Expectations of productivity

This has been going on – for four stinking months:

What I've been wearing for months now. It's finally starting to improve, but ohhh is it ever slow.The infamous thumb brace

If you’re curious, it’s De Quervain’s tendonitis. If you put your left hand in the position shown in the photo, and pull your thumb in tight against your hand, then you’ve just made a silly gesture with your hand because someone on a blog told you to do so.

*sheep!*

If you then extend your thumb out to form an ‘L’ shape, and you want to scream with pain when you do so, you have De Quervain’s tendonitis. Congratulations. Now quit doing things that hurt yourself.

I’ve had it since Jeff was in HealthSouth. It manifested as an aching wrist, but it took months for it to isolate into specific motions. The cause? You guessed it – those first two months after Jeff’s accident when I couldn’t think, couldn’t talk, couldn’t do anything … so I sewed. Constantly. I had very little attention span and didn’t have the social or mental energy to do much of anything after getting myself through the workday, so I’d sew for hours at a stretch.

The free-motion quilting was what did it. I guided the quilt sandwich with my left thumb, and that’s the exact motion that hurt.

So … my production’s been pretty much nil for three months, much to my exasperation. I’m aware that this tendon MUST rest and heal or I will face surgery, which I don’t want and grumpily say I don’t have time for in my life just now.

So … I took up hand-sewing. English Paper Piecing, to be exact. I learned how to sew half-inch hexagons. Turns out they make excellent take-along projects when you fly:

My first foray into English paper piecing. It is an excellent take-along project for airports.Sewing half-inch hexagons

I’m taking the knowledge and applying it to another long-term project – Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. The pattern calls for 14 pieces of skinny pointed fabric shapes to meet at a single point, which is sort of the quilting equivalent of Jackie Chan telling you he’s going to rip out your heart with a paper clip and then reconnect it only using a stapler and you won’t feel a thing – and then he actually DOES IT and you think, “Damn, that was obnoxiously precise and also utterly unnecessary and yet awesome all at once!”

This is what it looks like from the front:

For Seven Brides, there are several places in the pattern where 14 pieces of fabric meet at a single point. (That was the sound of quilters downing antacids.)

I've decided to paper-piece the center parts of these rosettes. I want these to be accurate. I want to be able to smile cheekily and say, 'Yeah, I went there.'

I don't actually have to paper piece the next round, so I'm not panicking if the top points aren't perfect.


Full entry for this quilt: domesticat.net/quilts/seven-brides-seven-brothersPartial center rosette

The crazy fabric bondage happens on the back. This is what it took to get those fabric pieces wrapped around the paper templates to get exact shapes:

This is what it takes to get the fabric to conform to these tiny, sharp pieces. Fabric bondage!

It can be done without English paper piecing, but I think it will be more accurate with EPP. I don't actually have to paper piece the next round, so I'm not panicking if the top points aren't perfect.

Full entry for this quilt: domesticat.net/quilts/seven-brides-seven-brothersOf fabric bondage (1 of 2)

Oh, right, you want SCALE. Sure, it’s nothing if those pieces are 18” long. Hint. They aren’t:

My fingers (which are pretty small) give you an idea of just how small, and sharp, these pieces are. I'd be shocked if they were an inch wide, finished.

I know the traditional 'fold down the points' method to get the Perfect Point, but I have to assure you, these angles are so acute (25.7°) that it's not worth it here.

I don't actually have to paper piece the next round, so I'm not panicking if the top points aren't perfect.

Full entry for this quilt: domesticat.net/quilts/seven-brides-seven-brothersOf fabric bondage (2 of 2)

The widest point is maybe an inch wide, finished. Those skinny insane angles are 25.7°. Fourteen of them will meet at a point in a few places:

This feels right. I love the interplay of light and dark. I wonder if I am capable of actually rendering this in fabric, or if I am overreaching.

Blog entry: domesticat.net/quilts/seven-brides-seven-brothersThe plan, I think.

Personally, I’m content with my insanity. I still haven’t decided if I’ll be able to part with this quilt or not. We’ll see.

Psychological aside: I’m starting to get serious, serious guilties about not completing my backlog in a ‘timely manner.’ I have obnoxiously high expectations, and not meeting them can crush me if I’m not careful. I know that they’re gifts, I know that nobody expects them at particular times, but I have expectations of productivity and I forget that sometimes, after work, there’s just not enough of you left to go around to do much more than feed the cat and shove dinner in your face.