Monday, October 13, 2008

Quilting Through Crises

Last week I sought out news on the economic sitations on the TV, radio, Internet and LA Times, as I imagine many of you did too. During critical events happening in the world, or the US like this, I tend to start a new quilt from scratch, no pattern.

The trend to quilt at times like this began for me when the Oklahoma City Federal building was bombed in 1995. Choosing or drafting a design and auditioning fabric gets the most consideration from me and this stage gives me the greatest push into creativity. I used a pattern and made a brightly colored quilt with an Escheresque pattern. Using a design wall was essential because the colors of a block flowed into the next block in order to get the effect. It took lots of time to figure out.

Creative thoughts are the opposite of depressed, helpless, hopeless, and mad thoughts. Opposite thoughts with their accompanying feelings don’t exist in your mind/body at the same moment. Engaging in creativity is one way of coping with feelings that come up at times like these. Sure I cry and pray as I go along too, but I keep my mind moving along with the quilt on its path to completion.

Making a quilt kept my mind from concentrating solely on the devastation and my feelings of helplessness and powerlessness to help. The news kept me involved with the story and able to hear the people interviewed. I could send "God Bless yous" from my heart to theirs as I moved pieces for the color arrangement and sewed the pieces together. The same calling to be creative came forth as other disasters struck.

When I'm sewing by machine I feel less involved with the information (partly because it's hard to hear or read while doing it) so it is the best remedy when I need a break from it all. If the sewing is simple, my mind can wander and send energy to the struggling people. I also go through my attitude of gratitude list while sewing. There is so much for which to be thankful. By the time the quilt is completed, I feel some relief from the intensity of the days before. I have worked through a great deal of feelings and gained a life awareness I didn’t have before the crisis. The quilt always reminds me of the new awareness I gained and how fortunate I am, providing another opportunity to say a little blessing prayer for the people who died and their families.

Because I lost my voice, got a sinus headache from the hot dry winds and the economy was tanking, I figured the spirits were talking to me to take off a couple of days to design a new quilt project. I also needed to separate from predominantly left brained activities to open up the right side – wide. As a result, time flew buy, my body relaxed and I felt calmer and more creative thanks to designing a quilt block and auditioning fabrics.

This is a picture of one block showing where I am in the process right now. A stained glass panel is the end goal made with 8 blocks.There is a bit of a twist, but I'll keep that to myself until it's finished. How I will cover the seams on this one I have not decided just what yet. Since I awoke to good news about the stock market, I worked all day on the computer. (Hmm, is this a no win situation??)

I have planned two different colorways for the blocks. The other color resulted in a private challenge when recently I was dared (in the good way) by a quilter whom I had the pleasure of staying with while teaching at her guild in Escondido CA. The challenge came from a quilt shop "ah ha! moment "when we fell for fabrics that were not the usual choice for either of us. Life is full of surprises. We agreed to make stained glass blocks we design separately using the same fabrics. This blue, green and gray one is a test quilt and i'm gald i took the time to do it as i will handle the challenge quilt differently. Fortunately I like both versions.

Would you like to share your quilt made in a crisis or your story. I would be very interested in hearing about your use of quilting and how it helps you. Post it as a comment or email me.


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