November 24, 2009


In my work life, I often am working towards a deadline. On a day to day basis, it's the deadline of preparing for class, or getting graded work back to students. When I was doing scholarship, I would figure out deadlines that would help me get the work done. In the early stages of a project it would be finishing a paper to be delivered at a conference; further on it would be the book deadlines supplied by the publisher. I know how helpful it is to have a deadline to get work done. But when I stopped doing scholarship, and quilting took up that space in my life, I self-consciously eliminated the deadlines. For the bigger art pieces, the ones that are deeply personal, I wanted to just go at whatever pace developed, settling into the piece and the experience of putting it together. That's been a good thing. But now I have a self-imposed deadline approaching on "Shelter." I scheduled myself to give a talk in late April on my turn from scholarship to quilting, and I would like to have Shelter done in time for that talk. When I first committed myself to this date six months ago, it seemed so far away and so reasonable that it hardly counted as a deadline. But now it's getting closer, and I will need to pick up the pace to get it done. Partly this is good: this piece is very challenging, and I can use a little nudge. But I also don't want to feel rushed. I also don't want to feel guilty if I spend time working on smaller things--just piecing for the fun of putting colors and shapes together, or to work up some gifts. OK, I've just decided: If Shelter can be finished by April, that will be good, but if not, I can show it as a work in progress, and that will be OK too. I need the pressure off.

So I can enjoy little things like this, some sample blocks for the pattern "Spectrum" by Judy Taylor:

taken from her book, Successful Scrap Quilts (this quilt is on the cover). I don't have any baby quilts on hand for gifts, and suddenly there's a baby just arrived and another on the way. I think this pattern will work up nicely with the array of shot cottons that I have on hand.

I also just finished up some octagonal placemats for my sister--a good shape for a round table. The large black one with the pieced stripe is a centerpiece; the placemats themselves are each just one fabric. The placemats were useful for practicing my ever-rusty machine quilting.

And suddenly it's almost December and I haven't contributed a quilt all year to my guild's charity project (quilts for local social service agencies to distribute to foster children), so I worked this up quickly from a panel with numbers.
I used this quilt for some more free-motion quilting practice. I had fun with the "Dresden Daisy" design from the "365 Days of Free Motion Quilting blog," alternating it with squared off spirals in the number squares.

The "365 Days" blog by Leah Day has helpful video tutorials for all the designs.

So, I'll let my "Shelter" deadline help move me along, but will also enjoy keeping up with "Spectrum" and other small projects, letting myself be satisfied with however far I get on the larger work. . .