When I started free-motion quilting I really didn't get meandering. I know some of you get it right off the bat but I did not and I say that to encourage those of you who struggle with it also. There is nothing wrong with you!
And also, there is hope for you and meandering. Here is my side door into meandering: watery meandering. Like meandering, it's curvy and it doesn't cross its own line but unlike meandering, this has a direction to it, which makes it a little different; different enough that you're not always asking yourself "Where do I go? Where do I go?" The pattern nudges you in the right direction while still letting you practice filling up your space randomly. Once you're in a flow with this one, adjusting to directionless meandering feels easier. At least, that's how it worked for me and how I see it working with some of my students.
So with a watery meander you start with a sort of wavy line, then make a turn and come back up.
Then do that over and over, varying how long your lines are and which way you turn, filling in the space bit by bit, up and down, back and forth. You don't have to worry when there is an open space, you can fill it in when you go back by that area the next time.
Here is a video of me stitching it on my home machine. You should watch if you're not sure how to go about filling in the space.
What is great about the watery meander is that it is so adaptable. Put an occasional spiral in it and it looks like more turbulent water. Use points instead of curves where you change direction and it looks like fire. Make your wavy lines kind of bumpy and close and it looks like woodgrain. So taking the time to understand this pattern really unlocks several patterns for you. I call these patterns "Stretchy Meandering" and there is a whole section of them in the designs chapter of First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting if you want some ideas.
I'm sorry my FMQ weekly got lost for too long. I went back to shoot another class for Craftsy (!!) and then it was the end of March. I always think I'll do better with keeping everything else going when a big project comes along, but it never actually goes that way! In penance I made that cool graphic at the top of this tutorial. And I'll be back next week... probably!