Sunday, June 10, 2012

Slow Quilting

In this fast paced world, there is much pressure to accomplish and to produce as much as possible, as quickly as you can. Quilting has followed this trend, with lots of quick and easy patterns that you can whip up in a day, and long arm quilting to finish up your quilt the next day. This is great for gift giving and instant gratification, but for me, it's sometimes just not satisfying. 
Don't get me wrong, I occasionally enjoy a quick project and adore finishing quilts. And if you follow my blog, you already know that I just love machine quilting. I have sooo many quilts in my head, and in production, that if I don't machine quilt and finish some things quickly, I might combust!
However, for a "long time quilter" (aka..."OLD gal") like me, it's kind of like eating fast food, when sometimes you just really crave/need a delicious, nutritious, home cooked meal.
I have been reading a lot this year about the "slow movement" (click here to read about it) and downshifting.
I love this quote from Guttorm Fløistad:
"The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal."
And so, I find myself increasingly drawn to hand work of any kind - beading, binding, piecing, quilting, and embroidery. I cannot adequately verbalize how relaxing it is, or how I have experienced that it changes me on a cellular level.
Here are my tips for slow quilting:
*always have a basket or bag prepared, with all the equipment and supplies needed for your project, that you can easily grab when you have to go to medical appointments, kids' sports games/practices, guild meetings, vacations, etc.
*when you get together with friends, bring along your stitching. These are the embroidery projects that my friend Pat and I are currently working on when we visit.
*never watch TV without something to stitch. I rarely watch TV these days, but when I do, it's only to spend time with my kids when they are watching something. 
This was the beaded piece I made during the winter olympics in 2006. Right now I am preparing a piece of hand painted fabric that I can bead while I watch the summer olympics with my son. 
*chose a portable project that is manageable for picking up and stitching in small chunks of time. You will probably not feel like stitching on a large bed sized quilt, especially if the weather is hot. But hand embroidery or hand piecing is a perfect takealong project.
*practice your breathing while you focus on enjoying the process of stitching/quilting.  Be present in this moment in your life. Remind yourself that stitching can be healing, and just try to soak up the creative juices (including endorphins) that it provides. Not convinced yet? Read this article by Lesley Riley.
*remember that every stitching minute adds up over the years and before you know it, you'll have a finished quilt


Teresa in Music City said...

Oh my goodness, I can't tell you how much I LOVE this post!!! You have hit the nail square on the head!!! I catch myself trying to draw breath sometimes :*) I know it is because I want to do everything I see, and I am impatient by nature. But I am trying to slow down and, at the very least, concentrate on only a few things at a time, rather than hop about like a crazy woman! You put my feelings into words as if you were listening to the mutterings in my head. And I really love the quotes from others that you included.

My biggest challenge is to allow some things to sit and stew a while as I do other things to completion. To give myself permission to just sit and peacefully embroider as I watch a favorite show on TV instead of feeling like I need to be feverishly toiling away at the machine. To choose how many things I can reasonably start at one time!!! I have recently rediscovered embroidery, and I think this is EXACTLY why it has been calling my name. Thanks again =^..^=

Harriett said...

You are so right. I try to have hand work to do. I gave away all the embroidery that I'd lost interest in so I could relax and enjoy the ones I kept.

Catskill Quilter said...

What a fabulous post - thank you for writing it! I am heading off, now, to read your links -- lots to think about!

Khris said...

What a great post Kathy...I can really relate to it all but I have gone a bit the opposite in trying to slow down....I have lost my mojo altogether...if I do stitcheries they end up being just that. The don't get made up into what they should have been and then I give them away years and years later because I cant be bothered with them anymore...patience was never one of my strongest qualities unfortunately. I like to see things finished and don't like having UFO's...but I do love to just sit around and stitch but I try not to have bigger items in mind these days. Hugs Khris

Mary Johnson said...

There's a lot I want to accomplish but I'm also a bit ADD, too long on one project and I get bored and it has the chance of becoming a UFO.

I try to balance quick with allowing myself the opportunity to try different techniques. That's where my postcards and small embroidered pieces come in. I get to try some new techniques but I also finish what I start.

Finding the right balance for you is what's key. I don't thing every quilter needs to spend 10 months on a quilt but some do. My sister and I are very, very different. She'll make a show quilt that takes that long and in the meantime, I'll make or finish tons of donation quilts

Janet O. said...

I love the thoughts you have shared here, Kathy. Just a couple of days ago I started hand quilting an item after having not done any hand quilting for years. The immediate thought I had as I started stitching was, "Why don't I do this more often?" There is just something almost organic about sitting with your handwork and enjoying a slower pace for a change. : )

Sew Create It - Jane said...

What a wonderful post with great advice. I have severeal little projects on the go just so I can keep my hands busy at all times :-)

Ellen said...

I love this are spot on!

Suze said...

I love this post. What kind of fabric do you use for your embroidery blocks in your quilt? I'm thinking I'd like to make a quilt like that since I really enjoy embroidery.

genie said...

This post has meant the world to me. I have read it several times. You share your thoughts which are excellent advice for the rest of us. We all need to slow down and smell the roses, pick up our needle and thread, and start our quilting. genie

Sue Mohallem said...

I am quilter and stitches lady. Love this post and the motivation thougths you shared here. This is my first time here. A brazilian dear friend of mine invite me to join in Slow Sunday Stitching and count me in ...with all my heart. May I join in this group too??:)
Thanks for great idea and you done wonderful work in your blog. Congratulations.
Greetings from Brazil. xoxo