Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Back home again (it's so good)

I'm back home, suffering from both jet lag and a bad cold which I picked up while away, but am now on antibiotics so hopefully will feel better soon. But it is so nice to be home and sleeping in my own bed and back in my real life. I start my new job tomorrow, so I hope I feel better.

Everything on my trip went very smoothly, and I enjoyed both the shows I went to. I even got a morning of sightseeing in Chicago, and although it was pouring rain I was impressed with what I could make out of the downtown area through the steamed up trolley bus windows. Chicago appears to be a very elegant city with an impressive lakeshore and many other attractive features.

My four-day course building Ratty's house from Wind in the Willows with Rik Pierce went very well and I really love working with Paperclay, which is Rik's signature material. It was a demanding course, and we were busy from 7:00 am to 9:30 pm the first three days, but luckily due to the time difference it wasn't much hardship for me to be there at 0700. This is a picture of Rik's house that was the class sample - it will be a long time before my house looks this finished. Rik was a great teacher and we learned so much, which I love in a course.

On Friday I put together a 1/4 scale western saloon kit in a dome with the Steinke's, which I packed into the shipping box and it also arrived home unbroken.

The Bishop show was very impressive, to a similar standard as the London Kensington show yet more the size of Miniatura. I laughed to myself to hear the Americans complain about how crowded the show was - I never saw more than 3 or 4 people at a table and it was easy to move around on the three days I was at the show - I think they would be a bit unhappy with the elbowing scrum at Miniatura. Prices were also generally more reasonable than I was expecting. I also got the shuttle bus to the IMA show in Schaumberg, which was also very good, and to the Three Blind Mice show which was smaller and more of a budget offering. Saturday I even got to the Woodfield Mall and picked up some gifts to bring home. The fantastic exchange rate of almost $2 to the pound meant that many things at both shows seemed like real bargains to me. I picked up quite a few accessories and kits for my planned quilting and knitting shops in my Greenleaf Willowcrest house.

Then I flew down to Indianapolis (after being told my suitcase was overweight and having to fish some things out of it at the check in counter) for a lovely visit with a quilting friend. We went to the Marie Webster house (Quilters' Hall of Fame - in pic)for a lovely exhibit of Baltimore Album quilts. I was also introduced to the joys of dining at Cracker Barrel, and was pleased to find some old-fashioned Dubble Bubble gum from my childhood in their gift shop. I also got taken to Joanne's where I bought some fabric and several craft things, and to an antiques/bric-a-brac mall where I bought a quilted runner of schoolhouse blocks and some decorative teapots.

On Wednesday we drove back up to Chicago, and I got to go behind the scenes at the Chicago International Quilt Festival to help set up a friend's quilting stall. I even had an exhibitor's badge which meant that I could have a virtually private view of the quilts before Festival opened on Friday. I missed Thursday preview night because I went back to the Woolly Lamb for their open knitting night for the second week in a row, everyone there is so friendly and I bought some lovely Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande Paint yarn, which feels like clouds and is so soft. I don't know what I am going to make with it, I have enough for a sweater. It knits at 3 stitches to the inch so is very bulky but very lightweight.

At the quilt show I had a shopping list which I largely stuck to, although I did buy some diecut charm squares and a kit for a Texas Lone Star in gorgeous reproduction fabrics, and a book on applique artwork by Margaret Cusack after hearing her very interesting lecture. I went to two other lectures, one on making quilts from pixellated photos, and one on using the colour wheel to design colour schemes, and a very interesting 'Bag Lady' morning on Saturday where we had talks from five different bag makers. People were very friendly and several read my name badge and exclaimed over how far I had come for the show. My shopping list included the Sidewinder bobbin winder, a floral Olfa rotary cutter, some 30s solids, Masterpiece thread by Alex Andersen for piecing, narrow quilting patterns to use on my tabletop frame, some feature fabric to make bags out of, some more featherweight bobbins, non slip frosted Olfa rulers, some punchneedle fabric and more YLI invisible thread. This is much less than I have brought home on previous trips, but then we can now get so many more products here in the UK than we could 10 years ago. It's still cheaper to buy in America, but then it becomes a suitcase weight issue. Luckily I had a second soft bag to put my clothes into, so I avoided the weight issue on the return trip.
So I have lots of new projects to do now, and it was a good trip. Sadly I came home to the news that my housebound elderly friend (that I was going to give the other Baltimore Album top to once I had quilted it) has suddenly passed away after a short stint in hospital, so I will be going to her funeral in a few weeks. She turned 80 while in hospital, and I am sorry that I didn't get to say goodbye.
Still, it's good to be home. Dh and Ds were ecstatic to see me, and suddenly I have to remember how to cook again, although they did make a nice meal for me on Sunday night when I was still dizzy with jetlag.


Rhonda said...

It seems you have a great time and learned plenty. Hope you feel better very soon.

Kathy Wagner said...

So glad to hear you had agreat trip! Lots of learning and shopping and fun!

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