Being a swap hostess is a grueling job. I have to try my best to assign partners for people based on their likes, preferences and abilities. I get to deal with the grumbles when a quilt is not really liked or is not made exceptionally well. I get to notify people that their partner is way behind schedule. We have the occasional quilt get lost in the mail, sadly. And then there are those who opt to flake out completely. Fortunately, there has only been one case of this in the last year. Hosting six swaps of over 300 people has kept me busy for certain.
Being hostess, however, also affords me many luxuries that the common swapper does not have. I am able to know ahead of time what each person's quilt is, as it is made. I love to see the progressions, and to be able to think to myself, "she's really going to love what so and so is making for her". Of course it works that way for me too (althought I try my darndest not to peek!). I do have that dubious honor of being able to select a person that I will make a quilt for. That notion seems simple enough, until you realize that I am the hostess, and anybody that receives my quilt NEEDS to like it! I wouldn't get good repeat swappers if I made ridiculously ugly quilts?? So how do I select partners for myself?....
It is an interesting dilemma.
Last fall, I selected Linda for my partner. I have to admit, I did not put a ton of thought into the decision. It was my first session with the swap, and I had no history with any swappers. She seemed very nice from her blog, and seemed like they type person that was kind and somewhat accepting of all people. I made her this. It is not my favorite quilt that I have ever done, but it is nicely made, hand quilted & appliqued, and depicts fall.
In the winter, I chose Luisa as my partner. After receiving her lovely fall leaves quilt, which remains amongst my favorite quilts, I knew I wanted to make something for her. I was testing out this star pattern for a quilt for myself. The one I made Luisa is hand quilted with a snowflake (even if that is not apparent frfom the picture). Luisa is a gorgeous and thoughtful quilter. I just adore looking at her work and always look forward to seeing what she is making. She has been in all four of the 4-Seasons swaps as well as the two Round Robins. I am glad I got the opportunity to make something just for her.
In the spring, I made this springy tree quilt for Tami. She is another person that uses fabric to create amazingly lovely things. Besides being a great quilter, she makes dolls. Tami was not going to do the spring swap, but I assured her I would partner with someone that would make something nice. Oh Geez!!... Now I had to deliver on that promise :-) So in the end, I decided to make her quilt myself. I had wanted to do more applique, and actually found all of the hand work enjoyable to do. Her quilt is nearly 99% hand made...hand appliqued, embroidered and hand quilted. Oddly though, as much as I love it, it was not that hard to give away, as I know it is in a good home.
This summer, the last season of the swap, I really did not know at first who I was going to make a quilt for. I just let the sign-ups come in, hoping I would find inspiration in somebody. That is exactly what happened. These words caught my eye, "colors that evoke the ocean... blues and greens". The ocean, I thought. Wow, what a great summer idea. Here I was contemplating things like flowers, kites, watering cans, ice cream cones and lady bugs. I nearly forgot the most wonderful thing I have where I live, the ocean. So this, I decided, was going to be my partner. Now I just needed to figure out how I was going to make this quilt. I vaguely remember her also making a comment about liking the "beach cottage" feeling for summer, so I set out to find "beach cottage" fabrics (oddly, the only one of these I used on the quilt was the blue stripe for the binding!). This quilt, as many of you know, got completed early and then I decided I would keep it myself. It reminded me too much of my home to send it away to live in of all places land-locked Indiana (I say this joyfully!)! The coast of Maine is gorgeous and is much more rocky than I chose to depict in the quilt. I quickly set out to make another beachy quilt for my partner. It is very similar to the beach landscape I made first. In the end, I decided I would stick to my guns and give her the one I made initially, as this really was made with her in mind. To solidify this decision, I attached the label to the quilt's back. I then showed the teaser on my blog where I asked people to help me decide which one to send.
During this quilt's construction, I happened to stumble upon a posting for about.com's Doll Quilt Swap III, hosted by Ginger. She was so gracious as to let me in a day after the swap sign ups had closed. On top of that, she (of all people) made my quilt for the swap!! It is incredibly sweet and looks amazing in my daughter Sophie's room. I researched her blog some and learned that she also has a daughter Sophie, who is approaching age two too! I also learned that they vacationed in Hawaii last year, and do in fact love the ocean (very reassuring). Upon receiving her quilt, I had to chuckle, knowing I had one last secret, which would be revealed when she received her summer quilt. I just got word today that it is safely in it's new Indiana home. Happy Summer, Ginger! It was a joy to make, and I have one in my home too!