Sunday, September 1, 2013

Rainbow wind down

This year in the Facebook Quilt Bock Swap group, we have had an every other month Rainbow Connection block swap.  It does require a sign-up; it was the only way to guarantee only one of each red, orange, yellow, green, blue & purple.  There have been some bumps which were more or less to be expected (you can expect them & still not be able to prevent them), but mostly it has been successful.  It is also losing popularity; not completely there are still people interested, but filling a month takes a little longer each time & I don't feel bad making January 2014, the 6th Rainbow Connection the LAST Rainbow Connection.

The Rainbow Connection swap came out of a couple of different ideas.  While we have had long-term swaps before there was always a bump in group membership following one of the special sign-up swaps & the new members were often disappointed as they had joined hoping to participate in the swap that just ended.  That it was all over was never happy news.  & I thought a more limited swap (6 people MAX), along a single theme but year round might better. 

Then there were the beginners.  There are more people who think of themselves as beginner quilters every year & they come in all shapes & sizes & skill levels.  I can think of two regular swappers who describe themselves as beginners who have more years quilting under their belt than I do.  & I don't mean on a calendar, I mean in front of the machine, the ironing board, the cutting table.  How to keep those self-describe beginners from getting bored while still making a space for the person who started last month?  We still have the year-long more advanced swap, & I think having the Rainbow Connection has meant I could go completely off-the-wall with that one (insert Bird Trap reference here), but that is a good&bad thing.  Unless someone wanted to travel down that rather sketchy road, the beginner swap was the only place to be.  So it had to be either very rigid or quite flexible to keep everyone on the same page.  So many questions!

The question no one has ever asked is "Why rainbows?"  Don't worry, I am prepared to answer it. 

I had for a while been looking at the traditional block Rolling Stone, trying to come up with a way to rainbowify it for one of our standing every-other-month.  I tried & tried to fit six colors into four corners, four side strips & a single center square.  You don't have to tell me that won't work, I can see that NOW.


When I am in block swap block picking mode, I generally make the blocks a few times.  It helps with the technical writing, the How-to part & also I can decide whether I think it is drop dead beginner, not new beginner, easier than it looks or just as complicated as it looks.  We don't do anything really advanced because people just don't want to swap a block it took them a weekend to make. 

So I started making Rolling Stone blocks in different colors of the color wheel that I happened to have in the scrap basket.  & the original version of this quilt was born.  Right around the same time I was approached about a fundraiser for a GLBT event & I thought a rainbow quilt ought to fit nicely.  I sent the top off to be quilted & never saw it again except in the background of a group photo including the friend who asked me if I could contribute to their silent auction.  I liked that top so much, I casually started making another set for myself.  & since it was spread out over years, I toyed with changing the blocks this time around, mixing them up sampler-wise.  I didn't of course, but there it was, the answer to all the questions about the Rainbow Swap:  How to keep it interesting for a year (ask for block-of choice, no repeating the same block even if you sign up for more than one month), how to make sure the blocs all work together (color + white & nothing else & no requesting the same color you have requested before).

The result has been big, high contrast, graphic blocks that can work together in a quilt or a fabric book or whatever.  Over at Block Lotto, the question du jour or rather du month?  des mois?  My French is not great.  Also there is no question.  Let's try that again.  Block Lotto is looking for blogs about color.  This is mine about how I picked those colors for that swap.

& in the way these things go, last week I came up with a way to make a ROYGB & P prism-type block.  Next year, I suppose.


  1. I love this block pattern. I have been thinking about blocks for next year and thought this one would be a good one to repeat ... and now you've shown me a great example.

  2. This is a great quilt idea. It's fun to wind up with a colorful quilt at the end of the year.