Building blocks

Clearly, I owe y’all an apology: I did not keep my promise to post by end-of-week last week. End of LAST week, mind you.

On Flailing

I’m trying to use this seeming failure as one of those noble “teaching moments”, rather than simply reacting in my usual fashion of pulling out the baseball bat and finding not-nice things to say about myself.

This time, a few bruises and curse words later, I looked back and began to see part of a life-long pattern of what I call “flail-ures”—times when my intentions are good, I get off to a good start, something trips me up, and then I go into The Flails.

The Flails are a series of mind-games I play with myself. Writer’s Block (hipster acronym WB) reared its bumpy noggin this time, and so, cue The Flails: I use my usual tricks to break through WB, write a few paragraphs, realize they aren’t suitable for one reason or another, spend another day or so scolding myself, panicking when I realize the clock is ticking, freeze up into WB again, and ’round she goes—with creative and exciting variations! (Not.)

Kermit doing the iconic FLAIL

At some point, I realize I am going to miss my deadline, and more Flails show up: now I’ve let people down, time to bring on the shame! I avoid the keyboard for a bit so it won’t remind me of my shame, then take a big breath and put on my Big Girl Panties, write, produce something that is disconnected from my previous attempts, and then more yet Flails ensue.

Add a pinch o’ pride…

This time, the Flails were enhanced by the fact that the long gaps between postings cost me readers. It’s only numbers, I realize; I also realize that the readers who truly matter are either still here (yay! Thanks for being patient with me) or will come back as soon as they see I’m alive and posting again.

Dusty: There is a limit to this whole "creative chaos" thing, you know that, right?

Dusty: There is a limit to this whole “creative chaos” thing, you know that, right?

This taught me something (or rather, reinforced what I already knew): Blogging is, at the very least, a conversation; at its best, it is a relationship. If one party stops keeping up their end of the deal, then the other party will naturally get tired of the silence and wander off to talk with someone else.

The final nail in the coffin was, I am sorry to say, pride: A few years ago, I was one of the most-read fibre bloggers in our small pond; I had fangirls, people wanting to have their photo taken with me, even a stalker (“fangirl gone bad”, shall we say).  Now I’m not That Girl anymore. I know this sounds petty, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to go from being a bit of a mini-celebrity to being just a face in the crowd. I see knitters whom I have mentored, encouraging them to make that first pattern submission, cheerleading as they went on to have confidence in their own visions—I’ve watched several of them grow into highly sought-after authors, designers, and teachers.

My sense of self is disrupted by all this change, not to mention  how quickly it happened. It’s hard to blog when the person at the keyboard is someone you no longer recognize.

I realized I needed to rebuild not only my own sense of self, but my sense of who I am in the fibre community.

And although I have a spinner’s heart and a knitter’s eye, it is a completely different craft which is helping me to begin to fit the pieces back together.

Building blocks

About 15-20 years ago (why yes, I was in fact eighteen, thank you for asking), I stumbled upon the travelling exhibit showcasing Amish Quilts at the San Francisco De Young Museum.

Detail of the "Flying Triangles" quilt; hand-pieced and hand-quilted by Sandi Wiseheart

Detail of the “Flying Triangles” quilt; hand-pieced and hand-quilted by Sandi Wiseheart

I went two days in a row. The second day, I sat down on one of the benches in front of two of the more stupendous quilts, and went into my happy place.

The security guard had to ask me to leave. I looked at my watch; it was at least 30 min since closing time. He shrugged and said he’d seen me the day before as well, and as this was the last day, he couldn’t bear to make me leave when I was so clearly entranced.

At the museum gift shop, I bought a package of scraps which had come from an Amish quilting group in the area where the display quilts had been made. Inside was a postcard bearing a photo and its caption. When I got home, I found the reverse side of the card bore a simple quilt pattern; the scraps were enough to make a small wall quilt with the pattern.

The finished scrap quilt, which I began in August 1989 and completed in November 1993

The finished scrap quilt, which I began in August 1989 and completed in November 1993

I’ve been a quilter since that day, taking classes, fussing with seams, etc. I took a break for about ten years while I worked for Interweave, to concentrate on knitting and spinning for The Job.

Well, guess what?

I’m Baaaaaaaaa-aaack…  🙂

Trying to decide what goes where

Trying to decide what goes where

It’s just a wee quilt (those are one-inch squares), but I already love it. It’s slowly helping me to realize that I can still create beauty (which, dare I dream, might help others to go to THEIR happy places), and that I can still write, and, again hopefully, connect to others through my stories.


~ In the summer, many fortunate Canadians and Americans go off to stay in cozy cottages (Canadian term) or cabins (U.S. term), the majority of which, at least in Canada, are near one of the country’s estimated 3 million lakes (60% of all the world’s lakes are in Canada; it must be true, because Wikipedia says so). However, there are lakes….and then there are LAKES. (Methinks there’s still time to change your vacation plans, should one of these exotic locations make the family cottage seem mundane by comparison.)

~ No modern art devoteé ought to let the summer pass without attending this installation, which one might call “The Game of Thrones.”

~ You may groan. I deserved that.

Caption suggestions for this one, folks? It's so cute my brain melted.

Caption suggestions for this one, folks? It’s so cute my brain melted.

~ In light of recent post topics: If Physical Diseases Were Treated the Same as Mental Illnesses

~ I sincerely doubt that I am the only one these words will speak to today.

~ Find a friend and hold them close to your heart.

duck loves owlet

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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25 Responses to Building blocks

  1. Donna says:

    As far as I’m concerned, you are still That Girl.


  2. Donna M. says:

    Sandi I have not known you for all that long but you are an inspiration to me. No matter what you seem to always bounce back, not exactly where you left off but someplace even cooler! I am so jealous of your quilting. I tried it but did not have much success. The last piece you had pictured so reminds me of Amish quilts, the colors and all.

    Oh and Sorry Sandi you are stuck with me 😉 You blog, I read, and I smile and am happy!


    • Suze says:

      Oh Sandy, I love your posts whenever you make them and whatever they’re about. They always reflect your humor, your creativity and your delight in what you do. Even if you’re sad when you write them. I love your workroom. It looks like mine 🙂


  3. teabird says:

    you’re stuck with me, too. sorry, I can’t possibly caption that photo because the best I can come up with is cute cute cute cute awwwww cute, and that’s not a caption…


  4. Glad you’re back, enjoyed your post.


  5. Patricia says:

    Sandi, your courage to face your fears and to reveal your flaws to us is an inspiration to me. I keep checking your blog until you come back, knowing you are going through the ups and downs of life, the same as the rest of us. Know that you are loved and your thoughts and lovely projects are important.


  6. Mary says:

    I started to read you when you were with Interweave and wish I had known of your blog before that; but I love your blog now and will read whatever and whenever you post. It’s always honest, very interesting, and inspirational


  7. elaine says:

    Hi here! So glad to see your name pop up in my in box :-). Glad you are back. Love the colors in your quilt. Quilting is one fiber thing I never have done, and yet my home is full of quilts or stuffed things made from quilts. I admire all of your talents. I find that I tend to go from one fiber thing to another. I think that’s how we evolve. I say, keep evolving! And take care, that girl!


  8. Hi Sandi,
    Thank you! Self disclosure is always scary. Invisible illness is perhaps the cruelest of all illnesses. It’s real! It hurts! It influences every aspect of our lives! AND NO ONE CAN SEE IT! They can’t understand unless they have been there. It’s hard to feel like you are letting yourself or others down. But you are not. Those who love you/care about will realize that you struggleing and always be there. They may not always understand – unless they have walked in your shoes – but they won’t go away. A stalker doesn’t help. It destroys your sense of safety and creates anxiety. ( Been there) Even when the situation is resolved it leaves a scar. There is an advertisement on TV here that says “Life is Hard” and sometimes it is..
    So be gentle with yourself! Blog when the urge moves you! Knit, spin or create as the muse visits you. Explore new creative outlets. We will be happy to see the notification that says Sandi posted a blog! They are always creative and real!
    Love the quilts. They are beautiful! One inch squares take patience. Batiks? My favorite fabrics to work with. The first quilt that you did with the Amish scraps is really cool. I may have to try one.
    Take care!
    Pat aka westies


  9. Sue says:

    Hi SandI:

    I am a fairly long term I guess fan girl (at 64!). You are what drew me in to Knitting Daily or whatever it was or is called. It has not been the same since you left. I dug around to find you after you did go and will continue to search you out. No matter how many or few posts there have been over the last few months, you are in my Feedly and I have enjoyed every single one of them. GO SANDI!


    P. S. I went to the same quilt exhibit all those year ago and love hearing that I might actually have bumped in to you there.


  10. Love hearing from you whenever you post! Thanks for keeping on showing up whenever you can.


  11. dclulu says:

    I love reading your posts. And your quilt is beautiful!


  12. Sharon says:

    Sandi, I love your posts and don’t expect you to do them on a schedule. You have to deal with the issues you have in your life, and I think we all understand that and wait for you to post again, no matter how long it takes. I’m not going away just because you don’t post everyday or even every week. You are a special person, who can write and connect with other people. I love it when your addy shows up in my inbox!


  13. Holly says:

    Whenever you post, I am eager to read. Have a great weekend. XX


  14. Barbara says:

    When I see your name in my inbox, it just makes me smile – it’s like getting a letter from a dear friend that no matter how long it’s been since the last communication, we’re still BFFs. Your willingness to share your troubles with us proves that. I so admire your courage to let us see your studio! It looks like mine too and I constantly apologize for it. I should stop – afterall it is MY space to keep as I want. And remember to remember – you ARE still THAT Girl.


  15. Arla says:

    Good Day Sandi!!! I have read the posts written by the others, and they reflect my sentiments. Now that you’re not on a deadline crunch, you have the opportunity to ‘sit back and relax’ so to speak. Whether you are crafting, writing, or searching for chispas, please know that you DO have a group of crafters who DO love you, appreciate you, and (I feel) are privileged to be allowed into your life through your blog and other postings. Thank you.

    Comment on picture… “You eat ants? Don’t they bite your tongue??? They bit mine…see???



  16. EagleKnits says:

    Hi Sandi! I love your term “The Flails” — it’s a perfect description for the way I prevent myself from finishing projects. I get so frustrated with myself for doing it, but can’t seem to stop! As I read what you wrote about changes and your sense of self being disrupted, I realized that my problem has gotten worse since I retired. Hmmm…I’m going to have to think on this some more. Thank you for your insight and for sharing it. Also, your wee quilt is lovely!


  17. Julia in KW says:

    Life! Never perfect and always in progress! Glad to read you again…people above have said very much what is in my thoughts…:) Your room looks something like mine!


  18. molly says:

    some things in life (blessed be!) are simple – you write, i read! when you post, you always give me something to think about, something to laugh about or simply something to enjoy. and, btw, i am also cross-addicted to quilting and knitting – your room looks much like mine…what fun!


  19. Barbara says:

    Hi Sandi,
    I am very glad you are back and I will always keep reading what you have to say, when ever you have energy to say it, because you speak to me (and many others I think)!! Thank you for still being THE GIRL! You are an inspiration in many ways, and I love Amish Quilts too, they brought me into quilting as well, and then I wandered off back into knitting and spinning (I taught myself at 15 on my own homely home made drop spindle). So glad to see you “Can go back home again, to quilting”, maybe I will find myself quilting again, thanks for your words. They are always great to see!


  20. May says:

    Hi Sandi, Welcome back! I found you on Knitting Daily when I started to knit again. Your tips and sensible approach to knitting were a great help to me. Life happens to all of us and sometimes it really sucks. I’m glad that you’ve re-started the conversation and I’ll do my small bit to contribute.


  21. Meg Olhasque says:

    Thanks as always for brightening our day, Sandi. And no worries, you are and always will be That Girl. Lots of love and hugs, Meg


  22. leslieileen says:

    None of us are perfect. I sometimes only go to my feedly to check on one or two people who I know personally and let the rest of the blogosphere build up until I feel like it. Knitting Daily hasn’t been the same since you left; it’s become commercial and I set it for weekly digest a long time ago. I looked for you specially about a year ago so that might say something.

    One of the things I like about you is that you admit your humanity. You’ve never been “too big for your britches.” So, you have my permission to blog when it’s right, and to be creative in whatever endeavor you wish. The quilts are beautiful – I have a few friends to quilt and I so admire them. I suppose I could too but the idea of more stash just makes me shudder. I do have one thing to say though. Pardon me for sounding like your mother but the cat is right — creative chaos is one thing, but not having the room to turn around is another. Neaten up!!! I doubt you could get out of that room if it got on fire.


  23. Tamara says:

    HI Sandi,

    Amen and Ditto to all the posts above. I miss you, and will always be happy to read what you have to say, because you say it so well, and it speaks to me (us).

    As always,


  24. Deb says:

    See it’s September and I’m as bad a you. I just checked your blog and found a new entry from July that I hadn’t read. Your stuck with me too.


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