Chuck Nohara

Chuck Nohara Redux


(Redux: brought back, from the Latin word meaning returning, — or — from reducere to lead back.  First Known Use: 1860. So now you know.)

Well…I posted this photo recently, musing about how many more of these little suckers I was going to make.  Since they come from 2″ line drawings in Chuck Nohara’s book, any size is possible, but Susan and I went with 6″ finished.  Which is fun.  And small.  And I still have to make all the sashing and all that, so it has come to the time to think about sizing.

I tend to like square quilts.  And with four more, this quilt would be square.  I know I have 4 per month, three more months, but RETURNING to my senses, I realized I was pretty much done.  As one of the more fun quilt projects I’ve done, by teaming up with Susan gave me great motivation to get things done (because I knew she would).  If you jump in, try hooking up with the Instagram group and letting the motivation of those women pull you along.  But still, it’s time for me to be done.

So here are my four final blocks:


I chose from the rest of what we’d identified as the last blocks of the year, pulling forward ones that I thought would blend with what I already have.  This also gives me a chance to take off my least favorite block and move it to the back (I’m not telling which one it is). Susan and I have also agreed to make each other a signature block, but keep it a surprise, so I have that one too.  Whatever is leftover after all this will go on the back.

Christina Xu, in her article “Your Project Deserves a Good Death,” notes that:

Most of the people I know are compulsive starters. We constantly create new projects, companies, organizations, and events; sometimes, we even get roped into adopting other people’s projects and entities…Almost all of them will not be the last thing we start.

She goes on to say that we don’t often know how to finish up, or end, all these projects we’ve started (we quilters call them UFOs).


She notes there are five categories of projects-that-won’t-quit, with “The Indefinite Life Support” being the first.  That’s when we keep a project going way past the time it should be allowed to lapse.  Think of all those 100 block projects you’ve been seeing all summer.  Some actually do go all the way, but I say, if you get to #47 and you’ve learned what you had to learn, and you are ready to move on. . . then don’t feel guilty for not having A Complete Set.

Another category is “The Marathon,” when you carry on a project to the very end, but it burns you out or causes harm.  I had two of those this year: the Halloween quilt-a-long, and the Oh Christmas Tree quilt-a-long.  I loved doing both of them and have two lovely quilt tops to show for my efforts, but when I got to the part in Oh Christmas Tree where the pattern was wrong, it threw a big wrench into my Enthusiasm Works and I really had to run my own marathon to get that project finished (we corrected it).  Doing one quilt-a-long is huge, but two was like running two marathons at once.

She closes her article by noting the good reasons for declaring an end to some things:

Accepting the possibility of the end means periodically taking a critical look at your work and recognizing when its time has passed. Letting go of a project or an organization returns all of the resources it’s tying up — funding, attention, time, the emotional labor contributed by you and others — to the ecosystem. Whether by you or others, those resources will be recombined into new, surprising forms….The end of something, when unrushed and deliberate, is a time for celebration as well as closure.

And so I celebrate the end of the Chuck Nohara project. I still have several blocks to make, and then there is all that sashing, but it feels like a good time to wrap up this portion and move on.

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15 thoughts on “Chuck Nohara Redux

  1. Two thoughts here: I’m sad knowing there won’t be more CN Blocks to look forward to AND “when one door closes….”. And I totally understand!! Thank you and Susan for introducing us to Chuck Nohara, blocks which are really little works of art (in a quilty way) and some years from now, I’ll send you pictures of my completions. Like others, I jumped on the Splendid Sampler and the Summer Sampler and am awash in both small and large blocks now. The latter is finished and the former, well, let’s just say I’m a tad behind, but chugging along. Oh, and let’s not forget the Farmer’s Wife series! All of these efforts have taught me something and introduced me to people and techniques. They have also helped to make a dent in scraps and stash! Thanks again for leading and for knowing when to leave the path!

  2. Good call. Do what works for you.
    Yep. I am a compulsive starter. I already have a personal limit of 50 blocks (probably 49 in reality to make a square as I like squares too) for one of those 100-block projects. Now I can happily skip any blocks that don’t thrill me!

  3. Oh My what a job you have done on this project. I understand completely how you can get to a point where it’s time to stop and finish up what has been accomplished before it becomes a put in a bag and set aside type of thing as many projects end up. The many blocks you have done will make a nice sized wall hanging and finishing up with the sashings will make it complete. How you will quilt it is something to ponder so that will be interesting. Thanks for sharing your almost complete project. It really is a lovely thing and I know having someone to do them with helped get them done.

  4. Wouldn’t a quilt of block 1290 be awesome? I’m finishing up City Sampler on the fast track and that’s it for me. My sewing time is so limited that these 100 block QAL’s eat up all the time. I’m anxious to get back to oh Christmas tree and finish it up. The upside is, I get exposed to things I might not of got exposed to otherwise. I would’ve never foundation pieced if it hadn’t been for the Farmer’s wife, And I would have never sewn with Kaffe Fassett if it hadn’t been for the oh Christmas tree. ( Believe it or not !)

  5. WOW! This is a great “keeper” post and I will do just that. It expressed ideas that I needed to hear, Elizabeth. I think there are a few UFOs that I will deliberately allow to be smaller – and finished! I will send this on to daughter Lizzie in Sweden. Thank you!

  6. Um–yes, I’m a starter and rarely a finisher from the looks of my sewing room. Your Chuck blocks are very fun–it will be an awesome finish! I was very tempted to purchase the book, but my common sense (no new projects!) and my budget said no!! I’m sure I’ll succumb eventually though–I’m weak–hence all the starts–lol!

  7. Helpful thoughts indeed! I identified most with marathon–the pressing on to the point of exhaustion such that there is no quilting for a month (or so) afterwards. I also think “being done” includes admitting I’ll never finish something and sending the parts on to others who might.

  8. I am a compulsive finisher, and will slog through a project even when it’s sucking all the creativity and delight out of itself; I’m in the middle of one right now! I appreciate the wisdom about recognizing and planning for an appropriate end.
    I hope the burnout you experienced with your quilt-alongs won’t keep you from doing more, you do it so well!

  9. When it stops being fun, it’s time to move on! There is nothing to be gained when it saps our energy or we start resenting it…. You have a lovely quilt to remember the journey with!

  10. Time to dig into my UFO boxes! This post is a good companion to the Done Manifesto, which I saved from your blog four years ago. After reading Rule 11 there, “Destruction is a variant of done,” I found a class project which had about 400 litttle floral squares carefully arranged and pinned to a length of fleece. It had sat untouched for years. I saved the pins and the fleece.

    Your quilt is beautiful, and I’m interested to see which block gets moved ot the back.

  11. I LOVE finishing something, even if it’s a jar of mayonnaise. There’s just something psychologically rewarding about going from point A to point B and calling it good. I guess even God had that feeling when He finished creating the earth, right? “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” I’m looking forward to seeing this quilt in its final iteration.It’s going to be gorgeous.

  12. Your blocks are wonderful! I completely agree that not all projects have to be finishes, or be finished exactly as you planned. Sometimes, just the act of making something is enough and it doesn’t have to turn into a ‘thing’, it can just be. (Or be thrown out/passed on/filed in a dark corner of a cupboard.)

  13. You are right on, Elizabeth. Some on going projects can become such an energy drainer. It’s so good to hear that you feel the same way. Your blocks are lovely and will make a great finish with their sashing.

    I AM glad that you continued with the Christmas tree project. That one is gorgeous.

  14. Very eloquently said. Knowing when to stop is important in so many areas of life. I knew I’d never finish the 100 blocks nor did I want to feel the pressure to keep up. I made blocks when I could and upsized them to 8″ to make potholders. Satisfied my desire to play again and got me fairly far down the road on girlfriend birthday presents and Christmas presents.

  15. As I mentioned to Susan, these blocks are a feast for the eye. It’s like an I spy quilt in a way with so many fun things to look at. I commend you for calling it instead of pushing it the point of burnout.

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