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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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!!!