I am trying to practice and strengthen myself in.
(And that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder... )

Also, the irony is not lost on me, for I am always drawn to the beauty of imperfection, in love with all that is wabi-sabi, and I often try to incorporate those esthetics into my work... but I am also a bit of a control freak, and slave to perfection in craftsmanship... 
I want to be in charge of intentionally creating that look of imperfection. 
The reality is I am not so comfortable with actual imperfections that come unintentionally from me. 
I believe that is what we call ego and she is a bit of a joy killer...
I need to keep her in check!

So again, thanks to each of you for sharing your experiences, 
for laughing at my folly, and for offers of help and kind suggestions! 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Things I know but Choose to Ignore... Confessions of a (Supposedly) Experienced Quilter

I like to delude myself into thinking that I am way past making the quilting blunders that I may have made years ago. I mean I have learned a thing or two along the way...

(Nice, unvarnished quilt top before I defaced it.)

For instance, I know that you need to carefully smooth out your backing, batting and top then baste all three layers together very well. So how come on this quilt I ignored that "baste very well" part, and instead settled for "Hmm, it could use more pins, but that'll do"?

I know not to machine quilt when tired. So how come I decided to start quilting this evening, even though I was indeed tired?

I know that if the quilt top or back is puckering, stop! Something is not working as it should. So how come when I saw, (right into the first couple of rows) that this was indeed happening, (on both the top and the backing fabric) I just kept on going... I actually told myself that it wasn't really a big deal. WTF?

I know that good quilting takes concentration and time. So why was I plowing through the task and not paying attention to the fact that this quilt top, (that I just spent a good week putting together) was getting increasingly distorted and sloppy?

How come, (when I really did pay attention and truly saw how bad it was getting) I choose to repeat and follow that untruthful quilter's lie... you know the one..."Just keep going, you can quilt the wrinkles out" when I know from past experience that at least 7 out of 10 times you really can't.

And why, oh why did I start and stop every freakin' row, (all 54 of them, each 4 feet long... which equals 2592" or 72 yards) with little itty bitty stitches that I back stitched over several times, ( I will tell you why... because I am such a conscientious quilter and I don't want my threads to unravel). Of course I did this with the full knowledge, (gained from past experience) that should I have to rip any of those rows of stitching out, I will never be able to undo those itty, bitty, backstitched ones without ripping holes in the fabric. Now how conscientious is that??

So now I have a mess of a quilt. Not only is it a distorted mess, it is also very difficult to fix... besides those itty bitty stitches at the beginning and ends of each row, the whole backing is a homespun woven fabric that the stitches have simply disappeared into! It took almost two hours just to rip out 5 rows.

Now, what to do? I really liked the top. So, do I spend the next few days ripping out stitches, straining my eyes and making my hands ache? Or do I let it go, wasting what was a pretty top, and lots of fabric, along with my vision of what it could have been?

Ultimately it doesn't really matter, because the most important lesson here is that the quilt isn't what is important. (I mean it is just fabric and batting and some time spent. No big deal in the scheme of things.) What's important is re-learning the lessons that I knew, but choose to ignore, as well as some new lessons. So I thank this mess of a quilt for teaching me and reminding me...

~ To slow down and breath.

~ To stay in the present moment.

~ To do it right, (lest you re-do it later.)

~ To remember what I already know, (and apply it to the situation).

~ To not believe my ego when it tells me it knows better then my inner voice. (Inner voices always know best!)

~ To be kind to myself when I forget and screw up. (That's how we learn, and relearn, and remember.)

~ To be  conscious. To be aware of what I am doing, and why I am doing it, and my attitude while I am doing it.

~ To remember that a good attitude in any situation goes a long way! Nothing is worth doing with a bad attitude, (and no quilt is worth saving if it will make me a miserable person in the process!)

~ Shit happens. Accept each situation with love, make the best choice you can in each moment, let go of what doesn't work and move on to something better.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

In the Studio

Not much to share as of right now, but I do have some new quilts tops in the works, including this scrappy one. Hoping to start quilting it this week. Will share more later.

Also, wanted to officially announce the randomly picked winner of Candy's giveaway from my last post. The prize goes to Sandi, of shhdesigns. Congrats, Sandi!

Crocuses have just started blooming here, and it is slowly beginning to feel like Spring!
A very blessed relief after an oh, so very long winter!