Five Days In Paducah

Paducah is a small town in Kentucky that has a very large quilt show in April every year. And by large, I do mean LARGE! My two friends Pam and Kim and I spent five wonderful days taking in the show and the whole town during that great Quilt Show week.

We took our husbands and our campers with us for that extra touch of fun. Believe me, it is the only way to travel.

After two days of light travel we arrived in Paducah, the Nirvana for quilters. The weather was perfect, the surroundings green and lush, the campgrounds charming. We were ready with our lists of “needed” items to buy, bags to carry our stuff and the ever necessary credit cards in hand.

DAY ONE – We visited the Quilt Museum, a must see for any visit to Paducah. The display is constantly changing, which keeps it exciting. We saw some spectacular Japanese quilts.

The local School of Art and Design had a display of quilts from Korea. The oriental influence was seen everywhere!

We then went to Hancocks of Paducah-a store the size of two warehouses! At the front door was a sign stating that only women’s restrooms were inside. Men had to use Port-a-Johns outside. A theme we were to see everywhere all week. (I guess there are never enough restrooms when 35,000 women hit town all at once!)

Hancocks had everything! Yardage, traditional, batiks, precuts, panels, trims, paper piecing, sale tables, the works. We were there for a couple hours! We had to look at everything, touch everything, think about everything and then decide to buy or not. We were exhausted!

After lunch we found the Paper Piecing shop. What a great little shop! Everything you need to paper piece and I do mean everything. I found the parts to paper piece my Dear Jane quilt. I got row E. I’m so excited to try it out and see how it works.

That afternoon we found a temporary shop selling fabric at $5/yd. I found several pieces for the hexagons I’m doing on a future quilt. All of us found something we “needed”.

Back to the campground for a wine tasting party. It was grand! The wine was so good, we told our hubbies to go the next day and get some wine to take home.

A lovely sunset and off to bed.

DAY TWO – The second morning was spent at the Quilt In A Day shop. A cute place with very colorful fabrics.

We found another $5/yd place with some great fabrics and even some wool. All of us got a few good pieces there.

After lunch with the hubbies, we went next door to “Jack the Seam Ripper”. Love the name! Kim found a quilt she could not live without and it came home with her.

That evening we had BBQ at the campgrounds. However, BBQ in Kentucky means pulled pork. To Texans, like us, it means smoked beef, but it was tender and tasty. The side dishes were very good.

Another wonderful evening and off to our campers for a good night’s sleep.

DAY THREE – The Quilt Show officially opened! We spent the whole day on the first floor of the Convention Center. Many outstanding quilts on display – mouthwatering and awe-inspiring. We couldn’t get enough of them.

One unbelievable quilt to behold was the wooden quilt. Yes, it was a carved 3-D quilt that looked like it was hanging over a rope on the wall. I don’t care how close you got, it looked real. Only after you touched it, did it finally sink in that this was a wooden object. A real stunner!

Another display that was especially unique was Ian Berry’s. His denim rooms and objects were beyond words. An entire life-size laundromat made entirely out of jean denim! Unbelievable! And the Indigogo Record Shop with all the album covers- spectacular! Beyond anything I’ve ever seen.

A Silent Auction was being held to sell about 20 orphan quilts of all styles, ages and conditions. One precious old blue and white pieced one was calling to me. It had obviously been loved and used and had a current bid of $30 on it submitted by a lady named Judy. I upped the bid to $31 and stood guard to protect my quilt. Bidding ended before Judy could return to increase her bid. The quilt was mine. Judy did corner me  as I was waiting in the payment line to tell me how much she loved blue and white. I assured her I did also and the quilt was going to a good home. She seemed pleased, patted the quilt and walked off.

Kim and Pat bought quilts too. What a beginning to a Quilt Show!

Besides quilts there were vendors to die for! More wool than I’ve ever seen in one place before. I got many beautiful threads for my Sue Spargo projects and an easel for a tray  I got in Houston last year. Its going to look great in front of my fireplace.

The surprise at the campground after dinner was an ice cream social. What fun that was! We got to make our own ice cream sundaes.

DAY FOUR – The second day of the Quilt Show we explored the second floor of the Convention Center. More quilts on exhibit and many more vendors.

We had a great day shopping and viewing, viewing and shopping. More wools were to be found and lovely decorative threads and trims. I got a couple of wool kits to make small replicas of crooks-1 gallon, 2 gallon and a butter dish. They are charming beyond words!

More fabrics for my hexie border on my unmade quilt. Hey, it’ll get made someday . . . . . . maybe! And I found some light batiks that seem to be hard to find. I only realized this since I started to look for them for a future quilt.

A lovely day was had by all. We took our lunch each day to avoid the mad rush and utilized the bag check numerous times a day. That way we were not overloaded with bags and bags of goodies while shopping. And each day our wonderful husbands would pick us up right outside the hotel and take us and ALL our stuff home.

This day we had to make an extra stop at the Harley Davidson Shop to get a T-shirt for Pam’s husband. He is a rider and that is his idea of a souvenir. We couldn’t stay too long because the other husbands started petting the bikes, talking to them and finally my Sweetie sat on one. That’s when I said we gotta go–before we all end up with a motor cycle!

That evening at the campground we took a class in wool appliqué and made a little needle case. We had a kit with everything. All I took was a pair of scissors and a thimble. I have never taken so little to any class before. Had a ball!

Learned some new things – some I liked, some I don’t think I’ll do again. All good knowledge. ( I’m so in love with that campground – I can’t even tell you!)

Went to bed exhausted!

DAY FIVE – By day five we were experts at this Paducah Quilt Show thing. We knew when to get up, what shoes to wear, what to pack for lunch, what bags to bring, when to stop for lunch, when to take an afternoon break, etc. We were Primo quilt show attendees. Ask us any question and we had the answer. We had seen it all and done it all . . . . . except the DOME.

The Dome  sits out by itself in a parking lot like a big white soft inflated warehouse. Which is pretty much what it is. You can walk to it or take a short shuttle trip. It calls to you like a big balloon full of goodies.

You think what can possibly be over there that I haven’t already seen? Surely there’s nothing new there – nothing really exciting. Surely . . . . . well, surely I was WRONG!!!!!

The Dome was full of more wonderful fabrics, wools, threads, trims, etc., etc. I can’t go on! It was magic! We found embroidery patterns we had never seen before – with a brand new type of mylar.

And French fabrics and trims! Mai oui! C’est bon! Magnifique! Things you can find no where else but found in her booth.

Finally, finally, we were done and headed back to the Convention Center in the last shuttle bus to pick up our stuff in bag check. When we arrived, our bags were the last ones left. Whew! That was close!

Back to the campers to look at all our new toys and playthings. We made some outstanding purchases, some funny buys, some “what did I do that for?” additions, some “wish I”d gotten more of that” sales and some “I hope this works” buys. All in all, a good week.

We saw more quilts than we expected and better quality than we hoped for, variety beyond belief and “expanding our culture” ones that truly opened our eyes and our minds.

Quilts are enjoyed on so many levels, it is truly hard to describe how much we enjoyed the displays. Some quilts were inspiring, some were plain awesome, some were so amazing I couldn’t imagine even attempting those. Some had so much detail you had to get very close, others had to be seen from a distance. Some fooled your eye and some were honest to a fault. Some wanted to be interpreted, hoping each viewer would come away with a different viewpoint, while others asked for no interpretation at all. Some were bright and loud, using every color of the rainbow, and then some used muted pale colors or no color at all.

How to judge a quilt show – you can’t! You can simply enjoy it. And that’s what we did for five days in Paducah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Retreat Revisited

Ah quilt retreat! There is nothing like it. Four days of sewing, chatting, sharing, laughing, eating and maybe some sleeping. There is lots of humming of machines, questions like “Does this border go with this fabric?”, answers of “I prefer the blue!”, whirring of rotary cutters and even some quiet times of hand sewing. One person can be absorbed in reading directions, two people can be sharing a new technique, three people can be giving an opinion on placement of blocks for a quilt and any number of people an be taking a class on a brilliant idea or some new sewing notion.

A retreat is many things and can be anything to one person. Maybe it’s a chance to finish that project . . . . finally. Maybe it’s a chance to start a new project . . . . finally. And maybe it’s just time, time to sew and sew and sew on anything and everything you have. It’s the freedom to do whatever you want.

Ah quilt retreat! Looking forward to it is a joy. Experiencing it is true heaven. Even the memories of it are a blessing. Here are a few of mine.

This is just one block for a quilt done in appliqué. Can you imagine how spectacular that quilt will be?

This quilt looks like it was woven. And it is made out of flannel. What a coy hug it will give on cold nights.

A beautiful Christmas tree already for the holiday.

A beautiful quilt done in squares. Very modern looking.

Is this too cute? I love the baby penguin!

A wonderful red, white and blue star quilt. Love those stars!

This quilt is big, beautiful and not even done yet. There will be more poinsettias when completed. How perfect will that be?

A quilt of foxes is being worked on here. How adorable!

A little Christmas village just got finished here in this cute quilt.

Several of us took lessons on making stars the Inklingo way. Here are our results.

This spectacular one is made from a zillion little pieces of fabric applied to the background. Isn’t it wonderful?

 

I love the brightness of this quilt. Must be all those primary colors.

This is going to be a great quilt when it is done. Don’t you agree?

Another very interesting quilt. The blocks are going in all directions. Love the clocks!

This quilt is very soft looking. I bet it is very comforting too.

Here is a special quilt of several blocks of the Lady of Guadalupe. It was made for a special friend. Lucky lady!

This is not exactly a quilt but still a real cutie. It is a wool mat for a platter. It is all done by hand with much embellishment.

A complicated quilt that is very lovely to behold. Can’t wait till this one is done.

This one looks very hard but actually it is the fabric that is printed to look like 36 square blocks. Interesting, right?

This is all I can show you of the marvelous retreat I went to. The best parts are the  intangibles. They are the relationships we all have and the history of many retreats and gatherings over the years. They are the hours spent in each others’ company through good times and bad. They are the words spoken between us over coffee, tea and wine, sharing meals, ideas and feelings.

All these things we carry in our hearts until the next time we meet. Be it tomorrow or next year. Nothing is lost or forgotten. Retreat is forever!

 

What You Can Do With A Bag Of Fabric

So a group of say about 28 women get together for four days. They each have a bag or two or three of fabric. What do you think can happen with that fabric in four days of sewing? Well it was pure magic, my Sweeties! Pure magic!

Look and see what the results are. And feel free to drool!

Is this cutest guy you ever saw? And all made out of little pieces of fabric. Can you see the squirrel and the rabbits?

This is his not so little playmate. Isn’t she a beauty? Again, all done with little bits of fabric that were fussy cut.

This one was put together, cut apart and put back together. Now how clever is that? Spectacular!

This medieval looking gem has wonderful thread work in every block. It is too beautiful for words! When it is finally all together, it will be a stunner!

Here is a really lovely Quilt of Valor. It is meant for a specific veteran and is truly personal. A lot of love is going into this quilt.

These two lovelies are coasters and couldn’t be nicer.

These pieced butterflies are going to be wonderful in the final quilt, whatever it is. Of course, I especially love the the blue one!

Here is some hand embroidery beyond compare! Just sit and enjoy!

More embroidery. Drool if you must!

Love the colors in this beauty!

How nice is this? Won’t it be great in a camper or a lodge?

Now this is a fantastic quandary. Not sure what it will be, but it is divine.

What a cutie patootie is this! I want one!

There is nothing like a good old fashioned bowtie quilt. Brings back memories, doesn’t it?

What a sight! Can you believe this? The work and the precision!

Another version of a bowtie quilt. X’s and O’s.

Doesn’t everyone want one of these? I sure do!

Oh my goodness! A baby quilt that practically brings tears to your eyes.

How lovely is this? Love the scrappy border!

More butterflies! But this time in the border. How unusual!

Oh how I love a blue and white quilt! And those fabrics, yum!

One version of a good old Log Cabin. Wonderful!

And so ended our four day quilt retreat. The quilts are the only part I can show you. I can’t show you how much we laughed or how much we talked or how much we cared about each other. I can’t show you the hugging, the touching, the sharing that went on.

The fabric is what draws us together, but the fellowship is what keeps us together. Quilting is the purpose but caring is the glue. A bag of fabric may be the reason we gather but true love is why we stay.

Camp Out, Pig Out

This is the eleventh year that four friends and Gramps and I have gone camping together for a long weekend in the spring. We have known each other for many years. In fact, one friend Ethel and I have known one another since the sixth grade. We have seen all the good, the bad and the ugly in each other many times over.

It started innocently enough with a group camping trip. We traded meals and that’s when we found out that Bill or Mr. Bill as we call him, was a master cast iron chef. He then became our breakfast guru.

Breakfast soon became a bacon lovers delight. Bacon does go with everything, you know! As in bacon and eggs, bacon and pancakes, bacon and ham, bacon and cheese, bacon and potatoes, bacon and . . . bacon. There are so many ways to eat bacon, as we discover each year.

Breakfasts lasted longer each year. First an hour, then two, now up to three hours including dessert. Yes, we have dessert for breakfast!

We have found that breakfast is so spectacular and lasts so long, what with all the courses and talking and more courses and more talking, that we usually don’t plan lunch anymore.

There is a mid afternoon snack. Something healthy, like brownies or cookies. Then a big dinner planned and served by one of us. It’s really just a big eat fest. Hence, the name – Camp Out, Pig Out. It has since been shortened to COPO.

Since Gramps and I are retired, we are the scouting party and arrive a couple of days early. We set up camp, get nearby sites for everyone and test the local sights and cuisine.

On Friday afternoon the other two couples arrive and set up their rigs. I always serve Friday night dinner because I have the time to cook while they are traveling.

This year we are having homemade grilled hamburgers (nothing better!), potato salad, fresh tomatoes, chips, guacamole and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Sound good?

On Saturday morning, of course, is a mega breakfast, Mr. Bill style. Bacon, bacon and more bacon. Yum! After this artery stopping meal, we usually divide up – men go fishing and/or boating, women go shopping.

In other words, the guys head to the nearest body of water, attach bits of fish/hot dog/bait/etc on the end of poles and sit for hours waiting and waiting. This activity is called fishing and men love to do it, talk about it, plan for it and buy equipment for it. Our men are no different.

Every year they go fishing. Every year they catch nothing. Every year they have a great time. Go figure!

The ladies, on the other hand, go shopping or sightseeing or both. We have been to antique stores, quilt shops, historic homes, museums, gardens, gift shops. And we have been successful every single time!

Oh yes, we have never come home empty handed. What glorious things we have found. What fabulous memories we have made. What fun we have had.

For several years now, Ethel has made matching T-shirts for the three of us ladies. One year as we were out shopping in our three identical shirts, I convinced a shop owner that we were triplets out for a day of fun. The other two were exploding trying to keep from laughing and I was having the time of my life.

Over the years, our COPOs have been varied. We have weathered rain, hail, scorching heat, wild fires and floods. We have had sick people, injured people and the forever healthy people. We have tried cooking all sorts of foods (except fish. We’ve never had fish!) and gone out for food.

 

One year our grandson Mac came with us to the annual COPO. It took about an hour for him to feel comfortable going in and out of everyone’s camper as if he lived there. Everyone became family to him about one minute later. He was fascinated with the super bacon breakfasts. And of course, because he is male, he went fishing with the boys. I’m not sure what he really did all day.

We gals brought treats for him from our shopping trip. It’d seemed only fair. He was nine and he had put up with the fishing thing all day.

Eleven years of these grand memories and here we are again! It’s Thursday night. Everyone will be here tomorrow. Saturday morning will be an eleventh breakfast extravaganza.

Then the guys and a fishing guide will hit the lake for a day of fishing. Maybe the guide will change the day’s outcome.

We ladies are going to a Quilt Show and maybe some antiquing. Whatever suits our fancy at the time.

Saturday evening will be dinner at Myra and Mike’s camper with the traveling tablecloth we use for every meal. Then we build a campfire and sit up late – maybe lil about 11:00 or so. Hey, we’re old!

Sunday am will find us back at Mr. Bill’s with the traveling tablecloth for super breakfast #2. What a way to end a COPO. Total PIGOUT!!!!

It’s Thursday night and I can’t wait. Hope it doesn’t end too soon.

Two Weeks, Two Retreats

I have just returned from two quilt retreats in as many weeks. Some folks told me that much intense quilting would probably kill me. But it didn’t.

In fact, it was exhilarating! It was inspiring! It was certainly a whole lot of fun! OK, it was a bit tiring. But I would do it again in a heart beat.

At a quilt retreat you join like-minded friends i.e. other quilters for a few days of sewing, laughing, sharing, learning and maybe a practical joke here and there.

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At the first retreat, I and about 25 other women spent four days in a special center built for just such occasions. We had our rooms and food provided – what a luxury! All we had to do was plug in our machines and begin sewing.

And sew we did. Quilts began showing up on the design walls immediately and didn’t stop until we were forced to leave four days later.

The five newbies were a bit overwhelmed by the sounds and the sights of the big room. But the sounds of the workroom were so familiar to those of us who had been before. The hum of machines, the chatter of conversations here and there, the ring of laughter floating over all, the chime of an “AHA!” as someone finally figured out a difficult problem.

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And what looked like mass confusion was really busy organization at work. Quilts were being planned, resized, sewn, ripped, resewn, quilted and bound. Advice was being given and received, knowledge shared, tips and tricks passed from one generation to the next.

All this was happening while relationships were being formed and strengthened. Actually, isn’t that what it’s really all about?

So, after four days, I came home, unpacked, washed my clothes, repacked and headed off to my second retreat. This time it was at a hotel and resort center.

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I roomed with a dear friend whom I have known since sixth grade. We joined 85 men and women for another four days of quilting heaven.

Yes, I said men! We have men in this group that quilt and they are wonderful. That is one of the great things about the art of quilting, it is very inclusive.

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So how do 85 people quilt together? Well, first they take over the entire Ballroom with tables, sewing machines, irons, ironing boards and design boards. It was a tight fit, but we  made it.

We nearly drowned in fabric, scraps and thread. But thanks to the hotel staff that vacuumed every night, we kept our heads above water.

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I have never seen such a flurry of activity anywhere in my life. It looked like mayhem, but was controlled work, in actuality. Again the quilts began to appear almost immediately.

The creativity and beauty I saw was amazing. It just kept coming, from every corner of the room. From young and old (Our oldest quilter is 89!). From skilled to newbie alike, the results were wonderful, spectacular.

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Now I’m home again with my two finished quilt tops, one quilt bound and one quilt started. I got a lot accomplished, renewed friendships, met some new friends, ate very well, laughed until it hurt, learned some new tips and shared some others.

In other words, I had a perfect two weeks. The hardest part now is getting used to cooking again. Ugh!!!

To Houston And Back Again

What would make 48 women get up in the middle of the night, drive to a deserted mall, then get on a bus and ride five hours to their final location? And do all that with joy and excitement in their hearts? Only one thing I can think of – The Houston Quilt Show!

And so it was. We 48 with bags, backpacks and credit cards in hand, made our annual trek to the quilters’ version of Mecca. The one place that calls to beginner and master alike, to traditionalist and modernist as well, to anyone who has ever looked longingly at fabric or wanted to make something wonderful from a scrap of woven anything – that place. We just call it “Houston.”

Houston has quilts to view of every kind, shape, color and era. One of the exhibits this year was “Dear Jane” quilts. They are near and dear to my heart. Well, Houston did not disappoint! Oh my, oh my!

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Even some of the backs are absolutely exquisite!

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Here’s a Dear Jane that forms a secondary heart design on the front of the quilt.

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Some are red and white, some are blue and white, some are black and white, and some are multi colored. It is a personal choice.

A person could spend days just viewing the lovely quilts hanging everywhere – the Christmas quilts, the modern quilts, the Millefiori, the dresses (yes, I said dresses!), the 20 foot crocodile and on and on.

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This is Best of Show which looks like a photograph. Here is the artist in front of her quilt.

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This quilt looks like photo up close and the shelves look like real wood. It is a masterpiece  of quilting.

miniatures

The miniatures were especially appealing to me. And I do mean small – these cuties were about four inches long and belonged in a dollhouse. I’m pretty sure they were made by elves.

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There were even quilts made out of linens and doilies and then quilted and beaded. They were exquisite beyond words.

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Entire quilts can even be done with thread alone as in this one. Beyond description really.

That night we had dinner at the Aquarium. How special is that? Yes, we had seafood for dinner and ate it in front of their cousins in the tanks, but it was so goooood!

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Anyway, the 350 pound Grouper didn’t seem to mind too much. The atmosphere was wonderful and the Pomegranate Kiss Martini didn’t hurt either. We had a grand time making friends and learning about the Aquarium.

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After a good night’s sleep, it was back to the show for more quilt Nirvana. Once we had seen all the quilts, it was off to the vendors’ section. Anything you could ever need, want or desire for quilting was there. And all the new things I didn’t know I needed!

What lovely fabrics and wools! Notions by the armload! Patterns to die for! There were shoes, clothes, jewelry, baskets, lights, irons. I got my rings polished. My friend even bought a sewing machine! An entire machine with all the extras, warranty, extra feet, carrying case, etc., etc. and had it all shipped home. What a great place is this Houston!!!

I bought a tin tray and some wool embroidery to fit on the top. I didn’t even know I needed it until I saw it! I was a very happy camper!

Finally the day was over and we tired, but very pleased 48 piled back into the bus with booty in hand. Bundles of fat quarters, quilt kits, rulers and stacks of wool were carefully placed in the overhead compartments. Patterns and books were kept to be read on the ride home.

In the dark of the night, we all looked at the pictures we had taken of the beauty we had seen. Soft conversations were held up and down the rows of seats, as we shared the sights and feelings of the day.

We talked, we laughed, we shared, we laughed some more, all in the darkness of a small bus. We tipped the driver. We gave a gift to the trip planner, coincidentally named Happy.

We knew the trip was coming to an end. Houston was now behind us and reality was again setting in. Our loved ones were waiting at the deserted mall to once again drive us home, where it all began.

But something was different. We still had all our goodies, our bags, our souvenirs, our new projects, and our pictures to take with us. We would remember. We had been to Houston!