hand-quilting-001I don’t know if you know this about me but I can be a bit snarky. Shocking, right?! Not really when considering that I grew up in New England and it’s second nature. Depending on circumstances I do try to be careful as not everyone can see my face (the Big tell-all), appreciates, or gets the nuances and that I’m not trying to be mean, but making a point. With students sometimes a well timed, “you’ve been machine quilting for how long?” does make a huge difference. Sometimes being reminded that they’ve been quilting for a very short amount of time is something of a relief because there is a level of patience with themselves that is engaged.

The quilt above is a reminder of the newness of quilting. If this quilt could talk it would tell the story of:
– the rotary cutting incident of 1995 that stopped me quilting for weeks, more likely months
– hand quilting a queen sized quilt takes (me) a long time
– moving stops all quilting, adding to the time it takes to quilt
– that pig tails and a lack of understanding of tension produce quilting that…well
– it takes time to acquire the right tools
– slower is faster
– getting your head too close the machine might, just might mean getting hit in the head with the thread uptake

and other tales that new quilters need to hear when they are just starting out.

I started learning to machine quilt on this quilt. Yes, yes, you are seeing the hand quilted part. I’m going to pause here to admit that when grabbing the picture and staring at it my first inclination was to point out something that cause the “if I knew then what I know” part of my brain wanted to shout out at the top of it’s lungs. No. No I said, just no, because that’s not the point.

The point is, this is the quilt where I started moving from being a hand quilter to a machine quilter. I wanted this quilt finished so that it could be used on our bed. And hand quilting it for another winter wasn’t in my plans. So off to the quilt shop I went, got some advice, and a new foot for the machine, and started machine quilting. Everything should have been perfect, right? Well not so much, the quilt has issues on the back, and the front including tension, pigtails (from stitching in one place while moving my hands) and lots of shaky spots from missing the lines from the stencil. Eh, whatever, it’s still warm, made with love, and comes to classes with me when I teach. Why? Because this:

IMG_20171231_142333

and this

IMG_20171231_232554

Quilting now is very different from the early days. And it should be, however there are still some not so perfect spots, that are staring me in the face. Tension: good and making adjustments in nearly intuitive. The most important thing I’ve learned though is that learning to machine quilt is a process, that takes practice, a willingness to have the Bang Head Here moments (though now I try to avoid the thread uptake), that sometimes things go kaflooie and the seam ripper is needed, and sometimes walking out of the studio, closing the door, and coming back another day is the best. thing. ever.

One of my commitments for 2018 is a regular prayer and reading time before doing anything else with the day. I know that I’ve missed this time and need it deeply. The reading this morning reminded me to take it slowly. Why? Because just like learning to machine quilt I need practice. The more I practice, the easier prayer, and meditation will come. I also need patience with myself, the kind of patience I share with my students in reminding them they are worth the time it takes. And, in this morning’s reading the reminders are so very needed! Oh this is the water that is quenching the thirst in my soul. There is no need for perfection right this very minute. It’s okay to take things slowly, in small bits, to practice, and find what’s right for this time in my life.

When I started quilting the learning curve seemed like a tidal wave, huge, overwhelming. There have been some times when I’ve wanted to have a quilters yard sale and move everything out of that room and stop quilting all together. My sweetie reminded me that this folly would have very negative ramifications on my personal mental health. There have been moments, long stretches of time where I couldn’t quilt, and believe me that ache…

In coming back to focused prayer (I’ve never stopped praying) I’m refocusing on God, because just like quilting, prayer time gives this quilter some much needed, wanted, desired, longed for time with God. I can see how all of this tumbled out to where I am now, that as hard as this time has been, it’s been needed as peeling back the spiritual layers is as important as anything else in life. It’s been like taking a seam ripper to unwanted, poorly formed stitching. It needs to be done but it takes longer, but in the end its necessary.

IMG_20171231_145127The beauty, and peace that come later are so worth the effort.

This fits with my 2018 Word of the Year: Connect. Quilting and prayer are similar, particularly when I get into that zone. Since the middle of December something has shifted in the quilting and I’m taking it, with deep gratitude. The longing for a regular prayer time is being fulfilled, with patience because being patient with myself is part of connecting with God, connecting and sharing mercy, and grace.

With Gratitude,

Teri

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