Archive for the ‘Organizing’ Category

The Surprise Instinct and Cleaning My Sewing Room

February 6, 2019

I may have acquired a new means of tricking myself into clearing up the piles in my sewing room. Steven Johnson (in Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World) writes about the surprise instinct, a neural mechanism that kicks in you when you learn something unusual. Surprise “rewards you for breaking out of your usual habits, for stumbling across something that confounds your expectations.” I was looking for a quilt that I made a couple of years ago – which I haven’t yet found – and I ran across a little Valentine’s Day piece.

This quilt hasn’t seen the light of day in years. The pleasure I experienced finding it almost cancels out the disappointment of not finding the quilt I was looking for, and might be sufficient to make me put what I do run across in its proper place so I can find it again.

Luck and wisdom!

Queuing

January 16, 2019

My sewing machine is in the shop for some well-deserved cleaning. While I usually take this time to sort, now I am tidying with purpose. I am queuing up a series of projects, like a river of creativity. The first two in line will be the last ones on my list for the guild challenge. Then I get to do this one.

The start of this project came from a workshop by Sandy Corbin. I told myself going in that if the blocks turned out they would become a charity quilt. I also told myself if they were ugly they would be tossed in the bin (I used remnants from other projects, just so I wouldn’t get too angsty over $1.37 worth of fabric). Well, turns out I love the project. It will still go to our guild’s quilt give-away, but I’m going to put it first on my list of new challenge projects as an incentive to keep going.

Luck and wisdom!

What to Name My UFOs

January 9, 2019

I have a support group for my 2019 challenge to finish projects. They came to the meeting with tidy lists of unfinished objects (UFOs). I came with a vision of stacks. Now I am trying to catch up by creating my own list, but what do you call something like this?

This is a stack on my ironing board that I believe I will turn into the Progressive Party star project. I suppose I could name it “star project” and hope for the best.

This is a little trickier. Most of the elements in this box are meant for a crazy quilt, but there are a few things that snuck in when I wasn’t looking. Okay, I tossed them in the box when I was too lazy to put them where they belonged. Still, how to name the collection? I might call it “project in box” as I believe it is the only one in a box in my sewing room.

This is the hardest one. Most of the fabrics come from a row-by-row project. They didn’t play well with the other fabrics, but I think they are destined to live together in another quilt. However, I suspect there are a few surprises in the pile. I see some magazines, and I don’t recall saving other patterns for the row-by-row project. This one can’t be called “project on floor” because there are too many stacks on the floor. I’m not even sure I could number them based on the compactness of the pile.

And this is why I challenged myself to finish half of the projects I could reach, not name.

Luck and wisdom!

Beginning the Year with Clutter

January 2, 2019

At least I can see a bit of carpet!

This is my quilting studio. In fairness, some of the piles are the result of the Christmas clutter, and will be sorted out quickly. The other piles, not so much. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that I can get things under control because several of my projects have firm deadlines and will be leaving the house. That is largely due to the Unfinished Quilt Challenge, where I was once again shown how pathetic I am without deadlines, and accountability. So, I’m telling everyone who will listen and many who won’t that my goal is to get half of the unfinished projects that I can reach finished by the end of 2019. Anyone care to join my challenge?

Luck and wisdom!

Waiting for the House Elf

August 22, 2018

This is why I would really love to have a house elf.

Yes, I’m getting lots of work done in the sewing room. Okay, I’m getting some work done in the sewing room. Better yet, every so often a project leaves the house, meaning I don’t have to find a place to store it. I do the happy dance, then realize I need to get busy with clean-up. I suck at clean-up.

If you ever find the spell for summoning a house elf, send me the link.

Luck and wisdom!

Discipline and Diligence

June 6, 2018

I wrote a blog for the Tri-Valley Writers website about discipline, diligence and productivity. Even as I was writing it, the snarky angel on my shoulder snorted. “Honey,” it said, “if you could actually be disciplined and diligent, you wouldn’t still have a messy sewing room.” So I decided to break down some of my tasks to help achieve my goals.

Four projects on the list, ready to be basted and quilted

I have finished the tops for several quilts on my Unfinished Quilt Challenge list. The number for the next project we need to complete will be drawn this week. I had a little extra time and decided to make backs for those quilts. I won’t layer them until their number is drawn, but when it comes up I can do that immediately.

I’m also working on one of the projects, a baby quilt. It’s small, but it’s also a traditional quilt, and I lose focus making the same block over and over. I’ve been sewing a few blocks here and there, and will be able to put the center together soon. The final border and back will be the same fabric.

Today is the anniversary of D-Day (6-6-44), and I’m taking that as a good omen. Diligence and discipline may not be my forte, but I can learn.

Luck and wisdom!

Fun with Finite Space

April 11, 2018

I think I may have created – at least temporarily – a partial TARDIS in my sewing room, because at least one of my fabric containers must be bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. I took out my pink and brown collection to work on quilts that will probably be donated to charity through the guild’s Community Quilts program. I was looking forward to filling that space on the shelf with something else. That’s when the fun with finite space started. This is the collection I removed from a blue container on my shelf.

This stack is about a foot high

That’s a lot of fabric. You would think there would be lots of space, but no. In fact, there wasn’t any extra room. This is what was left in the container.

The fabric expanded to fill the space available

I have no idea how I managed to cram all that fabric together. While I would love to have my own personal private TARDIS in the sewing room, I’m not betting the farm on that explanation. I am a little worried now about what else I’m going to find on the shelves once I take the stuff in front down, or how long it’s going to be before something explodes and I have fabric scraps everywhere. Of course, in my sewing room, would I really even notice?

Luck and wisdom!

Quilt Dreams

January 17, 2018

In my quilt dreams, all my old projects are finished. The fabric for new projects is washed, ironed, folded, and stored in drawers. There are no scraps. The reality is so very different. If my quilts have dreams, they probably feature me finding the perfect fabric already in my stash to finish them instead of using what sorta kinda maybe fits because I can reach it and there’s enough of it. Dream on, quilts, dream on.

Although I do smoosh things together that I probably shouldn’t, sometimes the results are interesting. Here is another collection of house blocks I made with two orphans and a scrap of a novelty fabric.

Three houses for jungle critters

I’ve found some fabric in my stash that holds a promise of turning these blocks into a cool baby quilt. That is a project for another week. I am currently working on creating transportation-themed blocks using another novelty fabric.

 

Quilters in space

These are for the Progressive Party. We’re exchanging blocks with either a transportation or a dwelling theme. The novelty fabric will appear in the windows of either the transport or the building.

Snarky quilters in space

I’m not sure what kind of quilt I will make from these blocks, but I’m certain there’s a fabric in my stash that will sorta kinda maybe go with them. If only I can reach it . . .

Luck and wisdom!

The Shiny New Year Will Have To Wait

January 3, 2018

I can still see carpet in my sewing room. To be honest, I haven’t put back all the stuff I squirreled in other places, and I just barely started a new project when my iron died. I took that as a sign from the universe that the shiny New Year will have to wait for a bit. Having no wish to revisit all of 2017, I decided to enjoy an extended Christmas. A bit of carpet still showing is one of the holiday happy things. This moose is another.

Karate Moose and Raku Moose

My daughter sent me a collection of karate forest animals. The moose, of course, will have premier status.

I know this period of limbo won’t last forever. The new iron will arrive tomorrow and I’ll be forced to review my list of project deadlines. The first is a collection of blocks for Community Quilts.

After I finish the blocks I’ll need to make some blocks for a friendship group, then start a new project for that same group. I’ve promised to make some baby quilts, and there’s the guild challenge to finish a project a month. In the midst of all that, I hope I remember my own personal, private challenge to restore some order to the sewing room. Perhaps this book will help.

My guide for 2018

Luck and wisdom!

The Seven Levels of Cleaning

December 27, 2017

We are having guests for the holidays, so that meant getting the sewing room packed away enough to put a cot in there. Going through all the piles is never first on my list of fun things to do, but I always find some reward in it. This time it got me wondering if creating a cost-benefit list might encourage me to go through the process more regularly, and The Seven Levels of Cleaning is what I came up with. But first, I want to show you my studio floor (yes, it actually exists):

 

I can walk on this floor!

Now for the list:

The Seven Levels of Cleaning

Level 1

Reason for cleaning: I want to get to the cutting table to work on a project.

Cost (time, effort): 15 minutes to clear a path; requires a steady hand to rearrange stacks.

Benefit: I might find something I can put away.

Level 2

Reason for cleaning: I need to finish a project.

Cost (time, effort): 30 minutes to clear space to cut, sew and iron; requires discipline not to get distracted.

Benefit: I finish something, and perhaps free up space on a shelf or in a drawer.

Level 3

Reason for cleaning: I need to finish a quilt for a gift.

Cost (time, effort): 30-45 minutes to clear working space; requires finding room on the floor to put the stacks so they don’t fall onto the quilt while I’m working on it.

Benefit: The project will not have odd scraps quilted into the back (yes, this has happened – more than once).

Level 4

Reason for cleaning: I’m having a meeting at my house and the guests are quilters.

Cost (time, effort): 1 hour, minimum; requires neatly folding fabric stacks and consolidating book/magazine stacks.

Benefit: My friends will appreciate the effort enough to pretend they think my sewing room is clean.

Level 5

Reason for cleaning: I’m having an event at my house and the guests are not quilters.

Cost (time, effort): 90 minutes, minimum; may require finding a place to hide stacks.

Benefit: I might find things that don’t belong in the sewing room (more space for me).

Level 6

Reason for cleaning: Company is coming to stay for a few days.

Cost (time, effort): 2 hours,minimum; definitely requires finding a place to hide stacks.

Benefit: I will force myself to admit some projects will never be done .

Level 7

Reason for cleaning: Mom is coming.

Cost (time, effort): Days; requires chocolate.

While the benefits of cleaning are clear and attractive, I suspect I will always need a pressing deadline to actually get in there and clean. After all, it is much more fun to create art than tidy up afterwards. My goal for 2018 is to keep the sewing room floor open for at least two weeks after company leaves. We’ll see if I can be that disciplined for such an extended period of time.

Luck and wisdom!