Sunday, August 31, 2008

When You Can See It Coming...

What is it about us as human beings that makes us sometimes completely unable to stop ourselves from doing something we just know is going to end badly?

I was working on some "homework" from a quilt class last night and I could tell, as I was sewing the last strips on each block, that I was going to end up with whonky blocks. There were plenty of bias edges going on and I knew the strip I was attaching to the center of the block was a little too long, and that while I could certainly stretch those bias edges a little bit to make it fit, there would be a point of no return. Yet I continued to stretch and sew, and hoped for the best. After all, I'd cut and sewn everything exactly to the instructions, hadn't I? Maybe the teacher knew something I didn't and it would all work out in the end...ahem. Blocks finished, and seeing edges wave back at me, I spray starched the heck out of them, steam pressed them, and put the heaviest books on my shelves on top of them on the ironing board and left them overnight.

They're nice and flat today, but there's a clear bow in the outside edges. I either do some reverse sewing, or consign myself to grief when I try to attach all the finished blocks together at the end of the class next spring. What could've been maybe a ten or 15 minute fix yesterday before it went so far awry is now going to probably take me at least 45 minutes to an hour, if I don't end up having to recut some strips and start further back in the process.

I could see it coming. But I didn't stop myself.

Similarly, when my son woke up this morning, I gave him all of about 5 minutes before I mentioned a speeding ticket he'd gotten a couple of days ago. I wasn't yelling at him, simply mentioning to him that the only job he was going to have from me today was to fill out the information on the ticket and get it ready to stick in the mail. All in a very reasonable voice. Even so, before I even opened my mouth, I thought, "He's always cranky in the morning. Maybe I should wait an hour or so before bringing this up." But something in me (admittedly, the part still a little ticked at him for getting the ticket in the first place) just didn't want to stop myself. Yes, there was a subtext to me not stopping myself on that one that's entirely different from the subtext in the quilting incident. But both have the same basic problem--why can't I stop myself when I know something is probably going to end badly?

Fortunately, I just got a couple of eye-rolls and a bit of a snitty voice from my son. It could've been worse. And my quilt blocks can be saved--it's only fabric and a little time, after all. But it made me think of all the times we human beings make decisions we know are unhealthy, or we know will be dangerous, or we know will probably just make situations worse...and we don't stop ourselves. Although we may get some immediate benefit from our poor choices (sure, I was glad that my son was at least momentarily as annoyed about the ticket as I was, even if for different reasons), we know in the long run we'll probably regret having made whatever the decision was and may even have really dug ourselves a hole that it'll be very difficult to get out of.

And so another life lesson from quilting. Hopefully next time I'll stop myself before I sew a piece on that I just know is going to cause me grief later, and next time I'll stop myself before I say or do something I just know is going to end badly. Meanwhile, I have to go find my seam ripper.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Playing Catch-Up

It's been about a month since my last post but since I was out of town on business for two of those four weeks it doesn't quite count, does it? I took last week as vacation and intended to use it as a personal little quilt retreat at home but it didn't quite work out that way. Life tends to get in the way. My son had wisdom teeth removed, I had meetings related to my volunteer work with the Karen and Chin communities, I took my daughter and some of her friends to a local amusement park, and I had a bunch of friends over one afternoon, so I only ended up with one sewing day. But as I reminded myself, soon enough I'll be empty nesting and have all sorts of time to spend at my sewing machine so I only slightly feel bad about my lack of quilting productivity.

I did manage to finally catch up with my guild's block of the month challenge (woohoo!) and I put together the backing for a quilt that I'll be giving a niece for her bday later this week--one of those "open your present, and then hand it back to me so I can finish it!"

But today was probably the most productive--I finally managed to get my new cutting table put together! OK, so I bought it a year ago, and the box has been leaning against a wall in my sewing room, providing a convenient shelf for works in project. Now I need to find a new limbo location for my UFOs, but at least I'm no longer negotiating a warped cutting surface. The old warped cutting table is being relagated to the basement where it will find redemption as a "gift-wrapping center".

I don't have much worthy of pondering at the moment, other than the sense of satisfaction one gets when one finally finishes something that one has been tripping over for a year. I'll work on getting back in my Tessellations Game and be profound again soon enough. Time to flex my furniture-putting-together-mojo again building a desk and bookshelf for my son's room...