My voice

So, this post is all about feelings and emotions and voice.  Lots of words, not a lot of action.  But, I know how much quilters like pictures, so here's a piece of cross stitch I found when I was cleaning out the closet the other day.  For years, I've thought it was a UFO, but when I unfolded it, I found an FO. 

I remember that I changed the poem a bit.  I think the pattern said it was the love inside that made a home.  Gag.  So, I changed it to something I thought was cute.  Even then, I couldn't follow a pattern.

Lorraine Torrence spoke on finding your voice the other night.  There were several parts of her talk that really spoke to me.  She had 7 "steps" to finding your voice and I can't remember them all, but they included things like find your passion, study, fail well, create a journal, repeat in a series, try something different and practice.  She said too many quilters try to make every kind of quilt instead of focusing in on just one kind and that's a mistake and that we should focus on one type of quilt until we master it. 

I was like um-hum, nod politely, tight smile...you know the look.  Because it felt like I do that by making so many different patterns.  But, she drew me in and suddenly, I realized what she was talking about and realized that without knowing it, I had found my voice.  My voice is in the machine quilting I do.  That dense background quilting.  Circles and pearls.  And, even as much as I'd like to branch out from them, feathers. 

Hear me sing!

When I first started quilting, Diane Gaudynski and Harriet Hargrave were at their most popular.  And, I decided right off that was what I wanted to do.  Fifteen years later, I was doing that.  Still maybe not as fine of work as Diane and Harriet, but good work nonetheless.  And, I think they'd both be proud to have been my inspiration. 

When I looked at Lorraine's steps and compared them to my quilting, I found that early on, I had chosen my passion, I studied the work of others and their teaching,this blog is my journal, I've certainly repeated my quilting in every quilt I've finished and that covers practice, too.  And, I've branched out in a couple different directions that have included dense backgrounds and looser feathers, and plenty of shapes in between.

That just left failing well.  Failing well is not giving up.  Well, I sure haven't done that.  And, when you don't like something, try something different.  Lorraine made me laugh here.  She  said, if you're not liking it, don't just pack it away in the back of the closet.  Try something different.  Add something to it or take something away, or cut it apart into smaller pieces and put it back together again.  Or, pick out the quilting.  Try anything because it's not like you're going to train yourself to suddenly like it the way it is.  But, don't give up.  And, I do that, too.  I have picked out many a mile of quilt thread. 

When I quilted the most recent Christmas quilt, I tried new things.  And, I hated it.  Don't get me wrong, it all came out good in the end.  But, I hated the process.  I like more dense, patterned quilting and that quilt wanted very free form, and loose quilting.  I'm used to focusing on a 10-12" square of quilting, but loose quilting means looking forward and planning what happens several inches from where you are, and meandering means planning which direction to go so you don't hit a dead-end.  That made me uncomfortable.  Even in the border, where I tried to enforce order, you can't see it because of the riotous print it's quilted on.  Paired with the pattern, it is a good match with a good finish.  But, it wasn't in my voice. 

I made that miniature card trick quilt and started quilting it.  And, picked it all out.  Because what I was doing wasn't in my voice.  I blamed me for doing bad quilting.  But, there was nothing wrong with that quilting, which trying so hard to pick it out proved.  But, it wasn't in my voice. 

So, maybe, instead of griping about only being able to do feathers again, I should start to think of feathers as maybe something along the lines of middle C.  And, accept that my voice goes up and down from there, within a range.  And, I need to celebrate that as my range and accept that things outside my range are going to make me feel uncomfortable. 

And, I scored a half yard of this beautiful fabric from the free table, to boot!

On a different, but less unrelated subject than you might think, Sydney's mom has reached out to her.  They've had a couple exchanges through facebook private messaging.  Sydney hasn't told me about it yet, but Rob is keeping me filled in.  If you're new to the blog, the short story is that we took Syd in 11 years ago when she was 9.  Her mom said she couldn't keep her and she had lived with four families before us.  Her mom sent one letter and two birthday cards at the very beginning and we haven't heard from her since.  The fourth year, Sydney put her hand on her hip and said she was NOT sending a mother's day card to her mother, and I stopped telling her to. 

Their new conversation seems to be going something like this:
i love you so much and i want us to have a relationship
I'm pretty busy right now.  My life is going in the right direction and I'm in school and working and have my friends.
they took you away from me
No, they didn't.
they wouldn't let me have contact with you.  they must have thrown away all the letters i sent
No, they didn't.
i think you should be showing me more respect
No, I shouldn't.
i know they're making you say all this
No, they aren't.

When Sydney is ready to talk to me, she will.  She knows Rob and I don't keep secrets, so for some reason, it's easier to have him tell me.  I can do that.  We've done it this way all along.  One of us is the buffer and it's not always Rob.  That seems healthy.

Have a great Wednesday!  It's another workday.  I just keep telling myself how lucky I am to have a good job that provides good benefits. 

I am lucky to have a good job that provides good benefits.

I am lucky to have....

I wish I was quilting.

Darn, how my mind drifts.



Mary said...

Lots to think about in that talk. I certainly relate the list in finding your voice. As much as I have always loved quilting, it was learning machine quilting and scrap piecing that has ignited my passion. And I learned from following you that it is perfectly fine to rip out mistakes and start over. My new mantra at work is " I work for fabric" as most of my paycheque seems to be consumed by my fabric purchases

Anonymous said...

Great post! You shared a lot today. Gives us much to think about in our own lives. Love the ending. Made me giggle. Thanks! Mary

Elle said...

Syd's responses to her mom show how much healthier she has become thanks to her years with you and Rob. Still a very painful experience though for Syd to have to deal with her mother's attempts to bend reality. Sounds like her mom is consistent in meeting her own needs instead of Syd's. So glad you and Rob have provided such a loving, emotionally honest home!

Dot Wankat said...

I admire your parenting. Every time you write about what works and doesn't work, I pay attention and my children are late 20's and up. It would be so easy to write that you are lucky to have such a stable family, but you have worked at it - patiently, lovingly, and steadily you have kept putting time into your family.

You seem to put the same effort into your quilting and your job, which is why I always start my day with your blog.

Becky said...

Whoa!!! Hold the phone!! I will be praying for Sydney to continue to sort out the BS! Now you are seeing how your tumultuous, but effective, parenting has taken root. Sydney is a beautiful, smart, strong young woman. She can take her part and establish ground rules. I am so proud of her!! Maybe she and her "birth woman" can have some sort of relationship some day, but I'm counting on the fact she won't be manipulated into any funny business. Stand strong, Sydney, you call the terms. You know who has stood in the trenches with you and for you!! Love all of you bunches!! Becky

Michael C said...

wonderful post. really hit a chord with me at just the right time. (a teacher appears) thanks for posting. T