quilts

Lists and Balance

30s Hexxies - Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

Thank you guys for the comments left on my last post, I really appreciated reading some thoughts on the crafting balance issue. I really, properly thought about what you said for a few days, and decided that I do have to put a limit on the time per week I put into crafting for others and leave myself enough time to craft for myself (which includes knitting pattern samples and that sort of thing).

I’ve recently starting using Orchestra on my phone, as a to-do list, and it works really well for getting to-do items of my head so I can stop wasting brain power on keeping track of them. I now have three crafty lists in Orchestra:

1. The ‘shame list’ from the sidebar of my blog.

2. Ideas to remember for later, but don’t need to do in a hurry.

3. Crafty To Do, which is usually the last bits needed to call a project completed: sew on buttons, block a scarf, frame an embroidery, etc.

List 1 is basically the ‘For Me’ list, and List 2 is basically the ‘For Everybody Else’ list. Which says a lot about how I prioritize, because I consider List 1 to be the ‘important’ one, and List 2 to be stuff I’ll do ‘one day’.

30s Hexxies - Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

If someone asks me to make something, mend something, or I’m working on a gift, I will always make that the top priority, almost no matter what else I’m working on. I hate to let people down and make them wait! Which is so absurd, because I’m really lucky to be surrounded by people who properly appreciate what I do and don’t expect me to treat their request that way. It’s all me.

So combining the powers of Orchestra and your suggestions, here’s what I’m going to do:

List 3 up there is very handy because it keeps track of all those dumb bits that you tend to put off. I will check that every day and see if there’s something I can get done easily.

As for the other two lists, I will leave them alone, they’re more to remind me of things than a literal ‘to-do’, though I may rename them to reflect what they actually are. But I will institute a limit to my not-for-me crafting time, as a couple of you suggested, to about two days per week. Right now I’m thinking one evening and one weekend day. I know weekends are nice to keep for yourself, but it’s not like the projects I work on for other people aren’t fun, it’s just that I never get to do anything but them! And I will have to stop automatically putting things at the top of the list when people ask for them.

30s Hexxies - Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

I know that, for a lot of people / crafters, this type of organizing is a big creative buzzkill, but for me, I feel like it clears my mind to think about the really important stuff, like what yarn to chose for a new project or mull over the details of a new pattern. Otherwise I feel like I just spend all day trying to remember things! Of course it may fall apart around Christmas, when everything is crazy anyway, and I will always ignore the entire thing if I have an idea I feel it is really promising and could lead to a new pattern or something.

30s Hexxies - Grandmother's Flower Garden WIP

So for now, I’ll work this way and see how it goes. And in that spirit, I spent the last two evenings making more hexagons, just because I felt like it. So there, to-do list!

Cheating

GFG flowers, WIP

This weekend, I cheated. I should have – and planned to – spend the *whole* weekend working on stuff promised to other people, but I just totally rebelled against myself was bad. It was kind of like when you skipped class back in high school or fudged a sick day (ahem, not that I would ever have done such a thing) and just so badly wanted / needed that free period that you didn’t even feel bad and just enjoyed the touch of freedom. Normally, I’d be all angst and guilt over this, but I just couldn’t help myself this weekend!

I still got a bunch of stuff done for others, but I also treated myself to an evening of paper piecing hexagons for my grandmother’s flower garden quilt-in-progress (which will, I know, take me many years – I actually like that I will slowly piece this by hand over a long, long time). I now have 4 whole flowers completed. That’ll be, like, a entire foot of blanket! No, I’m kidding, but I have NO idea how many of these flowers I’ll need to make – especially since I haven’t decided how big it should be in the end. But I don’t really care for now, I’ll just keep making them for a while and worry about it later.

Halloween mug rug in progress
Halloween mug rug

I also snuck in two wee little mug rug projects, first inspired by the adorable one Jesse of Wee Pleasures made and showed on Instagram. I loved her idea of making a Halloween-themed mug rug as a bit of decoration – I’m *crazy* for Halloween, but don’t do much decoration, weirdly. I’m gonna need to fix that. Once I got the idea in my head, I couldn’t let go and had to cram this mini-project in before my head exploded! I don’t have any Halloween fabrics, so I dug in my small scrap bag and pulled out some oranges and blacks – and that little spiderweb piece from an Echino fabric was so perfect!

And then, of course, I couldn’t quite leave it there – I had to make one for my desk as well, this one worked around an adorable Japanese scrap (the apples) from an Eternal Maker scrap bag. Sigh. So fun! I feel these may become a bit of an addiction – such a fun way to just do something stress-free and entertaining for a short break from other projects.

Desktop mug rug

So now I have to go back to The To Do List, but I have to ask for some advice: how do you handle the list of things people ask you to make / mend / gifts you have planned / etc? I know a lot of crafters just won’t do that sort of thing at all, and I totally don’t blame them, but I really like being able to do this stuff for other people. It’s nice to have skills that people value and I appreciate being helpful. I don’t want to stop doing them, but I feel like I never get out from under The List and I have so much I want to get to! How do you balance crafting for others and crafting for yourself?

Mod Sampler Quilt

Mod Sampler Quilt

Huzzah! It is finished! Finally! My Mod Sampler Quilt (free pattern here, by the amazingly awesome Oh, Fransson) lingered for months – or, um, maybe years, now that I think about it – but it is finally quilted, bound, crinkled, and lovely.

Mod Sampler Quilt
Mod Sampler Quilt

I made it really hard on myself by deciding on a quilting pattern that went in different directions and meant each square had to be quilted individually and, as a result, it’s full of mistakes and imperfections — but I just don’t care. I made it all by myself, from picking the fabrics to hand-stitching the binding, and it’s all mine and I. Love. It.

Mod Sampler Quilt
Mod Sampler Quilt

At the moment, quilting – and sewing in general, really – is always a low priority for me. It’s actually the activity I most often use for just pure relaxation, because it is in no way “work”-related. I don’t sell sewn items, I don’t make sewing patterns, I don’t write sewing articles – I don’t take it too seriously. It’s just for fun – but that does mean it gets pushed to the bottom of the list when other stuff needs working on. So my poor Mod Sampler – named ‘Bridges and Balloons’ after the dreamy Joanna Newsom song (live version), which just seemed to suit it perfectly – sat untouched for months at a time, waiting for me to get a few minutes here and there to play with it. With autumn sneaking up faster than I wish it was, I thought it was time to just get it done already. And I do love it so so much, I’m so proud that I made such a cozy, cuddly thing all by myself. Bizarrely for me, a tiny part of me is looking forward to it getting chilly, so I can curl up with my quilt and a cat in my lap.

Mod Sampler Quilt Tag

I already have a pattern and a stack of fabric all picked out for my next quilt, but I have a couple of gifts to make and I have to knock a few other projects off the Shame List first. I’ll call it incentive to keep focused on finishing my zillion WIPs!

(P.S. – I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to be on a blogging-break for about a week / week-and-a-half-ish. I have a list of things that still need touching up, design-wise, from when I moved here from my old blog, and I never seem to get around to dealing with them. Call it a blog staycation, to give me time to finally get those last bits looking purdy!)

Festival of Quilts 2012

It’s over a week ago now, but I still wanted to tell you a little about the most loveliest day my friends and I had at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. A couple of my wonderful knitter friends and I took a little day trip to visit the quilts together and it was … well, a little overwhelming, to be honest – but in the best way possible. I’ve never seen so much beautiful in one place, it was awe-inspiring. And we only managed to see a fraction of the exhibition quilts and even less of the shopping (not that we didn’t all manage to bring home a goodly pile of treats!) – but we saw enough to keep us inspired until we go again next year! It was basically the perfect day: an amazing place to visit with lovely company and, of course, shopping for pretties!

This is just a little bit of what we saw, some of my very favorites. The lighting wasn’t the best for photos and, I have to say, sometimes it was a little confusing about which quilts were photo-able and which weren’t, so I hope I didn’t get any forbidden photos. I’m also sorry to say that I don’t know the makers’ names on these – I will have to make sure I get a program next year so I can credit everything properly. Let’s just say that these were made by some pretty damn amazing quilters who have mad skillz I can only dream of.

Note: the first eight photos are miniature quilts, in a separate category of their own – each is no bigger than, say, about 9″ square-ish. I had no idea miniature quilting was even a thing, but of everything we saw, I think I took the most away from these – I see miniature quilting as having great potential as a craft for me and have stored it away as something to investigate later.

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