And I had an interview for a new job which went very well and I am optimistic that they will offer it to me. Very similar to what I have been doing, and similar salary, but much closer to my home so it should cut my commuting time by up to two hours. More crafting time! I mentioned that when they asked why I was prepared to make a sideways move, which resulted in two slightly baffled looks until I translated it into 'work speak' by saying it meant a better work/life balance for me. Then they nodded in understanding.
Having scared myself a little last week when I got out all my knitting UFOs for the picture, I have been trying to finish some of them.
I'm almost finished my Garter Stitch shawl - I'm just doing a decorative crochet bind off (for which I hope I have enough yarn) and will likely finish it at Knitting Group this afternoon.
I've also been doing some sewing.
I made another drawstring bag using the online tutorial I've blogged before. I made the contrast fabric deeper on this one, and used two sewing theme FQs. These bags are like candy, so quick and satisfying to make.
I've made a start on a Texas Lone Star quilt in reproduction fabrics, using a kit I bought several years ago in America. Having 'been there, done that' on the whole volcano centre bulge for a lone star, I am trying to be very accurate in my cutting, and started by starching the heck out of my fabrics to minimise stretching.
I finally stopped procrastinating and got all the pieces of my previous Freestyle quilting frame out of their storage places and photographed it and listed it for sale on Ebay. It's been bought by another quilter and will be going to a new home later this morning. I will need to set up my New Generation frame soon and start making a dent in my pile of quilt tops.
I finally sewed the binding onto my Flowering Vines quilt that I quilted on the New Generation frame a year ago, so it is now done apart from a label. I will be keeping this one, it took me years to make and I really like it. It's a Piece o' Cake applique pattern and I used a fabric kit I ordered from America apart from the pink squares which were my modification. So bright and cheerful.
Yesterday I cashed in one of my Christmas vouchers from DH ("I promised to take Sharon on a trip out of her choice") and asked him to drive me up to the Festival of Quilts at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, which is about a two-hour easy drive for us. This is our largest UK quilt show and possibly the largest in Europe now. I hadn't been for several years because when it first launched I didn't like it at all, it was about 75% textile art and there were some organisational issues and I heard of problems with quilts being treated badly etc. I decided to give it another chance and was blown away by how huge it now is. It was across Halls 7,8 and 9 of the NEC and must now be comparable to some of the American state shows. It was actually too big to see everything in one day, and I was shattered by the end from trying.
The aisles were generally spacious, the signage was good, there were information booths outside the show, generally all very professional now. There was a much better balance of traditional and modern quilts vs. textile art, and all sorts of products that I didn't realise had come to the UK such as Juki sewing machines (big stand) and Horn Sewing Cabinets (big stand). There were even several long arm companies which used to be quite rare here in the UK with our small houses: APQS, Innova and even a new UK-made long arm machine (which looked a bit clunky) - so someone must be buying them. It made me realise how out of touch I am now with the UK quilting scene, because for the last few years I have really been a knitter and not a quilter. The quilts still aren't getting treated as well as they deserve - when I walked in, I turned to the left to start going through the Traditional Quilts. Ahead of me a younger woman probably in her 30s was picking up every quilt in her bare hands to look at the back and no-one was stopping her. Several other people were tapping quilts as they pointed at them, or brushing past the quilts lining the main corridor which had no barriers or protection. I was about to say something to the young woman when I realised that I could not see any signs anywhere to tell people not to touch the quilts. Also didn't see any white-gloved stewards until I had been there about 20 minutes and done several aisles. Some aisles did have a small 'don't touch' sign but as it was in the form of a small quilt, it almost looked like an exhibit and wasn't very high profile. In the whole four hours I was looking around the show, I think I only saw about five white-glove stewards. Some exhibits that were being run by other organisations, such as the Olympics gift quilt display, were much better done with 'Don't touch' signs every few quilts and someone looking after them. I know that people should know better about touching, but they obviously don't. Also saw an absolutely gorgeous three-dimensional travelogue quilt (see below) where the maker had carefully inserted rolls of torn paper underneath some of the 3-D elements to keep them from getting crushed in packing - and the organisers had left all the paper just sticking out!! One more moan and then I will stop ranting: they tried to force you to buy the programme by not indicating any information on the quilts apart from the name of the quilt - not even the name of the maker.
Anyway, when I wasn't being irritated by some of the above issues, I did enjoy seeing so much on offer and some very nice quilts. As usual with a non-juried show, there was quite a mix of quality, and interspersed with the 'public' quilts were the self-contained exhibitions from various quilt artists or groups, some of which were really to my taste. Here are a few photos from the show, and apologies that I can't attribute them to the makers due to the organisers not providing that information with the quilts.