Thursday, January 22, 2015


Hercule Poirot

Poirot, that is.  Like one of my favorite Agatha Christie characters, I, too, am drawn to things that are symmetric, perfect, and precise.  As a child I can remember "playing school" with my friends and ripping out page after page of writing when I found too many "mistakes".  Even my play had to conform to my strict standards!  At age SIX!  While neatness and perfectionistic tendencies can be a good thing (and are probably the reason my "little gray cells" did so well in school), they can also prevent one from venturing outside of the perfect and precise. a "T".

 However...I wasn't always so stifled.  The revelation that necessity really is the mother of invention (and creativity) had once led me to transform a cold and empty house into a home!  As a newlywed, I busied myself making our new house a warm and comfortable place to live.  We were on a tight budget and couldn't afford to buy furniture for more than our bedroom, kitchen and family room...and the family room consisted of only a sofa and loveseat.  No tables, no lamps...nothing.  The other rooms sat empty.  But it was "ours" and we loved it.  If I wanted our home "decorated", I would have to do it myself.  I painted, added trim to plain bath and kitchen towels, sewed curtains, and handcrafted almost all of our Christmas gifts.  My sewing machine, glue gun and paint brushes were in constant use.  I was "crafty" (as my mom would say) and loved the way my "personal touches" made the house warm and inviting.  Everywhere I looked, I saw me...peeking out from items lovingly crafted for our home.  I never saw "mistakes", only the love I poured into each item. 

Fast forward QUITE a few years, lol.  Our income grew, we moved to a bigger house and my free time diminished.  Life got in the way.  LIFE, mind you...not living.  I stopped crafting things for our home, and turned to mass produced, store bought items instead.  The decor in our house was "picture perfect"...always symmetric, coordinated and precise.  And if something I bought didn't meet my "high standards"?  I sent it back.  Only the "perfect" came into our house.  Our house looked great, but "making a home" was lost in the shuffle.   

Then, a little over three years ago I retired.  I once again had time for crafting...and I really wanted to learn to make quilts...WELL.  Unfortunately, the perfectionism that had grown over the years made the learning curve tough to handle.  I cannot begin to count the projects that I tossed midway through because my technique wasn't up to par.  Every quilt I gifted to my family came with an explanation of each and every little mistake I saw glaring back at me.  They didn't see mistakes, only the love I poured into the quilt.  It was me who had the problem. 

While my first several projects were quilted using the embroidery module on my Baby Lock (perfect and precise, you know), I wanted a variety and personalization that I couldn't find in "canned" patterns.  Much like the decorating in my home over the last 20+ years, I was limited to the vision of the designer.  But I wanted the freedom to BE the designer!  I wanted the visions in my head to exist in reality like they had in our first home so many years ago.  However, to accomplish this variety, I needed to learn Free Motion Quilting!  I tried.  Oh, how I tried.  With my hands on the sandwich and my foot on the pedal, I felt like I was jumping from a bike to a Ferrari.  Everything was moving way too fast and nothing I did was symmetric, perfect or precise!  Ahhhhh... Palpitations!

With practice, my FMQ improved some and I began to look for new and interesting designs to add to my projects.  And you know what?  I realized something REALLY important as I surfed the net.  Not all of the quilts I was seeing online were a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y perfect!  I could see a wobble here, a long stitch there.  And the thread painting and raw edge applique I saw over and over again consisted of wobbly lines, crossovers and every other "mistake" that set my teeth on edge.  Yet these women and men seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed creating their projects and were proud enough of their work to post it online!!  And it was PRETTY!  Maybe perfection isn't always necessary?  Maybe it ISN'T the outcome that is as important as the enjoyment of the process?!?  Huzzah!  Finally, a fact that rang true!

SO...  A few weeks ago I pulled some charm squares from my stash and set about to have some FUN!  I limited myself to only stash fabrics, hoping that once again necessity would beget creativity.  And it did!  As my project progressed I was having more and more FUN and finding more and more satisfaction in the outcome.  Today I put on my FMQ gloves and tried my hand at the imbalanced, imprecise, imperfect FMQ I had seen on line.  And you know what (again, lol)???  I LOVE IT and can't wait to do more!!!!!!  Oh, and I'm hoping to add a little bit of "beady" bling to the center of each circle!

What have I learned?  Life isn't about "obtaining".  It's about "living".  It isn't always about the "outcome".  It's about the "PROCESS".  And...if we cut ourselves enough slack...we may have more fun than we ever thought possible.  Relax.  Live.  Enjoy!


  1. I think that is a bit of my problem as well. I want things to be perfect, and, well, they never are. Thanks for reminding me that the process means more when done with love and fun.

    God bless.

    1. While I've never been a perfectionist, Lin, I know what you are saying. I agree that the creating is the best part, not always the result. I am having a fine time looking for hat patterns and then making the hats using my 16 ounce skein. I'm hoping I will fall in love with one of them. If not, I can always donate. Someone will want to keep warm. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the process.

    2. Thanks, RR. Yesterday was not as bad a tremor day so I was able to add a few beads to my flower center. Hopefully I can add more over the weekend! This is so much FUN!

  2. A great story. When we'd been married a few years we decided to build a house. We wanted to make triple house payments initially so we could pay it down (not off, just down). We could go out to eat if the meal cost $10, drank water, etc. We didn't feel deprived because we were doing it for a good cause. Time went on and our finances improved, just like your story. Now we fondly look back on those days. Friday night my husband and I ate at Kentucky Fried Chicken for $10.62. We just laughed when we saw the total. Houses are not necessarily homes and possessions/things mean more when we put thought into how we're obtaining them and why we're getting them. Happy Weekend to You.

    1. Thanks for your story, Lisa. It sounds like you and your husband were wise at a young age. How I wish it had not taken so many years for me to realize that the best things in life really are free. Since I've retired, our finances are less...but our lives are happier. The highlight of our week is our Saturday morning "dates". My husband and I go to breakfast at the same little cafe' every week. Because we are "regulars", they know us well and keep the coffee coming for as long as we want to sit and talk. And "talk" we do. There are no dishes in the sink to catch my eye; no emails from work grabbing his attention. How I wish we had spent less time chasing the American Dream and more time focusing on our own dream. I guess it is better late than never!