Sunday, January 1, 2017

In Retrospect

I suppose today is a good day for looking forward, but any good look ahead begins with a good look back.

Makes.
I didn't archive my work when 2015 dawned, I think because I was too busy being excited about my pregnancy with Eleni!  And then I didn't archive my work when 2016 dawned, definitely because I was too busy surviving.  This year I feel all myself again.  A changed self, surely, but generally with my heart, soul and mind all in their proper places.

Over the past few days I've been adding all my finished projects from 2014-2016 to my Gallery pages.  At Quilts you can see quilt finishes from 2010, which was my first year of quilting, through 2015.  The Quilts page is getting too long, so I've created a separate post for the Quilts of 2016!

Favorite Quilts of 2016

It is fun to hear which of my 2016 quilts is your favorite.  There were several comments in favor of Cranberry Tart, which surprised me.  I think my favorite quilt is Doodle Doodle, from my improv series.

Doodle Doodle, a finished quilt

I was working on this quilt at the time of my baby Eleni's passing.  Due to its open-ended nature, I was able to express my feelings in the colors and shapes I used.  My favorite inspiration was to contrast the white/pale gray half square triangles at top left with a flock of dark gray/black half square triangles at top right so that light and dark come together in a hard line.  I wrote, "The clouds really can roll in so fast.  A storm.  A downpour and we're soaking, until suddenly that too is gone," a not-too-subtle analogy to Eleni's birth injury, life and death.  I sell or give away nearly all my quilts, which is a good thing considering I make about 20 per year, but this is one that I feel a slight regret at parting with.  I trust it is being enjoyed though!

Growth.
As a quilter I stretched myself in 2016 by making my first quilt relying heavily on partial seams.  Figuring out how to sew the design and then completing A Still Point in a Turning World gave me that exciting sense of accomplishment that comes from trying new things.  I created the pattern for it hoping others would enjoy the same!

 39

2016 also saw a proliferation of quilts expressly designed and actualized as quilt therapy.  I used quilts to express my hopes, disappointments, loss, isolation, love and even anger.  Aside from Doodle Doodle, I made My Brokenful Heart after Eleni died specifically to express my loss.  That quilt was the toddler quilt I would have made her if only.  I used my favorite girly fabrics and hand quilted it as if it was a keeper, even knowing I would part with it just as I parted with her.

Brokenfull Heart, hand quilted

Of course the I Heart You series of NICU quilts was made in Eleni's honor from her never-finished heart quilt to show my love for her and hope for those NICU babies.  A Still Point in a Turning World was about isolation and despair, while Never Easy tapped into my anger. 

 Never Easy patchwork quilt

I am grateful for this healing creative outlet and for you all, who have made this creative outlet possible.  Truly I wouldn't be who I am as a person, let alone as a quilter, if I didn't have this space encouraging and ensuring my quilting hobby.  I hope that in 2017 I don't have quite so much to "say" with my quilts!  Or maybe that's not true...  Maybe I hope to say a whole lot of love, joy and peace with them!!!

Business.
I created a new class in 2017 called Patchwork from Scrap.  It was my first class geared to beginners, since it taught basic habits of cutting, organizing and project planning that support patchwork and specifically scrappy patchwork.  Unfortunately Patchwork from Scrap was not a popular class.  I'm hoping that was due to the beginner target market rather than to a general disinterest in my online classes.  Although Craftsy and such are huge competition nowadays, I hope my classes can be unique and rich enough to continue to draw a following. 

I'm not sure what my next class will be about.  I'm going to be careful to choose something that matches where I am currently at as a quilter, rather than looks back to somewhere I have been before.  If you have any class suggestions, please let me know!

In 2017 I would like to host some weekend workshops here at my house in my new sewing room!  I am thinking groups of up to 8 students, eating and sewing together Friday night through Sunday afternoon.  Maybe one workshop in spring and one in fall, both of which are lovely seasons in South Carolina.  I'm hoping baby will start sleeping through the night so that I have more creative energy to plan those workshops.  If you would be likely to attend, what would you like to learn?  Some ideas:  improv, curves, color, machine paper piecing, or just a fun round robin project.

Goals.
Looking back over three years of projects gave me some thoughts about where I'd like to go next:
  • Improv Handbook Scores:  I'm so glad I started working through the scores of The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters in 2015.  The series has definitely helped me grow as an artist.  There are several more scores I'd really like to tackle if I could wrestle some time away from all my own ideas!
  • Statement Quilting:  I've finally come to a point where the quilting stage doesn't particularly intimidate me.  I used to choose a quilting design based on what seemed easiest, fastest and/or least likely to destroy my project!  Now I have a comfort level with free motion quilting and straight line quilting, plus a great machine to work with.  I think I'm on the cusp of being able to use quilting to actually enhance my designs.
  • Dresdens:  Early on I marked dresdens as a traditional style I disliked.  Somewhere along the way (actually, it was after the first QuiltCon), I realized that I enjoy traditional patchwork with its repeating blocks and intricate shapes.  Turns out I enjoy all kinds of patchwork!  Dresdens have been intriguing me since summer of 2015.  It's high time I played with that shape.
  • Baby Makes:  2017 is the only year that Elora is going to be a baby.  Next year she'll be a toddler!  I want to be sure to enjoy it by sewing all the fun baby things.  I could use some help with that.  What should I make?  Right now I'm thinking those Anna Maria Horner bloomers, but what else?
  • Community:  Since I got out of the habit of regular blog reading, I've struggled to connect regularly with the larger quilting community.  I do use Instagram to connect some, but would like to develop a new habit of blog reading that fits.  I'd also like to continue to integrate Instagram into occasional blog events in 2017.

I can't say enough how grateful I am for the opportunity to be encouraged by you, learn with you and inspire you to be creative.   I appreciate your time and trust as a reader.  None of this would be possible without you.  You've cared for me and my family through some very hard times in truly amazing ways.  And, most recently, you've celebrated with me in a way that only a friend can.  So thanks for 2016!  Here's to another fabulous year!!!


40 comments:

  1. Speaking of the Cranberry Tart quilt, will you be posting a tutorial or pattern for it...? :D
    As for a workshop, I really admire your natural sense of color choice/print selection in your quilts and would love to learn more about that... even though I have taken color classes before.
    Also, a round robin sounds so fun...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I'll revisit the huge X block that makes up Cranberry Tart. When I do, I'll make a tutorial! On the topic of color I wonder if you've already taken my Color Intensive class? I'd have to figure out if I should offer Color Intensive in a workshop version OR if I need to create a Color Intensive 2.0 if students would have already taken the first one. Hm....

      Delete
    2. I haven't taken your Color Intensive class, but would be interested in a Color Intensive 2.0....
      I did take your Scraps Class which really helped on organization...

      Delete
  2. Sounds like you've got some great goals planned Rachel! And btw, your Cranberry Tart quilt was my favourite x

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for continuing to be so honest about your life and your art. I LOVE reading your blog. You are an amazing artist, and I know that being so honest has helped other people out there in the world. Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I fully agree. I so appreciate your heart expressed in words, pictures, and quilts.

      Delete
  4. Hi Rachel and thank you for sharing inspiration and knowledge! I love your work and your blog! You use fantastic colours and it's always enjoy to read your stories! If I should pick a favourite, I would say Kate's jumprope (hope to remember the name well), I remember this as a winding ways. Looking for a better, creative, sparkling year! x Teje

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Rachel, congrats on your little one
    …suggest these slippers ( mine were minus the dragon)
    http://www.made-by-rae.com/2011/02/tutorial-by-rae-dragon- slippers/
    and these hooded bath towels (bought fast dry towels at Target & made matching wash cloths)
    http://haberdasheryfun.com/diy-projects/diy-baby-toddler-hooded-towel

    both were big hits

    ReplyDelete
  6. Reading where you've been and where you're hoping to journey in 2017 was enjoyable :o) Your blog is one I enjoy reading on a regular basis.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Rachel - HNY! What a nice retrospective! I received my Penny Sampler for January today and I can only say that your pdf files are lovely and so well written, that your courses are definitely worth it! I enjoyed Patchwork from Scrap and I would recommend it. I enjoy reviewing it periodically for inspiration.
    As for reconnecting with blogs, so many bloggers don't seem to really blog anymore, or not with past frequency - Instagram is often a repeat rather than a teaser like you do -
    I am thankful that you share with us as you do - you make it a valuable place to visit and hang out a while. Best wishes for 2017!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Quilting is such a positive way to express all kinds of emotions ... even if it's just selecting bundles of colour to temper ourselves ... I'm going to make more of an effort regarding community too ... blogging or IG? I like them both and can't wait to see your baby makes

    ReplyDelete
  9. Have always purchased your patterns when available. I would love to see more of them.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a wonderful look back at this year. Your productivity and variety is just amazing! (Plus a new baby to boot!)
    I'm sorry to hear that Patchwork from Scrap wasn't taken by many. It was the second class I've taken from you, and it, like the first, was just terrific. Even though I'm not a beginner, I learned so much, and especially found it helped get my creative juices flowing. My scraps are ever so much more accessible, and I have so many more plans for them! I'd love to join you for Penny Sampler, but we're having two weddings (a son and a daughter) in the next couple of months, and I just can't swing it now.
    Can't wait to see what 2017 will bring!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Anne! I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed Patchwork from Scrap =)

      Delete
  11. I actually just bought my fist class from you, the penny sampler, and I think it's amazing! I love the sampler format, learning plenty of techniques, side projects, but still having one crazy amazing quilt at the end, so maybe another sampler? With hand paper piecing,maybe?

    Now, baby sewing! That's my big project these days, I really want to manage sewing all the clothes my kids wear. I LOVE the Maritime Dress by Max and Meena, its super easy and looks beautiful, the top is knit fabric and the skirt can be woven.
    Brindille & Twig has great knit staples. The Harem Romper is the pattern I used the most because it's just so darn cute, and I also love the t-shirt dress, the harem leggings, the free hoodie, the raglan t-shirt and the big butt pants, altough my favorite pants are Max and Meena's joggers, they are fast and über comfortable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Usually my name appears, I don't know why I'm anonymous now?

      Delete
    2. Oh, i forgot! Mummykins and me has great baby patterns! The comfy cowl hoodie is adorable, and i tested adultes versions of the st-tropez swing and the monteCarlo, the baby versions are both vert cute. I really want to try the Berry Bubble shorts toi!

      Delete
    3. So many good ideas here, Catherine. Thanks!

      Delete
  12. Maybe it is just me but as a beginner I really do not have a lot of scraps hence I thought Patchwork from Scraps class would not suit me even though it was targeted at beginners. I have bought one class from you before and it was beautiful and interesting. I will buy more :) as soon as I've finished the previous one. Just too busy in life to sew :(

    ReplyDelete
  13. Bibs for when baby starts on solids are always fun and quick to make - I back mine with cut up cloth nappy towelling as it is so absorbent. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Love your blog and your sense of color (not to mention your great methods, esp. on flying geese!). And a retreat 2 states away sounds doable, right? Curves and color remain challenges, but then a round-robin is always fun! Thanks for your ongoing inspiration. Off to get on board with Penny Sampler!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments, Betty. I hope you enjoy Penny Sampler =) It sounds like a Round Robin is a popular idea. I'm going to think more on that...

      Delete
  15. I believe my favorite is the Lotus quilt, although all are beautiful and I love looking at them. Also, thanks for putting the pattern for that Granny Square afghan on your blog! I have been wanting to do one since I hadn't made any since I was very young. Over this long weekend, I took the time to read all of "Eleni's Story". I hadn't realized when I first started following your blog that it was there. I loved reading it all; I love the fact that you are so REAL in your posts. You have a beautiful heart, and Stitched in color is always the first thing I click on when I see it in my email! God bless you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Here's wishing you and your family a very happy new year! thank you for your extraordinary blog. I feel lucky to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I would have loved to take the Patchwork from Scrap class. Not sure I ever saw a 'listing' for it though. :( I need organization! lol. I love all your quilts! I made a color brick with your "porto" picks from Intrepid thread and it is on my bed! Love it!
    Thanks for sharing yourself with all of us! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Porto Colorbrick - love it! Thanks for your thoughts, Barbara =)

      Delete
  18. I appreciate your thoughtful reflections and insights. Your gift of writing enriches all of your quilts and makes them richer and brighter and more lovely. I also appreciate your shared aspirations and thought processes ~ ~ so much of our world is surface and shallow that the depth and richness of you is a surprise blessing in many ways. I wish you continued ideas and clarity as 2017 unfolds ~ ~ and I pray the same for me!!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I still love 'still point in a turning world' and 'Doodle doodle quilt' and the Lotus too any many more I guess....anyway wishing you, your family, and little Elora all the best for the coming year!!!
    Now I'm thinking of ordering 'the penny sampler'.....I love the quilt pattern!
    Groetjes
    Annemieke

    ReplyDelete
  20. This year, I want to try Dresdens, too! And something rainbow-y. But most of all, I want to make for ME: what i feel inclined to make, what I want to explore, what makes me happy. I made LOTS of gift quilts in 2015 and 2016, and I am so glad to have given those away, but being so preoccupied with what the recipient would like (and worrying, "is all this time and money going to be wasted when this quilt gets tucked in a closet, never to be enjoyed?") has sucked out a lot of the joy of making. I sure need a hobby, not more worries! A couple nights ago, I started a scrap quilt on a whim and it was FUN -- I didn't overthink my quilt math or color scheme or fabric choices -- I tried a new technique -- I was spontaneous and, dare I say, reckless. So, so fun! Here's to more fun quilting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your description of your new scrap quilt experience is awesome! Go, Vicki!

      Delete
  21. So glad you are feeling like your old self again! Enjoyed the look back! For me, Lotus is my fav. Probably for for curved piecing, it's something I'd like to master. BTW, your in home classes sound wonderful...after all, I'm right up the road!

    ReplyDelete
  22. This is the first time that I am seeing your blog! Your quilts are wonderful and your words are honest and beautiful. I look forward to popping back to see what you write next.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love your classes. You put so much thought and great content into them. I took color intensive, as I had never really explored it and I loved the projects that came from it. I am currently taking Penny Sampler in the 12 month version. I am moving in a few months and wanted something that I could work on in bits and I really want to stretch myself in some techniques I have shied away from. Your class is so full of great stuff in just the first month! I am not sure what other classes I would be interested in at this point, but I will keep reading to see what you come up with.
    Baby makes:I made lots of pairs of big butt baby pants and quick change trousers for my grand children and they are on their second and third babies.Fun to choose fabrics for those. Bibs, yes and little dresses are fun too, especially when paired with bloomers. Make them shorter, like a top, so baby doesn't have trouble when beginning to crawl.
    I like the idea of a Round Robin for a workshop. Is that enough time to get one mostly done? Could be fun though and could continue via mail until finished. Happy New year to you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Charlotte! Good tip on keeping dresses short for crawling. Oh, gosh, I love crawling. Can't wait (can wait)! I'm glad people like the idea of a Round Robin workshop. I'll be thinking about how to make that work because it may be the perfect first workshop for me....

      Delete
  24. Considering everything you've been through, you had a very prolific year and so many beautiful makes! I am sad to hear that the class wasn't a huge success! I wanted to take it but the timing was terrible for me, and I was hoping you'd offer it again in the Spring! Ah well.

    By the way, I meant to email you, I used your tutorial and made a Christmas tree skirt! It's on my blog, two entries back. I made it larger, and I'm still a beginner quilter (apparel sewing is my usual jam) so it was hard work for me, but I LOVE the final product. Thank you for inspiring me with that project!! Happy New Year, friend!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Color Intensive 2!!! CI 1 was so much fun I would love to play/learn more. I use my Kona card often (today even) and have referred back to my CI file several times.

    More improv scores are on my list too.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Rachel, I don't often comment, often because I'm playing catch up and I feel rude leaving a comment on something you wrote a week (or weeks) ago, but I just wanted to say, that I love visiting your little corner of the internet. I have felt honoured to have you share the ups and downs of 2015 & 2016 with me, and with everyone. It has been both heartbreaking and heartwarming to watch as you went through these past years, and your quilts have definitely spoken of where you were at. I wish you all the joy that can come in 2017 and, like you, that your upcoming quilts will reflect love, joy, wonder, and peace.
    E xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Erin. It means a lot to have readers who have followed my journey and enjoy all aspects of what I share in this space. Blessings!

      Delete
  27. I have taken your curves class and your pennies sampler class and really enjoyed them both. For what it's worth, I think a scrap class isn't a great fit for beginners because by the time you have enough scraps, you are not a beginner anymore. And I always really enjoy reading your blog.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails