Thursday, 22 December 2016

Looking back, looking forwards

2016 was the first time I ever set down even vague quilting aims for the year ahead but it has proved to be an interesting exercise and since Yvonne is encouraging us to share our plans for 2017 I thought I'd use the opportunity to reflect and maybe lay out some tentative goals.

It has been a bizarrely productive year for me: I have completed 5 quilts, which I know doesn't sound like much to many people but is a lot for me, and made another 5 tops which are now waiting their turn in the quilting queue.  

Some of my resolutions fell by the wayside pretty quickly but the one I stuck with best was my resolve to 'green' my stash as much as I could.  I had a brief moment of panic about what the implications of Brexit would be (prices have gone up and my favourite fair trade fabric source is closing down) but apart from that I have concentrated on organic lines.  This has its disadvantages (lack of choice, especially if you don't want lots of 'look at me' prints or cute stuff) but also an unexpected upside, which is that I have definitely bought much less fabric.  I looked a lot, to start with, and then talked myself out of things, but after a bit I didn't even look.  It has also pushed me to use the bag of old shirts I had accumulated.  

The other aim I expressed that has worked for me was to keep looking for opportunities to interact with other quilters.  Last year I tried Stash Bee; this year I had a go at joining in with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, but gave up after about three months. I love the idea, but the reality was that my scraps just didn't seem to work - not enough of them for a start, so I acknowledged defeat.  Quilty 365 on the other hand really sparked something. I didn't imagine at the start of this year that I would spend an entire 12 months making circles, but look at the tops completed this year - there's definitely a bit of a theme going on.

So, aims for 2017:
  • Work on finding rhythm.  I've been productive this year but somehow it has often felt scrappy and haphazard and sometimes downright unsatisfactory.  It's down to me to work out how to juggle things (time and space)so that this feels better.
  • I will try to keep up my approach to fabric buying.  I can't bring myself to completely give up on non-organic lines, but will keep up the focus on organic, fair trade, and recycled stuff. 
  • There are a couple of things I've done this year that I would like to revisit or rework.  I've thought this before and not followed up the idea, but maybe writing it here will encourage me. 
  • I still like the idea of finding ways to collaborate/link up with others. If anyone out there has the inclination to play around this idea with me, do feel free to get in touch.   I wish I could find a satisfactory real life option, but I'm not holding my breath on that one. 
  • Finally, I just aim to keep going, keep trying, keep recording what I do, keep learning through my interactions on this blog and by seeing what other quilters are doing.

A final note - the AHIQ linkup will happen next week, just in case some of you are still sewing.  I'm secretly hoping I might sneak a bit of time in between now and then!

2017 Planning Party


  1. I love all your finished quilts. They are all beautiful! The finished quilt tops are wonderful too. I think you're doing amazing at using your stash and recycled material. I've really limited my purchasing in 2016 as well. I have a very scrappy stash, as I usually bought fat quarters only. I want to try to do even better with using my stash next year. Thanks for all you share.

  2. Your quilt top finishes this year do have a strong theme and cohesiveness. I hope you can find a way to find more cohesion in your time quilting next year. Thank you so much for linking up. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and wonderful 2017.

  3. It looks brilliant all together here in one post. I have really enjoyed following your process and progress on all of these and think the lighthouse quilt might just be my fave of them all. looking forward to seeing how your 2017 comes together!

  4. I always love your work and your thoughtful approach to quilting and your blog. I think greening your stash is a great goal which I might try to follow....but even just using more of what I already have would be great.

  5. I've loved following your progress on these quilts! It's so interesting seeing how you combine colours, recyling more is one of my 'goals' for next year!

  6. Very impressive! Looks like you went from squares in quilts to circles in quilts...what shape next?
    I've been on "no buy" for a couple of months unless I need backing or batting or background fabrics. In 2017 I'm going to concentrate on clearing out all the boxes and bags of real scraps (waste triangles, selvages, strings, etc) and hope not to cut into fabric much. I was practicing "no buy" now so I'll be used to it when I retire and have no money!

    I've enjoyed stopping by all year to see what you are doing.

  7. I still have next week to actually jot down my ideas for 2017. Watching the progress over the year with your quilts has been a real pleasure, you have some beauties here!! Roll on 2017 for more.

  8. You have a style all of your own and don't follow trends, your quilts are always interesting and I am so impressed with your achievements in 2016. Your 2017 goals are a natural flow on, I look forward to seeing next years progress.

  9. Such a good post I'm writing one, too. It it interesting to compare what we actually accomplished with what we planned. I like your idea of green stash. Must give that some thought. Merry Christmas.

  10. Several years ago I did a set of basic quilts {a series} on purpose and was so fascinated by how it evolves. Now when I find myself revisiting a theme, like your wonderful circle quilts, I try to listen and follow through. Sometimes I wonder if it's our brains way of trying to perfect an idea that is shimmering just out of sight and we have to re-work it just because it's so different from where we might have started. I love your unique quilts so much and how you talk about the process. Very much an inspiration to me!

    1. I think you've hit the nail on the head Audrey, making one thing inspires us to try the same idea in a different way. Of course we never reach 'perfection', but what we end up with is a 'body of work' rather than seemingly random quilts that could have been made by anyone. Your quilts definitely come under the body of work category - i.e. you can generally spot an Audrey quilt without too much trouble!

  11. Kates right, you have your own unique styles and ive really enjoyed watching the progress and seeing your - well almost lol - thinking processes pictorially.
    I simply adore your central circles, I could just run by and steal it away, but wont I promise!
    Ive not bought any organic fabric but then I do buy a lot of recycled materials to counter balance my undisciplined fabric buys. Like you I find shirts can offer remarkable good value and have found an old fashioned charity shop that offloads mens shirts for a £1 or £1.50 and theres almost always one XXL in a cotton I could use.
    My 365 circles stalled as I got overwhelmed by 'needing' to complete my Scrappy Happy Hexi quilt but I have returned to the circles this week oddly enough.
    My 365 circles will span 2016 and 2017 lol
    I enjoy your blog very much so thank you.
    Maybe we could all do a scrap swap and set ourselves a challenge to use up everyone elses scraps!

  12. Your quilts and tops are wonderful! You did accomplish a lot this year. The only goals I have set for myself for the last three or fours years is to work on my UFOs. I didn't get as many done as I would like to have, but I didn't add anything so that is a plus! I managed to get some new quilts made, but mostly they were for a person and not just another one to add to the pile I already have. Have a happy and safe holiday season!

  13. It is interesting, all the straight lines in the first photos, and curved lines in the second. Do you think Audrey's QAL was an influence there? And you know, the lighthouses are more representational than your usual work, but it feels like they influenced the Brexit quilt too. Which, you know, is fantastic and feels like a big step forward to me. I am always complaining about distractions, but this seems like evidence that they've been a big benefit to your quilting. Food for thought.

    I hope you have a great holiday, Kaja! I may try to drum up some resolutions too. Apparently there are prizes!

  14. Your goals are so admirable Kaja. And your work this year was so much fun to see develope! You turned out beautiful quilts! I know what you mean about finding organic lines that appeal. Hopefully more and more will be made available.
    Merry Christmas and a Quilty New Year!

  15. It's been a beautiful productive year for you ! :)

  16. I have not got organized enough to do an assessment, but I am working on goals for next year. Gotta start somewhere. I really enjoy watching you work, Kaja, and I'm longing to get back into a little improv. As soon as the dust settles from Christmas weekend, I'm going to sneak in some sewing time! Merry Christmas!

  17. Oh my goodness! What an enlightening post. I have never set real goals for myself--probably because I fly by the seat of my pants more than I am willing to admit--but to see others doing so and now to see how you sit down and really assess your goal, your work, your influences. All of it seems so deep, but it's one of the things I want to do in retirement. Really look at myself as a quilter and a writer, then try to figure out how and where I can grow.

    I've always loved your work, especially that fantastic lighthouse quilt. Looking at it again, I noticed that the blues seem to shimmer like light reflecting off of water. What a bonus for a quilt with lighthouses and water. It's really amazing.

    Finally, I didn't realize that you got three quilts from Quilty 365! I lost track of one. lol I've seen so many. It's it wonderful to see how much everyone accomplished with one project and how different the works are? I hope to find another project along the vein of Quilty 365. It's such an inspiration and a great way to meet and interact with other quilters.

  18. always thought filled... what an amazing array of original work finished this year. It's pretty amazing to see them all in one place. I've not done that. I am recounting the year, and my word from last year. I believe I've come up with one for this year too. I'll bring along last year's "use it!" for another go
    Love to you across the miles, to our hearts, a place where we can be open and share without borders

  19. I love 'reflective practice', to give it it's fancy name! I'm still on with the collaborative thing we started and I stalled but never stop thinking about. Your lovely pieces are in pride of place beside my hand cranked Singer and I've got so many ideas that I can't wait to get stuck in on - are you still up for it? I'm so in awe of your productivity this year, almost one type of finish a month for the year is very impressive. I've yet to sit down and think about things, but I suppose I tend to work organically rather than have specific goals. Maybe a goal to have some goals would be a good start! Congratulations on a very creative year and some very exciting finishes. Here's to 2017! x

  20. Your finishes are stunning - and lovely to see them altogether in this post. I have never publicly stated intentions at the end of the year so it was interesting to read that it helped you this year. What did you have in mind re collaboration/linking up? Virtual or real life? Good luck with your goals for 2017. x

  21. What a wonderful look back, as well as ahead! You've made some gorgeous works of art this past year and it's been inspiring to watch each one progress. I hope you achieve your goals in 2017. Happy New Year!


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