Cultivate

I have a deep love of solid fabrics. Deep love. They are in artsy terms, the blank canvas of the quilting world and they pair well with my deep love of thread and creating imagery over the surface of said solid color. Black, blue and cream are the ones that made it to the bigger stage and coming soon is another black (linen) that I can hardly wait to get started.While writing Color, Thread & Free-Motion Quilting: Learn to Stitch With Reckless Abandon I showed how the same thread looks completely different from red to purple, and included white, black, & brown to add in some neutrals. I’ve been working through the process of creating a color class, wanting something both practical and that uses both fabrics and thread to bring all the things together. I have students in the advanced beginner class use a solid color and an outline drawing of this block:

In class they are free-motion stitching and I’m guiding as to thread color & weight (depending on what they bring) and choice in motifs, often sending them to the back of the book to choose motifs that they can practice in class and giving me the opportunity to demonstrate.

Over the weekend I made three quilt blocks (above) and I’m about to start making several more to show different color options, then how to incorporate thread to either highlight or knock back a fabric/color that is necessary but we’re not loving, sticks out like a sore thumb or just plain bites but it’s what we ahve.

A couple of weeks ago two of the sweetest quilters asked me how I got to be as good as I am at quilting. I told them I’ll tell them a secret, but they needed to come closer. A bit closer please, then I whispered, “Practice.” Quilting, life, faith are all practices. Quilting is a practice in that the more we do the better we get. Quilting, the overarching practice, involves a multitude of skill sets from pattern and fabric selection, thread selection, color choices, thread and motif choices and to finesse it batting choices. My Practice as a quilter falls squarely in the free-motion machine quilting skill set with a major in thread, needles, tension, and thread types. I like piecing – which includes several skill sets cutting, piecing, pressing, presser foot pressure, and tension. The other day while piecing the thread wasn’t quite right, tweaking two things: how the bobbin was threaded and cleaning/oiling the machine got everything working correctly. (Truth be told I pieced an entire block and a half before taking the time to fix this!)

A life of faith is also a multi-disciplined practice that needs attention in prayer, community, spiritual reading, spiritual direction and community. Over the last couple of years my prayer time has shifted, necessarily. Sometimes it’s really focused in particular areas, and sometimes it’s as scattered as a squirrel trying to gather all the buried nuts, 6 hours before the first blizzard of the year. Of late I’m using the Hallow app to help guide my time in prayer. Sometimes it’s a struggle trying to figure out how to use this aid to prayer because some days the urge to toss the phone into the nearest trash bin is overwhelming. I do love me a good fountain pen and journal, that sometimes is dangerously close to finding the same trash bin.

As I mentioned the practice, for years as I sat down to pray I’d recite (write) St. Ignatius’ Suscipe Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me. This prayer echoes, restates, clarifies, reiterates, links, connects to a long line of prayer that says, “Yes God” even when sometimes I’m entirely uncertain of what this means, where it’s leading. So color me puzzled when praying the Spiritual Exercises on the Hallow app a level of resistance popped up, startling me enough to have me wondering if continuing on is a good idea. A conversation with a friend, a partner in prayer gave me the same two options I’d been considering, set it aside for a few days, or keep going. I kept going and while it’s still a bit of a struggle (not unlike some of the piecing this weekend) it’s the kind of struggle that aerates the soil, flattens the batting, untangles the thread, seems like a hot mess but produces something beautiful. The next day we got to this one place that stopped me in my tracks.

 The fifth: In time of desolation never to make a change; but to be firm and constant in the resolutions and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which he was in the preceding consolation. Because, as in consolation it is rather the good spirit who guides and counsels us, so in desolation it is the bad, with whose counsels we cannot take a course to decide rightly

Link to attribution

I had this moment of, “how did I go wrong in so many ways?” then “you didn’t know” and “Teri you really didn’t know and you were muddling through the best you could in this moment.” And then, “this is why we need community.” My friends suggestion affirmed that continuing in this exercise is an option before me, I get to pick. The Fifth rule offered halfway or more into the reflection affirmed the decision to keep going, even if crawling was the image. Mind blown. So you know I teach quilters. One of the things I *try* to get them to look at is where things went well and not to point out where things in their quilting went all kaflooie. What I’m trying to help them do is refocus and look for where things went well and if necessary look at the things that went all weird and see what they can change about the mechanics. Is it a hand position change? Is it a needle & thread pairing? Does the machine need service? What about the thread path, is the thread properly seated? Does the machine need to be cleaned and oiled? Taking a look at my prayer life, what I’m doing, what I love, and how I’m engaging both Scripture and good reading.

So the question is in faith and in quilting is how do I dig in deeper to what’s going well, even if I don’t feel like doing it. Oh that sentence is so, so rich. How do I dig into what’s going well. Focusing in on the fifth rule, dig in, don’t give up, crawl forward if needed. Acknowledge the discouragement or desolation, suss out what it is, where it’s coming from (if you can), and take the moment to keep going rather than stopping may alleviate the desolation or offer us that place to work on in our faith life, which translates out to how we, how I interact with my faith community.

One of the things I’ve struggled with in my quilt teaching life is changing things up as time goes on. I teach the foundations of free-motion quilting and yet there is so much more. As part of the growing part the new class is in the design phase. And will hopefully be posted by the end of the week. Sometimes all I need is to see my self from the perspective of someone else to help me see the choices that are before me, and narrow down the decision making process.

Thank you for dropping by.

God bless,

Teri

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