That's the title of a book being discussed on our local NPR station this week. It's a theory I've always subscribed to for children: as a mom, I made sure my kids weren't overbooked with activities so that they could play without rules; as a teacher, I believed that goofing off and recess made learning possible; and as a child life specialist working with hospitalized kids, I championed the importance of play for kids living with IVs, wheelchairs, and hospital food.
If I believe in play so strongly for kids, why is it so hard for me to let loose and play? I think of this particularly in relation to sewing. I'm darned good at accomplishing tasks: thanks to my drive to completion, I don't tend to have a lot of UFOs. When I started sewing I couldn't understand how someone could accumulate a stash, because I fully intended only to buy fabric for one project at at time and to complete that project before buying fabric for the next. (I seem to have gotten over THAT silly concept.)
So perhaps there's hope that I can learn to just relax and see what happens. There's a place for patterns and buying just the right amount of fabric for that pattern. And then there's a place for messing about, for finding out where mistakes will lead you. (The Liberated House blocks were a good start.) There's also a place for finding out that particular technique doesn't appeal or a detail distracts from, rather than adds to, a design. I remind myself that sometimes it's perfectly fine to make a block that doesn't turn into an entire quilt and to occasionally let things languish.
And most of the time I'm not striving to create high art anyway, just a baby quilt that will soon be covered with drool and puke (as Anne R. likes to say). So I "made up" this very simple pattern with the Mary Englebreit Basket of Flowers Jelly Roll and Layer Cake at I got at Market in Houston. Not exactly complex, but I'm still proud I went pattern-less.