Smooth sailing in 2018

Aunt Sallie's Vintage Sailboat Blocks, photo by Charity Banks.

By Kristen Banks

Ah, it’s that time of year again.

Another chapter has closed, and the sun has set on 2017. We rest and reflect for a moment on the time that has just passed. Then eagerly we open our eyes and look toward a fresh new horizon as the New Year dawns.

I always try to carve out a little “me” time, every year, on Jan. 1. Because I am a planner, I like to chart a course for the New Year to come. And nothing gives me more of a charge than sitting down with a good pen and a fresh crisp sheet of blank paper, as I draft a symphony of possibilities.

At the beginning of the year, I am so excited and hopeful about all the things I want to accomplish. I think about the places I’d like to visit, people I’d like to see, preparing healthy meals, and working a little more physical activity into my schedule.

But the thing I look forward to the most is planning my project list for the year. I start out very ambitious, because I hate feeling limited. Anticipation is building as I dangle my pen over my spotless common canvas contemplating where to begin with that first indigo stroke.

I’d love to play around with the kaleidoscope of colors that Kaffe Fassett offers in his fabrics. I might even incorporate some of his new line with a Millefiori style pattern. This would be great, because I really wanted to start a handwork project this year.

A block of the month would be really fun, I’ve never done one, and I like the idea of having a deadline to keep me on track. It would also be fun knowing that I’m doing the same project as others, but putting my own creative twist on it.

I remember I heard the other day that Moda is about to come out with a new line called “Mama’s Cottage” by April Rosenthal. It looks like vintage floral sheets, and I’d love to find a good pattern to use with it. I also think it’s time to do another Lonestar, that is after all my favorite quilt pattern, but this time I’d like to kick it up a notch, be less traditional, and use some of those new digital prints that are so popular today.

Speaking of popular, Bargello seems to be the quilt to do this year, and although it sounds a little intimidating, I think I’m ready to give it a whirl. I think a Bargello made with Batiks would be just amazing, and I’ve got just the right pack of multi colored Hoffman poppies to get me started. I might just round it out with a t-shirt quilt for myself, because I’ve made everyone else one, and I might as well make myself one too, right?

I’ll also want to make at least one quilt from each of my BLOCK magazines I’ll be getting this year. I just love seeing what new ideas Jenny has come up with every other month, and Missouri Star Quilt Company patterns always turn out amazing results.

As if that wasn’t enough, I found these wonderful old sail boat blocks while cleaning out a storage box. They were hand pieced by my dear Aunt Sallie, too many years ago for anyone to remember their story. They are yellowed, stained, and in terrible shape. I was going to give up on setting them together to make a quilt, but I got this wonderful new vintage style nautical themed fabric, and I have this crazy idea for a creative sashing that just might pull it all together.

And now I sit back, and sigh.

I’ve just exerted an incredible amount of creative energy in a short amount of time, and I am exhausted. I look at this daunting list, that just a few minutes ago held so much promise for me. I start to think that I won’t be able to accomplish even one of these tasks, much less all of them. I’m feeling a little discouraged now.

How am I supposed to use digital prints anyway? And what does the word Bargello even mean? I think about how hard it would be to get those old sailboat blocks square, and maybe that sashing idea is a little stupid, now that I think about it.

I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed, and a little sea sick, if I’m honest.

This reminds me of a story I just read about a young sailor, on his first trip at sea. He said the first time he was on a ship he began to get really sick. A more experienced sailor told him, “Don’t look at the waves around you. Look at the horizon far away. Look at that stable, stationary line and you will feel better.” He did this and immediately began to improve.

When you focus on all of the obstacles in your way it can leave you feeling rather queasy, but when you look beyond those boulders in your stream and focus on the goal you will find the strength to persevere. You will have renewed enthusiasm, and you’ll remember why you started out on the journey to begin with.

It’s normal to get discouraged, and sometimes we run into rough waters when starting out on a voyage, but if you’ll take the time to right your course early, and keep your eyes on the prize of your end destination, you’ll be sure to enjoy smooth sailing.


  1. Carol hart says:

    Wonderful as always you make me so proud I am very thankful to be your grandma love you !!