Halfway There

4-in-art_3Halfway There_1front

Halfway There
Quilt # 180
13-1/2″ wide by 20″ tall

That night, I was alone in bed in the guest room, five pillows behind me and one to each side, propping me up in a sitting position.  I couldn’t lay down to sleep as it was too painful, so I semi-sat there, my head leaning back on the pillows, staring up at the ceiling.

My husband Dave had tucked me in that night, as he had done every night since the rotator cuff surgery three weeks earlier, helping me find the right position for the pillows, touching my cheek, making sure I knew he loved me, then turned out the light and walked down the hallway to our bedroom that now seemed oh, so far far away.  I felt adrift on a sea of pillows.

Halfway There_4detailI tried to shift slightly, trying to move to a more comfortable position: there wasn’t one. The pain pills they gave me from surgery had been effective, but unfortunately their side effect was ever-present weeping, so I’d ditched them a couple of weeks earlier, relying instead on acetaminophen, which barely tamped down the pain and discomfort.  I was pretty much a mess.Halfway There_3I gazed at the ceiling, waiting for that sleep that wouldn’t come — hadn’t come, since I’d moved from the uncomfortable recliner chair two days post-surgery and had come off the prescribed drugs.  The light from the white Christmas lights we’d left in the laurel bush outside the window shone up through the slatted blinds, casting a linear design on the ceiling.

I studied that pattern of line-upon-line, trying to let it dissimulate the discouragement: there was three more weeks of the sling, the sleeplessness, the being away from my husband, the not-sewing, the one-handedness, the inability to be present in my own life, the trying to be cheerful for whole minutes at a time.  Three more weeks of pain.  Three more weeks of the uncomfortable sling and the loneliness.  Three down, three to go.

The shadows were linear like the slats in the blinds: they started light, the bright lines gradually decreasing until the dark bands became more prominent, obliterating the light.  Half shadow, half light.  Half of each.  The realization that I was halfway there settled into the cracks in my fractured thinking.  The timer on the Christmas lights clicked off, all was shadow and I finally fell asleep, exhausted by the pain, the mental struggle — and, as anyone who has been through this knows — the isolation.Halfway There_7Halfway There_8Halfway There_10backOur theme this year is Light, and Camilla chose this quarter’s theme of Light in the Darkness.  I certainly had time to think about it.  I loved the nuance and the subtlety of it, and was glad to figure out how to interpret it.Halfway There_11label

Halfway There_9

There is no deconstruction post for this art quilt.  I had to cut off lots of outside edges when I trimmed up my Piggies! quilt blocks, and used those pieces to make a “whole cloth” of low-volume prints to be my “ceiling” fabric, as we have those old-time popcorn ceilings with texture. Using flat white cloth didn’t seem right for what I had seen night-after-night. I also liked that all those blocks sent from my friends helped pull me along and out of the sadness and loved their significance in this quilt, and appreciated anew all the encouraging comments from those who cheered me on (thank you).  The darkness seemed to have a texture of its own as well.  I did indeed have time to study it, and thought this seed print from Australia would stand in well for the shadows seen by a quilter, staring at the ceiling, late into the night.

It’s my turn to announce the next theme so look for it in my next post.  And my recovery?  It’s going well.  I’m now past the three-month mark and while occasionally achy, don’t have much pain.  I go to physical therapy regularly.  When I hit the 12-week mark, my therapist said, “You’re about halfway there.”  I guess that finish line moves, depending on the perspective; I do expect at six months I will hear it again.

You’ll notice that the quilt is sometimes light-on-top and sometimes dark-on-top.  I think it works either way.

Last thought: when I stood in the aisles at Road to California this past year, not buying anything,  I hoped that by next year’s quilt conference I would be able to say it was all done and all behind me.

I still have that hope.

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Please take the time to visit the other Four-in-Art Quilters in our Fifth year, as they interpret their visions of Light in the Darkness:

Betty        Backyard Camping

Camilla         http://faffling.blogspot.co.nz/

Catherine         http://www.knottedcotton.com

Janine         http://www.rainbowhare.com

Nancy         http://www.patchworkbreeze.blogspot.com

Rachel         http://www.rachel-thelifeofriley.blogspot.com

Simone         http://quiltalicious.blogspot.com

All of our blocks are on our blog, Four-in-Art.

Piggies!

Piggies1_front

Piggies!
Quilt #179
60″ wide by 76″ high
Finished April 2017

Piggies2_backPiggies3_signatureAll our signature blocks, close-up.  And who are these people?  My beemates from the Gridsters Bee.  You can find our work on Instagram: they made over half of the piggies and I made the rest.  The tutorial is *here.*

Piggies4_on my farmYou’ve seen a lot of this quilt, but you haven’t yet seen it down on MY farm: here’s the beauty shot in our garden.Piggies5_detailPiggies6_label

The lower blue fabric dates from the 1970s, a scrap from the very first quilt I ever made.  I try to work it into most of my quilts, one way or another.

Piggies7_binding

The backing is an old Marimekko fabric, purchased from when the Crate and Barrel Outlet store used to be nearer to me.  The binding is a Kaffe Fasset fabric.  Many many thanks to all who cheered me on while making this, and to my lovely bee-mates!

Quilting System

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Some time ago, Oliver Burkeman, writing in the Guardian newspaper, discussed the idea of implementing “systems” rather than using goals when we are striving toward a new frontier, whether it be in quilting, or better exercise.  He starts by quoting the Dilbert creator, Scott Adams:

“when you’re trying to get better at something – a creative skill, such as cartooning, or a habit, such as regular exercise – think in terms of systems, not goals” for “when you approach life as a sequence of milestones to be achieved, you exist “in a state of near-continuous failure.” Almost all the time, by definition, you’re not at the place you’ve defined as embodying accomplishment or success. And should you get there, you’ll find you’ve lost the very thing that gave you a sense of purpose – so you’ll formulate a new goal and start again.”

Systems ideas mean that if you are a person who walks in the morning, you’ll strive to change one small thing about your stride, or improve your time slightly, and incorporate that into your exercise.  The trick is to keep it simple and small, much like the kaizen idea formulated in Japan, which means continuous change for the better.

Adams notes that working in a system is “something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run,” regardless of immediate outcome. Burkeman goes on to say that “drawing one cartoon a day is a system; so is resolving to take some kind of exercise daily – rather than setting a goal, like being able to run a marathon in four hours. One system that’s currently popular online goes by the name “No Zero Days”: the idea is simply not to let a single day pass without doing something, however tiny, towards some important project.”

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So how does this apply to quilting?

If you think of all our words for unfinished goals (e.g.: WIP, UFO, etc.) and look at the number of online “finishing” blogs that give away prizes if you finish quilts on your list, you can see that we in the quilting world might need the idea of a system.

What IF you approached it as having no zero days…or…continuously making one small change for the better (kaizen) by sewing for small increments at a regular basis, rather than trying to do a blitz over a weekend?  Certainly how your time is managed for you has an impact, for I recognize that small children, spouses, bosses and health issues can indeed interrupt the time available to you.  But what if you had a idea of doing a small part of your project, but doing it daily? Soon your system would bring you to a completed quilt project.

goals

from Here

It’s hard to grasp the idea of process, especially if you’ve spent your life thinking in terms of product. We’re very good at beating ourselves up over our procrastination or lack of motivation or our inability to get that quilt done.   But I like the idea of leaving behind a “state of near-continuous failure,” exchanging that instead for a series of small, manageable tasks that become a part of my day.

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I leave with you a little saying on my bookshelf from a past leader in my church, which, when I’ve overwhelmed myself, helps keeps me centered:

Piggies! (and other stuff)

Thanks to all who entered the Paintbrush Studios giveaway for the Painter’s Palette Solids.  I used the Husband Random Number Generator, and he picked Lisa J. for the scraps and Susan H. for the Paint Chips.  It was fun reading all your comments!

Piggies_front

I’m sure you’ve seen piggies flying across my screen on Instagram…piggies and more piggies.  It’s because I was Queen Bee for this month’s Gridster Bee, and all my beemates were quick and sent them right out.  So I honored them by sewing them all up into rows and getting the quilt top done.  (Don’t you hate it when you make blocks for bees and they all seem to go into someone’s bottom drawer, never to be seen again?  That happens, even to the best of us.)Piggies_2

I made a few more piggies, but imitated the heart in this curlicue pigtail from Carol.Piggies_1

I started to run into troubles because some piggies were facing left and some were facing right, and some were going uphill and some were going down, so my advice is have fun making them go left and right, but keep count, so you know how many you need of each. My husband made the suggestion to have the half-rows facing each other, so I did that in the middle of the quilt.

Another suggestion, from Mary, is to sew the grass on last, instead of first (like I wrote it in the tutorial).  She’s right.  I thought it wouldn’t matter much after the trimming, but it does.  So that’s why I added the scrappy strips of green underneath the rows of pigs.

And last, arrange your piglets up on the wall, decide on the balance/color,etc. THEN start tilting them uphill or down.  I also alternated the uphill/downhill at the start of the rows. It wasn’t that hard, if I just worked sequentially.
Piggies-signature blocks

I started sewing the back together, then realized I was missing a beemate’s signature block.  It’s come to a halt while I wait for it to arrive, but it will be great to have them all.Flowers2017

These white flowers (smallish, about 1 1/2″ across) are all over my bushes out front, and the whole yard is blooming.  We’ve had a lovely rainy winter, so everything in the yard is very happy.  So am I, to see these!fabrics spring 2017

And I did a little spring shopping at our local brick and mortar quilt shop, finding some backing for the En Provence mystery quilt (still in process) on the sale shelves.April Gridster Bee 2017b

April Gridster Bee 2017a

For April’s Gridster Bee block, Nancy of Patchwork Breeze drew up her own design, and asked us to make it up in some bold large-scale prints.  This was a paper-pieced block in some places, and just plain pieced, in other places, and I think they turned out great.
new york beauties book

This book will open your eyes up to color and piecing possibilities for New York Beauties, coupled with Flying Geese.  I love it.  You can find the author, Carl Hentsch on Instagram.  I’m in love with another one of his quilts:

Hentsch_Color Block

It’s slightly fuzzy because I screen-shotted it from Instagram.  What talent!

funny text

from *here*

And that’s all.  Happy Spring!!

Guccilious Scraps Head into the World

Paintbrush Studio Solids_lineup

As promised, the scraps from my Guccilious quilt need to go out into the world, for others to enjoy this fabric and this particular range of colors.  And although this bundle accumulated quite a few votes in the March Madness 2017 (thank you very much!), Christine’s bundle of blues and yellows won (I voted again today…and for hers!).

Paint Chips Painter's Palette Solids

I think someone might like to see all the range of colors, so I’m also giving away two Paintbrush Studios Paint Chips, which includes every color you see below.  No, I’m not giving away the card, just the double-pack of two Paint Chips that have every color, as shown above.

Paintbrush Studios Colors_chart

Giveaway Banner

UPDATE: GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED.  THANKS TO ALL WHO LEFT A COMMENT.  RESULTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED TOMORROW.  Leave me a comment below, telling me which one you’d like to win–the scraps or the double pack of Paint Chips–and after a few days, I’ll close off the giveaway and send out the fun!  Thanks for entering!