It's the Sunday after the time change, which means everything feels off kilter and weird. No it's not 12 pm, it's 1 pm, no it's not 6 am, it's 7 am, and so on.
Yesterday I had a great day going to a local quilt guild show and wandering the rows of beautiful quilts and even more fantastic booths. I kept stopping to touch packets of embellishments, soft yarn in beautiful colors, dyed embroidery threads of varying thicknesses, buttons of every shape imaginable.
But as I wandered through, an unsettling feeling crept over me. Over and over I saw something that caught my eye, that drew me closer, only to realize I already have that thread, that fabric, that yarn, or that fiber in my stash. It's home on x shelf in Y bin, in z corner. I already own that beautiful thing.
What was unsettling about this realization was not that I was attracted to these beautiful things, but the simple question - WHY am I not doing something with all this stuff? Why am I not USING these beautiful fibers? Why do I buy storage drawers and reorganize my space to hold more and more STUFF when I'm not using it at all?
It's an unfortunate fact that "Quilter" could easily be synonymous with "hoarder." I have bins of hand dyed fabrics, buckets of soft wool roving, a closet of beads and embellishments just waiting to play with. Why do I buy this stuff if I don't plan to use it?
But I DO want to use it! I love these rich decorative threads and packs of sparkling beads. They bring to mind hours of peaceful hand work where gorgeous fibers are stitched over more gorgeous fibers in a riot of color and texture - this is what I LOVE about quilting.
So why do I never do it? Why am I hoarding supplies for some magical free time in my future? Why am I not doing this NOW?
Tapping into this problem and trying to root out the underlying cause, I'm finding a deep seed of fear. If I use up that roving, I won't have any left! If I stitch that pretty thread, I might not be able to find more! If I use those beads in this necklace, they won't be available for the next necklace!
Is it just me, or is this completely irrational?! Leah, you buy that stuff SO YOU CAN USE IT!
So this Sunday I'm making a stand:
I'm not allowed to buy anything new: no fabric, batting, wool roving, beads, embroidery thread, or inspirational books until I actually USE the stuff I have on hand.
If I'm scared of running out of red thread, well damn, I'd better feel the fear and get over it and start stitching out the thread I have on hand!
No, I won't ever have an empty sewing room, free of every scrap of fabric. That isn't the point. I do believe that inspiration does come in part from having materials ready to hand, so I will always have a stock of supplies to work with.
But there is a balance with this stash. It needs to flow in, but it also needs to flow out in the form of finished projects, or at least some testing and sampling of new materials. If I don't know how to use something, stuffing it in a drawer isn't going to make it less mysterious, it's going to make it that much harder to pull it out and play with it.
So I'm off to play. I don't have anything to show for my efforts quite yet, but by this evening I should have SOMETHING to show for meeting the fear, then taking a rotary cutter to it's face and carving a new shape.
It's one thing to talk a big game about busting out of this rut of hoarding nice materials, but quite another thing to actually step up and DO SOMETHING about it. I got off the computer today and sliced up yards of my hand dyed fabrics to do this:
What will this be? Another quilt featuring over 400 free motion quilting designs. I've been stalling out on this decision for months, but the fact is, I miss my little 4 inch squares because they're so easy to keep track of, photograph, and stitch through quickly. What stalled it mostly was the question - what to do with all of them???
Answer: design a quilt and make it. Easy peasy. What next? What else can I use up?
I love hand spinning on a spindle, but for months I've wanted to "put a motor on it" so I finally broke down and bought a Hansen Minispinner back in January. I love this little thing, but it hasn't gotten nearly as much attention as it deserves, so I pulled out some green roving and spun some yarn.
But I also had these little soaps left over from my trip to Denver. Could I try covering the soap with felt like I'd been wanting to do for months?
What's the risk here? Spinning the yarn didn't scare me, cutting up the hand dyed fabrics made me feel a bit of loss because they were pretty to look at in the bin, but that was fleeting because they were even more beautiful on the wall and will be even BETTER in a huge quilt, but covering this stupid little soap seemed super scary.
Why? Because I'm not good at it. I don't know what I'm doing. I have never felted anything in my life and I might actually mess it up.
But what is the RISK? What will I lose by trying something new? I can always dye more wool. I can always use another soap (I have 5 of them!)
In the end, this turned out great! Taking a risk, pulling out these materials, using something UP feels great. Now what else can I play with today?
Let's go quilt,