At this past retreat, I told the Monkeys that if anyone would like to write a post for the blog to please feel free. I am happy to share with you words from our very own Blanche!
Transitions…the dictionary defines transition as passage from one state, stage, subject or place to another; a movement, development or evolution from one form or style to another; and as a verb, to make a change from one state, place or condition to another. When I consider quilting and life, both are full of transitions. Transitions involve changes, and changes are a natural part of life. It seems that I’ve been thinking about transitions a lot lately…
In quilting, transition takes on many forms. It can be a flow of color across the quilt top from one color family to the next, the flow of values from light to dark, or a combination of both. It can be a break that separates one block from the next – we call this type of transition a sashing or border. Sometimes a sashing gives our eyes a place to rest in a quilt – an opportunity to calm down a visual cacophony and allow us to enjoy the view in front of us. Transitions can come from the fabrics we choose for our quilts, but they can also be achieved with threads or other artistic media we apply to the surface of the quilt. I’ve used flowing quilting patterns to transition a blocky quilt design to something a bit softer or to emphasize movement and design. Quilts with good transitions seem to pull us into and through the quilt…we are drawn to them instinctively and find it difficult to walk away from. One of my favorite quilters is Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry. She is a master at transitions in her quilts – they are stunning, artistic, and seem to draw me inside them. The colors flow across the face of her quilts and transition from light to dark and color to color. She sells a line of fabrics called “Gradations” that transitions across the fabric – I recently purchased several of these for a quilt I want to make. If you get the chance, go to her website (here) or search the intranet for pictures of her quilts – they are beautiful! As quilters learning our craft, we also transition from very basic to more complicated quilts – patterns, complexity, colors, style, media, quilting, and much more – we stretch our bounds and learn new things that make us and the quilts we create even better. We transition from learning quilting from others and grow into helping others learn to quilt. Transition can be seen in the light that comes into a new quilter’s face when they learn a new skill…going from unsure to confident in their quilting abilities. If you’ve been there while a new quilter grows and becomes more experienced, you’ve participated in their transition process.
Just as in quilts, our lives are filled with transitions. We start out life being wholly dependent on our parents, and over a period of time, evolve into an adult accountable for ourselves…it doesn’t happen overnight…it takes years of time and many small steps along the way. Our first baby steps…our first day at school…our first graduation…our first overnight away from home…our first loving relationship with someone not related to you… our first apartment…our first job…etc. etc. etc. The transitions continue from being single adults to married life to being parents ourselves and all of the challenges, worries, joys and sorrow that this provides. And once you’ve done your best at parenting, you hopefully get to transition to being an empty nester and have a chance to reconnect with that person you married so many years ago…hopefully before the next transition comes along and you begin caring for the very people who cared for you when you were small. This may be one of the hardest transitions to make because it comes up unexpectedly. It takes a lot of time, patience, perseverance and love to provide the necessary and appropriate care, all the while struggling to maintain balance and a strong sense of self in what can often be a thankless job. And when the transition from this phase of life comes, it is bittersweet with the loss of our loved ones and the knowledge that you are the elders now. Your time is your own once again…hopefully…for a while. It takes a while to regroup our energy and refocus on other pursuits. Retirement is still another transition point if you’ve worked outside the home, one that most of us look forward to after years of doing someone else’s bidding in exchange for income. Retirement means time enjoy ourselves, to pursue the things we want to do before we grow too old or have too many health issues to do so, and before we reach that final transition from this life to whatever is next. If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my lifetime, it is that transitions are inescapable.
I have found that my art and my quilting helps me to get through the transitions that are part of my life. These activities calm me when all else is chaos around me, allowing me to have a refuge where I feel like I am in control even when other parts of my life are running wild and I am just hanging on by my fingertips. Quilting has become a coping tool for me, refreshing my soul when I am in despair and giving me pleasantness to focus on while I work thru emotions and issues that are bothering me. Over the years, I’ve made quilting friends who are there for me when I need them, ready to lend a hand or a word of comfort as needed…this is a benefit I did not expect when I began quilting. Getting together every so often, whether at retreat or for other reasons, is something I really look forward to. These special friends surprised me with their thoughtfulness and support when I was struggling these past few years, whether with words of encouragement or an unexpected squishie, and helped me remember that I was not alone. There is comfort in these good friends, in knowing they understand my journey, are there to listen to me rant about the injustice of it all when I need to rant, to laugh with and cry with. Just being there and sharing our transitions with each other makes the changes easier…I am so very fortunate to have found them.