Well, the waiting is over. They have arrived and the excitement of receiving our packages through the post for the UKQU Spring 2018 Mini Quilt Swap is spent. Now we are all sitting and lovingly stroking our perfectly thought out, beautifully made, handmade-with-love minis.

The mini quilt swap is a bigger commitment than most. The idea is that you commit to make a quilt in a timeframe of around three months, no less than 15” and no more than 24” along one side. Swapees are placed in groups according to ability and you are allocated a person to make for – which you have to keep secret. You then spend a couple of weeks (or more) asking questions in your group and ‘stalking’ your partner: finding out their likes and dislikes to help you settle on a design for the quilt.

Stalking my swapee is the part of the process that I like best. I was very lucky this time around to be given the name of Sally Dodsworth, who I was already acquainted with from the Raggedy Ruff Free Motion Embroidery Support Facebook page.  We are making the same Block of the Month quilt – albeit in different colourways – so straight away, I had a pretty good idea of the kind of things she might like.

I had an idea forming that would involve lots of Prairie Stars so asked questions in the mini-swap group to see if Sally would like them – at the same time I was collecting data on her preferences when it came to colourways, animals and so on. The secret of a successful swap is to ask lots of questions and to make sure that you answer everyone else’s questions as well. Participation is key.

I could see from Sally’s personal Facebook page that she is a cat owner (like myself) and that gave me the idea of incorporating them somehow into the quilt. I had seen a greetings card designed by Jane Crowther on Pinterest featuring a piece of mixed media embroidery involving a cat and some cushions and that was the final piece of inspiration I needed to design the mini quilt I made.

Even though I love what I made, I was still hit with a terror that Sally wouldn’t like it when it finally went in the post – and Sally liking it was the most important thing to me. Luckily she loved it.

Apparently so did a lot of the other swappers… I was overwhelmed by the number of positive comments people made about my naughty kitty quilt when Sally posted her photos. I have been inundated with PMs asking me for the pattern so rather than go through the steps in a blog, I have decided to write up a version of the pattern properly, with step-by-step instructions that can be adapted for any animal… cat, dog or guinea pig! This is going to take me a little while to do though so please bear with me – I promise that I’ll get it posted as soon as I can.

We all know that the pleasure is in the giving, not the receiving – but I was certainly not disappointed with the mini quilt I received myself. My swapee, Pauline Warner had stalked me like a pro – she got my taste spot on with this amazing hand pieced, machine quilted table runner for my sun room.

Pauline even embroidered a dragonfly onto the label of my quilt. Just beautiful.

As well as the table runner, I was very lucky to receive an intricately embroidered scissors case containing a handy pair of embroidery scissors as my gift.

All of the quilts submitted this year have been amazing. If you didn’t join in this time, please do think about it for next time, no matter what your skill level is. We all learn so much during this journey and making something small, to a deadline, is the perfect way to challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new.

You never know, I might be lucky enough to be asked to be a Swap Mumma next time around!