Monday, November 11, 2019

BTQ...Looking Back & Looking Forward

(first banner on my blog back in 2013)

The First 5 Years (actually 6+)

This whole crazy adventure started back in 2013 with a request to write a pattern and teach a workshop based on a quilt I had designed and entered into a local quilt show.

Then it evolved into quilting magazine submissions and getting published in a book. At which point I decided it would be fun to write a book of my own, so I did. And then I wrote a second book.

All the while I was a content writer for Craftsy and produced dozens of tutorials and a Block of the Month for them. When they became Bluprint, I got fired along with all of the other content writers (as far as we can tell, because we never got fired so much as we were told we were being given a 'break' and never heard back from them and that's been a few years now...)

I went to my first Quilt Market, and then the next one, and the next one, and so on...

I started working at a local (50 minute commute) quilt shop 3 days a week for 2 years, then down to 2 days a week for a year and now I show up once a week. I love my coworkers and the wonderful quilters who walk through the door but that commute is a killer!

And because I had some patterns and now books, I was being asked to teach locally and around the country so I started traveling and teaching, a lot. I was visiting quilt guilds from FL to MI, PA to CO. I am driving trips around the south and taking more trips to the airport with my two 50lb suitcases of quilts than I can count.

I had the thrill of attending the Pour L'Amour du Fil quilt show in Nantes, France, and the Sydney Quilt Show in Australia! Bucket list experiences for sure.

Just last year, I got my first Handi Quilter Amara longarm and quilted every ufo in sight. And then I quilted all of my friends ufos. I attended Handi Quilter Academy in Utah! And then folks started asking me to quilt for them. And then I realized I was long arm quilting at least a quilt a day, almost every single day.

At the same time, I was watching my 3 kids graduate from high school, go off to college, and chase their own dreams. And my husband was busy flying around the globe for his job as an airline pilot.

And it all left my very happy and really tired.

Exhausted actually.


Currently

I decided it was time to take a break and re-evaluate. I needed to ask myself a few questions.
  • What am I doing that is most rewarding? 
  • What am I doing that isn't? 
  • What can I do better? 
  • What can I eliminate? 
  • Why am I doing any of this at all? 
I took the summer of 2019 to just rest and reflect. I spent lots of time with my family. I went to Pilates almost every day. I stopped quilting almost completely. I was still longarm quilting for others almost every day, but not really designing or quilting for me at all.

What have a learned from this self-imposed hiatus? Some things need to change and other things need to stay the same. I am certain about what some of those are and not so sure about others.


The Next 5 Years

I have teaching and guild visits planned for the next two years. I would love to add your group or guild to my schedule. I am also now book through 2022. (As crazy as that sounds!) I love teaching and visiting guilds. As exhausting as the travel is, the rewards are so great. I know that teaching, encouraging, and connecting with quilters is one of the best parts of my quilting experience, and I always feel so inspired by the fellow quilters I meet and spend time with. I am learning to pace myself and my schedule and by limiting my travel days, I can be better at everything else!

I have a few quilt patterns in various stages of development. Some are on paper, some are already in fabric and some are still just in my head. But there will be more designs and patterns for sure! There will be no more books. Not in the near future anyway. For lots of reasons, I need to take a break from that process. In the future, if I do write a book, it will be a very different sort of experience and I dream of a different format, look and style that will be completely different from my first two.

I want to make a quilt show quilt or 2 or 3. I want to create the time and energy to really make some quilts that teach me about my love of quilting rather than just making quilts that are good for teaching specific quilt techniques. (I hope that doesn't sound selfish.) I just want to see what I can do and stretch myself creatively for the sheer joy of it.

I love my longarm and I am so thrilled with the skills I'm learning. I have signed up for more creative classes from amazing teachers to build my skills and learn new techniques. I am going to limit the number of quilts that I take on as customer quilts to allow me the time to expand my knowledge.

I have dreams of going to the Tokyo Quilt Show and the Birmingham Quilt Festival as well as returning to the Pour L'Amour du Fil show. I would love to go to Paducah again (it's been way too many years!) And I would love to go to Quilt Festival in Houston (I've always had to leave right after market to go teach somewhere!)

My kids will be graduating from college in the next two years and my husband will be retiring in 2023. I want to consider what those changes will be like and how my 'little business' will be affected by those transitions. If you've ever met me, you know my family always comes first. I want to arrange my life so that I can be available to them and chase my quilting dreams at the same time. Sometimes that requires hard choices.

If you've made it this far, congratulations! That's a lot of information and probably more than you every wanted to know. I find that I am better at 'follow through' if I put my intentions in print. I feel like this year has been a time for me to 'pivot' and refine my focus. I hope my efforts result in more creative space and fewer 'deadlines'.

The quilt industry is always rushing forward to the next new thing and every wonderful effort or idea is just a 'one and done' and 'what's next'?  It's easy to get swept up onto that speeding train, stepping off of it is quite a challenge. Being mindful about making choices that are a good fit for me (and my family) needs to remain my focus. By doing so, I hope to create more amazing quilts, meet more awesome quilters and rediscover this love of stitching that we all share. Now lets go quilt something!

Enjoy every stitch!

Diane

8 comments:

  1. Kudos! I love reading about your goals and what is important to you. Quilting is my passion but like you, my family always comes first! I love that you have evaluated what is important in your quilting life and can now focus on that. Keep up the good work!

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  2. I totally applaud your choice to pause and reflect. In fact, it’s something I believe we should all take the time to do periodically. I’m glad you’re still quilting customer quilts and teaching (from a selfish standpoint, LOL). But the best part is that you’ve carved time for yourself to play and explore and learn. You’ll have the best of it all - family, friends, creative time, service to others. What could be better? xo

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  3. I've loved reading this today. It definitely is a whirlwind trying to keep up with the fabric and pattern cycles. Good for you to take a step back and see what is fulfilling and what is draining, at least that's how I read it.

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  4. You have done a lot in the past 5 years!!! I think whatever you choose, will be what's right for you! You will need to check our my blog post later today......

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  5. I think you are on the right path by reflecting and evaluating who you are and what you want and not succumbing to the constant pressure of other people's expectations and deadlines. So many of Bonnie Hunter's daily quotes and affirmations point in this direction of taking care of yourself and telling the world to accept you as you are. Being relaxed and happy with your life is the most important thing. Now go play.
    Pat

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  6. I love the cliff's notes version of your recent life!! I think when life starts to feel too rushed or not fun we must re-evaluate!! I hope you'll have some tiny spaces to quilt for me:)

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  7. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I think it is so important to take stock now and then so that we are driving the show, rather than the other way round. I so appreciate your family priorities and the time for rest and renewal. The other will always be clamoring on the doorstep. Which is a good thing, too. Balance is the key. At the end of the day, you want good memories. And fun along the way.

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  8. Great post, Diane! Your description of the quilt industry as a speeding train is spot on. It is so important to step back and be mindful, to evaluate which aspects of quilting are the most fulfilling for us. I'm at a bit of a pivot time, too, so I can relate! I hope you continue to grow and enjoy your quilting journey - I'd hate for you to get burned out and give up on the entire process!

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