Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spring Swaptacular - And a plea for clemency

This Spring, I have enjoyed participating in two terrific swaps: The STLMQG pouch swap, and the For the Love of Solids 2 (FTLOS2) swap via Flickr.  

STLMQG Pouch Swap - Received

The STLMQG had our secret partner pouch swap last month.  Cuteness everywhere.  

My friend Juli Ann picked my name and crafted this fantastic patchwork zipper pouch for me. Snippets of Garden Party, Innocent Crush and Kei Dots mean there were as many treats on the outside as there were within, where Juli Ann generously hid a few surprises: a fun stack of fabric for my stash and a few sweet treats to boot. To this point, I had never tasted Nutella. Can you imagine? It's all I can do now to keep from putting the stuff in a casserole!      

Yummy (literally) pouch swap package from Juli Ann.

The back of the pouch is every bit as charming as the front.  I'm not sure how she did it (some serious Pinterest stalking, I suspect?), but she managed to combine three of my favorite things: navy blue, handwork, and Reunion by Sweetwater. I LOVE the way the navy and grey pair with the subdued reds, greens and golds of this line, and the bunting print is one of my favorites. Thank you so much, Juli Ann. From the beaded zipper pull to the last savory bit of chocolate, I love every bit of it. The special little details, and the fact that it came from a true friend, make it all the sweeter. You are the best.

Juli Ann's pouch (back)


STLMQG Pouch Swap - Given

I was very excited to draw as my secret swap partner Miss Nancy, who blogs over at Tea and Quilts. Miss Nancy is an active and treasured member of the St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild. She is soft-spoken and kind, and always willing to share her considerable experience with newbies like me. The profile pic she has chosen for her blog is an example of her excellent handiwork: a darling little redwork embroidery of a young girl sitting in a rocking chair stitching her own redwork. Having subscribed to Nancy's blog for some time, I already knew of her love of redwork, the St. Louis Cardinals (Redbirds), and several red accent walls in her home, so my color choice for the pouch swap was an easy one.    

Miss Nancy's blog icon
After pulling a selection of reds from my stash and completing a practice pouch, I got to work on the real deal.

I started with an embroidery pattern by Michelle Clement, which I completed on a small piece of white cotton canvas. I then pieced 144 one-and-a-half inch squares into a small patchwork and used this in combination with Dale Fleming's Six-Minute Circle to frame out the redwork. The dense, layered seams of the finished patchwork stretched the six-minute circle into a much longer ordeal, but in the end, I was relatively happy with the (somewhat elliptical) results. This finished piece would serve as the front of the pouch.

Pouch for Miss Nancy (front)

Flea market find - good stuff inside!

For the back of the pouch, I used a Dresden Plate template I pulled from a flea market find earlier that week. The pouch itself was a modified version of Elizabeth Hartman's Perfect Zip Bags pattern, the first pattern I've ever purchased, and definitely worth every penny. With the exception of a wonky gusset on one side of the bag, it turned out largely as I had hoped. Unlike my practice pouch (which tried to eat itself whenever zipped), the lining for Miss Nancy's pouch stayed put, and the zipper worked like a charm.  :)  I tucked a few chocolate bars inside, along with a box of Nancy's favorite tea for good measure.  I'm so glad she liked it!  

Pouch for Miss Nancy (back)

This was the first swap we've held in the guild since we established our new Swap Committee, and it was a HUGE success! The pouches were all so modern and fun. The ladies did a great job. In May, we'll hold our "Polka Dot Swap" for fat quarters of fabric. I'm definitely looking forward to it!

FTLOS 2 Swap - Received

Since I first found it on Flickr, I've been dying to join in on the "For the Love of Solids" swap. The craftsmanship of the gifts has been incredible from the start, and the theme lends itself well to my overwhelmingly-solid fabric stash. So, I was really excited to learn that I'd been accepted to participate in Round 2 this spring.

Jeannette Day (Flickr name:  Sacridote) drew my name for this swap. I'd spotted her project in the Flickr pool a few weeks before, and had my fingers crossed that it might be for me. I'd requested a knitting needle roll as my first choice, in linen and greens, and boy, did she deliver!

Awesome swap package from Jeannette Day (Sacridote) in the FTLOS 2 Swap.  Knitting needles not included.  :)

The linen case is beautifully made, and already chock full of needles. Along with the roll came a fabulous zipper pouch with loads of hand stitching and a crisply-pieced center block from Faith's (Fresh Lemons) Solstice Stars series. Inside I found a parcel of fabric, a pair of chocolate and caramel lollipops, and (yikes!) an Aurifil sampler pack! SO generous! I've been dying to try Aurifil for the longest time, but I get so distracted by "pretties" in the fabric store, I rarely make it over to the notions.  Thank you, Jeannette, for a stunning swap package.  I consider myself very lucky, indeed!

FTLOS 2 Swap - Sent

I don't know if it's my training as a scientist or the plethora of Agatha Christie novels read in my youth, but I love stalking swap partners. Not to creep you out too badly, but there's something about the thrill of the chase (for the perfect aesthetic) that just makes me tick. So, the minute I learned that Ruth of Cherry Coloured Twist was my secret swap partner, I whipped out the houndstooth cape and set to work. Ruth lives in the UK, and is moving soon to Sweden.  Her taste is hip and very modern, sophisticated in the eclectic, worldly sort of way that I always admire and can rarely emulate, having grown up within a relatively sheltered three-hour midwestern radius.

The combination of her inspiration mosaic and a few Pinterest finds here and here got me to thinking about this bag from Target I've been saving for years...

Isn't it just asking to be a quilt?  I really love the original color scheme, but Ruth wanted something with a bit more of a rainbow flare, hence "Linen and Leaves" was born:

Unfortunately, assembling this puppy took a tad longer than I'd expected. (And by "tad," I mean a month). *Sigh* I could give you lots of excuses about stomach flu and spring break and teaching loads and malfunctioning dishwashers, but the fact remains that I have always underestimated how long it takes to do things. My research advisor used to tell me to take whatever estimate I had in mind, double the magnitude and increase the unit. So, I should expect a project I estimate at one week to take two months. Two months, four years. Four years, eight decades. You get the idea.     

True to form, I sent this parcel out just about one month after the original post date. It was so late, in fact, that the Swap Mamas posted my name in the "Have Yet to Send" list on the Flickr site. I watched the list tick down from nine names to six, to five, to four... There sat Miss Stash Would, stuck with three partners in crime on the virtual post office wall.  :( The package was destined for the UK, so once the initial deadline passed, I figured I might as well try to salvage the situation by sweetening the deal.  Hence the tote bag, notebook cover and other assorted goodies:

Ruth messaged last week to say that she'd received her package, and she seemed (thankfully!) genuinely pleased. I certainly appreciate her patience, and I'm so tickled that she's happy, but I can't help wondering now, if I'm banned for life. Will the powers-that-be decide from on-high that I'm unfit to participate in this swap in the future? Or other Flickr swaps, for that matter? Does the modern quilting community, comprised of all sorts of people, have room for "late-swappers?" Even those of us who (hopefully) make up for our tardiness with beefed-up packages? Doesn't everyone still win?

Sorry to seem temperamental, but this really touched a nerve for me.  I fully admit to signing up for this swap against my better judgment.  Like many of you, I suspect, I work an inordinate number of hours outside the home each week, and as a result, have very little time for anything other than work and family.  What little bit of free time I do find I have to create, generally between the hours of midnight and three in the morning. Just to say that I've salvaged one, tiny fragment of my day to do something I completely and genuinely enjoy. So, I joined this swap purposefully, in an effort to feel included in something outside my workaday life that makes me feel rejuvenated and happy, like I've made a connection with someone who "gets me."

Maybe this rant is my preemptive attempt to sway the tide in my favor. Maybe when FTLOS 3 rolls around, they won't think twice about my tardiness. Then again, maybe I'm already blacklisted and all of this is moot.  Regardless of my status at the moment, I know a few things for certain.  Becoming a part of the modern quilting community has changed my life.  Creating beautiful things for people who share my love of textiles makes me feel included like I never have before. So, whether it's an established swap, or one I'm forced to create on my own for reluctant-type-A-workaholics like myself, I think it's fair to say that I will always try to find a way to stay connected to swappers around the world.  I can't imagine anything that feels better than knowing you've made something you love for someone who appreciates it.  Despite the hurt feelings and blacklists and deadlines and exorbitant fees for international express deliveries, it's a great thing to make good friends from all around the world.

And, it's still cheaper than therapy.    


  1. They'd be crazy to blacklist you! You may be late, but your work is sooo amazing and well worth the wait. Can't wait to see what you come up with next!

  2. First of all even if "they" ask you to sit out a round that's all it'll be, ONE round. Then you can jump right back in. Plus there are always other swaps to try in the meantime! Second, everyone gets behind sometimes and it's okay. You're okay! Finally, that package you sent? AMAZING!! That leaf quilt is so ridiculously gorgeous I can't stand it. Everything you listed in this post is just superb, like highest-quality-swapping. So give yourself a high-five for being such an amazing swapper, because even late, YOU ARE! :-)

  3. Oh Lynne...Your work speaks volumes about your creativity and talent. Anyone would be honored to have you as their swap-partner.

    Just saddle on up next to the rest of us who have been empowered and changed by this wonderful community.

  4. Thanks, Ladies. I probably shouldn't write when I'm tired. :)

  5. I completely understand your angst about this... as I sit here subtracting the days until I get my machine back from the days left until I have to mail my MAQS quilt. It seems to me that the swap world is very understanding as long as they hear from you on a regular basis. I am sure that with the beautiful work you do, they will be thrilled to have you join in again.

  6. Oh, Lynne... you're too hard on yourself! Your work is incredible, both beautiful and well-crafted. Anyone would be lucky to receive something you made (on time or late). Love your stuff and so glad you like your pouch. As far as Nutella goes, well, it's pretty much devastatingly good on everything. I know this from experience. ;)

  7. I know I would forgive much more than 1 month if I received something as awesome as the leaf quilt. I loooooooove it.