2014 color of the year
December 23, 2013
it’s back…
January 7, 2014
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Hello all, Mary Ellen back.

It is amazing when I say 2014 out loud. How can I be this old?! I was reminiscing with a friend about a football party when the Bills came back from behind to the great enjoyment of the crowd and the consternation of the dogs in the room. I ended up with a Doberman in my lap who was very upset by all the shouting! Twenty one years ago! How can that be?! Yikes!

Anyway, back to resolutions. Are you like me, resolving every year to work on your UFO stash? (Don’t tell me that you’re one of those quilters who has no UFOs because you always finish a project before moving on to the next one!) I want to actually do something about some of my UFOs this year instead of my usual tactic of just shuffling them. A few days ago I was browsing some free videos at QNNtv. One title intrigued me. Something like “Dealing with PIGS”. (Do you know that acronym? Projects in Grocery Sacks) (click here for the video) Lori Baker, who is creative editor for Quilters Newsletter magazine, was being interviewed and inspired me to do something about a few of my own PIGS.

The first tactic she talked about was deciding if you really WANT to finish the PIGS? If not, she suggested taking the fabrics out of the sack, and redistributing them into your stash to use for other projects. This hint applies mostly to those kits we buy at quilt shows, etc. and never seem to get around to starting. Some of you know that I teach and give demos at a local shop. I usually try to show each project in several colorways or styles of fabrics. A few days ago I finished up a log cabin project in the colors that the shop currently has in stock, in a rather scrappy arrangement of the colors. I know that scrappy is not everyone’s cup of tea. I wanted to also do a more traditional version of the project, having each log cabin exactly the same as all the others. Instead of buying more fabric or going to the stash, I  decided to go to my cache of kits and found one from the days of old. You may remember a quilt shop out on Stone Road near Lockport that was a favorite for many of us. Judy gave so many quilters their start in this addiction we have. She was quite the enabler, if I do say so. The kit was (notice past tense) for a bed size quilt in very traditional creams, blues and reds. A beautiful cabbage rose print with a not quite navy background was the focus fabric for the outer border.  The colors and fabrics are still lovely, IMHO. I had to be honest with myself, that I was never going to make the quilt. So I disassembled the kit and found that I had just what I needed for the log cabin project. Enough lights, enough darks, an inner border, an outer border, and a red for the center square. Perfect! I think this tactic is going to work well for me; I saw other kits hiding in there that I know are not ever going to be made, so those fabrics are going to find other projects to live in.

Another tip the guest Lori shared was how she gets so much done in 15-30 minute blocks of time. She used to get up early to quilt for a half hour in the morning before her family was up. She shared how in that short time of peace and quiet each day, she was able to accomplish so much at her machine. The key was making the rule for herself, and having the materials for her projects at the ready. Now that her kids are older she has modified the rule–but still she finds that by making a new rule for herself she is able to get a lot done, in small bites. I think I can make this work for me. I have a pile of project samples from my demos at the shop that are in various stages of completion. I make up samples to show the steps along the way to the end project and often end up with 4-8 versions of the same project, all partially complete. The samples will range from “just begun” to “just needs one last thing”. I’m going to start putting all the versions of a particular project in some sort of box or case, next to my machine, and work on them for a few minutes each time I sit down. Just reducing the stack down to one project to look at will be less intimidating than the mountain of all of them. My first one is going to be the pile of incomplete Christmas stockings. Each one only needs a little bit to bring it to completion. I think 15 minutes per session will work for me-the first 15 minutes of each time at my machine will be spent on finishing up those stockings. Of course the first hurdle is to find the box or case, and to go through the mountain of PIGS to get those stockings out and organized. I feel like a general gearing up for a battle!

So how about you? What are you going to do with all of those PIGS at your house?


  1. Robi Witulski says:

    No pigs here, but already have three tops in the finished column for this year. I suppose my need for tops to practice my quilting on a long arm is behind this, but whatever it takes.

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