Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Learning not to think

I'm a thinker. I mull things over, obsess, worry. I spend so much time thinking about how best to do something, sometimes it keeps me from doing it. I am not spontaneous. In college, I quit the clarinet--which I'd played well for years--because the next stage would have been for me to play improvisationally, and I just didn't have the nerve to do it. I love ballroom dance (it has rules; I can follow), but am self-conscious just moving to music. I love to sing, and can learn and hold a second-soprano part with ease, but ask me to make up a harmony on my own? Forget it.

So it's interesting that my favorite quilts tend to be the improvised ones, rather than those that follow a pattern.

When I began my crazy log cabin quilt, I was thinking too much. Each block took me a very long time, because I'd cut a piece, search and search for the best piece to go next, think about which pieces should come after that, think about what size and shape I wanted the pieces, etc. Then one day I just cut a whole bunch of pieces randomly, so I'd have a bunch ready to just grab. They were in nice neat color-sorted piles, and I was still spending a lot of time looking for just the right piece.

Then last night, I took my color piles and jumbled them up into baskets. I liked it so much better already--I could see at a glance what I had, and the juxtaposition of pieces beside each other in the baskets suggested possibilities.

I knew I wanted to start a block using a small piece that featured a girl in bed with a rooster on the bedpost. That meant using a very wide piece against the center block, making it almost double-centered. But I didn't obsess about it. I glanced, made a quick choice, and sewed. (In fact, I was being so spontaneous, I messed up--you'll see it if you've made log cabin blocks before. Oh, well. I chose not to worry about it and kept on.)

And in the end, I love how it came out. I did another block using the same method, working too quickly to think it over too much. I generally knew which color I wanted next, and I sometimes chose and rejected one piece before settling on another, but that was about as much thought as I gave it. And it worked.

How wonderful. Sometimes, not thinking is exactly what I need. Now if only I could apply it in other areas of my life...


Kerry said...

I love this quilt block. The colors are some of my favorites right now, the red, lt blue and white. the littel girl is too cute where did you get that piece? I wouldn't have thought to put the yellow in there, I over think things a ton too, but I love the way it looks just a taste of it here and there. Very cute.

Lise said...

Hey, Kerry,

I finally made this commenting-on-my-own-blog thing work! Hooray! Anyway, thank you so much for your comment. The fabric you love is "Sweet Dreams-blue" from Reprodepot.com.