Friday, January 8, 2010

Potions and Notions

After a year's hiatus, the restart of the calendar year seems like a great time to restart the blog. Look for lots of recipes and cooking chatter (the Potions part) and likely even more quilts and sewing suggestions (the Notions part).

As noted in the last post (yes, a full year ago), I volunteered to edit (in this case, write, assemble, and distribute) the Guild newsletter "Pens and Needles." I think it went well last year outside two computer deaths and issues stemming from subsequent digital recovery. I do think, however, there's room for improvement. I used FAR too much clip-art to fill in the blanks.

One of the new features I decided to add was a column/editorial. I thought "why shouldn't I?" My kids can think of many reasons why I shouldn't, most stemming from their (well-reasoned) fears I'll write about them. They'll likely star in a column at some point, but not just now. Hopefully other Guild members will be moved to write something as well.

Here's the premiere:

Potions and Notions

In January we often think of New Year’s Resolutions. This year, I’ve resolved not to make any, but I do love a good To Do List, particularly one with some serious ambition. So here’s my 2010 To Do List for your entertainment, edification, and perhaps inspiration:

1. Get Some Class. We all have to learn new things to grow, some of us more than others, and perhaps I do more than most. I do a tremendous amount of learning by making mistakes all by myself, yet I find it particularly rewarding when guided through the process in the presence of others, preferably led by one who knows more (or sometimes even less) about the route than I do. To this end, I challenge myself to take a class led by someone else on a technique new to me. Perhaps piecing curves, embellishment, or appliqué, three techniques I haven’t attempted because I don’t even know where to begin. Well, I DO know where to begin: by signing up for class!

2. Get Some Class (Part 2). I believe I master a technique best when, after sufficient practice, I attempt to teach it to someone else. This generally takes the form of a series of mistakes requiring additional fabric purchases and step retracing in a public forum. I have a couple of ideas percolating in my head, several of which are actually in preliminary digital form. The challenge for me is not so much deciding on what to teach the class about, but in finding the appropriate forum. For whom, where, and when will I have the class?

3. 3 x 3 Challenge. In 2009 I entered several of my best quilts into competitions around the area. I went so far as to put aside several commissioned and promised works to design and quilt an original creation. I was successful in several of the quilt and needlework festivals, but failed miserably when I presented my work as Fine Art. In a fit of frustration tinged with far too much anger, I grumbled to my sister that I had I created three abstract works with minimal effort I might have had more success as an “artist”. Her advice was that art does involve setting boundaries, then stepping boldly outside them. To this end, I’ve developed what I’m calling the “3 x 3 Challenge,” a three-quilt series of boundary-busting. I think the first will be a 1’ x 1’ in which I’ll allow myself an hour to complete, the second a 2’ x 2’ (four hours) and the third a 3’ x 3’ (nine hours). Why the exponentially-increasing time limits? I’m such a square!

4. Do My Community Service. At one time I defined my personal philosophy as “Give Back, Give More” without really exploring or explaining it particularly well to others or even to myself. This To Do challenge is to put my money where my mouth is, put the rubber to the road, and incorporate intentional, planned quilting for others. I made two big steps forward when I donated a quilt to a fundraising auction and completed a challenge for a local women's center in 2009. The next step is to give MORE. My thoughts are to organize a “Quilt-In” with others or design and make ornaments as a fundraiser or something along those lines, something that will make a greater impact and involve more than just myself. To Give More.

5. Five-on-the-Fifth Fabric Flings. We all have fabric lying around that we don’t really like and will probably never use. You know what I’m talking about: that fabric you bought 20 years ago and have moved houses with five times. It clutters up sewing rooms, our drawers, and closets. Many more organized (or perhaps less Yankee-frugal?) folks get rid of their fabric by donating it or even (gasp!) throwing it away. I’ve filled a donation bag (mostly with scraps) but can’t ever remember to pass it on. Remembering to do that would be a first step. However, my Freakish Fabric Flock is not moving south but breeding in captivity. So I’ve decided to take a page from the Fly Lady, a motivational housekeeping maven, and alter her “27-Fling-Boogie” to address my cloth clutter. I challenge myself to complete a “Five on the Fifth Fabric Fling” each month. This means that I will cull FIVE pieces of fabric from my stash and place them in my Guild bag for donation. Why five? Well, beyond the obvious favor I have for alliteration, “Five on the Fifth” means I’ll make some headway quickly and I’ll have it done before the Guild meeting, whichever day the second Tuesday falls. Will I run out of fabric to fling? We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. My not-so-empty nest is fairly well feathered with fabric. I won’t see the river anytime soon.

So, what’s on your To Do list?

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