If you’ve visited my business page on Facebook this spring, you’ve noticed a series of postings relative to Creative Inspiration being everywhere…you just have to look for it. And that’s by and large true, but this spring I’ve been fighting a creative demon that’s shown up consistently.
I know my technical piecing skills improved dramatically over the course of my time as an Island Batik Ambassador, but truthfully, I was never happy with where my free motion skills were. I defaulted a lot to straight line or walking foot quilting, which did get the job done…but always left me feeling unsatisfied. I am very fortunate to have a lot of friends in the business who quilt beautifully, and I have several choices – but I wanted to expand my base. I even have all the tools in the toolbox needed. I once had the privilege to sitting in a Harriet Hargrave lecture, where she reminded us that there is no shortcut to becoming a good quilter (or painter, or piano player, or chef….do you see where I am going). You need to be willing to put the work in.
It’s no coincidence that when I looked at my treasure trove of UFOs to work on this year, they all had one thing in common -they tended to get stuck at the place where I’d begin to quilt them. Seriously, of the 12 projects I listed, I was stuck there on at least 8 of them.
This weekend, I heard it put another way…and this time it sunk into my head. You have to be willing to stink at this for a while. I knew, when I heard that, that I was in the right place…because I certainly stink at this. (Gee, I said it and the world didn’t stop spinning…). But may be after this weekend, I stink a tiny bit less.
This past weekend, I indulged myself with a weekend at a quilt show as a ‘civilian’; the Maine Quilts Show in Augusta was celebrating their Ruby Jubilee, and this was the one show this year that I will be able to go to and experience on my own. I can tell you that it’s been far, far to long since I’ve done something like this. I had put the show on my calendar back in January, and waited until they put their teaching faculty out before selecting classes. I was thrilled to find out that they were adding Jamie Wallen to their staff this year.
I first found Jamie’s techniques in his prolific video list on You Tube; even though I am not a longarmer (nor do I ever aspire to be), I found his easy listening techniques to be very easy to follow and adapt. Over the years, I had adapted many bad habits as a quilter; I was terrified of marking quilts because I didn’t want to
be left with something that would never come out. But I watches, and I learned…the prequel to his classes in Maine. I probably won’t ever be his most successful student, but his classes definitely made an impact on me, and I can already see the difference in my approach to projects. Things that used to terrify me no longer do, and I can see that there are ways to modify things to my own skill level.
We were given a great opportunity in the classes in Maine to work with new Longarm machines from Innova (you might as well start with the best), but the biggest thing you needed in his class was a willingness to work and a lot of paper. My arm was tired from drawing by noontime of day 1 (and I had signed up for 2 days of classes); I needed to run for more paper at lunch that day.
Jamie’s theory was that you need 15 minutes of drawing to equal 1 – 2 hours on the machine, because of the variables involved (tension, thread, different mobility). I can see that – and I now have a roadmap to use as I continue on my journey to becoming a better – and more confident quilter. All it’s going to take is practice… and a lot of it.
Off to doodle, because I will get this. I dare myself to do it. What do you need to dare yourself to do?
Oh, and a suggestion – put yourself onto the calendar every so often – it was a fabulous weekend, full of fun, fabric, friends…and adventure. It was good for my creative side…