Me and Ado Annie: The Lure of New Projects

Lately I’ve been hearing a tune in my head from Oklahoma!* “I’m just a girl who can’t say no, I’m in a terrible fix. I always say “come on let’s go”, just when I oughta say nix!”. Ado Annie was singing about the fellas, but oh boy this describes me looking at new projects to a T. So many new things. The Quilt Asylum has a Kaffe Fasset Hexy Diamond project!! Bonnie Hunter is gearing up for her next mystery and I love the color theme!! So much new stuff!! I can’t say no and I’m in a terrible fix!!

Back around 2000 or so, I read an article that talked about people being either “project” oriented or “process” oriented and it really resonated with me. I could look at the quilters and sewers in my life and see the distinction clearly.

Project people tend to work on one thing at a time. They work it to completion before starting the next one. In a quilter, that would translate to one quilt at a time. They might have several things going, but that would be because there was one machine piecing project and one hand piecing project going on. The completion of the project is what keeps their focus and drives their structure. My mother was a project person in her sewing. She would finish what she was working on before starting the next project.

Process people are focused more on the doing than the finishing. They find joy in the activity itself, rather than the completed project. Process people tend to have a lot of things in work. If the process is very enjoyable, the quilt gets finish. If the process is not enjoyable, the quilt will probably remain a UFO in a box for the rest of time. The doing is what matters.

I am a process person. Oh how this clicked with me. I like the doing. I like trying new things. I’m very distracted by shiny objects. I have so many UFOs I’m afraid to count them. Over the last 17 years, I have taught myself how to focus and actually finish things. I’m nowhere near being a project person, but I can imitate one in order to meet a deadline or complete a gift. I’m getting better about looking at something to see if I think I will like it enough to see it through. I will never be a person who works on one quilt at a time, but I am getting better about finishing the things I am working on, even if it is done in a rather disjointed manner.

So I see these two new projects, and I know I will enjoy the process of working on them, and I am energized by something new and shiny, So I signed up for the EPP hexy Kaffe with the Quilt Asylum. In preparation, I have purchased the supplies and ACTUALLY COMPLETED a Mega Dream Bag to carry the in work project with me. This is huge. When I went back to the shop with the finished bag in less than a week, I think everybody was surprised, me included. I’ve gotten half of the fabric for the Bonnie Hunter mystery out of my stash, and purchased only half of the fabric. I will make the smaller size, so I have a more reasonable shot of keeping up and finishing. If I really like it, I can always make more pieces and make the larger size.

So here I am. Humming that little tune, looking at my lovely project bag, waiting for the mail man to bring the first installment of the paper piecing project so I can get going. Because I really need two new projects in my life right now. I do. The joy it brings is worth it, and I will finish them eventually.

* Rogers and Hammerstein 1943

Getting back up on that horse

We’ve all heard that saying, when you fall off, you have to get right back up on that horse. I’ve had horses. I’ve fallen off. I’ve had to get back up on and it is not easy. I think the phrase stays in our lexicon because if we think of life as the horse, we all fall off from time to time and getting back with what we want to do is difficult. I know I’m talking a lot lately about this kind of topic but it is all around me.

For me, this week the horse has been my long arm. I haven’t quilted anything in MONTHS. It could be almost a year but I’m afraid to look closely at the calendar. I was afraid it wouldn’t even turn on, let alone sew the way I need. I joined a FB group for owners of my particular software, hoping that I would get some inspiration and some direction from there too, but at the end of the day, it comes down to me putting a quilt on the machine and starting.

I made so many mistakes. Rookie mistakes. Measured my back the wrong way and made it too wide to fit the machine. Once I corrected the width, I didn’t have enough fabric for the length. Thank heavens for a giant stash, go in there, find another piece and insert it into the back. Ok back done. Load it on the machine. Oh look I forgot to cut off the selvedges. Ok I can do that as I load the back, just stop at each seam and cut them off. Each step of the way, I’m nervous and I’m worried but I keep going. I know that if I don’t do this quilt, I’m going to atrophy into someone who is so afraid of the machine that I won’t ever sew again. So I push forward.

Since it has been so long since I’ve used the machine I give it a thorough cleaning and oiling and change the needle. Thanks to the user group there was a great video and I did just what it said to do. Got things cleaned up and got my quilt loaded and with HUGE amounts of trepidation, started to sew my first pass. It went better than I could have imagined. Everything worked. So I turned everything off and walked away. This morning I got up early and sewed two more passes. Again, things worked like they are supposed to. I still have two more passes before the quilt is done (it’s 98×98) but I’m getting back into the swing of things. But I’m on that horse again.

I am writing this post so that I can look back later on and remind myself that I can get back up on that horse. When life throws me a curve and I get away from doing the things I want, I can get back to it. I cannot let the fear of failure keep me from doing the things I love. I cannot let that fear overwhelm me to the point of atrophy. It may be slow and there will be mistakes, but each time, I just need to dust myself off, have a good talk with myself and get right back up on that horse.

Thinking about Color

We are heading into our grand two weeks of fall here in Texas, and it’s got me thinking about color more and more. Ok I joke a bit, fall is longer than two weeks, it’s just interspersed with more days of summer so it’s not really a coherent season, but the trees and grasses do change color. This is my favorite time of year, and these colors have always spoken to me at a deeper level, I think because to my eye they signify the end of summer and the cool crisp days of fall and early winter.

Lately, however, I have been noticing a shift in my perception of color. I notice more color. All around me. All kinds of colors. I am drawn to more palettes than I used to be. As I’m sewing more and more again, after having been ill, I am finding that I am surrounding myself with a cacophony of color. I am working on two quilts in particular, one in Americana colors (think tea dyed red, white and blue) and the other is a rainbow Kaffe Fasset. I think that’s pretty much getting to the end points on either side of the spectrum. They both make me gleefully happy for totally different reasons.

The Americana one is my wheel house. Traditional colors. Homey. Inviting. Homespun, you might even say. I’m going to back it with a brushed flannel so it will be one giant hug of a quilt when I look at it. Those colors are what say warmth and inviting to my eye. (Everyone is different, that’s just to my eye).

The Kaffe quilt is new for me. I’ve been doing more work with brights lately, and let me tell you this thing is B-R-I-G-H-T! Loud. Shouting with exuberant joy. It will still be a hug but this is more the hug I get from my chocolate Lab, that is all bouncy and ends with a lick on the face. Looking at it makes me smile. I’m fairly sure when it is done, it will be viewable from space.

I have always been fascinated by people who knew, when you asked, exactly what their favorite color is. I found that often my answer was YES. YES to color. I don’t have a favorite exactly. It depends on the day, the mood, the situation, the time of year, so many factors go into what makes a favorite color for me that it is always changing, yet the one constant is YES to color. Lots of it.

A new way to look at I can’t

How many times have we all said those words: I can’t. I don’t know about you but I do it all the time. I use those words constantly. About a lot of things. I am starting to realize the many facets of I can’t and what it is doing to my life.

First of all, there’s the I can’t when what I mean is I won’t. There’s a difference. Won’t is a choice. I’m making a choice. It’s what is right for me at that time. Nobody else needs to agree with my reason, or get my reason, or heck even know my reason, but the bottom line is I won’t, not I can’t. I need to start making this distinction so that I am reinforcing that I have choices in my life and I am making those choices.

Second is a very subtle thing, and to get there, I’m going to have to digress for a moment.

Do you know about self-talk? We all do it. We all have a voice in our head that talks to us all the time. This voice talks all the time and usually the favorite topics are negative things. We are not good enough. We are not loved. We do not look right. This voice drones on and on and on and it convinces our poor minds of horrific untruths. I have been on a journey to find out that the voice in my head is MY VOICE. I own it. I control it. I can tell it what to say. I can chose to change what that voice tells me. I am working very hard this year on changing what my self talk strategy is. This is not telling myself I’m going to be a supermodel, but talking myself through situations with purpose rather than letting the voice take over. Slowly, I am seeing a shift in how my mind works. It is very slow but I am seeing a shift.

Ok now to I can’t. I spent the most glorious weekend at the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat. I’m learning how to play a new musical instrument, at my age. HAHA. But adult learning is difficult. As adults, we have gotten very used to picking up things quickly. We rarely pick up something that is too far out of our comfort zone and for that reason, we gain a basic mastery rapidly. Anything that doesn’t fit this model is HARD. The attrition rate amongst adult learners is huge. Fear of failure, the length of time to see any measurable results and finding the time to put in the necessary effort to learn anything new, be it language or music or anything is HARD. But I want to do this so I embarked on a journey last year. And it was oh so hard last year. I literally cried from frustration the whole weekend. It was so HARD and I kept saying I can’t do that.

One of the big things is in the Irish Music Tradition, music is passed on aurally, you learn by ear. I am a classically trained musician who works from a score. I can’t learn by ear. I told myself that all weekend last year. I kept telling myself that last year but I did attend a workshop on the subject where I was told I could learn. So I worked on it for a year.

Fast forward to this weekend. At the retreat. I learned two new tunes by ear. TWO. BY EAR. I CAN. This is huge. I’m still not very good at it, it took all weekend and my teacher is a saint of a young man but I DID IT. He also wanted me to tap my foot while I was playing. I told him if I had to move my feet and my hands at the same time, I would fall out of my chair. We all laughed and I said I can’t.

I got home last night and was playing my new tunes. I tried tapping my foot. It was the predicted train wreck. The cat got poked in the process when I lost my balance. Then something crossed my mind. A year ago, I had firmly said I CAN’T learn music by ear, but I had just spent the weekend doing that. I played a bit more, I apologized to the cat, and as I got ready for bed I told the voice in my head to start saying something different.

I’m no longer going to say I can’t. I’m going to say I can’t do that now, but I’m learning. Just wait until next year

Stitching through the Sorrow

In times of great sorrow, we turn to many things in life to deal with that sorrow.  This weekend I dealt with the loss of two friends, one very close, the other was the husband of a close friend.  I am about at my breaking point this year.  There has been so much loss.  Loss of lifestyle, loss of relationships and loss of friends.  Monday dawned with a new kind of horror.  I will not make any political commentary.  That’s not what this blog is about.  What I will say is that through this weekend, and now through this week, I plan to stitch my way through my sorrow.  This weekend I found great comfort in sewing.  I made things both for myself and for others.  All of the items are useful, but with a touch of whimsy, trying to bring some light into the darkness.  With each stitch, I found myself sewing my heart back together, one tiny stitch at a time.

We will all get through this.  Be kind to each other.  Be kind to people you don’t know.  Take a deep breath.  Sew a little.  If you don’t know how, go learn – it’s a useful skill to have.  Keeping your hands busy through all of this can help calm your mind and sooth your soul.  I don’t have any other answers, believe me I wish I did. In the mean time I will just keep sewing.

One foot in front of the other…

I see a lot of people post on social media these days about ‘adulting’.  While I abhor that word, I’m not even sure it really is a word, I completely comprehend the sentiment.  There is the list of things that I really want to be doing, and then there’s the list of things that I ought to be doing.  If you have an avocation, like I do in quilting, then there’s a list of things in between that is things that I like that I ought to be doing but still get passed over for the list of responsible adult activities.  This blog somehow often falls into that category.  No matter how good my intentions are to write and share on a regular basis, life manages to show up like an octopus and wrangle me into the depths and it never happens.

I have now, at least, reset my password, and am putting some words on to paper.  I have this grand plan to install WordPress on my iPad so that I may write from anywhere.  I have this wonderful fantasy of sitting at a little cafe in Rome, Italy, sipping an espresso and typing away on my blog.  It’s much more likely to be me sitting at a Sonic in Rhome, Texas, sipping on a diet limeaide and typing away on my blog but both have their own appeal.  I will get there; as my sister often says, it’s a process.

At least I’m sewing again.  I have gotten things together enough and my health has stabilized enough that I am sewing again and enjoying it again.  That’s a beautiful thing.  For a while I was really worried that I would not be able to get back to the hobby that I have loved so well for over 25 years.  I need to get pictures and get things posted, but that’s another day.  After more adulting.


Starting Over

Well I think it was John Lennon who said “Life is what happens when we are busy making plans.” Boy he was not kidding. My whole existence got derailed by a major health issue. I am doing better now; not out of the woods completely but well enough that I am sewing and creating again. Hopefully I can jump start the activity on this blog and get things moving again!!

Thus ends the Instagram Account Hokey Pokey

You remember the Hokey Pokey.   You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out, etc. etc.  Well I have been trying to figure out what to do with my Instagram accounts.  Part of it was just figuring out Instagram, the rest was trying to figure out what I want to have for my social media presence.  Needless to say there have been a whole handful of attempts and starts at attempts and ultimately I figured out that multiple accounts is not for me.  So I have disabled the newer business type account @pinwheelprodns, and I’ve changed the handle on my main account to @pinwheelprodnsquilts and I’m going to leave it like that.  I promise.  I know everybody is tired.

I’m sure at this point everybody is confused by the “shake it all about” aspect of the Hokey Pokey but things should settle down now.  The blog and website are live, I’ve settled on a single IG account, time to move forward and get busy SEWING!!

Slow and Steady Wins the Day

It’s both an old British saying, and the name of Tula Pink’s latest fabric line.  She has mentioned that part of the name refers to working steadily towards a goal, and that steady work will get you to the finish line eventually.

If you have been reading through the blog, you have seen a HUGE theme about starting over, moving forward, all those ways of saying that I want to work on this and I want to make it a success.  I have also posted how I am working on patterns again, and I’m remaking some of them in more modern fabric.  That being said – I’ve finished a new sample of Fat Quarter Fabulous using Slow and Steady.  I’m realizing this is more than just making another sample, this is a tangible expression of this reboot.  I could not have picked a better fabric line for this new sample!  I’m both getting my technical content updated as well as updating my samples.  Next up is to get it quilted and get a photo of it in all its glory.

The website/blog is now on line and ready to go.  I will continue to update as I add more content and get more photos but the core of it is in place, and I couldn’t be happier.  I also dug in and created my logo in Adobe Illustrator.  I overcame a huge learning curve there thanks to online tutorial videos, and I’m pleased with it.  I was able to keep the hand-drawn aspects of my original logo, while converting it to a format that can go on a number of things.  Color me happy as I check another thing off my list.

I will keep looking at that quilt when I get discouraged, or confused or tired.  Slow and Steady Wins the Day.  I will figure all this out.  I will create new patterns, and I will continue to do that which I love so very much.

Download the pattern for free here!

Eating the Elephant One Bite at a Time

Hear that?  That ugly, groaning sound?  That’s the sound of my calendar sagging under the weight of my to-do list.  I’m a list maker.  I have lists of lists.  I use lists for a variety of purposes.  The obvious use is to actually function as a list.   The not so obvious use is how it becomes a basis for my problem solving process.

Some things are simple to work out:  the grocery list, the chores that have to be done this week, what to pack on a trip.  Some things are not so simple to work out:  how to invigorate my sewing business or how to declutter the house.  That’s where lists come in handy for me.

On the sewing business front, making a list starts off with listing the big ticket items that need to happen:  legal paperwork that needs to be updated, updating patterns to put them on Craftsy, coming up with new patterns based on my sketch book.  Each of these items is made up of tens if not hundreds of things that need to happen.  Spelling these things out on a list really helps me make sense of what I’m doing.  Am I leaving something out?  Is there work I can be doing in parallel?   One of the things that was brought up a lot at Sew Pro – is there work that I can have other people do?   Being a team of one is daunting.  You feel like absolutely everything is up to you and there just aren’t enough hours in the day unless I move to Saturn.  I’m starting to reach out to people to find out if I have options to get help.  It’s difficult to ask for help but that’s another topic for another post.

In the mean time I’m going to keep working on my lists, keep checking things off and keep eating that elephant one bite at a time.  (note the post title is based on a really old joke – how do you eat an elephant?  one bite at a time).