Most days, I don’t have a compelling need to have a “clean” studio; my studio is a working space, and I need it to be able to support my need to work on multiple projects at once.
On any given day, I would love to have a table that looks like this:
In reality, my table often looks like this:
I took a snapshot of my table recently, and here’s what it roughly looks like today:
Let me tell you what’s happening on this table:
- Cutting the Sea Glass Gradation for my Sew Much Color Collection
- Orders packed and waiting to be shipped
- Quilts that are cut and ready to be sewn
- A makeshift photography station for my UFO Orphan Adoption items
- Paperwork I need to sort
- Scraps pulled to be included in an upcoming UFO Orphan Adoption
- Fabric pulled for the Crossover Quilt Along
You might be thinking that’s an overwhelming amount of stuff to have on my cutting table at one time, but in that seeming-chaos there is a method to my madness.
My initial idea was to show you some progress here; but in reality, my studio is perpetually in this state of existence, and I didn’t want to just clean off a table, take a photo, tell you I cleaned it, and then have it go back within 20 minutes to a similar state.
My second idea was to show you my process for preparing items for the UFO Orphan Adoption, in the hopes that by doing so, I could host another adoption soon! I really, really planned to do that.
And then… this happened…
I woke up this weekend to an extreme allergic reaction to something. I can’t say what, not because I don’t want to tell you, but because I don’t know. My doctors don’t know. But for some reason, my face decided to swell up like a basketball and I couldn’t open my eyes more than a tiny slit to see out of.
Believe it or not, this photo was taken 4 hours after I’d had a large dose of Benadryl and Albuterol (to keep my airway open.) It wasn’t helping, and I didn’t have an EpiPen, so a trip to the ER was in order. After that, it just wasn’t possible to go “clean” something.
So now I’m on Plan C, and that’s to talk to you about one area that I struggle with greatly: scrap management.
I am not a scrap quilter. I don’t have any particular desire to be a scrap quilter. I do spend an inordinate amount of time making scrappy backings, but I don’t save scraps for that purpose; I use the scraps that were generated by making the quilt top.
There are many types of scraps though, and I have been handling them in different ways.
Scraps that I can use: these are generally the pieces I am willing to sew in order to create a scrappy back.
Scraps someone else can use: these are what end up in the adoptions; this usually ranges from usable pieces leftover from my backs, bolt-ends or mis-cuts, slightly damaged but usable pieces, or trimmings that are still a good size to be stitched.
Scraps probably no one should use: These are the trimmings, crumbs, bits, and other pieces that I myself wouldn’t ever stitch into a project. These I have been trying to cut smaller and use them to stuff dog beds.
Good in Theory, Anxiety in Practice
The scraps for dog beds is something I struggle with the most.
I used to keep all these scraps for myself, because in theory, I could use them to make art quilts… someday.
I actually did make a few art quilts… but what I realized quickly is that no matter how many art quilts I made, I’d never be able to quilt my way through enough scraps to make them manageable.
My ideal situation would be to recycle these bits, but nowhere in my county will someone take them.
When I settled upon the idea of making pet beds, that actually gave me an excuse to keep the scraps for a time, and then get rid of them in one fell swoop.
Pretty soon, though, the making of the pet beds became yet another project, yet another obligation, yet another road block to working on the things that I want to work on.
And you know what? It’s a very rare occasion where I hear back from an organization where they were donated to encourage me to keep going, to tell me to stop, to tell me whether the animals love them or hate them… nothing. It’s not so much that I need accolades or even thanks, but I do need feedback.
I need feedback because I don’t like putting effort into things that serve no purpose, that bring no joy or usefulness to the recipient – especially when they don’t bring joy or usefulness to me in making them. The worst thing for me is putting effort into something that cannot be used or loved or enjoyed. Life is too short to spend making things I don’t like making for no reason.
Every time I look at these ever-filling pet beds, it just gives me anxiety.
So I reached out to my friends, and asked them to stage a quilty intervention, and tell me I don’t have to keep tiny scraps, I don’t have to make pet beds if I don’t want to, and it’s perfectly okay to toss these scraps in the garbage!
It’s harder than it sounds for me to throw them away, after over a decade of saving them and trying to give them purpose.
My friends came through in spades, and helped me to think through my approach to these scraps.
At the end of the day, I have decided to end my pet bed making practice. It’s going to be hard, and challenging, and has already induced some anxiety at seeing things go to a landfill, but for my own personal mental health, the cleanliness and accessibility of my space, and the time I have to work on things, I think the decision to stop is the best thing for me right now.
So my spring clean is simple: a resolution to dumping those unusable scraps in the trash bin without guilt.
What I really need from you, dear reader, is to not judge me for this decision, try to talk me out of it, or to suggest ideas for me to keep them. I am resolved to get rid of them, and I won’t spend any time second-guessing myself or mourning the loss of them to the landfill.
It’s a small step for me, but it’s going to make a BIG impact in the studio. Right now I have partially finished pet beds in four different places in the studio, and I trip over them all the time. They keep me from accessing things I need to get to. They really need to go.
I can’t keep everything. Neither can you.
Can you identify one thing in your space that’s generating more anxiety than joy? More angst than purpose? More obligation than altruism? More clutter than organization? Find it, toss it in the garbage, and tell me about it in the comments.
If you enjoyed this stop on the hop, you’ll love these other stops too! Check out the schedule (each post opens in a new window so you don’t lose your place):
- April 1 – Sam Hunter – http://www.huntersdesignstudio.com
- April 2 – Marian Pena – http://www.seamstobesew.com
- April 3 – Jennifer Fulton – http://www.inquiringquilter.com/questions
- April 4 – Martha Wolf – http://Www.pinwheelprodns.com
- April 5 – Jennifer Strauser – http://www.dizzyquilter.com
- April 6 – Steph Carton – http://www.theelimonster.com/blog
- April 7 – Simone Fisher – http://www.simonequilts.com/blog
- April 8 – Kate Colleran – http://www.seamslikeadream.com
- April 9 – Carolina Moore – http://www.alwaysexpectmoore.com
- April 10 – Jen Frost – http://www.faithandfabricdesign.com/blog
- April 11 – Leanne Parsons – http://www.devotedquilter.com
- April 12 – Becca Fenstermaker – http://www.prettypiney.com/blog
- April 13 – Sarah Myers – http://www.quilted-diary.com
- April 14 – Mitzi Redd – http://www.reddhomestead.com
- April 15 – Jeanette Larson – http://www.Jenonthefarm.com
- April 16 – Camille Ainsworth – http://www.stitchinthenw.com
- April 17 – Becky Philips Jorgenson – http://www.patchworkposse.com
- April 18 – Bobbie Gentili – http://www.geekybobbin.com/category/blog
- April 19 – Janellea Macbeth – http://www.janelleamacbeth.com/blog/
- April 20 – Lisa Ruble – http://lovetocolormyworld.blogspot.com
- April 21 – Debra Davis – http://www.tuning-my-heart.com/blog
- April 22 – Rona Herman – http://www.Ronatheribbiter.com
- April 23 – Sue Griffiths – http://www.duckcreekmountainquilting.com
- April 24 – Sarah Ruiz- http://www.saroy.net/
- April 25 – Jessica Caldwell – http://www.desertbloomquilting.com/
- April 26 – Tammy Silvers – http://tamarinis.typepad.com
- April 27 – Ebony Love – http://www.lovebugstudios.com/blog
- April 28 – Cheryl Sleboda – http://blog.muppin.com