making with intention.

Kim Soper/Leland Ave StudiosLast night I dreamt that the big, beautiful tree in my back yard came crashing down into the center of my house. In my house, the kitchen is on one end, and the bedrooms where the boys sleep are on the other. So in this dream, when the tree came through the center of the house, I was with my husband in the kitchen and there was no way to get to our boys to see if they were hurt.  The last thing I remember is asking my husband if I should call 9-1-1 because I was so scared and confused. . .

And then I woke up. My heart was pounding so hard in my chest that it actually hurt.

My dream was so real that all day I’ve been giving side-eye to the tree. (To be honest, I do this to my husband for dream-misbehavior, too. So it’s only fair to throw some shade at the tree. Ha! Shade! I love puns!!!)

In an effort to forgive the tree and not call my landscaper to chop it down before the sun sets, I decided to look up possible interpretations of the dream, other than “the tree is trying to kill us”. According to the dream dictionary, a falling tree means:

[A] sense of threat to your identity; this can often suggest a big change in the way you express yourself. It is a breaking down of the influences you lived from in the past. . .

Humph. A big change in the way you express yourself. Well, that is something. Because lately I have been spending more and more time thinking about just that very question. After the success of Lincoln, I’ve wondered, is it okay if I don’t want to make another improv quilt for a while? Is that what people “expect” of me? What does it mean if I don’t ever want to make another quilt like that? Does that mean I don’t have a true artistic voice or point of view?

For a long time, I felt like the only way that I could make something authentic (insert eye roll) was to make it with improv piecing. I assumed, wrongly, that making a repeating block was less artistic and more functional. Even though I LOVE simple, symmetrical patchwork, I was afraid that if I made simple patchwork, I would be making something that people didn’t want or expect from me.

But I’ve had a lot of time to think since QuiltCon. And during this time of silence I have determined that, at the end of the day, what matters most to me is making with intention.  Did I create with awareness? Did I make with gratitude in my heart? How does what I am making connect me to a greater community or purpose? It doesn’t matter if it’s improv or from a pattern. It doesn’t matter if it’s “traditional” or “modern”. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a quilt! As long as I am working with intention, I am using my time well.

I have been meditating more lately. I’m thinking about going back to yoga after taking a few years off. And I’m focused on using my time creating as a form of meditation — some sort of offering to the universe. Cutting fabric for blocks is a ritual. It is a ritual that connects us to the women who’ve made the same quilts before us. And there is value in that ritual and in continuing that history.

This is (hopefully) why that tree came down. Because I am ready. I am cracking my heart open, and I am sharing this with you. And I am letting go of fears that have ruled my making for so long.

Fear of what others expect.

Fear of not having a consistent P.O.V.

Fear of letting myself and you down.

From now on, I am just going to make. Whatever the hell I want. As long as I do it with intention.

Kim Soper/Leland Ave Studios


  1. That dream would have me giving the tree the side eye all day, too. You have clearly put a lot of thought into this, and I hope that this decision is freeing and exhilarating. I don’t expect anything of you, and I am eager to see what comes next for you.

  2. A tree crashing down on your house, separating you from your children–that would be an emergency to call 911 about. On the other hand, veering away from the expectations of others, disregarding them entirely…making with deliberate intention or spontaneously creating just because you feel like it…creating something you love or making something that’s a fiasco just to determine that you have no desire to go in that direction again and to build creative stamina—all these are worthwhile, and nothing worth a moment of anxiety. Certainly nothing to justify calling in emergency personnel. It’s not easy, but it’s good to be gentle with yourself. Often the perception of how others are going to react, accurate or not, is much more debilitating than what the actual response would be. Why, they might even put a big ol’ ribbon on it; and if not, you can always snuggle up under the soothing drape of the handmade wonder.

  3. Deb

    Once you create in a public way, it becomes an ongoing battle to create in a genuine and not robotic way. The public will always have expectations about what kind of art you “should” be doing. And they will have opinions (and they can even get a little mean at times when you don’t take their opinions to heart). Bottom line , for what it’s worth…create what you want, play often, create simply for creativity’s sake, create what you love and with love and gratitude. Create with no expectation or obligation other the pure enjoyment of being able to make. Your work will be better for it and you will enjoy it more, even the projects that don’t work out because, they have value as well. It’s your journey , not ours, but thank you for sharing it with us!!

  4. I’d love anything you make! Lincoln was a quilt that can’t be out done (IMO)! Do what you love, what you feel and yep…to hell with it! Life is too short to let others dictate how you should live it.

  5. The pressure we impose on ourselves. Your success with Lincoln is to be enjoyed. What you make next (or ever) is a personal decision not be based upon the expectations (real or imagined) of others. You have a lovely talent. I hope you enjoy your current project – I think that is what matters. We should enjoy our time creating something and it should be the thing we want to be making.

  6. I think you’re definitely putting too much pressure on yourself, but that’s what we all do, right? I understand how you want to be authentic – but you know, you already are! You are the only you in existence (that we know of 😉 so everything you do, how you do it, what influenced it, how you combine your influences, that is all particular to you and is authentic. It might not be a huge thing that identifies a work as yours, but there will be something there that has occurred purely because you were the maker. And that’s what we’re all coming to see! Just you. And your big ole creative brain. I look forward to seeing more of what your brain thinks up, whatever that may be. And if it’s nothing, because you need a break, well that’s fine too!

    P.S. you should totally yarn bomb that tree.

  7. Sarah Fredette

    Just make. Make good stuff, make bad stuff, make to soothe the soul, make to quiet the voices. There will always be critics. There will always be naysayers. But there’s just one Kim. So make to make Kim happy.

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