Something to Think About · This-and-That

January This-and-That

To start us off right for January, Carol of the Gridster Bee chose Lori Holt’s Tall Pines Quilt Block, part of her Sew Your Stash series, found on YouTube. I lost my mind and my way a couple of times, so made up this diagram to go with her dimensions (screenshot from YouTube).

Click if you need to enlarge

For Carol’s signature block, she requested that we all make her a Teeny Christmas Tree from my free pattern. I updated it for her, so be sure to download the 2021 version.

Oh, and lately, we’ve had some current events. Even on my birthday, which I thought was highly unfortunate, so thank you to all who sent birthday wishes on the last post. On that day, they were much appreciated.

To balance out the above, some good news: The Shine Blocks are starting to return to the website, and they are in a new and improved format. Above are Blocks 1, 2 and 3. I’ll bring back three every month until they have all come home. To access, click on the above tab: Shine the Circles Quilt.

Remember all those memes that used to say that the month of April was like a bajillion days long? I think January 2021 might give April 2020 a run for its money. Several people I’ve chatted with lately have had a bad case of the holiday doldrums, a condition that my 93-year-old mother swears happens every year about the 27th of December and can slide all the way into mid-January. She’s right, you know.

So I’ve saved a great article just for times like this, and the above illustration on the article perfectly depicts how it all feels. It’s titled “Finding Hope When Things Feel Gloomy,” by Jenny Taitz, published way back in November of 2020. Clearly, the doldrums were starting early during the pandemic.

Taitz, a psychologist writing for The New York Times, starts us off with a basic: Control what you can. She writes: “When crises in the world at large feel out of your control, thinking about the various components of your life — and setting small, specific goals to improve them — can help reduce feelings of helplessness.” I think this is something we are all familiar with, as we resort to scrolling on our phones (see below), or looking at our stash of fabric but with no real desire to do anything with it.

Another idea is to “Swap microaggressions for ‘micro-progressions’ ” or instead of trying to take steps forward right now, perhaps try to incorporate “small actions that communicate respect.” It’s hard when facing the same people day after day, no matter how delightful and witty they are, to not to give in irritations about their habits and that noise they make that you can hear from all the way on the other side of the house. Or the neighbor who keeps moving towards you, breaking the social distance guidelines, having just returned from an RV tour of the United States. It’s also often hard to notice the micro-progressions I make in my daily tasks, the fabric all cut out, the blocks completed. I’ve taken to writing down even the littlest thing on my To Do List, just so I have a record of how this time in my life was spent.

There are other tips in the article, but I’ll close with my favorite: “Work on your mental agility.” I have a favorite mental rut I like to travel in when things are hard. It always involves a lot of sighing, many trips to the kitchen for the chocolates leftover from Christmas, maybe even some tears, and yes, doomscrolling. But if I can just step to the side of that rut for a few hours, perhaps vacuum AND dust the sewing room, I find that small actions help me avoid the downward trend into the doldrums. Of course, if you are having serious depression, get some help. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just call your doctor and get in to see them.

We quilters have been alone a lot lately, with all of our usual venues shut down: no trips to the fabric store with friends (and lunch afterwards), no quilt guilds in person, and no retreats or fun conferences or shows. So find a way to connect, either through Zoom, phone calls, or some creative social distancing, and try to find hope going forward. “Hope is a psychological stabilizer — it protects our well-being from stressful events,” said Mark Manson, an author who writes about hope and happiness. “Even if you feel emotionally depleted now, research suggests that it’s possible to consciously and systematically increase hope.”

Alison Glass’ stack of colors

Holding onto that smallest sliver of hope can be enough to pull us through, and makes an anchor to our souls. Even with all the news lately, find a happy stack of fabric and if you don’t have the energy to cut into it or make it, patting it is perfectly acceptable.

As for me? I’ll be here, in my sewing room, having just set up for my workshop with the Beach Cities Guild this Saturday, where we are making Criss-Cross quilts.

Onward into this year!

16 thoughts on “January This-and-That

  1. I love to see what you are doing within your quilt world, I really look forward to it! I do not like that you post politics … I see that on the news and come here to escape all of that and to enjoy and learn about the craft that you do such incredible and exciting things with.

  2. Thank you so much for sending me that article. It helped immensely. That stack of AG fabric is SO pretty. *must resist….*

  3. Your mother is so right! I have been deep in the doldrums all day and could not get myself out. I’m going to try starting tomorrow with a few easy things to do. Thank you for inspiring us with your wonderful quilts and attitude.

  4. I feel a bit better already! Thanks! (My floor does need vacuumed …) I love the beautiful colors you posted today.

    The article is behind a paywall, but I’ve discovered that I can delete the NYT cookies in my browser, and sneak in about three articles before the wall appears again. I know, I should just subscribe, but I already read four digital newspapers, and that’s enough.

    And I’m also adding an “Amen!” to Carol g. And hugs to everybody in California.

  5. Hi. I continue to watch your blog since taking your class. I am interested in your desk and from where it was purchased.



    The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.

  6. All wonderful ideas and so far, I’ve done pretty well at practicing most of them. My motto has always been “stay in motion” so I can be distracted and thus diverted multiple times a day 🙂 The last pic drew me in immediately because it looks like such a wonderful place to work and THEN I spotted the machine!!! When did you move to a Bernina?! Plodding along here with my 2 Husqvarna’s and routinely have to just walk away from the Bernina siren, so far successfully but you never know! Now, let’s find our hope to get through the next week – onward!

  7. Oh yes I have always dreaded January. Such a long dreary month, except for your birthday, of course! 🙂 Thank you for the article. I especially loved this quote “Few of the challenges we face today are historically unique and most of the long-term trends show that the world is continuing to get better.” Count your blessings or pat your fabric. Haha!

  8. Those are some really tall trees. I made a tree quilt for Christmas but haven’t shared it on social media yet. Thankfully I have mostly avoided the doldrums during Covid although I can’t say the same about doomscrolling. Staying away from social media has helped and surprise surprise I’m more productive. Who would have known I could get more done if I stayed off my phone/computer. Hmmm.

  9. It’s great to see the things you’re doing to be positive. I’m glad you have teaching as therapy and distraction. Meeting with other quilters on Zoom calls is my lifeline and means of socializing. We have no control over happens outside, how others respond, nor what others say, but calm and peace can be found in our own environments. I’m getting really comfortable in my tiny corner of the world, and will find it extremely difficult to return to outside activities. I now know, personally, more than eight people who have received their first vaccines, and I anticipate having mine by March. Though I am eligible to go sooner, I’m waiting to allow others to go ahead of me – those who have greater medical needs for getting the vaccine – as well as allow the process to smooth-out. It’s very difficult to imagine what life will be like in the US, by fall. Honestly, I don’t expect it will much improve. You and I will keep up our positive quiltmaking activities.

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