On Growth

This summer, I went to Utah to visit my grandmother who is turning 90 in October, as well as my baby sister who just had a baby.

Erika

I haven’t kept most of the things I’ve made. Once I’m done making anything, I’m ready for my next adventure. I’ve actually given many of the items I’ve made to my grandma. She is probably the person I love most on this Earth. She is who Disney would create if they were creating the perfect grandma. Of course, when I send her something I’ve made, it is my way of expressing love.

My grandma has created every kind of thing you could imagine. She is an incredible painter. She taught me how to sew and make quilts. When I was very young, I also took tole painting with her and my older sister. Grandma is quite the distinguished artist in her own right. I don’t think there is anything she hasn’t made and made well.

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While I was visiting her, I looked to find some of the things I’ve made for her, just to visit them. One of the oldest things I’ve made was a cigar box purse with my now 13 year old son’s picture on it. I had taken the picture and then changed it in Photoshop to look like a drawing. It stares at you when you walk into her house! I also specifically wanted to see a yellow Hopscotch quilt I made her as well as a Hexi Window table runner.

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I was surprised and delighted with the craftsmanship on the pieces I’d made. Some of them were superb. Some of them, not so much.  Let’s talk about the yellow quilt I made. It was pieced extremely well. My points were pretty much spot on. But the quilting. Oh! The quilting! I hadn’t remembered the quilting being so crappy. I checked out a few other pieces I made and in them, was able to see my growth. I’m not even kidding. It was like a report card in a way. I could see the piecing was always pretty good. The quilting started out pretty bad and ended up being pretty good. I could see my own personal evolution and growth in the quilting. My husband wasn’t too pleased to hear me judging and critiquing my own work. But I was delighted to see right in my hands, my growth.

It came right at a time when I was working on another project. I made a table runner for an upcoming blog hop. I had something on my midarm machine already. I had to quilt it up on my domestic sewing machine. I realized how it is easier to quilt on my midarm machine than on my domestic. Oh my! It was nothing like my midarm. I had been spoiled by having my midarm and comparing the quilting from my domestic to my midarm was not pretty at all.

And then I remembered that I was doing the best I could. Every time I make something, it is the best I can at that moment. I can’t compare myself to myself from years ago. I was doing the best I could at the time. Each time I make anything, I get a little better. It takes hours of making to grow.

I realize also, that when I look at other people’s work, they are doing the best they can. Sometimes I get a little crush on the way they can make something look so effortless. I know that quilting is something that takes hours and hours to become better. The more free motion quilting I do, the more I understand how talented other longarmers are. It is hard. It takes practice. Lots of practice. I know that I’ve gotten better over time. And I also can appreciate other people’s work more now. I can’t compare myself to myself. I also can’t compare myself to someone else.

I love to look at Tia Curtis’ gorgeous quilting. I’ve followed her for years online. She has quilted for years on longarms. She has years more experience than I do. And I’m not saying this in a way that I feel like I’m not good. I’m able to appreciate her work and how many hours she has spent perfecting her craft. I am perfecting mine in my own way and in my own time. And I’m thankful for the crappy quilting on my yellow quilt. I remember at the time being proud of it. I’m still proud of it. I was doing the best I could at the time.

2 thoughts on “On Growth

  1. So glad you got to spend this time with your family. I agree with you – everything we make is a chance to grow… and I think that is why I keep making!!

  2. love this. Sorry it took me so long to find your blog! Yes, reminding ourselves we are doing the best we can at any moment is so important! I have a hard time getting over the mortification of old/awful projects (and photos!) so I tend to get rid of them. In fact, a friend’s mom recently sent me some truly awful photos from 30 years ago. They went in the trash! But I guess that’s healthy, too–let go and let live.

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