Surprise . . . Surprise . . . Surprise!

Picture it . . . Sicily, 1963. A poor peasant girl on her way home, after a busy day herding goats, decides to visit a neighborhood bar . . . Oh, snap! I’m sorry, I was channeling the Golden Girls for a minute. Please forgive me. Sometimes my thoughts ricochet around like a BB in a box car.

Last night I was all about old game shows. Now it’s the Golden Girls and Gomer Pyle. What is up with that? Or maybe, the question you really should be asking is . . . What is he going to say next? (Visualize a closeup of hands rubbing together in a sinister manner, maniacal laughter and strange muttering going on in the background. Scene fades to black.)

Snap Out Of It! Okay, now where was I? Oh yeah, I was speaking to Lisa, a member of the hgtv.com message board. We were discussing their annual Circle of Friends retreat, which was to be held in Houston. While discussing this retreat, she mentioned that one of the members started a scrap challenge for the group, after seeing my episode on Simply Quilts.

Scraps to Treasure Intro

Reoccuring Characters I learned that my little quilt inspired someone enough to organize and host an annual message board event called the Scraps to Treasures Challenge. I also found out that this challenge had been going on for two years. (I had no idea this was taking place.) The person who started this challenge was Jean. (Yep, the same Jean I introduced you to last week.) As if she weren’t already busy enough, Jean thought that the message board members could use this challenge to stretch their creativity and help others at the same time.

Lisa said that I was going to have the opportunity to meet Jean at the retreat. I was a little nervous about meeting her. You see, Jean is a very influential figure on the message board. One of the queen bees, so to speak. She is talented, articulate and a constant cheerleader and motivator. Knowing this, I was a little afraid she would be disappointed after meeting me. I knew she had expectations. I had expectations. It was very scary, until I actually met her. I found out that Jean is very friendly, down-to-earth, and has a wonderful sense of humor.

Lots of Fun. Lots of Laughs. I truly had a marvelous time with the group and would love to share more details with you, but as they say. . .“What happens at retreat . . . stays at retreat.” I know, I know. I could tell you lots of stories about who did what—and where—but I’d have to change the names to protect the innocent, and as we both know, there were no innocents involved.

Popping The Question I ran into Lisa following my visit to the retreat. We chatted about the group and all the fun I had meeting them. During our conversation she brought up the fact that the third Annual Scraps to Treasures Challenge was about to begin. Both she and Jean wondered if I might be interested in participating in the challenge, because they knew I loved both scraps, and a challenge. They also thought this would be a great surprise for the challenge members if I played along.

The Adventure Begins I agreed to participate, but agreed to do so, only if my involvement remained a secret until the end. They agreed to my terms and the challenge had a new participant. I diligently worked on my quilt as I followed the threads on the message board. As the challenge continues the anticipation builds.

The quilts are not allowed to be shown until the “big reveal” at the end of the challenge.  Jean provides peeks, advice and words of encouragement as the challenge continues. She is always vigilant. Always supportive. There are lots of prizes and surprises when this event comes to an end. It’s truly worth the wait, when you get to see all the quilts for the first time. You get to see how others who took the same journey you did, came away with a completely different result.

Like the Simply Quilts Challenge, each Scraps to Treasures participant is working with the same core fabrics. That’s what makes this challenge so great. Each person is working under the same limitations. These limitations are what stretches your creativity and forces you to move out of your comfort zone. This is the essence of a good challenge, and that is why I participated.

Show Me The (#@!?//%*$) Quilt! Geez, you are getting so impatient, but I appreciate your enthusiasm. Here it is . . .

Just Sing, Sing a Song, quilt by Tom Russell

Just Sing, Sing A Song, by Tom Russell, 2008 Scraps To Treasures Challenge

So, What Do You Think? I think it turned out pretty well. I had a lot of fun working on it and participating in the challenge. The camaraderie was fantastic—even if I was invisible to the other challengers. Just being a part of it, was a very rewarding experience.

So, If you are looking for a challenge, I highly recommend this one. Participating in this challenge has brought me many wonderful things beyond friendship and a new quilt. I’ll tell you more about this quilt’s journey a little later on. It has been very busy since the challenge.

Scraps to Treasures Rules

The Next Challenge I’m sure you’re wondering . . . “When’s the next challenge. Can I get in on it?” Sure you can. It’s super easy to do, and the next challenge is just about ready to start. Just to be clear. There are no special requirements for participation. Anyone can enter. The challenge is open to ALL skill levels from beginner to advanced. All you need to participate is a little fabric and a willingness to take an adventure. The best thing about this adventure, is that you are not doing it alone. You’ll have all sorts of great company.

Check It Out To participate in the challenge, you have to sign up to be a member of the hgtv.com message board. You have to sign up because all the information is shared there. You won’t get any silly notices or spam crap. Signing up gives you access to the message board. That is all. You can read the messages without signing up, but you can’t post or see peeks. How easy is that?

If you want to check out the challenge, Jean has all the information ready to go. (Click here for Challenge details. If want to check out past challenges, click here.) Even if you decide not to participate, I highly recommend that you monitor the challenge. It is always a great source of entertainment and inspiration.

If you decide to become a member of the message board, tell them I sent you. If you decide to participate in the challenge, please let me know. I always check on the challenges while they are in progress, so don’t be surprised if I drop by to cheer you on.

Who knows, I could be participating right now . . . (maniacal laughter . . . again.)

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13 Responses to “Surprise . . . Surprise . . . Surprise!”

  1. Patricia Eaton Says:

    Tom, Yes, I LOVE this quilt…and have from first sketch to finish. And, I know for a fact that you thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. I have a feeling lots of quilters are now going to be partaking in the next challenge….ENJOY! pat

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Thanks. I’m really looking forward to seeing the next challenge. It’s fun to participate, but being a fly on the wall has it’s own rewards.

  2. Jayardi Says:

    • • • Even though I had and idea of what was coming, I was sure you were going to embarrass the *bleep* out of me. You have no idea, how stupid I felt after we had our first discussion. Little ol’ me talking to “Tom Russell” and didn’t even think to invite you until after we had separated.

    Believe me, there was no disappointment on my end except for my shyness in meeting my mentor.

    I am so happy you shared your quilt here. It is absolutely beautiful and thank you so much for continuing to be a part of the challenge. My biggest reward getting to meet you in person and then the surprise we sprung at the end. Would have loved to have seen all their faces when they found out you were playing too.

    Loved that part and YOU!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Sharing is what quilters do. I just wanted to share you and what you do with everyone I know. I’m very blessed to have gotten to meet you, and to call you friend.

  3. Carol Anderson Says:

    I have had the honor of participating in this challenge every single year since its inception. I can tell you that it always stretches me (cue the background whining), and I always think I’m not going to get it done. By some miracle, it happens. I’m eagerly awaiting this year’s fabrics as I actually have an idea this time around. So, please feel free to join us! The more the merrier!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Well, Carol Anderson, it’s so good to see you here. For everyone who reads this, please go to the link in the story that takes you to the past challenge photos. Scroll through them and look at Carol’s beautiful work. She’s a friend, and a very talented quilter.

  4. Annette Winston Says:

    Tom, I love this quilt! It is gorgeous. So, do you sell your quilts? How many do you make in a year’s time? Your work is so creative, but that is no surprise.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Annette, I’m glad you like my quilt. No, I don’t sell them. I make them for the joy of making them, and for my family to fight over when I’m gone. If I think a quilt is good enough, I will enter it into national level quilt shows.

      I’m a very slow quilter and my quilts are full of details that you can’t see in the photo. I try to generate at least two quilts a year. Try being the operative word. If I can generate more than that—that’s just gravy. Most of the time, I’m happy to just finish one or two.

  5. kathydrew Says:

    You are hilarious ! I can’t believe you ! I love your quilt. Of course, I love everything you do. I have never seen a quilt of yours, that didn’t put a smile on my face. They are fabulous dahling and so are you.

  6. Jackie Says:

    O’my it is always a painful thing, to see a friend in loss and not be able to change things. But God made us comforters of one another and you are doing as he would want you to do,so hats off to you Tom.
    No as far as us just dropping by while the toy is still new and shiny and then we will not want to come by and we will drop away…..NOT a chance!
    True, You are a little long winded but that’s what I love about you most. Your FUNNY and you have a way of making who ever is talking to you feel like you really are listening and that’s wonderful. PLUS… all these CLIFF HANGERS…..Who, in there right mind wouldn’t come back.
    Keep up what your doing ….we love you and from know on we will just call you…………………TOM ! ;0)

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Thanks Jackie. Your kind words mean a lot.

      I’m glad you think my blog is worth visiting more than once. You know me. I have to tell the WHOLE story. If I didn’t, you’d think something was wrong with me.

      I really am listening. 🙂

  7. Lynn Kelly Says:

    Well, Tom, I went to the boards to register and have missed the deadline for this year! Oh, well, I’ll watch and wait for next year.

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