Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Talking to Oneself

I started this blog because I was learning to quilt with a long arm.  Of course in learning there were mishaps so thinking my laughing at myself might help someone as I have been helped this blog came into being.  This help with learning I have received has been through listening to, watching or reading about someone else.

Some things have been conquered but not everything so today was a 'talk to self day'.  Part of this was brought on by seeing work done by more experienced quilters at one of the guilds I belong to, Mahone Bay Quilters.  I came home in a funk. I can never be that good or productive was my mental topic all the way home.  So this morning after a couple of cups of coffee after a late night, I started my conversation with myself.

Not all of it is here but let me say it was what could be called a bracing talk.  It has resulted in some boxes being moved from their stodgy places and a 'plan' for the day.

As it relates to quilting, part of the plan was to get in an hour on my Celtic Quilt which has finally reached the frame.  Every block but 4 are different, no one colour predominates, and it was the quilt which really taught me about accurate piecing.  But that is another topic.  I cannot undo what I have done but fortunately the many bright colours stop the eyes from finding too many mistakes or should I say learning opportunities.

So here are a couple of things you have probably experienced.

1.  Stitching outside the ditch.

  • It happens.  Concentration is intense when you are doing straight line after straight lines with or without a ruler.  Here is a picture of such a happening.  This is a close up with the camera.  Note my  thread is lighter than some fabrics and darker than others.  It shows up or disappears. But I cannot hide it on light or contrasting colours.
  • To put this in perspective, I measured the wobble from the seam.  It is less than 1/32 of an inch.
  • Here is the same spot with the camera set to normal and from the same distance to the quilt top.
  • Will someone else see it without putting their nose to the quilt.  NO.  RELAX. Instead of saying to yourself you made a mistake, you can look at how much of the line was IN THE DITCH.
2.  Doing straight lines.
  • First off I do use a ruler.  Do I get wobbles with the ruler?  Yes.
  • Reason.  Letting my mind wander.  Yes.  It sometimes feels at the end of the day as if it has gone around the world since morning and sometimes twice round during the night. 
  • Bigger reason.  Watching the foot  of the machine and not ahead.  Do you drive your car by looking at the steering wheel?  I hope not.  You look ahead.  I told myself to do this and it is good advice to self.  The  mind wandering will take a bit more time to resolve.
3. Expecting perfection
  • I find there is a lot to learn from watching long arm quilting videos; patterns, technique.  But in perspective, the presenters make wobbles etc. too.  The really good ones admit it and say not to worry.  Also one has to remember they are being filmed and who knows how many takes there have been to that perfect swirl or feather etc.  They also have more hours under their belt.  
  • So ditch the perfection and you will find ditching the expectation will make it easier to not wobble.
4.  Set a pace
  • After that bracing talk this a.m. I am setting a timer to limit how long I quilt.  The reason is that is easy to say I will just do a bit more and squeeze it in.  
  • Squeezing it in is doing just that to your concentration and it generates stress; body stress.  Chances are you are robbing yourself somewhere else and that wandering mind comes into play.  
  • Another factor is being tired.  Would you operate a car when really tired?  I hope not.  Would you try to do accurate work with tools.  Again, it can be painful if your mind wanders.
These are all things I dealt with this a.m. while working and things I told myself.  Does it work?  Yes, it does.  I finished what I had set for myself in less time than I planned.  I was more relaxed.  Did I forgive my wobbles.  Well I am still working on that.

Here is the almost finished row.  It looks ok.  Not perfect but not terrible.

With all of this talking to self, I am looking to achieve balance in mind and body.  Here is an example.  Notice the balancing of the feet while quilting.  

My ever present reminders to enjoy everything in life.  

Lastly, let yourself try things in real time.  Let the imperfections that grow less with practice be your go forward in learning.

Feathers have been my mountain, so I thought.  I think I am now part way up the mountain.  And today's talk to self has given me to me a boost from behind.  Have a great day.  Laugh with me or at me but laugh. 

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