25 thoughts on “Play?

  1. knitnkwilt

    I’ve been thinking about this. I am playing when I have no deadlines and don’t have to do whatever it is that I am doing.When I can go at my own pace and drop it when I get bored. Improv/patterned is irrelevant to me. Either can be play or work. Unlike some other commenters, I can be playing while matching corners exactly. I think it is fun, not tedious.

    Improv involves more physical work, more up and down and rearranging. But sitting and thinking about a pattern can also be work, mental work. If the timing is free, the “work” is also “play.”

    The same project can shift. If suddenly I decide to enter it in a show it gains a deadline. Then I am not able to continue at my own pace. Or there are points where a quilt is work for me, sandwiching, binding. The sandwiching finished, quilting becomes play again, unless I am rushing.

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Great comment, esp this: “Unlike some other commenters, I can be playing while matching corners exactly. I think it is fun, not tedious.” YES! What is happily rewarding for one might not be for another, so we shouldn’t assume what type of piecing (or other creative endeavor) someone *should* do to feel that.

      And yes on the potential for shifts in a single project. I quite enjoyed making the quilt the picture above is attached to, until the thread tension blew up. Fixing it was work (which I didn’t mind, after the initial upset), and finishing was work, because I checked every few inches of stitching to make sure it was still going okay.

      Thanks.

      Reply
  2. singingbirdartist

    Hi, l think l use play for any freeform/trust the process making, and work for making sure journal covers fit acceptably etc..anything where a responsibility is involved, judgements by others, if work is for sale etc.,
    I recently had an aha! moment where l realised working some handsewn hexie patchwork would be play while l was wading through side effects/withdrawal from a nasty med, in that, as others have said, just following the pattern would be restful when l was poorly 🙂
    Thanks for your thought provoking posts!
    Vita Spark/ Singing Bird/ birds sing artblog

    Reply
  3. Shasta

    This is a great quilt. I think playing is what you do to have fun. As long as you are having fun, then you are playing. Whether it is improv or a planned quilt. It is when you stop enjoying it that it becomes work.

    Reply
  4. ntexas99

    My ideas of what qualifies as play has certainly evolved, especially in these past few months. Improvisationally or not, this quilt certainly evokes a spirit of play. The heart smiles that naturally occur during the process seem to fit the category of play. Even though I have no experience with the process of making a quilt, I do have an appreciation for the finished product. Art, and skill, and smiles, too. Playfully improvisational. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks. Yes, improvisation can be play, I think. Or it can be difficult for some. My niece is an incredibly talented violinist, but if you asked her to improvise, she would not be able to. My son is a saxophone player. When he was learning, getting him to play the notes on the sheet was difficult. He always wanted to improvise. That was his joy. Isn’t it wonderful that we are all different? 🙂

      Reply
  5. snarkyquilter

    For me the distinction between work and play is how much autonomy I have in my quilts’ designs. Come to think of it, “nobody’s the boss of me” is a theme that runs through large parts of my life. Even when I used patterns I often made changes. And that’s where the play started, the “what if I…” I like the way you scattered the tractors around and turned them sideways rather than running them in rows.

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I am the QUEEN! 🙂

      Thanks on the tractors. I did not actually design this. It just happened based on what pieces of fabric or pieced work I had that about fit something else. It worked out okay.

      Reply
  6. Thread crazy

    An improv quilt I believe takes more time, since you have to figure the correct measurements in order for the quilt to come out properly. The last deer quilt that I made was an improv in that I did not have a pattern, but rather just made it up as I went. Yep, took more time but loved the way it turned out.

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Well, with something like this you figure out the measurements or just keep adding and whacking as you go! That’s what happened here. Turned out fine — I actually like it pretty well — but I won’t pretend it’s good design.

      Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      It’s actually the center of the back of a quilt! But I imagine the little boy will prefer it to the actual front. The bandana — I was worried about the quality of cloth, but in fact it was many times better than the John Deere logo cloth, which was pretty horrible. !!!

      Reply
  7. katechiconi

    If quilting is your play *and* your work, then improv could be said to be more work than usual, since you need to think carefully about each step rather than following an already-formulated plan. I generally come to the cutting table with a quilt fully evolved in my mind’s eye, and my task is then to make it happen. I don’t enjoy improv because it interferes with my mental vision, and it comes under the heading of ‘bother’ rather than play!

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      My plans are perhaps more apt to change than yours, or maybe just more drastically. But what I don’t enjoy about improv is starting with no vision to fulfill. It seems pointless, as in, I don’t start with a point to achieve. ??? Not sure that makes sense.

      Reply
  8. just carla

    Work? Play? I think, if you play your cards right, they’re both the same. Do what you love, whether following a pattern or improvising, and it’s playtime!

    I started off as a teacher. We had lesson plans, but seldom followed them except as a guide as to what we wanted the kids to learn. The kids, community/world events, weather — it didn’t matter, the plans changed, sometimes one class to the next, in order to meet the needs of the students. Same thing here, you can start with a pattern (your own idea or someone else’s) realize it needs tweaking to meet your needs and away you go!

    Is that work or play? If you’re having fun and smiling, or &#&@* and learning in the process (and THEN smiling at your success), it really doesn’t matter….

    PS — love the quilt!!

    Reply
      1. just carla

        Very retired and now struggling to learn quilting, although classroom stories still show up in my writing. Ended up working with law enforcement and training teachers in how to respond to active shooter situations (and natural disasters and pandemics, etc.) I thoroughly loved it, despite the subject matter — with drills, schools were prepared. I still get emails from clients that have had armed intruder situations resolved without injury, and classes went back to teaching and learning without missing a beat.

        Reply
  9. mothercat2013

    Whatever your definition, this quilt looks like play to me! (And lots of fun – love those John Deeres!)
    Being serious for a moment, I would think there’s possibly more planning in an improv quilt (not that I’ve ever made one – the closest I’ve got is probably a pieced background) than there is in following a pattern: and yet, that freedom from having to follow a pattern could make it seem like ‘play’ … In the end, I think it probably comes down to the approach of the person making the quilt, whether they consider it ‘play’ or not (you know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, etc etc).

    Reply

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