Color Inspiration Thursday {3}

Today I thought I’d mix up our color inspiration a bit and use photographs from someone other than myself. Were you getting tired of nature and flower photos? I hope not, but either way, this week will act as a little break. I was going through my photo files looking for some good brights (who doesn’t love brights?), and I found a couple of gems taken by my dear friend Brittany from Brittany White Photography. Both photographs are of my daughter, and I love reminiscing to the days when she was such a wee itty bitty girl. And oh, the color!

red color palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Coal, Mushroom, Deep Rose, Crimson, Raisin, Cardinal

This photograph was taken years ago, when Brittany was first starting out her photography business and went by the name of Lucy James Photography. My daughter is exactly one year old in the photo, yet I gasped when I saw it since it evokes feelings of maturity that I had not yet associated with my baby girl. The colors pulled from this photo are both soft and elegant, and I could see them in a comfortable lap quilt draped across a living room couch, or even as a king quilt in a master bedroom suite.

bright teal palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Pool, Breakers, Silver, Denim, Candy Pink, Crimson

And so quickly, she grows. A year and a half later, my daughter was captured wearing my favorite colors, seriously. This is exactly the palette I was seeking when I set out to find this week’s color inspiration, and I’m grateful to Brittany for eagerly agreeing to my use of her photographs in my palettes. Anyone who has been following my latest sewing projects knows that I’m absolutely STUCK on these colors. Turquoise, magenta, a bit of silver (low volume): I’m a happy quilter!

I just love Brittany’s photography; she captures such depth of soul and beauty in all of her subjects. Check out her website or her blog for some more portraiture eye candy, as well as for bits of inspiration and tips (while not specific to quilting, this 6 tips to better photos post is quite helpful!).

While we are on the topic of inspiration, last week I read a blog post that I think any creative person can relate to. Cheryl Arkison of Naptime Quilter wrote an honest and open post about being in a creative slump. This is from the author of popular quilting books Sunday Morning Quilts, and A Month of Sundays, with another manuscript underway! Yes, even the famous quilters get into a slump. Even the big names grow in bitterness and frustration at a continuously cluttered house. I’m not alone in this. There was something releasing in reading her blog post. It helped me to realize that we all feel the daily frustrations and at times get into slumps where creativity just won’t happen, AND that there are steps that can be taken to help emerge on the other side. I asked Cheryl if I could share her list of suggestions for getting through a slump, and she said yes:

– Keep sewing. Keep your muscles moving, your brain activated to the process.
– Finish something, anything.
– Take inventory of the WIPs, admit that you won’t finish some and pass them on.
– Wash the windows, or get them washed. New light, clean light will highlight the path and let the butterflies in.
– Try a new technique.
– Give away a quilt, a finished quilt.
– Say no to a commitment.
– Get up early to sip tea and do nothing in the quiet morning light.
– Colour, paint, or create with your kids.
– Turn off the computer, walk away from Pinterest and Instagram
– Put away the inspirational stack of fabric you pulled out two years ago.
– Sign up for a swap or bee.
– Take a road trip, even if just for the day.
– Have faith in yourself.

I love this list. So many resonate with me, and I think that final tip is so key. Have faith in yourself. For me, sewing and creating in general is an outlet of creative energy and my attempt to make beautiful things daily. If sewing begins to make ugly things, even in my mind, then perhaps it is time to go paint with the kids, put the fabric aside, and open the window so that the butterflies can come in.

I would add “Lay in the grass and look closely at nature” to this list, since getting a close look at the bees busily buzzing from flower to flower renews my awe at the world. And for me, where there’s awe, inspiration flows.

What suggestions do you have for getting out of a slump? Perhaps search for color inspiration everywhere you go? *wink wink*

Color Inspiration Thursday {2}

Yesterday when I checked the forecast for today and the next three days, it said “rain, rain, rain.” We woke up this morning to a bit of drizzle, but blue skies. By the time I got home from dropping my daughter at preschool, it was sunny and gorgeous, as it remained all day. Needless to say, we spent the day outside!

Now that night has fallen and my kiddos are sleeping, it’s time for me to keep my word and post my second weekly Color Inspiration Thursday. As I explained last week, on Thursdays I plan to post a color palette or two that I have created using the Play Crafts Palette Builder and my old photographs. I will also include the corresponding Kona Cottons since the Palette Builder lists them for me!

My hope is that these palettes help inspire you, maybe spur an idea for a new quilt or sewing project, or even just brighten your day and trigger those happy aesthetically-driven feelings. Even if you didn’t get to enjoy a sunny day filled with spring-time joy, new blooms, and keeping-the-bugs-at-bay breeze, here’s your dose of color:

lavender color palette

 Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Cadet, Avocado, Sweet pea, Pansy, Wisteria, Magenta

For this palette, some of the Kona matches were a bit of a stretch (specifically the colors on the outer edges–do they look like cadet and magenta?), but when looking at the Kona colors together, I almost prefer them to actual colors pulled from the photograph.

palette with kona cotton coordinates
The coordinating Kona cotton thumbnails are shown above. I like the cadet–a little bluer, and the magenta–a little brighter!

Regardless of whether you go with the range of purples from the photo, or the Kona colors chosen to match, I could see these colors becoming a quilt for my late Grammy June. Grammy was the sole quilter in the family, and my inspiration to begin quilting. She loved purple! I have to say: purple is certainly growing on me.

 

summer color palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
White, Avocado, Grass green, Stone, Sienna, Wasabi

I’m partial to this palette since it includes both white and gray, which find their way into my quilts always very often these days. I feel like this palette has a country, down home feel. Do colors do that for you; do they illicit a specific “feel”? They definitely do for me!

Works in Progress: Late Night Quilters Club, Supernova Block 1 & Scrappy Play

Today is one of those days where I feel like I have a million things “in progress”.  I promise I won’t spill my entire brain’s to-do list for you (that would be messy), but here are some of the top projects I have in progress at the moment:

Late Night Quilters Club Facebook Group
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This awesome LNQC banner was created by my talented brother Steven.

About a week ago, my new quilting friend Stephanie and her local quilter friend Michelle and I decided to launch a new Facebook community for fellow late night quilters, since we were getting so much out of our own nightly conversations. It started as a page, but the interest and content was so fabulous after only a day, that when new members requested that we make it a private group, we knew it was the right path. This way, it allows for easier communication and better sharing of pictures and ideas. Facebook “pages” aren’t as  conducive to posts by many different people in a community as “groups” are. So we made the change, and the group is hoppin’!

We want you to join us there. Your posts will be front and center so you can get lots of feedback from fellow quilters. You can network, ask questions, share advice, share your own works in progress, or even just be a wallflower looking for inspiration.

How is this a work in progress, you may ask? Well, we have a lot of great ideas still in the works, including the creation of a button you can include on your blog, creating a weekly fabric swap so that you can buy, sell, and trade fabric on the page, and more! If you’re on Facebook, would you please give us a little love and take a second to join the group (Steph, Michelle and I are accepting requests as fast as we can), share it with your quilting friends, and perhaps post some of your projects? We’d all love to see what YOU’re working on!

Supernova Friendship Block Swap: Block 1

typewriter and supernova swap block 1

I have completed my first block for the Supernova Friendship Block Swap, and I love it! I still need to make a duplicate for myself, but I figured I may as well stay ahead and start writing my first letter to my partner Laura. The aspect of the swap that really drew me in at the start is the friendship-making in the process.  Each month, I will send not only an awesome 18″ supernova quilt block to Laura, but I’ll also write her a letter about myself. I’ve decided to type most of the letters since I have an awesome typewriter and may as well use it.

typewriter

Besides, how awesome would it be to receive a typed letter in the mail?! I hope Laura agrees.

I think that the swap is partially supposed to be a surprise each month, and I’ve already blown the surprise this month anyway with my tweeting and Instagramming, so I figure a semi-secretive peek at my block is okay. In future months, I promise to only post pictures AFTER Laura has received her blocks! This is going to be fun!

Scrappy Play

My final work in progress has been a fun little “extra”. My Star Crazy quilt is the first pattern I’ve used that results in many, somewhat large, already cool-looking scraps. I have been having a lot of fun playing around with different possibilities for the scraps.

various scrap arrangementsI think I have decided to make them into a set of place mats, but I think I will wait until the quilt is finished to make sure I have enough pieces to make a sufficient number of coordinating place mats. The alternative, of course is to use them on the back of the quilt. Either way, it has been fun discovering all of the wonderful arrangements possible with half-square triangles (HST).

possible place mat arrangement

It has been a busy week!

What do you do with your HST scraps? Do you have a favorite arrangement?

I’m linking up to Work in Progress Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Wednesday

Stash Building: Shot Cottons and more!

One of the best parts about taking on a new quilt challenge is the fabric shopping that ensues. Since I’ve officially joined the Supernova Friendship Swap partnering with Laura from Adventures of a Quilting Diva, and we finally decided on our color plan and background fabric, I had to do a little fabric shopping.

Shot cottons and fabric stash addition

fabric stash additionSince I was shopping online so that Laura and I could be sure that we were getting the same exact background fabric, I ordered a few more prints to bring the total to >$50 (free shipping from QuiltHome!).

I ordered mostly half-yards, and 2.5 yards of our background fabric, since the pattern calls for 2 yards and I wanted a bit left for another project-in-the-works. Here’s what I bought:

Pretty Potent-Candy Fabric by Anna Maria Horner
Pretty Potent-Outloud Fabric by Anna Maria Horner
Edges in Sky by Laura Gunn
Acacia-Honey Fabric by Tula Pink
and some Kaffe Fassett Shot Cottons in:
-Ice
-Spruce
-Eucalyptus
-Quartz
-Heather/Mushroom
-Granite
-Prune
-Coal

shot cottons
Gorgeous stack of Kaffe Fassett shot cottons.

We chose Kaffe Fassett’s Granite shot cotton as our background, after debating between various shades and textures of gray.  As you can see (the third one up in the stack is the granite) it is very purple! Yet somehow, with our jewel tone color choice, we both think the greyish purple shot cotton will be awesome! Everyone uses gray as a background. We’re going to push the envelope a bit. I’m nervous and excited all at once.

I plan to incorporate some of the Anna Maria Horner, Laura Gunn & Tula Pink fabrics into the Supernova blocks, too. The other shot cottons will be made into place mats as I test the Canvas quilt pattern by Leanne at She Can Quilt. I’m excited to use these awesome shot cottons for such a simple and elegant pattern.

Radiant Orchid Color study with the Canvas pattern by Leanne at She Can Quilt.
Radiant Orchid Color study with the Canvas pattern by Leanne at She Can Quilt.

The shot cottons are all they’re made out to be. The colors are so dynamic and deeply rich; they just beg to be touched. I have a feeling these will not be the last shot cottons to enter my stash.

I’m linking up with Molli’s Sunday Stash.

Molli Sparkles

 

What’s new (or what do you want to be new) in your stash?

Friday Finish: Lupine, a Foundation Paper Piecing Pattern

I had never seen lupine before traveling to Maine, but now that I live here they are among my favorite flowers. There is a depth and richness to their color that force me to get really close and admire their intricacy. They are very advantageous growers, almost invasive, and the sheer numbers of lupine seen along roadsides, in fields, and in happy gardens make the color incredibly apparent.

Photo by Steffen Ramsaier, found on Flickr
Photo by Steffen Ramsaier, found on Flickr

Early in my sewing days, I was trying to think of a gift to make for my mother-in-law. I immediately thought of lupine, since they are her favorite flower. (If you have children, do you know the book Miss Rumphius? aka the Lupine Lady? Well that’s my mother-in-law–okay, it’s not really, but it certainly could be!) I had recently found paper piecing and wanted to make her a paper pieced lupine pillow.  The only problem was that all of my searches for paper pieced lupine patterns came up empty.

Flash forward a month or so, when I discovered that I could design paper piecing patterns.  A lupine flower was one of the first sketches I did. Talk about complex! I really wanted to get the heart-shaped petals into the pattern, but I knew it had to be fairly simple to be able to be pieced. I drew out a few sketches, chose my favorite, and began to try to break it down into logical pieces. My brain instantly scrambled.  I had to put the pattern aside, and work on a few different projects for a week or two.

paper piecing process
It all starts with the graph paper and sketch.

After that much needed breather, I picked up the lupine again one evening and smoothly worked it into numbered paper piecing sections. After a month or so of fine tuning and testing, the pattern is ready!

paper pieced lupine quilt block

Don’t you love it!? I wasn’t sure about my fabric choices at first, but now that the block is done, I think they were perfect! They blend together just enough to give the flower depth without detracting from the congruence of the bloom.

This is not a beginner paper piecing pattern in that there are many pieces and a few sharp angles.  There are only simple joining seams, though; no y-seams! If you have a good sense of paper piecing, this block shouldn’t be too tricky. It took me about 4 hours to complete and measures 10″ square (10.5″ with seam allowance).

paper piecing progressIf you follow me on Instagram, you’ve watched this lupine block’s progression. For those of you who don’t follow me yet, here’s a peek at the process from my Instagram feed (@nightquilter). Of course these are taken with my iPhone during my late night quilting foray, so pardon the blur!

Lupine paper piecing progress
Little by little, it comes together.

paper piecing detail

The back is my favorite! Stragglers hanging on after I’ve removed most of the paper.

The pattern will be available in my Craftsy Pattern Store by the end of today, so now if you need to make your mother-in-law (or mom, sister, brother, cousin, friend, or yourself!) a lupine pillow, wall hanging, table runner, bag, etc. you can get right to it!

This particular block will soon become a long-awaited Lupine Pillow for my mother-in-law. I’d say it was worth the wait.

This is my exciting Friday Finish, so I’m linking up!

Crazy Mom Quilts
TGIFF

tgiff-button-blog

 

Color Inspiration Thursday {1}

I love color. I’ve always loved color. There’s just something about bright, coordinating, complimenting, or even sometimes clashing color that makes me happy. I’m a very aesthetically driven person, so I often admire the color combinations that appear around me.

Colored pencils aesthetically arranged
You store your colored pencils in color order, too, right?

I’ve written before about the Palette Builder 2.1 on Play Crafts in my post Playing with Color Palettes, and I haven’t grown tired of playing with the Palette Builder to create unique palettes from my photographs. In fact, I’ve gathered quite a collection of color palettes. After a few gray sunless days, I need a burst of color to brighten my day. Both this need for color, and a recently found post called Weekly Inspiration on Nini & The Sea’s blog have inspired me to join in with the weekly inspiration idea.  Each week, I will post a color palette or two that I have created using the Play Crafts Palette Builder and my old photographs. I will include the corresponding Kona Cottons since that is one of the coolest features of the Palette Builder in my opinion.

My hope is that these palettes help inspire you, maybe spur an idea for a new quilt or sewing project, or even just brighten your day and trigger those happy aesthetically-driven feelings. Open up those synapses, because here comes color!

Autumnal color palette from a busy bee on a sunflower.
Bright autumnal color palette from a busy bee on a sunflower.

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Seafoam, Cedar, Mahogany, Black, Wine, Lipstick.

I love this palette because it includes black AND a spot for low volume, both of which find their way into many of my quilts these days.

Summer blue color palette
Summer blues!

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Lake, Cadet, Evening, Azure, Avocado, Moss.

I just love those blues, and this photo reminds me of summer evenings on the coast of Maine. I hope you enjoyed these bursts of happy color!

What is your favorite color combination?

Gardening by Day; Quilting by Night

After a long, especially cold and lingering winter, spring is finally fully here in midcoast Maine. Those first days of warm sun, cool (not frigid and biting) breeze, and sprouting green are precious days. I didn’t know it my first year here, but I know it now. The blackflies won’t be long.

Spring Magnolia

The past few days have been supurb: sunny, warm-even borderline hot, and too early for blackflies. Needless to say, I have been spending every daylight moment out in the garden, playing in the yard, or admiring the flowers with my kids. I know that once the blackflies arrive, we we hide indoors or only go out with long pants and a full head & arms bug net. The blackflies will subside, but for a good solid month, they are a wicked scourge. Swarming clouds of annoying and biting bitties. When my husband and I decided to move from New Jersey back to his home state of Maine, no one had told me about the blackflies. Some days I joke that if someone had told me about the blackflies, I never would have moved here… but I know I’m joking. I love it here in rural Maine.

Days spent in the garden makes for a tired momma, but I can’t help but sew once the sun sets and the kids are asleep.  I’m making slow progress on my Star Crazy quilt, and I like it more and more as blocks get added.

IMG_1133

Before beginning this quilt, I was thinking of adding grays into the low volume sides, to have some of the light stars be grey instead of just low volume. I think now I’ve decided to keep grays out of it, and just stick with the black and white stars.

Star Crazy progress

Star Crazy progress

These blocks are a combination of my favorite colors, AND of fabrics from some of my favorite designers and fabric lines. Seeing Botanics next to Wee Wander next to Architextures, framed by Perfectly Perched and Zen Chic makes me tremendously happy!

IMG_1141

While my sewing progress has been slowed by this gorgeous weather, I feel like I am spending my days the right way. Family, garden, and those first days of spring are SO refreshing and key to a joyous life.

Here are a few more shots of spring from around my homestead, for those of you who find inspiration as I do, from nature.

IMG_1116
Happy rows of garlic in our garden.
onion seedlings
Yesterday I planted about 120 onion seedlings that I had started indoors in early March. I inadvertently planted them in more of a chevron pattern than straight rows! Quilting meets gardening.
onions
Hopeful that these little onion seedlings get big and strong and heavy beneath the surface.

IMG_1125 Tulip Splendor

Fiddleheads coming up in the woods behind our house. Nature is so gorgeous!
A large patch of our lawn is covered in these flowers every spring. Picnics galore!

Happy spring!

Since it’s Wednesday, I’m linking up to Work in Progress Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Wednesday

Summer Knitting and a New Toy

IMG_1008Spring is officially here in midcoast Maine, which means summer won’t be far behind. I typically do most of my knitting during the colder months, since the gardens call my name during every waking moment of the warmer seasons.

I’m still working on the Panem Katniss Cowl that I’m knitting as a barter for Night Quilter logo design, but I’ve completed the Julian Vest for my son. Normally, I would probably complete my current works in progress without picking up a new project until fall, but I think this year I may try some summer knitting. I have some skeins of linen blend yarn destashed by my knitting cousin, and I received a gorgeous new knitting toy for my birthday that makes me eager to cast-on a new project.

IMG_0995

Holly DeGroot from Bijou Lovely recently designed some adorable heart-shaped, engraved wood knitting and stitching tools, and my mother-in-law bought the knitting gauge for me for my birthday. (Thanks, Johanna!) Anyone who knows me knows that I spot hearts everywhere, and I knew that I just had to have a heart to help me sort out the knitting needles at the bottom of my knitting basket.

IMG_0997Now all I need to do is choose a quick summer project or two. I’m not sure I’d wear knitwear during the hot summer months, but a few projects on Ravelry caught my eye.

leafycloth5_medium2Maybe some Leafy Washcloths by Megan Goodacre? I’m not sure I’d be able to let them out and about in my house, though, since my kids would surely turn them brown with mud in no time. They are super adorable, though!

cozy_coaster-0225-2_medium2Or maybe some Cozy Linen Coasters by Anne B. Weil. I think I’m leaning toward these, since I know we will definitely use them. In fact, perhaps I’ll knit up both the leaves and the cozy coasters and use the leaves as coasters, too.

Linen_Stitch_Bag_medium2I also might try the Little Linen Stitch Bag by Cindy Walker. Thus far, I’ve mostly knit hats, cowls, and baby sweaters, so I’m eager to try something new.

Do you knit during the summer months? What’s your go-to hot weather knit?

 

 

 

Work in Progress: Lupine Paper Piecing Pattern

Now that I’ve got my printer figured out, I’m back to testing my new Lupine Paper Piecing Pattern. It’s a 10″ block with lots of small bits, but no complicated joining points. I’m excited to test this out and finalize the pattern, since I really think it will be a beautiful block, truly representative of lupine. Lupine grows all over Maine, and during early June you can see it sprawling gorgeously alongside highways and roads, as well as in fields and gardens. I’m working on a Downeast Paper Piecing Series, and this lupine is an essential piece!

Gorgeous lupine
Gorgeous lupine

When designing paper piecing patterns, I always battle with the balance of visual accuracy and simplicity. I want the finished pattern to look unmistakably like lupine, but I also want it to be simple enough that people will want to create it. With the lupine design, I knew I definitely wanted to get the heart-like flower petals into the pattern.

Hearts in the heart of a lupine flower.
Hearts in the heart of a lupine flower.

The recognizable radiating leaves also had to make an appearance, albeit simplified.

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I’m really happy with how my pattern turned out! I think it looks like lupine, leaves room for lots of color play in the flower, and is fairly simply pieced despite the many small bits. There are a few tricky angles, but using the printer paper foundation paper piecing method, I focus on being generous when cutting my fabric bits and haven’t had trouble yet.

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I’m not overly wild about my fabric choices this time around; they seemed like they melded and contrasted well when I looked at the stacks of fabric, but once paper pieced, I’m not sure it’s enough contrast for my liking.

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Mental note: when choosing fabrics for Lupine Paper Piecing Pattern, go bold!

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I’ve only completed one small section of the Lupine so far, but I will be sure to post my progress as it comes along. I’m hoping to have this pattern posted in my Craftsy Pattern Store within the next couple of weeks, just in time for lupine season here in Maine.

This pattern came about when a search for a paper pieced lupine pattern turned up nothing. There are many paper pieced flower patterns, but I could not find lupine! The only solution was to design it myself.

What’s your favorite flower? Would you take the time to paper piece it into a pillow, table runner, etc.?

Since it’s Wednesday, I’m linking up with
Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Wednesday

 

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Supernova Friendship Block Swap: I’m In!

Last week, Stephanie from The Late Night Quilter announced the Supernova Friendship Block Swap, and I was immediately hooked. (Yes, you read that right–The Late Night Quilter meets The Night Quilter: we lead parallel lives more than half a country apart, unbeknownst to either of us before a few weeks ago when I saw her name in a comment on a blog we both follow and sent her a hello!)

supernova friendship block swap blog-button-200x200-back-font-finalSo back to the Supernova Friendship Block Swap! It took me an entire day of deliberating to decide that I definitely was going to join in on the fun for this unique project. It will be my first ever swap and first ever official quilt along, as well as a great opportunity to better get to know a fellow quilter/blogger. But do I really need another project? With the design and testing of four paper piecing patterns, my newly started Star Crazy quilt, a slow-moving baby quilt, as well as other various sewing projects all in progress, on top of being a full time mom and wife trying to get my garden in before the blackflies hit!, I was really debating if I would be taking on too much by committing to this swap. I decided that this Supernova Friendship Block Swap is spread out enough that the sewing part is definitely doable without time-limit stress, and the added letter writing and friendship-building part is right in line with what I’d like to do more of: connect with other quilters. So yes, I’m doing it!

Click on the picture above to find out all about the swap from Stephanie’s blog. The jist is that you pair up with another blogger-quilter acquaintance or friend and each month, you create two identical blocks–one for you and one that you send to your partner. After five months, you have enough blocks for the entire quilt, plus one extra for the back or a smaller quilt. Here’s a summary, and the part that really hooked me:

Here’s the idea: To learn more about each other and deepen our friendship, each time we send our surprise package with a new block in it to our partner, we’ll also include a letter with few details about ourselves.

In my previous life, before having children and before email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. made it so easy to converse daily, I was quite a letter writer. I am eager for this chance to get back into the fading art of letter writing.  I’m also excited to get to know another quilter along the way. More on that–I’m partnering with Laura from Adventures of a Quilting Diva. I don’t know Laura well, but she has been designing blocks for a Spool Along, with which I have been sort of trying to keep up (I’m quite far behind!). It will be fun to get to know her more, and to see this project come together–a melding of styles and personalities in one of my favorite modes of expression: quilting.

2014-05-04 12.11.05Off to finalize our color palette plan! Here’s what we are thinking so far: Jewel tones with a light grey background and some black & white prints mixed in. Sounds like just my style, doesn’t it?

2014-05-04 13.29.42It’s not too late for you to join in the fun! Just grab a partner and leave a message on The Late Night Quilter’s blog post here. The deadline to send your first block to your partner is June 15, but other than that there’s a rolling admission for anyone who would like to join. Even if you don’t have a partner in mind, Stephanie can help match you up with someone. Do let me know if you decide to join–I’m looking forward to reading all of the blog posts and tweets about the #supernovaswap and the growing friendships that emerge!

Any tips for my first quilt-along block swap?