Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Out with the "old" and In with the "new"

Here we are again -- at the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year!  I'm not sure why these few days always fill me with a sense of excitement?  Is it getting to "the end" of lots of stuff -- goals, frustrations -- or the anticipation of "the new" -- more goals, a clean slate, anticipation?  Whatever it is, I'm ready as usual to move into the new year eagerly.

I finished up some gift sewing this week and can share them here because my family doesn't read my blog and by the end of the day tomorrow, everyone will have their gifts.

I only made one small quilt -- a combination housewarming/holiday gift for my oldest daughter who is also my birding sidekick.  It was a holiday/winter panel which is about a year old -- I chopped it up a bit and added sashing and borders to upsize it to a laprobe.

 I organized a set of  pint-size aprons for the triplets since they love to help their parents in the kitchen.  

Then I pulled out this old pattern (from when their Dad was a toddler) and made this funky shirt for the boy.

Adapting some t-shirts into fairy dresses for the girls intimidated me for a couple weeks after I found the perfect fairy skirt netting but once I started, they came together just fine and I've paired them with leggings.  Given how often the girls pick out their fairy dresses for the day, I think they will be popular with the two girls.

I tallied up my success list for the 2022 goal of reducing the UFO stash by 36 pieces -- 24 finishes and 12 eliminations was the goal.  I exceeded that by reducing the UFO's by 40 which included 21 finishes and 19 eliminations!!  Excellent!!

(I think) I have 17 UFO's left plus some orphan odds and ends and 8 antique/vintage quilt tops left.  Those remaining projects will comprise part of my 2023 goals!

I spent an afternoon last week outlining five new goals (none as big as the last couple years).

  1.  Finish six more UFO's from the leftover 2022 list.  Most of the remaining UFO's are small projects so that feels doable!

2.  Quilt the new tops I made in 2022 -- there are just five so a little progress every week could be the key. 

3.  Spurred by my finish of the vintage rail fence (above) quilt a couple days ago, I'm determined to deal with all the antique/vintage quilt tops I own -- there are nine currently and selling is a valid option.  One is already listed in my Etsy shop for sale.  I got so excited while reviewing these quilt tops, I dove into some repair work already that is needed on this one.  It's a delightful collection of fabric from the late 1800's.

4. If/when I start new projects, I am going to chose from a list of seven that I've wanted to make for a while.  Several are just a hoarded pattern at this point. One is an applique block of the month that we kitted and sold in my shop (30 years ago).  My Mom bought all the kits but never started them, so the plan is to do it as a BOM in 2023.  I'll be elated if I finish that top!!   

Another one is a "scrap buster" strip quilt and the 2 1/2" strip box needs a big thinning so that could be a quick stitch-up -- no cutting?

The challenge for me on this one will be to not be led astray by some shiny "new" pattern -- every one of the seven projects in that stack are irresistible ideas -- that's why they are in the stack so I just need to stay enchanted!!

5. The final goal for the year is to rehome twelve finished quilts.  I'm doing this as a favor to my kids -- twelve less for them to rehome during the big clear out in the future!?!  I gave away or sold 22 this past year but there are still lots left.  It's hard to let go of quilts I've made and love.  It takes a focused effort to work up to letting one go but I would like to see more of them being used instead of being stacked up?!?  

There are currently two twin size blue and yellow quilts listed in my Etsy shop for sale.  They are scrappy in nature and the same layout so would be a lovely set but they are listed as single quilts so you could buy one!!

So have I inspired you to set a quilting goal for 2023?  You don't need to be as enthusiastic as I get but goals can be very motivating.  If you've never done this, pick out a project you really want to finish or start -- look it over and determine what effort is needed to finish -- break that down into six parts and then try to finish one part every month for the next six months.  I think if you try using goals to motivate your quilting efforts, you'll enjoy your success and find ways to build on this new habit.  It sure has worked for me!!  I think I could actually run out of UFO's in the next couple years!!

Best wishes for a peaceful New Year!!


P.S. And a big thanks for continuing to follow along with my musings!!

Friday, December 9, 2022

Quilting Reflections

The quilting is well underway -- 30 to 45 minutes a day so I don't ruin my neck and shoulders and back for the remainder of the day.  I'd like to work longer since the project is going so well but I've learned  that steady does it better.  I'm close to the halfway point and have worked out all the design decisions needed.

I started with the plain square in the center and while a fancy feather circle might have fit the square nicely, in my opinion it didn't suit the simple style of the quilt.  A pumpkin seed flower which is easy for me -- a series of arcs which are well within my comfort zone is all that is needed.
Not only is it a simple motif for me to machine quilt, it influenced the designs for other blocks because repetition in design is a good strategy visually. It also saves mental energy for me -- fewer ideas to sort through in my mind because I can focus on how to fit that design element into the blocks.
I try my ideas out with a chalk wheel -- drawing directly on the fabric to help my brain make a quicker decision about a design idea.  I've long abandoned the idea that I should be able to "visualize" -- I need to see it.  That saves me so much mental energy (which seems to be in shorter supply as I age).
Each of these blocks is repeated four times throughout the quilt so after the first block is quilted, it's easy to quilt the remaining blocks because all the hard thinking work is done.
I'm quilting the balance of the quilt with a diagonal grid.  It's simple so fits the style of the patchwork and besides, I was totally intimidated by the idea of trying to develop a design that would "reinforce" the graphic lines of the patchwork.  
Looking at antique quilt photos, I was reminded that the simple grid is a solid solution.
The trickiest part of planning a grid over patchwork is getting the spacing between the lines sorted out.  I used the chalk wheel to plan the spacing but when the reality of slight block size differences started to "mess up" my plan, I found that quilting a line from corner to corner  (which you can barely see on the right side of this picture) and then spacing the three lines (fairly) evenly between is working best.  
On the left side, you see inconsistent spacing that is the result of this strategy, but when the quilt is finished and laying out across a bed, those will just blend into the overall appearance of the quilt. 

Since I don't listen or watch "content" while I'm piecing or quilting, I get pretty reflective.

Working on this quilt has led to some 2023 planning reflection. If you've followed my musings here for several years, you know that I'm into BIG annual quilt making goals.  There was the year I set out to use 212 yards of my stash.  And that massive 2021 goal to quilt 21 quilt tops by the end of the year.

Those goals keep me motivated even though I'm only accountable to myself.  And I'm learning to be a bit flexible about reaching the goals.  For example, this year I wanted to finish 24 UFO's and eliminate 12 UFO's.  I'm not going to make the finishing goal (but I'll get to 20 which is very satisfying) but I have already exceeded the eliminating goal with 18 projects (no projects were harmed in this quest to "get real" -- sold, canceled, repurposed, or abbreviated).

Plus striving for each of those goals has impacted my skill set in very positive ways!
Shopping in my stash first is so easy because I made myself do it for an entire year.
Eliminating projects and focusing on pieces I "really" want to do has reduced the mental burden of all those old UFO's which no longer interest me on any level.  (So huge!!)
And this week, I'm realizing that all that machine quilting in 2021 has made the process of finishing a quilt top into a quilt much easier and very satisfying with lots less procrastination.

If you are in the habit of rambling around your quilt making or your knitting or whatever craft you practice, consider setting a goal to maintain more focus, build skills, and garner more satisfaction in your work.  Start by taking "inventory" of the stuff.
Then determine a priority.
That priority will help you set a goal.
And the timeline doesn't need to be an entire year if you don't think you can stay focused that long 
(but trying to might just surprise you).
A six month or three month goal can be just as motivating.  Even a month.

I'm just starting my annual "inventory" and there are two areas I'm considering.
One is the pile of antique quilt tops -- there are nine and I know they will be a problem for my heirs to disperse.  If there is any provenance, I know it but they won't.  The top my mother set together with blocks made for her by an aunt needs to stay in the family.  There are a couple that were given to me because people didn't know what to do (except not thrown them away).  There is one I could not resist at a flea market.  If I go with this as a goal, dealing with one a month could accomplish it easily and I would have 3 months to lose focus??
The other is the stack of quilt patterns I want "to make". 
Well, that's what makes quilting fun isn't it?  Starting a new project!
So perhaps picking the top four would be stimulating (but of course, I would want to finish each one in 2023 so as not to grow new UFO piles)?
And of course, there are still UFO's lurking in the corners --- argghhh?!?

The pondering continues!

I hope you are getting into some holiday frivolity this month after a couple years of so much less -- baking or going out to lunch with a friend or caroling or enjoying the winter lights.

Talk soon!