Open European Quilt Championships

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I have arrived home from a fantastic trip to Hollandwith my quilt-travel friend, Ellen.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable few days and picked up from where we left off on the trip toPaducahlast year. We spent our time yacking about quilting, people watching and wandering off the beaten track to get a real feel for the area.

We flew from Edinburgh to Schipol on Thursday 29th May, then caught the train to Eindhoven despite being warned by a nosy biddy that there would be no public transport on Queen’s Day. This is a major public holiday in Holland but this year a madman attempted to drive his car into the Royal family’s bus, killing several pedestrians. The celebrations were curtailed throughout Holland apart fromEindhoven which was hosting a crowd of 200 000 people for an acid-house-rave street party. We had to trundle our suitcases through this crowd, trying to get to our hotel on foot. We did eventually fight our way through and were relieved to find that our hotel was just out of reach of the main city centre event. The Park Plaza Hotel proved to be a very pleasant place to stay and gave us more opportunity to explore the area than if we were based in Veldhoven, a smaller hamlet.

After a couple of glasses of wine to recover from the street rave, we took a taxi out to NH Koningshof for the Gala Dinner. This was different to what we expected… somehow the PowerPoint presentation and the prize-giving got in a muddle so we were a little confused even though it was all in English. There were entrants from The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, France,UK, Israel and Brazil.

On the judging panel were Claudia Pfeil fromGermany, Joen Wolfrom from USA and Lia Flemings from Holland. One of the judges’ comments was that not all of the contestants in the Magic category had made quilts that were in any way connected with the theme. The quilts seemed to be really diverse and it looked as though it would be a fairly contemporary exhibition. We had a posh and pleasant dinner, despite the local delicacy of albino asparagus. The prizes were very good… packages of Aurifil thread, Madeira thread, mini irons, packs of fabric and a Bernina. I cheered up considerably when it was announced that all entrants will receive a goody bag!

The next morning we walked through the quiet streets, picking our way over debris from the street party and abandoned bicycles, and caught a bus to the show. It was all very straightforward as everyone we spoke to was friendly and spoke impeccable English.

NH Koningshof is a large conference hotel on the site of an old seminary. It is quiet and attractive. The vendors had plenty of space; the quilts were all beautifully hung and well lit. It is probably the most pleasant and relaxed show that I have been to. The café area was lovely with an amazing post modern stained glass window and it was also possible to sit outside in a sunny courtyard. The coffee and Dutch apple cake was delicious.

We decided to buy the photo CD to get even clearer photos. There were guest collections from Joen Wolfrom, Priscilla Bianchi, Mc Kenna Ryan, Elly de Vries, Duikflucht and Den Haan & Wagnenmakers. The show catalogue had pictures and descriptions of each entry in Dutch and English although I think some resumes were a little fanciful or lost in translation!

The quilts were a mixture of traditional and modern and there were many very skilful pieces of work.

I was thrilled to meet Claudia Pfeil, a German Longarm quilter and APQS representative. She even gave us a sneak preview of her quilt for MQS inKansas Cityon her digital camera. It looks sensational! We managed to have a cup of coffee with Claudia and also Loes & Theo who are expert embroidery and quilting pattern digitizers. It was marvellous to hear what Claudia thought of my quilt. She said she really liked it but Joen Wolfrom thought my prairie points simply disappeared into my wacky border (that is the whole point of “Bewitched”…) Claudia offered me a lesson on the Longarm but it was tricky to fit it into the trip. I decided that I will figure out a way of going to see her in Krefeldfor a proper lesson to expel my feather allergy!

Because we had plenty of time to browse the vendors and were not crowded, we managed not to panic buy. Ellen was delighted with her selection of fabric from Claudia’s shop, Quilt und Co. We both bought beautiful reproduction Dutch chintzes from Den Haan & Wagnenmakers (which I kept referring to as Hagen-Daz). We could have done workshops with some of the featured artists but had decided to make this a very relaxing weekend without any schedule.

We enjoyed an Indonesian buffet in the evening back in Eindhoven and wandered around the pedestrian streets, keeping an eye out for cyclists who did not always ring their bells as they approached.

On Saturday morning I used my Ipod to Google quilt shops in the area and got directions from the VVV Tourist Office. After a short bus trip and walk we came across Quilt Puzzel, a small quilt shop filled with fabric and yarn. Nearby, we were delighted to find that a Saturday street market was going on. There were wonderful flowers, fresh produce, some market tat AND an old fashioned haberdashery stall selling buttons and zips… they handed us a leaflet saying that they had a bigger shop in Eindhoven. After having lunch of beer and a raw meat paste sandwich (mistake) and watching the people pass by, we got out the map and headed off to the zip man’s shop. Smilje Kreatief on Kleineberg was the most amazing haberdashery shop that I have ever entered. Ellen and I walked in and simply gawped. We could hardly speak. We just looked and looked in a daze, unable to choose anything because there was so much to take in. Buttons, lace, trimmings, rickrack, fabric, bridal supplies, coloured velcro, craft supplies and even polystyrene pigs filled every inch of the shop. I actually thought that I had died and gone to Haberdashery Heaven. I think we may have lost about 2 hours in that shop and were so overwhelmed that we still did not manage to buy much. I don’t think I have ever come out of a shop feeling quite so dazed. We ignored Eindhoven’s many other trendy shops on our way back to the hotel that afternoon.

We had to drink quite a lot of wine to revive ourselves after that experience before going out for a marvellous meal on Antonio’s Italian terrace. There were plenty of places to eat in Eindhoven from Asian Cuisine to Chips with Mayo! Sitting outside gave us another opportunity to marvel at the various fashions, including drainpipe jeans tucked into white boots, and watch Dutch people going out for the night on their bicycles.

Bicycles really are popular! There are special cycle lanes and traffic lights. People of all ages ride them and they all look very fit. The cycles look comfortable with large wheels for speeding along the flat terrain. Children and pets are often carried along with groceries and anything else you could imagine. The streets were really not that busy with motor traffic. I have never seen so many bikes parked outside a railway station before.

On Sunday we took a double-decker train back toAmsterdamand left the luggage in a locker at the station so we could walk around and see a bit of the city. It was far busier with tourists. We found a great coffee shop where we had warm apple-strudel near Wagenmakers which was closed. It is a great city to walk around and very interesting to see all of the tall, narrow buildings overlooking the canals. We stopped for a beer in the afternoon in the old Stock Exchange building which is now a concert hall. I wished I had bought a couple of souvenirs in Eindhoven as Amsterdam souvenir shops were quite tacky. I bought my children clog keyrings and was amused to discover that the Dutch word for clog is “klomp”. There was a great clothes shop selling colourful boots but I decided that E200 was out of budget.

We made our way back to the airport in good time, agreeing what a thoroughly enjoyable few days we had experienced. The weather was great, public transport was easy, the people were helpful and the OEQC was excellent. We booked our flights down to Birmingham that evening on our return and we have already started planning our next trip after that… Europe or the USA?

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