On Clearing the Decks

This phrase means to prepare for action by removing everything that is not required, according to Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. I was delighted to find that it is exactly the right phrase to describe what I have been doing this week.

I have been trying to finish off unfinished projects so that I can start the year with a clean slate, or a clear worktable. A bonus is that I now have two smallish pieces that I can hand quilt this weekend and during the long lazy summer days of the Christmas break.

Here’s the first one, showing the front and reverse sides of a piece that has been in a storage box marked unfinished for more than a decade.

It is called Tiled Floor and is not very large (about a metre square). The on-point blocks in the centre are one inch square and that was about as far as I got with the quilt all those years ago. I had used pieced strips to create the mosaic effect and there were quite a few leftovers of these. To make more on-point strips seemed like a bridge too far, so I used the leftover strips to add borders of regular squares. I pinned up a third border of these but it didn’t look right so I joined the remaining strips and pieced them into the backing fabric. Thank you Mary of Zippy Quilts for reminding me of this fabric saving, scrap busting trick.

The spur to finish it was a challenge from a group I belong to called TAPE (Textile Artists of Port Elizabeth). We were asked to bring a UFO (unfinished object) to a meeting a while back. Now the time has come to show the completed piece at the last meeting of the year. I will be spending this weekend hand quilting to finish it off completely.

One thing leads to another (as they say). Here’s the second one, also with the leftovers pieced into the backing of the quilt.

This one is called Hyperbolic (aka Enkelblom [single flower]) and is also about a metre square. It was started at a ferociously difficult workshop on curved piecing with Doortjie Gersbach. That said, the workshop was also great fun. Doortjie’s class sample contained thirteen flowers and we were meant to follow her example. But after I had pieced one flower of double curves I took the easy way out and gave it centre stage in the quilt. Besides, when I came to finishing off the quilt last week I could not find the templates we had made at the workshop. (I suspect I may have lost them on purpose.) That meant I could not make more hyperbola shapes (Doorjtie called them swallows). The eight swallow blocks that I made during the workshop surround the central flower. It’s quite hard to see them amongst the brightness of the Kaffe Fassett fabrics that I used. I wrote about this class previously and the post contains a photograph of Doortjie’s fantastic quilt. It also explains why I have called the quilt Hyperbolic.

This week the sun shone and we had municipal water on most days, so I finally got around to washing a set of hand printed fabrics that I bought from the student shop at the Carinus Art Centre during the National Arts Festival in July. They looked so bright and beautiful while they were hanging out to dry.

The third project was to finish tidying my fabric cupboard. I started this job a good many months ago and somehow didn’t get to sorting and tidying the last two shelves — until this week that is. The photograph below should probably come with an advisory warning, or at least an apology for showing one’s untidy fabric stash in public.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating today

22 thoughts on “On Clearing the Decks

  1. A delightful post Maz! Really worthwhile finishing those 2 quilts β€” they are beautiful 😍

    I went back to the post on The Hyperbola β€” was nice to read again

    Irrelevant, but lovely to see, are all the jacaranda blossoms on the washing-line-lawn!


  2. Wow! Finishing all/most/any of the UFOs before the new year sounds daunting! Glad to hear you are accomplishing that…makes me think I should knock a few more out, as well! And thanks for the link πŸ™‚


      1. I think there is nothing better than the feeling of removing excess distractions and for me that often takes the form of cleaning up my work area and removing odds and ends, and of course, at times, admitting a project is just not going to get to its end, maybe because we weren’t right for each other to start with! Although there is pretty much nothing I won’t cut up and save for a while just to see if the pieces will fit anywhere else…


  3. Clearing and cleaning open up more creative breathing space for those new projects/pieces that are waiting to be born! I’m in a great place with that concept in my music and with some of my quilty stuff right now. Even if it’s the beginning of the holiday season. Sometimes that ‘time crunch’ is inspirational for furthering our (he)art….seems like a conundrum, doesn’t it?
    BTW: Your choice of phrase gives a great visual including a visceral feeling of ‘fresh air’ to the process.


    1. I am so glad 🀸 to read that you are in a great creative space. Really glad. Keep breathing.
      Like clearing and cleaning, conundrums are also good because they make me ponder, which can lead to planning new things (is this another conundrum?!).
      I am also glad that the phrase brought fresh air

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Finding an unfinished project can be so much fun. A time to start over with fresh eyes. I have been clearing the deck and totally rearranging my rooms. It is time for me to start thinking of fabric goals for next year.


  5. before looks like a quilters WIP and after looks like “I’ve a few gaps to get more fabric” but also I can see what I need to do for 2023… and I can see you’ve already thinking about which fabric to use, with it washed and I guess now pressed and ready for that design you’ve been meaning to do for ages…


  6. Another round of wonderful creations. I especially love the Titled Floor. And how refreshing and creative are the terms (TAPE & UFO of your projects! πŸ™‚ Kudos to you for finishing tidying your fabric cupboard. Wishing you all the best with finishing off unfinished projects so that you can start on a clean slate, next year.


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