Tag Archives: Beginning

Beginning is underrated*

*That is a recent post from Seth Godin, a popular writer and thinker on innovation and excellence. A lot of his posts are not much longer than that, a few words of inspiration, motivation, or encouragement to make, do, serve, share. And here the message is to do. Just begin.

There are different ways to say this. Nike’s famous “Just Do It.” Or the basic lottery pitch of “ya gotta play to win!” Something I’ve often said is, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.” (Now, sometimes that might have been said with a whiny tone of voice, implying that other people who could or should take responsibility would not, and therefore it was left to me. But most of the time, it’s simply my own recognition that I have a task to work on that won’t do itself.)

Are there things you’ve been intending to accomplish, but which you haven’t started yet? Are there quilt shows you want to enter but haven’t yet filled out the form? Are there techniques you want to try but for some reason haven’t? You can fill in those blanks for yourself better than I can. And I have a list of them, too!

Today is a good day to begin, so let’s get started!

What’s on your list of things to begin? 




Between endings and beginnings
We tidy up.

Austin Kleon says

The best studio tidying is a kind of exploring — I’m re-discovering spaces as I sift through the objects that occupy them. The reason I tidy is not to clean, but to come into contact with something special that I’ve forgotten that I can now use. This is a slow, dreamy, ruminative, reminiscent form of tidying.

Despite a year ending and another beginning, I am still between. I am between not-finished and finished on the last quilt of 2017. Or at this point, the first quilt of 2018. The binding is attached and ready to hand-stitch in place.

I am between. I’ve finished the last quilt on my current longarm and will not machine quilt again until I get a new one.

I am between. My small squares are pinned to my large squares, ready to begin sewing 112 flying geese blocks. They might be for a strip quilt. They might not.

I am between. I’ve drawn a rooster to appliqué and chosen fabrics, but haven’t started cutting or sewing yet.

I am between. Part of my studio has been tidied and vacuumed. Part of it has not.

As Kleon says, the time between is useful for rediscovering spaces. Are they spaces within our studio, or spaces within ourselves? Will my time without a longarm create space to explore other parts of my creative self? The paper-cutting or block printing or writing parts?

Between endings and beginnings
We plan.

I am between, making plans for a year to unfold regardless of my plans. This morning Jim got a call from our son-in-law. He is a satellite engineer and invited us to his next launch. We will plan to go, but it will go up, or not, whether we are there or not.

I plan. I plan for making and for travel. I create “goals” that might just be wishes. I have wishes for the new year, for teaching and writing and travel and family time, not necessarily in that order. I have wishes for outdoors and museums and music in equal measure. All of these require space, the time between, to plan for and enjoy.

Between endings and beginnings
We tidy up.

Between beginnings and endings
We make messy again.

A Rough Start

I’m having trouble starting a new quilt. Between my trip to Scotland, injuries to both knees and rehab, the election, and a general lack of inspiration, I haven’t made anything new since early August. That’s not strictly true: I have two quilt tops and backs, with bindings! ready to quilt for the local VA hospital. And in the last month I’ve quilted five donation projects for my guild. (Other people created the tops and backs.)

But it’s time to make a new medallion, after more than three months of nothing finished, and after several non-medallion quilts this year. And I’m struggling.

Do you ever have a hard time beginning?

Usually I start a medallion with the center block. After all, the borders radiate out from there. But this one, no, I decided to begin with a middle border. It seemed so simple. I’ve chosen colors, pulled fabrics, dug through my scrap drawer. I made 12 — actually 16 — centers for variable star blocks. In my limited vision, the variable stars will be on point, chalky pastels on a butter yellow background, with blue or lavender setting triangles. I made 16 centers. The first three are too complex and don’t work at all with the next few I made.


3″ center for a variable star, but not for this quilt, whatever THIS becomes

As I pondered the three little blocks, all I could think was to create a quilt titled “Into The Woods With Clowns,” a commentary on last week’s election results. That’s really not the mood I’m trying to achieve, for either myself or my quilt.

This might be easier if I began with the center block. The center creates context and direction for what comes after. But I’m not inspired there, either. One thing I know is the center does not need to be complicated. Most of my medallions have very simple center blocks, many of them based on a 9-patch setting.

hmmm… I’ll have to think about this. In the meantime, if you have any ideas for how to get moving or how to get inspired, let me know.