Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Learning via Swaps

I've been working on a number of quilt block swaps, and getting some mighty good lessons. I feel like I am surrounded by endless sources of inspiration. Mail brings incredible treats in small packages from strangers. And what I get often helps me be more creative and become more generous.

Packages like these are healing. I had no idea how much. It starts with being open to receive. People are strangers and there are no expectations, no payback. The only rule, if you will, is that you must send the required parts. What I see is that most people go above and beyond.

Today's mail brought a swap called "Pick 3" and there were homemade envelopes in it, blank postcards (really cute ones too!), blank note cards, a little envelope holding 10 used foreign stamps to add to my stamp project, Easter stickers, a package of flower seeds, a keyring and a pen. Obviously there were more than three items in it. And everything was sent so artistically wrapped. Sweet, sweet touches.

One of the blocks I made was cut incorrectly but is going out the door to my partner as an extra. Seems that many of us make blocks that are ok, but not what we wanted or planned to have happen. I am certainly using all that come my way. People say that when you make a block or a quilt that steps away from the original pattern that you are a quilt-maker. The more I look at this block, the more I like it.

The actual block that is more Christmas-y to fit into this swap is called the "Postage Stamp" pattern. My partner hinted that her color preference is red. The repeats here were only the solid reds and everything else is only used once and is randomly placed. However, I took care to join the blocks with an upright look. This is yet another one of those old methods that uses pieces from other quilts, so as I made it, memories came up for where each piece was used in a family quilt. And included the package for my partner was a spool of red Italian thread.

I struggle yet, with how to be more generous. One block was extra and the thread. It was something, yet, I am not quite as giving as I would like to be. Its a learning process.

One of the monthly swaps is called "Trick or Treat Bag Filler" and is sent wrapped to be opened in October. I decided to pull out the 6.5" squares I got from that swap some months ago and use two of them for a mug rug. Its a perfect size and I do have enough of them to plan ahead to make more. I used batting scraps too. Its an easy peasy one-night quilting project. If this swap is monthly, then I will make each partner a mini quilt / mug rug.

The fabric square swaps are often fun, and I pulled out two sets of twenty 5" squares that will go out later this week. We send 20 to two people in the swap. I did spend time cutting fabric pieces into my favorite sizes.

I am still working on two other 12" block swaps, and its slower going than I would like because they are really different patterns. One is a "Snowball" block as a 9-patch. Its really harder than I thought to match the small angled seams, so it may take more than one attempt to get it presentable.

There must be a secret to all of this from the generosity of individuals, the attitude of openness, gratitude, creativity. All of it. As the secret unfolds, I do evolve in small ways. And if others are evolving and learning, then clearly the ripple is felt within the group and must, must, must be sending it out into the world as positive energy.