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Dealing with a UFA (UnFinished Albatross) - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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Dealing with a UFA (UnFinished Albatross) [Dec. 31st, 2006|09:36 am]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

There's something about the end of a year that inspires us to deal with old problems, to try and get them out of the way. And yesterday, while I was production-line piecing triangles to squares, my mind kept drifting to the great-hulking albatross right behind me in a Rubbermaid tub. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I had to face the monster.

You see, almost 16 years ago I was living in Fairbanks, Alaska, and a very active member of the quilter's guild there. I taught assorted quick piecing methods at the local quilt store, I made quilts for charity functions, I was on committees and in color study groups. I had an all-but legendary reputation as the woman who, when she realized that her first project was an unfinishable mess, unrepentantly chucked it in a dumpster. I had well more than 100 finished quilts to my name.

Then we moved to Anchorage. And I'm not saying that the Anchorage quilters were bad people, but I just never could get a toe-hold in that community. I had two kids now, and a marriage that was beginning to founder and sink, and without support my quilting efforts dwindled. A project or two a year was all I could manage. My love would be revived whenever I got to visit my Fairbanks friends, but that wasn't nearly often enough.

Finally, I tackled a really big project: an unfolding star quilt in gorgeous shades of pink and blue. Here's a picture of what it looks like (in a different color scheme):



Once I had it pieced, I decided that I was going hand quilt the whole thing. I was making good progress, having finished the center star and started on one of the big connecting blocks, when disaster struck.

In piecing the quilt together, I had managed not to take a deep enough seam in one place and the piece had come unraveled. I was devastated. I put the whole thing away, convinced that I could never finish it. And that defeat was just the end of the line.

This was followed by divorce and remarriage, starting to work outside the home, moving away from Alaska (so convinced that I was pretty much done with quilting that I garage-saled the bulk of my tools, books, and fabric - the horror) and going to law school. Now law school is over and finding time on my hands, I've begun quilting again.

But among the things I kept when I sold most of my quilting supplies was that lone star quilt. And it has spent 6 years here in Ohio lurking in a closet. I finally couldn't ignore it any longer. I pulled it out to see how bad the damage was.

Mothers will understand this. You hear a kid scream that they are bleeding, and as you run to them you imagine arterial wounds spurting out life's blood, but when you get there you find that it's only a scratch. I looked at this three-inch long gap and wondered, this was it? It wasn't far from an edge. I unpinned a few pins, dragged it under the sewing machine, and fixed the whole thing in less than 10 minutes.

It staggers me that I, the woman known for throwing out bad projects, giving away tops she made just to see how colors went together, someone so brave when it came to quilting, was so thoroughly defeated by this tiny, easily-repaired problem. I can only conjecture that it was the times - the lack of friendly support, the growing darkness in my marriage, the change in focus of my life.

But it's a relief to look at that quilt now and know that it's not an impossibly damaged bundle of guilt. It's just a matter of making the time to do it.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sunfell
2006-12-31 03:15 pm (UTC)
It's interesting how perspective changes when you add time and experience. Things that seemed overwhelming and even terrifying in their original form become manageable and even laughable when you take a turn or two on the Spiral Path and encounter them again.

I've run into the same thing with the Windows Registry, and a member of the Pagan community I used to belong to. Both were overwhelming and terrifying (especially how they related to each other- that person hacked my computer), and now, seeing them again, they're laughable (the registry) and dismissable (the person).

I need to get into quilting- I want a new bedspread, and some throws. Nothing elaborate, just beautiful juxtapositions of color and pattern in simple cuts. Roman Stripe is my best friend.

Happy new year to you. I hope that it brings both you and The Ferrett happiness, health, and lots of fun.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-31 03:26 pm (UTC)
Very true, that sometimes it does take a turn or two to gain perspective and ability. Happy New Year to you as well.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-31 05:11 pm (UTC)
That's the sort of project that deserves a decent burial....
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-31 11:10 pm (UTC)
I have to see a picture of this project - you must be certain to snap one now so that you can compare when you finish!
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[User Picture]From: myskat
2006-12-31 05:41 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to see a picture of the real thing :) Sounds like a lovely bit of triumphant closure for you!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-31 10:57 pm (UTC)
It will take quite a while to quilt, but at least I feel like I can work on it now!
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[User Picture]From: fragiletender
2006-12-31 05:44 pm (UTC)
Congrats on finishing it, these things can really weigh us down. One of the things I want to do in the coming year is finish things and get rid of things I no longer want to finish.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-31 10:58 pm (UTC)
Baggage ejectment tends to be a theme of mine at the end of the year. It's far from finished, but at least it's just a project and not a problem now!
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[User Picture]From: cathubodva
2006-12-31 06:23 pm (UTC)
It's interesting, isn't it, what our hobbies tell us about ourselves?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-31 11:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, it really is.
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[User Picture]From: lulybunny
2006-12-31 09:32 pm (UTC)
I have the same quilt, well sort of. It was the first quilt I ever attempted. Entirely by hand, cause I can't work a machine to save my life. It's come with me from Miami to Atlanta, back to Miami, and now it's in Colorado Springs with me.

One of my "resolutions" as such, is to finish it. Yeah it's ugly, but it's just going to my puppy back home. All she'll care is that it smells like me. :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-31 11:08 pm (UTC)
Picture?
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[User Picture]From: ba1126
2006-12-31 09:38 pm (UTC)
I never quilted, but I used to sew quite a bit, making holiday dresses for my three little girls and skirts and such for myself. Then I had three more babies in a row and barely had time to do shopping, laundry and dishes in between diapers and bottles. My oldest daughter was married and had lots of time, but no money for Xmas presents. I gave her a bag of half finished projects and she completed several of them as Xmas gifts. It was win-win. I didn't feel guilt about starting something and not finishing, and I didn't have to throw anything out.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2006-12-31 11:09 pm (UTC)
What a great idea! I'm glad that worked out for you all.
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