Last year our series on Sewing Industry Reflections and Predictions was inspiring, entertaining and provoked some thoughtful conversation, so we couldn’t resist doing it again.  We asked some of our favorite quilters, sewists, designers, publishers and other industry professionals to give us their thoughts on the past year and to tell us what they’re excited about as they look to 2012. We’ll share their interviews in the next couple of weeks; you won’t want to miss it!

Amanda Carestio from Lark Crafts kicks off our Reflections and Predictions series today. We frequently collaborate with Amanda, running contests (like the recent Doll Quilt Contest), hosting giveaways and interviewing authors.  In addition to working on publicity at Lark, Amanda is also the author/editor behind the books Fa la la la Felt: 45 Handmade Holiday Decorations, Stash Happy: Felt: 30 Fun Projects for Felt (and Fabric) Lovers and Heart-Felt Holidays: 40 Festive Felt Projects to Celebrate the Seasons. Amanda’s as sweet as can be, and she particularly knows (and loves!) felt crafts. We really appreciate Amanda because of the very active roll she takes in the sewing community, writing her own blog, participating on Flickr and otherwise loving sewing while supporting other sewists. We know it’s not just a job for her. It’s always a treat to hear what she has to say. Enjoy today’s interview!

Sew,Mama,Sew!: Looking back at the 2011 sewing scene, what trends stand out in your mind?
Amanda: Here’s what stood out to me, in no particular order: mid-century modern design, books with a focus and/or genesis in our online community, lots-o-felty goodness, more modern quilting books, toadstools, woodland critters and lots of cute little things.

Acorn Ornaments from lilfishstudios.

Sew,Mama,Sew!: What were some of your favorite things?
Amanda: A trip through my Flickr favorites is a fun mix of quilts, felt and felted creations, and super cute Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Here are a few highlights!:

I fell in love with needle felting this year, so I spent a lot of time oogling felted creations on Flickr. Some of my favorites were these acorns (pictured above), a sweet deer in a terrarium, and this guitar-playing octopus (and anything this gal makes!).

Tiny World with Lighthouse from Mimi Kirchner.

My love affair with craft felt did not diminish either. I have a few favorites there, too, especially Mimi Kirchner’s tiny worlds.

Sew,Mama,Sew!: What did you make that you’re most proud of?
Amanda: Well, I’m very proud of my bird-a-month series-– little stitched hooped-up scenes with my birdy in various adventures– even though I didn’t make it through the year. That’s what happens when life, well, happens. And at least I started!

A selection from Amanda’s Bird-a-Month series.

I’m also quite proud of this upholstered chair. It was a freebie (found in the alley behind our office) and a WIP for many months. Couldn’t be happier with how it turned out… Once I finally finished it! In general, I spent a lot of creative energy this year getting settled in a new house; I’m quite proud of how far we’ve come in five months!

Reupholstered freebie chair!

Sew,Mama,Sew!: What sewn projects have you seen this year that you absolutely love? Do you have a favorite sewing book or pattern from the past year to recommend?
Amanda: I was blown away by the entries in our recent Doll Quilts contest; there was enough inspiration in that group to last a lifetime! When it comes to books, I must admit that I’m pretty biased. Jessica Berrett’s Arches quilt (from Pretty in Patchwork: Doll Quilts) was particularly inspiring for me. I’d been a bit intimidated by curves-– and perfection’s not my thing anyway-– but her technique is easy, approachable, and super scrappy, with lots of applications. I made a little mug rug (for our Modern Quilt Guild swap) inspired by the technique but I promised myself I’d keep going. Some of my other favorites from books I worked on this year include Cathy Gaubert’s whale pincushion from Stash Happy: Felt (I own it!), the buttoned-up tote from Sewn by Hand (just simple and lovely!), and John Adam’s Christmas in the City Quilt from Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays (oh, someday!).

Sew,Mama,Sew!: Are there any trends you’re over and done with?
Amanda: Every time I think I’m about to get over something, I see some new interpretation of it and fall in love again. This year was particularly filled with toadstools for me, but I think that was more of a personal problem… I might take a break from those for a little while.

Sew,Mama,Sew!: What are your thoughts about social media? How is it going for you? What do you love or hate?
Amanda: I’m a Flickr fanatic and have been for years. I sometimes find myself wishing for deeper interaction there but I so love the visual focus.

Sew,Mama,Sew!: What was your favorite fabric collection or print?
Amanda: When it comes to fabric, I’m a geometric, grids, stripes, and dots kind of girl, with a fondness for mid-century-modern-inspired design (thanks, mid mod quilt bee!). And with a few exceptions, I don’t usually fall hard for whole fabric collections, but I will say that I love Lotta’s new Echo line. And the Cut Out & Keep line from Cloud 9 by Heather Moore (a.k.a. Skinny laMinx-– been in love with her stuff for years!). At Quilt Market this year, I got a sneak peek at Lu Summers Summersville collection… I feel an obsession coming on!

Lotta Jansdotter’s Echo collection.

Sew,Mama,Sew!: What do you predict for 2012?
Amanda: Maybe it’s just me, but I have been seeing what I interpret as a lot of mid-century modern influence this year… And I hope that continues in 2012. Related to nothing but a personal hunch, I think dinosaurs are going to be big this year (I often get that wrong though!). I think there’s going to be a lot more focus on garment sewing within the online sewing community, especially with sergers (anyone else want one?). And I’m so excited to see the Modern Quilt Guild exhibit at Quilt Festival in Houston next year.

Sew,Mama,Sew!: Are there any bloggers, authors or designers who you think will be rising stars in 2012?
Amanda: I think I found myself spending less time on blogs this year— Just too much going on in other areas of my life. But I always like seeing what these folks are up to: the Fat Quarterly crew, Rita at Red Pepper Quilts, Rossie, Jess at Urban Patchwork and Malka.

Sew,Mama,Sew!: Can you tell us anything about what to expect from you in 2012? Any projects or life-changing goals you can share?
Amanda: Professionally? Lots of stitched and quilt book goodness, including a follow-up to Fa La La La Felt! Personally? I’m saving like mad for a new sewing machine and contemplating a machine embroidery module… So, bigger and better! I’ve got a metric ton of WIP quilts that I really want to finish, and I’d like to crochet something (anything!).