09 October 2010

Reflections on: slowing down

For many of us, life moves at a frantic pace. There are family activities to coordinate, households to run and work deadlines to meet. Time is critical and we hurry from one activity to the next. I have never understand, though, why we rush our quilt making.

Over the past couple of years, I have deliberately tried to slow down my life. This has involved reducing the hours I work in paid employment and cutting the travel time to and from work so that I can take more time to do other things I enjoy. I am downshifting – trying to establish a slower rhythm so that I can appreciate everything as each moment unfolds.

It has been wonderful making more time for quilt making. I’ve never subscribed to the view that a fast quilt is a good quilt and, as a consequence, have many projects that are not finished. Now there is time to actually complete my projects, but still be able to enjoy the process.

I have often wondered why some people focus so much on speed. We see patterns for quilts promoted in terms of how few hours it will take to make them. We hear of quilters who churn out dozens of quilts a year, as if the high numbers are desirable achievements. I do appreciate that some quilters need to make quilts quickly because of the limited time available to them, but that's not for me.

I’d like to suggest that there are growing numbers of us who prefer a less frantic pace. The ‘slow craft’ movement fits beautifully with the current resurgence of people discovering the pleasure of crafting handmade objects.

I feel a cultural shift towards slowing down. This allows us to get in touch with ourselves, our families and our communities and to restore the natural rhythms of our lives. Many people are enjoying reconnecting with their food by growing their own vegetables, even in urban areas. Sharing with the bounty with friends also allows a connection with other people – something that quilters have long enjoyed.

Slowing down my life allows me to spend more time with friends than I did before. I can learn from them, share with them and just enjoy their company. I can try new techniques, perfect old ones and cast off the burden of unfinished quilts. I can’t tell you how much pleasure I have found in my stash.

Being mindful of every part of the quilt making process is so rewarding. Each step, including designing a pattern, choosing the fabric and stitching the pieces, creates its own joyful moments. By actively involving myself in the complete cycle of making a quilt, I can savour the pleasure every step of the way - no matter how long it takes.

6 comments:

Jennifer said...

Well said....the slow cooking movement is gaining momentum, slow crafting should too. For me quiltmaking is about the journey rather than the destination, although it's always good to arrive!

virtualquilter said...

Erica,

With so many quick quilt recipes around I know I am living in the slow lane, and have no intention of overtaking anyone!

Judy B

Laroc Originals said...

I am most encouraged by your views, as I have recently begun putting the brakes on too. At first the guilts tried to take a hold but I have discovered how much better I feel now that I not "chasing my tail" anymore and enjoying the process of quilting so much morw too.

PAMELA said...

Erica,
You hit the spot! Taking time to think, to do, brings much more enjoyment and satisfaction with the making. It lets us be in the "here and now" rather than the past and future. It is great to read about your change of lifestyle - one too I am adopting (trying to let go of the need for tasks, action, accomplishments counted etc). ENJOY your activity & time to be involved.

Sherrie Spangler said...

I totally agree! Slow quilting is the only way to really savor those colors and fabric. I still do a lot of machine quilting, but I'm gradually using more hand stitches and crazy quilt embroidery and loving it.

Mary Jenkins, said...

Thank you for commenting on my blog and now I have found yours I agree, we are on the same wavelength. A Slow Quilting Movement sounds like a good idea but we will be up against the might of the fabric industry as well as those who teach and write about rapid techniques.