Sunday, March 3, 2013

Scratching Several Itchies

This weekend I've managed to pull myself away from my sewing machine and Duchess Reigns to scratch several other itches that needed a bit of attention.

While I don't travel and teach very much, I do like to get in front of a class of real people at least once a year. Luckily this winter I was able to team up with Sew Much Fun in Gastonia, NC to teach a fun workshop on free motion quilting.

In the perspective of time and energy, teaching online definitely makes more sense to me. I love being able to make a video in 10 minutes that all of you - everyone in the whole world with an internet connection - can see and watch as many times as you like.

But there's a certain energy to teaching in front of a group of people that I just can't tap into alone in my basement studio. Questions fly fast and the instantaneous feedback is always a wonderful exchange.

I like to teach this way occasionally mostly to remind myself of what the major issues and questions are for beginners. It's easy to forget how tricky and intimidating free motion quilting can be and to remember what those earliest stitches felt like. Helping 23 people get started, breaking multiple feet, and talking through many families of designs was a great reminder of what is most important and essential to learning machine quilting.

But before you ask - no, I don't plan to do this more than once or twice a year, and never beyond NC. The main reason is simple: I need to be home making videos, making quilts, and loving my family. I will likely never be a traveling / teaching quilter because that lifestyle just doesn't sound like it would fit my life very well.

Being at home also let's me scratch other itchies that have cropped up lately. I've been dyeing and spinning wool all winter, mostly with no idea what I'm going to do with the finished yarn. Today I finished up this little UFO basket:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is a little Clover basket form woven with yarn I first dyed, then spun, then plied, then wove through the form. Working on this little project I felt a bit like the Little Red Hen: I dyed the fiber and I spun the yarn and I wove the basket so it's MINE!

Once the glue is dry, this little project is going downstairs to hold my empty bobbins as they come out of the machine. It seems I'm always needing little baskets like this to organize my drawers and it's a wonderful project to highlight art yarn I'm enjoying spinning.

With spinning, I've had to learn a new way to create. So often I micromanage my projects with so much planning that everything has to be figured out before the project gets started. This works great with projects like Duchess Reigns, which needed all the questions answered before the project got started.

With spinning this would mean not spinning any yarn or dyeing fiber without first planning the project that is going to be woven, crocheted, or knitted from the resulting yarn.

But this gets tedious very quick. I don't love knitting or crochet like I love quilting and designing garments or even following patterns and getting good results has always been a struggle for me.

In the past few weeks I stopped spinning, mostly out of a desire to have a clear idea of what I'm going to do with all this yarn I'm creating.

Today I realized that this is a problem. I want to spin just to spin. If that means dyeing 10 ounces of wool blue with no clue what is going to happen to it, that's fine! If that means spinning up some yellow, orange, and red yarn with no planned scarf or sock project in line, that's okay too!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I believe more and more that being truly creative means scratching itches as they come, as you feel a desire to walk down that path or try that idea. I have to admit that I struggle with truly following my inspiration. It's hard for me to create with absolutely no plan and to trust that I will actually make that experiment make sense in the end.

But more and more I'm learning just to enjoy and appreciate whatever I'm craving. If I want to spin, it's not for the finished blue yarn, but to feel the raw wool slide through my fingers.

If I want to weave a basket, it might be for the end result that will hold my bobbins, but it might also be to see my pretty yarn find a home.

I guess the point of all this rambling is to find that place of acceptance of what you want and to actually be willing to act on it. Spin, quilt, paint, draw. Whatever you crave to do, do it.

Cheers,

Leah

16 comments:

  1. Who says you have to make something with that yarn? Just sell it in your shop!! Give it as gifts to those you know personally who love to knit or crochet!! As for micro-managing my projects..I find that I am saying far to often, " I should have done this before I did that." I tend to rush through and fly by the seat of my pants. :o

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  2. If you love to spin, then spin. You could barter with it, sell it or just admire how pretty and fabulous it is. I am currently on a knitting kick and have knit 12 scarves. I don't know what I'm going to do with them, but I'm enjoying the process and that is enough.

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  3. Doing what you feel like doing always feels good!

    Just curious, were you going to have a UFO Sunday link up today?

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  4. I love this post. I often times feel guilty about quilting when there's so much else I should be doing (like erm, costume designing...)!
    I think it is soothing to the soul to pick up these little (or big) projects and finish them. It makes you feel good once it's done!

    I love your basket, it's adorable!

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  5. I do fall into a pre-plan (to death) mind set that drives DH mad sometimes! The "gift" of being able to visualize/work out a project in my head is the very thing that can be my "downfall" if I'm not careful. I have found that my very awareness of this prevents some of it from occurring. It is part of the bigger progress picture and must be balanced with all the various steps. Speaking from a very personal perspective! Hugs, Doreen

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  6. Sorry Pat! Remember last week - we are no longer linking up on Sunday in addition to Friday. It was just feeling redundant.

    Cheers,

    Leah

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  7. Do what you like; like what you do! That's the Life is Good saying and it really makes sense! I have found that when I follow my desires, I return to my work with renewed energy. I'd say spin all you can for a while! ~Jeanne

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  8. I'm trying to just let myself play. If that means more UFOs, that is OK. If it means I am knitting and the sewing machine is just sitting there, that is OK too. I'll just go back more refreshed.

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  9. I recently watched a video with Marilyn Badger and she said she preplans her quilting before she makes a stitch.

    Me, I'm just trying to wrap my mind around all the possibilities. Thanks for your candor and inspiration.

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  10. I like the metaphor -- been feeling a lot of different "itches" myself lately. Cool photo of your yarn. Those colors look great!

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  11. Love your basket. There are some things I stay away from because, of where it may lead. Beading is what draws me, and I have given in, a little. I just love new shiny objects! I want to make beading work with my quilting! But I'm at the other end of the spectrum, I'm trying to finish as many projects as I can. I am having fun, so I guess that counts toward playing! The more I do, the better I get. I am really enjoying Express Your Love. Haven't started, but am working on it. Waiting for some silk batting to come in.

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  12. Have to second Danielle's idea--sell your handspun wool in your shop! Personally I'd love to see bags of bits and bobs that could be used in felting and embellishing.

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  13. Thank you for putting the itch into words! I often tell myself that I must not do a project that I'm itching to jump into, because I think I'm supposed to finish something else first. It is hard to grant myself creative permissions! Then I get blocked and do nothing, so it was truly counter-productive after all.

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  14. Your class at SMF was such a gift for me. You are brilliant in teaching and in quilting. Thank you sooo much for teaching that class. Lucky me to live in Charlotte, NC:)

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  15. Just a quick note to say thank you for all the posting of over 350 designs and videos for the directionally shalanged such as I
    I love your work with the "Goddess" quilts and also aprecate the wonderfull source you have created here. I am in the process Of praticing my quilting on a doggie bed .... usefull but nothing that anybody but the puppy will ever see real close!
    Once again Thank you for your sharing....

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  16. "I believe more and more that being truly creative means scratching itches as they come"
    This is great, I love it! Now I believe it too :o) Leah, I found your site a few weeks back and am so grateful for it. I had three quilt tops I thought I'd have to save up $$$ to get longarmed, but all your videos and encouraging posts made me think I could do freemotion thing! Well I can! They are all done and I'm impatient to do my next!
    Thankyou so much, and enjoy your spinning for spinning's sake :o)

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