Monday, February 13, 2012

Slow Quilt Monday: Scrap Zen

I missed posting last week due to a combination of business travel and an insanely busy couple of weeks. So I wasn't exactly doing the slow quilting thing. Actually, I was doing the "no quilting" thing.

That, combined with my usual seasonal affective stuff going on, has led to a very low-key approach to quiltmaking of late. As of Friday Feb 10th, after I finished the last task of the workday, I entered my sabbatical. That means 12 weeks of a very different schedule with a slightly different focus (although not entirely). Frankly, part of my sabbatical is the slow quilting focus.

On Sunday I ended up with an unexpected day at home. We'd originally had things scheduled one end to another, but due to a snow-storm everything got cancelled. I spent a fair amount of time doing cyber-housekeeping (cleaning out email files, catching up with blogs, planning future posts and newsletters, etc.), but then I really wanted to get my hands on fabric. I was still not feeling up to tackling a quilting project but wanted to get myself ready for today--the first "real day" of my sabbatical (read: the first day I would realize I didn't have to be at work). Today will be the inaugural day of my new schedule, a day that includes professional study and growth as well as exploring how to express myself more effectively through textiles. Today includes copious sewing time.

So I spent a few minutes yesterday organizing my fabrics and tools and thoughts for today, then I decided to take a page out of listener Holly U's book and spend some time cutting scraps. And therein I discovered some zen.

There's something to be said for standing for a period of time simply cutting fabrics into pieces with no plan in mind. What size can I get out of this piece? 2 1/2" squares? Then I'll cut 2 1/2" squares. So let it be done. And what size here? A 5" square and then a couple of 2"-ies of out of the remainder? Then that's what I'll cut. So let it be done. On the one hand, I could feed my need for productivity and accomplishment by seeing the pile of random scrap fabrics diminished and the pile of neatly cut pieces of usable sizes increase. On the other hand, rather than keeping count and worrying about having the right proportion of values, I could simply enjoy the possibilities represented by the plastic baggie of squares on the cutting table in front of me.

Cutting scraps with no immediate plan clearly fits into Slow Quilting, in my mind. It's taking steps to a quilt without rushing; it's allowing possibilities to unfold; it's allowing the fabric to speak for itself. "What size do you want to be? So let it be done."

Maybe this week you'll take 10 minutes, or an hour, to simply cut some scraps without worrying for the moment what they'll become. Just enjoy the fabric, and the possibilities.

**After writing this post, I came down with a stomach virus. Go figure. Day 1 of sabbatical has now been reconfigured to sleeping, sipping water, watching TV, maybe some reading. Serious doubts I'll be able to stand at my cutting table. Had to see that coming.