ABC: Always Be Closing

January 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm 1 comment

I want to be a finisher.

I have been very fortunate in the past six months to be privileged to hear both Bonnie Hunter and Gyleen Fitzgerald speak at guild meetings.  Both of these ladies make fabulous quilts and are wonderful motivators, cheerleaders for the hobby.  Most importantly, though, they are FINISHERS, and they want the rest of us to be finishers, too.  Getting to hear both of them speak was the extra push I needed to declare 2010 to be my Year of the UFO, and to start this blog as a way to both work through the process  myself in a (semi-)organized fashion, and to have some accountability for it as well.

I’m a fantastic starter.  I love to start projects.  That’s an intoxicating, fascinating stage, like falling in love.  Choosing the fabrics, puzzling through the design decisions, imagining the finished product — this to me is what it’s all about.  I’ve long said that if all the quilts I’ve made in my mind somehow popped into being, my house wouldn’t be big enough for all of them.  Unfortunately, my house is starting to appear to not be big enough for my unfinished projects.

Almost every quilter I know has UFOs — the dreaded UnFinished Object.  The few quilters I know who DON’T have UFOs tend to be the hyper-organized, one-at-a-time type that I can’t relate my personality to, and I don’t necessarily want to emulate.  Quilting is my hobby, my playtime; when it becomes too achievement-focused I lose the happiness behind it, and then what’s the point?  I like being able to switch projects when something’s not working, when I need inspiration, or just when a project isn’t speaking to me any more.  I never want to be so rigid in my quiltmaking discipline that I can’t make that wedding, baby, or prayer quilt because it’s not on the schedule.  If I see a new idea or technique in a magazine, at a meeting, or on a show, I want to feel free to play with it while it’s fresh and compelling rather than waiting until the current project is cleared.  Worst of all, from past experience I know that when I’m forcing myself to work on just one project and it’s not going well, I just stay away from quilting entirely rather than work on a project I’m not feeling passionate about.

The problem arises when the set-aside projects never make it back to center stage.  Instead, they stay in limbo, becoming the source of my Quilt Guilt.  It’s a lot easier to start something new, with exciting new fabric and new ideas, than to pull out an old project and attempt to get myself back in that frame of mind.  Why did I abandon this piece?  Did I run out of fabric?  Did something not work?  Is there something actually wrong with it?  Or did it just get “bumped” for a gift or a deadline?

I hope, through this blog project, to go through my backlog of UFOs and try to identify the reasons they ended up in a cabinet or closet instead of on a bed.  In the process, I hope to learn more about myself as a quilter and as a person, and hopefully keep from building up such a collection again.  I also hope I manage to entertain those of you who choose to read this, and perhaps inspire a few more Finishers.

The title of this post comes, of course, from the classic David Mamet movie, “Glengarry Glen Ross.”  Early in the scene, Alec Baldwin (so young!  so thin!) as the nightmare consultant to an office of down-on-their-luck real estate agents, tells Jack Lemmon, “Put down the coffee.  Coffee is for closers.”  While I certainly don’t want Alec Baldwin’s character’s style of motivation (Tim Gunn would be far more helpful), that speech was the first thing that popped into my head when I said I wanted to be a finisher.

Enjoy!  (Language alert, it’s Mamet.)


Entry filed under: UFOs. Tags: , , , .

Alphabet Soup and the WOMBAT

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  February 6, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Cute! I love how you said,” What’s that spell? SEWING DAY!” I also like the pic of the medicane. It’s a nice little additional part of your entry that makes readers enjoy your writing even more. You helped at your niece’s birthday party? How sweet. You must have had a rockin’ time. Oh my gosh. I love your “Rhonda’s Birthday” quilt. I haven’t seen anything like it before. Except, that is, when I saw your ” Watching the Wheels” quilt. Absolutely nothing can compare to such elegant dexterity.


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