A Good Way to Start the Year

A good way for me to begin is without obligations or deadlines. While they serve their purpose in motivating me, they also can suck the fun out of things. Forcing things when the mood isn’t right can make them feel like a chore instead of a pleasure.

For example, right now there is a quilt on the frame, and I could work on it. It’s mostly done, but I don’t have great ideas for how to proceed. Since I don’t have a deadline for it, I’ll let it wait until I have a plan. Then it will be more fun.

Instead of quilting, now I am sorting. I’ve never been great with paperwork. When I worked at the bank, often I would just stack up EVERYTHING that was out, and then could sort through it one more time, getting rid of some things, filing others, and actually acting on the ones that needed it. Shockingly enough, using this method (which, granted, would drive some people nuts) rarely resulted in things being done too late.

Most of my paperwork these days is the basic household type (daily dealing with mail — most of that goes in recycle right away!) and a bit of quilt-related things. I still have trouble with the quilt stuff. I LOVE PAPER! It can be so hard to get rid of. Have a stack of unneeded copies, printed on only one side? Yeah, for some reason I think there’s a great use for that somewhere down the road. (There is in our printer, or cut up into notepad-sized pieces and clipped together.) How about the paper labelling on a roll of batting? It’s about 14″ wide and 15 yards long. Yep, I want it!! And in truth, I use it, so it’s all okay.

A couple of weeks ago as I cleaned my studio, I pulled my work trick. I stacked up ALL the paper stuff on my countertop and put it in a pile in the middle of the floor. That way I’d have to see it and step around it every time I was in there. This week I brought it up to actually sort. In the best case scenario, everything in the stack will get recycled, filed, or acted on. (In truth, that won’t really happen, but it will improve!)

Two of the things in the pile are pads of paper. One is tracing paper and the other is graph paper. In the old days, before I used Electric Quilt (EQ7 and now EQ8,) I did all my design work on graph paper. I still do sometimes. The graph paper pad has some of my early designs sketched in. Here is one of the most complete:

It might not look like much, but it’s the design for the first two medallion quilts I ever made. About ten years ago, I made quilts for my oldest two granddaughters with the same design but different colors. The print fabric is a vibrant butterfly print. Here is one of the quilts:

A bed quilt for a granddaughter. 72″ square. The longarm quilter asked whose pattern I used. I didn’t even know what she meant. I didn’t know you could buy patterns. I designed it myself. Made in about 2008 or 2009.

It’s pretty simple, and though I’d do some things differently if I were making it today, overall it’s a solid design.

Now on to the next part of the pile — the dreaded guild notebooks! In truth those might be easier for me, as there is not much emotional attachment to any of the paper here.


Before finishing my paper sorting, here are a few stats:

2018 was my fifth full year blogging here. I published 72 posts, about half as many as I did in 2014. Last year, Catbird Quilt Studio had 34,333 visitors and 61,170 views, a 37% increase in views over the prior year, even with a 27% decrease in number of posts.

The top five posts last year for views were:
Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet)
Design Theft or Outright Scam
Update: Facebook-Ad Quilt Scams
How to Set a Block On Point
Round Robin Rules

Only the two on quilt scams were written and published last year!

Here’s a picture with some stats. I actually rarely look at these numbers, so this is kind of interesting to me. (Interesting but not important…)

Total posts since starting this blog, 666. Total words 314,545. That’s a few novels, isn’t it? hmm… 

How are you spending your New Year’s day?

19 thoughts on “A Good Way to Start the Year

  1. ginny31588

    Good morning, Melanie, I hope this gets to you. Please let me know. I need your help. Badly. I am trying to do the medallion quilt called Castles to Cottage. It cost a bloody fortune to order it from England. But I fell in love…..here’s the problem. I cannot make the center 8 point star. I need a new center that is 30 inches square. Your Queen Medallion would be perfect. I know you say it is 21” before on point but I cannot seem to figure out the sizes of the the 7” squares. Can you help me? I’m going to search your website again just because I like it. I usually like women from Iowa being a central Illinois raised woman. There’s a lot to love about that beautiful land that can stretch as far as you can see. Anyway, I hope you can help. I’m very stuck.

  2. KerryCan

    I spent New Years Day lying on the couch with a cold and watching my college football team lose its bowl game. Seems to me, the year is bound to improve from there! Happy 2019, Melanie!

  3. snarkyquilter

    In my house it’s my husband who husbands paper. We’re still using scrap paper from the job he retired from 8 years ago. I, too, enjoy graphing out designs. I believe it helped me understand how to construct blocks into a quilt. I’m very much in the minority there, to judge from the utter silence that met my offer to show guild members how they could use graph paper in quilt design.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      HAHA. Yeah, I think we quilters are split between those who use design our own and those who use mostly (or only) patterns. And in the group that mostly designs our own, I think there is another split in tools used. I do a fair amount in EQ8, but I also still grab the graph paper sometimes. And when I’m designing more improvisationally, sometimes I do neither, but scratch out a bunch of notes on paper and leave the images in my head. 🙂

  4. piecefulwendy

    Thank goodness I don’t have papers for my quilting, because I know I’d be piling them up to deal with later! Ha! I’m starting this year, moving back in to my quilt room and trying to purge some of my fabric. Not easy, but so far, so good.

  5. katechiconi

    I still use graph paper, and suspect I aways will because I’m happier with a pencil in my hand, so there will always be graph paper in my sewing room. Stuff I’ve printed out on one side but no longer need is torn into 4 smaller pieces and turned into shopping or To Do lists. Mostly we’ve opted for bills and statements to be sent to us in digital form rather than paper, so there’s a lot less filing these days! I’ve more or less stopped looking at my stats, as I found it led to feelings I didn’t like in myself, either smugness at doing ‘better’ than other people in terms of number of posts or views, or dissatisfaction at doing ‘worse’. These days, I glance at the number of views, but it doesn’t drive me. As you say, “interesting, but not important”.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes on all that! I have piles of torn or sliced paper for making short lists or notes. And yes on the statements being delivered electronically. Makes a huge difference. Most of our paper mail these days is in the form of donation requests, many from organizations we’ve never given to and won’t. I spent a fair amount of time calling around last fall, asking them to take me off their lists. Not sure it helped. So most of that goes directly in the recycle, and sometime soon I’ll motivate to start calling again. UGH.

      Yeah, on the stats. I’ve watched it this year after ignoring it for quite a while, just because the views were so much higher than normal, when I wasn’t doing anything much. Sort of fascinating, wondering why. But when I write to please myself I’m always happier than when I write to attract attention from others. So it won’t change what I do or how I do it, I think. Interesting but not important. 🙂 Thanks as always, Kate.

  6. TextileRanger

    You are way ahead of me. You did twice as many posts and had about 5 times the visitors! BUT I am not here to compare numbers, just to offer thoughts on topics of most popular posts.

    My most popular posts are the ones about natural dyes, and then two historical posts, one on the Vikings and one on the Minoans. I would guess there is a dearth of natural dye info out there, at least on lesser known dye plants like hawthorne and willow, so I could probably get more views if I wrote about those more. But I am pretty much over natural dyes, since I can only get them to work on wool and living in Texas, I am not into knitting with wool.

    And I would bet the two historical posts are mostly viewed by students trying to write a paper. I don’t think they are holding anyone’s attention due to my informative writing style, I think they are just visited by kids researching.

    So, being that these are not my best posts, why do they stay in the top 5? I think it’s because on WordPress, when you leave a like or a comment on someone else’s blog, your top 3 posts are suggested for viewing in that notification. People who want to visit your blog just find it easy to click on one of those, and then go to the home page from there. So the same 3 get clicked a lot, causing their numbers to rise. I have suggested to WordPress that they could randomize the posts in that notification, so we would all visit a larger variety of posts, but so far, it hasn’t happened.

    So maybe that’s why 3 of your top posts are not from this year.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Very interesting. I never noticed that method of notification. Yes, perhaps that’s the deal. I do think my economy block post continues to draw views on its own, and I’m sure the scam posts drew lots of people who had tried to make purchases and wanted to find out what the heck happened. For the other two, I have no idea. ?? And like you, very likely I’ll never write about economy blocks again. It’s a good thing to know how to do, but I don’t find them very interesting and I don’t like making them! 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting. Maybe I’ll come to Houston in the fall and we can raise some heck together at the quilt show. 😀

      1. TextileRanger

        Yes, a lot of your posts are of perennial interest!
        And I think it would be great if you could come down for the Quilt Festival — I can easily pick you up at the airport. I am provisionally planning on it!

  7. Kerry

    I used to work in a bank too – there I was also methodical and everything was in order and everything was done properly. At home is usually chaos much to my OCD husband’s frustration – heh heh heh! But then I get frustrated too and things are sorted eventually. Yes to the graph paper and that quilt that I designed and added bits to is still on top of the pile. I’m ashamed to say I took it out after reading one of your posts, full of enthusiasm – then was stumped for the next border although I’ve been wanting to do flying geese, so perhaps this year I’ll try again.
    Today I was sifting through seed packets (greenhouse erected yesterday yippee!) into date order of sowing. My daughter and partner went home after an early dinner and this evening I’ve been in my crows nest tidying up my sewing things. I enjoy it more than the TV. Even the sun came out to join us today after a long session of gloominess and drizzle.

    So I think the start of the year has gone well. Hope everyone else has had an equally satisfying start to 2019.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Hi Kerry. Go ahead and make flying geese! They don’t have to go all the way around — you could make them for 2 sides, or parts of 3 or 4 sides. They don’t have to fit perfectly, if that concerns you. Just chop the butt off the last one in the string!

      And lucky you having a bit of sunshine. It’s been gloomy here for the last couple of days. Maybe tomorrow afternoon we’ll see the sun.

      1. Kerry

        Oooh I can’t chop it’s poor butt off – that’ll be the parson’s nose! LOL! Yes – definitely 2 sides, I think it’s long enough – just the width. I found my long tape measure in the grand old tidy up – think I’d better use it!
        Yes – we have had 2 months of rainy days – November had 6 dry days and not entirely sunny! I don’t mind half a day like today (clouded over mid-afternoon) or even a token half hour – but just enough to lift the spirits.


I love your comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.