Saturday, January 6, 2018

Painful, Plodding Planning

     When it comes to planning my work and setting goals for the new year, I find it very painful. I don't think in a linear manner because I forget what went before. I need to see the whole picture, the aerial shot- global thinking, to grasp the particulars. If you don't understand this, that is ok, it is my problem. I have to mind map every big task in order to understand what is involved- whether it was my master's thesis or planning a quilt program to teach.
      I am good at making lists, so I made all sorts all year: what quilts are in progress, logging each one in, what quilts need backings, what need piecing, what needs quilting, what new ones I would like to do, etc. The problem is when I see all the lists, I have no idea where to go from there. I sat down with all my lists and mapped it out to see where I was. Then I made another map what I would like to accomplish this year. 
     I asked my husband, a professional urban planner, to look at all the papers and give me his plan how to handle the tasks. I asked him to look over the lists telling him I want to finish quilts and want to stretch myself in new things. Of course, the excellent linear thinker he is, said finish all the quilting and do all the backings before you do or look at anything else- not what I want to hear or do. I need to creatively stretch- along with finishing- or it will just become mechanical. I just wanted help planning that. Sigh.
Log in Quilts chart
Progress of Quilts list
Lists of quilts in categories
All categories together in mind map. New ones to start and have patterns for are purple underlined.

Areas I want to work in this year
     I probed why I have so many quilts that need backing. I think it is (1) they either require so much fabric to buy (4-6 yds. each) or (2) it takes lots of time piecing the backs with tons of figuring (math) and makes a huge mess pulling fabric. Most of my quilts are comfort/giveaway quilts and I try to keep the costs reasonable and quality high. I recently bought a huge roll of batting wholesale financing it with machine cleaning/restoring for people as I do it on a donation basis for the comfort quilts. No machines have showed up since. I know I need to drag out the big pieces I do have and figure out backs. Could take days. Find some reasonable backing fabric. Ok.
     Quilting backlog. Why? I think because I continue to have so many bobbin tension issues on the longram that I get discouraged. I still think the bobbins are warped, but the dealer says they can't all be warped. I quilt free motion with copious varieties of designs, so more time for each quilt.
      So I think that is why I have this big bottleneck with backings and quilting. I did finish over 22 quilts this year. 
      I will put these sheets up on my wall and ponder them more trying to come up with a reasonable plan to finish yet move ahead. Any global thinkers out there? Or do I have you recoiling from my honest muddle?



Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

Even if you do follow your husband's advice (kind of) you need to plan so many minutes a day for new creations. If you give 2/3 of your time to finishing and 1/3 for creating fun you will be a happier person. Tackle 2 backings then go create. Next day quilt one quilt, then create. and so on.

Debbie said...

Wanda's advice/plan sounds good to me!
I keep a running list of ones I want to make, but have kept to my Rule of 3 that works for more than 3 big projects allowed. Of course, I have 2 tops ready for quilting but they are on hangers until I need them for someone. I always allowed small projects for creativity and bags, totes, tablerunners, and such.
I am on full time break for a while....the pain is too overwhelming for me.
As for your tension/bobbin problem. It could be the bobbins are not wound tightly enough. I had trouble with that, so I switched to Superior Thread pre-wounds. It was worth the cost to get rid of the head ache for me.

Quiltdivajulie said...

I have two primary lists - one for design/piecing and one for quilting/finishing. By nature I prefer the designing and piecing which is why I quilted by checkbook for so many years. Now that I am retired and have my APQS George, I am trying to balance both aspects of the quilting making process. I am WAY ahead on the design/piecing and backlogged on the quilting/finishing. SO this year I set out 18 primary projects in each category and plan to work my way through them, alternating between projects and categories but trying to finish at least one quilt per month. Life is not entirely linear so I know things will fluctuate during the year and that is OKAY with me. I have the lists to return to when things settle. And none of what i'm working on has a definite time-table or deadline which makes a big difference. I like your mind maps - the more of that we do, the better we understand ourselves (like your acknowledgment of the backing/quilting dilemma). Each of us has to find our own rhythm and more than anything we need to get out of our own way and let ourselves create without guilt or pressure (as much as humanly possible).

audrey said...

I'm a list person, but wowsers! You go way out in the weeds! I think you have to approach the finishes a bit different than your designing/new starts. Try blocks of time dedicated solely to finishes and work from there. These chunks of time devoted just to finishes, but leaving the details loose, will see you just sewing backings with what you already have available. For instance, I've put together 5 quilt backs in one day. Then the next chunk of time scheduled for finishes means you can stitch one of those quilts that have a backing ready to go--you decide from that short list. And the cycle just continues, never getting too detailed as per specific quilts, but limited by the number of backings sewn and ready for use. It works for me! And yes, sometimes I will arrange to have quilt backing available for a particular quilt that I want to jump to the head of the line. Even with finishes, we can't discount where our 'interest' is currently pointing us too!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I make a list of what HAS to be done that month, and try to work from there. Of course, the next months stuff gets added to the bottom of that list, then, other things for the year, until I get overwhelmed.

Jan said...

I love the picture of your brain/thinking process. You are so creative!

Julie said...

From one global thinker/planner to another, I hear you. I get it. Mind mapping is a wonderful tool, but sometimes would take me in circles with long term planning. I've always wondered if it would work as a tool to record my process, though, after the fact. Map what I've done in the order that felt good for me. It would surely give insight to how to best plan in the future.

I was recently an avid list maker, too, but I judged myself on whether or not I crossed something off. Lots of sighing to myself when I had no finishes. So three months or so in from junking most all my lists, I am much happier. I know what needs done when I start work because it is organized in the studio by placement in areas or shelves. Projects, tops, backings, and so on. I hit each pile as it gets too big for the shelf.

One idea for backings is to make them first. Let the quilt follow the backing, and you have just the right size. It uses up those awkward pieces of fabric we buy cheap for backings. This works best for me with charity quilts.

Mary Huey from Quilting through Rose Colored Trifocals once wrote that she always left a project ready to pick up. There was never a question walking into the room what needed done. Momentum works, too.

Hugs to you in your good work.

Mystic Quilter said...

Wanda has given good advice! I couldn't follow your husbands's idea of finished all the quilting - my favourite part of the quilt making is the planning and the fabric choosing, this is why I have far too many quilt tops hanging in the closet, most still need backings to be chosen. I don't have a long-arm, my quilting is done on my domestic Bernina machine so I guess that's why getting the quilting done is taking me longer. If I had all the planning pages which you have I would feel under enormous pressure, an totally lose my way, I try and keep my plans as simple as possible.
I'm joining in with 18 for 2018 this year and even this is now causing me some concern as to whether I am happy going with these deadlines rather than setting my own agenda with room to manoeuvre.

Linda @ kokaquilts said...

Well, I must say I did smile when I saw all your planning, wonderful! I'm a list writer too! And as you say 22 quilts finished last year, which is an achievement & not to be sneezzed at. My thoughts as we enter into this New Year are to make more of what I love, share about (all) things I'm working on AND to have more posts showing 'some quilty things I've just finished'.