Friday, September 25, 2009

Mini Quilt #4 // Work It

Ugh. It has been a real tamade kind of day. You know, the one where I stomp into my bedroom for my bar of Green & Black's chocolate, wilfully ignoring the health coach in me that used to counsel people through alternative, non-chocolate methods of coping with stress or a bad day. Suffice it to say, every last thing that I did post 11:15 today was a complete and utter waste of time. Not for lack of trying. Oh no, I had many things that I tried to do today. When you're stressed that you're behind on your work, that is the loveliest feeling in the world. Another day -- LOST!

OK. Let's stop dwelling on that and instead turn to this mini quilt that I slipped into the mail a week ago. This is the fourth doll quilt I've ever made, and this time I really tried to lavish a lot of attention and detail onto a very small piece of real estate.

When I first saw the announcement go out for Doll Quilt Swap 7 I thought, “No … no way.” No way because there are some darn amazing quilters in the pool and I didn’t want to be the laggard in the group. No way, also, because I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to commit myself to another one of these.

Then Rita emailed me. Crafting buddy Rita. The one who helped me finish the binding on the circle quilt for mom. “Are you signing up for this? I will if you will!”

Oh man. I am horrible with peer pressure. I was really lucky in that my fantastic swap partner gave me very free reign. “Quilter’s choice” were her exact words, I believe. So while I was piecing together that skirt [I had been working on that baby all summer], I kept loving the scraps lying in heaps on the ground, kept thinking it was such a shame to not use the fabric combination for something else.

Random piecing commenced, since I have never been particularly good at traditional quilt patterns. Something about choosing fabrics that work well with a pattern has always mystified me, but random and quirky? I think we’ve established that I like random.

Once I completed the first part of the doll quilt [and, thankfully, she commented that she liked it! Boy, quirky is hard to do for somebody else], it sat for a long time. I liked it well enough but thought it could be better. I thought about it to and from The Food Project. I even mentally brought it with me on vacation. I knew I wanted something random in one corner and that I wanted an uneven white border, but I couldn’t figure out what that something in the bottom left should be.

And then one night while lying on Dan's brother's inflatable mattress while visiting in DC, the inspiration fairies came dancing at my bedside as I was drifting off to sleep.

A new take on random that I had not yet tried. I think it works. To my eye, the random and color and white space all balance each other out, though I have no idea how it looks to an outsider. I’ve really been trying to work on my hand quilting, and within the “random” portion of the quilt I actually inserted a couple repeating motifs, so I tried to tie that all together by quilting those fraternal twins in similar ways.

Back when I was working my first job, one of my very favorite projects was the opportunity to chaperone Photo Camp, a project of National Geographic where they partner with local organizations that serve high-need youth, train the youth in photography skills for 4 days, and give them each cameras to document their neighborhoods, lives, and culture. Watching the high school students become familiar with their camers, listening in on photography tips from highly esteemed photographers in the field, and seeing the photographs that this collaboration produced was truly amazing.

During that time, one of the key photography lessons I learned was the importance of “working” a shot. Take ten, twenty photos of the same subject. Don’t just be satisfied with your first or second shot, but really dig in, take your time, be patient, and try to imagine the subject from all sorts of angles. Sometimes your first picture will still wind up being your favorite, but No. 12 or No. 19 might really surprise you. It’s worth it to stick around the scene of the crime just a little bit longer, because you never quite know what you’ll see through the viewfinder that works really, really well once back in the lab.

So I'm unofficially calling this the Work It Mini Quilt. Because I really let it percolate for a long time. Took my time with the details. Played around with composition quite a bit. Cultivated patience. I think that patience investment did pay off. Which means ... which means I obviously need to kick my procrastination habit in the butt instead of pretending that it lets ideas marinate. Really, it's a much weaker form of Working It.

For the backing I used some more DS in the two colorways, and stitched some rick rack over the seam to tie it together. Bound in yellow, I am really in love with this color combination. It may just have to find its way into my winter wardrobe somehow [haven't figured that one out yet! Everything winter tends to be more somber colored]. But wouldn't a splash of color be really nice when outside is so gloomy?

The one highlight of my day is that I'm back working with The Food Project for this fall term, at least. And oh, how I smiled when I stepped back into the office. It's almost like I never left. I really do love the chemistry between the people who work there, who obviously care about the community they've created, both within the staff members and the bond with the youth that come through the program each year.

Susan: So ... I may have opened my big fat mouth again. *Sees Julien smiling.* Don't smile.
Julien: *Still smiling.* Actually, this is anxiety.

Susan: Margaret, our new Executive Director ...
Max: Do you really think we can still call her new? I mean, it's been 18 months now.
Susan: How much longer do you think we can call her 'new'?
Julien: What? Compared to our old ED?
Max: Yes, our old and molding ED.
Julien: Maybe five years.


Zonnah said...

I don't know if this was intentional but I love how the part in the lower left corner looks like a snake with two eyeballs :) It turned out amazing.

Lorna said...

Never underestimate the healing powers of chocolate! Your doll quilt is absolutely darling. You have a good eye for shape and color.