I’ve seen a lot of great “words of the year” again, ranging from “Originality” to “Less” to “Joy.” Those of us who use this strategy (more than once) find it useful for focusing our attention, or for framing our experiences within a year. In 2017 I chose two words, “Challenge” and “Opportunity” to remind myself that they go hand in hand.Β (I’m a retired investment manager. Challenge and opportunity go together like risk and return.) While that was a useful exercise, it didn’t affect my choices or even much how I thought about them. For 2018 I will change my approach.

Yesterday I posted an overview of my 2017, primarily in quilting and related activities. Ideally the photos and memories there would spark some deep pleasure, even pride, at my accomplishments. Instead as I built the blog post, I found myself feeling gloomy and frustrated. I felt like something was missing. My quilts were missing something — spontaneity, quirkiness, whimsy. And when I made them, the feeling of enjoyment was too often missing, too. The red and white quilts were made specifically for the guild quilt show, and then the controversy about whether they were red and white enough created bad feelings around them. Dizzy was made specifically as a class sample, and though I like it, the process of making it felt rote and not spontaneous. Union turned out beautifully, but I really had to gut out the design of the last borders, and the quilting process was laborious.

Early in December I folded a piece of paper, drew a few lines, and cut.

When I opened that piece of paper and saw the image above, I literally jumped up and down. I was SO excited! It was SO MUCH FUN!

Of course, part of the fun and excitement was simply because it was a different way to create. I didn’t know what would happen, and there was no risk in finding out. And part of the fun was in the outcome, because the rabbits and squirrels chasing around the cutting are a whimsical image.

Take a look at Quilty Folk, a blog I just stumbled upon. (How did I never see this before?) Her year-end review shows two medallion quilts she worked on in 2017. They are whimsical and fun. Fun to look at, and I will guess fun to make, as well. I want that sense of enjoyment again!

I take my quilting seriously. But it would help my quilts to have a bit more fun, to introduce a playful or fanciful feel to some of them, the kind of feeling that Audrey at Quilty Folk brings to her quilts. Most of all, it would help my quilts, and help me to enjoy myself more. Given that,

my word for 2018 is FUN!

I don’t know what affect that will have on what or how I’ll make. I do believe, if I can keep it in mind, I will make better choices in both. As Groucho Marx said, “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some quilting to do!


33 thoughts on “Fun!

  1. Shasta

    I haven’t chosen fun as a word of the year, but my mood is definitely veering more int hat direction. Instead of the “should do” i have been focusing on “want to do” for the past few years, and it has made quilting so much more pleasurable. I think that your chosen word will really inspire you to be more yourself and make things that please you.

  2. snarkyquilter

    One word for you – improv. Tell you what, I’ll give you some fun for some seriousness. Seriously. We may meet somewhere in the middle. When I worked I tried to remind myself to not take myself so seriously. I got really good at that once I retired.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      And when you say “improv,” what exactly do you mean? I think of improv as working within a basic structure but without a specific plan. My niece thinks of improv as deliberately not measuring, at least at first, so her quilt parts are “irregular.” I think you do well at your seriousness level. I actually do have a lot of fun, and can be quite silly! πŸ™‚

      1. snarkyquilter

        For me, improv is playing with “what if I…”, starting with a stack of scrap fabrics and sewing them together in no preplanned way. Once I get five or six units built, then I see how I might connect them and build some more. No structure at first and no measuring. The fabrics “speak” to me to say what they want to be sewn to. I do cut and trim once I get an idea of mood and shapes. Improv privileges process over product, and sometimes the results end up in the wastebasket. And anyone who features the housekeeping fairy has to have a silly streak.

  3. KerryCan

    Fun sounds like fun! I’ll look forward to watching you have fun! And, if you change your mind about turning the paper cutting into fabric, check out the blog TimQuilts ( He is an amazing quilter and has done a lot with paper snowflakes that he sometimes turns into applique. Search on “Snowflake.”

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’ve seen some of his snowflake work! And while I want to keep the silhouette process in mind, I’ll probably not choose to applique snowflakes, as lovely as they are! Thanks. πŸ™‚

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Oh, I did have a lot of fun in 2017! But as mentioned, some of the quilts have negative memories attached. And my energy is a bit depleted. So I’ll work to shake those off, and to re-energize. 2018 looks just fine! Thanks, Mary!

  4. Cindy Anderson

    Well said! Your art should be fun and engaging. With those elements absent its merely a way to spend your time. You seem like someone that takes them self quite seriously. I hope 2018 is more β€œfun” for you! πŸ™‚

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thank you! I do find a lot of ways to have fun, but you’re right, I tend to be rather serious and earnest. 2018 has a lot of opportunity for enjoyment and I’ll try to take advantage of that.

  5. TextileRanger

    My word for the year is Quality, inspired greatly by you and how precisely you work!
    And I loved your answer to Sue above; that could be a post on its own to be presented to all new quilters! πŸ™‚

  6. katechiconi

    An excellent choice, and I love the way you arrived at it too. I hope your year is filled with funderful quilts and enjoyable processes, good heath, happiness and travel πŸ™‚

  7. Kerry

    Thumbs up for fun! πŸ˜€
    I saw the bunnies first and then the squirrels! That is a cool little pattern in the making. Look forward to seeing to seeing you swapping the paper for fabric and then the finish!

      1. Kerry

        Awww – it would be a great applique piece! Interesting exercise – and as you say fun – brings back childhood memories of little people chains and snowflakes, although with a more adult design πŸ˜€

  8. norma

    I enjoyed your thoughtful post. Fun often goes missing and you’re right to make it central- we should all do that.
    Looking forward to your creations in 2018.

  9. jmn111

    That word “fun” is tricky – I know I’m having fun when I’m solving sticky problems, pondering what will come next, even when I’m doing something else and my brain is working on it’s own to move a project forward. Most people equate “fun” with doing silly things, partying, hanging out with friends – all of these do bring pleasure; but I know my greatest satisfaction comes when a problem gets solved – for me that’s intense “fun.”

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I agree, I find problem-solving fun, generally. When a problem can’t be resolved (issues with my longarm, for instance,) there is only frustration. When a problem has other people as its source, that also is frustrating. When a problem has ME as its source (I’ve overcommitted, for example,) that’s maddening! πŸ™‚ But also, as touched above, I want my quilts to reflect fun. I think they often are very serious in nature. Last year’s Christmas Is Coming! and Black Sheep Manor both have a more joyous spirit. I want that more often. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments, today and always. I appreciate it.

  10. Sue Watson

    I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and find he discussions on the techniques of quilting both interesting and informative.
    However there are a couple of things that come to mind .
    Whilst examining your comments I find myself doubting my own ability to create a good enough quilt!
    There seems to be so much involved from choosing the fabric ,designing the quilt , all those calculations, -then getting movement or vibrancy into the finished piece.
    Scrap quilts don’t seem to hold value here.
    I’m almost afraid to start! What advice have you for a novice quilter like me?
    The second thing is how do you manage the time to make a dozen or more quilts per year ?
    I often have difficulty getting to the machine two or three times a week!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Hi Sue. I’ll answer your last question first. I can make so many quilts partly because I’ve made so many quilts. πŸ™‚ When I started, I had to think thru every step of the process, which makes it quite slow. The other part is that I’m retired and don’t have a lot of other obligations. My closest family members live more than an hour away, so we don’t spend time with them every few days. How I use my time is for me to choose, and I regularly choose quilting.

      Please don’t every doubt your ability to create a good enough quilt! Quilts are beautiful, regardless of how technically perfect they are or even how aesthetically well-designed they are. They are beautiful because they are unique creations. And if you wish to compare, only compare to your own work from previous times. Are you getting better at it? AWESOME! That’s the measure you should use.

      If you find the process intimidating at first, go ahead and imitate other people’s work. Use patterns. Learn the process. Spend time looking carefully at color combinations, to see what you like and don’t like. Take a few classes. But most of all, make. Just keep making. Make small pieces, if that helps you get from start to finish. Placemats and table runners are a good way to learn some techniques. Wall hangings are good for learning some design. Baby quilts are always needed by someone, and are a manageable size for most. Be gentle on yourself. Just keep making!

  11. Chela's Colchas y Mas

    Thank you for this reflective post. Psychologist, Dr. William Glasser includes fun/learning as on of the 5 basic needs. In my classroom, I would always post a sign with this message: Learning is Fun. As I am trying to learn how to free motion, I have to keep reminding myself to have fun. I stop when this FM becomes too frustrating, and then start up again when I can enjoy the process of learning this skill. Like you, I want my quilting to be fun. I chose the synonym for fun to be my word…Joy. So let’s share the fun and enjoyment as we continue to create.🐦


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