The lesson of enough.

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

We spent much of last weekend in the basement, sifting through the detritus of the past six years of our life.

Before this house, we had this odd habit of moving to a new place every three years. (I can't explain it.) Pete and I have lived together since 1995 and like clockwork, every three years we moved.

But we've been here since before Lupine was born. And despite my best efforts at simplicity, there are pockets of chaos we've never quite dug to the bottom of. 

So this weekend we had at it.

We dumped out boxes of junk that we've had stashed in the back of closets. We said goodbye to games, books, toys, clothes, shoes, coats, and treasures. We simplified. In a big way. In a big heaping pickup truck full sort of way.

And then we paused.

We all caught our breath, and the four of us scattered to different quiet corners of our home.

Pete headed out to the garage and got to work on a hand-hewn hunting bow he's making.

Sage went to the work table and completed a model airplane that he began earlier this year.

Lupine sat beside me in the sewing room cutting and stitching gifts for her friends.

And I started a quilt.

A quilt for Sage.

After all of that letting go each of us gravitated to the work of
creating. I think there is safety in the making when you've just let go
of so much.

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Ironically, before I began the quilt (and after all of that purging) I found myself on-line, shopping.

For fabric.

My fabric stash is not huge and I wanted this quilt to be just right. So I decided to buy yards of white cotton and dye them the loveliest shades of green, brown, grey, and eggplant (for Sage). Then I thought I'd eventually make one for Lupine using the grey as well, but with blue, lavender, and sage green.

I had this vision in my head as I filled an on-line cart with supplies for my projects. I was stoked.

And then I saw the total ($356 before shipping and without batting). I choked, shook my head, and woke up (so to speak). I realized that – of course – I had all that I needed. I'm glad I came to before I brought more stuff into our world.

I think we sometimes paint a picture of perfection that is not only unnecessary but also feeds our desire for more, better, newer. Because – in the spirit of the generations before us – if we just look around and take stock of what we have, we probably have what we were going to buy already. It might not be perfect, but it will serve us. Often better than buying new simply for the economy and ethics of using what we've got.

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

And quilting of course was created to use of those odd small bits of fabric. The concept of buying new (perfect! matching!) fabric to quilt with is a modern one. So I decided to quilt like my great-grandmother did. With what I had.

I'm using the method outlined in this book and not being fussy with measuring anything. (I'm a wonky girl.) It's off to a solid start and Sage is beside himself about it.

The desire for more or new or better is what gets us buried under these mountains of things anyway. And here I was, recreating that story once more. 

Lesson learned.

Quilt-as-you-go. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

P.S. At the risk of growing even wordier, there is one special fabric I'm using for the quilt. See that brown and green and golden fabric on the bottom? Yeah. That's Sage's baby sling. (Seen in the last photo here.) I choked up a little when I included the first piece. Oh, my. We had a good run of years together in that sling. <3

28 thoughts on “The lesson of enough.

  1. Aron says:

    This is perfect for today. I am headed over to my husbands grandmothers house to help her quilt our wedding quilt she never made us (she makes one for every grandkid when they get married) I’m so glad she didn’t make one for us and now I get to help her craft it. She showed me the fabrics she already had cut into squares. I didn’t love all of them and wanted to buy a few more colors, but you know what, its perfect the way its going to be without me trying to “fix” it.

  2. Cassandra says:

    You know, I think purging is contagious. Every time I hear someone purged I get all worked up to do it too! So, please tell us every time you do it because it really helps out my basement mess!

    And your quilt is fabulous!! 🙂

  3. meghann says:

    Oh, how lovely are all those colors together! You really did have exactly what you needed already, didn’t you. (I need to learn that lesson, when it comes to fabric. I’m a terrible fabric hoarder but I keep finding myself buying new fabric for new projects…) Perfection is overrated…

    My mother sent my children a lovely picture book called “More”—the author did a book signing at the little bookshop down the street from her house—and it is about exactly this: acquiring more, little by little, until we have more than enough. But, you know, in a pre-reader way that very little children can understand. 🙂 xo

  4. Heidi-Paul Krueger-Cummings says:

    These words hit straight to my heart….”The desire for more or new or better is what gets us buried under these mountains of things anyway”. We are currently in a transition stage in our family and so these words speak volumes to me, I woke up this morning with the sense of peace with accepting what we have is enough, and everything else will be. Thank you for sharing!!!!

  5. Kara says:

    I have been keeping my children’s slings, waiting for a time to make them into something special. They were a huge part off our lives! Thank you for the inspiration!!

  6. tracey says:

    I recently brought up the tubs and bins of baby clothing for a garage sale last week. All was well and good till it rained the last day and I now have a garage full of baby clothes all laid out. I fear that this will remain like that for the winter…

    Love the quilt colors!

  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    It is all explained in the book I linked to, but what you do is sew the blocks together, then attach the backing with a bit of sewing and ties and bind. The perfect balance in my opinion.

  8. Cassandra says:

    It’s funny that I have little desire for new or better. I have a desire for old, sturdy, quality things. The problem is that I can afford neither. So I have cheap, used junk. When I was cleaning out my daughter’s room for her 2nd birthday, I realized most of her baby toys were quite literally trash that she had collected to play with. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that, but I yearned so desperately to give her something worthwhile to play with. She got some and she’s happy with that. My junk clearing has very little to do with having too much STUFF, we don’t have much to begin with, but I’d like to get rid of the junk stuff and replace it with things that are worthwhile.

  9. Michelle says:

    That quilt looks amazing already. Is there anything you cannot do? Great reminder, Rachel, to use what we have. When I think of the things we discard it is crazy. I am sure this generation throws away double what generations of that past had in the first place. Food included. I am no exception so thanks again for the lesson.

  10. Sarah G. says:

    Thank you so much for this inspirational post. I have been feeling the need to simplify – I am an artsy-craftsy collector, and have books, kitchen things, and craft supplies galore shoved into a 700 square foot house that accomodates two humans and three animals. I have been working up the gumption to let go of more and more, and now have to decide what to do with it all after. Suggestions welcome!

  11. Mikaela says:

    Such a timely post; I’ve been thinking lots about the concept of ‘enough’ today. About the fact that no matter what amount of money we had, there would always–always–be new and different things to want. In this world full of beautiful things, the desire for more never ends, unless we consciously decide to end it ourselves. For me this means working on balancing the emotional effort I put into wanting new things vs. enjoying what I already have. It’s fun to dream about new things, but how much does this take away from appreciating the present moment? And of course, it’s not just physical objects, but situations as well–the desire for a new job, a new house, to live in a new city, etc.

    I stumbled across this quote the other day, and have pinned it in the middle of my bulletin board:
    “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” -Lao Tzu

    Thanks for the reminder to shift our attention from what we don’t have to what we already do…

  12. Sarah says:

    Love this post. I am currently struggling with giving away all my kids baby clothes. I have two girls 5 and 2 and a 2 month old boy. My husband insists we are done and that our family is as big as it’s going to get, but i just can’t bear to give all those little girl clothes away! They are taking up way too much room here but I find it so sad to think I’ll never be pregnant again, never need any of these baby things once my little boy outgrows them:(

  13. Karla says:

    I was just telling my husband the other day how it’s not always fun not having a lot of money for things, but it’s neat how it forces you to be creative.

    I’m similar – I’ll get these grand visions, make a list of things I [think I] need, then end up realizing I probably have enough materials at home – just perhaps different from what I originally envisioned. I don’t have much of a yarn or fabric stash, and since they can really add up quickly (esp. when you get the good quality stuff!), I have to be careful!

    And that quilt – how special is that? It’s coming out beautifully, and I LOVE how you incorporated Sage’s sling. I dream of using some of their beloved baby things one day, but we’re not done having kids so I don’t want to cut them up just yet!

    I’m in the middle of making a Princess and the Pea gift set for my daughter and did use her Daddy’s old blankie (which he doesn’t even remember) as stuffing for some of the mattresses because I couldn’t bear to throw it away. 🙂

  14. Bron says:

    Rachel, love your blocks!!! Do you have pictures of the finished quilt? Were you satisfied with the way of attaching the blocks together?

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