Festival of Quilts 2009

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I decided to drive down to meet Ellen in Falkirk in the Landy and used a Google map for my route. I found the town centre easily but then got lost. I rummaged in my bag to get the mobile phone out to call Ellen for help and somehow took out the new camera then covered it up with my road atlas…

We flew from Edinburgh Airport with a pilot who seemed to think he should be a stand-up comedian over the intercom and had a pretty scary landing at Birmingham. It was windy and fast. I swear that the tyres were bald by the time we eventually stopped on the runway in a stunned silence. This gave us a good excuse to open a bottle of wine as soon as we got into our room.

Ellen and I attended the Gala Dinner at the Hilton on Thursday evening so we could see the prizes being awarded. There were some oddly inappropriate jokes. I think alcohol must have been freely consumed by some! It was noisy and quite difficult to chat across the large tables. We sat near an opinionated couple of “pros”. They started off interestingly enough but after a while it was all “Blah, blah…!” Anyway, it is always interesting to see what Quilters wear. I was NOT wearing the tweed waistcoat that I had commissioned as it turned out not to be quite what I had in mind. My new boots received many admiring looks (or maybe they were disbelieving looks).

After an early start, we joined the crowds waiting to rush in the doors at 10am on Friday morning. Some people were of the opinion that there were fewer quilts this year due to the new structure of the categories. There were many contemporary quilts and art quilts. There seemed to be a trend towards dark coloured quilts but the NEC is poorly lit so they do not show up so brightly. The Best in Show Award went to Sue Nickels and Pat Holly – it was a beautiful and delicate old-fashioned Baltimore. The winning art quilt was quilted very skilfully. The interesting thing was that I thought there were many wonderfully pieced OR quilted quilts but not many that had achieved both. There were also a lot of painted quilts. Sheena Norquay won 2 prizes for her marvellous quilts with circles in the competitions. Her gallery of work was gorgeous and she made an admiring comment about Buddha in return! The other galleries that I particularly loved were Jenny Bowker’s Eygptian tradesmen and the works of Ingrid Press. Without my camera, I could not take any photos!!

I always enjoy lurking near my own quilts. It gives me more of an idea about whether people actually like or admire them. I hate it when no-one seems to stop and look but quite a few passed good comments so occasionally I introduced myself so that I could tell them all about the quilt. People really love to know how the quilts come about. I heard a lady say that she didn’t see how you could put “Bewitched” on a bed because you could never wash it. I took great delight in telling her that I would just bung it in the machine. She looked horrified at this heresy until I told her that it was my quilt. Lots of people asked how long the quilts took. I always try to keep a tally of time but after a while I get so engrossed in the project that I forget to keep track.

I decided that I would make an effort to speak to anyone whom I recognised and a lot more besides. We saw lots of the people who we had met on the trip to Paducah last April. I also did a lot of “schmoozing”! I am trying to make people aware of the Yurt project so that it will get bookings after it has been to LLQS in May 2010. I spoke to Aurifil but typically, the handsome Italian men had gone for coffee when I arrived at their stand. I introduced myself to the Oakshotts as I will need quite a lot of their fabric for the yurt. Feeling conscious about the restrictions of the weight of hand luggage, I didn’t buy that much. I did buy some paints, stamps and stencils for the children (well – me actually). I still managed to spend more than I had hoped so I’ll just have to quilt faster to get some quilts for people finished.

“Silent Movie Star” was admired on PP’s stand and they checked the border instructions over with me. I admire their thoroughness. There was an error in my measurements for the border that was obvious once it was hanging so that will be correct for the next issue in October. Judi Mendelssohn bumped into me and said she might interview me for P&Q’s “Meet a Quilter” when she visits The Seattle Quilt Company in Aberdeen.

I managed to meet some of the UK Longarmers at Ferret’s fabulous gallery. There is never enough time to really get to know people other than a quick “hello” but at least you can then put a face to who is on the Forum. I hope that this will give the APQS gals the opportunity to join a UK specific Longarm Group, along with Gammill quilters. This would enable us to share expertise and be more likely to bring over longarmers from the USA. I shared out my cakes. I had teased that these were very low fat. They were actually knitted. I found them on Etsy. They were made in the UK by Lynne who is the talented lady who makes them and also designs patterns.  Look up cakesknitsandcosies on Etsy – they are very cute!

After a while at any large quilt show everything blurs a bit. I can never find the stall that I thought I would go back to and start to wonder if I can look at any more quilts. I think there should be more seating among the quilts so you can simply sit and admire in comfort like at an art gallery. I also think FOQ should set up a temporary Post Office like Paducah. It is also amazing that some stall-holders don’t take cards or ship. Ellen and I decided that FOQ and QGBI should introduce purchase prizes for the winning quilts for a National Quilt Collection. We are full of bright ideas…

I really enjoyed the show but now have to get back to the binding on that huge tapestry quilt. I really need to get stuck into the Yurt project soon too!

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