At the beginning of last year, just when things were starting to getting ridiculously busy at work, I decided it was a good time to try something new and add something to my to-do list. I joined my first quilting bee.
When I told Remy about it, he thought, rather like a spelling bee, that it was a competition between quilters. Which is a very logical assumption! But just to clear things up for the non-quilters among you, there is no competition involved. A group of twelve quilters, in this case from around the world, each make one block a month. Each quilter is the "queen bee" for one month and chooses the pattern and fabrics she would like. She gives directions accordingly to the other bees and we all then make the block according to her directions and send it to her by the end of the month. For someone like me who prefers the piecing part to the finishing part of a quilt and whose time at home was (at the time of joining the bee...) often limited, this bee thing is perfect! I have a whole month to make a simple 12-inch block and I feel like I've accomplished a whole project, even if it's just one little block. With all the chaos of life taking over, this year wasn't the best year to start a bee but thanks to some very understanding fellow quilters, I had a great time making the blocks and sending them off without feeling too bad for missing a few deadlines.
The bee in which I participated this past year used blocks from a book called Modern Blocks and has some great variety. I have just shipped off my final block. It was a great experience. I have used some techniques (such as curved piecing) for the first time and enjoyed spending considerable time making other blocks using techniques (such as paper piecing - see the Union Jack block below) that I may not necessarily want to use for a whole quilt. Below are some of the blocks I made:
My month was November and, as I didn't actually have my copy of Modern Blocks unpacked at that time, I selected one of the blocks we had already done. I chose a red/aqua/blue colour scheme and let everyone choose their own fabric. (Others in our bee preferred to send fabric to everyone else for their chosen month, so that all their blocks coordinated.) Here are a few of the beautiful blocks I received from my lovely bee friends.
There are other photos that I'm unable to share (due to flickr settings!) but finishing this quilt is high up on my priority list so hopefully - once I've finished putting it together - I will have some photos of my own to post here. I am thinking this could be a lovely housewarming present to myself! Luka and I are moving in May, and I'm looking forward to a fresh start and setting up a place of our own. A gorgeous quilt pieced by lovely ladies all over the world could be just what our little house will need.
I'm very excited about this bee thing. It's a great way to be challenged with different techniques and colour combinations outside your own comfort zone, spend just a little time piecing one block a month, get to know interesting people (we had participants from England, Morocco, the USA and Finland), receive fun mail (who doesn't love fun mail?!), and end up with a fabulous quilt. A great equation in my opinion. I may be tempted to set up a bee of my own. I like making the rules! If anyone is interested in joining in, I will let you know if I decide to venture into bee-coordination... You'll hear it here first :)