Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolutions and the State of the Stash

So here're my quilting/crafting related resolutions, plus an assessment of where I stand on current projects and a reflection on my stash. In some ways this long post is really more for me than for my readers, so if you don't feel like reading all this, scroll down for a couple of pictures.

  1. Buying fabric - I really do want to minimize the amount of fabric that I buy, but since I doubt that I will be able to stop completely, I want to focus on only buying things that fill in holes in my stash: browns, greys, oranges, bigger pieces, polka dots, solids. And some other stuff that I probably haven't thought of yet. More on stash below.
  2. Finishing - this will just be the continuation of what has already been going on lately for me. I will continue to make finishing older projects a priority.
  3. Prioritizing projects - when I start new things they need to be the projects I am most committed to, not necessarily the funnest sounding new thing I just thought of. I have at least one typed page of project ideas, and that is only the titles with maybe a couple word description. We're not talking paragraphs or anything. I will probably continue to have new ideas. As the speed of my ideas seems to outpace the speed of my production, I need to prioritize what I work on. (That said, some scrap projects will have to be a priority, as I am drowning in scraps.) I kind of have a sense of which long languishing ideas need to be a priority, but as they're probably only meaningful to me at this point, you all will just have to stay tuned.
  4. Trying new things - I really want to push myself to try new techniques. Things like curved piecing, working with diamonds, set-in seams, applique with more than one shape, etc. I think it will be good for me to challenge myself. I have been planning a drunkard's path quilt to push myself into curved piecing territory, so that is going to be a priority, see above.
  5. Learn to free motion quilt - I have saved batting scraps for practice, and I have at least one quilt top that I'm pretty indifferent to that I've been saving to be my first practice top. It's just a matter of actually getting going, not that anything in particular is stopping me...
  6. Work on not-quilting crafts - I have a small list of other projects that I want to do. It's so much harder to get started on things I don't do regularly, and so easy to work on quilting because it's familiar. But I wanna work on some other stuff, too :) 
(Ahem. As for personal resolutions, finding a job and moving are at the top, bottom, and middle of the list. If I do a good job on those it will undoubtedly interrupt creative progress for a while, but that's the price you've got to pay...!)

We interrupt this word-heavy post with a picture. Block 7 of 11 for the swap:

Scrappy Star for LouraPalmr

On Stash

I realize that having a well supplied fabric stash is really part of my process, since I usually work from my stash rather than buying fabric for a new project, and I often take lots of inspiration from my materials. I think this is also why it's sooo hard for me to get rid of fabric since everything seems to have potential to me. The only thing I really have a problem with is the size of my stash. Sure, normally I'd say...the bigger the better! The real problem I have is just that I am not really settled yet, and I don't really expect to be any time soon. So having a huge amount of fabric stash means having to move it and find a new place for it with alarming frequency - in the last five years I've moved four times, and will move again as soon as I get a permanent job. Just for context, here is a picture of my fabric as I found it crammed in some storage space when I returned from Texas:

My stash

Yes, if you're looking closely there's a shoe hanging off that basket. I don't know why; this is just exactly how I found it. Oh yeah, and there was one more sweater box I found in another closet later on. And my mom gave me two boxes of fabric she is getting rid of. Of course I don't HAVE to keep it, but I haven't gone through it yet. Plus all the stuff I brought home with me from Texas. So you get the idea. I wish I could reduce the size of this just to make it more portable. Maybe I will just sort it not with the idea of getting rid of stuff (because that is too hard for me!*), exactly, but rather separating the strictly necessary from the less necessary. Then at least when I move I can focus on my energy on moving the most important stuff and decide what to do with the rest later. Like get rid of it. Or reincorporate it. (The latter is way more likely.)

*As an experiment, and because the bin wouldn't close, I went through my blues to cull whatever I could live without and would be willing to get rid of. I pulled three pieces, a fat quarter and two smaller pieces. Didn't help much. Now I'll have to try it again to cull the "less necessary".

Block 8 of 11:

Block for Southern Flower

On Projects

I have been fretting about having so many projects going at the same time, but when I actually sat down and took a closer look it's not really so bad. I have eight works in progress. 2 of those just need borders, but I need to find the perfect fabric and buy it, so that is currently holding me back. Hopefully when I get fabric those will be quick finishes. 4 of the wips are long term projects - things that are not on any real time frame, that I have been working on forever and will continue to work on for a long time. I don't feel and rush to power through and finish those; that's just not the kind of projects that they are. On the other's okay if they take a long time, but I do have to work on them occasionally! I won't start another project of that kind until at least one of these hits the finished top stage. 1 of the works in progress is my swap quilt, which I obviously can't do much with at this point in time since I'm still waiting for people to send me the blocks. The last of those projects is a log cabin quilt that is basically the one thing on this list I need to focus on working on and finishing. So not really that bad, right?

The finished tops list (could also be called the to be quilted list) breaks down in a similar way. There are 10 items on the list. 3 are in line to be hand quilted, and since I can only really hand quilt one thing at a time, there's not much I can do with those for now. 2 I am saving for free motion quilting practice - see above for my resolution to learn free motion. 2 are boy baby quilts (probably) so I am probably going to wait to finish them until I have someone to finish them for (probably). 2 I am not sure how I'm going to quilt them. They are both good candidates for free motion quilting, but in that case they will have to wait until I am "good enough". Otherwise I could quilt them with the walking foot, but it would probably have to be time-consuming, fussy, stitch in the ditching. So waiting to decide on those two. And lastly there is one that I am ready to baste and machine quilt anytime now and will probably work on soon.

Sooo... There you have a long explanation of where I stand creatively entering 2009. Actually there might be more, but I'll save it for another post. 2008 was such a truly wonderful year for me. My time at the shelter taught me so much and I was so blessed by the relationships and experiences I had. Even if my current state of limbo makes me feel like it's not ending on the highest note, it was a great year. I have high hopes for the adventures to be had in '09, so with that in mind...

Happy New Year! Hope you all have some fun tonight...I'm planning on it ;-)


Trisha said...

You and I are SO on the same page! For me this year is going to be all about using what I have and working on (and hopefully finishing) my UFOs. I have been madly organizing and making plans. I think we can do it!

Debra said...

You sound like a younger version of me when I thought I had to have all the fabric in the world. I actually still have some of it but 2009 is going to see it leave my life for good as quilts for some homeless teens. It's a win-win for me and for them. I finally figured out that I can buy more fabric and can stop hoarding.

So, good luck with your necessary vs. unnecessary argument with yourself!

Michael5000 said...

You and me think about this quilting business an AWFUL lot alike, my friend. Happy 2009.

jovaliquilts said...

I have been doing much the same thing -- the prioritizing is the most important part for me now.
Wishing you a wonderful quilting experience in 2009!
Oh, and I love the fabric selections in both the blocks you showed.

belinda said...

I agree with all your resolutions....yes..I read EVERYTHING you make the cutest blocks too!!

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