Go with the Flow

I’ve been thinking about what it takes to keep me interested in what I’m doing, and better yet, to find that creative task, that, when I check the time, I realize I’ve been absorbed in this task for hours, not minutes. When I used to manage the black-and-white photo lab at my local university, students could stay in there for hours, developing their prints, discussing them, claiming they were in the “zone” and didn’t want to leave it.

I’ve been on a pretty intense creative output flow, and I can feel myself wanting to wind down, and take a breath.  So I thought I’d look into this idea–of being in the “zone” or “flow” and see how it would apply to us quilters.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book,  Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience has much to say about the idea of “flow” or “being in the zone.”  He stipulates certain conditions present during flow:

(1) engagement in an activity that is both challenging and attainable

Flow_2.jpg

 

 

 

If you ask me to make simple HST quilts forever, I’ll be incredibly bored, as my skill levels have gone beyond that.  It was fun for a day, though, in Jenny Doan’s class at Road to California this past January.

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On the other hand, if you ask me to talk at QuiltCon 2018 in front of a crowd of eighty quilters with a big screen behind me, I’ll be incredibly anxious. I made it through, thanks to kind quilters.Flow chart.png

The left to upper left shows what happens if your skill level is low, but the challenges are too high.  The bottom to lower right is when the abilities are high,  and the challenges are too easy.  Of course, we should all try to shoot on a diagonal path from low to high, to get to the flow, but often we are stuck with patterns that don’t work, or run out of fabric, or can’t figure something out, or feel frozen in our progress.

(2) the ability to keep concentration focused on the activity, and
(3) sense of control over your own actions

I lumped these two together, although they really are separate ideas.  For me, these can sometimes be hard to attain, especially if you have young children, or fighting health issues, or don’t have the right physical set-up that allows easy access to your tools/fabric/machine.  I also love seeing blank calendar days, without the distraction of appointments or errands.  I can stay in the zone for hours on those days.

(4) clearly defined goals that are within the individual’s control

Writing down a goal that says something like winning “Best of Show at Paducah” is not something within our control, because we can’t award that ribbon.  Perhaps that why we see a proliferation of techniques Finish-A-Longs, or goal-setting posts, to help us identify our goals.  I’ve found this helpful, but more often than not, it leads to a list of tasks — which we call UFOs — rather than list of goals.

(5) immediate feedback

According to the book, our psychic energy tends to atrophy without some verification we’re on the right track.  I think that’s also why Guilds and Quilt Groups are so valuable, but often we resort to snapping a photo and texting it to a friend.  However, I might argue that too much immediate feedback, such as our faces glued to our tiny screens checking our Instagram likes, being fixated on the number of likes can pull us out of the flow.

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(6) deep, effortless involvement in the activity which removes from our awareness the worries/frustrations of everyday life.

I love it when I can forget what’s going on out in the world, listen to a book, and just sew and sew.  Or it’s like when we have to glue fabric on 500 one-inch hexies for our quilting booth at an upcoming Heritage Day Festival, and I took this task to my quilt group and we had a great time eating fresh strawberries, chocolate treats, and solving all the world’s problems. (We did get a little goofy, I must say.)

(7) non-self-conscious individualism, or you lose yourself in what you are doing and eliminate all self-criticism. His book states that “loss of self-consciousness does not involve a loss of the self, and certainly not a loss of consciousness, but rather, only a loss of consciousness OF the self.”

Maybe it’s not best to continually evaluate ourselves as we work, given the rhythm of this chart:

creative-process.jpg
Finally, (8) some alteration of time (either “hours feel like minutes” or vice versa)

Being IN the flow, is definitely not the same ask GOING WITH the flow.  But to be truthful, I mostly feel like Sarah Cannell, when she said: “I’m either hurtling down the track not noticing the passing countryside, or standing on the platform having missed the train… The two extremes seem to smoothly flow into each other.”

Giveaway Thanks

Thank you for all your comments on the Giveaway for the Northern Star curated stack of fabrics.

I used two different Random Number Generators (actually, three, if you count when I asked my husband to pick two numbers randomly, and interestingly, one of his was nearly the same as one of these) to pick our two winners:

Giveaway Numbers 4_18

Jamie was #7: “I have not seen the Northern Lights. However if I win, I could make your quilt (you’re writing a pattern for us to buy right?) and then have my husband hold it above me so I can see it in the night sky. Pretty clever eh? hahahaha”

(I laughed out loud)

and Joan was #71: “Oh, yes, I have seen them and should do so more often, but I’m usually asleep in the middle of the winter nights when they are most visible, and I just can’t drag myself out of my nice warm bed to stand in the frigid nighttime air to watch! Summertime viewing would be perfect, but it’s just too light outside to see the aurora even at 2:00am!”

(I’m going to visit you, Joan, and really soon.  Joan?  That okay?)

Northern Lights_pix

I did love these reminiscences:

The first one is from Barb: “I grew up in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada and my parents home backed onto a field so there was no obstruction of view. We could watch the Northern Lights dance across the sky many nights from our kitchen window. I didn’t realize what a special experience that was until we moved to a large city where the only thing I can see in the sky is the Moon and a few bright stars and planets!”

Another one from Edith: “I used to be able to see the Northern Lights in my hometown of Medicine Hat, Alberta when I was a young girl. I used to sit on the park swing and be able to see them over the hill in front of me, but since the city grew and more lights were added, I must say I have’t seen them in a long time.”

And last one, from Holley: “I have seen the Northern Lights many times starting as a child growing up in Iowa. We didn’t see them often but we did see them from time to time. I lived in northern Minnesota after college. This was at the time of missel silos and ICBMs so when the northern lights looked like rockets shooting across the sky it was unnerving. When I lived in Wisconsin near Chippewa reservations I was told the lights were the old people dancing and that was the way they looked. I’ve seen lights in Alaska was I was babysitting grandchildren and in the Scottish Highlands when we lived near Glasgow. I have a quilt started that I call Northern lights that I hope to finish one day soon. The colors and patterns vary depending on location and weather but they are all wonderful. Thanks for sharing yours.”

Ladies, you are living our dream.  Thank you all, again.  Guess what?  Another giveaway is coming on Wednesday, when I show you some secret sewing I’ve been doing for Simone.  See you then!

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Mad for Solids Wrap-up 2018 and Giveaway

Giveaway Thanks

I’m sure you have seen a version of this photo before, as I participated in the Mad for Solids 2018 for Painer’s Palette Solids.  Paintbrush Studios, the people who manufacture this line of solids first contacted me about four years ago, asking me to make them a quilt for Quilt Market.  Paintbrush who? was my first response.  But I jumped in and made them a medallion sort of design.  I was paid for this effort.  But simply being paid doesn’t keep me coming back.  I have also sewn for “free” for them.

Paint Chips Painter's Palette Solids

Why do I keep agreeing to do this?  When they do send me fat quarters/half yards of a variety of colors — whatever they are setting up as their parameters —  it challenges me to design a quilt using just those fabrics, and I use it as a design challenge.  (Of course, if any of you have participated in any of the MQG challenges, you know that even if you get 3 fat quarters for free, you end up buying about more on your own.  Typical, right?)

Paintbrush Studios Colors_chart

When I first was considering designing/sewing for them, I asked, “Is your fabric of a good quality?”  Painter’s Palette was a new line, made with a bit tighter weave and finer threads, and while the first launch had 80 colors, they now have many more than that (latest card is above).  I don’t need 500 colors to be happy; I need enough to make the designs I want to.  My favorite part about this fabric is how it feels in the hand–almost silky, but with a good weight. I also like that if I have to “un-sew,” this fabric will hold up to the repeated picking out and re-stitching.  It also steams into place well, if the block needs to be flat, or seams eased in.  I’m not the only one who is in love with this fabric.

Here are the quilts I’ve made with Painter’s Palette Solids:
Starry Compass Rose
Cinque Terra Tiles
Northern Star (in progress)
Annularity

RedWhiteBlueStar_final1
Red, White, and Blue Star (free pattern)

Sky Rocket Variant

Guccilicious Block, above, and here too
(Note to self: I need to finish my ideas on this one)
Electra Magnetic

six-ways-to-blue_front
Six Ways to Blue (above)
Rose Window

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And this little one, Focus, made for their first booth at QuiltCon 2017 from scraps from the first quilt I made for them.

Mad4Solids2018votesign

I make these little pictures on my phone, using the app Snapseed. Easy-peasy.

Thank you all for your votes and support in the Mad for Solids 2018.  I really owe you all a quilt or something, but I decided instead to have a little giveaway of Painter’s Palette fabrics, in the exact colors I used for my Northern Star (which is still in process), so you can try them for yourself.

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I ordered these from Pineapple Fabrics, which is where — until I can persuade my local shop to carry them– I purchase my Painter’s Palette Solids.

I have two stacks of 8 fat quarters, which I’ll give away to two people.  I will announce this on Instagram and on my blog, but only comments on my blog will count. (I will ship internationally as well as domestic, for those of you overseas who are wondering about that.) If you are a follower of this blog, leave an extra comment to double your chances (and thank you for reading!).  I’ll let this run for a couple of days, and then draw a winner, who I will notify by email.

To enter the giveaway, please leave me a comment telling me if you’ve ever seen the Northern Lights in the night sky.

Giveaway now closed.  Thank you for entering!

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!

Summer Giveaway Winners

Summer Achievements 2013

You are all winners in my book–just take a look at all that was accomplished this summer!

I’m generally terrible at picking winners; I personally LOATHE the random number generator, but don’t mind their List Generator.  So I typed up all your accomplishments into a list and let the random generator help me choose.  Of course, I personally would have gone for the running-while-not-re-injuring foot, given the fact that my summer consisted of foot surgery, but in the end, Amy C. and Ashley, of Wasn’t Quilt in a Day,  were the winners for this giveaway.

I still have a couple of more little things I picked up at Long Beach, so I’ll probably have to find another reason to host a giveaway.  Thanks to all who entered and congratulations on having so many stupendous achievements over the summer!

Summer Giveaway

Giveaway Banner

So why a giveaway?

Oh, I don’t know–it’s coming down to the end of summer, I picked up a couple of cute things at Long Beach Quilt Show, and why not?

Giveaway packet 1 fall 2013

The top photo shows the little bundle exploded so you can see the fabrics.  I chose turquoise and reds, plus that fabulous record novelty print for the first one.  And for the second, I sometimes think we all need some decent darks in our stash–we all tend to buy light, brights, but to make a quilt really pop, a wider range can help.

Giveaway packet2 fall 2013

Giveaway 2 Fall 2013

And what’s tucked inside?  Two little sewing kits, picked up from Eleanor Burns’ booth at the quilt show, with fun sayings.

To win either packet (you can specify), leave me a comment telling me your favorite achievement this summer–could be a quilt finished, time spent with children or grandchildren, or a good book read.  As per the usual, those who are followers of this blog get their name thrown in twice!

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Comments were closed at this post on Sunday evening.  Anything comments after that were appreciated but unable to be entered into the drawing.  Thanks for stopping by!  See this post for winners.

I’m Featured on the Name Game!

Name Game ButtonToday Cindy of Live a Colorful Life is featuring this blog on her series titled, The Name Game, where she highlights a blog whose name she likes.  I’m more than happy to be one of her Featurettes. So, please, head over there and see what she has written (you can bet I’ll be looking, too, as I don’t know what she’s said yet, either!)

Giveaway Spring 2

And leave a comment below if you’d like to win that fun button and the boy-themed fabric.

Giveaway Spring 1

Or you might want this one (see previous post for more info on both).

If you are a follower, you double your chances of winning, so feel free to enter your email and follow me, now that Google Reader is disappearing (sigh).  At any rate, Cindy and I will draw from our comments and will choose some winners–two from each blog.  Remember to indicate which button is your first choice.

We’ll close the drawing on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, and announce the winners.  Leave your comment below and good luck!

Update: Drawing closed and I will post winners shortly (like, after dinner).  Thanks to all who left comments and entered our giveaway.  You’re the best!