With the rise of the internet and the ease with which information is acquired and shared, it hardly any wonder that quilters latched on right away. Quilters are sharing people, and the web abounds with free patterns and online community activity, as well as commercial endeavors. No worry if you live in an area with a love population of fellow crafters – friends are there at a touch of your mouse. with blogs galore, and all sorts of online shops, you can pretty much get anything you want, be it fabric, patterns or friends to sew with.
I also discovered online quilt groups early in my quilting life, and what a revelation. Here I joined with other quilters from all over Canada – and the USA – and became a part of block lotto and swaps. I joined with eleven ladies in an Underground Railway quilt block swap, and faithfully made 12 Wagon Wheel blocks and Tumbling Blocks. Wouldn’t you know it, I had been away the weekend of the sign-up and the two most difficult were the ones left. I sure understood Y-seams by the time I was finished. And while the legend (or myth) of the Underground railway using quilts as messages has been debunked, I think there must have been some element of truth for it to persist for so long…. and it was a very skill-building project, especially for me. Here are 12 of the 20 blocks –
Here is another – a colour swap where I ended up with the brown and white ones. The white seemed pretty stark, so I tea-dyed the blocks, and created this – I love asymmetry, and this was my first attempt at putting it into a quilt.
I met a friend – a true flesh and blood one – through one of these groups as well. When Lorraine and I discovered that we lived only 2 hours apart (that is considered a very short distance in western Canada), we met and became fast friends. When my husband was away working, I would pack up my sewing machine, fabric, and dog, and drive to Fort St. John for the weekend, where we would commandeer the ding room table and sew our hearts out. Her daughter Lisa would come and sew too, and we would do the round of quilt shops.
I also attended a three-day retreat with her, and met the other quilters in town. What fun – and such a learning opportunity. We took our sleeping bags and air mattresses, had food catered by the local ladies, and sewed and talked and laughed. It was like a three-day pajama party… although we did sleep more than we did in our teens.
We both still miss those weekend retreats. Before I left for overseas, Lorraine and I bought a piece of fabric – shared it, and did our own little block swap using it. Here are my blocks – another UFO, I’m afraid, but on this year’s list finally.
You see one of them has a black dog – commemorating Puddles, the black Lab that travelled faithfully with me in the pic-up, crunching raw carrots, and would lay under the table while we sewed. For a house that didn’t DO inside dogs, he became a favourite with the whole family, and was more than welcome.
These online groups have brought me other flesh and blood acquaintances as well – Ann and Heather in Nova Scotia, Lori and Annette in Alberta, and Conway – the son of a Nova Scotia quilter, who came out to Alberta and stayed with us fort two months. What a treat! He still calls himself my “other” son.
I “met” my Bailey Home Quilter through an online group as well. I learned about the machines, and then a lady in Calgary was selling hers while we were home for summer holidays. Wrapped in bubble wrap, it was light enough to take back to Kuwait in my suitcase. It is a purchase I have never regretted – and the online group is still there for support if I run into a problem.
Being in the Middle East, with sketchy mail service, I didn’t participate in swaps. When we arrived in Norway, I took advantage of the excellent postal system to again join in a Christmas gift exchange. Look at the wonderful table runner Lori sent me from Canada – and how well it lights up my living room here in Russia. I’m in it again this year – and am hoping that the Russian postal service doesn’t let me down. As you can see, it was out before the unpacking was completed.
Another online activity that I am only just learning about is quilt “Bees”. Much like the block swaps of before, a group of quilters get together on Flickr, and make blocks for each other. This time, however, during “your” month as Queen Bee, the others make a block according to your requests. As a newcomer to this, I am lucky to be joined by my quilting friends from Oman – and also to meet a few ladies from other countries as well. I have been going through my fabrics – and am all ready to begin with the first two blocks.
Here in Yuzhno, there is only, to my knowledge, one other avid (rabid??) quilter. I will count on my online friends for support, as I try to work my way through the UFO’s trailing behind me for so long. As I work on each one, I will have pleasant thoughts and memories of the group members that took part in the swap…. and apply my learned skills to making these quilts more than they would have been if I had gotten them finished way back in Canada, when I was so inexperienced.
A few more tops to complete, and then I will assemble my frame and bring on my Bailey, and see what quilting I can get up to in my cramped little sewing room.
I can’t wait.