On Tuesday I drove around the countryside dropping my children off at their various billets on my way to Birmingham with the Landy full of quilting gear and the APQS Lenni strapped to the roofrack. I think I may have to admit defeat and invest in a satnav system after making a very roundabout yet scenic trip through the Scottish Borders to stay overnight with Kay. I drove for miles without meeting another car with sheep on the roads, rattling over cattle grids, wondering if I was anywhere near where I was meant to be since I had forgotten to pack the map. My detour was definitely picturesque and took me to places that I had never previously visited. We set off the next morning through torrential rain and arrived in Birmingham in good time to set the Lenni up for longarm demonstrations.
We made a point of arriving early for the show each day to get an opportunity to look at the quilts and exhibitions before the general public was given access as it got very busy later on and even making a quick trip to the loo involved battling through crowds. There were some super quilts on display from all over the world. I think one of my favourites was a prehistoric dinosaur by Pam Holland. There was a wonderful exhibition by the Cairo tentmakers who create intricate hand appliqués using enormous scissors, seemingly without plans or diagrams. There were several interesting galleries and collections featuring antique quilts, concept art, costumes and installations. I met many international visitors, catching up with old quilting friends and meeting new ones, even resorting to sign language at times as I don’t speak Italian or Russian. Every now and then I would make a foray away from my stall to acquire some fabric paints and I also bought a couple of bundles of coloured schwe-schwe fabrics from South Africa, having told myself beforehand that I did not need any new material, especially since an exciting surprise package from Christine in Australia had arrived on Monday containing a delicious selection of Aboriginal designs that are begging to be made into a new project.
My 3 Yurt panels, hanging as a triptych, received favourable comments from the judges and the public and I was delighted that The Hare received a Highly Commended award. I was thrilled that one judge had given me a perfect score card. It seemed to prove popular with the crowds that I was working on real projects at one end of the frame but it was not actually easy to concentrate while stopping to explain how the machine works and help novices use a longarm machine for the first time. Several longarmers gathered at the stall periodically to chat and share information; there is nothing like a lively gaggle of quilters to draw more crowds over. Yvette from Needle & Threads in Surrey was selling fabrics on the other half of the stall so it felt like we were constantly busy during the entire show.
The Landy seemed to enjoy bullying his way through the city traffic and guys loading vans after the show were suitably impressed that I could actually manoeuvre it in a tight spot fully loaded with gear and a ladder. We went out for a genuine Birmingham balti curry twice during the show, stayed up late looking at quilt photos while sipping gin, discussed the designs of the show quilts, outfits of the quilters and examined the purchases of the day. We stayed one more night in Birmingham after the show in order to head back up north to Scotland early as my children go back to school on Tuesday. It was enjoyable and exhausting but I will have to unpack as soon as I get home and crack straight on with the modified roof for Yurt2 so that it can be shipped to the USA in good time…