This weekend I decided enough was enough and I turned off my computer (which NEVER happens) and went into my studio to get some quilts DONE (which hasn't happened much this year).
First off, I had this pretty little wall hanging under my needle ready to finish:
This quilt was originally designed as a quick wholecloth gift for a friend. Then it became very obvious that I couldn't finish it on time because I'd chosen to quilt it on a microscopic scale. It was also clear that this quilt should complete and that makes for a very sticky gift. (Hey, here's a quilt for you, but do you mind if I borrow it to show for the next 2 years???")
So instead of finishing it late, it was folded up and put under the table. Under the table is where all my UFOs go. I guess I assume if I stick them somewhere I rarely go, can't see without effort, and try not to think about, then they don't count as UFOs.
But the other day I was digging around under the table and saw this little top and decided it MUST be finished THIS year.
So I pulled it out and put it on TOP my table and immediately remembered the reason why it was under the table before: I'm bored to death with stitching so densely.
Yes, it looks nice. Yes, it's sure to induce drool and amazement and maybe even rage at a quilt show ("How the *&$# does she get her stitches so SMALL!").
But it's also driving me up the wall that after 2 hours of non-stop quilting that all I have to show for my effort is 2 to 6 inches quilted. COME ON! If I keep quilting like this, I'll barely finish 1 quilt a year, and I'll be blind by the time I'm 40. I'll also be that crazy woman in the back of your quilt guild, obsessively ripping out stitches, muttering under her breath "it must be perfect....it must be perfect....it must be perfect..."
I'm just so darn bored with it.
Sorry to complain, but I realized the other day that I've been constructing and quilting quilts roughly the same way for around 3 years. No wonder I'm ready to tear out my hair and throw my sewing machine out the door - there's no challenge anymore!
To put it in another perspective - my original goal has been met. I set out in 2008 to make a show winning quilt. I naively thought that if I made a super awesome show winning quilt, it would tour the world, win at every show, and I'd support my family with the show prizes. He. He. He. He. He.
3 years later, I now know that it's not quite that simple. A quilt might win a major ribbon at one show, but only an honorable mention, or no ribbon at another show. There's no way to guarantee a win, and the cash prizes...well...let's just say it's usually just nice way to support your fabric or thread addiction.
But this year I met my original goal when I won Best Machine Quilting at AQS Knoxville with Winter Wonderland. This was a major win at a major quilt show, and it certainly felt great, but after the show I admit to feeling a bit lost.
It's hard to describe it, but it suddenly felt like I was quilting for the money, which I don't do. I don't make quilts to sell and I don't work on commission, but suddenly I felt....paid...(there's really no better word for it) to do what I do.
After reading "Drive" by Daniel Pink I realize that quilt shows with cash prizes might not be the best fit for me anymore. Basically getting a cash prize can really mess up the extrinsic vs. intrinsic drives behind quilting. The point can become all about the prize and the prestige and the cash, and not about the joy of making the quilt.
When I got home from Knoxville and took a hard look at my quilts and quilting style, I realized that that's exactly what had happened. I was making quilts that were specifically designed to win, or at least do well in shows. I wasn't listening to my feelings about the process anymore, most notably the screams from my psyche that this is getting DULL!
Change isn't easy. Even though I knew I was bored to death with quilting the snot out of my quilts, I continued to do it. It's hard to change your style overnight, and especially hard to stop doing something when it's working. What will happen if I make a quilt that isn't a show winner?! Perish the thought!
No...if I make a quilt that is quilted more openly, I might actually have FUN and enjoy myself! Isn't that a scary idea!
So this pretty little wall hanging will likely be the last quilt I quilt this ridiculously, at least for awhile.
I have to admit, it's awesome! I think this is probably the prettiest quilt I've finished in a long time and I played with a bit of couching in the center and outer edge. You can see the couched metallic thread better in this shot as it curves around the corner:
I guess it all comes down to what is necessary and what feels good. For a long time quilting densely felt necessary and good to me. I was just thrilled to be able to control my stitches so well and be able to produce these textures in thread. I don't regret it, but I do regret getting stuck in this rut and feeling trapped in it.
But now it's not necessary, and it no longer feels good. Yes, you can definitely look forward to many BIG scale designs coming up soon in 2012.
Now this pretty purple quilt has only the binding left to hand stitch in place and then it will be finished! Once it is out of my sewing room, I think I'll tackle the giant - Emergence. She was also quilted on a small scale and seriously needs to be done by January 1st.
Let's go quilt,