Leaning in to the in-between times

There’s a funny thing that happens when you start to do what you love for a living.

You suddenly don’t get to do it very much at all.

Take me and how much I love quilting and cloth. I formed the idea for turning this into a creative business way back in the very early days of my blog. At the time, my kids were young, I was suddenly at home full time, leaving behind a creative career in the apparel industry, and I was busy experimenting with all the many many things I wanted to make (I wanted to make everything!). I tried it all, went deep when I got very interested in one particular craft, then moved on once it felt like I’d scratched that creative itch. This was a completely acceptable way to do things when my kids were little. Any obligations I had to get projects finished were entirely my own. If I didn’t meet my own self-imposed deadline, I only had to answer to myself to.

Through all that creative experimentation came the realization that I could make quilts and quilt-related things for the rest of my days, foregoing all other crafts (if I absolutely had to!) and be perfectly happy. These days, making a quilt satisfies my insatiable need to explore color, to touch cloth both old and new, and to bring to life the shapes I see in my mind’s eye. I love everything about making quilts and quilt-related things.

But once you settle on making a business out of what you love, the purpose of making that thing changes. I was well aware of this when I officially made a business out of Wise Craft Handmade back in 2015. I was completely open to making quilts and only quilts with a different intention than I ever had previously. Surprisingly, it has been very exciting, creatively, for me to the attach the necessary hard deadlines and intentions to the projects I make. They almost always have a purpose or an end “use” and its very exciting.

Lately I found myself in a bit of a weird “in between” time- a time between where it was necessary to jump into being creative for a particular project/reason, etc. I wasn’t sure where to start without those usual definite parameters. And I didn’t want to use up all that precious in between time with trying to decide on what to do.

I needed a project to help me lean in to any of that precious in between time I might find myself with. I decided a foundation paper pieced project might be just the thing to keep by my sewing machine. The very nature of foundation paper piecing keeps it doable, tidy, and confined (no waffling about). I haven’t done a paper pieced project since my Liberty Spikes quilt, and I am excited to start a new one. It is great for working on in chunks- a few blocks here and there. The perfect excuse to explore color and shape, without worrying about any requirements or parameters, except for the lines on the paper and a few color ideas I wanted to work out.

I chose Carolyn Friedlander’s Sessoms Quilt Pattern. Foundation paper pieced and straightforward. The blocks are small, each is about 4″. I set up a folder of printed block sheets by my sewing machine. Everything is there for me to sit down and work on a few each day. I’m using it to play  with different color combos, not really thinking about where this one will go. And that’s okay, right? Its very fun, just sitting down to stitch a few when I can.

I am also still very much enjoying handwork and embroidery. We just finished up our Springtime Posey Stitchalong in the Wise Craft Quilts FB Group, and I decided to find something new to stitch on. Above is a thrift store doily I brought home recently. Inspired by the color combination I can’t seem to get out of my mind right now, I’ve placed it over the palest pink cotton fabric, and I’m adding a little bit of stitching every night. No end use for this piece right now, and have no idea when the embroidery I’m adding will feel like “enough”. So relaxing though.

These “in between” projects are helping me creatively in ways I find hard to describe. Such a good reminder to myself that its important to let my mind wander, and wander often.

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