Saturday, May 12, 2007

A question of patience

Do you consider yourself to be a patient person? If so, are you always patient or does the particular situation make a difference?

So often when I mention that I quilt the person I'm talking to says something like this, "I could never make a quilt. I'm not nearly patient enough." My response is always the same. "It takes impatience to make a quilt. You must have a desire to see what it will look like when it's all finished. Otherwise you'll never stick to it long enough to finish it." The last person I said that to was one of our new employees at the credit union who'd just finished taking my class. I got to thinking about her statement and my response, and for the first time I asked myself whether or not that was really true.

Most people consider me a very patient person, because anyone who teaches other people how to do anything must be patient. And when it comes to my students I am always patient - even when I have to think of a third or fourth way to explain something because they didn't "get" the first two or three explanations. But outside of work and outside of teaching I'm the most impatient person you can imagine. I have trouble waiting for things I've ordered to arrive in the mail or by UPS. If we are expecting guests and they don't arrive right when I expect them to I begin to worry that something might have happened to detain them. And when I get involved in a project - especially one I'm excited about - I find myself dropping everything else in order to get that project done. It's like I'm driven - I block out everything else.

You'd think that would mean that I have no UFO's right? Because I'm driven to work on one until it's finished. You know by my sidebar that it isn't true. If only it would really work that way. Instead I find myself driven to accomplish a set goal, but the goal is often something other than finishing a quilt.

Take today for example. I was supposed to be upstairs quilting. I even got up early - about 6:30 am - so I could get a good start. I told myself I'd just trim a few more triangles so I could clear off the cutting table. Then I decided to trim until my daughter came to take us to coffee. Then it was just until the DVD I was watching was over. Can you see the tendency here? What I REALLY wanted to do wasn't quilt - it was to get those triangles finished. So I did - about 3:30 this afternoon. Something like this always takes way longer than I think it will. I've posted a picture of results of my efforts. Who was I kidding when I happily (and proudly) said I'd emptied an entire plastic shoebox by sewing together these triangles? Now that same shoebox contains half-square triangle squares, all trimmed nicely and waiting for the next step towards becoming whatever they are going to be. They range in size from 1" to a bit over 2". And the shoebox is right back on the shelf where it was originally when it was full of triangles.

I'm telling myself I did accomplish something - after all, they are just that much closer to becoming part of a finished quilt. But there they sit, because I don't dare start stitching them together. If I do I'll become driven to complete another goal - sewing them all together into a finished flimsy - and I still won't get any quilting done. So I'm calling it quits for now - especially since the second Yankee-Mariner game is about to begin. I'll take the laptop upstairs, sit in the recliner, and read blogs while I watch baseball. Notice that still doesn't have anything to do with quilting a flimsy. Tomorrow morning I'll go upstairs to load a quilt on the machine - at least that's what I'm thinking tonight.

Obviously I have way too much patience when it comes to quilting all these flimsies. So I guess what I said is true - I have to be impatient to see them finished or I'll never stick to the job required to get them done. So tell me - what do I need to do in order to be impatient when it comes to quilting these tops?

1. Azaleas and rhododendrons in bloom
2. A tasty new rub and barbecue sauce - a gift from a casual friend
3. A glass of white wine
4. A box full of triangle squares
5. A new pedicure



Jenni @ Fairybread said...

I can totally relate. I wasn't 'really' referring to you when I sympathised with those who don't much like to do the quilting part yesterday LOL!! I understand about the patience V impatience thing, for me it is a distraction V concentration problem. Maybe we have too many options? Too much fabric and too many quilt designs to choose from. Elaine commented that I don't sound very focused at the moment, ad I have to agree. If we only had scraps, and were freezing in bed, well perhaps things would be finished!

Carol E. said...

I'm afraid I can't answer your questions. I "suffer" from the same patience/impatience dilemma. Today I was going to start working with some orphan blocks. I put ONE on the design wall, then got distracted with a basket block and spent the rest of the day making that block into a completed wall hanging. Still have done nothing with the orphan block(s). But I have a photo of the finished basket quilt at my blog. Maybe tomorrow will be my orphan block day.

Tazzie said...

I think each and every one of us can relate in some way or another. Sometimes I put off going to bed until it's sooooo late, because there are just a few more things to do. It then has a flow on effect ... I'll put off getting out of bed ... just 5 more minutes ...
I could go on and on ... so Patti, you're not alone!

Leigh said...

You know, that is definitely right. I hadn't thought of it that way but it is true. It is the impatience for the end result that keeps us going!
Your shrubs are gorgeous by th e way.

Karen said...

Gorgeous azaleas. Yes, you definitely need to have that eagerness and iron will in order to get a quilt done. But you have to have patience, too, in order to get such detailed work done as you must do to work on quilts. Lots of dilemmas all the time, though. Like today, I want to get my Corny Top sandwiched, but I also am desperate to get my next month's three BOM blocks done (one done, two to go!).

Vicki W said...

Interesting thought-provoking post! I agree, you have to have a mix of patience and impatience. But it's OK to get focused on one specific thing every now and then. I think those periods are really just periods of busy meditation. We all get them.

Darlene said...

You've completely described me! I like "busy meditation", as Vicki W said - that's a perfect description of what I'm doing when I'm focused in my sewing room!

Kathy Wagner said...

I am exactly like you and have no advice! I think I am an ADHD quilter!
LOVE your photographs...just beautiful!
Happy Mother's Day!

Carol said...

Patti there is no answer...I think we are all the same. Happy Mother's Day...and isn't it wonderful to be able to celebrate it as a grandmother as well...this has truly been a great day!

cher said...

something else we have in common dear Patti- the drive to keep working on something until we reach that "goal" we set, and then the delaying we do to create time to make that happen-and the putting off of what we think we "should" really be doing!
congrats on all those triangles pressed and trimmed-a big step accomplished!

Pat *Enjoying life in Florida" said...

I think some days we're lucky (and other days maybe not so much) to have a hobby that has a tangible result!

If you stopped playing golf in the middle of the round, there would be not reminders of it tomorrow. Same thing if you went fishing and decided to take off for a better But, if we quit and jump to something else, it nags at us!

What matters most is that you enjoy what you're doing at the moment you're doing it. Ater all, if the point was to just have a quilt, you could run to the mall and pick one up and have $ to spare ;-)

Hopefully, for me too, there will be lots of days in my futre when I'll begin to enjoy finishing things a little more than I do now!

Love the flowers!!!