I have come up with my word for 2017. It has taken a bit of pondering, a lot of dwelling on exactly what worked for me, or didn’t, during 2016. This past year seemed to be a year dominated by things outside my control (politics, chronic health problems, the passing of so many childhood heroes). So, it feels right to refocus in 2017 on things closer to home. Things within my sphere of influence, pertaining to just little old me.
Without further ado, my word for 2017 is….”Language.”
I have been quilting now for a few years (3-4 years or so), and have been going through the motions of learning this fascinating craft/art. I can sew a pretty straight, reasonably accurate, quarter inch seam. I can pick colours, mix fabrics, even dye my own. I can smell a quilt fabric sale a mile away, and have almost memorised my visa number for online purchases. All the necessary skills.
But I have struggled to find my voice, my language.
In 2016 I committed to a block a day program that taught me that, while I love traditional quilts, I cannot make only small, accurately pieced quilts. I want to speak another quilt language. Something freer, and more colourful.
I ended 2016 watching some classes on CreativeLive by Cheryl Arkison. The first was on translating ideas into quilting, the second on improv. I think I will look back at these classes as a pivot on which I changed direction, perhaps permanently.
I have always done some Improv Quilting, but always felt it was the poor cousin in the Quilt Family. First comes the ‘Baltimore Quilters’ with their needle turn appliqué, then march in the ‘Serious Piecers’, with their exact points and tiny pieces. It has always felt to me like a cavalcade of skill, with the Improv Quilters doing their thing somewhere at the tail of the parade. Partly this is because Modern Quilting isn’t a “thing” where I live. There is plenty of Art Quilting going on, but the Modern Quilting I have seen locally is more about using modern fabrics in very simple quilts (e.g. jelly roll race quilts). Rather than using solid fabrics, lots of negative space, and ignoring the quilt police.
I have also been nursing a wish to incorporate my background in wetlands and botany in my work, but haven’t known how. Then there are a lot of buildings being torn down, as the Government’s new building codes kick in after the quakes. So much architectural heritage is being lost, and I want to capture it, somehow.
So, I am going to learn some new quilting languages. First I will finish my latest Jen Kingwell quilt, simply because it has been a WIP for too long. While I am doing so, I am going to enjoy colour again. Pure, saturated colour.
I am also starting another project. A stitch a day. I purchased some linen fabric from Spotlight this morning, and stuck it through the wash. I plan to stick it up somewhere where I will see it every day; then as I pass, I will stitch. Or attach. Or both. Maybe Boro style, but definitely without an end point, or a vision, in mind. Pure, unfettered, daily hand stitch. I am hoping that after a year I will find how I want to use the running stitch that I am so visually attracted to. I have also joined the local Embroiderers Guild, and taken up a committee role.
Once Midnight at the Oasis is finished, I am going to start learning more improv methods. Putting Cheryl’s classes into action. Moving past wonky log cabins into something scarier.
And meanwhile, I have taken to wandering around with a camera in hand. Studying buildings, capturing details, textures, words….fodder for future quilts.
Meanwhile, I have enrolled for a Masterclass at the Christchurch Symposium on working in a series. If I get into the class, I will need to be fluent in my new language, so there is a bit of time pressure.
Have you chosen a word for 2017? Love to hear if you have.
Have a Happy New Year.