PatternLite · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Something to Think About

Autumn Leaves • PatternLite

Confession: I got caught up in Fall Color. A few particular trees in Southern California and even the leaves on my wisteria arbor are turning yellow, getting ready to drop. In addition, we put together another round of Gridster Bee, and those of us who were experienced thought we should get sample blocks up on the spreadsheet as an example.

I have been hanging on to this screenshot (see how old those IG icons are?) for some time, as I’ve always wanted to do it in a bee. The pattern is a variation of Maple Leaf:

To be precise, it’s Maple Leaf–Brackman #1740, which originally debuted in Aunt Martha’s booklets in the 1930s. Like the Flickr group, above, I changed out the stem so it could be pieced. And is my wont, I wondered if anyone else was interested in this block. I certainly I had a few words to say about how to make up a leaf in autumn colors, so I put it all into a PatternLite, and then up in my PayHip Shop. I also included how to make a Four-at-a-Time Flying Geese block, giving away the secret formula, freeing you from charts forever.

PatternLite Patterns, if you are new here, are not-quite-all-of-a-pattern, for not-quite-all-of-the-price. They are less than a fancy pink drink at Starbucks. They are cheaper than a slice of pizza from that place around the corner from you. They are for those quilters who can see a block and take off with it in their own way, and don’t need comprehensive instructions on construction. But I did do up a couple of sketches for what can be done with this block:

How about a table runner for your holiday table?

Or a quilt? It’s there now in the shop, if you want to grab it.

I had some other ideas, but I will let time work them out for me, or sleep as John Steinbeck noted:

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”

This may take me more than a few nights, I think.

And then there’s this, that’s been rattling around in my head:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.” (Steve Jobs)

Lately, I’ve been concerned with sameness, or the inability to make connections between two different things, because so much is all the same.

an “un-same” landscape

If we are mostly in our houses, with our same stashes, in the same room, making those same projects we dreamed up some time ago, where are the differences that allow us to make connections? I think many of us get it through social media, but beware:

from a recent Honors symposium my friend attended

I had been sort of dependent on my Instagram feed for variety and for seeing new things, until I realized that over time the random things I had selected had become more of “the same”–repeating back to me the images I had selected precisely because they were new and different. What with the algorithm changing how we interacted with that media, and the selectivity with which it feeds us our friends’ posts on our feed, what had once fed my need for new and novel things just came unraveled.

When you are traveling in a new space, trying to juggle all that’s coming at you, you make new connections. Perhaps you discover a different way to think about a dilemma, or even how to navigate physical space:

I did eventually make it to TechnoPark-ro, and enjoyed all that I saw. This has been on my mind because of what I’ve noticed in my correspondence, that there’s been a refrain of not feeling enthusiastic about what you used to do. Some describe it in that time-honored way of “lost my sewjo.” I could also describe it as longing for the thunderbolt of a new idea, one that just grabs you and has you on the run to try to express it.

Because I feel like drowning in sameness is a situation to escape, my tactic of late has been to look for old quilt blocks to explore in new ways (hence, Autumn Leaves). I also like seeing new fabrics, other than the same three designers carried by my quilt shop, so recently I went to Fat Quarter Shop to their pre-cuts and read ALL 38 pages of it, learning about what’s coming. I vary my walks around my neighborhood, cook new recipes:

What I call Sushi in a Bowl: sushi rice, salmon, cucumbers, slaw, avocado and dressing

Three reasons why people are motivated to be creative: 1) need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation; 2) need to communicate ideas and values and 3) need to solve problems. A scholarly listing of thoughts about creativity can be read here.

Right brain? Left Brain? Anna Abraham begs to differ: “The brain’s right hemisphere is not a separate organ whose workings can be regarded in isolation from that of the left hemisphere in most human beings. It is also incorrect to conclude that the left brain is uncreative. In fact even the earliest scholars who explored the brain lateralization in relation to creativity emphasized the importance of both hemispheres.” A high level Q & A with her is here.

“As strange as it sounds, creativity can become a habit,” says creativity researcher Jonathan Plucker, PhD, a psychology professor at Indiana University. “Making it one helps you become more productive.” Read about it here.

A quote from an article from my favorite resource, 99U: “Creativity is a skill that allows you to draw understanding of the world around you, connect those observations to your existing knowledge reservoirs, and imagine new applications of your knowledge on the world.” Read it here.

Keep at it, find the new and novel, and keep quilting!

(More info on this one, coming soon!)

11 thoughts on “Autumn Leaves • PatternLite

  1. Thank you for this thoughtful post about creativity. It’s one that I’m very interested in as I have always tried to design most of my own quilts, even though I mostly use traditional quilt blocks as their basis. One of my very favorite books on creativity is Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit” which would be a great addition to your list of resources on the topic. Your maple leaf quilt is lovely!

  2. Four in Art, the last time I felt truly creative; since then, highly productive. But I felt my tide turning a few months back and have been chewing on a way to focus my energy better in 2022, key word here is FOCUS. And yes, all the social media is distracting and so repetitive, a rabbit hole for lemming wanna-be’s. Thank you for naming the ill, kind of, and all your usual deep thoughts! Always a joy to start my Sunday’s with a word from Elizabeth 🙂

  3. I’m going to be reading more on your resources for understanding creativity. A quilter I was reading about recently said that creativity is a gift. So, I was relieved! I can quit struggling trying to be more creative – I just don’t have “the gift”! But, maybe there’s information there that will give hope for me beyond simply reinterpreting or recreating someone else’s idea. (Even that is therapeutic for me so if it turns out that this is all I’ve got, I’m satisfied!)
    Thanks for pointing out that if the internet is your only source of information – no matter the subject – you will soon have a narrow view of your topic.
    I don’t leave a comment every time because I would just sound repetitious – by saying how awe-inspiring your brain is! I’m grateful that you have a way to share it with us.

  4. Those thoughts and ideas about creativity resonate with me and how I have been thinking of it lately. And I’m really tired of algorithms. I miss the organic way of seeing things that is being stripped away. It’s why I love blogs. When I follow them, I see what they share. I think it’s a better method, although it is certainly out of fashion these days. I do wonder if it will see a resurgence. Anyway, my musings for what they are worth. I hope you have a good week and enjoy the fall color around you!

  5. Your post is most thought provoking. I think we tend to have way too much input via all the social media and online resources. For me that leads to not enough output of my own. My mind goes into overload and I loose my way. I’ve never thought of it as sameness but I do see your point in that. I recently spent a great deal (too much) time refolding and organizing my stash. The positive was seeing it all with fresh eyes and being reminded of why I’m drawn to quilting. My stash is unique to me and my tastes. I have renewed motivation to use what I have. The negative is acknowledging that I’ve spent a small fortune on fabric and likely can’t use it all in my lifetime. But that thought is for another day. For now, I’m inspired anew to use what I have. To make what I want. No strings attached to being modern. It feels wonderful. I hope you find inspiration in your exploration of blocks. You always come up with fun ideas when you go adventuring. Enjoy the journey.

  6. You’ve given me another excuse to avoid social media 🙂 I sometimes think I’m just not “with it” enough, but when I do use social media, I notice the recursive nature of it that you mentioned. Not much fun. Give me a new book or an art exhibit any day.

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