Thursday, March 21, 2019
Finding the Fun Again
Yesterday was the first day of spring and, as it so happens, the last day of our spring break this year. We took a few extra days off after our annual week of vacation because my sister's family drove out from California to spend some time with us. Being together is always such a treat, especially for our daughters. I had all five of them in my minivan yesterday afternoon as we went on a special "cousins shopping trip," and it was so much fun. It's amazing to me to see how quickly they're all growing up into beautiful young women.
As I was driving my girls home last night, we were listening to the soundtrack for the Curious George movie which was such a big hit with them so many summers ago when they were little. Just hearing the music took me instantly back to a dozen vivid memories -- seeing them scamper around the vegetable garden with their Daddy, helping them swim in their little plastic pool on the patio in the afternoons, watching cartoons with them in the evening as the smell of warm grapes drifted in the back door from the arbor outside, tucking them and all their stuffed friends into their toddler beds at night.
I remember it all like it was yesterday.
Back then I would clean up after dinner and then get my machine out on the dining room table so that I could get in a little bit of sewing before bedtime. It was such a challenge back then to get any time to sew, and I treasured every chance I had to do it. So much of what I made was for the girls -- play quilts, floor pillows, book bags. All of it was well used and well loved. I was cleaning out our guest room the other day and found a whole stack of those little quilts in a wire basket, too small for my growing girls now but full of memories from when they were just the right size.
I can't escape the fact that, in many ways, I was having a lot more fun with my sewing back then. It was always exciting to look for the next project I had never tried. Fabric collections were fewer, and fabric designers were like rock stars. I remember counting the days until the release of Nursery Versery by Heather Ross (where the mouse print from her current Trixie line made it's debut), Hello Pilgrim by Lizzy House, and anything from Melody Miller's early Ruby Star years. Blogs were still newish, and there were so many sew alongs and swaps back then, all of them administered by chatty, happy Flickr groups. I remember large groups of us sewing through entire books like Zakka Style by Rashida Coleman-Hale and Patchwork, Please! by Ayumi Takahashi. (Does anybody even do that sort of thing anymore? Do any of us have the time to do it??) Working through these books in online communities wasn't just about doing what was popular, but it was also about learning new things with other people who enjoyed it as much as you did.
It wasn't that long ago, really, but those days seem so innocent and naive to me now. Somewhere along the line things changed...or maybe I changed. It's the tradeoff you make with turning your hobby into a business. You get so many opportunities to do amazing things, but that inevitably leads to more deadlines and less time to play. Trying to balance your creative work time with your creative play time, and then figuring out how to balance all of that with your family time -- it's a tightrope I walk every day. Even now as I write this post, I'm trying to alternate between typing and being a guest at my youngest daughter's imaginary diner, where she's serving cardboard blueberry pancakes and rubber chicken. Yes, I'm running short on time this afternoon. Yes, I'd like to get this up on the blog before I have to take the car to the dealer for maintenance. But how many more years will she be willing to put on an apron and serve me plastic food? Some things are too important to wait.
So one of my goals for 2019 is to find the fun again. When it comes to creativity, I want to be able to work hard and play hard. This month I'm looking to one of my most inspiring friends to help me get back on track with that. The unbelievably talented Mary of Sunny Day Supply is running a just-for-fun log cabin sew along on Instagram starting next week. It's not too fussy -- any kind of project featuring any kind of log cabin block will do -- and it will be a wonderful chance to get out my fabric and play. I decided to start early, making a little courthouse steps block that finished at 6" square. It's scrappy and playful and quilted entirely by hand. I added a bit of black and white gingham to the back and turned it into a tiny pillow. Not, of course, because I need another pillow, but because just looking at this little bit of handmade joy makes me so happy that I almost want to cry. I'll be putting it up on a shelf where I can see it every day, reminding myself to find my way back to where I began in this hobby that I love so much...