Another 350 Blocks

imageThree hundred fifty blocks? You’ve read here before that last year I participated in Prairie Moon’s 350 Blocks project. Need I tell you that I was an abject failure in 2014? I didn’t even get half that many blocks made. Life was just too hectic and sewing fell by the wayside.

The good news is that I’m participating in it again this year, with hopes of doing WAY better. You see, I do love the idea of some accountability for what I produce. Shelly’s project is the perfect source of that accountability. There is a goal of making 350 blocks, obviously, for the year. Every month Shelly gives us a goal number of blocks to complete, then reminds the participants to report in at the end of the month. She even keeps track of our total numbers for the year. How simple is that?

My fun prize in February!
My fun prize in February!

Every month, there is also a drawing for fun prizes that Shelly so generously shares with us. Win-win, right? I think so too. The fact that I was the winner in February might influence that thought. Shelly sent me a bundle of fun fabric and thread to play with. It made me feel like a winner, I assure you!

There is no shaming if you end up not getting much done in a month (or several, like someone I know. Ahem.). It’s just a fun way to keep track of what you’re doing. Shelly is the one doing all the work.

 

I’ve made quite a few blocks this month. I showed you the Anita’s Arrowhead blocks I made here. I made 81 of those. I also had to make two blocks for the Christmas Presents quilt and the blue Robbing Peter to Pay Paul quilt I showed you here. That RPtoPP thing? It’s all together, but I think it needs a border and I just can’t decide what I want to do. I might just skip the border entirely and ship it off to be quilted. The remains of the four fabrics I used in it are very, very limited. Mere inches, really. So. I think the words here are “Git ‘r done.”

imageI am also amassing a big old pile of scrappy 4-patch blocks. I don’t know yet what they’ll grow up to be.  I just keep piles of squares next to my machine and sew them randomly whenever I want something to sew without thinking, to keep from having to clip my threads.  (I hate those little wads of thread that get everywhere, so this is my small effort to reduce the number of them.)

 

Some days I just sewed odd little random blocks like the one below. Yeah, sometimes you just have to sew something, anything, and this was my sole contribution that particular day.

Mindless sewing
Mindless sewing

I also managed to finish two tops from my enormous backlog. Yay me! One is the Christmas Presents quilt I showed you earlier this week, and the other is this little rooster appliqué (by hand!) top I made eons ago. All that I had left to do was make the border miters pretty. Yeah, that was ALL. If I had it to do again, I would probably have done something different with the border treatment, but in the interest of finishing, I’m leaving it alone.

It is nice to have some quick finishes. They are keeping me motivated to get some more done so I can start playing with some of the ideas I keep jotting down. I am so hoping to keep that streak going! Cheer me on, huh?

Are you playing with us? Come join the fun! Anybody can participate, and it’s not too late for this year. Check out Shelly’s post here, then come back and leave a comment below so I know who’s in.

Oh yeah. My January total? 165 blocks. Yep, one hundred sixty-five. Almost halfway for the year. Woohoo!! Will I do as well in February? Check back and see!

I’m a Prisoner…

Yes, I’m a prisoner. And it’s not good because I look awful in orange. Just kidding, I’m not in jail. But I really am a prisoner…to my UFOs.

I really believe that in order to make a real and lasting change to an uncomfortable or intolerable situation, you have to be so sick and tired of it that you can see nothing else to do but forge ahead and get to the other side of it. That’s where I am today. I am so tired of being owned by all of the projects I have in progress that I’m going to finish some of them. Maybe all of them. Finally. (Don’t laugh. I mean it.)

ABDs, (c) 2015, Lori East
This mess is just a fraction of the ABDs holding me captive.

I’m not going to share with you the exact number of UFOs (unfinished objects, for those who aren’t familiar with the term) I have. That might embarrass me. Or you, if you have more. Besides, I just don’t really know. I am kind of afraid to count. I do know that I really am sick of being owned by them though and am moving things out.

After years of starting something then stopping, for whatever reason, I have a huge stack of ABDs. ABDs? All But Done. Several of them just need a border, or need blocks put together and a border added. Often, once I see what a quilt is going to look like, like it or not, I am done with it. Off to the side it goes while I move on to something else.

Prisoner, (c) 2015, Lori East
Who wouldn’t be excited to jump into these?

The best part of any quilt, for me anyway, is that initial burst of excitement as I envision it and think through the steps to make it. Off I go, cutting, piecing, appliqueing, whatever, until I see how it’s going to finish. And then…I’m done.

Yes, I do love having a finished quilt, and obviously some do get finished, but more don’t. It’s hard to be part of a challenge, for example, without a finished piece, yes? And I’m pretty sure no show would let me hang something that hadn’t been trimmed and bound. That’s pushing the limits even for art quilters

The truth really is that I love designing the quilt, pulling the fabrics, and playing with color. That’s like eating the icing on a piece of cake first. Starting to sew is fun too, but not the best. There comes a point, though, especially if I’m working from a pattern, that I get sick of the drudgery of piecing the same thing over and over and over. So, I hang what I’ve finished on my wall, look at it carefully, and think, “Yeah, ok, it’s pretty good,” and pack it up to finish later. And start on the next project. Very few things get finished if they’re lying in the corner. As one of my friends says, “they just won’t finish themselves.”

If I’m not working from a pattern (and the above paragraph tells you why I prefer not to), I will sometimes hit a point when I start to doubt my choices. I do realize, logically, that this is a normal part of the process, but emotionally, I have a hard time standing up to it. So, guess what happens? Yep, it gets put aside for another new idea. The biggest problem here, is that when I go back later I often have a hard time figuring out what I was planning. I can’t be troubled to leave myself a note, I’ll remember, right? Yeah, no. So the cycle starts again.

But things are about to change. Truly. (I hear you laughing.)

Lately I’ve realized that all those unfinished pieces are trapping me. They’re holding me prisoner. I have so many ideas in my head right now that I just can’t wait to get started on. But everywhere I look, there are things begging to be finished, piles of scraps itching to be sewn together. Some of the things mock me. (I won’t tell you what they say because it’s rude.) All this works together to keep me stuck, though. Yep, stuck. And tired of it. I can see no other way to tackle new ideas than to clear up my mind with a clean slate. Well, clean-ER, anyway.

I see a piece of fabric that sparks an idea and pull it out, only to realize that I am using it in something else. Better not cut any more of it until that other thing is done. I might need it. Or I pull another piece and think, “Hey, I have that blue-whatever that would be great with this,” but guess what? I can’t find the blue-whatever because it’s bundled up with something else.

Honest. It’s going to change. (Stop laughing!) Here’s proof:

(c)2015, Lori East
Simple and cute, right? So what took so long?

Just a couple of days ago I finished this top that’s been lying around since just after Christmas 2006 (yes, I’m aware how many years that is). There is no reason at all it wasn’t done sooner, but how often do you need a Christmas quilt? It was hard to get motivated to work on it any other time so I put it away. Out of sight, out of mind. I’m piecing the back today and shipping it off to my friend Phyllis Arnett to quilt for me. You see, I’ve already asked Phyllis if she has any openings and it turned out that she had a February cancellation, so the sooner I get it in the mail, the better. I’m committed. That means that today, I’ve got to get that back sewn together. It’s flannel and is already preshrunk, so there’s no excuse. (I used Terry Atkinson Designs pattern “Birthday Presents,” from Take Two and Add a Few for this. The possibiities for this particular pattern could be really fun to explore. Someday.)

(c) 2015, Lori East
Remember this? Not done yet. But soon, I promise!

Yesterday I finished all the blocks for a piece I started when my son was a toddler. I think I last worked on it a year ago. (I even blogged about it here.) You think maybe it’s time for it to be done? Yeah, me too. I dithered about whether or not to put sashing between the blocks. There are a lot of seams and it’s obvious I was working on this in fits and starts with a little wildman in the house. The seams go every which way and matching them all up is tedious.I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do for sashing, though, so I gave up and just started sewing the blocks together. It’s not an ugly quilt at all, but let’s just say I am not quite as excited about it as I once was. I’m sure it’ll be fine once it’s quilted.

(c)2015, Lori East
Great pattern!

I also got all the blocks sewn together for three Quilts of Valor that I started late last summer. They will get their borders in the next couple of days. Looking at them, I’m sad that they’ve lain around so long when some servicemember could have been enjoying them. (My favorite pattern for Quilts of Valor, in case you’re curious, is Bonnie Hunter’s Strip Twist. It’s a great pattern that always gives a fun result. I’ve made several of them, and would like to make one for myself one of these days. But not today.)

 

I could continue to list projects that are in this same ABD state. There really are a bunch of them. Am I going to get them all done right away? Probably not, but that really is changing. (I thought I told you to stop laughing!!) I really am making a dent. I am not going to be a prisoner any more. And by writing this, I’m committing to you that I’m going to have some finishes. Soon. Very, very soon. You are free to remind me of this commitment. A little accountability is a very good thing. Check back here if you want to see what I get done. (Better yet, subscribe to get these posts by email so you don’t have to remember to check back! See that little box over there in right sidebar? Just type your email address in there and submit it.)

As of today, I’m done being held captive by all this stuff. Done, I tell you. But what about you? Does your backlog of projects own you too? Pick out one old project and leave me a comment below with the name of it and a statement that you’re planning to finish it this year. Maybe putting it in writing will help you commit too. And maybe I’ll even check up on you!