With a little bit of time before a sales appointment my Sweetie and I stopped by a St. Vincent de Paul shop to look around leaving with four classic books including J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. It is a classic that I don’t remember reading, or didn’t read while in school, not quite sure which, but no matter, it’s in my book stack to read. Sometime back Sweetie recorded Rebel in the Rye, something of a biopic based on events in Salinger’s life. Fascinating. Really fascinating.
At some point along his path to writing someone says to J.D., “Imagine the book you want to read, and then go write it.” What is particularly profound in this is the invitation to take a good look at what you do, what you like and what you don’t like, reexamine what you like again, refine, hone, clarify, and modify those things, and write your book.
Let’s go a step further and modify the quote,
“Imagine the quilt you want to make, then go make it.”
in modifying the quote changing book to quilt and read to make we offer ourselves the opportunity to, the freedom to explore a particular part of quilt making. We have, essentially, said that practicing is an option that will allow us to hone our skills. It gives us the freedom to make quilt after quilt after quilt or block after block, or try thread after thread for our quilts.
This further gives us a way to look what why we quilt. The why we quilt is as essential to working on honing our skills as the actual quilt making. Which set of skills need our attention? Are there classes at shows, or on-line that will work on that skill. Are there friends in your circle, bee, guild that can help you with that skill. Look at books, are there writers and authors who have pursued the work you’re interested in.
Imagine the quilt you want to make, then go make it.
Part of this is relearning how to exercise our imagination again. Oh this is the hard part, one that from what is portrayed in Rebel as something Salinger struggled with, that and many other things I’m sure. Exercising our imagination is diving deeply into creativity which has it’s own set of wild and wonderful “rule”. Imagination and Creativity follow a non-linear path when our brains want nothing more than order and a quick line from here to there. Imagination and creativity require that we give them time, even sleep time. They require us to let go of what we see as the road to get there, slow down and take the path they are presenting. I can assure you this is no easy task, it’s fraught with frustration. However it is in the frustration that our biggest breakthroughs come. And in typical imaginative fashion sometimes we don’t even realize that the breakthrough has come, it simply seems as though we’ve been doing this all along.
From my own quilting life for a good long time I made tote bags, using up whatever fabric I had on hand to quilt it up, using the designs on the fabric to stitch around. One afternoon I brought totes into one of my shops, the owner looking at the quilting, telling me something changed in it, an incredible compliment. This allowed me to begin to change how I see the fabric and thread relationship, further pursing an understanding of thread and color.
Imagine the quilt you want to make, then go make it.
Making means making decisions. This is, by far, the most difficult part for quilt makers as our choices are seemingly endless from fabric and batting, to notions and thread. In one sense they are limitless, and this is good as we have a wide variety of choices. The thing is, and here is an amazing limit, we have likes and dislikes. Our likes and dislikes inform all that we do in quilt making. Helping quilters make choices is one of the most fun things ever as it’s an opportunity to allow them to see who they are, what they like and how those things work together to create something beautiful. Further by acknowledging our likes and dislikes we have the opportunity to further hone our skills. Hey, how’d you like that transition?
Acknowledging our likes and dislikes offer the opportunity to further hone our skills.
Whether it’s color, thread, notions, rotary cutters, rulers, etc we get to practice using these things over and over until it seems effortless. I’ve found that the Quilters Select mats, rulers, and rotary cutter are the right tools for good cutting and piecing…when I use them properly. Meaning when I don’t try and cut through too many layers of fabric, and pay attention to the lines on the rulers and mat and line them up well. I tried cutting through too many layers a couple of weeks ago and it’s giving me issues now. Gah! What a pain in the hind end however I can and am fixing this situation by, you got it, recutting.
So let’s say there is a deep desire to make an art quilt. First, “art quilt” is a fairly broad category so we’re going to narrow this down to a post card sized, collage style, machine quilted piece. So we have a finished size 4 x 6, we have a style of layering fabrics and machine stitching. Let’s make the further choice of a background fabric of an ombre or gradationgiving some fun color. One more choice based on personal preference, our applique is fusible and the machine stitching will hold it down.
This card, made ages ago, took some time to make. Each applique is cut freehand, fused down, and then machine quilted to secure everything. The quilting is an opportunity to add some detail and practice some stitches. This was fun, and the couple loved it.
It’s time for me to go do some imagining for future quilts.