Process vs. Product…Again

A bunch of things came together this past week or so to make me think about process vs. product.

For at least a month, I really wanted to finish the Frolic! top and back and get it ready for quilting. I felt like it was taking me too long to piece. However, when I looked at the blocks, they did have a lot of pieces (63? 68? I counted, but can’t remember). Bonnie Hunter, the designer of the quilt, gives the steps, but she doesn’t estimate the time each step takes. I am an experienced piecer, so I expect things to take a shorter period of time. I forget to take the looking, ripping, re-pressing and other parts of the process into account.

Of course, Frolic! might be a particular case. I spent a good portion of last year piecing Flying Around. When I started Frolic! I wanted and needed a quick and fun project. Frolic!’s outcome is fantastic, but it wasn’t quick and there were some frustrating bits. It was a process. I forget that. I really should have done the Windmills before starting Frolic!, but I didn’t know how involved it would be. I have only done one other Bonnie Hunter Mystery quilt, so the complexity of Bonnie’s designs wasn’t in my mind.

I looked through my process posts to find the one I was thinking of and came across one to read over and contemplate again. Sometime ago I pondered on process, but thought more about creating a habit and continuing to improve rather than exactly process vs. product. There is the implication of process vs. product in that post. The other day, I read a NYT times article** about activities in which people were engaging during Shelter-in-place and found the following quote:

“In the 19th century, intellectuals like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and others started to expand on the positive psychological benefits associated with a concept now known as mastery: practicing an activity at which you have no previous level of expertise, and experiencing gradual improvement over time.”

I know I want to improve over time, so perhaps I need to ponder what Frolic! gave me in terms of skills beyond the finished product. One thing that comes to mind is the way Bonnie Hunter mimicked 8 pointed stars with HSTs. How do I feel about that?

I like the NYT article. It gives examples of non-digital projects people are pursuing, but it talks a lot about the time it takes to improve. I have always been annoyed at ‘quick quilting projects’. Quiltmaking is not a fast process. There are a lot of steps and they take time. I understand the desire for instant gratification, especially since that seems to be what I am talking about in wanting Frolic! done faster. I rely on my knowledge and experience in quiltmaking to finish projects quickly rather than continuously choosing easy patterns. Another conundrum to contemplate.

N.B. There is nothing wrong with easy patterns!

I also came across a Creative Spark post about process, which reminds me of my hopes and dreams within process. This post is part of the Little Spark project we did a few years ago. You can go through the posts again. I am sure you’ll get value.

The post I was actually looking for talked more about product vs. process. Product is very seductive. I like finishing. I try very hard to be more mindful of the process, to enjoy the process and be engaged with the process, to have my quiltmaking be about the process. It can be difficult, because I like to finish things. I also want to use 100 yards of fabric, I want to clear out my fabric closet so I can fit more of my tools and supplies in there and not have them all over the workroom. I want to be more organized. How does the finishing of a quilt contribute to my goals? Does it contribute?

It is possible that how I am feeling has nothing to do with product vs. process. Perhaps Frolic! wasn’t the right project for the time? Perhaps I needed a much easier project to alternate with Flying Around. I needed some mind sorbet. Perhaps my brain needed a rest? It is possible that I will always struggle with that concept when I get tired of piecing something. I do notice that my efforts to teach myself to keep working through problems with projects stuck. I didn’t put Frolic! away. I kept working on it. Did I work on other things? Yes. I worked on the Running with Scissors Tote and I did some work on the UCAB as well as donation blocks and quilt tops, but my primary project was Frolic!.

So, am I stuck on products? Have I not evolved to enjoy the process? Perhaps this is a stepping stone in the path of mastery and I have to work through it. I really think that the biggest issue was that I should have picked an easier project before I started Frolic!





** If you don’t have a personal or work subscription to the NYT, check your local library. They may be able to provide you with access.

Author: JayeL

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.