I wasn’t a model doctoral student.

Me, during the fun experimental stage of the thesis. Trying new things, loving the travel.

A good student not only undertakes their experimental work, but writes it up in a timely fashion, publishing in good journals along the way. I loved  the experimental work, but faltered during the write-up. It took a change in supervisor for me to get it all done, and was helped by tackling the writing itself as a research subject.

I read books on how to manage my supervisory relationship. How to write. Which chapters to tackle in what order. And I wrote lists, many lists. I also collected beautiful paper to write my lists on, some of which was too nice to use.

So, to help me along through my current quilting quandary, I have decided a list might help. I have decided to divide up my mental list of projects into several categories. Hopefully by writing them down, I can look at the list a little more objectively. My categories are:

  1. The “Should” projects. Things I ought to do, or feel I should do;
  2. The “oh my gosh, that is so cool, I must make one” projects.
  3. The slightly scary creative projects, that excite me deep down inside.

Here goes:

The “Should’s” include two quilts for nephews and three more for my Daughters, only one of which is started. Some of these are promised to the recipients, others not and could be taken off the list.

The original Glitter from Jen Kingwell. Mine is going to have country meets grunge feel.

The “Musts” include all the Jen Kingwell quilts under construction (Gypsy Wife #3, Midnight at the Oasis, Small World, and Glitter). There are also a couple of Kathy Doughty quilts in here which I bought the book for, but haven’t started. Then there is the 365 day Challenge quilt that I am months behind on.

My Small World. It’s getting closer, but still a lot of embroidery to go.

The scary projects include a Chris Jurd pattern involving lots of foundation piecing, and a concept for some fusible quilts based on midcentury book illustrations.

An illustration from “The story of evolution” by Sir Julian Huxley.


Another illustration from “The story of evolution” by Sir Julian Huxley.


Making some of these illustrations into art quilts would mean learning a whole new skill set. But that’s what excites me. I like learning for the sake of learning, but I’m not so good at staying put. I suspect my frustration at the moment has a lot to do with getting stuck repeating the same old piecing skills to make quilts.

Iron, cut, sew, repeat.

It’s a bit like being a science technician, as opposed to a research scientist. Both positions need the skills of accuracy, precision and repeatability, but one gets to push boundaries while the other gets to stay put in the lab. Both positions are vital, however. Note: I made a very, bad technician.

So, my conclusion is that I need to do a lot more of what pushes my buttons (the scary, new stuff), and a lot less of the projects I feel I should (quilts for extended family).

I think this is going to be a slow transition. The first step is going to be outsourcing the final quilting on a “should” project, a first for me.

Wish me luck.




2 thoughts on “

  1. I do wish you luck Tarnia! So many of your thoughts echo my own – doing more ‘want’ quilts and less ‘should’ quilts really resonates with me. When we push our boundaries and learn new techniques, that is the really exciting side of quilting. I hope you get to do much more of that in your future!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for visiting. I started down this path by tidying up my fabric, removing the pressure that it put on me. Then ttackled a should project, by having some fun and designing something new. The test will be in not replacing the should project with a new one. Hope you have a great weekend.


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