As well as the torrential rain and icy winds that have assaulted much of the UK, February also brings with it the second month of the #NGAQB.  It seems like only yesterday that me and my fellow bee mates were in the planning stage; assigning months and getting to know each other in the virtual space of our Facebook group.  I guess then that time really does pass quickly when you’re having fun, and even quicker when you’re having bucket loads of it.

February sees the first of our group’s two Andrews take the quilting compass and direct us towards gaggles of flying geese amid negative space.  During their month, the bee members share a little of their history with the group.  As it happens, Andrew too has an affinity for all things Japanese.

“I grew up with an older sister and my parents and my family went back-and-forth between the Philadelphia, PA area and Tokyo, Japan.  Although more of my time was spent in the US, I always felt like Japan was a second home (maybe my “real” home?) to me.  I spent 4 years of high school at the American School in Japan and they were some of the best years of my life.  I am still extremely inspired by Japanese culture and art.”

One of the things I like best about the bee is hearing how the other members came upon their quilting journeys.

“I owe my life of quilting to my wonderful partner, Chad.  He has an addictive personality, so he’ll get stuck on something and will put all his energy into that one activity for a relatively short amount of time in an obsessive way.  He usually drops that activity and moves on to a new hobby pretty quickly.  But a number of years ago, Chad began knitting.  He found a great group of other knitters to hang out with and he became hooked!  It’s the first time I’ve seen him stick with something for so long!  He was making such beautiful knitwear and I became quite jealous.  I tried my hand at knitting, but I absolutely HATED it.  I mean, it made me so frustrated I just completely gave up.  This didn’t really surprise me because I’ve never considered myself much of an artist or “maker.”

“I didn’t want to give up on the making, though, so I started wondering whether there was something else that was more my speed.  I began with sewing, just making little things like zippered pouches, coffee cup sleeves, knitting needle “roll-ups” etc.  Although I enjoyed it a bit, I didn’t like the finicky work associated with this type of sewing.  I somehow got it in my head that I should try making a quilt.  When I found out that my sister was pregnant in early 2010, I thought that perhaps a baby quilt for my soon-to-be niece was a good place to start.  I taught myself using Alex Anderson’s “Start Quilting” and I got a lot of great help from my co-worker, who had already been quilting for a few years.”

“That first project was a challenge for me and I made some incredible mistakes and got extremely discouraged at numerous points in the process.  Normally this means that I’ll never do that activity again, but for some reason, I was so happy with the final result, that I kind of forgot all the pain and decided to push forward with more quilting.  My co-worker quickly convinced me to join a relatively new group called the “Philadelphia Modern Quilt Guild.”  I met some amazing quilters and made many new friends through Philly MQG and within about 1 year, I became the president of the group!  I have been president now for a couple of years and it is still a ton of fun.  I’m presently spending quite a bit of my time organizing a modern quilting retreat in Lancaster, PA called “Mid-Atlantic MOD” with a couple other awesome quilters from the Central NJ MQG and the DC MQG.”

As well as his blog, you can check out Andrew’s work on his Flickr feed, and by following him on Instagram (andrewjoslyn) and Twitter (andrewjoslyn).

For this month we were asked to make blocks that incorporated flying geese of any size and colour into neutral negative space.  Recently, negative space has become my mot du jour and I love experimenting with it.  For Andrew’s first block, I wanted curved flying geese.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may remember and episode of intense panic when I made this block.  You see, my original plan was to have the geese set amongst the grey fabric without the black sketch border.  A miscalculation in size led to some improvised splicing and this was the end result…better than anything I had previously envisaged.  The whole incident inspired this post, where I learned to embrace mistakes and roll with the punches dealt to me by too-short fabric pieces and misaligned seams.

For the second block I was interested in addressing a theme that had risen it’s rather ugly head a few weeks ago.  Anyone who follows the #NGAQB may be familiar with an accusation of sexism that came about due to the naming of our bee.  I won’t dig up all the details again here but the incident inspired me to create a block that showed whilst we embrace our differences as male quilters, we will always have utmost respect and appreciation for the female quilters who came before us.  I wanted the block to be a fun and mischievous interpretation of breaking the mould and embracing change.

I’m so happy with both of these and had such great fun making, even if I did get a little stressed with the first!  They’ve already been posted and should arrive with Andrew soon!  I can’t wait to see the others.  Mr. January has almost received all his blocks and I can tell you know they look awesome together.  Make sure you keep up-to-date by following along with the hashtag #NGAQB on Instagram and Twitter, or click on the badge in the sidebar to link to the Flickr page.