Beth Markel

Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees

Posted on April 16, 2023 by Beth Markel

Every couple of weeks or so I clean off my sewing table. If I didn’t, it would look something like a tornado had rolled through my studio and deposited everything in heaps and disarray, from stray cut strips to spools of thread and bobbins. I’m not diligent about this, or in a discipled way I would put everything away each night and retrieve it every morning. I do that in retreats. I do that when I travel. I even do that when I teach…but home alone, I can be a Messy Bessy.

So, I spent most of Friday cleaning off my sewing table, neatly folding strips so I wouldn’t have to press too much when I pull them out of their covered bins. I cleaned and oiled my machine, and I ran the vacuum in the entire studio, finding only 6 stray pins before they were accidentally sucked up. Small as they are, pins do not agree with my vacuum cleaner.

In the midst of cleaning, and on my 2nd cup of coffee I began to wonder what had become of the bobbin I wanted to use up since it was a light shade of gray. I put a bikini on it while I was cleaning my machine. Bobbin Bikinis are a wildly useful little tool. My machine was oiled, with a new needle in it, and almost ready to go to work. I had vacuumed, so I knew my bobbin had not hit the floor. It wasn’t next to my machine oil, which has its own little house (it stands in a short canning jar), and I had not put it on my thread stand.

The stray bobbin was not where I would normally put it. It wasn’t in my pockets. I had not carried it upstairs and accidentally thrown it in the washer (phew!). It wasn’t even next to the coffee pot, where I’ve left bobbins once or twice. No clue…

Found it! Yes, I did drink that 16 oz of coffee with a bobbin in the bottom. This reminds me of a ‘Goat Rodeo’ song on their 2nd album, “Your Coffee Is a Disaster” which is a fabulous work, especially if you think Yo-Yo Ma is a genius. Could be worse – I could have swallowed it!

Saturday, yesterday, I was able to sew for about 10 hours, uninterrupted. It was GLORIOUS! Working on a piece that has about a billion small pieces in it can be overwhelming. I broke it down into 12 piles of 30 each, first trimming all the edges to square them up, and then stitching mostly white fabrics to them. They will become the part of the ocean where the waves have broken on shore, so just white foam swirls around your feet in ankle-deep water. It isn’t always easy to see where the finished quilt will end up exactly, but I’ve a pretty good idea the direction each piece needs to head to make part of the whole.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when working with small pieces. It easy to lose track and not see any progress…then I look at Chaos, hanging across the room and just say, sometimes out loud, “I can do this. I CAN do this. Hang in there!”  My dog thinks I’m nuts.

I apologize this is not a clearer picture, but my camera wanted to focus solely on the top of my sewing machine. Sometimes technology is awesome, and sometimes just a tad frustrating!

1/4″ seams make sewing these a challenge

This is the stack I set aside to work on first, as they all have at least one side where 1/4″ seam may only be added to and leave 1/32″ showing. Is it worth it? Yes, as this is what will make the water look more like ocean that’s part of a wave just crashing on the beach. If you stand in ankle deep water and look very closely, there are bits of sand, rock, shells, leafy stuff, seaweed, tiny black fish, and about a million other things washing up on the shore. It’s these tiny pops of color that will make the ocean more interesting to look at – hopefully.

When I add on to this, you will just get a tiny hint of light green/blue in the foamy shore

That’s it. I’m keeping my head down and my spirits up, and will post more when I get a bit more of the “ocean” finished.

Make something good today!





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