Wednesday, March 13, 2013


When I first started quilting and joined the Black Hills Quilters Guild, there was this acronym that I kept hearing, UFO. I was familiar with it, but I could not figure out how Unidentified Flying Objects would pertain to the quilting subject. At that time, I had only been in the United States for one year or so, and I was trying very hard to make sense of all I saw and heard and learned. This UFO was beyond me, I just could not get it! I asked, then, and the light was shed: UnFinished Object. There you go!

Over time, I learned that UFO were some sort of a nightmare for most quilters. They started a lot of projects but at some point they did not feel like finishing them. Maybe they ran out of inspiration, maybe what they were so excited about that particular project was not there anymore, maybe something very appealing crossed their way and had to follow it, a variety of reasons were preventing them from finishing their projects. And they did not seem to be very happy about it.

Recently, one of my customers, a lady who purchased a gorgeous piece of fabric from my shop, told me that she really liked the fabric and did not know what she would make with it. From her words, I could gather that same UFO sense of guilt, that same feeling that there is something wrong in not finishing that what has already been started. That was the seed for this post.

Why is it that quilters feel wrong when they do not finish their projects right away? Where is it written that there is a schedule to finish a project? Who sets the rules about the right time to complete it? Isn't quilting something to enjoy? Where is so deeply rooted the idea that there is a moral obligation to finish everything we start? And why is it so very well spread across different cultures?

I do not have any UFO. I work on different projects that sometimes share a specific period of time. Some take longer than others. There are projects that will take years to be finished, and meanwhile shorter and faster ones will be completed. I have a box full of stripes already sewn for a project that I started some years ago. Is that a UFO? No, it is a project in progress. When will it be completed? I have no idea. Did I give up with it? Absolutely not. What is the project waiting for to be finished? Its own time. Some day, all those pieces will tell me where they want to go, how they want to be together.

Why would I force them to stay together in a way that they do not like? Just because I am in a rush to finish? No, I refuse to work that way. My brain is not a straight narrow line where only one idea can happen at a time. Just look at a neuron and you will know what I am talking about.

Drawing of Purkinje cells (A) and granule cells (B) from pigeon cerebellum by Santiago Ramón y Cajal, 1899. Instituto Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Madrid, Spain.

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