The Inner Struggle of Teaching

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 I LOVE teaching! I actually beginning prepping for an upcoming class weeks ahead of time, partly because I am OCD and need to be super, duper prepared, but mostly because I am just that enthusiastic about teaching!  I look so forward to the actual day when I am able to walk into the classroom and share a morning, afternoon, or entire day with those that are willing to endure my instruction for a length of time and share in my passion.  But I cannot ignore the fact that prior to every session I teach my mind starts the playing “The Doubting Game”.  images-111

And here is how this game plays out.  I gaze upon my class roster, I look at what I am teaching that day and the wheel starts spinning.

At the first spin the wheel stops on:

Will it be worth their time?  

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After all these students have paid to sit before me and learn something.  I always to strive to give my student quality instruction.

Next spinner lands on:

Will they absorb the information I am trying to convey?  I can prepare materials, go over what is being taught in my head and feel confident that I am going to nail the information I will present. But then that nagging uncertainty creeps in and this is what I always fear will be looking back at me when the day is upon me (and I will see about 15-25 of these faces)

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Then the spinner slowly falls upon:

Are my students enjoying what they are learning?  Let’s face it these individuals should enjoy their time of being educated.  No one wants to sit in a classroom and feel like they are sitting before Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

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Ah, NO way! I want my students to have a great time AND learn!

Lastly, the wheel comes to a halt at:

Was this class productive?  Did my class give my students what they expected, and wanted over the last several hours AND for what they paid for?  I want these quilters to exit my session feeling as though they have gained at least a few new tools, and concepts.  My inner voice has me wondering if they will all  feel better equipped to take tackle their design.images-99

For me the major challenge of teaching is creating an environment where I give those before me the opportunity to learn, and feel empowered to take the next step in the quilting journey.

This is what I hope to witness at the end of each lecture, or class.

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For all my fellow instructors out there, do you have an aspect of teaching that you find most challenging? If so do tell!

I ain’t doing that!!!

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When I began quilting, I chose fairly subdued fabrics.  I had a tendency to lean towards blues, browns. burgundy’s; and gravitated towards material that displayed busy prints.  Oh and the busier the better; bring on the BUSY for this designer.  Over time my quilting journey has me constantly evolving, and I’ve discovered new likes and dislikes.  Those super busy prints that I was a fanatic about has lost it’s luster.  I now find that my choices in fabric has followed a new path.  I am now drawn towards materials that possess bright colors and has me wearing a smile as I gaze upon them.  The grin on my face quickly spreads from ear to ear as my mind is filled with incredible design possibilities.  What amazing creation will find its way onto this amazing fabric?   Therefore, it probably won’t surprise anyone to hear that I now LOVE solid colors that will really show off the quilting.  Why lose all that hard work of quilting  amidst a chaotic print?  In conclusion not only has my ideal fabric palate changed dramatically; but my appetite for super busy prints has diminished drastically.  I guess you could say it I don’t have any appetite for busy prints. Less is more!

During one of my many stepping stone through quilting many moons ago,  I had witnessed customers as they entered the shop and browse for their “appliqué” project.  If that wasn’t bad enough, these delicate ears would hear that these clients were searching for their “HAND” appliqué project.  I wanted to yell “Hello? Isn’t that why God invented sewing machines?!”  For the love of Pete, Hand work takes so much longer! I swore I WOULD NEVER do that!

Center Medallion designed by Ronda Beyer

First machine Applique  Center Medallion designed by Ronda K Scott

I was soon eating my works, and have since learned “never say never”.  I admittedly LOVE appliqué and really love hand appliqué. Never in a million, bazillion years would I have thought this quilter would yearn to sit and hand sew.  The craft of appliqué and hand appliqué bestows such a calming effect that I find it very therapeutic. I know who would have thought? Definitely not me!

New Project

Which has me thinking that I’m long overdue and need to start another hand project!

My question to you fellow quilters is:  Has there been something in quilting that you never thought you would enjoy doing and now love? It’s okay to admit that we all have said “I’D NEVER”.   Then eventually life has us kicking ourselves as we think “NEVER say NEVER”!

Walking Through the Past and Reminiscing

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Recently I have been reworking my class handouts and my trunk show, “Lisa H Calle’s Trunk Filled with Anything but Junk”, which incidentally makes it tweaked debut at the AQS Lancaster Quilt Show.  Yes, there was a small shameless plug about my upcoming Trunk Show in the previous statement.  But moving right along, I have been sifting through my older quilts (for the upcoming show..shameless plug #2) and since I was overwhelmed with fond memories I felt the need to share some of my favorites projects with you!

First, is Hula Hibiscus!  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this quilt!  This piece undoubtedly taught me the most!  And through all the learning curves I cannot say enough how much I LOVE this quilt.  Do you get the idea that I love this piece?

Hula Hibiscus Unquiltedhulahibiscusfullshot-1

Hula Hibiscus center

Hula Hibiscus center

For more details on how this quilt came to life check out my youtube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccudgni0sq8

 

As I reflect on the portion of my quilting journey when I quilted for customers, I am taken back to “sew” many fun days!  Here are some of the projects I completed that were an absolute blast to produce.

 

And then there are those that I truly miss having in my possession.  For one reason or another they were given away, but in my heart they will forever hold a special place.

There are many more pieces I could share with you, but you would then have to neglect other business, and family responsibilities.  Let’s face it I’ve been doing this for a long time and  you could be here for a quite awhile!  I refuse to believe that I’m the only one out there that does this every so often, or am I?

Do you have quilts that you find yourself thinking about with fond memories, or projects that have changed you in some way? I’d love to see what quilts have meaning to you!unknown-40

Don’t Skimp on Warming Up!

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THIS Mrs. Incredible Stretches a Bit Differently

Ah yes, wouldn’t it be amazing if we all had the ability to put our “Incredible” suit on prior to our day of quilting?  Unfortunately, we are not lucky enough to possess such powers!  When I began quilting I didn’t even consider the idea of stretching.  However, now that I am a little older (and I mean JUST a little older), and MUCH wiser I make an effort to stretch my shoulders and back before and after working in the studio.

Here are some of the stretches that I have implemented into my quilting routine:

http://mag.activewearusa.com/yoga-poses-happy-neck/

You may need to alter your choice of stretches, since we all quilt a little differently as we develop our own technique and style.  Those exercises that will be the most beneficial to you will depend on which areas of your body absorbs the most tension.

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Regardless of how long you plan  to work on a design, don’t neglect to stretch!  I doubt there is one quilter that can’t relate to the physical toll our bodies endure from this craft!

What pre game exercise do you incorporate into your quilting time?

How Long Will It Take?

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Meeting Deadlines and Estimating Quilting Time on Projects

Whether it is creating a design for a customer, conference, class, show, or for personal reasons, trying to estimate just how long a project will take can be a painful.  If you are like me and are focus challenged, it is more than a little painful, it is a true struggle.  To predict how long a quilt, or sample will take to complete can be impossible.  I have quickly learned that when I am provided with a deadline I need to begin WELL IN ADVANCE! And I mean WELL, WELL in advance.

So for this quilter my mind-set is generally to:

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However, there are moments when life does not allow me to “Just Do It”.  Which  then brought this question to mind: “How do I compute the amount of time it takes for me to complete a project in such a way that I can share this information with my followers?”  images-83

Now that called for some serious thinking!  After pondering this idea for quite some time I began to feel like Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind”.  Mathematical equations were being frantically written, erased, and rewritten as I tried desperately to come up with the proper data that would allow me to reveal and illustrate how much time it takes me to complete a design.  After many sleepless nights, and tedious moments working with various hypotheses and conclusions I was very pleased to FINALLY put my analysis together in a chart, as shown below.

lisamathchartI am truly hoping that other quilters will find the above chart easy to understand.  I believe I have clearly translated my projected time for quilting in such a way that others will find it fairly simple to interpret.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I realize these types of charts can be a bit confusing; especially when they are composed of such words like “estimated”, and “realistic” .

How do you determine the length of time it will take you to complete a project? Are you a fly by the seat kind of quilter, or are you like me and have a precise method in configuring your quilting time?

This Bird is Back from Virginia

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The Birds of a Feather Convention was Great!

Let us recap our trip to Virginia, shall we?

Well our trip seemed quite uneventful leaving at 9am Wednesday morning, with no morning traffic to wrestle with, UNTIL I observed a vehicle on my bumper.  Typically I notice some young thing in a hurry to get somewhere, but to my surprise I was amazed to see Motoring Mom-Mom behind me.  Unfortunately due to SOME traffic could not easily slide to the right lane and this only enhanced Motoring Mom-Mom’s road rage. My rear view mirror gave me quite a show as her head was shaking back and forth in great dismay at my inability to achieve a driving speed of 95 mph.  Sorry mom-mom I don’t wants  to ruffle any police officer’s feathers with exceeding the speed limit too much! Eventually I moved over, and as she crept up to my car, this older women passed by giving me a piece of her mind with several head motions.  Oh my!

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I was actually hoping we would see her at the Marriott! Maybe she just couldn’t wait to buy one of my rulers?!

images-8I loved the ability to network with all the amazing people I encountered over the four days I was working.  Whether we exchange ideas, share experiences, or provide inspiration to one another it is incredible what a conference room and class room full of individuals can bring to your future.  However, one thing I did neglect to bring which does help when connecting with new contacts is BUSINESS CARDS!  I need to start making sure I have them here, there and everywhere.  Making sure they are packing should be a no brainer, especially during a business trip.

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For Students: Take a class every session? Well, of course that ultimately is a personal preference.  However, you may want to consider the classes you are contemplating attending.  How long do they run, and how much of a break you will provide yourself with prior to your next class?  For me I know I need a little breather, so I can refuel and get my head back in the game.  Otherwise my mind turns to mush.  I realize it’s difficult to choose especially with so many different topics and instructors but don’t feel as though  it’s imperative for you to jam pack your day to the point of walking away having all that you have experienced blurring into one fuzzy period of time.

One of the most exciting things about teaching and attending these conferences is that I rejuvenate my mind and help others step outside their box of creativity.  Instructing students gets my design juices flowing and hopefully those I educate walk out of my classroom having gained some of those quilting juices.  Understanding that stepping outside the box will promote individuality and confidence. Ultitmately their style will come full circle.  And it never hurts to remind those that have come to spend their mornings or afternoons with us that constantly attempting new skills (even when our intial attempts fail) and techniques allows us to slowly become the best quilter we can be.  Our quilting journey is never ending!

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Lastly, I think surrounding myself with other educators, and quilting peers is a trip filled with plenty of smiles, common passions, and most of all fun.  AND never forget there are moments that we all know what happens in VA stays in VA!

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Do I have any quilting friends that also enjoyed their time in VA?

What’s on your Bucket List??

I want to and I will…..

We all acquire that “Quilting Bucket List” during our quilting journey that is composed of items we will eventually possess, people we will one day meet, and places that we will one day find ourselves visiting.  If we are fortunate throughout our quilting careers, we make choices that allow us to slowly cross off those Bucket List wishes.  And inevitably there are those people,things and places that feel as though they will forever be displayed on our “Some Day” list.

For me, the biggest “want to”and “have to” is attending the Tokyo International Quilt Festival!  At this point I cannot fathom the idea of participating in that event.  Thoughts of going to that country immediately has me feeling like a child yearning to walk through the gates of Disney World.  Yes I would fly approximately 6,200 miles or almost 15 hours for that quilt show.

Why is it on my bucket list?  Well for one I would love to immerse myself in that culture, if only for a brief period of time.  Secondly the mere size of this event gets me giddy.  I thought Houston was the biggest quilt show in the world but apparently this is Houston Quilt Festival on steroids.  Thirdly, the Japanese work is exquisite.  I mean really, words do not do their designs and workmanship any justice.  And lastly, who doesn’t want to get out of Pottstown PA during the month of January? Hanging out in my little town of possible snow and yuck weather or being in a quilting haven where you get to hang around beautiful pieces and fabric, and amazing talent?  I believe it’s a no brainer.

 

So do you have a Quilting Bucket List? What is you Must Do?

 

Quilting Time for “Me”

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Life is a juggling act!

Household chores, taxing children to and from afterschool activities, inquiring whether homework has been completed, paying bills, boy oh boy the “to do” list is endless. The hours in a day seem to fly by and the allotted  time required to get all those necessary duties accomplished disappears!  Needless to say many of us feel as though we are running in a hamster wheel.unknown-45

 

 

 

 

Making time for the craft of quilting, that we all love to do, is a challenge! Moreover, those of us that have chosen to make our hobby into a business means carving out personal sewing moments is even more difficult to achieve.

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How do you manage your time? What makes your time management successful?  Let us in on your secret and maybe you can help others achieve a better sense of balance!

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Soft is Nice, BUT….

 

Minkee, Minkee, Minkee; if you’re a quilter this word is probably quite familiar to you.  Minkee is the incredible, ever so soft, fabric that everyone dreams of having on the back of their quilt. Well maybe we should leave it at “dreams of having” on the back of their quilt.  Speaking for myself, I for one, love the feel of this material.  However, I am NOT a fan of quilting it as a backing on my Longarm.  My reasoning is  simply because I like to pull my backings nice and tight.  Due to my fondness for those two things this is where “Minkee” and I have relationship issues.

Back  in the day when I was quilting as a business, I had a client bring a Minkee backing for me to complete.  Easy peasy I assured my customer, but the joke was on me.

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I quilted this small baby quilt (in hindsight I thanked the gods above it was small) and was quite satisfied until I removed it from the frame.  My once “small” baby blanket had managed to be reduced to a “shrinky dink” blanket.  Yes, this little quilt became more than little when it shrunk!  As a result of my strong desire to have a nice tight backing I managed to pull the backing too tight (imagine that).  AND because the material is a knit, in a shocker, it stretched!!  Needless to say when I took it off the frame, this cute baby quilt wasn’t feeling or looking too cute.

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No amount of marinating in the corner was going to resolve the problem that had transpired (marinating- letting a quilt sit in the corner in hopes that a slight tension issue will resolve itself once the quilt relaxes).

PS. This normally works.

It took me three LONG days of ripping out all of the stitching so I could partake in a wonderful redo with this adorable quilt made with a Minkee backing.

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Did I want to repeat that “Minkee Production”? Hell to the no! Once was more than enough for this quilter, so from that moment on Minkee backings have not made an appearance in my studio.

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Sorry Minkee, I can only live through that nightmare one time. Do you like to quilt with Minkee backing and if so, please enlighten me on the best way to do this?

Quilting Isn’t for Sissies!

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A quilter without neck, back or shoulder issues? I haven’t encountered one yet, and this includes me!.  Whether I’m sitting at my domestic machine or standing at the longarm, I find that I cannot escape the army of pain that will soon invade my neck and shoulders.

Me vs. Neck and Shoulder Pain

In order to combat the inevitable I have taken to “warming up” my muscles before I venture into quilting for the day.  Why?  Well, those of us who quilt are engaging in an activity that is as physically taxing on our body as those that work out at the gym.  Would you consider kickboxing, or lifting weights prior to performing some stretches?  No, I highly doubt it.  Think of quilting in the same manner, believe it or not we are applying pressure and weight on various body muscles to quilt.  And just like any other form of exercise, over time and use these body parts begin to hurt!

Life with Bikram Yoga

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Last June, I started attending Bikram Yoga and the results have made a HUGE difference.  Some of the stretches that I complete in yoga are the same stretches I carry out prior to quilting.  In addition, I also try to pause in the middle of my quilting to incorporate further stretching as I attempt to keep my body relaxed as possible.  Here are some of the yoga poses that I find beneficial.

Half moon, Eagle, triangle, bow, camel (which I hate), and rabbit.  If you are interested in more poses here is a link for ALL 26 (yes 26)… Bikram yoga.  Don’t hesitate to investigate YouTube, it’s a great resource for tons of videos that will demonstrate many valuable stretches!

 

Beyond Yoga

Don’t neglect the neck!  Changing your neck’s position whether you are piecing or quilting is crucial to pain-free designing.  During periods that require piecing, I will vary the height of my chair by lowering or raising it in order to prevent any undo stress.  This is also done when I am quilting.   Now if you are lucky enough to have a hydraulic lift for your machine, all the better for your body! This will enable you to alternate your choices of siting, or standing.  Moreover, you will have the flexibility of raising and lowering the table.  My lift is a must have, I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it!

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What types of things do you do to combat the aches and pains while enduring the  physical job or hobby of quilting?