Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Life as a Lesson in Mastery

When I go to write my name, I write my name – Nysha, N Y S H A. I no longer think about how each letter is constructed. I don't think about the up stroke, down stroke, and upstroke to make the N. I make the curve stroke and up then the stem stroke down of the Y without considering I'm making specific strokes. I have written my name so many times that I don't think about writing my name. I just write my name.

As an adult, writing is like that for everyone. Once we master something we can perform the task mindlessly. And our thoughts focus on other things. Most of the time I'm usually focused on how the heck do you spell this particular word. I have made the 26 letters of the alphabet so many times that I don't think about it anymore. I just make them.

Have you ever watched a child who is just newly learning to walk and there is a hesitance about their steps? Their arms reach out to balance themselves. Their feet are planted firmly before they take the next step. And yet they always start running with glee on their faces. As an adult I don't think about my balance, my feet, or the mechanics of walking. I just walk. Because I have done it so much.

So what I want you to consider about free-motion machine quilting is that when you start it feels awkward. It's new! If you focus on practice, focus on making marks, gain the muscle memory with each mark, and at some point you won't have to think about making the marks… you can think about quilting.

This is how you're going to learn to quilt. We're going to learn one mark at a time. We're going to practice making it over and over again. Once we get a handle on that one, we're going to move on to an adjacent mark and keep working until we have learned all of the basic marks. Then we will start putting the marks together and making forms from which we can quilt anything.

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