January 29, 2009


One of the things I've liked about quilting is working on many projects at once. In knitting, I generally work on one project at a time, maybe two. The choice is just whether to knit or not. In contrast, I have many quilt projects in process at the same time, and the different types of projects and the different stages they're in give me the pleasure of working on whatever I may feel like at the moment: needle-turn appliqué, machine piecing, designing, machine quilting, hand-quilting—with more than one project going in each category. But I'm now feeling that I have too many projects in the air, and that the frequent switching back and forth means that a long time can pass before any one thing is completed, depriving me of the pleasure and satsifaction of seeing the work done.

And if I'm flitting from quilt to quilt, it's especially difficult to make progress with the quilts that are of my own design, the ones in which I'm working out thoughts, ideas, feelings that need the expressive vehicle of art. It's scary to work on these, something I've written about in another blog. (This is a group blog for people who share the experience of having worked with Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr of FunQuilts.) After that post, Louise and I were talking more about the issue of fear, and she brought up "perseverance"—how important, and difficult, it is to persevere—rather than moving on to something else as soon as there's some block or snag in the design process. I had already decided to limit myself to working on only one or two things in a given block of time, and keeping the word "perseverance" in mind has really helped me continue working for a couple of weeks on one "big idea" quilt that has been in my mind for a long time. I put a little sign on the studio wall: PERSEVERANCE. It helps. (Christine Kane's notion of choosing a "word for the year" hasn't interested me before, but now it clicks.)

So here's what developed when I kept persevering on the quilt I call "shelter." For a long while, I've had the idea of four curved bands of color, and I've made a lot of small maquettes with various shapes, like this:

Recently, I made the big step of going from the small maquette (about 8x9") to full-size (about 40"), but I realized that it didn't translate well—the large pieces looked clunky and boring. I decided to try out different ways of piecing the bands. First, I tried some strip-piecing:

Then some improvised "crazy-piecing":

I like this one very much, but it doesn't work for the idea of this project.

Then I went back to the stripped-piecing, but overlaying different bands to get a variety of angles. The result is in the image that opens this post. I like it. Here it is again, just so they're all in a row.

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