Friday, 20 December 2013

A Year Ending

Well there is no lack of snow here in the Annapolis Valley.  While I rest from clearing snow with a new toy, a 285 pound snow thrower, I will do a bit of catch up.  The dogs love the snow as you can see.  I think I could have floated a boat in the kitchen as she melted.
I finished the table runner for which I had attached a tutorial by putting on the binding.  What a time deciding on just the right binding.  It hung in my sewing room for a couple of weeks.  Black seemed too dull and I did not have enough of any of the fat quarters to use them as binding and it certainly did not need a pieced binding to bring interest.  In the end it is a simple green from a large scrap left over from goodness knows what.  Lesson: do not throw things away.  But I think most quilters fall into the range of keeping with hopes it will find a purpose.
I have not yet put this flat on a table as a certain puss will find it and make it his own.  

In the vein of not throwing things away, I have accumulated a lot of Christmas fabrics.  They are so tempting and so beautiful.  So I found a quilt in a McCalls Quilting magazine from about two years ago (they always have gorgeous quilts) and decided to do it in scraps instead of the original shades of red.  The designer of the quilt is Gerri Robinson whose quilts I just love.  After lots of cutting out and then piecing the strips I have an almost finished quilt.  It will not be done and quilted this Christmas no matter how much I might want it.  The clock goes so fast at this time of year.

The last rows are bit squished on the design wall but I love the quilt and the scraps for the flying geese in the star are now some Christmas ornaments.  Never throw bits out.  The scraps made lovely pinwheels.  
Lastly here is a bit of wisdom from a young quilter you may have heard of, Leah Day.  I love her frankness and freshing outlook.  Being a type A personality I can be totally empathetic with what she has written.  

News from Leah Day

We're getting down to the wire of this year and this will be the last newsletter for 2013! It's been a wonderful year full of learning, trying new things, making mistakes, and figuring out how to fix them.

When I look back at the past year, the one thing I'm most thankful for is learning how to overcome my drive for perfection. So often I feel pressure to create perfect quilts, with perfect quilting, simply because there is always at least ONE person that likes to point out and highlight my mistakes.

What I've realized this year is I don't quilt for that one person. I quilt for myself, and learning how to accept my ability, wherever it is on any given day, and within the time limits I have, has been both a joy and relief. I'm tired of being nit picky, I'm really sick of ripping out every tiny mistake, and I definitely like getting projects done faster with less worry about what everyone will think of it.

I read something right before Thanksgiving this year that also contributed to my new happily imperfect mentality. It was an article written by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, and how she plans out big meals like a Thanksgiving dinner. After planning everything out, she always stops and asks herself:

"How can I simplify this?"
This caused a revolution in my brain because I don't think I have ever, EVER asked myself that question.

My usual habit is to pick the most complicated, fiddly, annoyingly time consuming way of doing something, and then end up feeling frustrated and angry with myself after getting neck deep in a method that is ultimately no fun.

But that simple question - How can I make this simple? How can I make this easy? - is helping me change this habit and stop and reconsider decisions, particularly quilting construction decisions, and make easier, simpler choices before the fabric is even cut.

Without this new mentality, I don't think I would have been able to finish the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern in time for 2014.
There were two blocks I originally designed that ended up being too complicated for the finished quilt. In years past, I would have become locked into the decision of using these blocks and added loads of stress and complication to completing the pattern.

This year I asked myself that magical question and the solution came easily - design another block! Don't fight the pattern, don't fight complication! Just simplify!

All of this might sound extraordinarily obvious. Duh...simplicity is key! To someone like me, however, this is a cause for celebration to know that I'm allowed to make a quilt and not spend three weeks agonizing over every fabric color in my stash. It's okay to pick just two colors!

Ultimately when I boil down this search for simplicity, I find the root issues are love and self-acceptance.
The drive for perfection is a drive for something else, not for what I can do with the time and energy I have today, but I what I should be able to do if I was only good enough. Perfection always focuses on what is lacking, even the tiniest mistake that no one else will notice.

To choose to let go of this perfection drive is to choose love over lacking. It's to say to yourself:

"I am enough and what I make, no matter if it wins a ribbon in a quilt show, or it gets worn out on my son's bed for the next 10 years, it has made me happy and content to make it."

That happiness and contentment starts, I believe, with simplicity.

Since I was a little girl, I've loved the Shaker song Tis a Gift to be Simple. Only now I realize that the song is not talking about a real gift, like a rustic carved wooden toy, but the gift of a simple life. It can set you free.

Speaking of free...let's check in on the Free Motion Quilting Project and see what's been posted this week:
space feather quilting design
Quilting IS Funny - Megan Dougherty, the author of The Bitchy Stitcher blog has just self published her first book of hilarious quilting stories titled Quilting Isn't Funny. Check out my review to see if you'll find this book of irreverent humor funny or not!

 Josh's Non Quilting Tip #1- Josh hasn't been quilting because we've both been neck deep in a bathroom remodel disaster. If you're thinking about remodeling, or planning to hire anyone to do any work for you in the future, make sure to read this post and not make the same mistakes we did. And, fair warning: this is a Holiday horror story.

79. Free Motion Quilt Space Feather
Here's a pretty feather design perfect for borders, sashing, or filling massive areas of your next quilt. The best part: minimal travel stitching so it will be simple to quilt as well!

Find all of these articles plus hundreds more right here on the Free Motion Quilting Project.
Look up Leah and now from me


I will be taking a break in January for some surgery and catching up on my knitting projects. See you in February or before if I can push enough.

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