Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Results vs Process

Do you enjoy the process of quilting more, or the results of what you've made? Here are some things I enjoy about each!

Results: That feeling of accomplishment when something is done. The pride in gifting it to someone. The joy of using something I’ve made with my own hands. I love tucking my family in at night under a pile of quilts made by myself and my mom. It brings me so much joy that my toddler is dearly attached to the quilt I made for him. I wish I could budget enough time and money to gift quilts for every occasion, because I love to share them.

Process: Slow stitching is meditation to me. Nothing beats curling up under a quilt at night and working on some English Paper Piecing or hand quilting. Sketching out a new design is a thrill. Playing with color on a design board, or experimenting with different combinations at the quilt shop, is also very fun. Challenging myself with a new technique, type of project, or color palette are also really enjoyable to me. And I love quilty math, too!

I really think, if quilting is about wellbeing to you, and something you don’t want to get burnt out in, that it’s important maintain a balance between focus on process and results. That balance will look different for everyone, and change in different seasons of life. But have you ever found yourself racing through a pile of projects, watching the clock, just willing them to be done? That’s one thing when it’s for a deadline, but another altogether when it’s because you’re bored with what you're doing! On the other hand, I know people for whom quilting is a race, and they love the challenging of whipping projects out as fast as they can. And sometimes I sit and face my pile of hand projects that I am normally quite happy to spend years on, and I realize that I need to get the machine out and make something, finish something, achieve something. All of this is ok! I just really encourage everyone to spend some time thinking about what parts of the process you enjoy, what types of projects are most fun, and in what ways you are challenged and/or brought joy by quilting.

I’m challenging myself to learn several new techniques this year, and am implementing those techniques onto projects that I’d normally be rushed to get through. This is helping me focus on and enjoy the process a lot more! I’m balancing that out by doing a lot of EPP, since that is second nature and a process I really naturally love.

I think it’s great to have a variety of things going at once so you can work on whatever feels best at the time, but for some people that would feel chaotic and messy. Know yourself, dear friends! Please take the time to think it through a bit, and share, if you would, your own thoughts!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Quilter #4 2018 Nicole Weldon

Hello! I'm Nicole Weldon, aka pinwheelsandpancakes, aka Quilter #4 this year on 52 Quilters. I'm very excited to share a bit on January's theme of "Quilting for Wellbeing" and can't wait to hear your thoughts. It's the last week of this theme, so if you've had some thoughts to share, please do jump in!

I live outside Seattle, WA (USA), and work part time at Gossypium Quilt in Issaquah, WA. Though, most often, you can find me in my living room, pretending to be a crane, and building endless skyscrapers and houses and other structures for my toddler to knock down.

How did I get here? I’ve been quilting many years, but it turned into a passion and a deliberate act of self-care about 8 or so years ago. I was in grad school, contemplating what to do for my Master's Thesis project. I was studying Theology and the Arts, had chosen to write my paper on self-care, and had decided I definitely did not want my final art project to be a video (even though I have a BA in video production...).
I kept coming back to this idea of slowing life down, taking the time to take care of myself, cooking from scratch, walking to the market, mending my favorite clothes. I realized three things. 1. I deeply missed sewing, or doing anything simply for myself. 2. The vast majority of my peers also wanted to do these small acts of self care but did not take the time. And 3. We, humans, tend to prioritize every single other thing in our lives before we prioritize self-care.
My research came down to something surprising. Self perception. When I see myself in a positive light, as a person worthy of care, I take the time to care for myself. When I don't, I put others first to a fault.
I decided to make a quilt. It was a conscious decision to return to something I had once found enjoyable but set aside for more “practical” concerns. I played for a long time with the idea of self-perception and the bearing that has on self-care and designed my own original piece.

"Worthy," my first quilt in many years, became my Master's Thesis project. And when I shared it at our show, and later at my church, and later at other art shows and events, I heard the same things over, and over again. "You're right!" people would say "I don't take care of myself, I don't really value myself in that way. I can't take the time for me, other people need me. We're supposed to give to others, but I'm running on empty."

I had many opportunities to share, and had probably hundreds of these conversations. I was a self-care champion for years. And then I had a baby. And, to be honest, I really failed at self-care for the first 18 months of his life. I've done a lot better this last year, thanks to quilting, though I have a very long way to go.

Chris, Jessica, and Jessie shared so much great stuff this month on how quilting aids their wellbeing. I’m going to share a few of my own thoughts on this, but I’m also going to share how I KEEP the fun and joy in quilting. I have lots to share on how I avoid letting bad habits, perceived expectations, jealousy, and negative self-talk suck the fun out of it.
I hope you will join me this week as we explore what it means to "Quilt for Wellbeing." I can't wait to share with you, and even more, learn from our conversations! -Nicole
ps You can find my daily shenanigans on Instagram @pinwheelsandpancakes and if you care to find my website when I get it up later this year, bookmark https://about.me/nicoleweldon and I'll get it linked up there when it exists. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Quilter #2 2018 - Well-Being

It’s an honor to be here with all of the 52 Quilters fans! I’m Jessica and I am Quilter #2 in 2018. This year each month has a theme, to help guide conversations about quilting. January’s theme is well-being. It’s a perfect fit for me as I often tell quilty friends, non-quilty friends and family about how great quilting is for me. It provides stress relief, a creative outlet and camaraderie with quilters worldwide. 

Around 10 years ago, I was presented with a health issue that gave me two options. Ignore it and live in poor health or acknowledge it, change and live with better health and well-being. I chose the latter. Today, I’m an avid runner and crazy quilter. To say I LOVE quilting is an understatement. It is such a wonderful way for me to explore and present my creative side. I can’t draw, paint or sculpt, but I can design and piece a pretty awesome quilt.

I love being able to work so intricately with my hands. There’s something therapeutic about all the work that goes into quilting. One of my favorite parts is binding! I love getting the first snuggle under a quilt as I hand sew the last piece of the quilt.

I am drawn to modern quilting, although I’ve made quilts in many styles. I love bold colors and large swaths of negative space. You’ll usually find pink or purple in quilts I’m making for myself or as pattern tests. I also tend to use gray as the background color.

I am a pattern designer and plan to publish my first patterns this year! I’ve been working diligently, focusing on each aspect so that I can learn as much as possible along the way. I’ve been designing quilts for years but more recently got serious about it as more people expressed interest in my designs. I can’t wait to share them!

Quilting has provided me much more than I ever imagined. It’s given me a valid reason to be a fabric hoarder (I have always loved fabric!). It’s provided me the opportunity to meet and become friends with amazing quilters. It allows me to express my creativity. It calms me, it excites me, it challenges me and it fulfills me. I know that quilting has played an important role in my well-being. It’s my go-to when things just haven’t gone right. It’s my go-to when I’m excited and feeling inspired. Thus, quilting is something I think about all the time and I’m so excited to have earned this title! I’ll leave you with just a few pictures of quilts I’ve worked on. Feel free to connect with me on Instagram! Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Welcome 2018 - wellbeing

Another year comes to a close and this quilty  social experiment is going better than ever. At the end of 2017 52Quilters reached 10k followers on Instagram and has had over 156 quilters take over the accounts.

For 2018 I am doing something a bit different. The accounts will have the same fresh feel of a different quilter taking over each week, but each month will be organised into a theme which will be hosted by a different quilter.  This will help structure the accounts better, but it also means that I'll get a by of behind the scenes help, as 52Q is a big job for one volunteer to organise!

As the founder of 52Q I'm hosting the first experiment of this 52Q 2.0 experiment...  by introducing the theme of wellbeing.

Now when I talk about wellbeing, I'm not talking about something new or revolutionary, or proposing that all quilting is a self prescribed art-therapy... but I do think that there is something important to my creative time, and over the past few years I have become more and more conscious about sewing being  more than a hobby for me.

This month I'd like to introduce the theme and have a conversation about how quilting can be 'good' for us in different ways.

For me it all started with this blanket (not a quilt - shock! Horror!):

I'll make a long story short, but if you want the long story you can read about it on my blog here.

The short story is that I started knitting a blanket at a time when My dad was in hospital and felt the urge to do something with my hands. When my dad passed away, I put down the knitting for many months, but then slowly ceased all creative activity... more and more that turned into avoiding all possible distraction free, quiet moments, which I'm sure you can guess we're choices that didn't lead me to a very positive place.

It took me a really long time to recognise this and pick up my knitting, but when I did I started to recognise the value in having time to make, clear my head and reflect. I realised that making is not just a hobby, but it's a practice that helps me find balance among the other stressful things in my life... and since that realisation I've developed a bit of an equation for helping me keep that balance.

Depending on my creative mood, I find it is always important that I have three projects on the go. This is so whatever my mood I have something at hand that fulfills my creative needs in three different ways:


Me projects: these are projects that slow me down, can be done at my own pace and give me time to clear my head. They are just for me and tend to be slow or enjoyable so that I can enjoy doing it and clear my head.

Challenge projects: these are projects that push me creatively and practically, sometimes they have deadlines - these often have a goal or aim in mind, these tend to be stressful in a good way, and challenge me to work out problems and create new ideas

Share projects: projects that are collaborative or conversational - where I can share and learn from others at the same time. Sometimes these are projects I share with friends, or sometimes I get this through freelance workshops or teaching I do - it forces me to see creativity through other people's eyes and gives me time to reflect and refresh on my own work.


I'll be sharing a bit more about my approach on instagram, this week and asking to hear about what you make and why, but I'll save that conversation for IG!

Post by Chris: Chris is the founder and organiser of 52Quilters. He is a crafty guy who has been making his whole life. Although his crafty roots are in Canada, he has been working and crafting in the UK for 11 years. For more of Chris' work visit http://www.chrismakesthings.co.uk