Quilting has always been my refuge; my escape from the stress and annoyances of life. This time quilting really couldn't be a refuge for me, at least not at first. There were two reasons for this.
The first was an unwillingness to let go of the intense pain, as if keeping the wound fresh would somehow keep me better connected to my dad. Through research on grief and eventually through my own experience, I learned that although this is a common reaction, it is a misconception. Living in the desolation only keeps a person tied to her loved one's death; not his life. In fact, intense grief actually interferes with the brain's ability to call forth memories about the departed person's life.
The second issue was the association between our quilting machine and my dad. It was my dad who encouraged my mom and me to splurge and buy the Juki. (The Juki isn't the most expensive on the market by far, however it was a huge step up from our Wal-mart Brother sewing machine.) I'd been enjoying showing my dad what I'd been able to learn and do with free motion quilting "before". I finally had the realization that if I waited to feel truly good before I tackled free motion quilting again, I could be waiting for a very long time. I decided if I was going to feel miserable, it was better to feel miserable and do something productive rather than feel miserable and do nothing.
I tried doing some free motion quilting, and to my surprise (although in hindsight it makes sense), I found I felt a greater connection to my dad than when I'd been shunning the machine. I'd been doing a disservice to his memory. Grief is complicated.
So with the preamble out of the way, on to the free motion quilting itself. Since I last blogged about my FMQ endeavors, I've finished 3 more blocks.
The stippling you see on the block below is the first I've ever done. Yep, I sometimes tend to do things backwards, like learning to make feathers before learning to stipple. In some ways stippling wasn't as easy for me as the feathers. While it's true that it's not necessary to be too exact when stippling, having to think where I'm going next while paying attention to my stitches took a different kind of concentration. With the feathers once the spine is stitched, the path is pretty well set.
The next issue I found myself faced with was my purple frames. I'd thought I would leave them un-quilted, hoping they'd "pop". Instead, unless the quilt is laying perfectly flat, they just wrinkle. So I decided I needed to quilt something in the frames too. They are only one inch wide. I ran across these free motion leaves and decided to give them a try. I'm pretty pleased with the result.
Each block seems to present new challenges. I love the plaid fabric the quilter used in this block. It was a perfect mix of colors to match the pansy focus fabric. But how to quilt it? I finally decided on feathers because I've been getting a lot practice since I'm using them in the sashing. However, the feathers are buried in the plaid and really aren't noticeable. Perhaps a more experienced quilter would have come up with something better for the plaid.
I mentioned in my last blog on free motion quilting, that quilting the pansy focus fabric was giving me trouble. The vibrant pattern does weird things to my brain and the curved pansies mess up the curves I'm trying to quilt. However, I decided to give it another shot, because these corner squares are not very big and I thought maybe I'd do better working in a smaller space. HA! As you can see below, that's not true. My "petals" are pretty warped.
Progress is being made on all fronts, and at this point, it's all anyone can ask for.