Vacuuming and laundry duty today was actually interesting, as I used the time to do a bit of thinking about my growth as a Quilter. So, here are some of the things I have realized about where I was, and where I am now.
1. I no longer believe in UFOs (Un-Finished Objects). When I first joined a quilting guild as an absolute newbie, I was given strict guidelines about what is considered a UFO, and how incredibly bad it is to have a number of them. Oh, the guilt. Oh, the stress I subjected myself to, trying to finish projects that should maybe never have been started. Now, with a little more experience under my (not quilted) belt, I have a new attitude. F#@k UFOs! The whole concept stinks! They aren't unfinished objects - they're test pieces on a concept, that proved the concept was not worthy of more time as it stood. They are ruminations on an idea. They are a way to chart growth. I no longer need to force myself to finish things better left unfinished - they instead go on a particular set of shelves, which I now refer to as The Lessons Learned Library. No guilt. No stress. Just valuable lessons that I can apply in future, successful work. And, if I'm ever stuck for something to work on, I can pull one out and try a new approach - like cutting it up into smaller pieces and giving it a whole new lease on life. Yup, a much better attitude.
2. I no longer listen to that little voice that says "It's fine that way, just leave it." Why? Because that little voice is a BIG FAT LIAR! It's NOT fine that way. If I leave it, I will always be bothered by what the little voice told me to ignore, and chances are the piece will stagnate and become a frustration to me. So, my stitch ripper and I are now on really good terms. Yup, I've unpicked seams that didn't quite match, even though they were close. Yup, I've unpicked free motion quilting that was only a little disjointed. Yup, I've unpicked quilting in the ditch that missed the ditch by just a hair in a few places. Why? Because back when I didn't do the un-doing, I lost all pride in the work. If I'm going to spend time and money on a piece, then I want to be able to display it with pride, not stick it in a closet because that one mismatched corner really bugs me. Now, I finish and display my work with pride and with joy.
3. I no longer dive right into full scale projects. My days of cutting the pieces for every block right off the bat are over! Test pieces - it's all about test pieces. So what if I end up with a zillion little test pieces? They don't need to end up in a large project - they were simply to test for a bigger piece. Nobody needs to see them, and they aren't the end goal. They are simply a way to test out colours, patterns, value (my biggest issue), and quilting designs. Sometimes, they are even a way to test a new embellishment technique. And that's just fine. If I run out of the beads / yarn / ribbon later, I can remove it from the test piece. Yup, it may sound wasteful, but which is more wasteful: two or three 12"x12" test pieces, some rejects, the final accepted and used as a guideline for the development of a full sized piece, or a whole king sized quilt, cut, pieced and then rejected for lack of adequate value shifts?
4. I no longer believe that everything I do is art. Just because I made it myself, doesn't mean I have to love it. And if I'm not loving it, I don't have to finish it. And there's no need for guilt about it (see Number 1, above). Now, each piece I do gets a cooling off period (locked away in the dark for a bit) which allows me to forget the details, and then when I bring it out for display, I can look at it with a fresh eye. I no longer put my name on anything until I am completely satisfied that I can be proud of it. If a piece still looks finished when I pull it back out of the closet, I will label it and call it happily completed. Other times, I recognize the piece still needs some work. The great thing is, during the cooling off period I often get ideas for improvement of pieces. So, after allowing for a suitable amount of time (gotta be sure about the improvement), I will liberate the piece from the closet and make the improvements, then back in it goes for cooling off before I sign it. It works for me, and ensures that I really am satisfied with each finished piece.
So, my quilting attitude has changed. I don't charge in half cocked. I take my time. I test things out first. And I'm proud of my work, now! The failures are small and easy to live with. The successes are worth all the prep work. My quilting attitude has it's own rules, and they might not be White Glove Quilt Police worthy, but they work for me.
One more thing - those people that suggest to "gift" away UFO's? They should be gifted with as much crap as possible. Really, if I think it is so crappy I don't want to finish it, then why the hell should I impose it on anyone else? Aargh! What idiocy. Note - This opinion does not apply to the beautiful projects unfinished due to health issues, death, etc., so please don't Blog-Flame me on this one.
However, I do believe in occasionally getting together with a quilting friend and going through The Lessons Learned Library. Sharing those past lessons learned can be valuable to both parties, and who knows - they may see something they absolutely love and know they can use it. Then, they can go ahead and take it. But unsolicited "gifting" of crap? Nope, not from this Quilter.
Okay, enough ranting. Begone Logan! Back to the Studio!