book, C&T Publishing, Color Thread and Free-Motion Quilting, learning, machine quilting, quilt, writing

On Following Directions

You know I’m moving, right? I’ve mentioned it on social media and on this post. Even in this time of active social media news sometimes travels slowly. My Sweetie found a position near Austin TX, accepting mid-January. Our house sold quickly and I’m in the process of packing up. Over the weekend my sister and I took a quick trip to Maine. With all the stuff I have to do it seemed an imprudent , yet necessary thing to do,

We visited, talked, played cards, and went bowling with 14 people, 12 of us bowling at any given time. My first game I bowled a whopping 50 points. Woot! Woot! The third game I was over 100. I cheered wildly over gutter balls. There were lots of, “ya got one pin!” and a little bit of psyching each other out. My knees and back let me know that this last year I’ve been driving and sitting on my patootie for long periods of time. Eh whatever, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post:

I learned something about myself the other day.

That’s not quite right, I got a strong reminder of my learning/doing/planning style that had the potential to bite me in the booty.

While taking a class to be a certified nurses aide in high school our teacher had us complete an exercise in following directions. At the top of this one page sheet were the words, “read this completely through to the end.” The last line read, “Write your name at the top of the page, and put your pencil down.” Easy enough right? I’d like to say I followed the directions completely however there were only one or two students who read all the way through, wrote their names, and put the pencil down. I was not one of those students.

I didn’t read an email all the way through. I’ll extend myself enough grace to say that the excitement of seeing what the pdf of my book took over so in essence I missed a couple of key directions. So as I knuckled down and got to work doing the things I needed to do in order to complete this task as best I could in a given time frame I can assure you I was wholly and completely uncharitable towards myself. It wasn’t pretty.

And here is where I needed to stop both the internal conversation and remember that I am more of a learn by doing (over and over again) and seeing rather than reading and doing. Each style has benefits, however here in this moment setting aside my initial excitement and doing the reading the directions more than once would be an exercise in prudence. And in this moment I’m going to extend myself some extra grace I’m in the middle of packing up my house, it’s messy both physically and emotionally.

I gave myself a bit of a time limit, ignored some other things stressing me out and completed the work. Phew. The other stuff I need to do will happen, and in speaking to my Sweetie I was reminded of several things

  1. at some point he will be there to help with the packing and loading of whatever vehicle we use to make this move
  2. when things get overwhelming walk away. See number 1.
  3. do something fun, so I am doing something fun for the weekend

When I teach one of my goals is break the cycle of negative thinking that often holds us back from doing the things we long to do, and share with our friends, and with the larger world. The other day as I shared the pages of the book with a friend I told her I needed and wanted a different phrasing for one particular sentence. With a little bit of conversation we figured it out.

And that’s how it is with quilting we get stuck somewhere along the way, look for a tutorial, look for a book, ask a friend to help us think things through. Sometimes we need to step away from the stuff sitting right in front of us to allow our brains to process the information and find the solution that makes the most sense for our quilts.

Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission.

I had a conversation with another quilting teacher about why quilters do or don’t do something, and while thinking through the book, thinking through paragraph, thinking through why pattern writers work so hard to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s with text and photos that make sense for all quilters. While that is the desire it doesn’t always work, for everyone. As quilters, writers, and designers it’s part of the learning process how we get to the goal is as important as achieving the goal. Just like I needed to take a step back and go to Maine for the weekend, or walk out of the sewing room, or fall flat on my face when sending in the corrected pdf of the book. It’s part of how I learn.

Happy Learning,


7 thoughts on “On Following Directions”

  1. terryknott – I enjoy the process of making a quilt from start to finish. It is fun to use a variety of fabric types from batik to Civil War reproductions--although not in the same project! I ALWAYS have more projects started than I finish these days and I'm trying to turn those works in progress into finished quilts.
    terryknott says:

    You are getting there . . the few knee scrapes you’ve accumulated along the way are really no big deal in the scheme of things! Moving carries its own stresses!

    1. Moving does carry its own stresses. I’m grateful for the opportunity to purge right now. It’s a bit surreal but a good thing overall.

      While I’m looking at my knee scrapes I’m realizing I’ve achieved a long time goal. I’ve learned a lot along the way. Including shortening the time I give myself to write and work. The longer time doesn’t actually help.

    1. Frances my Sweetie is working in Georgetown, so we’ll live somewhere between Round Rock and Georgetown. I very much appreciate the offer and will contact you when I need anything. Thank you so much.

  2. SewTracyLee – New Mexico, USA – Cheering quilters on to and through their next creative adventure! YES, you can break the rules. Yes, you have permission. Go DO it! Perfection is paralyzing. Creating is messy and wonderfully freeing. But you have to actually DO it to grow.
    SewTracyLee says:

    My 8th grade Algebra Teacher gave the same test. Ditto. Shaking my head. I still fail in this regard once in a while though more often than not I read the full instructions on things now. Congrats on your move! Very exciting news. AMEN on the giving ourselves permission. It’s easier for me to give it to others! I suffer from Perfection Paralysis. My ideas are perfect as long as they stay ideas. Actually executing them is very messy and totally imperfect. LOL. Baby steps. You are doing great and you inspire me!

  3. Oh no! News does travel slow (I see I’m a month late to THIS post)— if I hadn’t read about you being featured in the new Quiltmaker issue (Woo hoo!), you would probably already be in Texas before I knew! Congrats to your hubby on the new job and to you on this new adventure. Well, now that you will be much closer to Houston, for you, going to the annual IQF (besides for work obligations) will be like going to NJ Quilt Fest! Sad to say that with the demise of the places we used to bump into each other, now I can’t expect to see you unless I put the fire under my wish list and finally get to IQF myself. Hmmm, good excuse to start really dreaming big! Wishing you a smooth and very safe transition to your new home town!

Leave a ReplyCancel reply