The Art of Piddling

I recently attended a quilt retreat. It was super-fun and while there I completed a few projects, including one long-term quilt. I was exhausted when I got home and could not possibly commit to another project right away so for the last few days I’ve been piddling.

I don’t know or care how Webster defines “piddling” but here’s how I define it: moving freely between several projects with no defined goal in mind. 

Ok, I just lied to you. I did look it up in the dictionary and it says “an act of urinating” (GROSS – that is NOT what I’m doing) or “to spend time in trifling activities; to putter.” So, yes, I’ve been piddling. My puppy has also but that’s a different story and I digress.

Your quilting muse is rather fickle. You mustn’t over work it nor can you under work it or it will abandon you like a leaf abandons its tree in a stiff autumn breeze. Piddling is your middle ground. You can use it after an intense project or following a hiatus to get your mojo churning again. 

How does one piddle, you may ask. I like to throw at least three projects up on my design wall and move back and forth amongst them. I allow my hands to follow my mind. When I’m not piddling but trying to meet a goal, my mind is always three or four projects ahead of the rest of me. I may be working on project A, but I’m thinking about projects B, C and D. I get some pretty great ideas while I’m plugging along but I don’t usually stop what I’m doing to write them down, so sometimes I forget them. Not so while I’m piddling. If I get a great idea I either pause to notate it, or, more likely, I stop what I’m doing and immediately begin work on it. I just go with the flow, Man. I just go with the flow. For example, I’ll be sewing along on one of the projects and think, “Oh, that orphan block from last year would look great in my quilt coat.” I stop what I’m doing, find that block and put it on the wall.  

My Design Wall

This week I have on my design wall these three piddles:

  • A quilt coat – Quilted coats are all the rage at the moment and I MUST have one. I don’t have any antique quilts I want to cut up, so I’m using my orphan blocks to make it. I got some of these from the aforementioned quilt retreat swap table. How fun is that!
  • A patriotic heart quilt – Another freebie from the swap table, the blocks are so cute and they are sparking all kinds of creativity for me right now. About 35 of them were found treasures (as I like to call unfinished quilt tops or blocks I find in various places) and I’ve added almost that many from my scraps and stash.
  • My Christmas Baubles quilt – I DO want to finish this quilt before Christmas. I put it into the rotation so I can make at least some progress on it. I’ll have to amp it up soon to get it completed before Christmas but I can’t think about that right now. It would defeat the purpose of my piddle-sesh.

If you don’t have a design wall, don’t despair. You can lay your UFOs* and WIPs* out on a table, a bed or the floor – just somewhere you can gaze upon them and allow your muse to work its magic. I think you’ll find that the creative part of your mind wants to come out and play when you allow yourself the freedom to piddle every now and again.

Random Cat Photo: This is Dexter. He doesn’t piddle around. He is responsible for the damage to my design wall, but he’s mega-cute so I’ll probably keep him.

*UFO = unfinished object | *WIP = work in progress