Monday, June 15, 2015

The first 10,000 hours - Setting yourself Free from Pressure and Expectation

           Yesterday Facebook did one of those memory post suggestions. Where the FB-powers-that-be pull up something from years ago and suggest you re-post it?  It's like a hardsell for Throwback Thursday. Here is the image that was pulled out of the archives for me:

I believe the caption read, " Matching quilts - the benefits of buying twice as much fabric as you ACTUALLY need to make one quilt."  

I added a comment about making these quilts near the beginning of my quilting addiction and hit the post button. But seeing these two quilts again got me thinking about what I was like as a baby quilter, 3 years ago. 

To be brief, I was brave.  Incredibly brave. About the same time I started quilting, my husband had read a book about experts. The author claimed that prodigies didn't really exist. Anyone who had truly mastered a skill did so only after about 10,000 hours of practice. 

When I thought about that in relation to my new quilting hobby I decided that I could either become discouraged about the long road to mastery ahead of me or I could allow that fact to set me free from expectation and pressure.  In other words, if I really couldn't become a master until I had put in 10,000 hours, why worry too much about the first 9,999 hours? I could just have fun!  

And so I did. These two quilts are a good example. I made one of these in June of 2012, probably the fourth or fifth quilt I made.  I purchased a pdf pattern online for the first time and then decided to modify it to make it bigger. (I've wracked my brain to try and remember who designed the original pattern. I've had a hard drive crash since then and lost my file of quilt patterns. If anyone recognizes the pattern please speak up so I can give credit.) 

It was the modifying part that lead to buying too much fabric. Which lead to me convincing my little sister to make a matching one when she came to visit me. We have boys nearly the same age and thought it would be fun for them to have matching quilts. 

Here are the backs. My nephew's is on the left and my son's is on the right.

I was still new to photographing quilts as well so I didn't get any great shots of the quilting we both did.  But I tried a different pattern in each colored section, some with a walking foot and some free motion. And then I convinced my sister, who doesn't sew at all, that she could do the same thing.  See what I mean about brave? Not only would I tackle modifying a quilt pattern (albeit a simple one) and then quilt it myself but I would teach someone else to do it as well. That's gutsy, huh?

As a baby quilter, every project I finished gave me a great sense of accomplishment. My thought was always, "Wow! Look what I just did!" rather than, "Gee, I hope this is good enough." Which brings me to today. Now that I've been in this field a few years and logged a few more of those 10,000 hours.  Now that I'm blogging and Instagramming and too often wondering if I measure up, if I have anything valuable to offer, if I'm a good enough quilter. I feel pressure to be be good at this. To be admire-able and admired.

I don't like that feeling.  I'm finding it all too easy to slip from the joy of sharing your work other people who share your interests into the pressure to produce excellence on a regular basis.

So it was good to see these quilts again. And these boys:
Because I needed a reminder that this joy, on these faces, is why I quilt. Why, for now anyway, most of the quilts I make aren't for shows, they are for people I love. And that I still have many thousands of hours of brave freedom before I even come close to 9,999. So why not enjoy every one of them?


  1. What a great reminder of why we quilt, Ida. You were a very brave new quilter, and I hope that I can learn from your memory to embrace and love what I am doing.

  2. And we only add to those feelings of insecurities by joining linky parties! Oh my ~ my level of satisfaction and delight in a project can take a serious nosedive when I see that xxx fellow quilters/crafters/seamstresses/creators have looked at my project and none of them thought it was worthy of commenting on, or only .05% did or only 10% did... (speaking of - I've noticed that traffic from Crazy mom quilts is much less likely than visitors from Lee's ~ have you noticed similar pattern?) Every time, I tell myself Forget it, I'm not putting myself out there, but then I do share, because *I* have pinned things that I haven't commented on (and I am a fairly judicious pinner) and I've liked things but haven't had time to leave a comment. Or been inspired, but didn't feel I had anything 'worthy' to add to the other comments, ect.
    Just because people don't leave a note, doesn't mean that they hated it. And even if it DID mean that, so freaking what? *I* was pleased with it, and that should be enough.... So, yeah, I totally get the am I good enough? thing.
    And I love the idea of thinking the 9999 hours can just be fun :-)
    To freedom and bravery ~ Tracy

    1. (I meant visitors from crazymomquilts (though far more numerous) are less likely to comment than visitors from Lee's WIPW) ~ should have re-read this before posting....

  3. Gosh great quilts for your first time quilting ! This quilt hop looks fun , I have enjoyed reading your blog


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