When All Else Fails

What do you do when you don’t feel like doing anything? When you have no mojo, no forward momentum?

Do you accept that state and just hang out? That sounds nice . . .

It may be clear that I feel a pressing need to be productive. It seems to be critical to my sense of self and satisfaction.

So, I am rather undone on a day when I feel like doing nothing, when it all seems off kilter.

My antidote these days is to sit down and do some quilting by hand.


I had such a day recently. I managed to exercise for a bit and make some candy for a customer. And eat breakfast. But then I just stalled. I tried weaving and that wasn’t the answer. I ended up unweaving almost all I wove because my heart wasn’t in it and I kept making mistakes.

I did some prep work for embroidery squares for two different quilts. Blah.

The weather was windy, cold, icy . . . no hope of a walk outside.

I even tried to nap and that didn’t help.

In my heart, I knew just what I needed. I sat down in my little corner with the soft cushion on the sturdy chair, with the bright light over my shoulder, and my red and white quilt on my quilting hoop.

I put my thimble on and got stitching. When I quilt by hand, I use the method of rocking the needle through the layers of fabric and batting, loading 4 or 5 stitches on the needle at a time.

This method is rhythmic and results in small, even stitches—a joy for a quilter to behold.


I rock the needle and straight lines emerge. The flat, pieced blocks gain a texture, any wrinkles are plumped out as the fabric is sewn down around the interior batting.

Quilting in an open area of plain fabric poses no difficulties. The needle slides through easily and quickly and the magic happens.

I imagine my father felt the same satisfaction as he plowed a field, watching the straight, dark furrows replace untilled pasture.

Quilting by machine is all the rage these days and it can be fantastically impressive. I just know I could never get this calm sense of accomplishment from quilting on a sewing machine—sewing machines make me tense and frustrated.

I am sure hand quilting might make lots of people tense and frustrated, too. But it soothes me. And I’m not even certain why that is, except it’s difficult to make a mistake, it’s fairly easy and pretty mindless, and you can really see the benefit of the time invested.

I guess the point is that I hope we each have a place to turn when we want to make progress, feel productive, snap ourselves out of a funk. I know one of my “pick me ups” is hand quilting.

What’s yours? What soothes you, when your day seems off-kilter?

Just a footnote: Thank you for the time and energy so many of you invested in reading and adding wonderful comments and interactions on the Advent, My Way series. You made my holiday season memorable! Happy New Year!


145 thoughts on “When All Else Fails

  1. I usually read. Just sit down and read a book. That calms me down, helps me out. It’s good to escape into another universe, worrying about things other than yourself.
    Ajinkya aka airborneorange.wordpress.com
    (Please check it out and tell me what you think! I need all the feedback I can get; I only just started!)

  2. Pingback: When All Else Fails by Ben Huberman – Welcome to my online library! Your one-stop source for information and entertainment!

  3. lovely piece about quilting 🙂 it sounds very relaxing. reading works for me although i also used to love diy and sewing. maybe i should pick that up again.

  4. I am not completely sure what is the difference between quilting and stitching but i have found that stitching is extremely fun and soothing. However, stitching is more of a necessity (stitching a button per say) and not a habit.

    I usually just read stories or articles from people like you. 🙂

  5. Pingback: When All Else Fails — Love Those “Hands at Home” – My Philosophy

  6. I find that working out a small crochet piece (either a scrumble for free form crochet or following a charted pattern for a doily or small granny squares) can help me refocus. The repetitive motion and short counts between stitch changes do the best. Long runs of counting such as working on an afghan with wavey stripes or a sweater just stress me out… too easy to make a mistake.

  7. Did the Same thing last Sunday when I was in my worst of state and found myself highly unproductive. Engaging in such activities gives us a sense of accomplishment and peace

  8. I have been there! but on days like that I don’t even want to look at my quilts. I like to go out lay in my driveway and feel the warm sun if I can….I find too that when working on a quilt for money I don’t get as much joy as if I am making it for someone and planning it out my way. Its hard to get into the creativity.

    • I’ve never made a quilt for money but I can see how that would change the whole equation! And you’re right–some days sitting in a warm spot and vegetating is the best!

  9. Pingback: When All Else Fails — Love Those “Hands at Home” – wandasncredible

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