Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Goal Pondering

I spent time over the New Year's weekend reading other quilters "goal setting" posts to help me focus on my own process.  If you are new to goal setting or struggle with the process there's lots to read out there and it might just trigger some productive pondering.  A student e-mailed me last week looking for some insight and so much of what I'm sharing today is based on what I said to her. 

The source of some of her frustrations in 2016 were family health issues which demanded her attention.  I know from my own experience that it's hard to keep focused on personal goals when the people around you require your attention.   It's important to refocus one's energy in those circumstances.  But it's also important to take care of oneself by maintaining a connection with the craft that energizes and calms you. Designating daily time just to stitch works wonders for me when I feel like I'm going off the rails -- stitching for a little bit calms me down enough to reassess the situation and move forward.  It's a healthy habit but it needs developed BEFORE the chaos.  So if it's not already part of your daily life, I urge you to start today!! 
A current hand-stitching project nestled in the "new" hand-stitching corner of my studio.
As usual, my projects that were deadline or purpose driven were the ones that got done in 2016.  Out of the 9 projects I put on the 2016 APQ list --four were completely finished, good progress was made on three, and nothing what so ever happened on two of them.  I left 3 blanks at the bottom of the list and used those months to revisit a project on the list which didn't get finished in "it's" month.  That worked well and I'll do that again.  I tend to put rather large projects on that list and used smaller projects for the 2016 Finish Along quarterly lists.  Sometimes, okay much of the time, my lists were simply unrealistic because I didn't allow for the distractions and inspiration that sets me off down yet another path.  One can't read magazines and blogs and follow quilting on Instagram and troll through Pinterest and not be distracted!?! 
Brainstorming results for a (distraction) challenge project!
The challenge this year is to be more realistic.  Historically over the past few years, I am able to finish two quilted projects a month plus a couple general sewing projects and a couple knitted items.  I'm going to base my 2017 goals on that track record.  And remember, setting goals hasn't necessary failed just because we don't reach all of them -- we have also striven and that's just as important as finishing.  I'd also like to develop the habit of finishing a big quilt project several weeks ahead of the deadline rather than on my way to the party!
Need to allow more time this year for clothing sewing!
My thought for the 2017 APQ Challenge list is to confine it to quilting tops that I like from my stack that have loose deadlines and as yet undefined purposes -- so the one I need to finish for a graduation gift in June won't be on that list.
A dozen or so tops (with backing) ready to meet George (my APQS quilting machine).
My quarterly 2017 Finish Along lists need a more thoughtful approach.  Not only do I need to consider specific deadlines or purposes, I also need to pay attention to my "life schedule".  I'm turning 70 this year and planning some travel adventures to celebrate -- that will impact my "at a machine in studio" time but will also allow me time to focus on hand-stitching projects that I can take along with me.  There are also "important quilts" that I don't want to slip into the big yard sale -- I want to finish them and give them away myself!!
Destined to be this year's BIG hand quilting project.
That will require orderly prioritizing of my projects -- which goals are the most important -- so I can focus on those and use the less important ones to fill gaps of time that occur during the year. I used a couple of my APQ goal projects in 2016 as "leaders and enders" while working on other more pressing (deadline driven) project sewing.  That is a great strategy and I was able to finish all the piecing on two or three projects that way.
Blocks finished, top set together, purpose determined!
Another strategy that has worked well for me for many years is to merge two or three goals together.  For example, I want to give my niece's three children and her husband quilts this year -- notice that I said, "give" not "start" or "make" -- right now I'm reviewing my finished stock and my UFQ's to see if there are any that will fill that purpose.   There are two finished quilts and a third top ready to quilt that will fit the need.  That means only one new project to be started.  And it's already underway -- I was inspired to begin a quilt I've wanted to make for quite some time (a bit of pre-Christmas proquiltinating) and happily a pleasing scrappy color palette emerged during the experimentation -- it will be a perfect 4th quilt for this goal!    I'm experiencing a win-win!  I'll reduce my stock of finished quilts (with close to 100 in the house, that's necessary), I have a purpose for quilting another top from that UFQ pile, I get to play around with an appealing pattern/technique and I'm using up stash!  Doesn't get much better than that!!
A block a day is moving me rapidly towards a finished top!
Finally, I'm finding so much more satisfaction with my machine quilting since accepting it's not the part I love best.  Since simplifying my expectations and going the utilitarian route (thank you modern quilt makers),  I can envision that pile of tops shrinking even more this year.  One of the things we often say to each other when we are working on our "good deed" quilts is that "it's going to a five-year old not an art critic" -- the most important aspect then becomes that it's sturdy, cheerful, and warm.  Yes, I want every quilt to improve my skill at my craft but if I can't move forward because I don't think my work is "perfect" yet, I won't have the opportunity to build my skill -- think that's called a vicious circle.
One of several "good deed" quilts I finished in 2016.
So bring on 2017 and all the interesting, exciting ideas and challenges!! 
I'm ready!!


  1. I have a friend who laid out her quilt tops finished or partway finished to family who she wanted to give quilts to to pick which one they wanted. Now she is motivated to get them done. Actually got one top that just needs binding since they chose. I on the other hand haven't even made my list. When I get back from retreat I will. It will be fun following your progress.

  2. You've picked a great strategy for the year. I wish you the best with your goals. The pineapple quilt is my favorite.

  3. sounds like a great year and so wise