Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Finally Some Improv. Progress

It's improv. time of the month again! I have three projects in the works, one of which I showed progress on the other day. It's down to the applique border work for my Improv. Big Basket quilt {made out of strings} and the quilt top probably won't be done till next month. Then I have this wonderful Patchwork Doodle I started back in January {pictured below}.
Starting Patchwork Doodle
It's Sherri Lynn Wood's Score #4 in the Improv. Handbook. A total departure for me color-wise and a complete mind puzzle as well. Sherri recommends improv. piecing various 'rows' of similar blocks and then starting a conversation from there. From everything I've found online {and in the book}, most people start breaking the quilt down from the row layout almost immediately. Other than sewing my two skinny purple and light green rectangle rows together {hiding in the middle behind the funky circle blocks} and then chopping them into bits, I'm still sticking with that initial row presentation thus far.
Starting to find a connection
After I sewed those new bits into longer, narrow columns, then I sandwiched them right between the circle blocks. It's a little more contemporary of a look than I am usually drawn too, but I like how they suddenly give those really skinny dark red strips at the top and bottom of the quilt something to resonate with. Thinking the quilt needed more orange, I found a leftover long strip of orange/white check fabric and then after putting it on the wall, thought, hmm... maybe if I sew some half square triangle blocks? And yep, that was the thing that finally got me feeling a personal connection to the quilt. Me and checks. Checks and me. It's just meant to be! Before that I was not feeling much love, honestly...

But then I had to play with whether or not the hst's needed to be at the top and bottom of the circles and/or if they looked better with a break between? Things like that. And also, it was after the hst's made an appearance that I could have {possibly} been found digging through my applique parts and pieces tote for bits of applique to test out. Something that just sort of happens by spontaneous combustion occasionally around here....
Decisions, decisions.....
Loving the quarter log cabin blocks lurking about the edge of the quilt {probably more than any other element in the entire quilt}, I decided to cut a million strips and make many, many more log cabin blocks. Definitely enough to surround the whole quilt. The rich, saturated look of those blocks seem very needful at this point in the quilts progression. That super, light green background fabric really plays havoc with whole tone of the quilt, plus I'm just not accustomed to working with these particular shades of yellow!
Loving these strips!
Ahh.. comfort zone, where art thou? And of course, I completely went beyond my design wall and had to start pinning finished blocks straight to the hard-as-a-rock sheetrock. Which by the way, is not as easy as it looks. The paint must be made of ceramic or something. I have got to do something about that wall before I lose my mind.
And now I can see the quilt potential more fully...
Anyway, with some strategic cutting and sewing yesterday, I was able to get the middle portion of the quilt ready for applique work. Next up will just be a matter of sewing the rows together and making it all fit together properly. Always fun stuff working with the larger units, but I have a floor and a kitchen table. lol
Ready for applique...
So then, onto the other AHIQ project: the coins. This is something I had drawn up months ago, but could never quite nail down the details of how to get started. When Ann presented the first coin challenge, I thought 'of course!'. In this particular project, I wanted something a little different for my 6"x8" sashing strips--more than just the traditional one-fabric thing. I dithered around for awhile over whether or not it fit in with a true 'coin' idea, but then became convinced that it was okay.

I have several older quilts made out of these same black/brown/gold/red tones, something I used to buy a lot of. It's really been a puzzler to me how to use some of these older fabrics up now that my tastes have changed so very much. Using them as the base of a quilt {here in these fun coin sections} seemed like the perfect solution. After that was finished, it took me almost no time at all to applique the largest piece of my proposed secondary blocks. And that's where I could finally get things up on the wall for a proper look-see.
First Coins audition
Is that secondary block thing timely or what? hehe  But of course, no matter how much I thought this idea would look wonderful in my own imagination, the reality is oft times different. Queue the disappointment. The blue plumes idea is just a bit too fussy. In the pic below, I took off the extra three circles from under the applique piece and stuck one little circle over the top of several others {will not be able to have plumes on the topmost applique blocks so am looking for a solution there as well}.
Playing with some details
It's all just a bit too blah. So disappointing as I was envisioning something serene with an element of cozy, not straight up boring.*sigh  A bit of contrast color might be needed? This madder red print has an energy in the print without being too shockingly different and it definitely pops. I kinda like that.
Trying to find a spark
 And I like this bit of red/cream plaid added as well. It has a folky charm that is always appealing to me. But believe it or not, I never, ever intended for these shapes to present as 'hearts'.  It's almost too much!
Veering off in a different direction
Those heart shapes were supposed to be part of a much larger picture! I decided to take the additional applique thing onto the blue heart blocks one step further, by adding a green leaf. So primitive and country, which I do like, but well, I finally found my limit. Absolutely a NO. Just too cutesy for words. And so now I find myself questioning every bit of it. Time to strip everything down and start over from scratch. Maybe even let things simmer out of sight for a few days.
And finally deciding enough is enough. Time to start over!
The thing is, I have to make a decision about the applique before I actually sew rows together. Any overlap applique sewing becomes very complicated the larger the sewing surface. If the quilt top can be sewn into say, three sections, then it will be much easier to manhandle while I'm doing the applique work! Yep. It's a real conundrum at this point. So glad I sewed the coin sets together though as that's the part I still find very interesting. There is a deep fondness within for make-do piecing that I'm actively trying to find ways to incorporate into new quilting projects. It's a challenge. We'll see what another month of play can produce!
Linking up with:
  • Kaja and Ann for AHIQ #20
  • and also Linda for Snip, Stitch, Snap and Share because the timing is just too perfect!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Journey of Creative Process and A Reminder for Final Quilty 365 Linkup!

Somehow I didn't quite realize that this quilt was started 5 years ago! Absolute craziness. And now it's a true blue finish! Wowsers. So a quick sidetrack for all of you Quilty 365'ers: The last and final linkup is going to be on May 1st. This will be for all completed circle quilt tops! {Not finished quilts although that's fine too.} Please plan to join in. We'd love to see your Quilty 365 journey!
The centerpiece of The Creative Process
Okay, back to 'The Creative Process'. This quilt was an interesting union of trying {for the first time ever} to make a quilt top with scissors only and being completely free spirited. No rulers or patterns allowed! I also put a restriction into place that the only fabrics to be used had to be on hand {in my quilt room} and I could not, under any circumstances, run out and buy anything at all.
1. Preparation, 2. Incubation, 3. Illumination, 4. Implentation

Which probably directly resulted in the two side borders being completely unreadable unless you are holding the quilt in your hands or standing quite close. Pfff...  Like I even care about that. lol  Do you know how much time it takes to applique letters onto a quilt and then not even be able to read them properly from a distance? Take a clue from my very hard earned lesson here and never, ever make that mistake....
The texture makes the quilt
At the time I was diving into this particular challenge of a quilt, I was also learning about the creative process {which later allowed me to recognize helpful habits}. As it pertained to yours personally of course. Years before that I was fairly certain there wasn't a single shred of creativity alive in my entire body! Anyway, it was a particularly intriguing concept to learn--being able to put all my thoughts and actions into a 'process' and find out that yes, I was quite, quite normal. Not some weirdo from outer space with this extreme push/pull thing going on with my hobby!

 Learning about the glorious ambiguity of creativity {and the normal learning curve} was actually very freeing. Wowsers, I just soaked it up like a sponge. Because I just didn't get it before, and was always sort of floundering around in those massive landmines of insecurity all beginning quilters seem to get hijacked with. It helped me so much to realize that yes! leaning into instinctual decision making, stopping that drive to do the 'right thing' all the time according to the quilt police, and simply 'listening' to the quilt do it's thing were all good and positive things!
A little bit lopsided....
But time has a way of dulling all the fascination off of a fun project--how this quilt represented something so very important in the growth of my quilting. Here in 2017, the finishing of this quilt was just an annoying detail on my finish-it-up-list! I was way past the 'putting the pieces' together of the process itself, quite inured to that basic, indelible part of my oh-so brilliant craft. These days I tend to wallow in things like finding my way forward in a boisterous sea of sly and tempting 'what-if's'. There are just so many options! Sometimes it just makes me want to go back to sleep rather than pile up another five quilt tops in the constant drive to make that 'one fabulous quilt'.*wink  But I digress.
The perfect binding for once...
This quilt needed to be finished up, quite properly honored and respected. It was {and is} an important piece of who I am now as a quilter. The delicious irony of the whole procrastination thing is that it looks so much better now, with my current {favorite} method of big stitch quilting, than it ever would have with my previous traditional threadwork. Perle cotton thread and the texture it invariably gives, could have been made for this type of quilt. I couldn't help myself, falling into, if not love, then real like, after each completed hoop of stitching. Especially after I gave in and added that bit of freestyle scalloped stitching around the center. That seemed to pull everything together and get rid of the I'm-only-stitching-this-quilt-because-I-have-to blues. To my quilting friend Kaja--that's exactly the point whereI finally forgave myself for this quilt having such a brash, unapologetic tone even while sporting so many obvious imperfections.*sigh  Quilters can be total whackjobs you know even if we never like to admit it....

The fabric I found for binding made me smile so much, an absolute charming match in my opinion. Even if I was about 10" shy of having enough! Oh who cares, a slight shortage just fits in with the rest of the quilt. So, yes! I'm sure you noticed. This quilt has plenty of chopped off bits, wonky {slightly} curved borders, words that don't shout quite loud enough, and hello? One side is almost 2" longer than the other side. Hands to my face in glee! lol  It really took a lot of restraint not to tidy this quilt up and trim it into {a properly squared} submission! It also has a touch of sentimentality wrapped up in the funky gold/yellow print on the border. That was part of the very last challenge given by my mom back when we were doing our little quilting group. Her fabric & quilt projects burned up, my sister moved away before finishing, one dear friend had a stroke before hers was completed, and on and on. 

In the funny way quilts have of surprising us, my youngest daughter went from not liking this quilt at all {she usually loves everything} to saying 'It looks so much better after being quilted and washed. I actually like it now!"  And my husband asked about the quilt laying across the end of our bed the evening after it was finished up. Could he have it for himself? He rather thought it was one of my better efforts. Hmmmm... My response was sort of a choked off, gurgley laugh I'm sure. Whew! I didn't see that one coming! This has been quite the journey, hasn't it?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

It's a Hand Work Kind of Week

I actually had this leafy border all prepped and ready to work on for my Oklahoma trip. But no. It had to wait until I got home before being pulled out of the bag for some quality stitching time.
Just need to go back and add the flowers now...
I've been enjoying working on these springy looking leaves so much! The fabrics are just pure joy. I even had a chance to work on them in the car during a flying trip down to Eugene to see an ailing uncle. So glad the bag was ready to go as it was a very quick decision to make the visit.
Stitching, stitching, stitching....
On the way back home we decided to take another route than our normal and ended up on north I-5. It didn't take much work at all to convince my husband to pop into Longview, Washington to visit one of my favorite quilt stores: Momma Made It. Hmmmm... Such a lovely shop, especially if you've been looking for something similar to the Buggy Barn quilt store that closed down several years ago. I've only been in this store maybe four times, but every time have to wipe the drool off my face before settling down and getting serious about picking out a few pieces of fabric! If reproduction, civil war, Barbara Brackman, Judy Rothermel etc. are what you're looking for, this place is for you. Just leave your credit cards in the car perhaps? hehe

Creative Process in the hoop
Other than that, I'm just plugging along on my hand quilting as usual. Almost got this quilt wrapped up and ready for binding. Which is good. There are some quilts that just annoy me because they insist on being worked on and then don't get done fast enough to suit.*wink  Is there ever a time when it feels justified to just ditch a quilt top completely? 



Friday, April 7, 2017

Flowering Snowballs is a Finish, Although Looking a Little Bruised Perhaps

So once again, I completely fell off the face of the earth, blogging-wise that is. We actually went on a vacation, planned for last September, rescheduled for October and then finally rescheduled again for March of this year. The timing was terrible for my husbands work schedule {naturally}, but we decided it was probably never going to get better.
Flowering Snowball finish
Off we went, thinking it better to deal with bad timing than lose our tickets forever. Just before we left I had stitched the last bit of binding into place on my Flowering Snowball quilt and found time to get it washed while I was packing. Imagine my dismay when I pulled it out of the washer and saw some serious fabric bleeds....
It's got some dull areas now
It quickly got tossed back in the washer with a even more color catchers and a small amount of synthrapol. No luck. Upon further scrutiny I noticed that all the dye had gravitated to a single cream fabric throughout the entire quilt. It really wasn't a case of dye bleeding directly next to a weepy fabric, it simply happened that one particular fabric acted as a huge dye magnet. Great. Just my luck.
The two left corner cream pieces turned a very light lavender-gray
 What to do, what to do?
And here you can see all the bottom pieces of the snowball turned color
I know, I know. Several of you out there are shaking your heads at me for ever even washing my quilts directly after finishing. But it's just what I do. Loving that fresh washed, crinkly goodness that comes from a hand stitched quilt almost gives me no choice. And I do pre-wash all my fabrics. Every. Single. Time. But I don't do the 12 hour soak which is probably what I have to do to ensure zero dye bleeds..... Ughh.
With this snowball, it's the top half of the creamy fabrics that turned
In any case, I let this one dry on the floor until it was only slightly damp and then laid it out over my just-made bed to finish drying while we were gone. To soak or not to soak and try to release all those migrating dyes? That was the question of the day and one I needed to think on. A side effect of doing that seems to wash out all the sparkly parts in a brand new quilt. Seeing as how the dye only gravitated to one particular fabric, there was still a bit of sparkle to be found. In fact, the quilt had inadvertently gained a new moodiness, kind of a vintage thing that didn't exactly look ruinous. You know, not to an extreme? I certainly wasn't pulling my hair out in despair, although that could have had more to do with the fact that I was still packing with the intent to avoid doing laundry for gulp! 10 days?
And somehow I don't even care this time.
Just makes my head hurt!
So we left on our trip for Oklahoma to visit our bajillion family members and friends. So many to see and never enough time allotted! This trip was carefully planned out by the men folk {my husband and oldest son who bought our airline tickets for our 25th anniversary last year}. I very determinedly decided to give as little input as possible and just see what opportunities might appear. Turns out one of my husbands cousins is newly into quilting and was delighted to take me to her two favorite quilt stores: Nancy's Trunk in Ripley, Oklahoma and Quilt Post in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Both of them were very fun little shops and well worth the time. It almost helped stem the itchiness I was feeling to be reunited with my quilting projects!
A few new pieces of inspiration!
Not that I bought anything much different than what I find out here on the west coast, but it's always great fun to see how different stores present their wares! I went into both stores thinking to be conservative and only buy about four fatquarters. Yeah right...... So then later in the week I got another surprise when the same cousin suggested we head up to Pawhuska to check out the Pioneer Woman's new store! Ahh was that the most fun ever. It would have been great to eat there as well, but the line was over an hour wait so we headed to the bakery instead. Just heavenly. You gotta try those Butter Blonde Brownies! Totally worth the experience if you ever get the chance. I have been a fan of Ree Drummond for years now and never thought I'd get the chance to visit her store and see all her wonderful merchandise!
And maybe something new for dinner?
So eventually we made it home {earlier this week} and what with the time change, way too many late nights and a long delay on one of our layovers, I crashed and burned. Fatigue set in and I ended up sick for a couple days. Happy homecoming for me! But the first thing I did when I walked into my bedroom was see that newly finished quilt laying across my bed and hello? Who cares about naughty dye bleeds when it just looks, feels and smells like home. I wrapped that quilt around me and had the best nights sleep in well over a week. I aint' changing a thing.*wink
Keeping the stitching loose and undemanding.
It feels so good to have the hoop out again!!
I am so very glad to be home again. Happy to feel like I'm well enough to start quilting again too! {Took a few hand quilting stitches on my Creative Process quilt just last night!} Like always, it's going to take me a bit to get back in the groove, I've a pile of emails to get through and lots of stuff to take care of on the homefront. And although I mostly tuned out the social media on my trip, I did take a day or two and cruise through the blogs just to get my quota of quilting inspiration. Will try to start commenting again now that I'm headed back into the normal warp and weft of my life!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Got This One Done and Dusted Finally

The St. Paul is completely finished, all except for a label. As the binding was being wrapped up, I kept thinking what a masculine looking quilt this is. My youngest son hasn't had a new quilt since he was about six {yep, bad momma} and well, it seemed time. When the last stitch was tied off, I hauled the quilt upstairs to see about interest in a new quilt perhaps?
St. Paul quilt

Huh? Wowsers, the headphones actually came off for this discussion*wink  And so, without even getting a wash and tumble, the quilt already found a new home. This is a kid who tells me he likes all my quilts, really doesn't have a favorite of mine, any color works but kinda likes that orangey one dad uses all the time, probably likes the quilts with a 'pattern' better. Whatever that means. But seriously, he face totally lit up at getting a brand new one and the fact that it drapes off the end of his bed and will cover his feet? Bonus.
2nd finish of the year!
Gotta love those simple perimeters and expectations! So it was a feel good ending to a quilt started fairly impulsively back in 2013. No real direction, just a block I fell in love with and decided to experiment with, plus a pile of fabric that intrigued me. It's not fabulous or super, duper special, but it looks sharp and should hold up to years of hard use by my youngest male child.
These retro. fabrics are so rich and vibrant. Love that....
 I wondered about the organic straight lines stitching {for a short while} after starting in on the stitching, but quickly grew to like it. The cross-hatch I intended to do would have probably resulted in a lot of puckering as these St. Paul blocks had a lot of bias stuff going on. As it was, I was extremely glad to have a walking foot! And once again I stopped myself from stitching lines so close that the quilt became stiff as a board. It was tempting, but probably pointless with this traditional style of quilt. This way it should get very comfy looking in a hurry.
Partial St. Paul blocks
I know my machine quilting isn't very complex or exciting, but you what? It gets the job done. Maybe someday I'll branch out into some freestyle work. Or not. Right now, I'm just happy to see another finish for the year! The fact that it will be used half to death just makes me smile {a little bonus coming my way!}. And now there's gonna be two plus years to figure out a high school graduation/college quilt for this particular guy....

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Inch by Inch, They All Meet Up With a Finish Eventually

 You know me, always trying to move forward, one little phase of a quilt at a time!
Another quilt top closer to a finish!
Now that the hand quilting is done on Flowering Snowballs, then it's time for binding! Can't leave that hoop empty for long, so for now my Creative Process quilt is going to be getting some hand stitching details to go along with the basic machine quilting already done there. I went ahead and changed out the picture for my 'Current Quilt in the Hoop' caption at the top of my blog.
Getting ready to sew on some binding strips
But well, that might not take very long and I did have a very quiet day on Friday! Two more quilt tops sandwiched and pinned, including this Marsala challenge quilt. Something I've been itching to get my fingers on lately. The colors--they are calling my name....
Marsala quilt--the Unexpected Crossroads quilt
Summers End was the other quilt that got some pins in it and I'm really not feeling very thrilled to be working on that right now. I intend to stitch in the ditch around all the blocks and then come back and do some hand quilting on the little baskets. Big stitch of course. Is there any other kind anymore? Plus, I had a crazy idea that I might, just maybe, hand tie in the middle of each empty block. It's an idea. One that kinda makes me smile because it's different...
Summers' End quilt. An project that didn't do what it was supposed to do....
Really though, it's been one of those weeks where I've been focused on finishing and getting things wrapped up at the end of the quilting spectrum. I even sewed an extra two quilt backings and delivered the quilt packages to my longarm quilting friend. One has a deadline of the end of April and the other sometime by the end of summer. My friend is a busy gal and I don't want to pressure her, BUT I am loving the idea that within just a few months, my quilt top list could have 7 quilts checked off! {That's including the St. Paul quilt I'm still stitching the binding onto.}
All ready for action
Plus, all the rising sun blocks are done. Whew! I pulled out these five blocks to see if I could conjure up an idea or two for a traditional setting. So far my mind is pretty blank and everything I audition makes me feel very bored. They will just have to hang out on the wall for awhile I guess, soak up some creative spark from somewhere else.
What's left of the ruined Rising Sun blocks
Right now all the spark seems to be directed at the base blocks for the make-do rising sun quilt. The one where I'm going to chop those rising sun blocks in two and use them for an outside border? Yeah, that one.
The Make-Do Rising Sun Quilt
Very simple applique on very simple, but similar {18" blocks}. Sounds like a winner to me!



Friday, March 10, 2017

Growing Pains

I'm going to blather on today about a quilting issue I've been having for quite awhile. Last year I veered off into a very different {for me} way of working called Adhoc Improv. While I feel that it's been an important shift as far the style and originality I'm always looking for, it's quite thoroughly changed and interrupted the normal way I go about making a quilt.
One step at a time for Folksy Flowers
Maybe not obvious to you, but I've noticed something different. Digging a little deeper into my reflections of the past year, I sort of woke up to the reality of having growing pains. How I was working the past several years produced some wonderful quilts for me. It was a comfortable, pleasant, sometimes invigorating, place to be. So why change things up? Especially as the previous stage of quilting was so hard won in and of itself. I didn't just drop into that place without some very hard work! I guess the best answer is that I've felt a nagging desire to be challenged again and the thing that kept drawing me in was Improv., something very much out of my comfort zone.

And honestly, some of my quilts seemed to be missing just a little something beyond my grasp or understanding. This happened very gradually and mostly I thought the Adhoc. Improv. would just be something for fun and play. But then I realized that I was growing increasingly frustrated with some of my earlier quilting choices, even projects 'in-the-works'. It has increasingly seemed to me that I was betwixt and between.

Take the quilt below. I specifically remember wanting to work with these specific colors, experimenting with a challenging block and feeling pleased about adding the surprising twist of a tumbler block border to the quilt top. But as I was quilting it this week, it felt boring and much too predictable. Too formulaic and well, completely unoriginal. In my disdain for the quilt, {yes, I was essentially 'sneering' at it}, I basically placed zero importance in binding choices and simply raided the leftover binding tote until I had the proper lengths--something 'close' to the quilt colors. I didn't even check, okay? That's how uncaring I was. Then.... something very odd happened. After the initial phase of sewing the binding onto the quilt {it's still not hand sewn to the back}, my heart melted just a little and I started to feel that all-so-important connection again. All because of some unexpected color choices {pretty clashy in a couple cases if you want to know the truth of it} and a scrappy, make-do attitude. And I fell in love all over again.
Saint Paul quilt: Still learning even after the project is basically finished....
How obstinate is that? And then, the project below. Started from a Material Obsession book, I really thought it had the power to keep me interested clear through to a finish. But nope. Time and time again, I've recommitted myself only to procrastinate, be sloppy in my work, practice avoidance, blinker off into fun new projects, and always, always feel like I've been pulled back by the skin of my teeth. Is it ugly? NO. Are the fabrics impossible? NO. I just haven't felt any real connection. Which still leaves me three blocks left to applique.*grr...

The funny thing is, now that I've finally determined to cut up seven out of 12 blocks {terrible stitching issues} and just make do, I've actually started to relax. And enjoy. Hey? Is this quilt really salvageable? Be still my heart!
Rising Sun blocks to undergo some surgery...
And so I've decided to make use of those strange lighter, green fabrics left out of the original blocks {a decision that has always bothered me}, scribbled up some ideas for simple applique and well, yeah, I am back to being fascinated and intrigued by my quilting adventure. The methods that used to give me the basic framework for what my quilt might look like at a finish, are simply not working anymore. Occasionally yes. But not often enough to be reliable. Even though every phase of my previous quilts wasn't set in stone, I still had the comfort of knowing a basic outline. hahahahahaha

It's all been completely upended and I'm still not sure when {exactly} it happened. Not a comfortable feeling, that I can tell you. It's like feeling lost in the wilderness of too many choices at times, which is something I've always tried to celebrate and embrace. I can't even explain.....
A total restart
So I deliberately pulled out an old quilt top that I've been putting off the quilting forever. It's a clunky looking thing and almost no one likes it. That's okay. It served a purpose while I was making it, talking about 'The Creative Process so simplistically, and is serving a purpose for me now. So ironic how the old and the new always end up meeting up again and again! Reminding us that all the steps of the process are important. Just because I am learning to go with the flow, allow myself to cut into fabric without any definite, concrete plan, pushing myself to being 'free' and unfettered in every way possible with design, I cannot forgo the very important step of 'Incubation' and just try to make things happen!
Finishing up with machine quilting for The Creative Process
quilt---next step will be some hand quilting....
With this particular quilt, I admit to being cheap, settling on dull fabrics for the 'Incubation' and Implementation' lettering part of the quilt as that's what I had on hand. Now it seems laughably prescient. I rushed the process. Part of Incubation is having the patience to wait on the right idea, making sure all the pieces are in place, recognizing those important connections, and never losing track of elements that work to make our quilting unique. Incubation takes time. There is no formula. It can be hours, days or weeks before things click, especially if you're already working outside of your comfort zone! Because of my experience, there are things I can do to make a quilt progress and probably look okay. For it to satisfy myself creative self, there needs to be specific elements {relating to personal connection} incorporated or really, I'm just phoning it in. Lets just call these practice quilts, because we all have a few.*wink

Part of 'Implementation' is giving respect to the quilt when it indicates something is missing. Paying attention every step of the way to making sure the very best color, fabric, and/or element we have available in our current repertoire is being used correctly. Being decisive and adamant about making the best interpretation of what we're 'seeing' inside our incredibly rich imaginations. Incubation brings all the separate ideas together, Illumination sets the scene, and Implementation is where the details come into play. The ones that can take our quilt from 'nice job' to 'Wowsers! How did that happen?'

It's quite clear to me that {thankfully}, I don't have to empty out my leftover binding tote for every quilt finished. One thing for sure though, as my blue and gold quilt so succinctly pointed out to me: 70 plus fabrics in a quilt doesn't guarantee a quilt will look scrappy enough--for me. Some unexpected color blends and possibly a make-do element will probably do the trick. If my stitching turns up wonky, intentionally or not,, then well, it probably needs to have some control elsewhere, perhaps in a repeated applique or block design. Those sort of things simply ground me and provide a personal connection. Your criteria will no doubt be an entirely different list.

I just can't, in any form or fashion, make color-in-the-number sort of quilts and feel good about them. Which sort of makes the old way that I was quilting feel stale and formulaic. Now. It didn't use to feel that way at all. Aghhh!! Okay. What I'm saying is this. It's not going to be all Improv. all the time, but that method is definitely something I can use to do the sorts of things my quilts are starting to demand. By embracing the new in the parts and pieces that make sense to me, I'm not leaving anything important behind. In fact, it's a way of ensuring that my creativity won't shrivel up and die.
An important thing to remember...
I'm slowly finding my way forward, blending the old method of working with my new found joy in Improv. Finding a style that more completely embraces all the elements I love, not just stumbling onto them willy nilly and hopefully pulling off a hat trick. You might think I love being a reactionary quilter, but really, it only goes so far. And right now? I'm very busy slowing things down until there's a new comfort zone. Because it will happen. The transition is usually the most difficult part of the process!
Trying not to lose the spirit of the quilt....
In closing of this impossibly long post: What matters to me these days is making sure to work 'intentionally', something that has always seemed to be at odds with Improv. I'm finding that it doesn't have to be that way.

I want to work 'purposefully', no matter how simplistic my ideas come off to you or anyone else. If that involves ditching a complex quilting plan and starting from the ground up {all in order to make a very basic foundation of a quilt}, then that's the way it has to be. 

There apparently has to be an element of the 'unexpected' in order for me to feel true connection to my quilting. How incredible {and ironic} to finally understand that it can come in the most basic of forms such as a binding. You just can't make this stuff up.

Growing pains are hard. Stretching ourselves to learn new things, learning how to incorporate those new elements and finding our way forward takes a real, concerted effort. And all without losing the best parts of what we've discovered before! I can see why some people shut down after years of feeling passionate about what they do. It's the path of least resistance. When their projects start feeling boring or they lose the personal connection, then the way forward can feel much too difficult to navigate. How do we know what specific part of our previous comfort zone needs to be shed? How do we grow without damaging our confidence and that very important, trusting-in-our-instincts progress we worked so hard to accomplish? Our originality and growth as a maker depend upon us finding some answers. I'm happy to finally be finding some of my own. Ought to be an interesting year!

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