Happy Old Year Ending • 2020

I just had to lead off this Happy Old Year Ending Post with one of my favorite memes from this year. So it is with fervor and conviction that I say: Happy Old Year Ending. Good-bye. Go away. Good riddance.

Here are my finished quilts for this year:

Not as many as last year, but then I wasn’t immersed in a nation-wide experience of dealing with a pandemic, either. Somehow time passed in interesting ways:

Yes, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

These two quilts were on my 2020 quilt top finishes list, and they are still lost in space somewhere, as each will take herculean thinking to get them to where I want them to be. Here are some of the tops I finished:

I finished all my red, white and blue blocks before Christmas. The top is on its way to being complete. Stay tuned.

The Bee Happy top was finished before Christmas as well, with the addition of the hexie and blue borders. I’m now starting to quilt it.

When I first wrote this post, it was all about the emotional landscape of how we felt these past nine months, rather doom-and-gloom, Sturm und Drang.

Zoom teaching in 2020

But after letting it sit for a couple of days, I decided I didn’t want to end my year of describing the realities of the year that we’ve all just lived through. Instead I’ll leave you with a few quotes and links I like, something to bring in this new, but not necessarily different, year.

  • The New York Times published a column on finding hope when things feel gloomy.
  • I’ve been enjoying all the news articles I see that contain references to quilting or knitting or all those other crafts that normally go under the radar.
  • Austin Kleon wrote a great post about how quantity can lead to quality.
  • Brilliant tip for holding up quilts for photography that uses only a clamp and duct tape–nothing fancy.
  • Finally, a Zen Habits post I read once in a while, when I just feel emptied out in frustration or disappointment that I just can’t get my projects to work themselves into being, and I’m sure that I am the problem.

“We must surrender our hopes and expectations, as well as our fears, and march directly into disappointment, work with disappointment, go into it and make it our way of life.”

Chogyam Trungpa

“To create, take your time, block out the noise…It’s difficult to find the time, especially when other demands seem to press much closer to the skin of daily life. Most days it feels less like locating a stretch of time that’s available for the claiming, and more like forcibly insisting on the clearing of space. Since I don’t have the inclination to quilt in small bursts, I need to be intentional about setting aside at least a few hours or half a day. The aim is to treat quilting like any other work, which it is. This means if I mark off time to create, I can’t go off to run small errands, agree to coffee with friends or acquaintances, sit in front of my phone answering text messages and e-mails, or distract myself by chipping away at random tasks.”

Jenny Xie

Remedy for when you are stuck: take a break. I think that if you bang your head against the wall trying to create, you’re going to resent the process of creation. Usually when you reach an impasse it’s a signal to move on to another thing. Maybe you haven’t slept in a while. Maybe you need some time to ponder, to just stare at the wall. Maybe you need to live, truly be alive for a little and not near a computer. Maybe you need to read, see, watch—to refill your well.

Fatimah Asghar

Don’t partition off your daily life from your creative life.

Emily Skillings

I like that last quote quite well, as so often we use our quilting to escape away, and while I welcome that, I also think that who we are, what we are dealing with, our sorrows, our joys need to inform our creating. Maybe you are working hard on a quilt because someone close to you has just died and piecing a large quilt is the only thing that will help us mark those first awful days. Maybe you are working in red, white and blue because you worry about your nation, expressing your patriotism in your country’s colors. Maybe it’s a year of handwork, grabbed in snatches of time in between spending time in Zoom meetings (or maybe you are doing handwork during those same Zoom meetings!). Whatever your life is like, bring a little of it into your quilts, letting it hold these days for you.

So farewell, 2020, a year of disaster, of disease, of sorrow, of death, of forced calm and glints of silver linings. A year for the history books.

And welcome 2021. We look forward with hope.