Thursday, October 24, 2013

Confessions of a Quilter

As I was traveling across the state this week, thinking about a class I'm teaching this week, I had reason to think about why I make some quilt patterns over and over again, and can't wait to finish just one of other patterns (if I finish it at all).  None of chooses all the same patterns as favorites as do other quilters, so it certainly is related to everyone's personalities and preferences.  I can put quilt patterns into four categories.  These are categories that are illustrative of my short attention span and other personality...quirks.   Your categories would likely be different.

1) Can't Make Enough of Them/Have Radar That Sees Perfect Fabric for Them.
I love patterns or techniques that are one block, structurally, but yield a different-looking block each time.  My first experience was Bethany Reynolds' "Stack 'n Whack," and I made plenty of them.  Then I discovered H.D. Design's "Four Patch Stacked Posies" and I like those even better--and made even more of them.   A few years ago I found  Maxine Rosenthal's "One Block Wonders," and I've been making them ever since; here's the most recent:

Crazy quilt blocks are all different, and there is almost unlimited opportunity to make it your own.  Love 'em.

Improvisational piecing is intriguing, because everything is a little different as you're cutting and piecing.

Oddly, though, I don't especially like to make sampler quilts.  No idea why.

2) Wonderments: Techniques/Rulers that Make Difficult Blocks Easy.
Top of my list these days:  Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star Ruler.  If you have followed my Facebook page you know that I can't seem to make enough of these.   And I bought a Christmas panel on a shop hop last weekend that I plan to dress up with Lemoyne Stars. 

Twister quilts are great fun because that twist turns a "fabric" of plain squares into something that looks hard, but it is easy, easy, easy.  (Sorry, Jeanine, I know this one is in the "Never Will Do Again" category for you.)

3) Classics.  They're classics for a reason.   Who doesn't love a Nine Patch?

4) Never Will Make Again.  All right, it was an experience, and I learned something, even if it is that I will never make another one.   I may even LOVE the quilt, but still know it's the only one. These tend to be very complex, and probably a great many small pieces, especially if there are a great many of the same block, with the same fabric.   It's not that I can't make them, it's that my attention span starts getting a little (or a lot) snarky with me.  And short. I make a block, been-there-done-that, let's move onto something else.

5) Stash Squatter.  It's still in pieces, in my UFO stash.  The odds are staggeringly high that I will never finish the darn things.  No disrespect to the patterns or the designers, they just aren't MY thing, but are right up the alley of other (better!) quilters than I.

6) Bore-dered.   Have I mentioned the short attention span thing? (My friend John says it's really just a heavy tendency toward multi-tasking. Thanks, my friend, for 30+ years of putting a positive spin on my quirks.)  I find that I am moving more toward Quilts Without Borders.   I can't tell you many quilt tops are sitting in my studio, waiting for borders.   It seems that when I finish the main part of the top I'm ready to be finished.  Bored.  (Have I mentioned the short attention span?  Oh, I have?)  Sometimes a quilt screams for a border or two, and sometimes it's happier without.  Or, maybe it's me that's happier without it.  I'll own that.

So what, you ask?   Why worry about categorzing? I find that it's easier for me to buy patterns/books/rulers that I will actually use if I'm more aware of my own quirks and limitations.    Goodness knows I have patterns/books/rulers I bought before I had figured out all of this.  Once in awhile I'm seduced by something I'll never make but they end up as just more  "decor" in my studio.

How would you categorize quilt patterns in your mind?  Hey, we might find that we can trade some of those unused patterns and books and rulers, if yours are quite different from mine!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

No Hasty Retreat

It's quilt retreat season, at least in my neck of the woods.  (I don't know about any local-ish spinning/weaving retreats; maybe I can work on that next year.)   For unknown reasons, this year I'm noticing more how my quilting friends approach a retreat.  I'm definitely a lightweight.

Me?  The night before a reatreat, or maybe even the morning of, I turn around in my studio a few times and grab a few project bags.  I could turn 100 times, stopping at every compass direction, and still not be out of UFOs outside my reach.    I grab a sleeping bag, pillow, towel and flashlight, load up my sewing machine and chair, a few rulers and rotary cutter, and I'm on my way.  (I always have my electronic gadgets for audiobooks, so I don't have to think about that.)

However, not so with many of my quilting buddies.  Months ago they started cutting out quilts for retreat.  "Seriously?  We're barely into the same YEAR as the retreat!"  Weeks before the reatreat they start to ask if I'm ready for retreat.  The answer, any day before the first day of the retreat, is "no."  (Or, yes, depending on how you look at it--with my method, I can load up and go to a retreat on very short notice.  I've never been invited to a spontaneous retreat, though.  Hmm.  That might be kind of an interesting concept to pursue.)

Once at the retreat the differences become more noticeable.  The bunkrooms and cabins are filled with very homey quilts and homemade pillowcases, rugs outside the shower in the bathroom, and sewing stations that rival the coziest, most efficient workstations that any quilter could wish for.

You could look at my approach as spontaneous, efficient, economical.  Or, you could look at it as bad planning on my part.  (I'm going with the former, but feel free to make your own choice about that.)  In any case, this time I'm going to try my friends' approach and see if it works for me.  Of course, I' already behind because I didn't start cutting out months ago, and didn't start packing weeks ago.  (In my defense, I do sometimes think to myself, "I suppose I could this at a retreat."  I've not kept track of how often that results in it accompanying me to a retreat but my best guess is that the number is not very high.  Have I mentioned that I have a LOT of UFOs?)

So, I'm asking all of you, dear readers, to help me out with adopting your approach. (I know, there's not much time.)   Here's what I've done so far:

1) Made a Nancy Drew pillowcase.  I'm a retired librarian, and there aren't many women my age who didn't absorb every Nancy Drew.  There were other candidates for the retreat--notably one of the hotochocolate pillowcases I made this week--but I think Nancy is going to win out.  Maybe I'll make a pillowcase for every retreat!

2) Started pulling out UFOs to take.  One must always take more projects than one could possibly complete--that's a retreat law.  It's also necessary for me and my short attention span.   While adding to this pile, I excavated some projects that I had LONG forgotten about, and cleared off a shelf.  There is every possibility (well, probability) that that shelf is going to fill up again when I get back and put the UFO right back on the shelf.  But I expect credit for the intent.

3) Cut out a quilt for a new pattern.  My friend Jeanette, who plans ahead for these things, will have me beat on this one by about 37 quilts, but sometimes you have to start small.

4) Thought about a quilt I might take with me, to put on my bed.  But do I have to color coordinate it?  Go with scrappy?  Decisions, decisions....

5) Gathering chocolate and tea bags.  That will make my sewing station home for me.  :-)

So, what else?  I suppose I could pack some sheets, and use those instead of a sleeping bag.  My roommates might welcome the absence of the rustling of the sleeping bag when I toss and turn.  I'm going to opt out of sewing/quilting my own sheets, though.

Maybe this retreat I'll be at least a medium-weight.  Next time I could....wait, I could weave rugs for the cabin, and under my feet in the sewing lodge.  Then I could......create a quilting monster??

What do you take to a retreat that makes it feel cozy and warm for you?