Saturday, January 07, 2006

Quilting Aerobics

Maybe it's the fact that it's been cold and grey and dreary most of the week. Or that the quilt I've been working on is rather dark and dreary as well. Or maybe it's the a sensitive tooth that decided to act up and take my sinuses with it. All I know is that my cheery mood deteriorated as the week wore on, leaving me with a feeling of doom this morning. Even the dog has been lethargic all day.

Still, the sewing machine has been humming along for the last three days, getting that Warmth From Wisconsin quilt pieced. So much for my ability to estimate the time it takes to put together traditional work: I truly thought I could sew the units in a couple of days, three at most. By the end of day two it was obvious I needed more time, but even steady work yesterday only got me as far as the blocks sewn into rows. Drat. I really didn't want to work on it today, but I also didn't want to have to work on it next week.

Twyla Tharp (The Creative Habit), says sometimes all you need to do to get going is to move, i.e. do something physical. The walk this morning didn't improve my attitude, so I decided to vacuum rather than put it off to the afternoon as planned. That finally did it. By the time I'd finished, I was ready to sew those rows together. The quilt also has a plain border, but as I said, I didn't want to tie up my whole day on this quilt. I'll give it just one hour, I decided. That was just what I needed to sew the rows. But now I was tantalizingly close to being done - how much longer could adding the borders take? I thought maybe an hour, but it was closer to two. There went my computer time, but at least I can set it aside now until after I give that workshop (see goals for this week). Not quite falling within the "Rule of Three" but darn close.

I believe I predicted that working on this quilt would be "soothing grunt work." Grunt work it certainly was but I don't know about the soothing part. It felt more like doing aerobics. Day 1 was like warming up. It's been awhile since I've just sat and sewed continually for any length of time and I think you have to build up a tolerance for it. Checking the directions and sewing the first stripsets and cutting them was like stretching my muscles. By the end of that first session, I was getting my rhythm back, starting to move, getting to the aerobic part. Day 2 I was still moving right along, sending those units through the machine making long chains. I'd hit the jogging-in-place part, the constant repetition and I soon felt the enthusiasm wearing thin. How many more of these identical pieces are there left to sew together, for pity sake? I ended the day "cooling off" pressing seams to one side. Day 3 & 4 felt like the part of aerobics when you'd just rather stay in bed. Now you know what's involved, you're a bit bored with it all, but you've got to do it anyway.

Granted, I did not pick the most interesting palette to work with, but then again my intention was to use up some fabric on hand and end up with a utilitarian quilt. In this pattern's defense, I have to say it is clear, concise and accurate. It would be a great quilt for a beginner - minimal pinning and includes pressing instructions so all seams abut. I could even see how interesting it might be made up in batiks or more scrappy. However, making 40 identical units, then 40 more with fabrics reversed, which then go together to make 20 identical blocks was something that made me lose interest pretty fast.

By the way, what are the chances that every intersection would perfectly match if this quilt were going to a regular judged show? Exactly - slim to none. Yet every single one does. Maybe I should care less more often!

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