Friday, August 9, 2013

Harder than you think

The above photos are the last of the group of Practice Pieces. 

My post today is sort of a ramble about practice, process, and conservation, and how it all relates to my spirituality. It is about touching my humanity in sorrow and joy, and realizing that practice might never make perfect, but it is a way to start.

Again, I followed the fabric pattern on the front. Its still quite the challenge for me. And while it is looking so much better on the backs with closer and even stitches, I still feel like I am drawing cartoons. Recipients will have small candle mats for their home, and when I send them, I wrap them in tissue and add a ribbon, so I can cut it, symbolizing 'no strings attached'. 

In the first one, I tried to keep circles in the boxes. And in the second one, it was more of a spiral. I hope that at some point, it will be something I can do with more of a flow.

My lesson from these, is to play and flow, to keep it going rather than stop and start, and to trust. How long will it be that I can trust myself in this process, and just let it happen. I know I need to see myself with more compassion, and to get that sense of gratefulness in what skills I do have.

I started quilting about two and a half years ago, and it seems that the more I learn, the more I learn I need much more! My friend Rexie R (Crow Calling Woman) finds all these wonderful techniques on You Tube such as glue basting, and training videos for free motion quilting. She jumps right into her projects and lets her inner artist out. 

Me? Well, I puddle along ever fighting my inner critic. Women, here in town, tell me that we all have to start somewhere. Yet, it is a solitary art form where you create with your sewing machine in the privacy of your home.  There is a guild in town and a quilt show mid-month that I will attend (and perhaps bring photos of some that really inspire me.

I don't like practicing. I want to be able to jump right in and do it on one of my quilts and have it look good. However, from these practice pieces that you've seen me do in the last couple of weeks, I hope you see that the learning process is honestly harder than you think. A really nice quilt has even stitches, where you can see a very elegant pattern emerge.

Sometimes I feel like Arya on Game of Thrones when she is told to do her needle work. Her older sister perfects the art and gets constant praise from her Septer (teacher), while Arya leaves the fabric arts and picks up a sword. I had my years of avoiding this work on fabric and now have a deep desire to work with it. However, it makes me smile to know Arya rejects it for more action in her life.

I love the ways quilting allows you to work with bits or scraps of fabric, piece them together into a whole other thing. It is a form of recycling, repurposing and reusing. 

Cotton prices hit a 15-year high recently, along with silk and coarse wool. For awhile, the trend was toward nylon and poly fabrics, so growers turned their fields to grain production. China experienced a drought and their crop output fell 14.6%, even though demand for cotton picked up. And yes, there are labels for the cotton we buy on the side selvages of every bolt. As prices for fabrics rise, the USDA will allow more imports of foreign cotton to meet the growing demand for it by consumers.

If you consider that it takes anywhere upwards of 10 yards to make even a small quilt, currently averaging $12 a yard for good cotton, your cost for a small quilt is at least $120, not counting thread, needles, batting, and time. Quilters cannot waste even an 1/8th of a yard.

The block exchange that RexieR & I just started, is one way quilters are expanding their material selections. For us, its one block at a time, with different pieces of fabric.

Fun, fun, fun. And if I forget, practice, practice, practice!