Saturday, July 14, 2007

Obsession and porridge

When I became a manager at the credit union my supervisor arranged for me to take an expensive personality inventory called - I think - The Birkman Personality Inventory. The fee for this was $300. At that time they had all new managers complete this. Each of us learned about our working styles and how they compared with the styles of the other managers. This was to facilitate communication and teamwork between all the managers. I love doing stuff like this - I always like to get more information about what makes me "tick". After answering many pages of questions the results were complied, and I got to spend 2-3 hours with a "Birkman interpreter" learning more about myself. It was absolutely fascinating and completely accurate.

One of the things I learned - that I really already knew - is that my ideal position is that of project manager. I like to focus on one thing from start to finish - often forgetting the existence of anything else - until that project is done. If it's something I'm fascinated with, I can easily take it to the extreme of total obsession. I can multi-task if I have to, but I dislike doing so and don't do my best work this way. I don't divide my attention among several things easily.

About now you are probably thinking the same thing I'm thinking - if this is true why do I have so many UFO's? To tell you the truth I don't really have a clue. My best guess is that if something new that seems absolutely fascinating comes along, my obsession can change very quickly, even when a project isn't completed. When this happens I'm driven to take a detour and put all my effort and concentration into the new project. It's not because I've become tired of the first project - not at all. I guess I'd say I'm obsessive in a fickle sort of way - strange, because that's certainly an oxymoron if I've ever heard one.

Anyway, it's the Crumb Chaos blocks that have taken my thoughts along this path this morning. I've become totally obsessed and driven to empty these tubs and finish making these blocks. I have a stack of 120 finished blocks in groups of 10, plus three spare. But look at the partial blocks on the machine waiting for another round. And look at the drawers of strips and crumbs. They don't look any less full than when I started. Obviously they are - I can pack them down with my hands to the point where it looks like they are about half gone. I can easily make a California king or a couple twin quilts with the number of blocks I'll have when I finish, and still have a bunch left over. Right now looking at these drawers makes me feel like I'm just treading water and getting no where - even though the stack of finished blocks says differently.

I'm reminded of a story in my favorite story book from childhood. The story of a very poor widow raising her children alone. She had no trouble feeding them, however, because she had a magic porridge pot. When she said "Cook little pot, cook" the pot would make porridge for them to eat. When she said "stop, little pot, stop" it stopped making porridge. One day the mother went to town, leaving her children to fend for themselves. Her daughter decided to make porridge. The problem was this - the daughter couldn't remember the words to make the pot stop cooking. By the time the mother got back the porridge had filled the little house, poured out the door, and ran in a river down the street engulfing everything it passed.

I'm beginning to feel like my scrap drawers and bins are like that little porridge pot. When decided to work with scraps last summer I started working on emptying my scrap drawers. I finished several scrap quilt tops, starting with the Broken Dishes quilt. Then I moved on to string quilts. Then I sewed dozens of hourglass blocks. However, it seems the more tops I finish the more scraps are coming out of the drawers. I'm calling "Stop, little drawers, stop! I have enough scraps!" Those are obviously not the correct magic words, however, because the scraps keep pouring from the drawers. So far there is no end in sight.

And I continue to obsessively sew them together into blocks and quilt tops.


Karen (Misiz C) said...

Getting a personality inventory sounds like fun.... and educational. Wonder what they would say about my tendency to get distracted. Heehee.

I can totally relate to your "reproducing" scrap bins. I'm still consolidating my stash and my bins floweth over. A friend asked me a couple days ago if I needed more scraps. I said NO really fast. Think I startled her. =P

Norma said...

I just loved this post! Great story! I am working on some string blocks this morning. They are addictive too! My scrap bin never seems to go down either. Although, I like the idea of compressed the scraps to make it look like there are less! *LOL* I remember the days when I started quilting and I had no scraps. Now I am cursed or blessed--I am not sure which--with way too many!

Suze said...

I check on you first thing each morning. I enjoy what you are working on and feel a kinship when I am downstairs with my scraps. I am learning to cut them as I go and sometimes take a short break and trim a few more in addition. I have my stack of what I call "Patti Drawers" divided into the sizes you recommended. No scrap quilt for me yet but I am getting ready.

Thanks for the wonderful story.

Nan said...

I remember that story. Right now, my craftroom looks like I have forgotten the words to stop the pot from cooking!!
Will you give me some of your "obsession" please? I think it's a wonderful thing! It keeps you on track to get things finished. I'm more like a butterfly - I "flit" from project to project.