Monday, April 30, 2018

Another 100%! on the Books

I'm back with a better attitude and thoroughly enjoying sewing the blocks and sashing for On Ringo Lake together.

I actually felt better as soon as I complained about the monotony. Sometimes I like to complain because it helps me get over whatever I am complaining about faster. Unfortunately, in blog-land if I don't add another post right away to tell people I am better, it makes it look like I am complaining for a long time.

As you know, I started with piecing the four corners.  Then I started with two rows of three blocks, working on both ends of the quilt at the same time. Last week, I finished two rows of three blocks and two rows of three sashing blocks.

This week, I finished two rows of five blocks and two rows of five sashing blocks.

I even made a good start for the next set - two rows of seven blocks and two rows of seven sashing blocks.  It is rewarding to see the stack of quilt blocks get smaller as they get sewn into rows and placed on the "to press" pile. Later, there are two rows of nine blocks to do. After I have the rows done, I need to piece the corner triangles which need to be added before the rows are pieced to each other.

15 Minutes to Stitch

This week, I sewed a lot on Saturday, and I am pretty sure I did some sewing on a couple of other days. There were some conflicts at work this week and I was able to provide a sense of calm and reason without adding stress to the mix so I think I quilted enough this week and will take full credit for sewing enough this week.

I've changed the labels from days to 15 minute sessions. It feels like lying when I say I have stitched 7 days this week, but I probably did have 7 fifteen minute sessions this week, some of which were back to back, and some, like a quilt, were pieced together from shorter sessions.

15 Minute sessions of stitching this week:  7 out of 7
15 Minute sessions of  stitching this month:  22 out of 29 days
15 Minute sessions of stitching this year:  107 out of 119 days
Success rate:  90%

The success rate rounds up to 90%, which seems incredible to me, as I was expecting the downward spiral to be more sudden.  This challenge really does help give me a reason to quilt. Sorry, housework, I promised the blog readers that I would quilt  an hour and forty-five minutes each week.

And actually the quilting helps keep me calm, focused, and energized,  and I manage to get most of the housework done too.

Linked to:
15 Minutes to Stitch Week 17 
Let's Bee Social #226

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Climbing Out of the Black Hole

Last week, I had to report with shame and humiliation a total failure in my quilting goal of sewing at least 15 minutes a day.

Okay, it wasn't that bad. I mean, sure it was 0% success rate for the week, but I am not expecting 100% for the year, and I am still happy with my yearly average.

My time at work is either feast or famine. There is either too much work or no work.  I am feasting at work, which means famine at sewing. Also with the better weather, there is yard work to add to my domestic chores, and more time spent outside to enjoy the weather.  I have to be gentle with myself  and let the sewing go.

But the sewing is relaxing, so I try to sew when I can without the pressure of having to sew every day.

This week, I managed to sew on Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. I'm not sure if I managed to make up a week's worth of time since I wasn't keeping track of the sewing time. On Monday, I only had 15 minutes but had so many interruptions, I'm not sure if it even counts as 15 minutes. Tuesday, I managed several short sessions that probably ended up with more than fifteen minutes, and on the weekend, I tried to do more than 15 minutes at a time, but there were several sessions.  I am taking credit for it anyway. In fact, I was pretty calm and relaxed all week, so I am taking credit for 100% this week. It's about quality, not quantity.

Days with stitching this week:  7 out of 7 days
Days with stitching this month:  15 out of 22 days
Days with stitching this year:  100 out of 112 days
Success rate:  89%

Even though I am taking credit for sewing all 7 days, my success rate didn't budge.  It rounded up to 89% last week and now it is a solid 89%.

I stepped away from the design floor for a moment and Zeus served as watchdog to make sure the blocks didn't go anywhere. He is multitasking, because he also pressed them for me.

As you can see, I am using blue cornerstones instead of the brown in Bonnie's pattern. It is my effort to make sure my quilt looks different, however slightly, from all the other On Ringo Lake quilts out there. There are others who also used blue cornerstones, but I also have another change planned for the setting triangles. I am borrowing the setting triangle idea from another quilter, but hopefully by borrowing adaptations from two different quilters, I will have a better chance of having a more unique quilt.

Linked to:
Let's Bee Social #226

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

11 Suggestions For How to Avoid Unfinished Quilts (UFOs)

Most of the activities we do in life have parts that are more enjoyable than other parts. Sometimes even the more enjoyable parts may feel less enjoyable depending on our mood or the circumstances.

The same goes for quilting.  Most of the things we do in quilting is enjoyable. They have to be, or we wouldn't be quilters, would we?  But there are times when the process seems cumbersome and we either have to push through those less enjoyable parts to abandon our projects before they are finished. They become the dreaded UFOs -- unfinished objects.

Here are some suggestions on how to avoid the tedium of quilting and avoid a pileup of UFOs. You can use one or a combination that will be most effective for your project and your personality. I will warn you ahead of time that some of these may give you the the opposite effect, so you may have to abandon them after trying them. When you do, abandon the suggestion for that project, not the project itself!

DVIDSHUB CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

Avoid Tedious Projects

The best way to avoid UFOs is to avoid projects that you know will cause you trouble. Just don't start them in the first place. If you know you don't like making the same block over and over again, don't make quilts that have that sort of pattern. There are plenty of other types of projects available. Allie prefers to work on applique projects because she prefers applique over piecing.


Remember the End Goal

When I saw the quilt mystery on Quiltville, I knew that this quilt would have lots of small pieces and lots of repetition of blocks, but I decided to make it anyway.  I pictured the finished quilt on my bed and now I want to see that quilt on my bed.  When the piecing becomes tedious, I can think of that mental picture and that helps me push through the boring parts.  I chose to make this quilt because I want it on my bed.  I had decided it was worth the repetition, so now I have to deal with the repetition. It is short-term pain for long-term gain.

Adapt the Pattern

There are many ways you can adapt a pattern to help you avoid or minimize parts that you do not enjoy. When I started the On Ringo Lake mystery, I made just a few blocks so I could make a smaller quilt than the pattern. That way, I could enjoy the process of making the quilt without the commitment of a bed quilt. When I saw the blocks, I decided I would rather have a bed quilt, but I could easily have decided to make the smaller quilt instead.

Another way I could have adapted the pattern is to make alternating blocks that didn't have as many pieces. I could have alternated with a different block with fewer pieces, or even alternated with solid, applique blocks. I could have used a solid instead of a pieced sashing. Either of these would have let me have a bed size quilt with less piecing.

This adaptation can be made before you start the project, but it can also be made at other times.  When the project is in danger of becoming a UFO, take inventory and see what you can do with the progress you have already made. This may mean you will have a table runner instead of a bed quilt, but at least you will have a table runner.

Vary the Process

Instead of cutting all the pieces first, then sewing each step in a particular order like a factory line production, you can vary the order in which you do things.  Since I wasn't sure at the beginning what size I would make my quilt, I made some blocks, then I made a few more, and then I made a few more.  By alternating the cutting, sewing and pressing processes, I was able to add variety. While this still involved making the same number of blocks overall, this avoided my making many of the same seams all at one time.

Jourdan Dukes cc by 2.0 via Flickr

Add a Change

If things are getting boring, it helps to change things up.  I did this by adding a new fabric to the mix.  I went through my scraps and added a few pieces that went with the fabric I was already using.  Adding this new fabric that held a memory for me helped add the variety I needed to push through.  Some of this was background fabric, and all of the additions were small pieces, so they didn't make a difference in the overall look of the quilt, but they did make the process less repetitive to me. Sometimes a small change can make a big difference.

Make Some Rules

Sometimes some rules can help with motivation.  Here are some I've tried:
  • No new projects until the old ones ares finished
  • No chocolate until I've quilted for at least 15 minutes
  • I can start one new project for each one I finish
  • I will add some seams for the repetitive quilt in between working on a quilt I am not finding repetitive

Be Accountable

You can make a promise and have someone check up on you to see if you have kept the promise, or you can make it more public by putting it on your blog.  I have challenged myself to stitch for at least fifteen minutes each day, and I show my results every week, even on weeks where I was not able to meet the challenge. It provides motivation for me to try every day since my results are public.

Get Some Help

 If you are stuck because you don't know how to do a particular step, solve a particular problem, or can't decide which option is better, sometimes asking for help can get you unstuck. Whether you ask a quilting buddy, or ask on a blog or social networking site, you may be able to get suggestions, advice, and positive encouragement to keep going.

Tish said:  "I also think adding having a quilting advice buddy is a good one. So if you get stuck on something like 'how to quilt it?' you can bounce ideas off of them."

Create a Challenge

I tell a student that the most important class you can take is technique. A great chef is first a great technician. 'If you are a jeweler, or a surgeon or a cook, you have to know the trade in your hand. You have to learn the process. You learn it through endless repetition until it belongs to you. Jacques Pepin
There are many ways you can add a challenge to your quilting. When my daughter was in school, instead of having the students memorize the times table, the teacher challenged them to see how many multiplication problems they could solve in ten minutes. These timed tests helped make the worksheets easier and gave them motivation to find ways to do them faster. To translate that in quilting, you could challenge yourself to:
  • master the quarter inch seam
  • improve the  quantity of your work by seeing how many blocks you can make in a limited time period
  • improve the quality of your work by seeing how many blocks you can make without making a mistake
  • improving your vocabulary by timing how many blocks you can make without cursing
  • learning to avoid distractions by seeing how many blocks you can make without getting interrupted
  • practice good habits or build endurance by working on that quilt for at least fifteen minutes a day 


Fix Your Attitude

Kaja said "There are boring bits to almost everything; it's about the balance between those and the things we love to do." If we keep the boring part in perspective, we can push through them to get to the parts we enjoy.


Make It Fun

Add some lively peppy music or listen to a good book. Dance as you go back and forth to the ironing board.


Enjoy the Process

The most important suggestion is to enjoy the process.  I quilt because I enjoy quilting, not because I want a quilt at the end. When I immerse myself in the enjoyment of the process instead of looking ahead to the end result or the number of blocks I have to make, I really enjoy the meditative quality of quilting. many other quilters feel the same way, and it is one of the things we love about quilting. Sure there is excitement about starting a new project and finishing one, but the bulk of our time and attention is that time in between starting and finishing.

Kyle said: It all can be a soothing rhythm even if there are times with a lot of repetition.

Kate said: Sometimes there is a lot of repetition, but I like to call that my meditation time, my brain just floats while my fingers do the work

Rail Fence by Shasta Matova

Try these eleven suggestions, either individually or in combinations. I think they will help you get your UFOs finished! What do you do to motivate yourself to keep quilting when you are in a slump?

Lnked to:
Let's Bee Social 224 
Off the Wall Friday
UFO Busting 16 
Moving It Forward Monday 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Big Fat 0%

Here it is, another week, and time to recap how much sewing happened during the week.
Sewing, what sewing?  I don't remember since the week has been a blur, but I'm pretty sure I didn't do any quilting last week.

Days with stitching this week:  0 out of 7 days
Days with stitching this month:  8 out of 15 days
Days with stitching this year:  93 out of 105 days
Success rate:  89%

It is a good thing that the success rate percentage is based on the year and not the week!

Today, I decided to take some quick pictures so you would have something to look at, and it looks like I hadn't even created a folder for the April pictures. And it is already the middle of the month!

 Before I wrote this post, I did sew a little bit so that this week will be bigger than 0%! On the plus side, these completed blocks and sashing sew up together much faster than the individual pieces.

Linked to:
15 Minutes to Stitch

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Tedium of Quilting

Sometimes when I tell people that I am a quilter, they say "I could never do that."

You would think that this statement should mean they are in awe of my wonderful quilting skills and my abilities to turn fabric into wonderful work of art.  But alas, their tone of voice doesn't suggest the awe and reverence they give to my skills, but instead to the boredom and tedium they associate with such a past-time.

I don't try to correct them. Everyone has a choice of how to use their time, and if they choose to fritter away their time with browsing the internet, watching TV, or talking sports, that is their business.

In last week's post, I complained about the tedium of sewing so many sashing blocks for On Ringo Lake. I think we should acknowledge that sometimes it does seem tedious and monotonous to make the same type of join over and over again.  Maybe I was tired and would have complained about anything. More likely, it was a complaint because I didn't have the time to just finish this step and had to prolong it by working only few minutes each week.

After this week's sewing, I realize that I was eyeing the finish line, like runners might do, and in anticipating being over that line, I stopped focusing on the current run. It's like those runners who slow down and become tired because they think they should be over the finish line already (not that I would know anything about that personally).

I had a better attitude this week. This week, I enjoyed touching the fabrics, examining the colors, and sewing each seam.  I worked exclusively on the On Ringo Lake mystery sashing. I have finished all the sashing blocks, sewing and pressing.

I wrote that last week, planning it to be a prelude to a list of suggestions to avoid tedium. But that will have to wait so I can now get two weeks of results posted.  The last two weeks, I was not able to quilt during the weekdays, but did manage to make up the time on the weekends.

I managed to sew the sashing blocks together, press them and have started sewing them to the blocks.

Days with stitching this week:  7 out of 7 days
Days with stitching this month:  8 out of 8 days
Days with stitching this year:  93 out of 98 days
Success rate:  94%

Linked to:
15 Minutes to Stitch