Wednesday, January 27, 2010

spiderwebs on the brain


I did so much thinking while I was piecing these--call it the metacognition of quilting.

Partly because making them is simple and therefore meditative--right down to peeling the paper while watching Law & Order--


but also because their scrappiness brings to the forefront of my mind so many parts of the creative process.  I am not particularly "scrappy" by nature--not because I don't like the look of scrappy quilts when they're done well (like this one, or this one), but because I tend to obsess and then become paralyzed by anxiety over fabric (and other design) choices.

I guess, then, that it's encouraging that even my least favorite block looked pretty good once trimmed.

A favorite block developed as I worked, and I only added favorite fabrics to it, as if to preserve it.  I wonder if anyone else could identify it?  I wonder if that person would have to be someone who knew me well, or whether the fabrics would be universally appealing so that it was obvious to anyone?  And no, this is not it.

spider bee January--stack

Fabric choices.  How and why had Anna chosen these different fabrics?  Some I would have chosen, some do people develop their preferences? Would she like the outcome?  Stressful to make something for someone else.
Deliberate randomness--maybe there's a technical term?--is scrappy the same as random?  If I'm supposed to be working randomly, then is it wrong to skip or replace a fabric that's "next in line" because there would be two greens in a row, or because it wasn't a favorite?  Would it have been OK to put two Christmas fabrics in the same block, or would that have made it a Christmas block?  How long did others spend choosing the perfect fabrics, or did they truly work randomly, or did they develop a few rules to guide their choices?  Many designers (Bill Kerr & Weeks Ringle and Denyse Schmidt come to mind) incorporate improvisation and randomness into their piecing; is this a feature of "modern" quilting, or, in a way, a return to the most organic kind of quilting (Gee's Bend, or quilts as the most basic form of reuse)?

Too much thinking, perhaps, about how to sew together some scraps of fabric. 


For me, though, this is what makes quilting more interesting than knitting.  There is thinking to be done in knitting, for sure, and math, and problem solving...but the effects of changes are more subtle and realizing them is slow (for this turtle knitter, anyway).  In quilting, I can see different designs just by rearranging.  Immediate.

So much to learn.

In the interim, I hope Anna likes her blocks.


  1. well, what can i say, i love them! i start off thinking and thinking about my blocks too, but in the end, after all of the blocks are together, i guess it doesn't matter if i put two greens together or two christmas blocks together, because all i see is the whole thing and it is going to be beautiful! i am thankful that eleven other ladies had a hand in putting it together too! thanks:)

  2. I totally relate to your worry of random and scrappy. I find it hard not to overthink - but then it looks too planned. I'm going to have to try the paper bag thing some time for total randomness. It may give me hives though!

  3. Anna, I'm so glad you like them! I'm sure the final quilt will be stunning.

    And yes, Angela, I've been meaning to try some kind of experiment with the paper bags...but I know I wouldn't be able to totally stick with it. :)


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