The baby is approaching. I start working on design midway through the friend/relative’s pregnancy, and timing will depend partly on whether I have projects backed up or not. In the last two years, the babies have been coming pretty fast, so I’m behind. I used to like to time it to have the project done right after the baby was born, but that no longer happens. I’m lucky if I get it finished three months in, which isn’t so bad, really. It’s a gift that comes in when other gifts aren’t arriving anymore and things might be a little stressful.
The projects are always different. I make the choice partly based on skills I want to learn or work on, partly based on what I’ve been doing or what I like best, and partly based on what I know about the incoming child.
For instance, I’ve decided that, on the whole, I like doing patchwork best. I’m not sure why; possibly it is because it makes me feel like I am creating order. Perhaps it is because it feels classic. Perhaps it is because I am not so good at appliqué. I definitely like the look of patchwork, and I’ve learned it is extremely versatile.
Even so, I want to keep learning skills, and I am still working on different techniques, within patchwork and in other styles.
In any case, the design usually starts the way I best think—I let my mind wander, often on the backburner while I’m doing other things. I circle around ideas like a hunting lion, not startling anything, staying downwind. The grazing thoughts usually include whatever I know of the family and any previous children, any nursery or favorite colors I have been given, and any clues as to the baby’s name. Also, I think of the baby’s gender, not so much for color, but for design elements. Half-sentences like, “What if I did…” and “I wonder if I can…” drift about, getting discarded or stored depending on my skill level and quality of the notion. Sometimes a theme will come to me suddenly, or I’ll make a stream-of-consciousness connection (as in the turtle quilt—the baby’s middle name would be Francis, aka Frank. I thought of Franklin the turtle and my own lake history, and that was pretty much that). Other times, it’s not so simple.
Take, for example, the circus quilt. I had the theme, I knew the nursery colors and the baby’s gender, and yet the thought process was one of my most involved yet. A circus is, of course, a rich theme, and I’d never done anything like it. It took a long time to figure out what I wanted to do and on what scope, and I have a lot of half-begun drawings that I gave up on.
Gradually, things will take shape in my mind. I’ll make a decision of what I want to try, and then I’ll move forward. Much like the writing process, quiltmaking is recursive, so I know I can always go backward and revise a design, add more thoughts, or completely overhaul if something isn’t working.
Best Part: “Creation is an act of sheer will.” Jurassic Park.
Worst Part: I get antsy when I’m trying to boil up an idea. If something isn’t coming to me, I get frustrated. I won’t give up; instead, I’ll get obsessed.
Next Time: Modeling