Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On Finishing

It's a beautiful fall day here in New Hampshire.  The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and falling leaves are dancing around on a light breeze.  It's the perfect day to work on a fall quilt, especially given my recent obsession with the color orange.  Except I spoke with my mother this weekend and she happily informed me that she was starting her Christmas quilting projects.  Suddenly, even though I'm knee deep in orange and black fabrics with two Halloween projects on the go, my Christmas fabrics have started calling to me.  Ordinarily I would set aside the orange, haul out the red and green, and fire up the EQ7.  But not today and here's why.

The other day I met a woman while talking to a friend in the pick-up line at my children's school.  The woman was glowing and excited, having just returned from a fabric shopping spree.  Instead of quilting, she sews clothes for her children and accessories for her home, but apparently the fabric high is just as good.  I recognized a kindred spirit until she said, "I've got $150 worth of fabric in the car, but it's ok, I'm a good finisher."  Yes, you read that correctly, and I'm not referring to the $150.  She called herself "a good finisher."  I was startled and I've been thinking about it ever since.

I wouldn't say I'm a bad finisher.  I'm especially good if I have a strict deadline.  I'm also pretty good about finishing gifts -- although there was that year that I gave my father a piece of denim and two dowel rods for Christmas (it would have been a handy log carrier) and, if memory serves, I once gave my sister purple fabric and a pattern for a blouse that I never made (isn't it the thought that counts?).  I've got about a dozen UFO's, a handful of unmade kits, and several stacks of fabrics and patterns collected for future projects that I've been carting around for years.  OK, so clearly I'm not in this woman's league.

And it's got me wondering what it would feel like to be a better finisher.  Imagine buying fabric without guilt knowing that you would use it in a timely fashion, thereby freeing yourself up to buy more fabric.  Imagine how much fun it would be to start a new project with the decks and design wall cleared.  Imagine what it would be like to fill others with inspiration (and maybe a little envy) by calmly proclaiming yourself a "good finisher."

Of course the lazy, non-finishing, bargaining side of me is asking whether quilting might be less fun if I force myself to finish before starting something new.  And I wonder if you lose the idea, the creative spark, if you don't immediately follow the energy.  I don't know.  What I do know is that this woman seemed dynamic, happy, and confident and it's worth a try.  So today instead of pulling out the Christmas music and getting a jump on a gift or two, I'm going to resist temptation and finish what I've started.  And when the Christmas fabrics in my closet begin to whisper, "J-e-n," I'm going to whisper back, "Shhh, not yet...                                                                        ...maybe tomorrow."

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