In January, Laurie organized a Valentine swap. Everyone sent six 3" embellished squares to Laurie, and Laurie swapped them out and sent everyone six different squares.
When I got my squares from Laurie, I couldn't wait to make them into a little quilt. I sewed them onto a piece of felted wool, and started playing with stitching and embellishing.
I got the squares on a Saturday, had them sewed onto my backing by Sunday, and spent the rest of the week stitching, sewing and playing, and I had finished my quilt by the next Sunday.
I know, I pretty much stitched this into the ground- I just kept adding. If you want to see what the squares looked like before I embellished and surrounded them, Laurie has pictures of all the squares made for the swap here. (There were 13 of us in the swap, so you'll see more squares that I show here.)
(These are my squares, and somehow I missed getting one on my quilt.)
It was a really fast and fun project- especially since I had talented friends who did most of the "heavy lifting"- making the squares.
As much as I enjoyed playing with my quilt, I think I was even more touched by the emails that my fellow swappers exchanged after everyone had received their swap boxes.
One of the gals Laurie had invited to play passed because of a medical issue. A couple of other swappers had the idea that if we each made a square for her, we could let her know we were thinking about her.
Laurie shared an email from her, and the Valentine surprise did cheer up our friend. I'm so glad for that, but I was also really touched by some of the responses from some of the other swappers.
I am so happy to have been a part of this gift... and am so glad we all did it together.
It was a blessing to me to be able to contribute.
It is wonderful when we can do such a small thing that makes someone feel special through our art.
These emails led into another related subject- how important it is to all of us to be able to create, make things, and how lucky we are to be able to share this passion with other people that "get it".
This isn't the first time I've posted about this, and many people have written about it more eloquently than me, but I think it bears repeating. Being creative and making things, whether stamping, doodling, sewing, knitting, stitching or painting or any other pursuit that engages us, makes us feel good. Scientific studies have shown that those "feel good" chemicals in our brains are released while we are "doing art".
It doesn't matter if we're making our 70th necklace that we might never get around to wearing, doodling in a journal no one but us will see, or casting on and knitting stitches we know we'll pull out tomorrow; it's the process of making art that engages, encourages and enlightens us and brings us happiness.
(Jenny Doh has written a wonderful blog post about "the process".)
Swaps like this remind me of how lucky I am to have art in my life and friends that I can share it with. Thanks to Laurie for organizing the swap, and to everyone who played along and added to the email conversation.