Sunday, June 1, 2008

Magpie 201

Freebird left me a comment asking how I cope with having so many different projects in the works at one time. I can't remember a time when I didn't have more than one project in the works! Even back when I was doing needlepoint I had more than one canvas in process. That 'quicksilver' mind of a Gemini at work I guess. I get bored, I need a change of pace, and I prefer the creative process over the finishing processes.

What Freebird may not realize is how many UFO's I have in my closet. (UFO's are UnFinished Objects.) I'm not going to take the time to inventory them or count them for you but suffice to say that there's a stack. And some of them are old. Not as many as there used to be, I'm happy to report. Last year I concentrated on thinning the herd as it were. I gave some away and finished a few. Some I moved further along but they are still waiting for final borders or quilting. I have given myself permission to ignore them this year unless and until the mood strikes.

And I have learned that it is wiser for me to work with my moods rather than against them. It's actually less stressful for me to have many projects in process so I can pick and choose what to work on according to my mood than to have to force myself to finish a project before I can begin a new one. I would be one grouchy magpie if I had to complete every single thing I started before beginning an enticing new project! No, I would have quit creating altogether if someone had tried to impose that rule on me. In which case I would probably be dead. Or as good as.

The creative process is what gets me out of bed in the mornings. I am like a vampire in that the project I had to stop in the middle of because I was too tired to do any more work on it or the new idea percolating in the back of my mind are life-blood to me. Without a new idea to play with, without a new fabric or tube of beads to inspire, without visual stimulation all around me I would first be grouchy and then lifeless. Just ask my family.

I have also learned, over the last couple of years, to use my need to create to distract me from the pain my body inflicts on me. So I machine piece when I have energy or a severe headache (which may sound like a contradiction but I'll explain in a minute). I hand embellish when I'm feeling less energetic, more meditative. Some projects require my full attention or concentration and I don't always have that to give. So I have other projects that I can do relatively mindlessly. Case in point: yesterday.

Yesterday I woke up with a searing headache. One that I knew no drugs available would remove without putting me to sleep for the day. I didn't want to sleep the day away but I knew I wouldn't be able to focus on any of the projects you saw on my design wall in the last post. To distract myself from the headache I chose to machine piece something that wouldn't require much mental effort. I made blocks for the Quilts4Leukaemia project. They are not precision pieced blocks, but maverick Log Cabin blocks I made out of scraps that I hope Clare will be able to put to good use. And since you've been so patient and waded through all this mess I'll show you two of them:

I would show you more except that none of the other pictures turned out as well and I don't feel like having another go at it right now. (Not all of the blocks have chickens in them!) The headache has subsided but it has left me a little grumpy still. I think I'm going to go check out the new Take It Further challenge over on Sharon's blog and then we'll see what happens next...


  1. You and I have similar UFO philosophies. I like to have various projects for various moods and situations. Some require lots of focus, and some are "mindless" projects for the times when I barely want to know what I'm doing. Like you, I also don't put deadlines on projects. When the mood strikes it'll get done.

    Creative work for me is mostly about pleasure and satisfaction. It's interesting to hear that it's also a pain management technique for you.

  2. I've got different hand quilting projects ongoing for different moods.

    Can't wait to see those blocks - you are a star!

  3. I get moody too. Either I'm in the mood to create or I'm not! Like you that new pattern, tube of beads or strip of lace, even a nice piece of patterned junk mail can send me back into the mood to create.

    Glad you are finally feeling better. Headaches (which I didn't have hardly any of when I was younger) are the pits for concentration and creativeness.

    By the way, I sent you an email but didn't get a response. It was while you weren't feeling too well. You won the teacup beaded piece I am making at my blog tea party. I can't finish it until you tell me whether you want a pin or a magnet. It will finish up just under 3" across.


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