Tuesday 5 April 2016

Thinking, more than stitching

Having just finished piecing the circles quilt, I thought I'd take a moment to stop and think.  Two things prompted this: the bout of flu I had in February and Stephie's interviews with Ann (fretnotyourself.blogspot.co.uk)  and Audrey (quiltyfolk.blogspot.co.uk/).  The flu stopped me dead in my tracks, and since I got back to the sewing I have limited myself to two activities: piecing the circles and quilting Build Me a Wall.  Other projects, including the 365 daily circles and my attempt at particpating in this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge were shelved.  
At the same time I found myself first of all drawn to Ann talking about the idea of making just one quilt at a time and then Audrey describing how she juggles multiple projects.  Both of these approaches have their own appeal: I like the notion of simplicity and focus that comes with sticking to one thing and when I started I habitually had one quilt being pieced, one being quilted.  But the more I interacted online, the more I shared ideas and saw other people's work, the more the ideas flooded in, until I felt like I couldn't contain it all in my head.  

Now I find myself thinking about where the balance lies for me, where I am most comfortable on this spectrum.  I am wondering if the answer might lie in a combination of approaches. What if I limit what I am sewing at any one time (though I'm not putting a number on that limit)  but try to be better at recording ideas and inspiration so that I don't have to hold everything in my head.  I have no idea how this will work out, as I am not a natural diary keeping, sketchbook user, etc, but I do know that I would like to be working with a calmer head, so I'll give it a go.  

With this in mind I am considering what I want do next, but in the meantime I dug out my 365 circles and laid them on the floor.

I am way, way behind here, and had thought I would give up, but now I'm thinking I might use this next week or so to see if I can cover the ground needed to bring me up to date.


Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

I've been trying to find the balance too. There are just so many ideas out there. I think I need to be more particular about what I like and don't like - you know, raise the bar of quilts I want to make so there aren't so many! Sorry you were ill - glad you are feeling better. Your circles are beautiful - you have my permission to make more or less than 365 - pick a size that works for you.

Libby in TN said...

There must be something in the air; I'm going through a similar search for balance. I have found that with Heidi's One Monthly Goal (Red Letter Quilts) I am doing better at sticking with a project -- at least until it gets to borders. I'm using this month to reorganize and shed those things that no longer make me happy. Then I'll decide what direction to take. Good luck to you!

Quiltdivajulie said...

I started out making one quilt at a time and not starting another until the first one was off to the long arm quilter. Others at our LQS teased me about not being a real quilter until I had at least a dozen UFOs. I swore I would never let myself be like that and have a lot of abandoned, unloved projects and I don't. These days I am comfortable having multiple projects running side by side (particularly the RSC projects where I make pieces and parts until there are enough for the quilt top) - BUT I do have to use some record keeping to prevent my head from exploding. I no longer feel guilty when a project stops singing to me and I repurpose its fabrics. (projects either stay on my "want to make" list or are removed - there is no UFO status option) Life is too short to work on creative projects that fail to make my heart sing. I agree with Libby that there is indeed something in the air these days for many of us who are re-evaluating our stitching efforts. As things around us change, we are affected and to stay afloat we make adjustments.

Monica said...

Stephie's series has been very thought-provoking for me too. I should write a post on it. I think the conclusion, though, is that we are constantly re-balancing as our situations change. And everyone will do it a little differently!

JanineMarie said...

Balance is definitely an ongoing challenge, and not just with projects, but balancing them with the rest of my life, too. My way of evaluating led me in a strange direction for me--doing a major clean-out/clean-up of my sewing spaces (which is surprisingly emotionally laden). Quilt ideas do flit in and out for me wherever I go, often when I'm in the car for some reason. I know that I'll never be able to make everything that comes to me. And the strangest thing of all is that my ideas are always more adventuresome than what I actually end up making. Perhaps that is because I don't record what I'm thinking when the idea occurs to me. I'll be very interested to see what you come up with for journaling or record keeping. One thing I do to calm myself is to back off from social media from time to time. I don't like doing that because I feel like I lose touch, but it keeps me from being distracted when I need to focus on my own ideas/pursuits. Your 365 circle quilt has such a different feel from the quilt top you just finished. I particularly like the pops of turquoise/aqua and the little sparks of yellow/orange. I love seeing how two quilts with similar shapes can convey such different moods.

Mystic Quilter said...

First things first - your 365 circles are beautiful, reminds me of the glow-worms in the caves at Waitomo here in NZ - those turquoise fabrics flashing in the dark! Second a thoughtful post and I agree with other bloggers commenting that there is something in the air - could it be Spring for you all in the Northern Hemisphere and the Autumn with us down here. Either way I am doing exactly the same, yesterday I shed a project that just wasn't me, at least not fabrics I felt I could continue working with so I am giving them to Linda here in Auckland.
She is part of a Modern quilt group and the fabrics are more suited to that genre. I also need to take some time to think on my next projects and this is where my overly large desk diary comes in handy. Ideas are buzzing around in my head but I can't seem to get started on any of them so time out in the garden whilst I think!!

Mary Marcotte said...

I journal most of my ideas and love that I can test ideas on paper. However, one of the things that I do when I find myself overrun with ideas is to test out some of them in small projects. Last fall, I wanted to play with making feathers using the patterns I found on Pinterest, but once I began, I realized that it was much more involved than I'd bargained for. Plus, I wanted to experiment with my own feather ideas. So, I made a few feathers using the pattern; then experimented with my own ideas always using the same background fabric. I was able to make a large bag because the background fabric tied them together. The bag fulfilled my curiosity so I could move on. I've done this several times and find it a good way to free up brain-space and stress.

audrey said...

Some of your circles just seem to glow against the background! Love that. It was interesting to read through all three of Stephies articles and really see the differences in quilting process. I think a break from quilting whether due to illness, busyness or whatever comes up makes most of us take a good hard look at our quilting projects. I like to take a step back every now and then and make sure I'm not just drifting along on ideas, but am actually 'growing' or expanding in some area or another. In hand quilting on old quilt tops and then sewing together new quilt tops, I find myself revisiting quilting ideas that I might not be done with, but got lost in the shuffle. It's always such an eye opener to come back a year or two later to an older quilting idea--one reason I try not to get too panicked at all my older quilt tops needing completion.:) For me {and I think you and Ann}, it's not all about the finish!

liniecat said...

Mystic is spot on there, glow worm - (spotlights almost) and I love the idea! Little spots of energy in a busy, busy world.
Your quilt be ethereal and I adore it.
I've completed one lap quilt and am finding it hard to commit to my second batch of circles but think that's natural. I flit from one to another idea and blame my Creative Gene, who seems to decide what I'm going to work on and when.
Stitching is my therapy and companionable friend so I lean towards whatever heals my mind and thus commitment to the same thing every day is tantamount to being restricted for me?
That may be why I'm finding it hard to move on with these circles myself now but I'm sure I will come back to them, but not daily. I do spontaneous and maybe it's the changing seasons causing us to appraise and adjust our directions?
Maybe that's the Creative in all of us, searching, finding new areas, avenues to wander down and here's so much inspiration around us, no wonder we are want to meander on!
Real flu is so generating, guessing it's drained you completely so take time to mend thoroughly, in mind too!

LA Paylor said...

It will be interesting to see what system you develop. Finding a comfort level is part of the creative life. I can't say I have found the perfect sweet spot yet, but I have a lot going on at any given time. It suits me to go from project to project at my whim, leaving something for a minute if I get stuck, being excited about a new idea when it comes, keeping ideas in a journal when I can find one...

Lara B. said...

Stephies interviews with the three of you were so interesting Kaja. It got me thinking a lot about how I create and at what point does it stop being fun and feel like work. I began shedding projects and fabric after reading yours and Ann's interviews. After counting, I found that I had thirty projects lined up to do, some of which I no longer loved. That definitely stifles creativity! I like what Julie wrote in her comment: "Life is too short to work on creative projects that fail to make my heart sing."
One way I keep track of ideas and inspiration in to keep files on my computer (synced through Dropbox) Whenever I have an idea for a project, it gets its own file, which gradually gets filled with images to inspire the work as well as images of any fabric purchases I made that might work.

Carli The Quilter said...

So illusive is the collective energy this 365 circles project. Is your circles quilt on denim? The pops of colour are so lovely. Squint your eyes to see the movement. It's lovely.
But the business of balance. That is whole different tiger we have hanging on by the tail. I think that the Internet and all all its selection makes it even harder to focus. Thus is one reason, I've let time go and not be distracted by the all the lovely out there. This is how I focus, I disconnect.

Ann said...

You have such a good point about the Internet... and guilds, books, workshops, etc. All the interaction creates more ideas and/or projects that get started until I could go crazy. It seems to speed up until I'm sewing without enjoyment. Too fast to stop and think about what I want to express in each quilt. I also noticed an urge to work faster for the blog. That, at least, is easy to push back.
I want to work on quilts I really like. It helps me to keep a list of deadlines (for the must-do projects) and ideas (for the want-to-do.) And I need a better balance between them. Hmm. Learn to say no?
I like your idea of journaling, although I'd collect and collate ideas on the computer. I've even started scanning my sketches into the computer to keep them together.
Stephie's series provided much food for thought.