Not manic, don’t panic

A little progress on my kilim quilt

A little progress on my kilim quilt

I’ve been sick the last couple of weeks and it’s given me a chance to regain some much-needed perspective on my sewing life.

Sewing organizes and motivates my days, my weeks, my months & years. When the kids come running into our bedroom at 5:30 am (not an uncommon wakeup time for my energetic 3 & 4 year old boys) I can usually muster a good mood when I think about the sewing I’ll be able to get done once they’re fed and contentedly playing with legos.

When I lay in bed at night and assess my day, I get tremendous satisfaction from listing the projects I made progress on.

I feel so blessed to have something in my life that I enjoy so much, but it also has a dark side. While checking things off my to do list buoys my spirit, being unable to accomplish things weighs me down. It’s hard for me to agree to activities that keep me away from my sewing room for a full day or more.

Sometimes the pace I set for myself feels downright manic.

So spending a lot of time resting, cuddling with my boys & watching them play has been strangely good. It makes me want to be much more careful about letting my sewing to do list rule my life and determine my mood. I don’t know if I really want to spend less time sewing, I just want to approach it with less intensity.

Pretty fabric shot, just because

Pretty fabric shot, just because

I want to slow down. There is no race to see who can make the most quilts this year.

For a short while I’ll probably be talking more about things like fabric purchases (that’s Leah Duncan’s Meadow, by the way), bee blocks and project ideas that I won’t necessarily pursue.  I hope you’ll stick around and enjoy a slightly less panicky Sarah Quilts. 🙂

35 thoughts on “Not manic, don’t panic

  1. Sarah. I am very happy to read that you have come to this conclusion. Quilts will always be there but your little boys are only little once. Pretty soon they won’t want mommy in their every move. I love what you said about “its not a race to see who can make the most quilts”. You have to enjoy each one you make and that will give them more meaning down the road. Right now I have nothing but time and I am still moving along at a medium pace. Good for you!

  2. As a Mother, you will forever stop, evaluate (sometimes not on your timeframe) and reset your life button to stay in balance. You might not be able to gage your growth in your life with a mark on the wall, but those growth marks will be on and in your heart symbolizing a moment in time that you stayed in check. I don’t wish you “more”, but I wish you Enough…

  3. To be a little selfish for a minute: I love when other people slow down a little, makes me feel less “deficient”. Done being selfish. 😀 You have to go at a pace that suits you, and your family. And sometimes going slower and getting out of the must mass produce quilts mentality means you create better pieces, like the kilim quilt, or hand quilting the penny blossoms. And frankly, those quilts that are cranked out week, after week, they start to all blur together. Your quilts always stand out, so give them the room to shine in between finishes. 😀

  4. If anything, I might honestly relate more if you take it slowly. LOL! Super quilter moms intimidate me half the time! I’m home with my 10 month old boy full time right now and if I can get a few blocks sewn together a week, I call that a rousing success! There is definitely no race… I’ve noticed myself get so absorbed by my sewing sometimes that I surprise myself at being a bit “annoyed” when something is needed of me from my kids or hubby. That scares me the most. I quickly call myself back to order and remind myself that soon, I’ll be begging my kids to snuggle up and stay a while. There will always be time to sew… but my kids will only be small once.

  5. “I feel so blessed to have something in my life that I enjoy so much, but it also has a dark side. While checking things off my to do list buoys my spirit, being unable to accomplish things weighs me down.”
    I can relate to this so much. I work full time. I have a 5 year old. I’m on the board of the PTA at school. I have a great fiance that I like spending time with. We coach soccer, we travel, we see family, we go on bike rides and to regattas and festivals and spend hours at the playground. Sometimes I’ll realize 2 weeks have passed and I’ve sewn one, maybe 2, patches. My other obsession is cooking, and at least that has to be done every day or we don’t eat.

    I love sewing and quilting, I don’t love adding to the pressure in my life. It’s hard balancing it all. I’ve recently made a point to carve out at least 2 hours each week, just for sewing time. It’s not much, but it’s better than none and it’s a good start. I don’t feel the pressure of so many unfinished projects, because I know I have time set aside, and I don’t feel guilty for sewing time since 2 hours spread out over 7 days is not onerous. It’s all about finding what works for you and your family.

  6. I truly nothing is ever by chance, Im happy you have come to this conclusion. And as another lovely follower of your blog used the word intimidation, and I have often thought how unearth do these ladies find the time to churn out so many quilts? its sad isnt it, that we can loose sight of what was enjoyment and escapism and it becomes a race. And as yet Im yet to read on anyones grave stone, how many quilts they completed in a lifetime or how big their fabric stash is (another head shacking topic for me 😉 Enjoy your new found freedom, it can be liberating 🙂

  7. Loads of us will be able to relate to how you feel about being annoyed when ‘life’ gets in the way of sewing. I certainly can! I’m going through a really busy time outside of my sewing space and although it’s good that I’m spending time with my family; it also takes me away from what also gives me much joy. It’s a really tough balance to try to achieve.

    Let us know how you get on but it is an important battle to win, as your kids need you but you need your time too. Good luck with it xx

  8. I go through the same emotions! I have 2 girls and sometimes I feel like I should be doing more, playing more with them, but my sewing room is always open and they find themselves hanging out with me, playing in the room on my floor and nothing makes me happier than listening to them play whilst I sew. Good for you tho – it is hard to find that balance for sure. I love your first picture! Those colors are awesome.

  9. I too have moments where quilting isn’t a focus – the most recent one lasted 10 years! A bit extreme I know, other things took priority, but it certainly did feel good to get back into it again after such a long time of not sewing. Your wonderful unique creativity (& hobby) will always be there. Linda

  10. I realised the other day I was pushing myself really hard to get hand quilting done so I could show it for a Friday Finish. And at that point I realised that a Friday Finish was an artifact of blogging, and had no real meaning, and I could relax and look at other things and spend time elsewhere. You’re quite right to stop, draw breath and realise that there is no race, no pressure and no condemnation if you choose to do something else with your spare time for a while. It will probably give you some creative headspace, and you’ll come up with something else as fabulous as your kilim. I love it that you’re doing something original. As for Gypsy Wife, she’s lovely, but she’ll still be there later on. Open your hands and let it go…

  11. Man I feel you, I really do! I don’t have children, but I still feel out of balance when I let quilting stuff get too manic/frantic. It’s difficult finding that balance! Good luck, and enjoy your children! 😀

  12. Great post Sarah! This is something I struggle with from time to time – although I don’t sew at all when my kids are at home (but I do have two days where my youngest is in daycare, so that helps a lot). I think it’s especially hard when we see so many quilters pump out quilt after quilt in rapid succession, but at the same time kids are only little for such a short time and quilts will always be there. I dunno, this whole balance thing is something I struggle with all the time. That feeling of needing to be making so I had stuff to share on the blog drove me for a long time, but this year I’m trying to be more relaxed and really savour each stitch. I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say with this comment (!?!) but I really get where you’re coming from, and wish you luck in finding your balance x

  13. I so totally understand!!! I am feeling a little overwhelmed at times this month and I will am definitely re-prioritizing and hoping to take a different approach as well. You know I will always be reading 🙂

  14. I had this same realization earlier this year. I stepped away from my blog of only three months because I didn’t like the road I was headed down. I hope to go back to it one day when I can keep things in perspective instead of having the ‘quilt race’ mentality you mentioned. Only time will tell… enjoy your time spent sewing and not sewing also!

  15. Good for you, my friend. I’m 100% guilty of the mania you describe. Not that I’m necessarily racing against anyone other than myself (…and a billable hour goal), but it definitely does wonders to question those habits and determine how and why they came to be. I actually find myself looking for more handwork precisely because I can sit with my family and enjoy time together while still feeling as though I’m getting my creative fix (albeit at an incredibly leisurely pace). May we all find our own balance :o)

  16. I like the progress on your quilt. How on earth do you piece a block like that and have not a single stray thread! Those edges are razor sharp! Not a single ravel. Amazing.

  17. I think that’s the key to balancing family and quilting, making sure the intensity is turned down a little. There are days where you can get a lot more done than others just because of the way the day unfolds and those are sweet days indeed. Quilting love can be so… frustrating when it seems like everything else has to take precedence but it can adapt to your schedule too. Your true followers will understand and still be here waiting.:)

  18. As a mom of a 4 and 2 year old, I SO relate. Every few months I have to reel my expectations back and be more realistic about MY speed–slow. Sometimes I get so far ahead of myself on what to do and when I want/need to get it done by, and that just turns into stress and frustration (and grumpy family) because I just don’t have that much time to get everything I want to done.

  19. you have found some wisdom! thanks for sharing it with everyone. so often we just enable each other so it’s very refreshing to see some one else post a reality check. keep resting and loving on those boys! go play some legos. =)
    {hugs!!!}

  20. So much of what we do is about balance I think. Spending this time with you’re little one’s is so precious and you don’t get the time back again. So enjoy it. 🙂 I love following you’re blog and will be following no matter how often you write. I understand what you mean about the intensity of quilting. Maybe this is part of the art of quilting for many of us?

  21. Totally agree with what you’re saying here Sarah, I think it’s so easy to get carried away and impose pressures on ourselves and then feel we have to keep up with them. Sometimes I find myself rushing to meet some deadline I’ve set myself, only to lose my main reason for sewing – enjoyment. It’s at this point that I need to ask ‘do I really *have* to do this?’ and ‘who am I doing this for if my main drive has gone?’. I had to take a break recently and definitely think it helps to take a step back. All your quilts are so beautiful, I’m sure no one minds waiting a bit and fabric pics are always good!!

  22. Good plan! I’ve just finished catching up after way too long away from blogland and I have to say that I’m always amazed at what people can get done and wonder why there isn’t more burnout…. Did you know that some people blog every single day?????? When do they find time to sew? Or sleep? Or see the sun? 🙂

    I think sometimes we get caught up in the unintentional peer pressure of the internet (it instantly shows us the second someone posts another “finish”) and then feel like we have to match or eclipse that instead of appreciating the time, stitches, rhythms of the making. We are not factories. We forget why we picked up the fabric in the first place. A hobby should be fulfilling and rewarding, a pleasant pastime, and certainly not stressful, competitive or exhausting. (That being said, as much as I’ve gotten better at looking at my own work and not racing to add another finish to the checklist, I’m still occasionally guilty of speed-demon, “Done! Done! Done!” syndrome.)

    Enjoy it all and remember that the process counts as progress even if it’s less visible and quantifiable at the end of the day.

    Love love love the modern flower garden quilt, btw!

  23. I’ll definitely keep reading your blog, Sarah. Great post, and it’s clearly inspired some thoughtful comments. Not too long ago, I picked up a pin that Michelle gave me from one of Carolyn Friedlander’s classes, and I said, “You know, I’m not savoring each stitch.” So many different influences are converging on my life right now, and I feel satisfied that I’m honing in on the things I like – the fabrics that I really want to use (and unloaded the rest on Instagram), the projects I really want to do, and the places I really want to be spending my time. Matching my priorities with the honest answers to those questions is taking practice, but I’m happier now. Cheers, my friend! You sound happier, too!

  24. I really identify with you trying to sew more and faster than is humanly possible. It’s possible to slow down, but not overnight. I’m retired now and sewing is my lifelong hobby. My need to do more and do it faster was mainly with my work and it had a serious affect on my health.

    With sewing I’ve found I can design and sew a whole quilt (in my mind) by just letting it rattle around in my mind while I’m working on other projects. All I really miss is the fun of giving away the finished product. Truly I’m not loony, this just gives me a way to work on and enjoy two projects at once.

    I have read that once a Type A, always a Type A. This is just a way to cope. I also don’t make lists!

    Hope you enjoy your slower pace. I’ll still be reading.

  25. This is happening to me right now! As I’ve gone back to work full time I find myself focusing more on spending time with my husband and kids in the evenings and one the weekends. I still want to sew and miss my sewing time but I ‘m definitely not feeling obsessive about it anymore. This may mean I make fewer quilts but I’m hoping it will mean the quilts I make are the ones that are really exciting me 🙂

  26. Wonderfully written, and while i don’t always have the time to comment, know that i’m still reading… and always will!
    It’s nice to slow down, i find it’s a more enjoyable ride 😉
    I don’t blog nearly as often as i would like, and the stacks of wips are busting out the windows over here, but in the end it’s the time spent with my guys that will be most remembered and cherished.

  27. Such a refreshing read! It’s true that there is a constant re-prioritization of activities going on from one month to the next. Sometimes sewing is at the bottom of the list. Sometimes at the top. But if it stays on top for too long, then you realize that something else (most likely time with the babies) is probably being sacrificed. . . and, so, the re-prioritizing begins again. . . Good for you to make that recognition and to publicly share the fact it was time reorganize your list. I bet you will be a better mommy, and a better quilter, because of it! I really relate to the struggle, so thanks so much for sharing!

  28. Amen! I totally feel you. I am always in some race with myself:) I was listening to a podcast with one of the ladies that wrote Quilting Happiness and they were talking about slowing down and really enjoying what we are doing….that’s why we do it right:) Now I really want to get that book! Thanks for this post, makes it feel a little easier to let go of the reigns a bit:)

  29. I’m glad you’re giving yourself permission to take sewing at a pace that’s enjoyable. One of the things I most love about your blog is the way you reflect on the meaning of your projects, so keep finding value in that 🙂 And, if your update posts slow down because of it, well, we’re all probably manically trying to keep up with everyone, so we’ll just learn to savor posts more too 🙂

  30. Um, here’s your friendly neighborhood blog slob to say !!!!! how did I miss this precious post. I, too, feel manic so much of the time. feed the kid shower self feed the kid again turn OFF the TV did i excercise today is it time to feed the kid again?! how much can i sew while she sleeps but I’M NOT SEWING ENOUGH then a glass of wine so I can even sit still enough in the evenings to knit. It’s a crazy pace, and for what? Literally no reason. Enjoy your time cuddling under all those pretty quilts you’ve made, and enjoy those boys of yours, and take your dang sweet time feeling better. Anne of Green Gables WILL help.

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