Friends and I were discussing the Tidying Up bestseller at dinner last night. I’ve not read the entire book, but I have read a lot of it. First, let me say that this woman’s definition of tidying up is different from mine. My idea of tidying up means someone is coming over and it’s time to run the sweeper and stash some items in the closet. (I will admit that I later straighten the closet and periodically purge it of unused items, but not on a rigid schedule and not enough to invite visitors to admire.)
Though I agree that “stuff” can get in the way of living your life, I’m here to tell you that cleaning can do the same thing. Balance, people, balance. Don’t be a hoarder, don’t live in squalor. But, then again, don’t obsess over everything being perfect.
I wonder how many people on their deathbeds wish they had taken one more load of unworn clothing to the Salvation Army. Can you tell that I spent yesterday cleaning and wished I were sewing?
When it comes to my quilting stash, I do sometimes find the need to straighten it to see what I have. Sometimes I share remnants with other quilters. It is fun to see their faces light up when they find a fabric I’ve used in a quilt they like and now they get to play with it, too.
My working style is that I have several quilt projects in progress at one time. I sometimes get bored with one technique or another, but often the reason is location. I always need a project that is portable – to stitch while watching tv or sitting on the porch, or recently, while riding in the car. Once that phase of the stitching is done, that piece might get set aside until I have time to prepare it for the next level.
I do keep the fabrics that I’ve selected for a given project together until it’s completed. I use baskets to contain them. Sometimes there are lists in the baskets telling me what is cut, how many are remaining to be stitched; maybe a sketch of the layout possibilities. I will confess that there are a couple of projects that I like seeing the blocks in a basket – so I’m not anxious about assembling those at all. Alma Allen and Barb Adams depict vignettes of such collections in their books and on their website. They inspire me to enjoy all phases of the quiltmaking experience.
Susan Lenz explains that the beginning phase and the finishing phase of projects are exciting. But one doesn’t need to be excited all the time. The stitching phase is relaxing – so psychologically, I’m centering myself with my working style.
I have come to realize that sometimes I slow down on a project before it’s finished, not wanting to finish until another is at its relaxing stage.
Jude Hill says of one of her magic feather posts, “And yet there is still stitching. Maybe I have slowed down even more. Just to make it last.”
Oh, yes, I’m in good company if my working style bears any resemblance to Alma Allen, Barb Adams, Susan Lenz, and Jude Hill. But it may not look tidy.