Part of the process of learning how to do something new is accepting the fact that sometimes what you make sucks. This especially important in the creative process, I think, because it is a push forward towards being better at the work you’re trying to make. As Ira Glass has said, this is because of the gap between our skills and our taste.
I began to quilt because I needed to learn how to do something new that inspired me towards making stuff. Photography, while it is fundamentally important to my creative process, stopped feeling like a challenge. Right now, it feels like I know how to make the images I want to make. It feels like second nature. I was also tired of working in pixels, my final product a digital file on someone’s screen. It felt really disposable. Without the time I was putting into the process and final product, it felt just too easy.
I had so much trouble with this quilt and I fucked up in all the ways one could fuck up. Let me tell you, dear reader, about them. The initial measurements from my vector files were wrong when I planned the quilt. Because of this, I didn’t order enough fabric. Piecing took twice as long as I wanted it to. I didn’t order enough of the backing fabric and so I had to (again!) add more fabric to the backing after it was basted. The back was puckered when it was basted together. Putting the binding on was time consuming and I had to do three times before I got the damn thing right. I washed it and wasn’t happy with the way it looked when it first dried.
Despite all this, making this quilt made the transition between my life in Pennsylvania to my life as it has been in Missouri much easier. It’s been a thing of consistency, comfort and escape. Quilting it let me relive the day I had a few of my favorite people over from my job at the farm. We laughed and ate together, something that we had did a lot of over the 9 months we knew one another on a day to day basis. It was a really great way to say good bye to some of the people that, despite the short time span of our community, are some of the best people I’ve worked and hung out with. Reliving that time in my life and remembering those people helped ease the general malaise and depression of living in the aftermath of a decision of questionable merit. It helped remind me that everything is temporary, even bitter cold winters, disagreements, disappointments and broken hearts.
I made this quilt for Aubrey and I, as a housewarming and wedding gift for us. The pattern is a traditional log cabin (variation called rooftop, I believe) and like Quilt #006, I kept with the centered piecing and heavy sashing that I like so much from old Amish quilts. The center of the log cabin pattern is said to represent the hearth of the home and red felt like a good accent to the charcoal and not-quite-black-not-quite-blue of the color scheme. We’ve been married just over a year at this point (May 1st) and I finished it before the month was over. I put it on our bed the same week that he accepted a new job in Boulder, Colorado.
These events are largely serendipitous of one another. But having such a creative and meditative outlet kept me sane during months of my life that have been fraught with conflict, fear, sadness, anxiety, doubt and stagnancy. It let the bad stuff recede into the background for a little while. It’s not perfect but it’s imperfection allows it be useful. I’m less concerned about it being clean and free of dog hair and more interested in how wonderful it is to sleep under and how it will age.