March 2014 PSQ Swap Wind Up

First things first, because so many of you have asked. There will be a swap later this year, with sign up open from September 20 through October 5, 2014. While you are waiting, I hope you are cutting and packaging. But I also hope you are inviting friends, sharing the swap on your own blogs or on social media, and generally spreading the word. Stay tuned for more info at a later date.

2014-postage-stamp-quilt-swapI really want to thank you all for joining the March 2014 PSQ Charm Swap. Hopefully you are receiving your little parcels and enjoying the wide variety of fabrics that we collectively own. And I do mean variety. When I open a parcel I often find no repeats of fabrics that I have used. Considering that I have made PSQ quilts with 4000 charms and no duplicates, I thought I had seen a lot. But no!

In January 2012 I held my first PSQ charm swap, and 62 people took part. By the second swap that year we had over 230 swappers. Every swap goes on a spreadsheet, which I keep. Last night I combined them all and sorted out the repeats of people who took place in two or more swaps. In the seven swaps to date, 813 different people have traded charms. They have also donated Newbie sets to 227 new quilters who are just starting to collect or sew with these lovely little fabric charms.

Two Inch Treasure FramesWhen all the swap emails are out I always brace myself for the ensuing chaos. This time I received over 500 emails in three weeks, ranging from lovely thank you’s to pure distress. I wish I could just hold off the other parts of life, like cleaning and earning a living, and concentrate on replying and getting things working perfectly. Alas, I can’t, so it takes a while to figure out all the mix-ups or omissions, calm the stress, find the missing swappers, and so on. In the midst of it all, I find out that I left one swapper out by mistake, another one withdrew because of illness, one took three weeks to reply to anyone, and I did some reassigning when swappers failed to follow the rules.

So if you heard from all your partners, and got everything, remember to thank them! Please thank them even if you do not love what they sent you, be it not to your taste, poorly cut, or whatever. If you wrote me about a problem like that, I always followup with the person who sent your charms–an opportunity to educate people about what makes a great PSQ quilt. Sometimes they don’t like what I have to say, but more often they are happy to get some tips.

The point is, the swaps are fun! Do I always use every single charm I get? No, probably not. But my feeling is that every quilter is at a different place in their quilting journey. © CQ PSQ Flickr Photo SamplerAs a community that loves fabric and sewing, it is important to support them all in the best possible way. And, as one person wrote to me when commenting on a problem they had last time, “It’s just fabric, nothing life-threatening.”

Now it is time to stitch up your charms! Remember to share your progress on our flickr page as well.

With this swap finishing up, I am still happy to work to resolve issues if they are out there, but I am planning to put it all away in a week. After all, I have UFOs waiting, the snow that is falling on Minnesota today will surely give way to tulips, then lilacs, and I want to get out in the sun! Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSignature © 2014 by The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com. All rights reserved.

Posted in PostageStamp Quilts/Charm Swaps | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Wandering Wednesday: Off the Quilter’s Path

Allow me to share two timely topics that, while they have nothing to do with quilting, touch the lives of quilters everywhere. Children’s books are beloved by kids, parents, grandparents, and storytellers. Living life with someone on the Autism Spectrum also affects many families in the quilting community. What brings these two topics together for me is the blogging I do for Free Spirit Publishing. They publish books for kids, parents, teachers, and anyone working to help meet kids’ social and emotional needs, and succeed in school.

April 2, 2014 is International Children’s Book Day

FSP book collageWhether you have kids, teach kids, read to kids, or love picture books, the world of children’s books is amazing. Great stories or simple concepts are shared, complete with artwork that any quilter will drool over. (It is no wonder that there are now quilting fabrics based on books like Winnie the Pooh, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and The Cat in the Hat–just to name a few.)

International Children’s Book Day Round-Up is today’s post on the Free Spirit blog. Several authors of books for Free Spirit shared their favorite kids’ books and how they inspired them, or otherwise touched their lives.

The list of twenty books covers a wide range of ages and tales. From the classics like A Child’s Garden of Verses to the newest offering called Grandfather Ghandi, each book share a store, a fable, or a glimpse into the life of another person. The minute I finished getting the book day post set up for the blog, I had the urge to run to the library and read children’s books for a day!

Previously there was a post on the Free Spirit blog with great suggestions for Holiday Book Recommendations from Free Spirits. Seeing what books helped to shape the lives of authors and educators makes me think back to my own childhood. My mother read to us nearly every day, as I did with my own kids. (Often while tucked under a quilt–another connection!)

April 2, 2014 is World Autism Awareness Day

Light It Up Blue AUstism SpeaksLook around your community today and you may see bridges, buildings, water towers, or other structures being bathed in blue light. From Singapore to Serbia, Stockholm to Melbourne, in every part of the globe people are taking a moment to learn more about autism. The entire month of April is dedicated to Autism Awareness and increasing our understanding of the disorder and how being on the autism spectrum affects families. Recently the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that 1 in 68 children in the US has an autism spectrum disorder. To learn more visit the Autism Speaks website.

http://freespiritpublishingblog.com/2012/05/31/guest-post-telling-my-son-he-has-autism/One of my favorite guest posts on the Free Spirit blog is Telling My Son He Has Autism. Author Elizabeth Verdick shares the very personal story of her own journey with her son, and how his diagnosis was a defining moment for the entire family. That lead her to write The Survival Guide for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents). As her son reached his tenth birthday, she knew he needed a book of his own to help him understand his own “brain differences” and how to talk to people about it, as well as navigate many social settings. The story of her family–and the community that supports them–offers hope, inspiration, and a sense of connection for all families touched by autism spectrum disorders.

Thank you for letting me take you on this Wandering Wednesday journey. As quilters we are often aware that life is a patchwork of people, places, and experiences. Many of us feel strong emotional ties with quilts we create or inherit. These quilts bring back memories or help us to create new ones. They can welcome new life, or shelter us as we pass through transitions. When I work on the Free Spirit blog I bring this perspective with me. For kids growing up, life is full of pieces. Teachers and parents, everyone who touches a child’s life, can help each child build their own special life, bit by bit.

Share a book with a kid today! Then Light It Up Blue and learn more about autism. I would welcome your comments on both topics.
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSignature © 2014 by The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com. All rights reserved.

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PSQ Charm Swap Matches!!

4/4 update – all the emails are out, please let me know if you don’t find yours in your mail or spam folder! 4/2 update: My outbox is full and the service is letting them out in mini-batches! Hang in there please, they are coming! 3/31: Despite efforts to convince them I am not spamming the world of quilters, my service provider put a 24 hour hold on me sending emails last night. The rest will get out Tuesday evening 4/1 and that is not an April Fool’s joke!

Mailbox common licenseThe matches are made, and I am in the process of sending out the match partner and newbie emails. It is a process, so you may get yours before your partners get theirs. I suggest you wait for yours just to be sure everything is correct. Even though the matching list has been proofread by others, and all of the people who signed up on the actual swap post are included, I sometimes mess up and assign some swappers the wrong size or some other silly detail. Let me know, I will correct it. Don’t pester your partners, I will do my darndest to make it right.

It really is a process, with 1053 little charm sets about to take off for new homes! I send so many emails doing this that sometimes my service suspends me until I prove I am not full of “suspicious activity” or something. On your end, watch for email from mary at maryeoriginals dot com, and check your spam folder too. It may be tomorrow before all the emails clear my service, so your patience is appreciated.

© CQ PSQ Flickr Photo Sampler

Remember to share your progress on our Flickr Group!

Once you get your lists, email your partners and share mailing information. Do not share the names or details about your other partners, as you will be banned from future swaps if you do! When your charms arrive, be sure to email your partner and let them know. If you think the charms you get are not simply divine, please accept them graciously, and remember that this is an open swap for quilters of all abilities and situations. It is for fun, and should stay that way.

There are actually 19 swappers who have now participated in all seven swaps. This round we have 11 former newbies swapping for the first time. It was not our biggst swap, but certainly a great group from many countries.

Yes, there will be another swap, but life is a moving target and have not set the date yet. I will tell you as soon as I know. I hope you are stitching and not just collecting.

Now to prep for the April Celebration of a Half-Million Hits! Watch for giveaways, tutorials, nostalgia, and some fun! See you in a few days . . .
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com
Swap Sign Up Almost Done © 2014 by The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com. All rights reserved.

Posted in PostageStamp Quilts/Charm Swaps | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Wow! 500,000 “hits” and counting.

An amazing thing happened on Friday night. My little blog reached a milestone. All of you lovely readers have visited my posts and pages 500,000 times in less than four years!
I simply cannot thank you enough for taking the time to read my blog, and sharing your own quilting journeys with me.

cq 500000 HITSI think this calls for a celebration, so (after the March Charm Swap) I am declaring April to be the CQ Half-million Hits Party. There will be a giveaway every week in April, and some fun posts and treats.

Thanks again for spending time with me, and watch for the April celebration.
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot com2014-postage-stamp-quilt-swapHave you signed up for the March PSQ Charm Swap yet?

Visit the March 2014 PSQ Charm Swap Sign Up Post to join the fun anytime between 3/14-24, 2014. Whether you are new to swapping, of have participated in the six previous swaps, you will have fun! It is amazing to see the variety of fabrics other people have. I hope you will join in this, my seventh swap.Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comWow! 500,000 hits and counting. © 2014 by The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com. All rights reserved.

Posted in PostageStamp Quilts/Charm Swaps, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

March 2014 PSQ Charm Swap Sign Up Begins

2014-postage-stamp-quilt-swapWelcome to the seventh PSQ charm swap here at The Curious Quilter! The March 2014 Postage Stamp Quilt Fabric Charm Swap begins today. You can sign-up to swap, or request a Newbie Gift by leaving a comment on THIS post, anytime between March 14-24, 2014. Complete details follow, and even return swappers should read on to learn more.

Start packaging your sets and sign up to swap. I KNOW that many of you are already hooked, but I encourage you to invite a friend to join this time. The more swappers, the more variety. Returning swappers, I am glad to have you back. If you are a new swapper, you must review all the rules below carefully, look through the links included. You can find inspiration in the Postage Stamp Quilt pages on the menu bar above.

© CQ PSQ Flickr Photo SamplerYes, I am repeating my words from previous swaps, but there are new swappers out there too, so bear with me please. Even if you didn’t take part in a previous swap, you are most welcome to take part in this one. And if you have been here before, I am comforted to know that my obsession is shared. Be sure to put your collections and progress shots up on our Flickr pages! We have lots of photos, and there are a couple of really fun variations shown.

What is this all about? Postage Stamp Quilts (PSQ’s) are made with small square charms, ranging from 1″ to 2.5″ before sewing. Most quilters strive to make one with as few duplicate fabric squares as possible, but there are some really striking quilts out there that have alternating solids, or lots of repeats. A lot of people are like me, they collect fabric scraps or charms with the plan to make a PSQ sometime. The goal is to get people to actually MAKE a postage stamp quilt. Sooner, not later.

Me? Obsessed? HA! My collection of two-inch treasures reached well over 40,000 charms, and I started stitching them up a couple of years ago. I have finished seven of them, with 3-4,000 charms in each. And yes, I do keep cutting and collecting them. Every quilt fabric that comes into my house gets a few charms cut out of it. If you are new here, or just want to prove to your family that SOME people have more piles of charms than you, read more, and even more, about my journey to use my collection.

Postage Stamp Quilts Playing with Color

There are many ways to play with little fabric charms!

Help a New Quilter start a charm collection! Newbie Gifts are included in the swap this again round. I hear from new quilters who want to make a PSQ quilt, but do not have 100 fabrics to cut charms from. This is NOT a swap, it is a gift. If you are a new quilter who cannot swap, but would like to start a charm collection, sign up below. If you are a quilter with charms to spare, please sign up to donate a set or two. Details below.

Special note about newbie gifts. Many previous Newbie Gift Donors do not want to do it anymore because their Newbie Partners never acknowledged receiving their gift. Some common courtesy is absolutely required. Your donor makes the effort to cut and pack your charms, and pays the postage to get them to you. Let them know when the package arrives!

I am repeating the basic rules (updated here!) for swapping below, but also want to refer you to the main Postage Stamp Quilt 2012 Swaps and Challenge page, and the FAQ’s About Postage Stamp Charm Swaps.

One note for returning swappers: I am not a meanie, really, but if your partner(s) still hasn’t received their charms from you, I will not be matching you with a new partner this round. Fix it, and you can join!

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comHow to Swap PSQ Charms

Preparing your Charm Sets to Swap Sign-Up to Swap Newbie Gifts! Puzzled? Find help!

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comPreparing Your Charm Sets To Swap:

Before you sign-up to swap, you MUST have your charm sets ready to mail. That saves time at the mailing week, and ensures that you actually have as many sets as you want to swap already cut and ready. Last minute cutting messes up swapping big time! Please note, for the March 2014 swap, you are limited to swapping 8 charm sets in each size that you select.

Charm Size Comparison - stitchedYou have to decide which size charms you want to swap. (My personal favorites are 2″ charms, but most beginners use the 2.5″ ones.) Check out the info in Let’s Talk Size, which compares sizes and the number of charms needed for a quilt, then pick 1.5″, 2″, or 2.5″ charm squares, get out your scraps, and start cutting. Cut some for you, and some to swap. Please use only 100% cotton fabric that is suitable for quilting. When you hold it up to the light, you should not be able to see through it. Homespuns or flannels should not be used for this swap. Yes, a few solids are fine in a set, and if you have the pinked-edge pre-cut charms a few of them can be included as well. Hopefully, your fabric has been pre-washed before cutting, but that may not always be possible. Be sure to use good cutting practices while preparing your charms, no selvages, never torn, no ripped-out stitch holes showing, and so on. No one cuts perfectly, but strive for accuracy in your cutting.

For this swap, if you are interested in one inch charms, please cut two-inch charms to swap. You will have more people available to swap with, although you will have to quarter the ones you receive.

Novelty Charms

Novelty charms are fun in these quilts!

Keep cutting. Fussy cut some fun novelties. Solids, stripes, plaids, prints, metallics, embellished, almost anything goes. Bust up as much stash as you want. Cut up strips and charm squares that you are not using.

Make sets of 100 to swap. Count them out into stacks of 100, with no duplicates in each stack. (Large-scale prints may read as different fabrics when cut into small charms, which is acceptable.) So every set of 100 charms will have no duplicates, and is a UNIQUE set. If you cut 400 squares from 400 fabrics, you have four unique sets. If you cut 400 squares, 4 each from 100 fabrics, you have four matching sets. OK, that may sound confusing, but think of it this way: with unique sets, you could swap them all to one person, but with matching sets, you would swap one set to each of four people, so no duplicates came through!* Don’t sweat it, justRed Star Means Changedholler if you are stuck. If you have 100 charms to swap, you will get 100 charms back. If you have 800 charms to swap, you can get 800 charms back. You are limited to swapping 1-8 sets in each charm size you select.

*Note: A UNIQUE set has each one different. Two UNIQUE sets have 200 different fabrics. If you only have one set, with all different fabrics, it is UNIQUE. Two MATCHING SETS means that you have two sets cut from 100 different fabrics, but each set is the same. The sets match each other. A goal with postage stamp quilts is to have few or no repeats, so ‘coordinated sets’ – say with 4 each of 25 fabrics, are not acceptable for this swap. That said, however, some duplicates are acceptable in Newbie Sets, read below.

Keep some for yourself. Set aside the number of these stacks that you want to keep for your own stash, after all, they are YOUR little treasures! Once you get started, you may want to make more than one quilt.
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSign-Up To Swap!

A favorite Postage Stamp Quilt.

My classic PSQ that I made with over 4,000 two-inch charms.

Now that you have cut and counted, you are ready to sign-up to swap. I will be matching you up to one or more other swappers, and emailing you both so you can share mailing addresses. I will be getting those emails off as fast as I can, but please do not worry if you do not hear before March 31st! (Remember, I have a job and write two blogs, so it takes me a little while to pull it all together.) Once you have the swap info, you should contact your partner/s and arrange for mailing your charms and get them out within one week.

SWAPPERS! Any time between March 14-24, 2014, leave a comment below ON THIS POST ONLY, stating each of these items: (it will be helpful if you use the numbers to answer.)

  1. Your first name, middle initial, and the first letter of your last name. (I am asking for more info, as last time I had three people named Cathy R. sign up, two from the same state, and I messed up their swap partners.).
  2. Your City, State or Territory, and Country.
  3. Are you willing to swap with people in other countries? (Often more variety, but higher postage rates may apply. Check out the postage rate discussion included in my 10/6/2013 post.)
  4. What size charms you want to swap, 2.5, 2 or 1.5 inches. If you are doing a 1 inch project please swap 2 inch charms.
  5. How many UNIQUE sets or MATCHING sets of 100 you have to swap. LIMIT 8 SETS per charm size.
  6. How many NEWBIE GIFTS you have to share.
  7. A brief comment progress report on what you are doing with your charms. Please, start sewing asap, do not just save charms!

Please DO NOT include your email address or your mailing address in your comment below! You email address is held privately when you submit the comment form. By joining the swap, you are giving me permission to share your email information with your swap partner/s.

Here is a sample blank SWAPPER comment, you could copy it and replace the info with your own:
1- Mary E. W.
2- St. Paul, MN, USA.
3- Yes Int’l.
4- two inches.
5- three matching sets, and two unique sets
6- two Newbie gifts.
7- After I finish two wedding quilts, I will finish my 7th PSQ this year for sure.

If you swapped in previous swaps through The Curious Quilter, an effort will be made to give you different swap partner/s this round, to help you get more diversity in your charm stash. But this will not always be possible, so please just enjoy what comes your way!

Red Star Means ChangedBefore you sign up, double-check that your charms are all set to mail! That is why we have a week to sign up, if you want to swap but aren’t through cutting your sets, do not sign-up until you finish cutting and counting them. Please do not directly point a comment at another swapper asking them to swap with you. The only sharing of info between swappers should be through me. I am not trying to be controlling, REALLY, just trying to keep it fair.
Lovely Color Sorted Charms
NEWBIE QUILTERS! Are you requesting a NEWBIE SET? Read those rules below. You can only be a NEWBIE once, though. To actually sign-up, any time between March 14-24, 2014, leave a comment below, stating each of these items: (it will be helpful if you use the numbers to answer, you can copy and paste sample below and type over my info.)

  1. Your first name, middle initial, and the first letter of your last name.
  2. Your City, State or Territory, and Country.
  3. What size charms you are collecting, 2.5, 2 or 1.5 inches. If you are doing a 1 inch project please request 2 inch charms.
  4. A brief comment about what you are planning to make with your little squares; or share some comments about progress on your project.

Please DO NOT include your email address or your mailing address! You email address is held privately when you submit the comment form. By signing up for Newbie Gift/s, you are giving me permission to share your email information with your donor/s.

Red Star Means Changed*Note: Please Do Not Share Info once you get your swap lists! I really am not a total control freak, but I work hard to keep swapping fun. So I have a firm reminder for everyone. Looking ahead to the matching, please remember that you simply can not share your swapper’s names and emails with other swappers. This is a privacy issue, as well as a swapping issue. Also, do not offer to swap with people in the comments, all matching is done behind the scenes, not by comments.

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comNEWBIE GIFT INFORMATION!

What is a Newbie Gift?

Two Inch Treasure Frames

There are many ways to use PSQ charms, even if you do not have thousands of them.

A Newbie Gift is a set of 50 fabric charms in the size requested. All fabrics must be suitable for quilting, with no homespuns or flannels. Preferably, all 50 fabrics will be different, but, since these are probably ‘overstash’ from a seasoned quilter, some duplicates will be acceptable. (After all, the new quilter can trade them with a fellow quilter.) In no case shall a set include fewer than 25 different fabrics, so two of each.

Who Donates Them?
Any quilter with charms to spare! As you probably know, most quilters are very generous people. They may be stash-busting, or have duplicates to share. Or they just may take delight in helping stash-less quilters become fabric addicts!

Red Star Means ChangedBut they are donations, not swaps, so they REALLY MUST GET an email when the gift gets to you. Sounds so basic, but well over half of our NEWBIES in the past have not acknowledged receiving their gifts. Do let your donor know!

Who Can Receive Newbie Gifts?
Red Star Means ChangedAny quilter who has insufficient stash to create a charm set of 100 different fabrics AND HAS NOT PREVIOUSLY REQUESTED NEWBIE SETS! But please note, if you sign-up to swap, you cannot receive a Newbie Gift. While you are waiting for gifts, you might enjoy my PSQ tutorial. Then, keep cutting so you can be a SWAPPER in the next round of swaps. When you GET your gifts, remember to send your donor an email letting them know it arrived safely. (I simply cannot stress that enough!)

How Do I Participate?
Follow the directions in the Sign-Up section, above! Donors, use the SWAPPER instructions. New quilters will find their own instructions there as well.

How Can I Build My Stash?
Red Star Means ChangedOur Newbie Gift Goddess from 2012, BARB K., had a few super ideas for building your own stash quickly, and moving into being a swapper.

  1. Join a local quilt group, as quilters are always willing to share the wealth. Ask for small pieces they don’t need anymore, tell them why!
  2. Check at your local quilt shops, one near Barb has a basket that people leave their leftovers!
  3. recycle or freecyle! Check online for local free-cycle sites, Craigslist, and more. Join these groups locally online and place an ad that you are looking for unwanted fabric suitable for quilting. You will have to pick it up.
  4. Buy SMALL! Buy from your local quilt shop, or the chain stores like Joann’s and Hancock Fabrics. Barb buys a 3″ piece when they are on sale and cuts it into squares. Most of the time the fabric piece is around 35-50 cents. She doesn’t know how small a quilt shop will cut but most Joann’s and Hancock’s will cut as small as 2″ BUT allow for crooked cutting and shrinking and get at least half an inch extra. (Mary says: When I find nifty small novelties, but feel broke, I treat myself to an eighth of a yard, and get as many fussy-cuts as I can out of that!)

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comHave fun! Keep watching for more Postage Stamp Quilt goodness. And thanks so much for taking part!! Oh, and do not forget to start SEWING the charms together. Collecting is fun, but a finished quilt is an accomplishment. And a QUILT is the goal of all this swapping!!
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comHere is the SWAP sign-up model, repeated so you can copy, paste, and change to share your own info:

Any time between March 14-24, 2014, leave a comment below ON THIS POST ONLY, stating each of these items: (it will be helpful if you use the numbers to answer)

  1. Your first name, middle initial, and the first letter of your last name.
  2. Your City, State or Territory, and Country.
  3. Are you willing to swap with people in other countries? (Often more variety, but higher postage rates may apply.)
  4. What size charms you want to swap, 2.5, 2 or 1.5 inches. If you are doing a 1 inch project please swap 2 inch charms.
  5. How many UNIQUE sets or MATCHING sets of 100 you have to swap. LIMIT 8 SETS per charm size.
  6. How many NEWBIE GIFTS you have to share.
  7. A brief comment progress report on what you are doing with your charms. Please, start sewing asap, do not just save charms!

Newbie request? Please scroll up for your sign-up directions.

Matches will be made after sign-up closes, and it takes a few days to a week to get that accomplished. Do be patient, please! Will there be another swap after this one? Probably, but I have not set any date yet.

Happy swapping, and have fun drooling over little fabric charms!

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comMarch 2014 PSQ Charm Swap Sign Up Begins © 2014 by The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com. All rights reserved.

Posted in PostageStamp Quilts/Charm Swaps | Tagged , , , , , , , | 138 Comments