Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Goals for Week of Jan 9th

I only met half of my goals from last week: No journal quilt, no getting those contest deadlines on the calendar, only half of the hand quilting completed. I must have over-estimated how long everything would take, because I really did put in quite a bit of time, even into the weekend. I completed the two most important goals - revising and mailing the workshop supply list and piecing the WFW top. Plus I spent quite a bit of time on Sunday's post of "How I See" which led to some revelations. In other words, I am not upset or down on myself for not reaching every goal on that list. I just think that I was overly optimistic again.

Yesterday was all about "housekeeping" and boy did it feel good. I have learned that one of the things that definitely does not nurture my creativity is clutter, especially clutter left over from other projects. I realized I had quite a bit of clutter lying about from the flurry of finishing a lot of projects in December, and I'd failed to document the work. I am pretty meticulous about this documenting process, having devised a form that I print on large Manila folders and file chronologically in 3-ring binders. I generally take the time right away to fill the form out with at least minimal info - Name, size, techniques, start & end dates. I glue fabric swatches next to where a picture will go and note batting and "other things about this quilt" which usually covers inspiration, struggles, details that might come in handy in an entry form description. Notes, mock-ups, extra pictures, copies of contest info, anything else pertinent to the creation of this quilt eventually get filed in the envelop and notes made on the outside concerning where the quilt has been and if it won anything. I even count up the days spent working on it, sub-totaling the various stages, and estimate the cost of the materials used in it.

So here I was wanting to clean up a bit before launching into the next task, grabbing a few stray papers that needed to go in the envelopes of older quilts and staring at the last envelop in the binder - a quilt finished in May. Could this be? Had I not finished anything between May and December? I know I have a lot of things in progress, and that I went through a bit of a dry spell over the summer, but this was stunning and disturbing, so much so that I couldn't focus on documenting the three pieces I'd recently finished.

Instead, I decided to work on updating my calendar. I'd felt the panic rising all last week as I worked on the one contest quilt and received e-mail reminders about a deadline on another. Crowding in were concerns about what had to be done for the workshop 3 weeks away. And remembering that I'd have to start on taxes soon. And, and, and... Yes, I really needed to get at least a part of my life onto a calendar so my mind would quit rushing ahead of itself. I had some information in hand, but spent a good part of the morning pulling more off the internet, then sat down with it all and that blank calendar.

I made an interesting discovery during that process - a change I first felt coming on over a year ago. I've been entering traditional quilt shows since 1993 and only in the last few years had started seeking out less traditional venues. There are a few shows I enter every year, others only if prize money is involved and I think I have a quilt with a good chance to win something. I had a run of winning at least 1 ribbon each year and I found myself trotting my quilts around to shows until they won something. Entering competitions is a lot of work, and sometimes a lot of money and by 2005 I could feel myself tiring of it. My interests were shifting, I wanted the opportunity to sell something, I wanted a break. I looked at the ribbons on my wall and thought, I have ten years in a row of winning ribbons; that's a pretty good run. Would it be such a tragedy if I didn't win one this year? I decided not and that took a lot of pressure off. I still entered a few contests, and I even won a ribbon, but my focus was definitely changing.

As I sifted through my stack of entry information yesterday, I was amazed at how very uninterested I was in the old standbys I'd always turned to. Instead, I found myself tossing those and seriously looking at ones catering to art quilts or offering opportunities to sell the work. They seemed to be challenging me to stretch myself, and they reminded me of the quilts I meant to make in 2005. It refocused me and clarified that my priorities had changed. I had to quit operating out of habit. I have always struggle with change, not wanting to let go of anything, but am slowly making myself do it. Here was one more thing to let go, and instead of sadness or regret, I felt the load lightened and a bit of relief.

I finished up the documentation today. In the process of going back through my engagement calendar for start dates, I discovered what I had done with that time between May and December. I'd made blocks for a benefit quilt. I'd pieced my guild's queen-size raffle quilt. I'd squared up and joined blocks donated to the guild for a wall quilt. I pieced another top for my guild's charity project and on a whim, made and hand-quilted a matching doll quilt from the leftovers. I'd spent many evenings appliqueing. I'd machine quilted a lap quilt for a friend in exchange for sealing a new quilt hoop stand. I guess it wasn't as dry a spell as I'd thought. When I added the two Christmas gifts to the 3 quilts I recently finished, I now had 5 documentation pages to add to my binder. I definitely felt better about myself.

I also discovered that my documentation form doesn't quite fit the way I'm working lately, doesn't ask the right questions to glean the information I need to record. Another indication that I am indeed shifting and changing. A revision of my whole filing system may be in order. But not today.

Today, I have to tell you what else I plan to accomplish this week. I think I will keep it simple:
  1. Work through and revise workshop lesson plans, including making sample block stages (started today!)
  2. Still want to make that self-portrait journal quilt
  3. Finish hand quilting in triangle of Lone Star Quilt
Oh, yeah, and I resolved this week to get up 1 hour earlier every day. So far so good, but it's after 1:00 a.m. so tomorrow will be a challenge!

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