It was suggested I post this here, that it would be read more. I know you all must have been here at one time.
TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF LEARNING SOMETHING NEW
As many of you know I enjoy writing. Sometimes it is a short story, sometimes it is poetry. And as so many people that write do, I tend to find myself often sitting and jotting down thoughts, impressions, memories of things I may either experience, hear, watch, or just plain think about. I never used to share my writing but have recently started to do so. This is one of those times. I wrote an article about something I was trying to learn to do. I want to share this writing with you.
I have belonged to a quilting group for over a year now. I sit and listen to everyone as they talk about their quilting experiences. I have learned a lot from this group of people. They get into quilting with a frenzy that is unbelievable. I thought it was something I would enjoy learning how to do, the work is really beautiful. Sitting in on the first few meetings I didn’t realize that I would need a dictionary. The quilting language is a language all of its own.
I don’t know how long you can be part of something before they no longer call you a beginner. I still feel very much a beginner, but I think that everyone believes I should know enough by now that I can no longer fit into this category. I have to admit, I have learned a vast amount of knowledge, putting it to use is a whole different story. Hearing someone explain how they made a quilt to look like this or that, how they picked out the colors or why, how they turned this hem, or appliquéd that seemed easy at the time it was going in my ears, but when it came time for MY fingers and MY mind to do the work………………well, another whole world opened up.
It takes me longer to match material and patterns then anyone I know. I have watched these girls go into a store, see a material they liked, instantly pick something that went with it, know what pattern they are going to use and know what they are going to make before I even have figured out how much I need of something that caught my eye. Oh decisions, decisions, someone please, take my hand and lead me.
Well my wish came true the evening of the meeting the members decided it was time for a challenge. Now let me explain TO YOU what they told ME a challenge was. Someone would pick either a pattern, or a material or something in quilting. Everyone would then take this common element and work with it and we would see how many different things come out of the common element. Sounds simple enough, at last, someone taking my hand. I was excited, lead me on.
The leader brought in one half a yard of a bright flowery material. She asked us all to go out and get a yard of material to match this fabric. It sounds easy enough as I went out the next day, material in hand to find something that would match. I was so anxious to get started. Pretty simple thing to do right?……….no. Every
material I put against the colors, just weren’t the right shade. Who would ever guess that white isn’t white, and red isn’t red. And oh the shades of green, what a headache. I finally, after what seemed liked hours of time found something that would do. I asked for a yard, and left the store. How was I ever going to manage a whole quilt when I couldn’t even manage a yard?
Returning to the next meeting I sat there in total horror and amazement at what people thought matched this material. The colors might be right but the patterns were unbelievable. And stripes with flowers? I so hate stripes to work with. Each yard was cut into quarters and all the pieces were put into a big bag. The bag was passed around as we took a piece out at a time until all the pieces were gone. Every time I put my hand into the bag, I prayed I would not pull out a striped piece of material.
First white, then red, my luck was holding out. My third piece was a multicolored green, not too bad, I thought as I put it with my growing pile. One more pass around and horror of horrors I pulled out this red/pink striped strip of material. My nightmare had started. I reluctantly added this piece to my pile wondering what they were going to have us do with them. It was time for the rules. We must use the material to make whatever we wanted, could add one other quarter of a yard of something and a piece for the backing. That was all the rules we were given. What kind of guidance was that? We were given four months to do this in.
The first two months I think I wore out my poor wee brain trying to figure out what I was going to do with this challenge. I have a better understanding now of what challenge is. I thought it meant that we were challenging each other on what we would come out with for projects, but I now know it means challenging myself because that was just what I was doing.
My daughter was not present at the meeting when we received our material. There was one set of materials left and when I was given this package to give to her I noticed the colors all matched perfectly and there were no outlandish stripes in hers. The thought crossed my mind seriously to switch packages with her. She wouldn’t have known the difference and being younger and much fresher of brain she could have accomplished this, and SHE could have been stuck with the stripes. But continuing without the feelings the guilt of swapping would cause me, I continued down my path of adventure by sticking to my own assortment of colors.
Several ladies had told me that the material just talks to them and so they just know what they are going to do with it. MY material SURE wasn’t talking to me. You can bet I spent a lot of time talking to IT but IT wasn’t doing me any good.
As I stumbled with the material, I decided to start with appliqué work. This is something I had never done, but was shown once at a meeting. As I struggled with the thread going on the wrong side of the needle I tried to appliqué my roses. I am still in a squander as to what to do with the stripes. They DON’T match, pure and simple. It took me a bit of time to get this appliquéd stuff down pat. You have to understand…everyone showing me how to do this is right handed and as I am left handed I was having a heck of a time getting things to go in the right direction. It kept coming out backwards. I finally figured out how to do the same thing left handed and have it come out right.
With the accomplishment of learning appliqué met, what next I thought as I laid out the fabric I still had left to work with. How about if I separate them with something neutral I thought as I headed for my stash. Let me clarify that word “stash” before you think this quilting adventure has me turning to drugs. It means my collection of fabrics I have acquired through one method or another to use in my quilting.
I came back to the table with a piece of material large enough to use for my added extra quarter and the backing and it would not clash with the bright colors. I started putting the pieces together in a pattern I thought would work. Three months into this thing and I STILL am not sure what I am doing, and my material STILL isn’t talking to me.
I have decided to put borders around my appliqué work but I do not want the square corners so now I need to work on figuring out how to make those mitered corners everyone keeps telling me look so good. I do not have a book to read from, no one around to ask, so I proceed to waste several pieces of material trying to get these corners to miter. BUT…MITER THEY DO, I am proud to say.
Add insult to injury in comes my daughter with her project all finished. She wants to leave hers with me to take to the meeting as she will be out on the road when we have our meeting. This is not fair. She only had a month to work on her challenge, and not only is it finished but it is a wonderful beautiful piece of work. Now my poor project sits all woe begotten and forlorn on the table neglected from discouragement. Her timing could not have come at a worse time.
Days go by as I continue to ponder those miserable stripes. For a brief moment the thought crosses my mind to take her project in and pass it off as my own, but then again that GUILT thing comes into play, so I dismiss the thought. So here I am, wearing myself out over a few pieces of material.
I remember one meeting we were told that quilting isn’t always what you do but the effect it gives. They said we had to use some of all the material but not all of every piece. So will it count if I just piece together the colors that match and then make a pocket on the back and stuff that blasted striped material into it? Or how about if I make a pocket on the front and stuff the material inside to give it that puffed three dimensional effect? Will that count? Or how about if I get a little bottle, burn the striped material, stuff it in the bottle, and tie it to the front. All these possibilities I ponder as I continue to struggle to finish this challenge.
When I attended my first meeting, and I watched these women I wondered how sad their lives must be. How pathetic it seemed to me to feel that they have to bring in their pieces of work like a bunch of kindergarten children to play show and tell to the group.
Once again, I have learned a lot from this whole challenge experience. I have learned that you are not a pathetic sad woman with questionable lives bringing things in for show and tell; it is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment you want to share. Quilting is sometimes difficult work, but it is rewarding work when you accomplish something and you are proud enough to want someone to see it and they want to learn how to make it too. I learned that I too can work at quilting, not just admire it, but I didn’t know until I tried.
I learned a quilt does not necessarily mean a piece when finished fits a bed, but can be crib size, or even just a wall hanging.
Most important I learned that you don’t have to do something perfect or be an expert at it. There are many things I spend time doing, quilting and writing are just a few of them. You just have to enjoy what you are doing, and do it because you enjoy it. If I can do it, so can you.
And finish this challenge?………I did…………but I still don’t like stripes. I have since finished a baby quilt all on my own. I know it has mistakes in it, but one of the ladies told me they are not mistakes, I am adding character to my work. So my first quilt has plenty of character. At last I think I am on my way.