Friday, January 25, 2013

Snow what?

I have a theory about snow that I'd like to share.  I am of the belief that  the weatherman and the grocery stores are in cahoots with each other.  I think when the grocery chains need to move certain items, they call the weatherman up and ask them to predict snow so that these items move off their shelves at twice the speed of sound.

For example, have you ever noticed how when they are calling for snow, everyone runs to the store to stock up on the following items:  milk, bread, eggs, toilet paper.  My theory is that when it snows everyone must be craving French toast because of the first 3 ingredients on that list.  The need for TP is obvious, but I do wonder why everyone always buys more of it when it snows?  Do they not buy it when its sunny out?   Or is it just the fear of running low? 

I actually like to wait until after the storm to shop.  The stores are empty of crazy people in a hurry and the parking lot is easier to navigate.  I don't eat french toast that often so I do not worry they will be out of what I might need.  I'm adaptable.  I can make do with other things in a blizzard.  That's actually part of the fun, seeing what you can make out of what you might have on hand. 

Its the same way with my quilting.  Some of  my best original designs and projects have been created during wintry blasts of freezing white with things I already have on hand.  I shop in my own studio, pull out the things that might work, plan the project and start cutting and sewing.  I don't know if this is normal or not, its just how I like to work and tune out Old Man Winter blowing down the lane.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Performance reviews

Today's topic is that of the 'self appraisal.'  While this typically would apply to those of you that are not self employed (i.e. working for others), the idea of performing a self-appraisal for the self-employed is not out of the question. In fact, I have to think its a rather good idea.  Today's blog refers to my day job, not my quilting life.

I recently passed the 11+ year mark at my day job.  This means that essentially, I have been having to do a self assessment at least twice a year for the last decade.  I often look upon this task with dread, because I never know where to rate myself.  During this time frame I have had no less than 13 different bosses.  At my company, bosses come and bosses go, because we re-organize frequently.  During at least 6 of those years, I myself have been a manager and had to do both self assessments as well as employee appraisals for my direct reports. 

I would like to thank my favorite amongst all of those former managers, a man who taught me an important lesson in self appraisals, goal setting and the entire review process.   Thanks Ian!  While I was managing people, I passed this lesson along to all of my own staff because I felt it was important to teach this to them and help to mentor them along in their careers.  Some of them got it, others did not.  The ones that did have done fairly well in their careers since.  So here it goes.

You are responsible for your own destiny.  It is your responsibility to make sure that your goals are well documented and the various components of those goals are clearly defined so that you know exactly what you need to accomplish in order to garner each level of success for each goal.  It is your own responsibility to ensure that you meet these goals and document the successful measurements that you accomplish.  If you do this all year long, then the task at mid point and year end are easy.  You just need to provide a summary to your manager.  It is not your managers job to point out what you did and didn't accomplish.  Document it, its there for them and its hard to dispute if its true.  If you are looking to get promoted, then ensure that you have included all of the justification in the appraisal that would support promotional consideration.  This is where you give your boss the ammunition to fight for your movement up the ladder.

I am amazed at the number of people that cannot grasp this basic concept.  If you are successful in your accomplishments and you meet, exceed or completely surpass your goals wiht flying colors, it should be pretty easy to write about them and provide this to your manager when review time comes around.  If there is ever a question about how well you are doing or if you are approaching a task correctly in order to meet the requirement, you should be asking your manager at that point. Engage them in a 1:1 discussion.  They will be happy to make the time to coach you and discuss and clarify the matter at hand.  Do not wait until review time!

I have worked for mediocre bosses who barely spoke to me all year long, never told me whether I was doing well or not, and then at the time of review, year end, gave me a much lower rating than I would have expected based on my self assessment and my accomplishments for the year.  I actually had one person tell me that he considered me just average because his expectations of his staff were higher than most people.  "What a crock!" I thought, and he forever endeared himself to me in that very moment onwards.

One of the worst VPs I ever knew, rated me poorly in one area because she just didn't like me. She hadn't been straight with me and told me this, but in hindsight sometimes her behavior towards me demonstrated otherwise.  When I set up a meeting with her to discuss it and to try and find out the reason for the 'needs improvement' rating in this one area, she copped out of the face to face meeting and did it over the phone instead as she was driving home. I was shocked at what she shared with me as her view of my behavior and the underlying basis of that opinion.  When I politely asked her to give me a real example to support this, she admitted she was unable to do so. What she told me was "well its probably unfair because it happened before I ever joined (our company)" and then she mentioned a situation from years ago with a former employee.  I agreed with her statement that it was unfair and I requested her to change the rating because (1) the complaint was not relevant to the rating period we were discussing, (2) she had never brought it to my attention so we could discuss and take corrective action if needed, and (3) it was based on here say and not actual facts.  She refused to change the rating and much to my delight, was subsequently fired within the next 2 weeks. 

A good boss will attempt to engage you when they identify a problem, and not wait until year end to present it in your appraisal.  However, not all bosses are created equal.  Some are great mentors, managers, enablers and communicators.  Some are better at self promotion and managing upwards than downwards.  And some have no people or managerial skills, but they somehow still become managers.  But its up to you to be sure that you understand what their expectations are for successfully completing a goal and if you want to exceed their expectations, understanding what that would encompass.  A great boss will go to bat for you, even in the worst situation or when circumstances are out of your control.  I am very lucky to have a boss like this now.

So, now as I am working on my 2012 self appraisal, I realize that I have not followed my own advice.  I forgot to ensure that my goals were changed when my job function changed and middle management did a doe-see-doe around the office.  The goals in the HR system do not even closely reflect the work I am undertaking.  I know I am working on the right things, its just the HR system is out of date.  What is written there is what we thought I would be doing two managers ago.  So now I am working on revising them, getting them approved by my VP and then doing my self appraisal against the goals that I should have already revised in the system.

Don't let this happen to you.   You have to watch out for #1 because there is no guarantee that anyone else is going to do this for you, no matter how talented or successful you are in reaching or exceeding your goals.  I also believe that all of us should also undertake a personal self-assessment once a year or so.  Did you accomplish last year what you set out to do?  Are you where you thought you would be with the new year?  What did you accomplish?  What didn't you get to?  Are those things still important or relevant to your current situation?  What needs to change to ensure you do get what you want or at least what you need in 2013?  Set your goals, right them down and check your progress on achieving them from time to time.  That way, you won't be disappointed in the future.  You will be in control of your destiny.  You may even surprise yourself!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Taking Care with One's Handiwork

Many years ago, I was making a quilt for my husband of a couple of years.  I was using the construction method of lap quilting it for a queen sized bed.  I was hand quilting it in sections that I could take with me anywhere. I was proud of the quilting design, an elaborate self drafted patterns of undulating feathers in the borders, heart shaped feather wreaths in the open parts, cross hatching and feather wreaths in the 4 corner blocks of this quilt.  I had been quilting about 10 years at this point but had never designed my own quilting pattern to use.  It was exciting. 

It was also very pink, pink and cream to be exact, with the majority of this quilt using a little calico print with hearts and a solid rosy pink alternatively.  The pieced blocks were the Churn Dash/ShoeFly block all done in scrappy colors, 6 inches in size.  Those were machine pieced and if I remember correctly, I think I won some of them from my local guild as a block of the month drawing.  So you probably have an idea of what it looks like, no picture necessary.

We were traveling to one of the first quilt shows I had ever attended, it was summer time we were going to the Kutztown Fair in Pennsylvania with my brother Steve and his wife Peggy.  My ex and I were sitting in the back of my brother's car, I believe it was a small silver Chevy at the time.  I was quilting in my lap as we drove along and chatted.  When we arrived, I casually rolled up my work and tossed in the back of the car.

We went to the fair and I was amazed at the gorgeous quilts hanging the in barn on display and for sale.  Many of them were made by the local Mennonite and Amish women in the surrounding communities.  Many of them were appliqued in stunning designs, with colors that were not typical of what I thought the Amish would use (prints and brights).   I even got to see my first Amish Stand Up comic.  I had no idea there was such a profession!  It was a great all around experience.

When we left the fair at the end of the day, we climbed back in the silver car and headed for home.  My quiltwork was in the back, I grabbed it and put it on my lap, but didn't start to immediately sew.  We were too busy talking about all the things we had done and seen that day.  I noticed that my quilt seemed a little bit damp to the touch, but didn't think much about it.  Soon afterwards I felt a slight bit of discomfort in my fingers, almost a burning, itchy sensation.  When we stopped, we looked at it to figure out what had happened because the discomfort in  my hands had grown quite a bit.

It turned out that my dear brother had replaced the battery in his car and the old battery was in the hatchback.  I had inadvertently laid my quilt piece back there and unfortunately, the battery was leaking acid and the quilt had soaked it up!  It was a mess.  I was able to wash my hands and clothes and get it out, but within 48 hours that section of the quilt was ruined and full of holes, all the way through and it couldn't be replaced.  It needed to be completely redone.  I remember thinking to myself, how weird it was that the quilting thread (that was waxed and pink) didn't dissolve right away, but the fabric did turn to flakes in sections and I could see my tiny 10 stitches to the inch embedded in the batting.  Eventually the entire piece kinda dissolved  before my eyes and had to be thrown away. 

I guess I wouldn't have minded so much if I had not almost completed the entire section.  I wasn't upset with my brother, it wasn't his fault.  It was mine for being so careless and tossing my needle work in the back without looking to see where it ended up.  I learned a two very important lessons that week.  (1) Always take care where you set down your hand work in progress; and (2):  never trust the trunk or hatchback of another person's car or vehicle  to be safe from environmental hazards that could prove disastrous.  As I stitched the new section to replace the damaged one, I thought, well at least it was just a work in progress and it wasn't a finished quilt or priceless antique one that had been ruined.  And how lucky was I that I had enough of the fabrics I needed to be able to remake a replacement section. 

I gave that quilt to my ex for Valentine's Day.  We slept under it for several years.  When we split, he didn't want it.  Since it was hand quilted, I was happy to keep it.  In hindsight now, maybe that battery acid was just a foreshadowing of the eventual erosion of my marriage to the wrong partner.  <3

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What Lies Beneath

What lies beneath the surface of a quilt is just as important as what is on the top and bottom layers.  There are so many choices of batting out there and for a new quilter its probably a daunting task to try and figure out what the best batting might be to complete one's quilt. 

Early in my quilting career, I used poly batting because it was what was available at my local fabric store.  They didn't carry a wide selection and the poly batting was cheap and readily available and it worked well in my lap quilted quilts.  Yes, I used to quilt my quilts by hand and often on the run.  The biggest drawback to poly batting was the issue with bearding, where the fibers poke through the quilt while it is being used.  I once quilted a king size quilt for my parents for their anniversary and used a Fatt Batt.  It was the worst thing I ever quilted.  I'm not even sure I ever finished quilting it.  But mom being the lovely woman that she is, loved it and used it just the same. 

After taking a machine quilting class from Harriett Hargraves, I found that cotton batting or blends were much easier to use and stores in my area started to carry a wider variety  I used Mountain Mist cotton, which had a scrim on it and liked it well enough until Warm and Natural came onto the market.   I liked the look and feel of 100% cotton batting and I especially adored the vintage look the quilt got after I had washed and dried it.  Cotton was breathable (unlike that darn Fatt Batt) and easy to quilt by machine. I went through a period where I purchased many vintage and antique quilt tops.  My intention was to learn to quilt them on my long arm, these were practice pieces.  Today's cotton batting was the perfect choice, it is more like what quilters in the 30-40-50's used before polyester was on the market.  I also quilt with cotton thread, so these quilts are 100% cotton.  I like cotton.

I also learned that cotton was a better choice for kids quilts.  Should there ever be a fire, the cotton will burn yes, but it won't burn the same way that a poly batting will, creating a sticky mess that stick to the kids skin and do more harm.  I was over using poly after reading that article and have pretty much stayed away from it for my bed quilts.

Now I'm not blasting polyester batting.  It does have its uses.  I use it in layers for trapunto and have experimented in different ways to make certain quilts dimensional.  Case in point, is my bagel quilt.
The bagels are actually stuffed to look 3D.  When people see it, they always want to poke at them to see if they are stuffed.  They are!  I encourage them to touch that one.  This was accomplished by adding two layers of poly batting cut into the shape of each bagel in between the quilt top and the layer of cotton batting used underneath but on top of the backing.  I'm sure it will be fine, no one is going to sleep under it as its a wall hanging and I have no intention of toasting those bagels anytime soon!

But I digress.  Now I pretty much use Warm and Natural, Warm and White, and Quilter's Dream.  Quilter's Dream Green is made from recycled plastic soda bottles.  It has the look, feel and density of Cotton and I like that its a 'greener' solution.  I've also recently purchased both silk and wool batting, but I have yet to actually use them in my quilts.  I purchase most of my batting in big rolls so I always have it on hand and seems a more economical choice for me.  I can cut and use what I need instead of having to go in search of the right sized bagged individual batting.

I'd be curious to know what types of batting you prefer as a quilter.  I believe a lot of your choices will be dependent upon whether or not you machine quilt your quilts, or send them off to a long-arm quilter, or if you are a hand quilter.  I know that loft in batting brands varies and this can really help or hinder the hand quilter.  The 'hand' of batting is key to the hand quilter.  Never, ever, try to hand quilt a fat batt! 

And what do you do with all those left over batting pieces?  There is a new iron on tape that will allow you to economically piece your left over battings into larger sections so they can be used.  Have you tried this and do you like it.  I have and I find that for small quilts, it works great.  However, I would not recommend doing this for any quilt that is a wall hangingor larger quilt that will entered into any quilt competition.    In doing so you run the risk of the batting being off grain a bit and not hanging square and flat which is a no-no for judges.  I have found, this tape is perfect for charity quilts made from leftover batting pieces!  No one will ever know the difference!

I have also given away smaller pieces of batting to friends that like to make miniature quilts.  I've tried my hand at miniatures, but find that its one of those things that I don't really enjoy making.  I like making big quilts.  So when I have pieces of new batting left over that are too small for anything else, I have a friend that happily takes these off my hands to create her wonderful miniature quilts.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Inspiration?  Technique?  Style?  Interpretation?  Ownership?  These are all important words that have many different meanings the world of quilting.  Let's consider each of these and what they mean to me. 

I've often been asked where you do you get  your inspiration?  Inspiration can come from anywhere.  Most of the time it comes from the fabrics themselves, and what I see when I look at it and buy it.  Sometimes it comes from nature, something I've seen, places I've traveled to or saw online.  Once in a while, I am inspired by a quilt I see online, at a quilt show or in a book or mazagine.  In those cases, if the inspiration comes from another quilter, I will attempt to get their written permission to publish my quilt inspired by them, or to teach classes using their book before I put the quilt online or into a show or on on any website.  I have been very fortunate in most cases (all but one in fact) in being able to secure their blessing and permission to show the quilt, use it as a class sample, teach a class, using their pattern or book provided the students each purchase their own copy of the book or pattern.  The other quilters that put their designs and patterns out there, love getting pictures of my finished quilts inspired by their own efforts.  I also like it when my students allow me to photograph their projects or are kind enough to send me photos of their finished work that they started in a class that I taught.  I always make sure my quilt labels include the source of the inspiration where applicable, giving credit where credit is due. 

We've all been asked "How long did it take to make that quilt?"  usually by non-quilters.  But have you every been asked "How did you make that?"   I used to take alot of classes, to learn a technique that I may not otherwise try on my own or to see how others compose their quilts.  I've learned an incredible amount of different techniques over the years and many of them I still use frequently.  In some cases, I learned a technique in a class that well, I decided it just wasn't for me and I never finished the project from that class or used that technique again.  That's not to say the class wasn't useful or that I didn't learn anything, in fact, the act of doing and deciding not to embrace a certain methodology is in itself very useful.  In several cases, I came up with a better way to do something and have used that process instead with even better results.  This brings me to the question of ownership, as in who owns the idea, the technique, the style or interpretation of something? 

We all know that many well known quilters have a certain style that makes many of their works easily recognizable. I think that Michael James was one of the first quilters that I noticed with a specific graphic style that was easy to recognize.  Caryl Bryer Fallert is another quilter that has gained worldwide recognition for her incredibly beautiful quilts, because of their color, composition and style and precision.  Ricky Tims is another quilter who has inspired many of us with his Caveman, Convergence and Medallion style quilts. I've read about other people's quilting style and have often wondered what someone else would say my own style is like.   I think my style has evolved from the Early American Confusion Quilts, mostly traditional pieces made with those 1970 - 80's calicoes.  Next I travelled through the Rock & Roll  Era of buying and using loads of Novelty printed fabrics including some really ugly Elvis fabrics. I'm glad to have not spent much time in the Depression Era, even though I did collect many of those 1930's reproduction prints, which I have not really used to make a quilt, yet.   Next I traversed across my Landscape period where almost everything I purchased looked like something found outside, water, sky, grass, architectural details.  I have most recently emerged from the Hand dyed/Bali chapter on my life.  Now I have passed into the Rollback Route, trying to use up many of the fabrics I have collected over the years to get my stash under control.  I am happy to say that I have managed to find some pretty cool ways to use up parts of my collection, create some classes to teach while I downsize and try to get rid of some of the textiles that I really don't need to hang onto much longer. 

What about Interpretation?  Have you ever seen something, it could be a painting, a picture, a postcard, a photo in a magazine and wanted to make it into a quilt?  If its your own picture or image that you own the rights to, then its simply a matter of making the piece of art from your own image.  However, if the image is the work of another, you should seek their permission to make something based on that image.  Keep in mind that there may be copyright and intellectual property rights to be considered before using that image to create your art.  You may be able to get away with a 'based loosely on "insert image name and owner of the image here" credit if the piece you create is indeed loosely based on the image.  I would like to think we all err on the side of caution and get the necessary permissions before we proceed. 

Finally, in regards to ownership, patterns and designs are owned by the designer of the pattern and the publisher of that pattern (if not self published).  Last year, I was teaching a foundation piecing class using my own paper designs.  One of the students told me bold faced that she was going to run across the street and make copies of the patterns for her to use and give to her friends that were not taking my class.  I was frankly shocked at her complete ignorance of copyright etiquette, so I explained to her that I had extra copies of the patterns for sale that I would be happy to sell to her for her friends and that making copies of someones pattern without their written permission was illegal.  She didn't seem to understand that it is not okay to take a pattern that you have purchased and make copies and give them to all your friends to also use those patterns without paying for them.  It became quite a hot topic at the quilt shop for about a week or two after the class. Don't be a "Ripoff Ramona" or "Copycat Cathy". 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Color Choices

Some one at my office this week told me that I should take up painting because I have such a great sense of color.  I explained that I do my painting with fabric and threads.  The person had a curious look on their face, then they raised their finger in the air and said, "Oh, now I get it!"

I have understood throughout my quilting career that many people struggle with figuring out the right colors to use in their art work.  While I can't say that I have always made the perfect color choices, I am lucky to have made the majority of my quilts with some really good results.  Early on in my quilting life, my sister took a lecture from a pretty famous quilter who told the audience, "Never, ever, use yellow in a quilt.  If you do, you'll ruin it because the eye of the viewer will always gravitate towards that yellow piece in the quilt."   She shared the story with me and to this day,  I believe this may have been my first exposure to the quilt police.

We decided, that some rules are meant to be broken, and following her lead, I decided that's a rule I am always going to try and break.  And I have.  Almost every quilt I've ever made had some yellow in it.  Is it possible that my keen sense of color can  be attributed to employing one of the three primary colors in all my pieces?  Maybe, maybe not.  I think it can at least partially be attributed to my love for happy colors.  Most viewers like to look at happy things instead of the dull or mundane.  If you were to walk into my sewing studio where the majority of the quilt top construction activities take place,  you would find a myriad of color, textures, tones and highlights neatly folded on the shelving units where I store the fabric.  On the walls are racks containing tightly wound spools of thread, a stunning  rainbow in itself, just waiting to come undone and work its way through the thread guides of my sewing machine.

Can color theory be easily taught to those that lack it?  Or is color therapy more the answer?  Do you find yourself working within a wider color range, or do you pretty much gravitate towards a fairly narrow set of color choices in your fabric buying and quiltmaking?  Do you struggle to complete a guild quilt challenge because the compulsory fabric choices aren't something you feel comfortable using or you just don't like them.  I think many people do struggle with these issues.  Are you able to envision what a finished quilt will look like in your colors (instead of the sample colors or photo on the pattern?)  Maybe this is one reason that quilt kits are so popular.  The color choices are made for you.

I have a dear friend that has a bad case of 'the blues'.  She works in mostly the blue color family.  She's a very happy and often silly person, wonderful to be around, but her fabric choices don't reflect her fun personality.  Do yours?  Here is one way to tell.  Take a look at your wardrobe and how you dress for the day.  Do you match your clothing, shoes, jewelry before you head out?  Or do you just grab whatever is clean and pressed and run out the door?  I have noticed at bigger quilt shows that many of the ladies, do an impeccable job of matching their outfits from head to toe, including the purse, shoes, jewelry and other accessories.  Some wear many bright, happy colors, others are more subtle in their clothing choices.  Some are downright tacky in their choices, others very sophisticated in every detail. I love it all!  Where do you find yourself?  I know I often match from head to toe in carefully planned outfits.  Its just who I am and I find it fun to figure out what items will work well with others.  That's not to say I don't use contrasting colors in my wardrobe or quilts, after all, variety is the spice of life.

Have you ever found yourself where the fabric or color choice you are looking for just isn't out there?  Have you tried to make it yourself, either by dyeing the fabric yourself, or printing it or coloring on it with some of the implements available on the market today?  I know I have and I would encourage anyone to try dyeing, painting, foiling and drawing on your fabrics to change them to meet your needs.  You may surprise yourself.  Another trick to consider is thread choice.  You can change the look of any fabric by the choice of fabric you use to quilt or embellish the piece.  If you are into unique textures, try using overlays of netting, sheer fabrics and other items to add interest to your work.   Often a single or multiple layer of tulle can brighten or change the color upon which it is overlaid, making it the perfect fabric choice that you would not have been able to find in any store or your stash.

Now go out there and color your world.  Feedback welcome.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Giving Nature of Quilters

Yesterday morning as I was eating my breakfast I did my usual routine of checking both my Facebook and email accounts.  I noticed I had alot more new emails than normal and some of them were marked "URGENT!!!".  As it turns out, there was an urgent call to arms in my modern quilt guild for help to complete a special project with a fairly short deadline.

Now, I recently have found myself rather stagnant in the quilting department.  Part of this is due to the fact that my studio is a wreck because of rearranging that we started and never finished and also my long arm was inaccessible due to a big shelving unit my hubby has plopped down next to it.  He recently asked me why I wasn't quilting much, just making baskets.  I finally explained to him that I needed his help to move the heavy piece of furniture to be able to gain access to my machine to do some quilting.  Magically, the next morning, I noticed the shelving unit was moved and I now have free access to stand and sew again.  What a guy!  Yes, he is definitely a keeper. 

Okay, you are probably asking yourself what does this have to do with charity and those "URGENT!!!" emails.  Let me explain.

Well, the modern quilt guild was asked to finish a quilt for QUILTCON that would be given to one of the youth residents to cover their bed at the foster home.  Our guild had created some blocks to be used in the Auction quilt or these charity quilts, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the project had lost its way.  I especially loved the way the call was put out to the guild, no one specific was blamed for dropping the ball, just an honest request can anyone help?  The remainder of these emails from the modern quilters was a resounding yes, yes, yes!  Tell us what you need and by when and we'll be happy to help.  Within about 2 hours, they had enough volunteers to get blocks to probably make at least 1-2 quilts, located the batting, and I had volunteered to quilt the quilt for them.  Within 24 hours, they had established a project list of volunteers willing to help, places to meet to work on the quilt, what the blocks should look like and when these tasks would take place. 

I was pretty amazed.  My old guild for which I was a member for 12+ years had a really hard time with volunteerism.  It was the same few ladies who did most of the work to keep things running.  Its one of the primary reasons I didn't renew my membership.  I was burnt out from being on the board and frankly I just got tired of  'serving for the good of the guild'.  This new modern guild has spunk and plenty of members that actually are willing and able to make things happen, quickly, efficiently, beautifully.  Its refreshing to see these ladies, most of whom I do not know very well, come together and share their love for quilting and do charity work. 

I believe, my quilting mojo has returned again and all those fiber works of art within me are about to spill over into 2013 like never before.  I promise to post a photo of the finished charity quilt after I quilt it so you can see it, if you follow my blogs! I can't wait to go to the meeting on the 24th to see what this great group brings for show and tell and charity blocks!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!

As we enter the week of 2013, I have to wonder how many of you actually make New Year's Quilting Resolutions and how many of those will actually become reality? Did anyone make a resolution to make more quilts, or to at least make modern quilts? Did you promise yourself that you wouldn't buy any more fabric or supplies until you use of at least some of what you already own? Did you decide if you would finish up those UFO's from years past before starting new projects?

I wish I could say that all of the above was true for me. I would love to finish up all my old, incomplete quilting projects before starting new ones, but, life events get in the way of that and I know that I will need to start some unplanned project due to the early birth of a friends baby, or some technique that catches my eye that I want to try myself. And the reality is that I have so many UFOs and unquilted tops that it would take me most of 2013 to finish these up before I could make anything new. Okay, so maybe I should just strive to finish up one UFO per month and at the end of the year, I'd be down 12 UFOs. That sounds like a reasonable goal to try and reach.

I did promise myself I would make more charity quilts this year than I have in the past two years. This is a dual purpose promise. 

1) It will help me reduce my stash to a more manageable level.
2) It will help me reach my charitable giving goal for the year in the textile department. I have been doing a litle research on the some of the local charities that I could select as recipients and was surprised that so many of them exist today. I also promised myself to donate some of my fabric stash to organizations or other persons that will make quilts for charity. I've even agreed to teach a quilting workshop to the local girl scout troop in March. If I can inspire even one little girl to love the needle half as much as I do, then I will be a happy camper. If nothing else, they will at least earn their sewing badges that month!

One other thing I have set a goal to do is to start blogging on a regular basis and share my thoughts and ideas with others. This is a new world to me and would you laugh at me if I told you I just started to learn how to 'twitter' this past weekend? My tweets were not quilting related, but it was an attempt to keep track of the scores at a distant college gymnastics meet in which my favorite gymnast was competing.

Back in the quilting world, I am going to try and make more original design quilts and far fewer commercial or traditional patterns. There are hundreds of ideas rolling around in this head of mine. Far too few of them become actual finished projects. My best works so far have been those quilts that I made from my own ideas and this will be the primary focus of my stitching growth for 2013.

Hanging by a thread--Diane