My Plans

Once again I made plans; once again the universe laughed. This time my plan was to take advantage of caring for my husband after his shoulder surgery to get my sewing machine serviced and clear out some of the piles. I packed the machine off to the shop (you can see the empty well where it usually lives in the photo above) and covered the sewing table with stacks to sort. That’s when things went awry.

I’m not sure if the universe is rewarding me or just keeping me on my toes. Some of the changes to my planned schedule are welcome. My husband is recovering faster than I expected. This is very good news, as there is a reason I never considered a career in health care. Then Dublin Sewing Center called in less than a week to say my machine was ready – yay! They always give themselves some wiggle room on their estimates, but still I expected to be without my machine for many days. During the height of the first lockdown a simple service meant a three-week turnaround. Still, the picture below will illustrate why I’m not sure if the universe is giving me a break or a lesson.

I have many, many, many piles in my sewing room. Sorting through everything would take months, but I was certain I could get through the top layer in a week. That’s why I spread the easiest to reach piles on every flat surface in the sewing room. Now my sewing machine is back and I can’t set it up until I decide what to do with these fabrics.

Of course, there is nothing like a deadline to motivate me, and my deadline is getting the machine out of the living room as quickly as possible. Yesterday would have been good. If push comes to shove, I’ll put some of the fabric collections back in the general stash drawers, because I can already tell that I don’t have the same artistic sensibilities as I did when I thought those fabrics actually looked good together.

Perhaps the universe is gently laughing at me, perhaps it is rewarding me after all. Once I get back to sewing, does it really matter?

Luck and wisdom!

The Value of Personal Real Estate – Quilting

The pile of scraps on the low shelf underneath my design wall interfered with my work once too often last week. I took an entire afternoon to sort and stow those scraps. Most of them fit in the bins I had labeled and waiting. I also took the opportunity to sort through a growing pile of scraps on the floor in front of the shelf which prevented me from reaching those bins, which was why the scrap pile on the shelf had grown so large. Now I have a clear view of my work-in-progress, a clear view of my scrap bins, and a clear path to the sewing table. It won’t last, but at least I have a picture.

Luck and wisdom!

Little Steps, Forward and Back

There’s something to be said for embracing life’s setbacks. Oh, to be sure, you probably won’t be saying anything good while you’re living through the setback. That’s natural, as is hoping to avoid setbacks as much as possible. Still, the roses and oranges in the picture above give me hope that I will find my disappointments and distress worth it in the end. The roses are over a week old. I have no idea where they are finding the strength to stand up on their stems day after day, but they have. The oranges are from friends who have an orange tree in their backyard. The drought hasn’t been good for the tree, but the fruit kept working. The oranges are a little smaller than usual, and they ripened later, but they’re still here.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be wailing and gnashing my teeth when things go wrong. Even small setbacks can set me to grumbling, like the state of my sewing room now. I’ve been working on reframing my discontent, because I am actually making progress. There is more stuff in the sewing room because I am making projects that will go away in the next few months. I needed some supplies. Yes, even with my stash there are times when I have to get other fabrics, and I don’t have room to keep extra batting. I also have items from a clear-out in another room that are temporarily getting in the way (I will find them another home). So there’s good news – one more closet sorta kinda maybe organized, a few more projects soon to be finished. The bad news is I’ve got more clutter now and I’m cranky. Time to take a lesson from the roses and oranges, and just keep working.

Luck and wisdom!

A Good Box

I received many lovely gifts this Christmas, and I treasure them all. However, as I was clearing away the wrappings, I found myself entranced by good boxes. I put aside several containers too useful to recycle. Even as I was making a new pile, I told myself that I already had boxes and tins and such like to store projects-in-progress. I told myself that once those projects were in a sealed container they would become time capsules rather than project holders. I told myself to recycle the boxes. I didn’t listen.

Luck and wisdom!

The Illusion of Finite Space

I’m making a scrap quilt, and decided to open the bins that have been out of reach for . . . well, quite a long time and counting the actual months/years will only make me feel bad. The point is, I found some fabulous pieces for the quilt. I found so much that sorted my various scrap collections (some of which had been living in plastic bags in front of the bins) to see how much of it I could consolidate.

This is where being a writer helps, especially a writer of science fiction. I am constantly creating worlds where the laws of physics may or may not work. I’m not doing this on purpose; I know only enough physics to make me laughable. Seriously, I’m not a danger to anyone, nor is my belief in the illusion of finite space (despite what my family says). I have seen my husband – who does understand physics and who has patiently tried to lure me to a belief in the reality of finite space – pack a car with much more stuff than I could ever make fit. “Self,” I said, “let’s see if we can’t make the scrap piles fit through sheer force of will.”

This is the space I have.

I managed to get three-quarters of my scraps stuffed into the bins that live in that cubby. In doing so, I eliminated the bags of color-sorted scraps that had been piled in front of the bins. I will not show you what I did with the remainder of the scraps, no matter how much chocolate you offer me, nor will I show you the rest of the sewing room. Yes, there is more work to do, but I’m enjoying the feeling that one small part of my creative space is a teensy bit more organized.

Luck and wisdom!

What I Found and What I Lost

A long time ago, I put the books shown above in a safe place near a project I had on hold. When I was able to return to the project, I couldn’t find the books. I looked everywhere, including in the corner where I eventually found them. The good news is I am still working on the project so I’ll be able to refer to the books for designs. The bad news is I’ve lost some fabric gift bags, and some pin backs for badges, and a coral pendant. I actually saw the box the coral pendant fell into but still can’t find it even though I’ve emptied the box twice. I suppose this is the universe showing me that when I imagine I know where things are in my sewing room I am telling myself a heathen lie.

Luck and wisdom!

Organization Through Irritation

My quilt guild invited Lilo Bowman to speak to us about organizing our studio space. After years of trying to tame that beast, there isn’t any low-hanging fruit left to pick. And be honest, have you ever met a quilter who couldn’t find at least 1 square inch in every piece of fabric she owns that brings her joy? Nevertheless, I heard something in the lecture that I had never before considered. Lilo was asked where to start, and instead of responding to the words, she responded to the desperation in the questioner’s voice. “What irritates you the most? Start there,” Lilo said.

Well, didn’t that just crack open the heavens for me.

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be calm and pleasant, but in reality I can roar into a snit with the worst of them. Here is a chance to take advantage of all that, to channel my inner Highly Displeased Person into something useful. I tried it on an overflowing bin that was living under the ironing board. I stepped on the edge of something almost every day. This week I stomped into the studio, pointed at the bin, and said, “You! You have frosted my fish fannies for the last time!” I only allowed myself 15 minutes to deal with it (otherwise I would have found a reason to keep more of the stuff in the bin). Now I can stand at the ironing board without constantly shoving something out from under foot.

Eventually I will hit the piles that have too many projects I really want to make, or treasures that need to be kept, or artifacts still protected by charms of ancient guilt. That’s tomorrow’s worry. For today, I will take my timer to the studio and find another irritant to point at, most likely the pile in front of my embroidery books pictured above.

Luck and wisdom!

The Quilter’s Paradox

A couple of years ago, I challenged myself to finish half of the projects I could reach. Whether from optimism or poor memory, I believed that I had only one project in each bag. Furthermore, I believed – perhaps out of optimism, perhaps desperation – that the scraps from any given project could be managed in a calm and orderly fashion.

Have you stopped laughing yet? Or at least stopped snorting your tea out of your nostrils?

Zeno’s Paradox posits that belief in change is an error. I believe my sewing room is a real-world confirmation of the thought problems he devised to prove his hypothesis. I’ve been working on clearing the shelves for over a decade, but they’re still full.

And let’s have none of this reminding me of the new fabric I buy.

Luck and wisdom!

What I Resolved and What I Accomplished

In mid-2019, I resolved to finish half of the projects I could reach by the summer of 2020. Well, 2020 wasn’t exactly the year to stick to your schedule, was it? I did accomplish some things, even if my sewing room doesn’t reflect it. Yes, there are piles all over the place. However, the two big plastic bags pictured at the right of the photo and another bin not shown had been hiding in other rooms. I finished a sufficient number of projects to bring those other fabric collections into the sewing room.

My shelves are crammed with plastic project bags. However, there are fewer bags than before and some of them are new.

My cutting table has a wall of fabric running down the middle. However, there is more room for me to work. This is one of the best results of my challenge, as I am no longer quite so worried about sucking up random bits of fabric into my piecing or machine quilting (yes, that has happened before).

Another good result of the challenge is that I have used much of my stash, and many of those quilts will be donation quilts, like this one designed around a single panel that mysteriously appeared in a project bag. I’m not sure how, when, or why I acquired it, but I am certain some child somewhere will adore it.

Luck and wisdom!

Catching Up

I missed the last deadline for donation quilts in 2020. Since I would have to save those quilts until at least January, I decided I would work on other projects for the next few weeks, then start on the donation quilts stacks between Christmas and New Year. The plan is to clear out some of the piles so that when I finish the donation quilts I have a place to put them until they can go out for distribution. It could work, you never know.

In the meantime, I’m giving myself permission to work on projects that I will keep. The wall quilt above is from a landscape workshop I took last year. I wasn’t pleased with what I made in the workshop, so I took one of the smaller units – the rays of sunshine – surrounded it with forest fabric, and called it good. Now I’ll embellish it with embroidery and beads. I usually wouldn’t work on such a project at this time of year, but since I’m defining the work as cleaning out the piles I feel justified.

The next project is to sort out the Christmas fabric scraps and see what I can do with them. Perhaps I’ll make some fabric post cards. Perhaps I’ll make reusable Christmas present bags. Perhaps I’ll find another project that could use the colors if I cut strips small enough to disguise the Christmas motifs. Regardless of the outcome, the stack will be sorted and put away. For a year like 2020, that is an epic win.

Luck and wisdom!