Do you remember the story of Rumpelstiltskin? It is one of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, and tells of a young woman imprisoned by a king. Shut in a tower room filled with straw and a spinning wheel, she is told she must spin the straw into gold or be killed.
This afternoon I struggled as I tried to solve some problems in my current project. After going backwards, rebuilding my second border (taking it off and starting over with different fabric), fixing the corner attached incorrectly, creating a NEW third border, deciding my FIRST third border was better… I could feel stress tightening my chest, constricting my breathing.
Making a quilt is not a life threatening task like trying to spin straw into gold. I don’t need my body to react as if it is. That kind of response feels uncomfortable, physically. And it interferes with creative problem solving.
I stepped away, first taking a few minutes to switch to a low-stress task, and then to meditate. I could feel my heart rate calming, my breathing deepen, my face soften.
After a break I had a new thought, a different color I could try to solve my dilemma. I keep my stash in bins by color, and pulled the purple bin from its shelf. The one I thought of is probably wrong, too strong for the role. But as I looked at other choices, I saw there were a couple of other options to consider. One of them looks especially promising, if only there is enough.
No, making a quilt isn’t a life threatening task. It’s almost always challenging because I design as I go, and I shop my stash first rather than buying all new. These are challenges I enjoy because they fully engage my creativity and power. When I stop enjoying it, it’s time to stop quilting, even if only for a few minutes.