One thing at a time

Let me lay it out on the table.  I am a tortoise in a hare-raising world.  I’m the person who gets passed on the highway because I’m going only a tick over the speed limit.  I may start a project early but then I finish a nanosecond or two before the deadline.  (More often than I like to, anyway.)   I wasn’t always like this, but I get things done at a leisurely rate because I learned that moving quickly enhances my clumsiness and wastes my time and resources.  I slowed down against my will; the plodding pace used to bother me more than it does now because 1) I was younger and thought 2) I must function as an express train to be considered mature.   I did not grow up to be that, and I cannot make myself worry about it now.

Out of high school, I became a quilter because my mom had developed pancreatic cancer, and we were going through her things in the attic where we ran across a quilt top she had barely begun.  I asked her to show me how to continue it, and she did, with cardboard templates, a pair of dressmaker stainless steel shears, and a heavy black sewing machine she’d bought at an auction.  I worked on that quilt top during eighteen months of her chemo and radiation and eventual hospice care at home.  I finished the top two weeks after she died, and quilting became a form of continuing therapy for me over the next twenty years.  I adopted plastic rulers and rotary cutters to help my accuracy, but I was not a fan of quick methods just because of their speed.  I prefer scrap quilts over color-coordination, which has a way of slowing down the process.  And, while I am not a complete Luddite (I machine-piece), I have never learned to machine quilt.  I like the weight and warmth of quilting by hand.

This is not the quilt Mom helped me with but one of the latest quilts I finished.  It’s a mini I call Lumberjack Butterflies.

Similarly, when my dad lay in hospice care in my home sixteen years later, I finally got the hang of needle knitting.  I’d tried to learn several times before, even tried to learn from my mom in high school.  But the quiet time spent sitting with my dad and a little bit of experience with knitting on looms finally gave me the mental space to understand how to work yarn over needles.  I’m not a production knitter, and I’ve let go of the ambition that I should be, even though I will never live long enough to knit through the yarn stash I’ve curated.  I plod along.  During a good year, I have finished knitting a couple of items a month, from mittens to sweaters and the occasional afghan.  Anymore, I may finish one thing every other month.

A lace stole I made from my translation of a mid-1800s knitting pattern.

I gloss over my folk art experience to point out that creating things is more meditative for me than it is anything else.  I’ve heard the alternative mindsets about making presented as Process versus Product.  I like finishing a product, to be sure, but I am essentially a process maker.  I like to savor the process.  On my original blog, I shared the processes and projects I worked on for myself.  I will do the same here, blending my love for sewing, knitting, and beading on work I create not only for myself but for you.  Projects are finished one at a time and with the care I hope I have developed over the years.  In a later post, I will introduce the project bags I have developed and sold locally for five years before beginning their move to online sales.

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