Saturday, June 9, 2012

Learning to Let Go

It took longer than normal, but I finally finished the dozen blocks I needed for my contribution to a block swap. It was hard, but not because of the pattern. A valuable life lesson the New Testament teaches is, in everything you do, do it for the glory of God.    

Perhaps in part due to my reaction to my meds, and the extra caution I took with the rotary blades, the piecing process  was slowed down with this project and I really took my time to measure, to block,  to do each of those mundane and boring steps I am so often tempted to skip, because, they're boring. And because I didn't have the energy to spend time choosing more batik fabric at my favorite shop, I used what I had on hand. 

I had on hand a beautiful piece of fabric I picked up years ago, even before my daughter was born, and my son was still in grade school. It was a hand blocked batik from Indonesia with a repeat pattern that took up 1 1/2 yards. The dyes were in indigo and a marbled blue and the scene was a Savannah watering hole full of giraffes, zebras, elephants, just gorgeous. I never cut into it, because the fabric was too pretty, and I knew I would never find anything like it again. An internal dilemma arose. This fabric is too precious, I thought, these people are strangers, I said, what if I don't get back similar value in the exchange? I decided to continue making the blocks and wait til I was finished to decide what to do.

I fussy cut the fabric so that each of the smaller animals could be highlighted in the baskets and set aside the larger elephants and giraffes for another project. I then used up the scraps of batik fabrics I had on hand to make up the HSTs for the "fruit". When I finished, I put them up on the wall, and really liked the colors and pattern. And because this swap required me to make a dozen blocks I had in effect pieced together a 4 foot wall hanging. A few more triangles, a couple of borders, and it would have been done. I'm going to keep this, I decided. And went back to planning and choosing a complementing block to expand the quilt to a more functional size.

Having spent a day now with owning the quilt in my mind and even deciding where it would be used in my home, I finally honored the quiet thought that remained ever present, that keeping these blocks was never the intended purpose. In these blocks, the triangles had points. the baskets looked like porcelain vases, they were well done, as if they were made for God's glory. 

I heard someone say once that if you boil done all of the human emotions, there are really only two, Love and Fear. My fatigue kept my mind from it's usual frenetic pace of processing, and the temptation to hold on to something made me ask myself, who am I, really? Why do I even plan to participate in swaps if in the back of my mind, I don't plan on giving my best effort? Why would I care what quality block I receive in return? Who truly is my audience, them, me, or God? Why do I do what I do? It was a good exercise all around - making these blocks, considering keeping them and then ultimately deciding to let them go. In the process, I wrote my mission statement to answer the question, why do I do what I do? In another post, I'll answer that question. 


  1. Ann, I can't tell you how much I appreciated the spirit of your post. It is as beautiful as the quilt blocks, expressed with precision. I needed to hear many of the things you wrote. Thank you. Also, I think you know how much I love batiks and hand-paints. Your choices...wherever they came from...created a stunning picture. You are an artist within and without.

  2. The fabrics, colors and blocks are awesome, Ann.

  3. Great post and totally understandable that you would wrestle with whether to keep them or not. Ultimately you figured out the right thing for you and that is all you can ever expect of yourself. They did turn out beautiful and if I were in your bee to receive one of them, it would remind me of you each time I looked at it.

  4. Dear Ann, I LOVE your baskets! they are so original, so not like others I ever seen! and fabrics you used are very beautiful!
    hugs, Masha

  5. I just LOVE these colours, and the batik fabric is gor-gee-ous! I totally get the reluctance to cut it and use it and part with it, I have some fabrics I feel the same about.

    Your previous post I think your tree trunks are just great, so simple but effective, as well as your leaves...definately better than a snake!!

    As for lessons learned whilst sewing, I think if one is receptive there are always lessons available to us. Hope you are feelin better soon and can cut down on the meds which are addling your head....fingers are a useful thing to keep!!!!

  6. I know exactly what you mean about parting with treasured fabrics (these blocks are BEAUTIFUL, by the way. I love the colors.) It can be hard t o give something away that you've put so much effort in to knowing that the recipient may not appreciate it like you think the should. I have actually heard quilters say before that they had quit giving away quilts because they were never appreciate appropriately. What a waste. Personally, I think that they way a gift is received doesn't diminish the spirit in which it was given. Sometimes people just don't get that excited about their quilt, for whatever reason. But I think knowing that it was made and given with a heart full of love is enough, for me.