It's Question Thursday time and guess what I'm doing today? After more than a solid month, my computer Harry finally has his brains back and I'm re-installing software. I never realized I used so many different programs to create videos, write books, draw designs, scan drawings, and now that I'm having to install it all at once, I'm learning the value of keeping all these backup discs and serial numbers very well organized.
But once Harry is up and running again, I've decided to stop taking chances with my documents. I've begun using a program called Dropbox to keep all my files from books to quilting designs to our family photos.
Dropbox is a cloud program that keeps all your data stored on a server, but also accessible just like the normal folders in your "my documents". Originally I installed it so I could easily work on quilt designs on any computer in the house. No matter which computer I'm using, when I save the file, all the computers will be updated with the most current version of the file.
Even if I go to a coffee shop, or travel away from home, any chances I made to the files in the dropbox folder will be updated. This means if I'm away from home and need to send Josh an updated file, all I have to do is change the one on my computer. I don't have to email it, attach it, deal with bouncing or email load limits at all.
This is extremely convenient, but it didn't really sink in how useful this could be until my computer crashed. Suddenly I didn't have access to any of my files: years worth of quilting designs, books, video files, and email. Yes, I did have a backup of all these files thanks to Carbonite, but it took 3 solid weeks for all the files to download on the computer and fully restore!
So if you happen to have a laptop and desktop computer, or if you're traveling and need access to your files from any computer, I'd really strongly encourage you to try out Dropbox.
Yes, there is of course some security risks associated with cloud computing, most specifically the account being hacked. Make sure to use a solid, strong password with your account that you don't use for any other accounts. Also don't daisy chain your accounts with Twitter or Facebook as this can create bad situations as seen from Mike Honan's Epic Hacking.
So the biggest learning experience from my most recent computer crash? Get organized, delete stuff you don't need, and keep the place clean! I've definitely learned my lesson on data hording and will likely spend the day deleting files, photos, and videos I just don't need anymore.
With that wonderful tech lecture out of the way, let's answer some questions about quilting! From the looks of things, the switch from Independent Designs to Pivoting Designs might have some growing pains.
Yes, these are two very different design types and will "feel" entirely different to quilt.
Back in January, we spent more than 3 months on Stippling before moving on to any other Independent Designs. If you're wanting to feel as comfortable with Paisley and all the Pivoting Designs it's related to, you will need to spend some time quilting and experimenting with it just the exact same way.
Yes, this design can be quilted in rows, on a smaller scale in a wholecloth quilt, and on a bigger scale in over a bed quilt. If you're wanting a more thorough course in Paisley, try stitching through a few of these older exercises for practice.
Also realize how fundamentally different these designs are. If you look at the photo above, see how Stippling doesn't really need a border around it? You can wiggle into anything and fill it consistently, but Paisley doesn't work the same way.
You need edges to work off of with Paisley and it builds more like bricks fitting together rather than a single line wiggling around the space.
And this segways perfectly into our first question from Karin at The Quilt Yarn:
How do you deal with the odd spaces?
Full Question: my biggest issue were the odd empty spaces; do you just put lines in there to fit in with the overall design or leave some empty spaces?
All designs end up with funny areas where a new shape, in this case a full tear drop and echoes, won't fit.
It's entirely up to you if you want to fill these spaces up completely with gently curving lines or leave them empty.
Personally, my guide on this is scale. On a small scale, those openings in the texture will form noticeable gaps in the design. To fill them, I stitch simple curving lines which could be more echoes to a Paisley shape, but are cut off by the edges of the space or another overlapping Paisley. Using travel stitching and careful spacing, extra lines can fill all the gaps so the design is completely and consistently filled.
On a big scale, however, open space is just fine because your goal is a soft finish, not necessarily a dense solid texture. Also if your scale is 1 inch wide, you can get away with a lot of open gaps without the texture appearing broken.
Ultimately you'll just have to stitch it and decide how you want the design to appear on your quilts.
Now let's answer a question from Gwyned Trefethen's Musings about getting the hang of this design:
How do you make it look so easy?!
Full Question: How do you do it, Leah? How do you keep your echo lines so evenly spaced with such perfect arcs and swoops? I can imagine that practice is beneficial, but do you have any other tips for large, even very large free motion quilting?
It's funny that I can make this design look easy because when I first started quilting, it was very, very difficult for me.
What I remember struggling with the most was the size and shape of my tear drops and of course all the travel stitching and echoing. It just seemed impossible to get right!
But looking back, it's not like I'd challenged myself to stitch a whole quilt with it. Every time I tried the design, it was on a tiny scrap of fabric. I'd stitch it for awhile, break thread a million times, get lost in the design, get frustrated, and ultimately decide that Stippling was an easier option.
It wasn't until I took the Paisley shape and turned it into a wiggly flame shape and forced myself to stitch it on 32 rays in Release Your Light that I got the hang of this design. Maybe it was changing the starting shape, maybe something about it "clicked" in just the right way.
All I know is that once I started this project, somewhere around Day 40 I tried Paisley again and I could suddenly stitch it perfectly. And since then it's become my favorite design and is stitched on almost every major quilt I make, so of course I can make it look very easy in the video because I'm very comfortable quilting it. It's like writing my name now - I don't even have to think about it.
It could be that this is a real skill building design and practice is key. It could also be the way your brain and hands work, that you haven't found the right movement and rhythm to make it feel natural for your body. This will come, either with lots of practice, or suddenly you'll return to it and be able to stitch it easily.
If you're struggling, don't beat yourself up.
Perfection is not the goal here. Challenging practice is the goal and that rarely looks perfect.
And just to rock home that point, this week I spent 3 solid days trying to dye fabric for The Duchess Reigns Quilt top. 3 days and 3 huge pieces of fabric later, I'm no closer to creating a quilt top for this quilt.
Yes, it puts me in a bad mood. Yes, I want to punch something when it doesn't work out perfectly. So I leave the room and let it set until I can return with a better attitude. The point is to have fun, to be challenged, to make mistakes, but to have fun working through the challenges until the final goal is reached.
Do I really need to hand dye this quilt top? No. I could probably find a big piece of purple fabric that could work for it, but it's the challenge of trying something new, failing, trying again, failing again - that is what keeps me coming back again and again.
So go and fail at something this week. Try hard, stitch your best, and make some mistakes. Mistakes are beautiful. Mistakes are wonderful. Because mistakes show that you are growing and learning something new.
Perfection is NOT the goal. Enjoying your time stitching, no matter the challenge, no matter the mistakes - that is the goal.
If it was easy as pie, wouldn't everyone be quilters? Or would no one be quilters?
Let's go have a great time quilting,