Daily rambles about quilting, gardening, reading, cooking and just plain old being.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Traditional versus Sport

In rock climbing you were either a traditional ("trad") climber or a sport climber or sometimes you did both. Trad climbing involved climbing an untouched rock face placing your gear for protection as you went and then removing it. Sport climbing involves clipping into bolts that are fixed to the rock face, it is fast. Obviously sport climbing is more accessible to the masses (think rock gyms) and trad climbing is for the more hard-core climber. The trad climbers generally eschewed the sport climbs and looked down on those who climbed solely sport. While in either style climbing you ultimately reached the top, it was and is all about the journey to the top.

My climbing days are likely over as we haven't climbed in awhile, but this analogy might help explain my thought processes over the last weeks. I was proficient at both sport and trad climbing, but preferred the trad routes for their difficulty and simply because they weren't accessible to the masses. If you were a trad climber, then trad climbing was the "right" way to climb. For me, it was slower and more meditative. You had to think and you had time to think.

I explain all this to get to where I am right now with my quilting. For the last year and a bit I've worked in a quilt shop where it is all about gadgets, and matchy-matchy, and quick and easy, and instant gratification. Call it a Sport Quilting Shop. I admittedly got sucked into the glamour and speed of it....the beautiful fabrics lured me in and I bought yards and yards of fabrics in the same lines; matchy-matchy. I steered clear of a lot of the gadgets, but did acquire a few and I tried out the pre-cuts; 5 inch, 10 inch, and triangles. I didn't fall for it completely, I still pre-wash all my fabrics before cutting and I have still been hand-quilting all my quilt, but I did try machine quilting (yikes). I confess, I went to the dark side for awhile.

Thanks to Texas Freckles I have started to come to my senses. She is hand piecing a hexagon charm quilt....that is where I got turned on to the charm quilt and along the way I started to hand piece, I'm reading a book called Quiltmaking by Hand, by Jinny Beyer, and I am assessing my fabric "collection". In doing all of this I realize that I strayed far from who I am and what I am all about....

I'm about frugality, simplicity, and slowing down. I'm about honoring traditional and sentimentality, and creating something from nothing. I learned to quilt from my mom, with paper cutting templates, scissors, and a simple sewing machine. We quilted on a wooden frame (her's was suspended from the ceiling) and made our quilting templates from cardboard and marked the lines with chalk or pencil. We quilted in white thread, the backs were always white and most importantly they were quilts that were meant to be used and washed; not art for hanging on the wall. We made quilts with purpose and practicality AND beauty.

I'm headed back in time, to what I know is right for me....I am a "trad" quilter, though I dabbled in the "sport" quilting world for awhile. I'm not going to judge the sport quilters, I am only going to say that I know now that traditional is the way for me.


Nic said...

I think I'm with you on this ... I like hand piecing, and working my own colour schemes. Needlework for me is about the journey, not the speed I can achieve.

My father's favourite poem is the one that begins: "What is this life, if full of care, we have not time to stand and stare" and he lives by that, and I've inherited a lot from him :o). Sewing by machine is noisy, and stressy. Sewing by hand is contemplative and thoughtful.

That's not to say one way is wrong and one is right - we're all individuals, and we all need different things. And we need to embrace who we are - experiment yes, but at the end of the day, we have to enjoy life!

Thanks for such a thought provoking post!

ragamuffin yogini said...

You're welcome. I just read your Dad's fav poem and LOVE it....

Melanie said...

What a beautiful post. Although I'd have to say, I do enjoy a bit of sport quilting, my charm quilt says a lot about my personality too.

I had typed out a long post, bit I decided not to hijack your blog, so I'll see if I can email it to you. Thank you for the thought provoking post.