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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Interview with Kate of Kate's Quilting (and other fiber arts) Blog

Kate is an experienced swapper and has some great comments for us on different types of swaps and swap hosting. She is the brains behind the Another Little Quilt Swap series and a wonderful fiber artist. Visit her at Kate's Quilting (and other fiber arts) Blog and see the wonderful quilts and other projects she creates!

SwapDex: Tell us a bit about you.

Kate: I'm a 40 year old mother of three, living outside London (UK), who does mostly fibre based works - quilting, mixed media, etc. I'm fond of cross-stitch and beading; I have in the past also done weaving, pottery and a variety of other bits and pieces.

SD: How long have you been swapping?

K: About 7 years or so.

SD: How did you learn about swapping, and what made you decide to do your first one? Do you remember your first one?

K: I think the first swap I really participated in was a birthday style swap which was an offshoot of an online group I belong to (British Quilting List). The idea of a birthday style swap (i.e. you specify a theme to receive when it's your "birthday") appealed to me. This swap produced some marvelous blocks, and has its own website still.

SD: Do you swap with any groups? (Swap-bot, yahoo groups, flickr groups, etc.) If so, what do you like/dislike about an more exclusive swapping environment as opposed to a swap open to anyone?

K: I have swapped just about everywhere - forums on delphi, forums on quilting.about.com, through groups I belong to already for other reasons (like a dyeing list), flickr, through private blog swaps, and so on. Different swaps have different advantages. A more exclusive swapping environment can produce a more consistent quality of work than a swap open to all; on the other hand, open swaps give you the opportunity to "meet" new people and be inspired by artists who are new to you.

SD: What's your favorite type of swap or favorite swap you've ever been in or hosted?

K: I like a lot of the swaps I've taken part in. I think two of my favourites are the first ATC swap I joined on the Creative Swaps blog- this was a swap with the theme Angels, Faeries & Divas and produced such an amazing collection of ATCs - I still really love them, and the Spring Fling Round Robin swaps hosted by Margaret (Supermom) - these are a miracle of organization, but again, have produced some really lovely and inspiring work, and also, help stretch me personally as a piece I receive to work on might be completely different from what I'd gravitate towards left to my own devices.

SD: Do you have a signature style for your swaps? Do you decorate your envelopes/packages? Send a card with a personal note?

K: I usually put a short note in, and always if I'm the hostess (except when I forget, of course). I always think I SHOULD do more mail art on my envelopes, but never manage to get to it!

SD: What's you favorite type of package to get in the mail?

K: Anything that squishes. Seriously, though, the best ones are the ones I'm not expecting - whether this is because it's a complete surprise or simply because I've forgotten something was on the way doesn't matter. Lately I've really enjoyed receiving pieces which were complete - like a mini quilt or ATCs - rather than something which I need to work more on, like blocks to assemble into a quilt. That said, I do like the round robins, which I have to work on, so perhaps I'm just inconsistent! Or, more likely, it's back to the original answer that I simply like anything which squishes.

SD: What do you think is the most challenging part of hosting a swap?

K: This probably depends on the type of swap, but the thing I find hardest is dealing with people whose work is not up to standard. It's very hard to have to write to someone whose work has let someone else down - if someone has clearly not really bothered and just done something quick and slapdash, it's not so hard to write to them about it as there's an annoyance factor that they haven't put any effort it. But if someone has tried really hard but simply doesn't have the skills necessary for their work to be of a comparable standard to others, that's difficult. All the organisation is a bit fiddly, and chasing people up is a bit boring, but it's having to write to those who haven't quite accomplished enough which is truly tough.

SD: Any advice for someone who is thinking about hosting a swap?

K: If you've never hosted a swap before, the best thing to do is talk to someone who has hosted one - preferably several people - and get some tips on how to handle potential issues. Also, be sure you try to anticipate and plan for all the eventualities before you start. Also, don't make the first swap too big or too complicated.

SD: Any plans for the near future? Swaps, projects, new products?

K: For 2009, I am hosting a birthday ATC swap - over the course of the year participants will send ATCs each month to that month's birthdays. In their month, they'll receive an ATC from all the other players (about 30). [Sorry, it's full already!] I will also probably host another round of my Another Little Quilt Swap (anotherlittlequiltswap.blogspot.com), although I may do an invitation only swap for round 3. And who knows, maybe something else.

Thanks to Kate for the great insight and tips on swapping!

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