Tuesday, July 27, 2010

30 Things

Since I turned 29 earlier this month, I've been thinking about what I want to do before I turn 30. Not that I'm afraid of 30...but I'm pretty fond of my 20's and don't want the fun to end. That's why I've thought up a list of things to do before I turn 30.

I'd like to:

-lose 30 lbs.
-read 30 books
-finish 30 quilts
-walk 30 thousand miles
-save 30 thousand dollars
-go to Atlantic City and drink 30 drinks while playing "30" and get 30 guys' phone numbers (Ian likes this one the least but if the Gilmore Girls could do it with "21", I can do it with 30!)

I know I'm prone to "thinking big" but this all sounds pretty reasonable, right?

Ok, so, obviously, the only thing on this list that's real is to lose 30 lbs. And it's not just a silly goal to make everything "30"...it's actually a good weight for my height. I'm planning to walk a lot on the treadmill but only 10 miles a week which adds up to only 520 miles before my birthday. Far from 30,000 but it'll have to do.

Speaking of walking, have you seen Matt's blog: I'm Just Walkin'? He's walking from New York to Oregon, just for because. The thing I love the most, besides the photos of his journey, is reading about the kind strangers he's met along the way. People have given him food or invited him to join them for lunches/dinners or to stay overnight in their front yards/campers/spare bedrooms. They've welcomed him to parties and barbeque's and even a family reunion!

It's not all sunshine and roses, of course...the weather is sometimes bad and people are sometimes jerks, but Matt stays positive through it all. He's quite an inspiration! I only wish I knew he was doing this sooner...he walked right past Ian's house one day. I would have liked to walk with him for a while, assuming I could work up the courage to approach him.

I wish I had some projects to share with you. (Reading about other people's great accomplishments makes me feel a little lazy.) So, instead of project photos (because I don't have any), here's a picture I took while cat sitting last week:


We are so lazy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

With Obligation: Express Yourself

So, I wanted to make a thank you card. Simple enough, right? Unfortunately, the more I thought about it, the more frustrated I became.

Because, you see, I have a slight tendency to over-think things. What started as "I should make a card" quickly turned into "I should paint a scene from our trip to Venice, no, wait, I should create a design from scratch and carve it onto a rubber block and print it onto a card, you know, all in one day because I really need to send this card!"

And that would have been fine except I didn't want to paint a Venetian scene, nor did I want to stay up all night carving blocks and printing cards. I had no good ideas, no inspiration...I couldn't even bring myself to take out my sketchbook, the very idea made me feel bad. All I really wanted to do was make a nice card that would help convey my heartfelt thanks.

This may sound like the same problem as my last post but it's actually different. Because, you see, when I make things for other people, I tend to forget myself in the process. It was not outside my ability to paint or print a card. The problem was that rushing to find inspiration, trying to think of something the recipient would like, thinking "what about this? no, they'll think that's dumb" over and over...well, all I could come up with were total generic ideas until I felt so worthless, so uncreative that I had to walk away from the studio for a while.

This might sound over-dramatic, it being just a card and all, but it's representative of a larger problem. It is so easy to lose myself, my creative self, in an effort to please people, to anticipate what they'll like. This isn't limited to gifts...I also want to please my blog readers and even Ian, knowing full well his aesthetic tastes differ from mine almost completely!

And when I do cave to the pressure, the things I make feel like strangers. Nothing feels worse than accepting praise for something I made merely to please others. I feel like I can't fully claim it as mine because it didn't actually come from me, even though my hands were responsible for making it.

To me, the best part about being a creative person is getting to express myself through my work. It feels like a privilege, something not everyone has the ability to do. And I feel obligated (in a good way!) to explore that further, to look inside and see what's there, to nurture ideas that are important to me, to set aside the ones that are not my own and, most of all, to remember that the only person I need to please is me.

So in case you're wondering, this is the thank you card I ended up making that night:

fabric covered thank you card

It's simple and I love it and I hope you do too...but if you don't, that's ok!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Without Obligation: Giving Gifts

It was Friday night and I was at Target. I finally tracked down the platter and plates the bride and groom requested on their gift registry.

I wandered around the store, thinking. "I think I'll give the platter at the bridal shower on Sunday and save the plates for the wedding gift."

A little more wandering. "But just a platter picked from a registry is sort of boring, what else can I give her? Hmmm...I think I have fabric that would match the platter and plates, maybe I should make some cloth napkins to give as well."

More wandering, more thinking. "But really, are they going to use cloth napkins? And do I really want to spend my entire Saturday making them? No, not really.

"Ooh...here are some tea towels! I love tea towels! But should I really give her plain tea towels? Maybe I should embroider something on them. But the shower is on Sunday! I can't embroider that fast!

"Oh no, what will I do? I just can't show up without something handmade...why did I wait until the last minute to think about this?"

Walk. Think. Fret. "Wait! I don't have to give them something handmade! I'm living my creative life without obligation!"

I ran to the register with a relieved smile on my face, wrapped everything up with a flourish and set it aside. Then I started cutting fabric for a fun project.

As you can see, giving gifts is one of my major "with obligation" areas. I get so stressed thinking of something fantastic to make, something they will like, only to stay up late nights making things and not having any fun. I've pretty much stopped giving handmade gifts for major holidays/birthdays because of this. But sometimes, like Friday, the compulsion, the obligation still creeps up on me.

This doesn't mean I've given up making handmade gifts for people, though. Instead of waiting for a special occasion, I make things for them when I feel like it. Then I can give it to them right away or, if it's close to a holiday/birthday, I might be able to wait until then. Usually I can't wait, though.

Of course, there may be consequences for giving gifts without obligation when your family knows that you often make handmade gifts. After the bride-to-be opened my gift, someone yelled across the room "Why didn't you embroider the tea towels?"

Oh no! Total mortification! Internal panic! Then I thought about my obligation free Saturday filled with sewing things I wanted to sew and I felt better.

I smiled and calmly replied "I'm sorry but I just didn't have the time."

The End.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Not Right Now

Since finishing my Modify Tradition quilt top, I've done absolutely nothing in the sewing room. I think about doing things but then I don't do them. And that's ok because I don't really have to do anything.

So, instead of showing you what I'm making, because I'm not making anything right now, here's a picture of my design wall before I banished my sampler quilt to the "closet of no obligations":

bright colors!

I wish my whole house could look like this, all bright and cheerful and covered in fabric! Believe me, I'm working on it...but not right now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Without Obligation

I've been thinking a lot about "quilting without obligation". Apparently, many other quilters are too. In fact, Jennifer has an especially great series about it on her blog.

There have been some interesting side effects to my own adventures in quilting without obligation. The most obvious is that as soon as I didn't have to work on things, out of guilt or deadlines, I found that I actually wanted to work on them.

Like my Modify Tradition sampler quilt! I'd been avoiding those blocks since January but for some strange reason, I got the urge to work on them this weekend. And look what happened:

modify tradition quilt top

I finished the quilt top! Can you believe it? I pretty much can't. And the best part is that quilting without obligation means I can hang this top in the closet and not think about it again until I feel like quilting it. Which might be soon...or not.

Quilting without obligation has put the fun back into quilting! And isn't that what it's all about? Why spend precious time working on things you don't like, on things that aren't feeding your creativity and nourishing your dreams? Life is too short to make quilts you don't like! I already live my life as obligation free as possible, it just took me longer to apply it to my creative life too. And now my creativity is flourishing! And that's how it should be.

So, what about you? What do you do "with obligation" that you could maybe try "without obligation"?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mermaid Quilt: Finished!

It's July and "Mermaid School" is officially in session!

Mermaid School Quilt

I can't wait to give this to my aunt this weekend. Unless she reads my blog (which she might, who knows) she'll be totally surprised that I finished it so quickly (I checked with her right before I started cutting to make sure she'd like the colors...but she doesn't know what the fabric looks like). To be honest, we're all a little surprised I finished it so quickly, right? It took just a month and a week!

I was planning to quilt 1/4" away from the zig-zag seams but the more I looked at the finished top, the more I didn't like that idea. I wanted something softer, something a little more organic. At the exact moment I started to freak out about what to do, I found my missing darning foot! I decided to do meander quilting instead and I love it!

Mermaid School Quilt

The quilt measures about 66x76 and both the top and bottom have zig-zag edges. From the start I was planning to bind it with a brown stripey Mendocino print but in the end, I found the brown too jarring (and it turns out I wouldn't have had enough anyway). Instead I used one of my treasured Neptune fabrics: Tortoise Shell in Pacific. I didn't know how to bind the inside corners but a quick google search turned up a few tutorials. Turns out, it's easier than binding a regular (outside) corner.

Mermaid School Quilt

It's backed with a tan sand print which goes well with the the front and is appropriate to the theme. Also, the sashing on the front is Kona Snow. The pattern is, of course, adapted from Elizabeth Hartman's New Wave Quilt pattern.

Mermaid School Quilt

Now all I have to do is wash it and wrap it up with a big bow! I hope she likes it!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Just Because

Summer has been great so far! It's been light and free of any obligations, quilting or otherwise.

aqua & yellow mini quilt

Usually I'm only productive when I'm avoiding working on a certain project. But this summer is different. I'm finishing up projects that have been around for a while, because I feel like it, not because I have to. I'm also working on fun, "just because" sorts of projects.

aqua & yellow mini quilt

The whole thing is weird but I like it! The freedom to pick and choose projects is really nice. I'm taking the time to "listen" to my fabrics, to let them tell me what they want to be. I'm trusting my instincts and letting things happen.

aqua & yellow mini quilt

Summer is all about seizing the moment and having adventures. Maybe hand quilting a 17"x17" mini quilt isn't what most people would call an adventure, but in my world, it's the height of excitement!

What are you up to this summer, quilting or otherwise?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mini Flag Quilt: Portugal

World Cup soccer is coming to an end...just two more games and then it's over for another four years! Sadness! (Also, Germany is out...more sadness! How I love those baby lions!)

But, let's not think about that right now, let's think about mini flag quilts instead. Today we have the Portuguese flag:

portugal flag quilt

Poor Portugal. They lost their game before this quilt even got to Daisy (who lives in beautiful Portugal). If only it had gotten there sooner! But, at least it made it safe and sound and now she has a mini flag quilt to wave around (and put bowls of chips on) next time!

portugal flag quilt

Portugal has a sweet flag with lots going on...castles upon shields upon more shields upon a golden globe? Nice! Consequently, this flag quilt was the most intricate of the lot. I made appliques using Heat & Bond and then hand quilted through all the layers. Sometimes there were many layers!

portugal flag quilt

I'm still fascinated with flag quilts but I'm going to set aside the idea for now. Maybe in four years I'll make more...or maybe for the Olympics. One can never have too many mini flag quilts, I'm sure.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

More Finishes

I finally finished some real quilts, albeit little quilts. Of course, the babies who received them are already 2 and 4 months old...but better late than never, right?

First, another mermaid quilt...this time in pink!

Elsa's Quilt

I can't get enough of this magenta Mendocino. I mean, I wasn't really into it at first, I was much more excited about the aqua colorway...but now the pink is my favorite!

Elsa's Quilt

And then I finished up this little blue/green/brown quilt:

Audrey's Quilt

This one was so fun to make. I picked a bunch of Meadowsweet and coordinating fabrics from my shelves and just started cutting. I also happened to have the perfect brown and blue solids in my stash. It all came together like it was meant to be.

Audrey's Quilt

I had originally planned to free-motion quilt this using the large flowers on the back as a guide. But then I couldn't find my free-motion foot so I went with wavy lines instead. I actually like this quilting a lot, even though it wasn't my first choice.

Audrey's Quilt

So, there you go...some real quilt finishes for 2010. And hopefully there will be a few more soon!