Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Crafty comparisons

So, I have had a lot of time to roam around the crafty blogosphere lately, what with all that breastfeeding I've been doing lately. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time cruising Flikr and blogs and quilters blogs linked to Flikr. Not to mention all the regular blogs I follow that keep me up to date on the latest and greatest in quilting.

This is the thing; I have no time to make quilts right now. No. Time. Yet I keep seeing these increasingly complex quilt blocks that would be cool to make, and these wonderful improv quilts that are amazing displays of creativity and careful design. Not only that, but it seems like many of these bloggers produce at least a quilt a week. Seriously. And I think I made two quilts last year.

I've been thinking, for instance, about how much I'd like to make a scrap quilt out of tiny pieces (it will have to be done eventually before my house is taken over with scraps). And I always start with a simple - ish plan (why don't I choose a block and make a scrappy quilt using that block, or make a basic spider web or string quilt). But then I start thinking of all the creative things I could do - a medallion quilt with five or six different kinds of scrappy blocks. A tricky paper piecing something or another. A postage stamp quilt. The Maple Leaf rag with all those tiny pieced centers to the spiderweb blocks . . . and my head starts to spin. And I think "I will never be the quilter I want to be. I don't meet up to the standard. All I do is sew squares together and that is not very creative. I give up."

But the problem with this thinking is the people I am comparing myself to. I forget that a lot of the bloggers I am following are trying to make their living by quilt blogging. They get sent bundles of free fabric, on the condition that they can turn around a quilt top with that fabric in 2 or 3 weeks. Their kids are in school or out of the house or they have help. Or they just devote a lot more time to sewing than I can at the moment.

This is sort of like when I was a kid and teenager. I always felt like I wasn't meeting the standard set by my siblings. But I was ignoring the fact that they were 10 or 15 years older than me, so of course they were more mature / had more experience / were doing more than I was.

I think I need to give myself the grace to just enjoy making simple quilts. I need to release the inner over-achiever that wants to make something fabulous that will wow the blogosphere. I just don't have the time, and that's not why I quilt in any case.

Instead, I need to remember that this is my HOBBY. I don't want to make money off of it (despite many people's insistence that I should try). I just want to play with colour and pattern and make beautiful things for my family and friends. I have some quilts that don't quite work like I thought they would, yes. But then, I was pushing myself outside of my comfort zone when I made them. And often I really enjoyed the process of making them. So who cares? Is the quilt police going to come and ban me from quilting for lack of productivity? No. Are my quilts going to get confiscated for using slightly clashing colors or unsucessful designs? No. Are the Flikr police going to take away my contacts (and online friends) because I don't meet the mark as far as comments or favorites or admirers? Nope. Nope. Nope.

So why am I so hard on myself? Why do I compare myself to professionals and super popular people? I don't know. I think its time to let it go already. Make things I love with fabric I love and not worry about wether it is what the cool kids are making or doing or using in their quilts. And realize that its okay not to be quilting like crazy with a 3 week old and 3 other kids, when I can barely get sleep and showers in.

I think "Let it go" is actually my new mantra for the next 3 months. Sounds good, no?


Anonymous said...

Oh hunny, that post made me really sad. Just take a breath and remember that blogland is not always what it seems. You never know what everyone else is dealing with and what help they have behind the scenes. Or what they're sacrificing to churn out that volume. Something always has to give.
I too sometimes find myself comparing myself to others but then sternly have to remind myself that "comparison is the thief of joy".

I hear you on the productivity thing. I finished 2 quilts recently but they had been in the works for at least 9 months and most of the work had been done by other people. It's been a long LONG time since I made anything more than a baby quilt without the help of bee friends.
And I sew for a living!

You have a baby & 3 bigger littles that are taking your time. I haven't actually stepped into my sewing room for weeks either. I miss it!

Barb said...

Jill, I completely understand your feelings, and I'm just in awe of all that you get done with 4 kids and you were working too. Just give that little baby an extra kiss when you are feeling discouraged.

I'm feeling absolutely overwhelmed by quilting these days too. I'm at the point now that I think I might try to destash a huge portion of my stash.

All the best to you and your family! Oh, and the Maple Leaf Rag isn't hard, just time consuming.

Lisa said...

Jill I'm with you on this, I agree that it can become very discouraging to compare your own level of output to that of others. I enjoy reading blogs from everyday quilters as well professional quilters. I don't know what the answer is, except maybe we need to talk more about projects we are working on, and not just projects we have finished. Hang in there. And good luck choosing the next project.

Pinkadot Quilts said...

Jill I know what you are talking about. I had 4 children and felt very frustrated that I could get nothing done.
They are all gone from my house, well most of them and I still don't get what I want done. Enjoy your kids now they will be grown soon and you will miss this time you have now.
The internet can be good and bad as it makes you feel like you can't keep up sometimes. Do what you love and you will be happy.