Sunday, November 07, 2010

Today we changed the clocks back to Standard Time. It's not a traditional day for making resolutions, or charting a different course for the future. But it is a day that marks a transition from thinking about the world in summer terms to thinking in winter terms. So it seemed as good a day as any to think about quilting goals.

It's also a good time because I am nearly to the end of my charity knitting projects for the year. I have one baby sweater that needs buttons, and another that needs sleeves, and they will be the last of those for the year. Next week I will deliver the hats to the shop that collects them for the Knitting for Noggins project, and so however many I have done by then, that will be the end of those for the year. What knitting I do between now and the end of 2010 will be Christmas gifts and things that I myself need for the coming cold weather, but that's not the kind of production knitting I do the rest of the year.

So I'm thinking about quilts, and specifically, setting goals for what I want to accomplish between now and next spring's return to Daylight Savings Time. I have thought up six categories as a way to organize the work.

The first category is anything that relates to the studio remodel. This got stalled out in the early fall when I went to Canada and everything came to a screeching halt. There are still things sitting in the middle of the floor that need some other place to live. And the next "project" is to sort through the pattern books and get them more organized. I need to set aside a block of time regularly to work on this.

Category 2 is old quilts, or UFO's. I really do feel overwhelmed by these at times. I feel like I can't start anything new until I've finished some of the old projects, but then I don't really want to just work on old stuff either. I think if I designate some time to work on those but allow time for new work too, that will help.

Related to #2 is #3, which is stashbusting. In the process of sorting scrap bins I've actually added more to my unsorted scraps, and those bins are now overflowing. I need to work on cat quilts or something to just use up some of those pieces that are too small to save, but too big to throw away.

Category 4 is new quilts. This will include some Christmas things, but also the double wedding rings that are in production. And I won't eliminate the possibility of starting something brand new if the muse gives me the urge to get creative.

The last 2 categories are technique oriented rather than project oriented. The part of quiltmaking that I enjoy the most is hand-quilting. So category 5 is to keep making forward progress on some hand-quilting project. Right now it's James' and Crystal's DWR; if that gets finished before spring, there are plenty of tops in the drawer all basted and ready to go. Especially now that there's more light in the morning, the dining room is a pleasant place to work, so I will work hand-work time into the morning hours.

And finally, I want to spend the time to be more proficient with my sewing machine. Now that I've had the thing for 10 years, I realize I've never done the kind of systematic working out of the decorative stitches and features that I need to do to be really comfortable with anything but straight sewing. The only way it will get done will be if I block out time when that is the priority.

The hand-work category is one that I need to work on daily. Right now I don't have the callouses on my fingers to work at quilting for long stretches of time, so short stints work best. This week I've been listening to new podcasts as I stitch, and I find one podcast - about 45 minutes to an hour - is as much as I can do. So that's the goal - to quilt daily for at least that long.

Some of these are things that I don't want to do every day. Who wants to organize and clean every day? Nor do I want to do scrapbusting or machine practice for long periods of time. So these will get worked into the days when my work schedule is busiest. I'll do what I can accomplish in the time I have - 30 minutes at least - and consider it time well spent, then move on.

The days when I have more time to spend I'll work on the categories that result in quilts getting finished, the old and new quilt categories. Until Christmas, most of the new stuff will be gift related, so it will need to get the lion's share of the time. But just to be able to show some progress at the end of the week, I'll work on older stuff at least one day. I can think of one quilt that is ready to go up on the design wall, and right now the design wall is empty, so that's a good candidate for this week; it won't require putting other things away, other than making space on the sewing table, and that's not hard.

Okay - that's the plan. At least from now until March 13th, when we return to Daylight Savings time. Tomorrow is my Sabbath, which means I can spend most of the day sewing if I choose. I think I'll get those blocks out and start slapping them up on the design wall so I can play with their placement for a while. Then I'll work on the current gifty project. That and an hour or so of hand quilting should pretty well fill up the day.

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