Inspiration is everywhere.

Dear friends,

I mentioned in my last post that I recently made a mini quilt for a swap. Crafters/artists swaps have been around for a long time, but I had never before thought of signing up for a quilt swap until recently when I stumbled across this blog.

I signed up on impulse, right before the deadline, and a week later I received an email with information about my secret swap partner. Since I was supposed to make a mini quilt (no smaller than 6″ X 6″ and no bigger than 24″ X 24″), I realized the petite format was perfect for an appliqued motif I’d been thinking about for weeks.

A few months ago, I tripped across this image of a neon sign on Pinterest:

firefly

Source: Roadhouse Relics

My first impulse was to buy this beauty. I was charmed by the design and instantly transported to childhood summer nights spent at my Gram’s house, where my younger cousin and I often caught fireflies in a Mason jar to create an improvised lantern that would extend our under-the-covers playtime long after our grandmother had put us to bed.

Unfortunately, the neon sign was both out of my price range and sold.

Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about the simple joy of a blue jar lit by fireflies, and I vowed to turn the image into a quilt.

I hope my swap partner has as many fond memories of “lightening bugs” as I do, because this is what I made for her:

miniquilt

I’ve been enjoying what I call “free form applique” ever since a Crate and Barrel catalog inspired me to make this table runner.  I’m too impatient for the kind of appliqued images where the edges are perfectly cut and neatly stitched in place. My free form variety is far more rustic and forgiving of mistakes, and my “doodle stitching” in various color threads is more akin to folk art than accomplished needlework.

firefliescu

I hope my style suits my secret swap pal. Thanks to the magic of the internet, the 160 folks participating in this swap have our own Flickr group and Instagram/Twitter hashtags for sharing our work. (Want to see more? Click here.) There are some very talented quilters among the group, which gives me a bit of “swap anxiety.”

I am a definite novice in this bunch, which all things considered, is probably a catbird seat for the Magpie.

With gratitude {for inspiration all around me and the opportunity to play with the big girls},

Joan, who finally “packed away” her quilting studio yesterday in a cleaning frenzy prompted by a much-improved back and a desire to serve an upcoming meal or two on the dining room table