Monday, December 18, 2017

Scattered, Unproductive and Going in Circles

That would be my tag line for 2017. This time of year, people are posting their "word" for next year. Mine was clearly unproductive for 2017. Now, I may have taught several classes, wrote articles, made many nice samples and wrote 4 books, but when it comes to quilting, I have fallen over the cliff. More than anything, I just want to quilt.

I have had 2-3 show quilts completed each of the past 5 years. Some have been smaller, which makes them easier to complete. I did sort of fall into the trap for several years of thinking it was fun to make 70-80" sized quilts. Now, though, as these take longer to finish, there is nothing small waiting to be completed! DOH!

In the summer, I started this 40" whole cloth. It is pretty green silk and I have posted snippets of it previously. It was *supposed* to be my Paducah 2018 entry (due Dec 1). The quilting went well and on schedule in the summer until I just stopped. The black thread, which seemed like a brave and ambitious choice initially, became my demise in the end. I really should just finish it into a nice floor pillow. Yea, right.
In September, when I got a few of the client quilts behind me, I decided to remake the same design as the green silk whole cloth, except with a piece of peach silk and matching peach thread. In many ways this opportunity capitalized on the decisions made on the green quilt which I regretted. I did much of it the same, but got to change some things.
I was right on schedule with it's finishing. About November 1st, I was starting the binding. That's where it all went to hell in a hand basket. The finished binding was too wavy. It would need reblocking. To make it worse, somehow I nicked the back of the silk binding in a way that I'd have to replace the entire binding on about 1/4 of the quilt (ok, part of this was because it just could not lay flat. I have done more scalloped edges than I can count, but this damn serpentine edge was doing me in.  I was losing my patience. I was able to order another yard of the peach silk fabric, despite it being discontinued.
Sadly, I just lost steam and did not bother to enter it. I probably could have fudged the photo with 2-way tape on the floor well enough, but realistically, I still have to fix it, and I did not have that motivation inside me. Maybe next year!  See...the quilting really is pretty decent. I am just scattered, and feeling unproductive. It affects my mojo and how much effort I want to put into anything.
 Anybody remember these blocks?...Here's another of this year's hand-stitched projects. I also did a nice border but at some point thought it was simpler without it. I would create a border with colored thread in the quilting. The blue bias is all stitched down, BUT the damn crap needs fixing because the bottom is not quite symmetrical. Go figure... Somehow just naming it "Cocked a Little Sideways" did not seem kosher.
This quilt will be a relatively easy fix, and "could" be onto the frame this winter/spring. Whether it will or not is another story of motivation.

So this brings us to my most current project. Yes, with a trans-US trip next month, I thought I needed a hand-piecing project to fill my hours on planes and in airports. I really do need something to do sitting in my favorite purple chair each  night too besides snooze. The orange-peel design is one I have pondered making for years. Oddly, the gray fabrics as well as the lavender silks were bought for other designs that never got made. Who knew they were so pretty together?!? That is the glory of a bountiful stash.
One of the lavender silks came from some fabric I ordered for this quilt. It was custom dyed by Debra Linker, but it was just the wrong shade by no fault of her's. I conveniently left this quilt out of this year's list of failed attempts. It was afterall started in 2016. The lighter shades of purple silk also came from this quilt (they were underneath the large star appliques, not yet cut away). 
Oh wise Crystal Ball...will she finish this quilt this year?...
                                                 <>  sigh...

Back to the orange peel quilt...

It is typical when I am working on one part of the quilt to be designing other areas. This was initially conceived to have the center shown above, with large corner triangles with this type design appliqued.  I have even gone to the extent of starting to prepare the edges of the appliques - no small task considering there are nearly 500 pieces.

Then I started second guessing the time to hand applique all of this...you know the spiraling circle of quilt design doubt... I thought maybe I could use a similar concept, but have it not be quite so time consuming.  Narrow (7-8") borders might be faster than large corners, right?

         
 I'm not so sure. But in my desire to NOT Christmas shop, I let myself believe that theory -- so far that I actually made up these 4 pieced corners between Saturday and today. They have 2 of the silks, which are very pretty in the light. After getting them done, I question having them placed so close to the orange peels. It might be too busy. Not sure if this is reality talking or my procrastinatory non-productive mind. After the applique is added, that gray border will not be nearly as calming as it is there.
  

So, I did what any non-sane fool would do...Go back to the drawing board, and move the parts and pieces around on the floor in search of a better plan.  My real goal is to identify the "plan" so I can actually start the appliqued borders.  This part of the job I really like to do!
I tried placing the crazy diamond pieced borders further from the center block. This layout has merit. Then, I found a small piece of perfectly colored lavender Grunge without a selvage, and thought - Gee, this might look great with a solid lavender triangle as I layed out below. There are only about 75 colors of Grunge; I'll probably only have to order 10 extra yards in order to find the "right" shade.  LOL!
This layout is WAY too simple though. It relies way too much on me not screwing up the quilting - ha ha! Then the thoughts of 2 semi-failed whole cloth quilts enter my mind.  Better figure out the piecing somehow! 

On the brighter side though, I will have one quilt finished this year for competition. This does already have a binding, and a dang good one too. It only took one try to get it on which is an added plus in my crazy book! I am adding some beading and embroidery, but it is otherwise finished. I absolutely loved designing and making this one, and hope that the process of "Problems in Purple" (all my quilts get sarcastic names during the making; most actually earn them) goes as smoothly. This design just developed easily, beginning with the log cabin blocks, then the appliqued border. 
Part of me knows I am overthinking the process, making this harder than it has to be. What would you do on the purple quilt ?...no, making a purple whole cloth is flat out of the question! LOL

Have a great pre-holiday week!

9 comments:

Mary Bolton said...

Oh my! What a tangle! I hate it when self doubt creeps into the fun of creating. Hang in there.

Suzy Webster said...

I am feeling the same way as I have a show quilt which is 3/4 quilted and hasn't been touched in weeks....I really need to get back to it at some point!

Susie Q said...

You certainly have started many lovely and ambitious projects. I am wondering if the unproductive aspects of which you write is a sort of burned out.......

sherbert2995 said...

I love the colour choices you have in all your quilts. It's good for us lesser mortals to know that everybody has a difficult time getting ideas out of our heads and actually materializing into a finished project we're happy with. Do you think we all might be a bit too hard on ourselves?

Lisa said...

You could take a step back, totally let go and give ideas a chance to develop subconsciously while you focus for a short time on something else entirely. Then when you are starting to feel inspired and you just know it's time to refocus on this project, have at it. Creations flower on their own schedule, not ours.

RachelA said...

I so enjoy reading your posts Margaret, I am a lurker I'm afraid, but this time I have to comment. It's so refreshing to hear that a professional master quilter has similar problems to this mere mortal!! Your work is always so beautiful I imagine it just floats from your fingers and machines with ease!! I hope you get through your "block" and find new inspirations in the coming new year. I'm looking forward to seeing your log cabin applique quilt when it's completed. Thank you so much for sharing your processes and quilts, you are a true inspiration. Have a great holiday with your family, and happy new year.

kupton52 said...

Wow...what you consider 2 "semi-fails" sure look beautiful to me. I'm glad you have kept your sense of humor in spite of your difficulties. I see that from the names you are calling the projects in the post.

Lynette said...

Do you know what I love about following you, Margaret? Your process is delightfully complex and yields the most beautiful, intricate results. I'm always in awe of how fast you can also do things. You are a purposeful, driven person, and it plays out over the years in the high number of top-notch competition quilts you finish. I'm sorry 2017 has been so frustrating for you artistically. Do you think some of the difficulty of everyday Life and the problems you guys deal with are bleeding into your artistic sphere and unsettling things under the surface? I think we all deserve less-productive stretches and the freedom of more scattered thinking and "being" for a time. It sure can be frustrating, though, when we crave the validation of the good finishes. But Lady, you're doing really great. Gorgeous things continue to come from your needles and mind, and you continue to be a first rate mentor in person and from afar.

Judy Welch said...

I share your frustration with going in circles. I've neglected my quilting this year. The creative juices and joy have floated off into the air. I'm hoping that 2018 will be better in many ways. I've made my wishes that the ships will right themselves by the end of 2018. ... so much more I could say.