People don't normally quilt with linen - and there is a good reason why. It shifts in all directions; it has movement and lacks stability. It's structure is not fixed - like a cotton. When we painstakingly cut our shapes out for a quilt pattern, what we are normally looking for is precision. Using linen distorts your pattern - your straight lines end up a lot less straight.
I'm a fan of precision. I have an undergrad degree in measurement. That is why (as Anna pointed out to me this week!) my urge to quilt with linen is so interesting. Our nature is part of us; our tendency to do things in a particular way and look for certain qualities in what we are creating. A big part of mine is about loving order in what I make. Loving logic and maths and symmetry. I struggle to create things that lack these qualities - unless I have purposely decided before I begin that it is a hack job type situation.
What Anna pointed out to me while we were basting this quilt was that I seem to be pushing against my own nature. Looking for ways around my nature - creating disorder out of the orderly process of putting together a quilt. And through the process, maybe learning how to live with me-created wonk. Or even better yet - maybe learning how to embrace the wonk.
Anna is smart - just have a look at that first image on her website! She is an artist and an art teacher, is very thoughtful and she often has words for things I struggle to explain. I talk and talk, and she turns my curly thinking into something I understand. And I love her for it. Working with her to baste a quilt, either hers or mine, is one of the simple joys in my life. We have done it before and we will do it again. One of the things I love most is the process of putting a quilt together encourages discussion about the big stuff; life, love and ideas. The basting providing time and space to discuss future projects, and ideas, and allow them time to take shape. We are often discussing craft as we baste; it's value and meaning in our lives. The way it allows us to see and understand more about ourselves and what makes us tick. The way craft can make clear to us, through all the tiny choices we make as we create, what we value and who we are.
One idea that has come up over the years is that what we are attracted to in other people's work is sometimes what we ourselves would struggle to create. If you look at my craft-textiles board on pinterest you see two very distinct types of quilts. Those that are incredibly precise and ordered, and then those that are abstract, loose, improvisational. Order and precision I can do. But, while I adore improv and looseness, the idea of doing something like that myself makes me feel kinda stressed (what do you mean the corners wouldn't line up?) .
Ever since I saw the film Wild with my women the other night, I've been thinking about the idea of "putting yourself in the way of beauty". Making a choice to live beauty, to make beauty. By choosing materials that work against my (strong) instinct to control things it's almost like I'm forcing myself to create something that I would consider beautiful. I love the looseness but if I tried to create it I would just keep making things neat. I almost can't help it! If I hadn't made the choice to use those particular materials I wouldn't be able to create it - the looseness that I think is beautiful. The materials themselves are choosing the shape of the finished product and it's one I have little chance of controlling.
This quilt has involved so much fudging! Fudging to retain my strong straight-line design while accepting in part that I can't achieve it in linen. So many contradictions. I've wanted to pull it out and start again many times - but I didn't. I decided to go with it, fudge a bit and see where it lead. By using the materials I've used, I end up with a finished product I am proud to have created but that doesn't come naturally to me.
Stash Less - Why Restrictions Rock - has then stretched me even further. By creating a rule that means that I can't just buy more of the dirty blue linen, I was forced to (shock, horror) improvise and use some denim linen cotton to fill in the gaps when I ran out.
By nature I would have created an orderly two colour design - the second blue gives the quilt some interest and some depth. What the process has produced is something that is more beautiful than I would have created if I had made it as designed with one colour blue and straight perfect lines.
To use linen in a quilt and then to not follow it where it leads seems to me to be going against it's nature. But the fact that I chose it, and the fact that I am following it's lead, making the piece it wants to make is almost going against my nature.
That said (and again as Anna pointed out to me ;)) part of my nature is to challenge my nature!
Have you ever intentionally or unintentionally worked outside your comfort zone? And did you love the result?