Sometime soon, I plan to talk a bit about swaps. I find myself indulging in one-to-one trades because I like making stuff with particular folks in mind. Unfortunately, I end up not getting to make much stuff for myself because I over-commit. I do always follow through, however, even if it means spending a couple of years making a quilt for someone in a lopsided exchange. I am cutting back on swaps for the rest of the year so that I can catch up and begin to create with different motivations.

The swap I want to tell you about today wasn’t one of those lopsided ones. Not only did I receive far more than we agreed to in goods, but also the creative experience was transformative for me.

At this point it’s hard to remember how the swap began. I could search my email archives to get the technical details, but I’m not sure that matters now. Sometime more than a year ago, Mary-Heather and I decided on a swap of a mini-quilt for some southwestern snacks and a skein of handspun.

My creation

She mentioned loving the colors of her photos of her skies in New Mexico. [1. love it here, 2. adobe, sky] What a great inspiration! So I began with some postage stamps in oranges and blues.

but not as sticky.

Then she posted a shot of some leaf buds while I was working and thinking and I really thought this needed something more than squares. So I added an appliqued flower and then embellished with some embroidery.

close up on the embroidery

I turned under the raw edge with some hand-embroidered satin stitch, then sandwiched and handquilted on the diagonals with some variegated thread.

Southwestern Skies: all done

This was the first time I successfully appliqued anything and certainly the first time that I mixed processes in a quilt top. And, I guess, it was the first time that I ventured away from block-by-block quilt constructions to try to do an artistic interpretation. I am very much in love with this quilt and had some trouble mailing it away.

But then this bottomless box of goodies arrived…! I really do feel spoiled by Mary-Heather’s generosity. And she was incredibly thoughtful about each item she sent.

There was yarn! Using a drop spindle, she adeptly spun up some wool; the blue is some Quince and Co to add to a menagerie I posted about once and the red is a luxurious laceweight that she got after we once discussed circular shawls. Those Jennie-the-Potter buttons are beautiful and i’m now planning to knit a cardigan just so I can use them.

And there was food! Oh, the food! Lots of cookies and teas and coffees…


and chiles and sauces and honey!


When the package came, I unwrapped each item and immediately opened to sniff and taste and wonder. It really is one of my most favorite things to do: if I can’t travel to a place then I love to experience the sensations of a place however possible. And my kitchen is now NewMexico-ized. Yum!

Thanks, Mary-Heather, for an amazing swap!