I promised myself studio time this year as a first step to letting myself sew more. But every time I walk into the room, I get lost. I’ve been telling myself I need to get organized (again), clean up (one more time), and then I’ll be able to get to work (at last).
But my attempts to get organized have shown me that what really needs to happen is something I hate doing: I need to let go.
I have been quilting for about 20 years, and I have plenty of quilts already under construction. I’ve decided one of my intentions for my studio time this year is “finish”. I am nearly done with the owl quilt I designed in Linda Beach’s class last March, so it’s time to choose my next project to finish. In order to make an informed decision, I started making an inventory of my works-in-progress. If you’d asked me last week, I would have guessed I had about 20.
So far, I have found 41 quilting projects ranging from blocks for a king-sized quilt to 5″x5″ exercises I made during a class. The scary thing is that I haven’t even gone through all the shelves or drawers yet. I have no idea how many more WIPs are lurking in the shadows. (I think there’s only one, which means there are probably ten or so.)
With 40+ projects to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start.
I didn’t put these projects down because I was bored. I put them down because I was stuck. In most cases, I need to make a decision. I have to make fabric choices or decide how I will set the blocks I’ve made. In a few cases, the next step is unpleasant. For example, I have seven quilts that just need to be basted (a step I hate) so I can quilt them (a step I love).
The bad news is: I can’t finish all this stuff.
The good news is: I really don’t want to. I started some of these over ten years ago. Some I still love, but I’ve lost interest in others.
So my next step isn’t cleaning the studio out or even finishing the inventory . It’s looking at what I already know about and deciding what to do with each project.
Some ideas of what I might do with my numerous WIPs:
1) Finish the quilt as planned
2) Finish the quilt according to a simpler plan
3) Donate the quilt top or blocks to a good cause (like Project Linus or my guild’s yard sale)
4) Experiment with pieces I don’t like (by cutting them up and using them in other quilts)
5) Paste smaller quilts or pieces into my art journals and use them as the base for a mixed media piece
(Note: “Get a really big garbage can” is not on this list because I’m pretty sure that throwing away anything I’ve spent a lot of time on will crush my soul.)
I am dreading making these choices. Choosing between my projects is going to be hard. I recently made myself finish a book I didn’t like because I’d paid full price for it. If I feel like I’m invested in something, I find it hard to let go.
But letting go is what this is going to be all about. Letting go of perfection, letting go of old interests, letting go of old dreams. I could try to keep everything without finishing it all, but it’s taking up more than physical space. These projects are cluttering up the creative space in my mind, space I need if I’m going to start anything new*. So I will have to discipline myself and let some things go.
Do you have WIPs cluttering up your house and mind? How do you decide what to finish and what to release into the wild?
*I know what you’re thinking. “You’ve already got 40 quilts to make! You don’t need to start anything new!” But I know myself. I need variety, or I curl up in a ball and die. How do you think I wound up with all these projects in the first place?