Are you the sort of person who keeps a running tally of all the things you make in a year? I have to admit that if you asked me that question even a few weeks ago, my answer would have been an unequivocal NO! But as is often the case, with the year winding down I couldn’t help but begin to reflect on what I had accomplished during the year, and I began to see the motivational value in keeping track of the actual numbers.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think for one minute a person’s creativity can be quantified; nor can or should the data be used in any way to try and compare talent or even productivity with that of another person, but what it can do is help guide and measure your own unique creative journey – especially from year to year.
Since I hadn’t been keeping count I had to do a physical inventory of the projects I have in my studio, and I skimmed through the images I shared on Instagram throughout the year to get a better idea of just how many projects I had worked on in 2016.
In October I shared a post that highlighted how hard this year has been for me and how I realised I needed to structure my creative life differently in order to maintain my enthusiasm and wellbeing. I was learning A LOT about my creative self during that time, and yet one of the things that was getting me down was the feeling I wasn’t moving many of my ideas or projects forward. Perhaps if I had known the actual count of my projects during that period I may not have been so dismissive of my own accomplishments during what was a particularly difficult season. When I counted up the projects at the end of the year the numbers that made up my quilt inventory were significantly surprising to me.What the numbers told me was that I had in fact accomplished way more than I was giving myself credit for – so I immediately became a believer in the power of the numbers ;).
My Quilt Inventory 2016
- 15 Small Projects
- 20 Mini Quilts
- 6 Completed Quilts from start to finish
- 7 Quilt Tops
- 12 Quilt Tops to be quilted (the 7 from 2016, and 5 from previous years), and
- 14 Works in Progress!
I know keeping a tally will not be for everyone but I guess it appeals to the analytical left side of my brain and I like the idea of seeing how these numbers will change in 2017. I wonder what my chances are of having ‘0’ quilt tops to be quilted? (Okay, you can stop laughing now – oh wait, that is me laughing ;).
Of the 6 Quilts I completed in 2016, my favourite is this one I made for my son. Since I never shared the story behind this quilt on this blog I thought I would share a little about it now…
I started stitching this quilt 3 weeks before Jacob left to spend two years in South Africa serving as a missionary. Every block is meaningful and every stitch was made with all the love, hope and dreams I have for my son while he is so far away from home. Originally the design started out as only 6 Australian flags, but knowing I had to work within the constraints of the proportions of the actual flag design itself, I realised I would either have an okay sized lap quilt or a really large square quilt that would be cumbersome to have to pack in a suitcase. What I wanted most was to make a quilt that would be big enough for a bed and one that would be ideal to snuggle under on those cold mornings when it is hard to leave the shelter of a warm bed and you find yourself dragging your quilt wrapped body to the breakfast table!
Eventually the idea came to me to make a sampler version of my original concept. I chose blocks as I went, I paper pieced the Union Jacks and hand appliqued the stars – I was both learning new techniques and designing on the go, and much to my delight the outcome couldn’t have been any more perfect. Sure, there are lots of ‘flaws’ in this quilt; things that if I had more time I most likely would have painstakingly tried to improve on and perfect, but I am grateful that I didn’t have the time because this quilt became a great example of how the big picture of our lives is so much more important than some of the little imperfections we would like to change. This quilt’s story is heartfelt from beginning to end!
This is a piece of Jacob’s story documented with fabric and thread. For now it is a piece of home he takes with him as he journeys; and for me during those weeks up to his departing it was a way to soothe my soul and focus my energy. I think this is why this is my favourite quilt of 2016 – it is meaningful in so many ways and it connects me with my son while there are many miles between us.
You can see progress shots of this quilt on Instagram here under the hashtag #piecesofaustraliaquilt. I am working toward tweaking the pattern slightly and releasing it under the name ‘Pieces of Home’ later in the year. The pattern will have a US variation too!
My favourite Mini Quilt I made in 2016 has to be this one I made for LeAnne of Everyday Celebrations.
The mini was one I designed for the Uplift and Inspire Swap held on Instagram in February. There is something I find magical about house blocks. I could try and convince you all that it stems from all the space planning and drafting I did while working as an interior designer, but I think the truth is a little more simplistic – ‘home’ is the word I connect with family, friends, hopes and dreams; it’s my favourite place to be!
I have this dream that one day I will have a collection of quilts that have a house and home theme – perhaps I should start by exploring this particular block a little further…?! I have been thinking about turning this block into a quilt design since the original sketch, but calculating yardage requirements for what would essentially be a scrappy quilt wasn’t something I could wrap my mind around at the time. Maybe it’s time to put my thinking cap on ;).
And speaking of exploring… my favourite small project for 2016 has to be these cute pears I made using the Pear In A Tree pattern by Fig Tree & Co. Throughout the year I had been setting aside some 1-1/2″ squares from all the small scraps I had accumulated and when the bowl I was using to store them all became full I decided it was time to turn these itty bitty pieces into something beautiful. The original pattern calls for even smaller squares which is perfect for those who really can’t throw any scrap away – but I loved how these little pears came to be from all the leftover pieces that so easily could have been discarded!
So while my creative efforts weren’t what I though they might be as I began 2016, I can look back now and say with confidence that I have ultimately still grown as a maker, and that is something I am grateful I can now recognize! I am excited to see how I can take what I have learnt in 2016 and magnify those things in 2017 to explore more creative opportunities and challenges.
I have yet to set any new creative goals for this new year, but it is something I want to focus on this week.
What goals are you going to be working toward in 2017?
Thanks for stopping by. The growing support from this quilting community really touches my heart and I am so thankful to all of you who take the time to read my words and comment on the things I share – I am one of those people who generally finds hugging a little awkward, but I want to hug each and every one of you!! :).
Until next time… go. cut. sew. create. and share your story with fabric and thread!
PS. I actually made three of the pear pincushions at the time (but couldn’t hold all three of them in the palm of my hand for the photo), and while I am keeping one, I would love to share two of them with you! I’ll choose two people from the comments later in the week :).
ETA: Thanks for your comments Anne and Lisa – I am going to be sending you each a pear 🙂
Anne Boundy says
I love looking back and tallying up what I achieved during the year, it always surprises me!! I think I didn’t get much done and then, wow!
Making quilts for our loved ones is just THE best feeling.
Happy New Year to you filled with love and sewing and hugs! ❤❤
Isn’t it funny how we all generally underestimate our achievements during a year?! I am determined to be more aware this year in the hope it continues to motivate me to do what I love and to feel engaged with the whole process from beginning to end. Thanks for your lovely comment Anne – xx
Anne Boundy says
and thank you for choosing me for the pear! I am more than a little bit excited to have one your makes! 🙂
Loved this post Samantha, thanks for sharing your creative journey. I have a few projects lined up this year, Swoon Sixteen and Fig Tree’s Rosettes. I’d also like to fit in a few more minis. I, by nature, am a hugger, so I’m giving you a virtual hug back. So nice to share the joy of quilting with you. Xo
I am sure you are going to make a number of beautiful things this year Angela! Your Swoon is definitely swoon worthy ;). Hugs!!
Lisa schmitz says
It is truly amazing when we actually see what we have accomplished! I look forward to seeing everything you post. I am truly honored to have been part of your creative process!i wish I could meet you in person to give you an awkward hug and to personally thank you for the creative inspiration! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
You are so sweet Lisa – Thank you!! I really appreciate all your help and guidance! xx
I love this time of year, both the reflections and looking forward. You should be proud of your accomplishments this year! Your work is so pretty and impeccable. Always an inspiration! Can’t wait to see what next year holds for all of us!
Thank you Cindy – that means a lot coming from you, especially since I use your work as a standard I aim to work towards as my skills improve.
Well done on all of your beautiful projects last year despite the challenges. You should be very proud of yourself! I’m glad doing the numbers tally helped give you a fresh perspective. All the best for a great, creative year ahead Samantha.
Thanks Kelly! Since I wrote this blog post I have noticed a number of people who track their numbers or plan to do so, so I think it will be interesting to see how this idea evolves :).