Monday, March 17, 2008

This creation

Thanks to Betty the Geek for this week's This is... theme. I had a good think about this, and here is the best thing I have created in the last couple of years (excluding my kids, which are by far my best 'collaborative' creation").




OK, I'd better elaborate. Like many people I suppose, my head is almost always full of incessant chatter. Always thinking, worrying, working through scenarios - just the usual sort of thing. Before I had kids, I used to do yoga, and the meditation session at the end of a workout was the only time that I noticed a quietening of the internal 'noise', when I could just calmly lie on a yoga mat and enjoy the feeling of stillness and quiet. So I decided to try and cultivate a little of this 'mental' space, so that I could access it whenever I wanted/needed to, rather than only after a strenuous workout, and with a guided meditation.

And with a lot of practice I have done just that. The thinking and chattering is often still there, but I seem to notice it more, and don't get caught up in the drama of it. This in itself gives me a lot more space. And one of the best things about having a little space? It seems that one of the things that likes to pop up in the middle of a quiet space, is creativity!

I've read a number of times about people who meditate to enhance their creativity, or who feel they lose their creativity when they stop doing yoga. Amazing huh! And bizarrely enough, it was only just after I started making an effort to cultivate a little stillness, and be more aware of my internal 'noise' that I had such a strong urge to learn to sew.

And the rest is history. I sew more, I stress less, I stop and smell the flowers. It's all good!

On a much more literal note, I also do have an actual physical creation to show you.

I'm trying not to be too critical about it, as it is my first ever attempt at a quilt, and I decided to just jump in and do it. Following a pattern? Learning a bit about quilting techniques? Nah!!!! "I'll just wing it. Best way to learn" I told myself. Well it was true, I did learn a lot. But I can't help but feel that with just a little more preparation and buying a few important tools (walking foot - why don't I have a walking foot!!) before-hand might have made this quilt a cracker! Ah well, my son loves it (it is a train quilt, of course he was always going to love it:P), and that is what is most important. Please excuse the bike helmet - it is a new one and my son insisted on wearing it all day...

So the main things I learnt about quilting by making this were:

* Cutting out is REALLY important. You should actually measure and mark before cutting. Cutting things out freehand makes things a WHOLE lot harder. Looking back now, I can't believe I thought I could cut everything out by sight. What was I thinking?

* Cut the selvages off FIRST (DUH!!!!!). I can't believe I have to write this! I will simply say that in my big rush to get this quilt done (it is my practise quilt as I need to make one for my sister whose baby is due in 3 weeks, so I wanted to get one under my belt first) I just forgot! And once I'd cut everything out I realised what I'd done. But to cut them off would have changed the dimensions (rough as they were) so I left them. I thought about just doing bigger seam allowances to swallow them up, but then the quilt would not have been quite big enough for my son's bed. So in the end, I thought "hey, they might even work and look kinda cool". They don't. Oh well, moving on...

* If not stitching in the ditch, then mark your sewing lines. Going by sight and hoping for a straight line produces disastrous results. (Hello quick unpick!)

* Don't quilt the border before you have finished quilting the inside of the quilt. Even if you're bored and need a change!

I'm sure there are many many other good lessons I learned with this project, but these are the main ones that come to mind. If you have any other handy hints of bits of advice regarding quilting, then I'd really appreciate them. Especially as I'm going to start my sister's one this week (and glaringly obvious hints are welcome too - as demonstrated, seeing the bleeding obvious is not always one of my strong points)!

OK, very very lastly, I want to share a little creation on my son's. Because it is so sweet, and it tickled my fancy.

These were some paper off-cuts I left lying around when I had been making some cards and tags. My son set them all out on the kitchen floor, and was so excited to show me. He pointed out Mum, Dad, Kate and Lee. We are all there. A little paper family. AAAWWWWWWW


Bird Bath said...

Great ,thought-provoking post! Superb effort on the quilt, esp as it is your first...I had no idea there is so much to consider when making a quilt-until I tried. Like you I like to 'wing' it too. As for the paper family WOW! a striking family potrait. I would put that onto card. He must have your crafty gene :)

Maureen said...

What a wonderful post about the importance of quiet space. Even tho I have almost no demands on my time these days, I still 'put off' that centering time. Thank you for the reminder.

"Pass the tea, bag." I can see the telling of that one! btw, beautiful fish presentation. Must look up kingfish - I don't know that one.

Kathy said...

Lovely post. Such a great reminder to make that space. I love the quilt! The blocking of the colors is wonderful. Also, if I had a bright, shiny, new, red helmet, I might just wear it all day too!

Dees said...

OMG!Am I happy you left the comment on my blog,I thought I was the only one with a'bit of an out there post hihi!Your post is wonderful,has everything in it.The deeper things in life aswell as the results from it!What a great job you did on the quilt(such a coincidence,my first quilt is lying infront of me as we speak!So thanks for the lessons!)and your lovely family thoughts.I have enjoyed my visit to your blog and will drop in more often!many hugs from Holland Dees

Paula Weston said...

Brilliant post Bec.

Ironically, I read it in the 45 seconds I had free at work today and almost cried at the beauty of the concept of stillness. (Because all the other seconds of the day were filled with the voice in my head going for #$!!sake! as I attempted to stay ahead of a mountain of emails, phone calls, drop-ins to the office...)

Deep .... breath .... see I'm calmer already in this wonderful space of special small stuff.

I too find it amazing that it's only when we are still that our creative sub-conscious can really go to work and put ideas, thoughts etc in place that will then bubble up at an appropriate moment down the track.

While I'm not good at the stillness, I know it works. I find my writing is so much better when I'm holidays and I have time to just chill out, instead of trying to jam my creativing in between work, socialising, reading, housework etc.

OK, I hope I haven't shattered everybody's calm!

Oh - and I loved the quilt too.

Donna said...

What a fantastic first attempt at a quilt. Doesn't look 'first attempt' to me. Brilliant!

Net said...

Fantastic post! I love your son's "paper family", it's so sweet! Your quilt looks great, especially for a first time. The stripy binding looks especially good.

I'd definitely recommend a walking-foot, it's changed my life. I hardly ever take it off my sewing machine!

Thanks so much for talking about creating space, I've spent the last few days chasing around, achieving nothing, so it was great to read this, I'll have to try it!

Also, love your son's devotion to his cycle helmet. My son (4) spent all of yesterday in a witches hat, with different things tucked inside it that would appear "magically".

Little Munchkins said...

The quilt looks absolutely amazing. I can't believe it is your first quilt. I have 2 quilts that is have inspired my to get to mine too.

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

A fabulous post! A great reminder to give myself some space and some distance from the clatter that goes on in my head.

Love the quilt! Great for a first attempt, which well, is one more attempt than me! I only just learnt how to bind last night.

And finally, love the paper family. Who's the really tall one?

Maureen said...

I meant to comment on the lovely little family. Daddies always loom large in children's eyes but Mummys are more approachable.

bettyninja said...

Oh my gosh, you are too funny. I tell ya what- I am constantly doing any number of the things you learned while quilting wrong. Yep, I know better and i still do them. I always forget to cut selages first and never ever mark my sewing lines (I am thinking about changing this). But I do conceed along the cutting is important tip--it is and recently my boyfriend told me that I cut more than I sew and I think he is right.

Lastly, your son's creations rock! kids are the true originals if you ask me.

Stomper Girl said...

Love the paper family. He has a good eye for form.

I use first thing in the morning as think time. Cup of tea in bed and NO INTERRUPTIONS for the first 15 minutes of my day. Had to train my partner of course! And now he's changed jobs I'm not sure I'll be able to keep it up. But I so agree about thinking / space / quiet.