If you are of a certain age, you may remember the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance“. It was first published in 1974, just as I ran out of money for college and entered my hippie chick years. At the time I remember feeling influenced by the book, yet I don’t think I really did much with it other than think I was cool because I read it, I had a motorcycle and I maintained my own motorcycle. The young 20’s mind is soooo deep.
A little bit of background to understand how this all fits into free motion quilting. I left my hometown of Ottawa, Illinois to attend college. I earned enough money for 3 semester at Illinois State then ran out of money. So there I was, 19 years old, out of money, could not afford a car and had no plan.
I went to temporarily live with my sister in Durango, CO for about 9 months I think. I worked the winter at Purgatory Ski Resort, about 30 min away and hitchhiked to and from work. One day I was picked up by a handsome hunk from Texas and ended up moving to College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M. I still had no transportation.
I needed transportation to work, and it made total sense in my 21 year old mind to buy a motorcycle. It was cheaper than a car, why not? I ended up taking 2 trips of 1800 mi+ by myself – quite an adventure. God’s hand was on me – I had plenty of harrowing tales as well as fabulous ones, but no harm came to me.
So that explains the motorcycle part but how does this fit into free motion quilting? If you read my newsletter you may recall I recently started doing yoga, hoping to get achieve a more relaxed countenance as well as increase my flexibility. You know how yoga is all about the breath, the focus, the controlled movements. It really brought me back to the whole “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” thing all over again, 45-ish years later, looking inward.
Being a new yoga student with NO natural ability for it, I am reminded of how it felt to do something brand-new and, to be terrible at it. I know how you feel beginning free motion quilters! Note the yoga photos are copyright free images, the quilting images are from my student.
We all start at the beginning. Students rarely “get” all the designs I teach in class, usually just two or so. This is really good beginning work.
My sole yoga goal at the moment is to not fall over. I’m not kidding. I am not doing hot yoga, pretzel yoga or the seriously contemplative yoga (yeah, I know there are technical names for this but you know what I mean). The club describes it: Start here and begin to understand yoga movement while holding the body in long basic poses. So this is basic stuff, like beginning free motion quilting (fmq).
There are poses with only one point of contact with the ground, poses that start on all fours then go to two, poses that are all about balance. I. Can’t. Even. Begin. It feels like I’ll never get there. I am wobbling and almost fall over. But I KNOW that eventually, with practice and perseverance, it will come.
We have this vision in our heads that our beginning work is going to be great – not! I have to accept that even though I am fit and strong, yoga is an entirely different thing and I’m going to have to work at it, just like fmq.
I know that the point of yoga goes way beyond the pose, the strength, the flexibility. It’s about the breath and focus and letting go. But right now, all I’m thinking about is falling down. Kinda like newbie fmq – you can’t focus on stitch length or graceful curves, you’re worried about breaking a needle or even moving the fabric with some sort of smoothness.
And if I’m not careful, I’ll find myself looking at how others in class are doing. That is SO self-defeating! It doesn’t matter how someone else is doing, they may have been doing yoga (or fmq) for years.
And then there are the lithe, tiny little size 2’s that are in their 20’s with nary a wrinkle or bulge. Like being in a fmq class and the student next to you has the perfect set-up and is moving along quite smoothly and confidently while you’re lurching across your quilt sandwich.
All this is good for me, to remember what it’s like to start at the beginning and be terrible at something. I will keep going, getting better over time and maybe I’ll actually be able to do the balancing poses. That sure seems like a lifetime away from now.
In other news, I’ve been playing, no finishes, just play:
First play project:
I took Joe Cunningham’s class a few weeks back and I am waaaaaay out of my comfort zone and skill set by attempting abstract. See my post here about what he did so that you can understand what I’m attempting here. This is far from what I want it to be, but there are elements I like: the ombre and the lighter dotted fabric, I like the 3 mini blocks and the row of 3 black blocks (it’s actually a print of blocks), I like the red and black, maybe the middle green one, maybe the top one, but not all 3 together. And don’t worry, there will be some points of interest on the blank left hand side. I will be playing with this one til the cows come home. At least I’m closer to something pleasant.
I took a quilt sandwich that I used as a class sample, cut random shapes out of hand dyed sheer, then fmq on top. This holds some promise. I think I’ll paint a water color-y background first on the next go-round.
Terrible photo, but this is a piece I’ve been working on and off for a while. The dots are trapunto’d. The feathers will look infinitely better once I’ve micro-stippled around them. I will probably add the slightest bit of color on their plump ends to make them more sensuous. Then I have plans for fun quilting in the corners. This is on stark white silk. It too has a ways to go.
There ya go – no wins at all this week but a few starts and some progress. I’ll link up with: