Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why Do You Quilt Poll Update

First, I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the Why Do You Quilt poll and left comments--either on my blog or on the RTCQ (rec.crafts.textiles.quilting newsgroup) discussion by the same name. Although I'm posting an update on the poll, it will remain open until the end of March. I realize some quilters don't get to log on as often as they'd like. So far, the top two poll reasons for quilting are self-expression and to create beauty.

I am so enjoying everybody's responses--hearing your personal stories, thoughts, and feelings. I knew why I quilted, and tried to stretch beyond myself in creating the poll choices, but as I suspected, quilters' motivations are as individual as the quilts we create, and for many of the quilters who responded, the poll choices were not complete or totally missed the mark.

One reason stated by many respondents--one that I myself can relate to and should have known to include on the poll--is simple enjoyment of the process, and playing with the colors and textures. It just gives us a good feeling. For some, the love of color came at the knee of a mother or grandmother who quilted. One quilter mentioned always having the love of color and especially enjoying Tempura paint and the box of 64 Crayola Crayons she had as a child. (Oh yes, I remember that box of crayons too.)

Obsession, addiction, compulsion. Or in a more positive light, making order out of chaos. The quilter who offered this reason said that she can't control the world, but she can control her scrap box.

One said she used quilting to extend the length of her arms in order to hug a child.

For some quilting is a distraction from the challenges of daily life. For others a balancing of the left and right brain. Often it is one thing we do just for ourselves.

On a more serious note, two quilters stated that quilting was a replacement for a creative outlet they'd lost when they'd had to give up their jobs due to illness--one an advertising designer and the other a writer.

Some pointed out that they enjoyed being part of the community of quilters. Yep, that's a good one. Quilters are some of the most generous, caring people I've ever had the pleasure to know, above and beyond sharing the simple love of the art.

Naturally, there were the humorous observations--legal, non-fattening, and cheaper than Bingo. Our one male respondent (so far) said quilting kept him out of bars. Then he confessed to living in a dry county, but having no other way to explain his huge stash to his wife.

The most straightforward answer, and perhaps the most accurate, is that we quilt because we are quilters.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why Do You Quilt?

Why do you quilt? Ahh, the questions that can come from a five year old. Yet, I must admit this one has me pondering. Why do I quilt? Why does anyone quilt? For that matter, why do writers write, musicians compose and play, or painters paint? It's all about the art, but what motivates us? Several possibilities come to mind--self-expression, to create beauty, to give back to the world, a desire for recognition, to stretch our abilities, to move people emotionally, and for some who are lucky enough to make living with their art, it's a job.

Me? The answer is two-fold. First, I simply like to create something pretty--beautiful I hope, but pretty will do. In my quest to create beauty, the process is just as important as the result. I find that if I've enjoyed making a quilt, then I'm more apt to find the quilt pretty than if I've had problems with the process. To that end, I tend to appreciate my hand-pieced, hand-quilted quilts a tad more than those I've made on the machine. I'm relatively new to machine quilting as opposed to creating by hand, so I'm much more insecure about the machine quilting process. Yet, I do feel driven to stretch myself.

The second motivator is the desire to elicit in others the same happy feeling that being wrapped in a warm, beautifully colored quilt gives me. The quilt pictured above went to that little five year old cousin who asked me why I quilted. After I'd shown her the various blocks that were received from a block exchange, she quietly informed me that purple was her favorite color and that I could make her a quilt with those blocks. Well who could resist that? I must have been a success in making her feel warm and happy with the quilt. Her father informed me that the quilt goes everywhere with her.

So now you know why I quilt, but the title of this article is Why Do You Quilt. I'd like to draw your attention to the poll on the sidebar. So why do you quilt?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hooked on scraps!

Over time, you'd probably detect a pattern in my quilting, but just in case the first two quilts I've shown in this blog does not make it clear--I'm hooked on scraps! Love them all. While yes, there are colors and textures that I like better than others, I've never met a totally ugly piece of fabric. Unique perhaps. Challenging, most definitely. However, eventually they will find a home in my quilts.

Why scraps? When scraps play well together, the quilt has the feeling of a glorious field of wildflowers, a multi-hued sunset, or a stained glass window. The quilt simply sings. I find trying to create such quilts totally irresistible.

This particular quilt is one of my favorites. It is hand-pieced and tied. I'd hoped to hand-quilt it too, but when I got the daybed, I knew this was the quilt that needed to be on it. I finished the quilt the quickest way that I could. My solution to the issue that I didn't get to hand-quilt this one as I'd intended? Well, I'm making another one!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Virtual Clutter

I'm not one who collects things--not stamps, dishes, or knickknacks. You'll not find any high school mementos in my closets. I trade off my paperback books after I've read them. This has been a source of pride for me; not because I think there is anything wrong with collecting, but because I was a collector in the past and was never very organized about it.

I used to collect things because they had sentimental value or it was just "too good" to throw out. I had closets full of stuff I hadn't looked at in years--a stuffed monkey from when I was a kid, a bowling trophy from 3rd grade, certificates for being an outstanding reader from elementary school. When we made a big move and auctioned off most of our belongings--except for a few truly sentimental items--I vowed "never again". I've stuck to it fairly well too. Or so I thought.

Yesterday when I was perusing my bookmarks of quilting sites that I wanted to add to this blog, I found the dreaded, overloaded, unlooked at collection in the bookmark folder. Yep, with each new computer (there have been 5 since the time I began quilting), I just transferred the bookmarked sites from one computer to the next. No organization at all! There are quilting bookmarks for blogs, online fabric stores, sites that offer free patterns, and those simply showing off beautiful quilts, all intermixed in one single file. Upon review, I discovered a lot of the sites didn't even exist anymore. When did they disappear? I have no idea.

So now, I have one last closet to clean and organize--the bookmark "closet" on my computer.

Of course the closet that holds the fabric stash doesn't count! :-)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

At the Beginning

As a little girl, I loved studying and wrapping myself in my great grandmother's scrappy quilts. Each fabric was fascinating, and I was amazed by how she could put together these seemingly random bits of fabric to create something so beautiful. Not only that, her quilts reminded me of all that is good in the world--things like flowers, fresh baked bread, a grandparent's hug, and Disneyland. (Okay, when you're five years old, Disneyland is pretty darn good!)

It was many years later (around 1995) that I finally decided to make my own quilt. I wanted the quilt to be a tribute to that lovely woman. Although my great grandmother used a sewing machine to piece, she quilted by hand. Wanting to feel in touch with my pioneer women ancestors, I began hand-piecing the quilt above. (I'm not as practical as my great grandmother.) I got the pattern out of Traditional Quiltworks. It took me several years to complete, and yet, I think my great grandmother would have been pleased.