Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ah, AHIQ Begins




After a good six months of conversation and planning Kaja posted our preamble to improvisational quilting. Yesterday she started the ball rolling with our first AHIQ post. Be sure to check it out.
 Ad Hoc Improv Quilters
Initially I was surprised at the broad interest for an online improv group. So many quilters have expressed a desire to join us. Then I realized we are drawn to improvisation in the same way we were drawn to quiltmaking. We need to express ourselves (or find our voices.) We want to be joyful in our work rather than worry about meeting external standards of precision, design, color, or fabric. We want an original rather than a copy. There are times to use someone else's pattern but there are also times to create our own. With improvisation, we riff off each others' themes or head in completely new directions. We work in a community to create something uniquely personal.

As Kaja wrote, improvisation has at least two definitions - creating spontaneously without preparation and making something from whatever is available. While I can agree with creating spontaneously from what is available, I personally doubt much is created without preparation. 

A science-fiction author recently stated that spontaneous writing only happens after days of preparation - summary, plot outline, character description, location description, and more. Similarly my filmmaking friend assures me directors deliberately choose to shoot with handheld cameras for a rough, homemade look. They don't just wake up and start filming. Afterwards, editors cut and rework these random scenes into a cohesive story. 

So how can we prepare to be improvisational? 

If you are going to create spontaneously from what's available, why don't you get reacquainted with your stash? Sort by colors; sort by theme; sort by age. What do you collect the most? What makes you smile? Your stash already describes you. Out of the entire universe of fabrics, these are the ones you chose. It's the first curation. Listen carefully because it speaks volumes.

      "There is no one alive who is Youer than You!" Dr. Suess, Happy Birthday to You!

I'm not suggesting you reorganize your entire stash immediately... or ever. I am suggesting you pull a good assortment to help you notice patterns in your choices. If you store them in different places, try getting a bit from each of them.

Next, pull out a fabric that excites you. Pin it on the wall or throw it on the floor. Then place your other fabrics next to it - especially those from a different fabric line. Take photos. Which grouping surprised you most? Excited you? Start there.

Pat it or cut it. Pin it on your wall. Make a block or make several. Make triangles, rectangles, hexagons or any other shape. Then take the next step - the one that's right for you.


We look forward to what you link up with us Tuesday, September 29.

Enjoy the day,

22 comments:

  1. I'm really looking forward to this journey with you Ann. I think you offer sound starting advice: get to know your stash and define what it is that's defining you. Once you have that definition you can begin to develop a meaningful practice.

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    1. I'm so glad you're in this with us, Stephie. Your work is so emotive; it's always a joy to study. Your knowledgeable voice will certainly be a help to everyone.
      I hope people do look through their stash; there are always hidden gems - even in one a small as mine. And we each use a different palette which I believe is already reflected in the fabrics/colors we've chosen.

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  2. Gosh, I just finished posting on my own blog (very thin and embryonic at this point) about an attempt at an improv bee! Imagine my delight to see this new place where I can explore improv more with others like minded! Thank you! I'm looking forward to following this.

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    1. Wow, I'll have to check. I think I just looked at your blog last week. So glad you are writing again because I love your work and like to hear about your process.

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  3. 'There is no one alive who is Youer than You!' I love those words. I'm always telling my kids, 'Be who you are.'
    Ad Hoc Improv Quilters is a fun idea, I'm in!

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    1. Dr. Seuss is the greatest. So glad you're joining us, Janie!

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  4. Looking forward to this! I am hoping that exploring Improv. will help make my quilts more 'me'. I've always enjoyed the style but felt rather intimidated to jump in wholesale. Thanks for setting up this encouraging and welcoming QAL.:)

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    1. Wow, Audrey. I'm so glad you're joining us. It is intimidating but will be much easier together. One, two, three, jump!

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  5. Thanks to you and Kaja for starting us off in a new direction - I'm looking forward to following your suggestion above and getting busy looking though my stash before next Tuesday. All very exciting indeed!

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    1. Oh, Maureen, I'm glad you're joining this. What a great group of quilters. I'm off petting my fabric to (some people call it refolding, but I know better.) I can't wait to see the fabulous combinations that were hiding in everyone's stash.

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  6. Yes, this sounds like a stitching vacation to me. I love improve. I'm in and onto getting to know my stash.

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    1. I love that phrase - stitching vacation! So glad you're joining in.

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  7. This is a wonderful thought Ann: "your stash is the first curation" - I love that! I am a planner and always had the misconception that imrov had very little planning; that it was more "flying by the seat of your pants" type quilting. It's silly that I thought like that, I know. I love how you and Sherri compare improv quilting to music. To carry your writing and film-making analogies further - even in jazz, we start with the basic melody and from there, take flight.
    What you and Kaja are doing is very exciting! I think it will be good for all of us and help us learn to exercise our own creativity!

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    1. Great phrasing, as always, Lara. I love "exercising our own creativity." I thought improv was made from scraps with no planning, too. It's been scary but very enlightening to make some quilts and see what happens. Sherri has really thought through the improv process; there's so much to learn from her book. And hers helps me make sense of the other books I'm rereading.

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  8. Darn you, Ann (shakes fist in the air), darn you! There go my nice orderly autumn plans...

    I knew instantly what to make. See you on the 29th!

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    1. Well, it is an El Nino year. Everything will be topsy-turvy this autumn. I can't wait to see what you're up to!

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  9. Count me in! This is just what I need, a group of folks to share the improv adventures with, and I am so glad I just happened in at the beginning! Also, having just retired from my job of 26 years, I have taken a vow not to buy any more fabric until I've made some significant dents in my (ahem, sizeable) stash. I have just read Kaja's first post also, and I'm all set! I do most of my shopping at a needlework donation store, where I now volunteer one day a week and get a discount from the impossibly low prices. Therefore, my stash is very eclectic, not at all "modern" really, but full of a very wide range of possibilities. I'm going to go "shopping" in my own sewing room this afternoon and pick a few pieces for AHIQ. Thank you, Ann, for alerting me to this, and for thinking it up.

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    1. Sue, I'm so glad you're joining us. I've admired your improv work; we will learn from each other. How nice to have another person who understands why we want to reduce stash. Working at a donation center you must see loads of fabric, thread, etc. dumped when someone dies and none of her family is interested in the work. So much better to use it up ourselves. I love eclectic myself. Not that I never shop. I just try to keep it at a steady state. I recently bought some new material and now must work hard to finish some things so the lids will close easily again.

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  10. Hi: Over here from Kaja's blog. Both of my kid's were on there high school improv acting team in high school. Unscripted acting using perhaps a few words or a theme. I believe that's where the unplanned part of the definition comes from although they did practice a lot , I guess to become a cohesive team and to learn ways to riff off each others ideas. Anyhow I'm glad to join you and perhaps continue the improv.....but i fabric.

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    1. Hi, Lisa. Mine never did improv. Nice to hear how it's really done rather than how we think/assume it happens. I'm looking forward to your work. Fabric is much more my thing, too.

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  11. Adding my name to the list of those following along and participating in this evolving conversation. I tend to over plan and over think, so this will be a refreshing change of pace - and I LOVE shopping my stash!

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    1. Hooray! I'm glad you're joining the conversation. Like you, I hope to see great evolution when we all participate in the conversation.

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I enjoy reading your comments and usually reply here where everyone can read and join in. We have some great conversations.