Saturday, June 10, 2006

Piles and Staring

I was struck yesterday morning by the post "Projects in Waiting" on one of my favorite blogs, Soulemama. It's a post about works in progress, really, about the piles of projects.

I think most of you know or can guess that I'm mainly a project--as opposed to "process"-- person. I knit/quilt/sew an object because I want to have it. I do love the process too, of course, or I wouldn't do it. But I don't usually think too hard about the process. Or revel in the nuances of the process.

So, when I see a pile, to me, it is: "stuff I need to do". Now I have another take. A pile as: potential. A thing of beauty. Maybe even an object, in and of itself.

(Okay, so I feel a little goofy and sheepish just writing it!)

And there's also the point she made, that had never occurred to me, that once an idea becomes a pile--that is, the fabric put with the pattern or the trim, the quilt fabric bundled together, the yarn with the needles and the pattern--all of it together, waiting it's turn, it is much more likely to become an object, and not just live forever as an idea.

Here is a pile on my floor right now. It's a bunch of fabric layered with batting to become tote bags. With some, I have a person in mind, and some I will offer up for sale on the blog next week. I'm considering opening an etsy shop, or might just put them on the blog and see what happens.

It's good for me to read people who can think about the process and verbalize it so well. Once I recognize these unconcious acts and integrate them into my understanding and it makes the process richer.

It's like the time there was a conversation on the quiltart list, years ago, about "staring". Someone mentioned that they had a realization how much time they spent in that trance-like state, just gazing at their quilt in progress, and many people chimed in. Some about how they recognized what a valuable and necessary part of the design process this was, some people laughing about how they had never thought of it like that before. I never realized that I even did it, that I spent so much time doing it, or how very important it was.

Here is a quilt that's been on my design wall, untouched, since December. If you've read my blog that long, you might recognize that it is the one I had on my wall when I did my demonstration for the PBS people.

As my close friends know, I just haven't been in the frame of mind to make quilts this year. It's been a very full year with all three kids at home the majority of the time. I always struggle with balancing my passion for making things, and daydreaming about potential projects with being in the here and now and the world of the kids. Now that I have a son that is six, and I've learned firsthand that it goes by fast, I've really slowed down (ok--are some of you laughing right now? I have.) and put the quilting on hold this year for the sake of my sanity.

So, not much physical quilting. But I have done some staring. And after six months of staring at this quilt, I realized the reason I haven't been motivated to continue with it. The scale is wrong. The quilt is too big for the design. It is (was) about 65" square, I went to Kinko's yesterday and reduced it to approx. 50" square. Much better. Will get going on this again in the next week or so.

Maybe after I get through that pile of tote bags...


Anonymous Kristin said...

Emily, You made some really good points there. I was just looking at one of my tables in my sewing room the other day, full of projects in waiting and realized how beautiful it was. I think I might have taken a photo, so maybe it'll appear on my blog.

BTW, I don't know how you've gotten so much done with three little ones at all. I didn't get back into quilting until my youngest was about 6. Those early years are just so intense with child needs.

Good luck with it all, I look forward to seeing the bags you come up with. Have you designed your own pattern, or is it one that is not copyrighted?

9:58 PM  
Anonymous carla said...

Too many great ideas and too little time. I know I wish I had you in chains just doing my bidding. But alas I know that can't happen so I can only imagine how YOU feel!
What ever you have time to do always leaves me agog! So just be happy and try to balance! xo

11:02 PM  
Anonymous caro said...

Yeah etsy shop! They're so easy to set up and people will find you that don't even know about the blog. It's pretty cool.
I'm with you about the piles. My sewing room has a few piles of colour palettes ready to go, a few piles of projects already cut out and a few waiting for finishing touches. Actually, that makes it sound like it's really messy in here!

8:10 AM  
Blogger lisette said...

Emily I so understand you re the lack of time - I have 3 kids too (11, 9 and 18 months) and it's hard to balance my urge to quilt, knit or just create with the need and urge to spend as much time as i can with them. when i had a caesarean followed by a prolapsed disc (ouchy) i spent a lot of time unable to sew but very able to think and plan and dream up ideas for quilts. and i think the work i actually get to do is better for that lesson in taking time to think rather than rush in. i enjoy my quilting much more now too becasue it is time snatched and cherished from the mainstream of my life (work, kids, husband and creativity - not always in that order!) quilting has become a mental activity as much as a physical one. ok i'll stop raving now - thanks for a great post (love the bags too - can you put me down as a definite customer?)

10:00 AM  
Blogger judy coates perez said...

Hi emily, I feel the same way. I have not been able to do any real quilting in a long time. I have not felt motivated to either. I think from moving, health issues, homeschooling, and construction work yet to be done, I just am not able to tackle a big quilt. We still have not been able to unpack all the way and where my studio will be is right under where the construction will happen. So for now I am enjoying the knitting and its portability with my busy life of homeschool park days and teen group outings.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Martina said...

You have a very neat pile> Come to my house and you'd see many, many, many piles of potential. Like the teachers used to say...."Martina has so much potential if she'd only....."

5:09 PM  
Blogger Diane D. said...

I really wanted to finish a "big" quilt this year for Houston. (Most of the quilts I've made have been on the small side.) Somehow I just couldn't get it done, mostly because I got distracted by lots of other smaller projects. As my kids get older, though (the oldest is 8) I appreciate more and more that they won't be little for very long. I too think that the staring can make for a better quilt in the long run.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

I've been thinking about this post off and on for a few weeks. That staring process is so important. I'm discovering (in the last few years) that when I don't want to work on something it's usually a little voice in my head saying there's something wrong with the direction. Finishing just for the sake of finishing usually leaves me disappointed. Sometimes it takes a few weeks or longer of staring or even setting it aside completely before i have that same "eureka" moment where I figure out what's been stopping me from moving forward. Then I can fix the problem or start over with a much better finished product. It's true even in non-artistic endeavors. Unfortunately, when it's a work thing, I usually have that moment approximately 48 hours before my deadline ;-).

3:38 PM  

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