Wednesday, 1 July 2015

2015 Finish Along - Q2 Tutorial - Building Momentum by Mary Huey

Hi everyone - I'm delighted to share the first 2015 Finish Along Q2 tutorial with you today.  Mary Huey blogs at Quilting through Rose-colored Trifocals and today she is sharing her thoughts on a topic dear to my heart - how to tackle your UFOs and make it through projects.  As part of my year 30 quilt project, I've been stitching every single day and it's amazing how taking 10 or 15 minutes at the end of each day to do a little something keeps me going.  Without further ado, here is Mary.  

My name is Mary Huey.  I’ve quilted for over 40 years during which time I've taught for 35 years and owned a quilt shop for 26 years.  In other words, I’m an expert UFO enabler!!  For years, I’ve been helping quilters start projects but since I closed my shop in 2005, I’ve been trying to help quilters finish projects.

I love the “cartoon” that circulates around Facebook every so often with two women chatting and one says to the other, “I hear it takes a long time to finish a quilt you’re not working on . . . . “  It’s funny, but it’s sad at the same time.  We love to start, but many of us forget that we also need to love to finish! 

Over the years, I’ve observed that an overload of UFO’s will kill creative energy faster than a cranky husband – the guilt that travels with UFO’s extinguishes enthusiasm relentlessly!

So how do you deal with UFO’s?  Certainly participating in the 2015 Finish-a-long is a good step in the right direction.  That end of the quarter deadline that is fast approaching can stimulate lots of positive activity!   I have always been a deadline finisher myself!

Several years ago I created a course for quilters to use to tackle their UFO’s more successfully and one of the topics I cover is "building momentum".  At the end of each lesson, I assigned participants several tasks.  The most important task and the one that was at the end of every lesson was “to work at your craft/art every day!”

I'm lucky to be able to commandere the couch every evening so I just leave my current projects out and ready!
It’s one of the most effective strategies I use personally to get UFO’s finished.  Sometimes it’s only 20 minutes, but it’s easier for me to find 20 minutes every day than it is to find big blocks of stitching time.  And if that’s all I can get during a busy week, those 20 minutes daily sessions equals over 2 hours a week?! 

I’m going to make a big assumption here – you quilt because you enjoy it?  So keeping at it on a daily basis is good for you.  Seriously, science has shown that it relieves stress and calms us down.  Using our hands bolsters self-esteem and confidence in all areas of our life.  So why aren’t you stitching every day.  You can’t wait until you have the time and the energy.  You have to figure out how to make it a regular part of your day.

I started an accountability journal almost 10 years ago to document my daily progress.  When I first started mine, there were days when I didn’t have anything to “tell” my journal so I would dash back up to the studio and sew madly for 15 minutes so I could make an entry before I went to bed.  Now it’s a routine part of every day.  One of the surprises you may encounter if you’ve never journaled your stitching is how much you really get done.  After 10 years, I still love to write “FINISHED” in that journal and add to my annual tally in the margin of the pages.  I now know that I average 45 finishes a year – feels good.

“Yes, but I work” you are saying.  The most important strategy I use to keep me stitching every day is to leave my work areas set up so I can plop down at the end of the day and just start stitching without thinking about what to do.  I find if I don’t have to think about the “what”, it’s easier to pick up my work and continue.  So I leave the next step set out when I leave my studio at the end of the afternoon.  I hand stitch or knit every evening – so before I head to bed, I thread the needle and organize the next step.  It’s waiting for me to return the next evening when I’m too tired to think.  It isn’t that we are too tired to stitch, we are too tired to think – our decision maker is just closed for the day!!

Ready and waiting for me to return -- no thinking required, just plop down and turn on the machine!!
I’ve also observed that stitching every day leads to increased skill without much effort – practicing every day really does work!  Your piecing will get better, your cutting will become more consistent, the more you do, the better you get!!  I’ve also noticed the creative solutions to challenges and problems has become almost effortless.  I think it’s because our subconscious keeps working on a project when we keep coming back to it each day rather than waiting until we have a couple free hours to stitch.  It watches quietly for ideas and searches that memory bank of experience we own without being asked.  Next thing I know, there is an "idea"!  Where did that come from?
 
My current travel stitching being restocked for the next outing -- the tools never leave the pouch!!

Quick personal story – my mother unfortunately suffered a horrible descent into dementia during the last year of her life.  I live the closest and tried to be with her every day.  Her anger and frustration was heaped on me and as time went on, it became harder and harder to endure.  Because I was already in the habit of stitching EVERY DAY, it became my respite.  It was an escape from my reality and soothed me every day to sit down and stitch.  Interestingly, although it was the most difficult experience of my life it was an incredibly creative and productive year for me as a quilt maker.   Had I not already figured out the importance of daily stitching to me as a creative person, I don’t believe I would  have sought that avenue to manage the stress.  I would have been too tired.  Everything in my life came down around my head, but my stitching soared and kept me afloat. 

If you don't stitch everyday, I encourage you to start today.  The benefits are astonishing and you won't be sorry.  You'll finish more, you'll be calmer, you'll be more creative and all that leads to more happiness!!

Mary Huey

19 comments:

Mystic Quilter said...

Thanks so much for the tutorial by Mary Huey! So very interesting and thought provoking, I shall certainly be taking her words of wisdom on board in relation to my UFO'S. First step is to list on the link party coming up!

Myra @ Busy Hands Quilts said...

It's really true - A day seems not complete until thread and needle meet.

Teresa in Music City said...

Such trials we are often called upon to endure for the sake of our families! I too have found sewing to be therapeutic in so many ways throughout the various trials in my life. And I think there are many, many women out there (and men too!) who can absolutely relate :*) Thanks for sharing such a personal story with us.

Patchwork and Play said...

What an inspirational post! Thank you for sharing your wise words with us...so much to consider and act on! It's July 1st here in Australia- the start of a new financial year! I am going to start journalling my sewing time!

Hollie @ Just a Mom who Sews said...

Wonderful post!

Leonie said...

Such a greata post - agree agree agree! Thanks for sharing :) Sewing has often helped me out of dark spots... it really is a wonderful hobby in so many ways xx

Gemini Jen NZ said...

Super advice and I am going to make sure to give it a try - even if just for 15 minutes!

Marly said...

Thank you Mary for an inspirational post. I shall be following your advice and leaving projects ready to pick up again. Thank you Adrianne for inviting Mary to share her wisdom.

Kelly said...

What a fascinating and inspirational post. Thank you for sharing. I don't sew at home, I have a studio so I will have to think how I can do this but I am sure I will find a way.

Nicky said...

Totally agree ! My two daughters were ill last year and I stitched through the whole episode - it was my refuge!

The Running Peacock Quilter said...

Thank you for Mary's post. I love her words and ideas. I'm going to start a quilt calendar and write one Quilty thing I did on it each day.

felicity said...

I couldn't agree more! I stalled in my creativity/productivity at one point - too overwhelmed with all the ideas in my head, never mind UFOs! So I committed to 20 minutes of stitching a day. All those minutes add up and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Mina said...

Great post, I try to stitch every day

Anne / Springleaf Studios said...

Very very inspiring . . . I told myself I'd sew a little every day and yet I haven't stuck with it but now feel a renewed call to restart. Thanks.

Maryse said...

Love this post from Mary.

Zafira Vaxevanidou said...

Thank you so much Mary for this article. It is really helpful and encouraging, I am going to try your 20 min method and also to keep a journal of what I do. Those little tricks surely work!

Quilter in the Gap said...

Do you remember that game where you used to holler "ollie, ollie, oxen freed" and then no one can touch you? that is the way I feel when in my sewing room! I am untouchable - life can't bother me!!!

Mary Huey said...

Thanks for all the nice comments about my post -- it's good to know that's it's helpful to other stitchers!!

Karen @ Pieces of Contentment said...

Thank you Mary and Adrianne, a great post with many truths. It is in a similar vein to this post I read yesterday.
http://thecraftsessions.com/blog/2015/8/18/creativity-in-the-middle-of-motherhood