Wednesday, October 2, 2013

one fish, two fish. blue fish,

Okay okay, you got me:  technically they're birds (three little birds, to be precise).  My mind just immediately goes to the sea every time I see Julie of 627handwork's Block Rock'n Marley block.

September was my first month up as quilter for the do.good Believe Circle.  And believe you me, I had big plans for my big debut all year.  And then I pitched said big plans to Lynne of Lily's Quilts for her Made With Oakshott feature.  As Lynne kindly picked said idea in August—and yours truly has a thing about not repeating projects—, I was back at square one for my September do.good design.  (Oy!  ...And also, score! Mad {mad} love for oakshotts over here).

So when September 1 snuck up out of the blue (I think I was in the thick of the forest at the time), I turned to a block I'd had my eye on for ages:  Marley.  As for colors, I asked my bee-mates to—and I quote—"channel our inner Cath and go with scrappy grays and blues (blue birds on a gray background)."  I have to say, sometimes often I can be a bit of a Sebastian-the-crab (as in, "You want something done, you've got to do it yourself.")  So I am being 100 percent honest when I say I could not be more thrilled to see my bee-mates not-so-rasta renditions of Julie's brilliant block pop up in our flickr group:

Ben     Big Mama Quilts     Debora     Nicole

The best part?  That's only half of what's on the way.  (...No pressure to the other half of the Circle ;D).

Anyway, I'm up again in January and this whole "Omigah-I-can-think-of-a-million-and-one-projects-on-my-own-wishlist-but-get-writer's-quilter's-block-when-it-comes-to-group-project-ideas" has me wondering just how to approach this design dilemma next time around.

So to all you veteran bee-members, tell me this:  What's your design philosophy for bees?*

*Do you treat your "to do's" and the bee-wishlist as one and the same?  Maintain two separate lists?  Are particular blocks more bee-friendly? (Apologies in advance to anyone in Believe who has an aversion to paper-piecing). Or do you throw convention to the wind and just cruise along wherever your creative spirit takes you?  (asks Sebastian).  I'm thinking of borrowing inspiration from my own project wishlist (let's be real:  it's just going to keep expanding anyways), but I'm quite curious to hear how others manage it.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts!  Much appreciated.  ;)


  1. I had to click on the tut since I saw no birds, lol.

  2. I designed a block for one of my months in DGS and did free-pieced words for the other, but what i'm learning is that it's good to take into account recent past months. if the month before was super challenging, maybe choose something simple for the next month to give your members a break. just general advice too--i try not to pick anything that requires ultra precision because everybody pieces a little differently and the blocks are likely to finish at slightly different measurements. maybe paper piecing is good for that since the finished blocks will be consistent but i don't love paper piecing myself so i tend to avoid it.

  3. I have found it best to choose fairly simple, not too labor intensive blocks. At least until you can feel out the level of dedication and skill in your group. Complicated blocks just lead to a lot of them never showing up. If I do something slightly more ambitious I try to choose something that has one difficult or unfamiliar element (like curves, or low volume fabrics) and spend a lot of time in my tutorial explaining how to tackle that particular piece. Unless you are doing paper piecing it's best not to choose blocks that will all need to be exactly the same size or line up just so... cause that just isn't going to happen :) Finally, I've found that giving a color palette really helps people to get the idea with the colors and makes the final blocks all gel much better. I usually use the palettes at design seeds. ( Thinking of a design that will work well as a bee quilt with lots of people making blocks in different places is challenging, but part of the fun for me.

    I love you scrappy fish blocks! I can't wait to see them all together.

  4. I love these blocks... and love the way everyone embrace their inner "Cath". I have just done my first Bee blocks where I set the patterns. I definitely think I challenged everyone, maybe a little too much. With my "do.Good" Bee I choose an easy paper piecing pattern but did not realise that most people have not tried paper piecing. Once I got over the shock I went about apologizing and trying to help what every way I could. I know to keep it simple next time.

  5. I am not in any bees but I thought I'd weigh in anyway! It seems (from reading lots of blogs at lunch) that the easier the block (unless it's a challenging bee group) that the best response is received when the block is fairly easy and pretty straight-forward color-wise. If I've got a busy month, I'm going to tackle what's easy first and put off what's more time-consuming later. About six months ago I read a blog entry where the mama hive leader said she remade a good deal of her blocks that she received for one reason or another. Honestly, if I were in her hive I would have kicked her out. I felt like her attitude was horrible. Finally, to address your list question - if I had a quilt I wanted to make for a certain reason in a certain colorway, I wouldn't use a bee to do it. Good luck!

  6. Oh I just love all those greys with the blue! I've never been a bee, so I am no help there :-)

  7. Lovely blocks - and great colour choice!

    Funnily enough I've been thinking about writing a post on picking bee blocks! Just haven't done it yet ;) My goal for bee blocks is to keep them fairly simple. Link to or write up a tutorial if it's something that's a bit more involved - as you don't always know the skill level of the people in your bee.

    I've got a group Pinterest board for our do.good Stitches group to pin block ideas on - helps with inspiration for when it's time to pick a block! Let me know if you're interested and I'll add you to the board! (I'm kristyqp on Pinterest).

  8. I think the blocks you picked are gorgeous and your bee mates have done a great job. I don't really get the Sebastian the crab reference but I tend to want to do things myself to make sure they are "right". I am only in one bee and definitely tried to pick quite an easy block that everyone would be able to make. Even so, I can't say I was thrilled with all the blocks I received, but I made it work. I think Kat and knottygnome's advice above is really good. Also, if you are a bit inclined to be Sebastian-the-crab-ish, maybe leave the really special omg I must make that quilt projects for yourself...

  9. Blocks are lovely. I have led block swaps but I've not participated in bee so I'm not sure I can offer any words of wisdom. In your bees are you swapping blocks with each other?

  10. Triangles...and blue! My favourites!

  11. These blues and greys are really something! Love them!

  12. Fantastic bunch of blocks! this one's on my to do list... someday i'll get around to making it!
    Can't wait to see it all come together!


so... you're thinking about commenting, are you?

if you don't mind my saying so, please do! i love hearing from new quilting friends! good or bad, let's hear it ;)

p.s. I'm so sorry, but I've had to disable anonymous comments due to sneaky spammers. I hope you understand!