After 6 months of blogging and Flickr-ing and watching all the fun of online block parties/quilting bees, I decided to take the plunge and join a bee myself. Oops! I ended up joining two. It has been fun, I've learned a lot, and so far it has stretched me in terms of colors/fabrics/designs, but I'm all over the map about what I want to do when my months come (June and August). And that's where I need your help. Suggestions -- please.
In my short bee participation this year, I've come to realize at least two things: (1) keep the instructions clear and the block simple so you get what you want and don't frustrate your bee partners and (2) allow some room for creativity on the part of your bee partners.
These January blocks were a great start for me. The blocks were fun and a breeze to make. Wanda showed pictures of the type of block she was looking for, and only asked that the center fabric feature people. Any and all colors were permissible. The biggest challenge for a few of us was that we didn't have any fabrics with people in our stash -- but who complains about a trip to the fabric store? Not this quilter. And I loved the freedom of choosing from my stash to match the center fabric. The colors used by the group varied quite a bit, so it will be very interesting to see how this looks with all the blocks together. Perhaps because we each did two blocks, the colors will be distributed well for a nice scrappy look.
This is my January block for my other bee. We were sent the fabrics, but told we could make any block of our choosing. We could also add fabrics if desired, as long as they matched the colors. She was going for coffee and cream, but wanted the teal fabric near the center of the block. You may remember I had some difficulties with first making a block the wrong size, thus wasting fabric, and having to start all over. So my only frustrations were of my own making. Not my usual colors, but it was fun to step outside the box, and I was so inspired by the beautiful work done by the other bee members.
This is my favorite bee block so far. Easy, clear instructions. We could choose any fabrics at all as long as we used the white and Kona Coal fabrics (which were provided). Oh, Kona Coal! If I were at all poetic, I would write an ode to you! I have been busily cutting and saving small strings to make my own string x quilt ever since completing this block! In the meantime, you should probably keep an eye on Sherri's blog, Noah & Lilah, so you can see how it all comes together.
And then there is my nemesis. The New York Beauty.
Have I allowed it to master me? Well -- yes -- so far. I made my block and I'm too ashamed to show it. The curves are not perfectly -- curved. And it came out to 8-1/4" instead of 8-1/2". You have no idea how hard I can be on myself. Yes, I could probably fix the size problem by removing the piece at the bottom right of the above picture and resewing a slightly larger piece, but it's still wonky. And not in a good way.
So, talk to me. What have you loved about and learned from participating in bees? I would love to hear about your experiences and would especially love to hear recommendations of blocks that are not overly difficult, but allow for some creativity for the participants. If I receive a suggestion that I end up choosing and using, I will send you something special. So, you tell me all about your bee experiences and suggestions and I'll make one more attempt at the New York Beauty block. Hopefully I'm not beaten yet. After all, it's almost time for the March blocks!
With wishes, true and kind -- Joan
P.S. I'm already aware of these Flickr groups regarding bees and blocks: Block Party Quilt Along and Quilting Bee Blocks, but please let me know if there are any others.