Monday, September 19, 2011

What I learned on Vacation

A little while back I declared that I was on "quilt vacation" - now that is not a vacation to quilt - but a vacation FROM quilting. I was overwhelmed - saddened and frustrated by my quilting. No - I was not quilting badly - I was just over saturated with quilting. Now don't get me wrong - I love quilting - did then, do now, but I had to have a break.

One thing I learned is that other quilters may look at me with pity, sympathy and unbelief - wondering how I could take a quilt vacation with no end in sight, just vacation until I feel like coming back "home". Some don't understand, and that is ok, some understand but feel that they can't take a vacation or they will get endlessly behind.

I've learned that there is no "behind" - if I'm not quilting then my three UFOs can sit and be on vacation too, enjoying their time at the spa (in the plastic boxes they are inhabiting right now). I'm not behind, because I can choose not to pick another pattern that I "must" make because "everyone" is making it - or buy a fabric that everyone "must have" before it is all gone. I chose not to do those things - and it felt good. (Though I have not ever been a trend buyer - if someone tells me I MUST buy a fabric before it is not made anymore - I really don't care much. I buy fabric because "I" like it, not because it is a trend - or pushed at me by marketers)! It is very freeing.

I've learned that there is much more fabric out there than any of us will ever need - and there always will be - and if I don't get a specific fabric right now then another will come along that I like just as well. As our real estate agent once told us, the bargain of a lifetime comes along once or twice a week.

I've learned that I don't have to think about buying fabrics - when my friends want to go on shopping trips I might go along - but I feel no need to buy, since I've got no projects in my head to search for fabrics for. It is pleasant to not think about buying fabric - though I've not been one to gather fabric just because it is produced - I have a very small stash - mostly leftovers from previous projects - with the exception of my 30s fabrics, I do love those and have a sweater box sized plastic bin with 30s reproductions (some are lovely gifts from friends and some are my own purchases)

I've learned that I put most of the pressure on myself to constantly be completing quilts - though some of the pressure did come from others showing what they felt they HAD to make because someone else was making it - or some fabric producer was touting it as the latest and greatest and "everyone is making it". Now as you know from my quilts, I'm not a fad follower - mostly I use old vintage patterns or design the quilt myself, but I do feel the pressure when every other blog and almost every advertiser says that we need to use the newest colors, the newest gadgets, the newest patterns - or we shall be left behind in the quilting world.

I've learned that I like being left behind - I'm a slow quilter - I like to take my time and enjoy the process and I really do prefer handwork to rotary cutting and machine piecing. I like to get to know the quilt as I make it.

I've learned that I can do other crafts - and not feel guilty. Before my quilt vacation I would want to crochet on my lace tablecloth, but felt that every minute I put in on the tablecloth was a minute taken away from my current quilt project (see, I told you I put the pressure on myself). Now I sit and crochet and never even think of quilts - I am loving it.

I've learned that time away from quilting doesn't make me like quilts less - I have a nice stack of finished quilts that I can enjoy anytime I want - fold and refold them - remember events that were going on while making a specific quilt - think of quilts that my friends have made, or that I have made as gifts.

I've learned that I like the calm that a quilt vacation brings - no clutter in the studio of fabrics and scraps and papers - no rushing to complete a quilt with a specific time table (again my own pressure) - no rushing to the fabric store hoping to find that exact fabric that I must have for a project.

I've learned that I can read quilting blogs and not feel any pressure to think up a new project. I've also learned that not blogging about quilting also gives me more time for watching the deer that graze through our yard, listening to the birds, watching the sun travel through the day, listening to the rain without the sewing machine running.

I've learned that I like my studio without the ironing board constantly filling space in here, when in actuality I was using for a very small percentage of the time it was up. So the ironing board went back to live in the laundry room and it seems to like it there - and I like the way the pretty rose fabric on the ironing board brightens up the laundry room.

I've learned that my friends are more dear than ever - their comments about missing my quilt blogs are very sweet and mean a lot to me.

During the time of my quilt vacation I got a new computer - a laptop - oh my divine laptop. It is so quiet - my old desk top computer must have been the noisiest one ever produced and my ears are on vacation now too - from all that racket. I've learned that my neighborhood has many interesting sounds that give me clues as to what the neighbors are doing - chopping wood (ka-chunk ka -chunk), cutting down trees (whiiiiine, whiiine - that is supposed to be a chainsaw) walking their dogs (barkety bark at those pesky squirrels), deer walking through the yard (tippity tip on the sidewalk when they get close to the house), children laughing while riding their bikes up and down the hill outside our yard, neighbors stopping to comment on the deer in the yard, wind whipping the tops of the trees in the woods across the street, rain on the skylights, squirrels chattering, crows singing as they fly in and out among the trees - oh I was missing a lot. This new laptop has really added to my vacation enjoyment.

And so from time to time I will indulge in my quilt vacation - this most recent one has been to embroider Day-Of-The-Week dishtowels. I found some nice diaper fabric (don't laugh, it makes wonderful dishtowels. Each towel has a border of fabric to match the lady's skirt - these were such fun to do. I have more fabric and more patterns - maybe the next set will be Bird Day-of-the-Week.

Have you tried a quilt vacation?


Sunny said...

Such a wonderful post, Jo! Oh, and I can sooo relate,(replace quilting with painting) and how we put the pressure on ourselves! Very good reminder! and it sounds like you are so refreshed... thats a wonderful thing!

Your dishtowels are beautiful. Do you use one layer of diaper material or more?
Thanks so much for sharing....

Pat said...

LOVE your towels and loved this post. You have made me feel a lot better about the quilt "vacations" I have taken. I'm not one to give in to fads or buy the latest fabrics, either. I know many don't understand how we feel, but......truth be told...there is a lot more to life than quilting!!! (I know...shocking, huh? LOL)

GardenofDaisies said...

Jo, the dishtowels turned out beautifully!! So glad you made them! Now we have matching sets! I take "vacations" from all my crafting and sewing and quilting all the time. I hop skip and jump from quilting to embroidery to card making, to beading, etc... I don't want these activities to be something that I feel pressured to do, but something I do for fun.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Well said Jo! :o)

Lili said...

Jo, This was such a timely post for me to read about the pressures we put on ourselves. I was just thinking about that today while we were out walking and we were in a hurry to get home to finish some projects we were doing. Then, I stopped to think about why we always seem so driven to complete projects when we really have no timeline. So glad you have enjoyed your quilt vacation, but I see you were not sitting idle while listening to the sounds of nature. Nice embroidery project. I had never seen one that combines sewing with it like that. ~Lili

Pondside said...

I don't quilt, but I think that we might be able to apply your post to just about any overwhelming interest. This post made a lot of sense - I hope you're still enjoying your quilt holiday!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

No, because I don't quilt, but I have tried a telephone vacation. That works well for me. I need to get away and be with the Lord sometimes. Just God and me. I like that.

I am dropping by to thank you for your sweet words on my last post. I have been gone and am just now starting to play catch up with bloggins. I have missed you, Jo, and I loved reading every word of this post. I think a lot of us can identify with what you are saying, and like you, trends bug me no end. I was thinking the same thing about fabric the other day when I 'lost' some that was discontinued. I had waited, and they sold the last of it. Maybe it will turn up on eBay, but maybe I will find something I like better.

Sending you hugs across the miles...



Purple Pam said...

I love your post. Yes, I have taken quilt vacations, and yes, I also put much stress on myself to produce, produce, produce. Especially since I have been retired I feel guilty that I don't get more quilting done. But I have more time with the grandbaby, which I love, and more time with friends, which I love. I am trying to tell myself it is okay. Your post really hit home for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Also, love your daily dishtowels.

Peg said...

I've been on a vacation for the past 2 weeks, preceded by a trip to Alberta for a week - during all of which time, I've been unable to quilt. But.....I did shop....for quilt we can do our 'together' quilt (and a couple others, I must admit). I have to say that I'm itching to get back at the machine!!!!