Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Unfinished projects

No new quilts or cute cat pictures this week, so I thought I'd reprint an essay that appeared in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine a couple years ago. It was for a feature on unfinished projects, something I'm a master of.

A couple years after I began quilting, I met a guy who was sweet and funny and hot, and I had a monumental crush on him. I daydreamed, I blushed, I giggled.

The only stereotypical thing I didn't do was draw hearts with our initials entwined. No, nothing that simple and ephemeral. I was a quilter, after all, so my doodles had a purpose: design a quilt for him.

He was a big guy, so it had to be a big quilt. He was a complicated guy, so it had to be a complicated design with diamonds and set-in seams, both things I'd never tried before. He was a macho guy, so there couldn't be any flowers or curlicues.

Weeks passed without the right opportunity to move from "just friends" to something more, but I forged ahead with the quilt. I acquired yards of beige background fabric, raided my stash for non-floral prints, and began piecing.

Then he broke my heart.

Okay, not really. The infatuation simply faded, and we grew apart. But the quilt remained. And remained and remained and remained.

Every time I went through my UFOs, I hated the complicated beige mess more and more. The finished quilt would be huge, complicated and ugly, and it was all that stupid guy's fault, I thought, quite unfairly. 

Finally, I "finished" it. I returned all the uncut fabrics to my stash, and tossed the pieced sections into the trash, pouring coffee grounds on top, so I couldn't change my mind.

I've finished many quilts in more traditional ways, but throwing that one out was the best possible way to deal with it. Now, instead of associating my one-time crush with drudgery and resentment, I remember him the way he really was: sweet and funny and hot.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rare quilt

This quilt's a rarity, but not in a good way. Usually, I like my quilts much better AFTER they're quilted, even if I'm kinda' meh about them to start with. This one I actually liked better BEFORE I quilted it. It could use more intense quilting, I think, but it's a utility quilt, the sort of thing that might once have been tied (the ones with little string knots every few inches), but is more quickly machine-quilted nowadays.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jazz paws

This is Jazz, who hardly ever gets pictured with my quilts, because she generally prefers to be under the quilts than on top of them. I had to life the edge of the quilt to take this picture.
This is the quilt Jazz was underneath. It's a lap quilt, using up some fabrics that no longer particularly appeal to me. I've spent the last two or three years going through my stash and making simple, quick quilts to be donated to charity, using my unwanted fabrics for a good purpose. I'm glad I did it; it felt good to be productive, and to be doing a good thing for others. Still, it's time for me to stop doing it now, and to work on some more complex and satisfying projects. Otherwise, I'll be making quilts I'm not particularly enthusiastic about forever (trust me -- my fabric stash will outlive me), instead of making the ones I'm passionate about. It's a little like what Anne Stuart (if I remember correctly) said about writing -- you have to love the book you're writing NOW, not the book you're going to write next, because otherwise you spend your whole career writing a book you don't love. I need to apply that advice to both my quilting and my writing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Binding anxiety

Therapists sometimes refer to the use of stress-coping tools as "binding anxiety." I take it a tad literally (as I do many things): binding off a knitting project or binding the edge of a quilt. At the moment, I'm anxious about a number of writing projects that are out on submission and that should get a response sometime in the next three weeks. I'm constantly checking my email, and every time time the phone rings, I wonder if the "unknown number" is actually from an editor or agent instead of the usual scammy telemarketer. My coping tool this week is binding quilts. I finished the hand-stitching of the binding on the teal table-topper above (left-over blocks from the teal album quilt pictured in December), and I've got another small quilt ready for binding over the next few days.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tall Todd

Trix, the orange cat on the left, is a standard housecat size, around 9 or 10 pounds. Todd (more white), standing next to her, is around 16-17 pounds (I hope -- I'm trying to keep him leaner than he'd like to be, because he has a heart condition, but he does love his kibble, and Trix's kibble and Emma's kibble and Jazz's kibble). He's not fat, but simply BIG, as this picture shows.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Leaky New Year

I celebrated New Year's Day with no water. Which, of course, was better than the workers' holiday, spent outside in below-freezing weather, digging an eight-foot-deep hole, and mucking around in the water to fix the water line that had burst and was sending water fountaining up through a crack in the roadway. It looked like a little natural spring (well, as natural as you can get, coming up through asphalt) before they started digging up the road.