Sage Advice

Recently, IPB Proper was home to some advice columns from some “NHL players”, so I figure why not bring the helpful hints over here to the sister-blog? It’s occurred to me that while I’ve shared all manner of pictures and stories of my crafting, I’ve not imparted the number one most important lesson of handiwork I’ve learned over the years: The Far-Away Test. Gentle Reader, have you ever gotten so sucked into a sampler that all you could see was the one strand of silk that didn’t end up lying quite right? Have you ever had tunnel vision that made it so you could only see the one point on a patchwork star that didn’t lie up perfectly? Have you ever been held hostage by one color that looked right in concept but once you got working with it just seemed wrong, wrong, wrong? In short, have you ever gotten so focused on a project that you could no longer see the forest for the trees? Of course you have! Everyone does! That’s where the Far-Away Test comes in. Have someone else hold you project up for you, or drape it over the other end of the couch. Step back. Admire your fabulous work. Suddenly you can’t even remember where that wayward strand of silk is, the star looks pretty darn pointy, and that weird puke green is showing us as a lovely dark olive. Problem solved!

I bring this up because I was recently in such a funk with “Broken Dishes”, my latest quilt project. I paired up a black and white geometric print with one that was a soft pink. I worked night and day (okay, night and later night) over the long weekend putting each teensy tiny triangle into place. When the block was finished, I made the mistake of mumbling something about how it looked a little ’80s. Schnookie jumped right on that and said, “It is just like Miami Vice! HAHAHAHA!” Well, of course at that point, all I could see was the cover of the Starship cassette that lived in Boomer’s car in the mid-’80s. That’s it! The whole quilt was ruined!

A-ha! Not so fast! A little Far-Away Test could clear that potential disaster up! I laid all the blocks I’d done up to that point out on the floor and stepped back.

Broken Dishes Progress

Nothing about that screams Don Johnson! (Author’s note: If if does, please don’t tell me.) Thanks to the Far-Aawy Test, I could see that stressing the individual fabric pairings is really not that big a deal. The whole thing is going to look scrappy and jumbled (dare I say it, like broken dishes?) anyway! In just one simple step, I was able to refocus on the project and stop stressing about how one little square out of 72 was going to effect the overall look. Thanks, Far-Away Test!

Lately, thanks to quilts being much bigger projects than cross stitching, the Far-Away Test has spawned an off-shoot: The Walk Away Test. Quilts can be a bit overwhelming, what with the balancing color and patterns and having no idea how it’s going to translate from a pile of, say, 2 inch squares into a full queen-sized blanket. When the time came to lay out the hexagons for Merry Go Round, I discovered the only floorspace empty enough for that endeavor was the downstairs “den”. (We use it as a seedling greenhouse, an ironing station, a mail dump, and a supplementary pantry for bulky items that don’t fit in the kitchen.) I carefully put the hexagons in rows and then started to go nuts about color and pattern placement. It was grueling! I was interrupted for dinner, though, and had to leave it out on the floor while I went to go eat. After dinner, I happened to walk past the stairway to the den and could see all my work laid out on the floor looking… well, looking like a blanket! By stepping away and refocusing on something else, I was able to come back at look at the project with fresh eyes! I tried that with Broken Dishes today, and the result was like the Far-Away Test but magnified. I dare you to find the Miami Vice square now!

Walk Away Test

Apologies for the awful photo. The light in that room is tricky!

So when in doubt, try the Far-Away or Walk Away Tests. Break free of the chains of the process for a quick moment, and bask in the gloriousness that is your fabulous project! (I refuse to accept that I have ever worked on a project that was not fabulous.) (At least not since the wizards.) (We shall never speak of the wizards again.)

Posted by Pookie

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8 Comments

Filed under Pins and Needles

8 responses to “Sage Advice

  1. Sarah

    That is not 80s looking at all! I like this pattern quite a bit. I think the Far Away Test is excellent advice for most all projects! As I’m embarking on another item of clothing I will be sure to keep it in mind.

  2. I think the Far Away Test would work very well with clothing pieces! I can’t wait to see what you make next. (And thanks for saying the Miami Vice square doesn’t look ’80s!)

  3. Pookie, this is AMAZING! I love, love, love how it’s turning out. All your hard work is coming together.

    You pick the toughest patterns. Very admirable.

  4. Mags

    I dare you to find the Miami Vice square now!

    Middle one in the bottom row, right ;) You dared! I had to.

    Whatever you want to call it, it looks lovely!

  5. Thanks, Carol!

    And thanks a lot, Mags. :P

  6. Erin

    How did I miss ‘The Wizards’ before?? Mega funny. Kind of reminds me of when I was a pre-teen and suddenly got really into coloring books, like the kind you get in museum gift shops with stained glass windows and fashions from the 1850’s. I would spend all day coloring those things! Seriously, why didn’t our parents step in and take control!

  7. There’s nothing Miami Vice about it! Looks awesome!

  8. Erin, fancy coloring books are the best! I wish it was still socially acceptable to color at my age. :D

    Thanks, Caitlin!

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