So here’s a dream story. I was driving someone home on a cliffside road, maybe it was the side of a dormant volcano or something–things are awfully hard to pin down in dreams. The road was carved into the side of a mountain and kept getting more and more narrow until I felt I had only about two wheels on the road, but somehow didn’t fall down the mountain. I could see the village in the valley below, and the person in the front seat kept yakking on and on like there was nothing unusual, and I’m like, “Hey! There’s no road here!”
And as only dreams can do, it suddenly got worse when a car was coming the other way and I’m like “Are you nuts? I’m not pulling over. . . I’ll grind right into the mountain.” And the oncoming car got closer and closer and I was sure I was going to be killed–because it was a dream, and that’s how dream things go.
I woke into that lucid dreaming sleep place, where you are half in and half out, and thought of that scene from Indiana Jones, where he had to take a step of faith, and then discovers that the land bridge is there, only he couldn’t see it. I focused on that, trying to stop being so frightened about there being no road, when it suddenly dawned on me that this was all about The Quilt. The one that has been done since MAY and the one that’s been hanging in the closet, as I was too frightened to start quilting it. I just didn’t know how, didn’t know if I was up to it. I had already purchased all the thread in two separate trips up to Utah’s Superior Threads, so it wasn’t like I didn’t have my supplies.
I did this-and-that all morning, still avoiding The Quilt. And at lunch I was reading the New York Times and found an interview with Janet Elkin, with the words from this post’s title: “Don’t let the process overtake the purpose.” She went on to say that when she motivates her employees, instead of focusing on the negative, she says “Let’s talk about how we’re going to get better. Let’s get started.” I ripped out that article and went right upstairs and pinned it to my design wall where I could see it. It was time to get started.
When I’d taken my class this summer at San Diego, Sue Rasmussen, the teacher, recommended finding ideas even in clothing. I had drawn up a small sketch of an idea some time ago, and in another “ah, ha” moment, recognized it as being from the skirt I was wearing that day. So I pulled out that skirt, traced a quarter of my quilt onto tracing paper and started sketching some ideas in pencil, going over them in ink when I liked them.
Although it took me a while to realize this, a lot of free-motion quilters use drawn shapes to help them get the quilting done, so I made some templates of repeated shapes and laid them out on my quilt. I used a blue wash-out marker to trace them, as I wanted them to stay on the quilt for while, giving myself a road map. I kept saying to myself that I had let the idea of quilting this quilt — the process — get in the way of my vision of a finished quilt — the product. The universe had delivered two strong messages to me, so finally it was time to get going.
I drew on the design with a purple disappearing marker for the inner petals, found the threads, and stitched those. Big breath. Keep going.
I have NO confidence whatsoever in my ability to free motion quilt feathers, even though I have drawn them out about a billion times. So I drew on that next set of petals, found the threads and quilted those and before quitting for the day, I buried all my threads, using the new method taught to me by Sue Rasmussen.
I matched up the colors for the outer petals this afternoon, but even though I’d made a sketch of what I wanted, I needed another road map.
So I made another template, and drew that on.
Tonight before I stopped, I had finished up all the colorful petals of my Colorwheel Blossom. Of course, I’m not out of the woods yet, because I feel like another cliffside road is coming up for the quilting of the white part, but I will go forward in faith, trusting that I’ll figure it out as I quilt. I appreciate all the encouragement I’ve received from the IG crowd; their enthusiastic comments help to propel me forward. Lastly, I don’t know if any of my quilts will ever be “show-quilt” worthy, but I will have tried something hard for me, and traveled down a new road.
Sometimes that’s enough.