February’s Procrastination

Giveaway picking a winner

I did the Husband Random Name Generator today and Diane Nelson is the winner of the pearl cotton bubbles.  Congratulations, Diane!  I mailed them off this afternoon to you.  Glad you are making good progress on your Oh Christmas Tree.

Frivols Feb 2016

I received my latest Frivols tin, with the cutest little scissor holder–it will just fit nicely over my embroidery scissors.  I signed up for a year of these as a retirement present to myself.  So far it’s going along nicely: I have a stack of seven tins on my sewing room shelf (they have numbers on the side to keep track of them), with none of them made.  I think I need to stop putting this off.

Laurel's puzzle

Laurel let me stipple on her quilt for her yesterday.  Isn’t this just the dream of a mini quilt?  It’s for an auction for Autism Research.

Bee blocks are in my life right now.  I was Queen Bee for January in two bees, and they are rolling in–one batch of words for Spelling Bee was held up by a snowstorm in the midwest, and the rest of the words are being held back by my procrastination (see notes at the end of this post).
MCM book block_2

I finished this book block for Cindy’s granddaughter’s quilt last night, and there’s my signature block.  I love that in our bee we do signature blocks for each other; we also do them in The Spelling Bee too.

Chuck Nohara Feb 2016 Blocks

Time to gear up for February’s Chuck Nohara blocks.  Looks like we have more piecing than appliqué this time around–should go quickly together.  Susan has already started hers: here and here.  She’s quick!

Maybe not getting to them until now means I’m just taking to heart the advice from Adam Grant in his recent New York Times article “Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate.”  He wrote that “while procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned — against my natural inclinations — that it’s a virtue for creativity.”  There’s a term for that process of always working to finish things early.  It’s pre-crastination.  Grant notes that  “Pre-crastination is the urge to start a task immediately and finish it as soon as possible. If you’re a serious pre-crastinator, progress is like oxygen and postponement is agony. When a flurry of emails land in your inbox and you don’t answer them instantly, you feel as if your life is spinning out of control.”  Some of this is to reduce “working memory loads,” because, as Grant reports, “psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that people had a better memory for incomplete tasks than for complete ones. When we finish a project, we file it away. But when it’s in limbo, it stays active in our minds.”

Yes, apparently putting things off can make you more creative.

How can procrastination help?  Grant writes that “[o]ur first ideas, after all, are usually our most conventional. . . . When you procrastinate, you’re more likely to let your mind wander. That gives you a better chance of stumbling onto the unusual and spotting unexpected patterns.”  Of course, as anyone knows, especially my daughter who was helping her son with his last-minute science project  (how do these things slip our children’s minds until the due date??), excessive procrastination can also work against creativity, forcing you to choose the easiest route in order to get things done.

And today, this day in the first week of February, when I’m tired from chasing January’s deadlines and putting away the Christmas tree lights and mailing back all the things that were left in the house over Christmas vacation and summer is too far away to be of any help and QuiltCon is looming so how can I possibly concentrate, it might be helpful to realize that sometimes it’s really okay to put things off, as well as knowing that procrastinators have lots of good company.

Quilty Procrastination

I feel the crisp air now of California, now that it’s finally mid-November (apparently the effect of climate change) and coming soon is Turkey Day.  (For a turkey prep that will change your life, see *here.*  We did it last year and I’ll never do anything else now.)  And then, you know, The Big One, and I’m not referring to earthquakes in California.  Yes. . . Christmas.  My friend has already sewn multiples of her gift for family and friends, and I’m just now kind of thinking about it.  I am already behind.

Happy-New-Year-2016-Wallpaper

So I’m skipping all that, and going right to the New Year and its projects.   Because it’s never too late to focus on something in the future, where I’m going to live, than to spend time moaning over the fact that I have nothing sewn for Christmas, which will soon be in the past.  All this is because I seem to be an expert at procrastinating.  According to Timothy Pychyl, interviewed on *this site,* I have demonstrated several of the key unproductive responses to a dreaded task (from *his book*)[my comments are in brackets]:

  1. Distracting yourself, and thinking about other things
  2. Forgetting what you have to do, either actively or passively (usually for unimportant tasks)
  3. Downplaying the importance of what you have to do
  4. Giving yourself affirmations, focusing on other your values and qualities that will solidify your sense of self [even though you aren’t getting your work done!]
  5. Denying responsibility in order to distance yourself from what you have to do
  6. Seeking out new information that supports your procrastination (e.g. when you tell yourself you need to have more information before you get started on something)[a classic grad school trick]

So, in order to model for you number 1, 3, and 5 nearly all of them, I hereby give you:

2016 Projects

Projects for the New Year (or earlier, if I want):

  • Unpin Shine: The Circles Quilt after I spend close to 3 hours pinning it, take it apart and layer on another layer of wool batting, and then re-pin it in order to quilt it, or merely obsesses about quilting it, as the case may be.
  • Start the Spelling Bee.  I’m still trying to think of a theme or a pithy phrase to have my beemates make for me.
  • Continuing Chuck Nohara block creation.  There is no date by which these have to be finished, so it’s pure sewing enjoyment.
  • I’m the Queen Bee for Mid-Century Modern Bee in January and I already have my idea (I’m not telling).  We’ve had some changes, and have 2 openings for quilters who have their own blog –or– a body of work on Instagram/Flickr.  You also have to be over 50 (the Mid-Century thing), be vetted by our committee, have a modern tilt to your sewing, are a capable sewist, and love to be on time with your bee projects.  Leave a comment if you are interested.
  • Four-in-Art has a new yearly theme (Color) and Simone has announced our first quarterly challenge: Microscopic.  I’m totally jazzed.  We also have a couple of openings, and the same criteria apply — except for the age thing.  We’d also like if you would be willing to be creative and try new approaches to quilting. We make our quilts and post them on our blogs/Flickr accounts (we do not send them anywhere, so perfect for international participation).  Up to this point, they’ve all been in the 12″ square format, but we are now leaving the size open to the artist.  Leave a comment if you are interested. The guidelines we came up with are:

1. Members should have a desire to expand their creativity.
2. Have a body of work on line that members can review via blog, Flickr or Instagram.
3. Make a year commitment to the group, and do their best to make deadlines- unless some crazy life occurrence happens.
4. Be willing to review other Four-in-Art work and leave a comment within the first week of publishing.

  • Write my pattern for Spectrum, a mini quilt, and get that up on Craftsy/PayHip.
  • My time with the Traveling Threads Bee is almost finished.  Just waiting on one more package from the quilter ahead of me, and then I’ve completed all the blocks for my beemates.  My blocks have also been returned to me (all the Alison Glass fabrics in the corner up there) and I’d like to dive into that.
  • Plan out the Halloween Quilt my friend Leisa and I are doing:

HalloweeenQuilt 1008dollars

UPDATE:  IT’S BEEN FOUND!!
Apparently all my readers are more clever than I (but I knew that already) and have located the pattern for me.  Thanks very much to Leslie in Rome, and everyone else.  You are the best!

It’s called “Hallowe’en 1904,” and is from Blackbird Designs.  Common Threads in Wisconsin seems to have it back in stock, which is great news!

See how easy that was?  And how I didn’t think about Getting Ready for Christmas once?

But according to Pychyl, one of biggest recommendations to avoid procrastination is simply to get started. “Once we start a task, it is rarely as bad as we think. . . .When you find yourself thinking things like ‘I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow,’ ‘I work better under pressure,’ ‘There’s lots of time left,’ I can do this in a few hours tonight’, let that be a flag or signal or stimulus to indicate that you are about to needlessly delay the task, and let it also be the stimulus to just get started.”

Happy mid-November, y’all.  Let’s get started.

 

Oh, The Places I’ve Been!

Well.  I’m exaggerating a bit.

Saperstein

I went into Los Angeles to meet my sister, who was accompanying her husband for his treatments here, in the Saperstein Center, at Cedars Sinai Hospital.  I’m including this photo so my mother will know what it looks like.  It’s a comfortable room, with private bays all along the sides of the main room.  My sister and I curl up in the comfy chemo chairs (that aren’t being used, of course) and talk while we wait to visit with him.  But this time while he was in treatment and couldn’t be visited, we first went to lunch at a favorite place of mine:

Sycamore Kitchen Yummies

Sycamore Kitchen, which has very inventive and delicious food.

Then to The Grove, where we hit Barnes and Noble because I was looking for Quilty Magazine, because I’d just hit print:

Gingham Quilt

My gingham quilt was featured in “Girls on Film,” paired with Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ.

Gingham Quilt front

Here’s a better look at it, and here’s the blog post about it.  We didn’t find the magazine; my issue came a couple of days later in the mail.

HighHeeledShoes

And then Nordstrom’s where just seeing these makes my feet hurt.  The heels on the left remind me of my mother’s “spectator” pumps, worn for years and very stylish.

Tennies

Better.

Then back to the hospital.  We later had dinner at a lovely little Italian place, then it was home for me, as we were both tired and she had to drive to her hotel.

Students

Another place I’ve been is my local community college, where school started.  (The white blobs are where I whited out each student’s name.)  This ought to give you a representative sample of who is in my classroom. I finally have a great class! (Intro to Literature) and I’m more excited to teach this semester than I have been in a while.

Square-in-Square Blocks

I’ve also found a few minutes to spend in the sewing room.  No, I’m not playing in the Economy Block Sew-a-Long.  The pretty pink, yellow and chocolate square-in-a-square blocks are for a friend’s baby quilt, and I’ve already sent them to the quilter who is putting it all together.  We used Red Pepper Quilt’s tutorial *here.*

Into the Woods front

I’ve  already made a quilt out of the (officially known) Square-in-a-Square block, in my quilt “Into the Woods,” (number 103 on the 200 Quilts list, shown below), so I’m squared out. The block in my quilt above is 9″ square, larger than the baby blocks, and I drafted it in my quilt software, QuiltPro.

ABL Jan14 block

This is the block for January for the Always Bee Learning Bee.  Toni of Hoosier Toni wants to make Christmas quilts for her children’s bed, and I thought her choice of the SpiderWeb block was great.

ABL Block with extra Jan14

This is like the one we made a couple of months ago for another bee; the tutorial is found *here.*

MCM January14 Block

This is for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, for Linda of Buzzing and Bumbling.  Her house burned to the ground right before Thanksgiving last year, so we were happy to make her house blocks to help her re-create her life in a new fashion.  This is my own design.  I’ve got a PDF file of the templates here: *Hyde Park House*, but I have to warn you that since it’s a 12″ block finished, some of the templates “fall” off the page, and you’ll have to figure it out the measurements.  What I did was measure the templates, then write the measurements down on the paper.  Then I used that as a guide for cutting out the pieces.  Somehow I ended up short on the height and had to add another strip of green on the bottom.  Just don’t be too precious about this and you’ll get through.  Hey, it’s free and untested, so Buyer Beware.

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 5.08.48 PM

Lastly, my mind has been in Budapest, Croatia and Slovenia, places I hope to go to this summer.  The challenge is when you are in lots of places, it’s sometimes hard to figure out where you need to be.  Today I needed to be here in my sewing room, finishing up the Amish With A Twist 2 quilt top (next post).

And often when you are too distracted with your head in many places, you fall into the procrastinating habit.  I had a student from my last class write to me, as she was worried about trying to overcome her habit of procrastination (although her habit is very slight, truthfully). I told her I sometimes ask myself “What do I want to have done before this day ends?” and sometimes that helps.  Other times it is just not wanting to face that dreaded task every day, so you finally find the resources to get it done.

Although you might think this doesn’t really apply to us quilters, I think it does.  Sometimes we put off tackling the really hard tasks and instead do our bee blocks (Ahem.)  Other times we have sketched out a terrific quilt, but are seduced by the latest trend on Instagram (Economy Blocks) and let that pull us away from doing the hard work of designing and figuring out the quilt in our head.

An article in the New Yorker noted that “The essence of procrastination lies in not doing what you think you should be doing, a mental contortion that surely accounts for the great psychic toll the habit takes on people. This is the perplexing thing about procrastination: although it seems to involve avoiding unpleasant tasks, indulging in it generally doesn’t make people happy.”

So I’m trying to figure out which place I should go next, which direction I should head in my quilting.  Shall I fall back on something easier to do than what I have to (“we often procrastinate not by doing fun tasks but by doing jobs whose only allure is that they aren’t what we should be doing”) , distract myself by buying more fabric (judging from the recent Instagram De-Stash, a lot of people have been doing this one!), or simply surf the web some more to get so many ideas, I can’t possibly make them all in my lifetime (“many studies suggest that procrastinators are self-handicappers: rather than risk failure, they prefer to create conditions that make success impossible, a reflex that of course creates a vicious cycle”).

Ultimately, it comes down to Getting The Work Done: “Since open-ended tasks with distant deadlines are much easier to postpone than focussed, short-term projects, dividing projects into smaller, more defined sections helps.”  And aren’t most of our UFOs the result of procrastination?

So get yourself a notebook, break down the quilt you want to make into smaller steps, and check them off as you go.  It also helps to set a deadline–try the Finish-A-Long if you need a little help with that; because of that I finished several dead-in-the-water quilt tops, surprising even myself with twenty-four completed quilts in 2013.  Not all of these were begun and finished in that calendar year, but that’s when they came alive.    I’ll close with some lines from one of my son’s favorite books, “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss:

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.

parr

Happy Quilting!