Tuesday, August 27, 2013


There are so many ways to learn, from attending real sit-down classes to reading books and magazines, and to watching videos. Each has its benefit, and most are dependent upon our energy, our time and where we actually are in our learning experiences.

Today was a busy day out of the house, and when I came home, it was getting dark and I needed down time. Didn't feel like reading, didn't feel like bringing out quilts or fabric or my machine.

However, my mind was whirring with way too much and it was far too early to fall off to sleep.

I pulled up You Tube and keyed in 'machine quilting for beginners'. No matter what your interest or your skill at doing it, you can probably find a short video on You Tube about it. I watched a few of them back to back and smiled all the way through them.

Who are these people who feel confident enough to teach other people like me? Some either work for or own their own company, some have been doing this for long enough they simply want to share their knowledge. Some are skilled at making videos and others end up talking too fast, letting their camera jump, or simply rambling as they speak. 

I laughed. I listened and watched, and I learned. My only investment was my time, and tonight, I had enough to watch for an hour without moving from my cozy couch.

I have been learning a lot this week. It started with the women in my class over the weekend. We were just chatting as women do when they gather.

Someone asked about tying quilts. Someone else said that the success of a tied quilt depends upon what it is for and what materials you use. I learned that its best not to tie a quilt filled with cotton batting because it will shift. Bags of batting will tell you how close you need to quilt and if it is best done by hand or machine.

That lead to someone asking about adding batting to a flannel quilt, which, I learned depends upon how warm you want it. 

Women like to share their victories as well as their failures and talk more about what works. I learned that many of us get more angry at ourselves for things we do incorrectly and often we tend to hold our comments and do silent corrections, even though we fall behind the group all making the same project.

Our sense of self is always fragile. These classes are often made up of participants who are friendly strangers, so there is still a bit of putting one's best foot forward.

While learning from a book, magazine or tutorial video, its only you in the room with an instructor who cannot see you. You can 'see' them, go back and check what they said, stop the reading or watching and walk out of the room. You don't have to be polite. You can also go onto something else or someone else without losing your investment.

I want to learn free motion quilting even though I have practiced it. I am far from pleased with how mine looks. There is no one looking over my shoulder to see what I am doing and how to change something to make it better. I am on my own.

And in this solitary practice, my self-esteem is fragile. No one sees this. Not on my face, not in my heart, not with the work I do. What if I stumble along on practice piece after practice piece and don't improve because I keep doing what I do and don't know how to change?

Well, it is late and dark, and I am tired. Luckily tomorrow is a new day and with the sun shining, it will all look brighter. Right?