12 March 2012

An Irish Road Trip {part 1}: Quilty Sheep

Hello there!
I hope had a great weekend. I'm afraid to say I didn't get to much sewing done the past couple of days as I've been busy with beavering away in blog land getting something special for you organized.... I had such fun last month with {friendship} february (& I hope you did too). So I thought I might bring you some more inspiration, this time from some Irish friends... well, it will be St Patrick's Day soon! :) So, without further ado, I am delighted to announce:
For the next two weeks I will introduce you to some wonderfully creative Irish friends & hopefully provide you with some inspiration along the way. We will be setting off from the North Coast & making our way down to Cork, stopping off with some folks along the way. In true Irish spirit, at the end of our travels there will be a pot of gold of lovely giveaway goodies!! So to get started, the creatively quirky Cindy, shepherd of lots of quilty sheep, is going to give you a little introduction to quilting, Irish style....

Thanks so much, Karen, for asking me to contribute to your Irish road trip!   For those readers I do not already know, I am Cindy and I usually blog over at Fluffy Sheep Quilting.  Although I have always been drawn to color and geometric patterns, it was only 2 years ago that I taught myself to quilt.  I had no idea how that little creative exploration would re-arrange my life.

Seeing as the focus of this Irish road trip is to visit the creative friends that support us on our journey, I though I'd chatter away about the amazing quilting community that has become a huge source of happiness for me.   If you are at all creative and crafty, I am sure you have found a similar group of like minded folks to share your journey.  Quilters, though, are a simply amazing group filled with generosity, thoughtfulness, inspiration, encouragement and support that never ceases to amaze me.  What's best is that you get all of this AND a wicked sense of humor.  Goodness quilters are funny people!
Those who are not bloggers have a difficult time understanding how you can create a community when you have not met one another, but I can tell you these women (mostly women, anyway) are an integral part of my day and are MY community.  So, I Googled community.  Want to hear the definition? com-mu-ni-ty (kuh-myoo-ni-tee...isn't that hilarious?)  is a social group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society in which it exists.  Well, that's us, right?  So, how do you join into this community?  Here's my journey....

I live in Ireland, where there are few quilters and generally we are well spread out.  Although I looked for local quilters (and we'll chat about that below) I had a hard time finding folks who shared my quilty love, my vision of creativity.  So, I started reading blogs and chatting away in their comments section.  This was the first time that I could really have a conversation with someone who thought the way I did or from whom I could learn a new technique.  It was an amazing eye opener!  Joining into bloggy chatter is a great way to get to know folks regardless of your quilting skill level as we can all flutter about a beautiful quilt or we each have something to learn/teach another quilter.  I will say, though, to fully embrace this part of our community, please be sure you are not a no-reply blogger.
One day I decided to start my own blog.  You can read my first post here to get an idea of my mindset at the start.  Never did I think that a year later I would still be blogging, that I would have met such fabulous folks or that blogging would re-direct my creative life by exposing me to new ideas or encouraging me to try new techniques.  This, beyond all else, has flipped my world upside down...in the most fantastic way possible.  If you are at all interested in taking one step further into joining in a online community, I 100% absolutely recommend blogging as a path ahead.
Guilds.  You love them or you hate them.  I'm a bit obsessed.  Guilds are a fantastic way to meet other quilters; gathering in person, hosting show and tells, workshops, etc is a fantastic way to learn and inspire one another.  I think most guilds are very open to quilters of all skill levels, but at times it is difficult to find one to match your taste in quilts.  Now, I understand several guilds are very supportive of all quilting genres (modern, art, traditional...) but I have found this is not always the case.  There are two great organizations in Ireland to support quilters: the Irish Patchwork Society and the Quilters' Guild of Ireland.  Although the ladies in my local branch of the IPS are chatty and happy to teach skills they have mastered, I was still looking for a group of modern quilters, specifically.  So, with Sarah of Fairyface Designs, I started the Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland.  Modern quilting is unique from the greater quilting community with its emphasis on bold color or fabric prints. I would absolutely recommend that everyone give their local guild a try. If it's not the right guild for you, please have a think about why and possibly start your own.  This is a fabulous way to build a local community that is specifically tailored to your needs and interests.
Modern Quilt Guild of Ireland
Finally, the most interactive, inspirational, challenging way to build a community is through swaps and bees.  I am in LOVE with swaps and bees.  If you have not tried one yet, get out there today and sign up as quickly as you can.  Just so we're all on the same page:  a swap might be hosted by a blogger or a quilt shop owner.  There is usually a theme so that you'll all make a mug rug, zippy purse or table runner (for example).  Once registered you, as participants, are assigned a partner to "investigate" and then your challenge is to make something your partner will love.  It is a fabulous way to expand your skills or challenge your use of color as well as meet a HUGE bunch of new folks, each of which will be supporting you on your journey.  A few of my swap makes are in the mosaic below.  I can absolutely say that I would not have tried any of these projects without the swapping community encouraging and inspiring me.  Thank goodness for each and every one of them!
Bees.  Oh, I love my bees.  Here you can create a closer more intimate community as you share a year (at least) with 11 other people where you work on projects together.  It is a great way to get to know individuals personally instead of brief comments on a blog, for example.   I am a proud member of four bees right now and each month I get the fantastic opportunity to expand my choices for color combinations, I try blocks that I might not normally try and I get a great chatter in with my hive mates.
Usually a bee has 12 members.  Each member is assigned a month.  So, that month you get to choose what you would like the other bee members to make.  There are several paths this can take.  Two of my bees are for donation quilts, so the bee mama names a block and directs you to a tutorial (or something) and you create blocks from your stash.  They are sent to the bee mama and she will make the top, layer the quilt and quilt it before donating it.  It is a great way to give back to folks doing something you love.  If you are interested,  you can join into these bees too!  Do.Good Stitches is a fabulous organization.  My circle is organized by our favorite gal Karen, but you can join in your own circle by completing the form on the flickr page.  You can also join in Bee Blessed, organized by the amazing Judith,  by joining into that flickr group.  You are all welcome.
The other two bees create quilts for the bee members, so on your month you name your block and either send out fabric or ask folks to stitch from their stashes.  They then send the blocks to you and you finish them off as a quilt for yourself.  Want to see what I've made?   I just love the variety of colors and block patterns - it sparks my interest each month!
I think you're probably tired of listening to me chatter away.  The point is this: quilters are fabulous, generous, thoughtful, inspiring, kind people.  Get out there and start to interact with them.  Create a community to surround yourself, to give encouragement and inspiration.  I can guarantee what creative energy you put into that community, you will receive in spades.

Karen, thank you for giving me the chance to sing my praises of our quilting community. Through this fabulous quilting community I met you, a continual source of inspiration.  Yippee, quilty community!

Thanks Cindy!
I'll be back on Wednesday with some more Irish Inspiration & a tutorial on how to make this 4 leaf clover bag:
See you then!


  1. Great post K & C! Your enthusiasm and creative energy is infectious C! Jxo

  2. Thanks Karen and Cindy!
    What a great idea!

  3. what a great read and a fabulous idea! Really enjoyed that

  4. Great post and lovely to hear how Cindy got sucked into the vortex of our blogging, quilting world. Love it!

  5. I so agree and I got to know Cindy when Susan shepherded me into Cindy's goodie swap! What a great decision that was!

  6. It was fun to read Cindy's post here. She is one my faves and I follow her regularly.

  7. Got to love Cindy, and 2 of those lovelies in her swap mosaic are mine :)

  8. ROFL, did you say you were starting on the north coast? Has Galway gone walkies?! Och, never mind, was nice to catch up with Cindy anyway, wherever she may be lost ;o)

  9. What a great post! :o) I love the Swap Mosaic pics.. such fun things!

  10. Great read and interesting to learn why modern patchwork is supported on line. Di xo

  11. Great post and idea!! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  12. She is infectious isn't she! Love the mosaic.