QV2018: Day 20: Houston Quilt Festival

13 11 2018

A very lazy day today. First task of the day was to pack my second suitcase.

Then I had brunch at Poitin with some Houston friends (I worked with Jason in Perth, some 10+ years ago; he and his wife Natalia have been living here for much of the intervening time). It was good to catch up with them again, and brunch was amazing, as were the two cocktails I had — yes, before noon!

This afternoon I wandered back to the exhibition and vendor mall — both were pretty quiet and the mania of the crowds on Thursday had gone. Memo to my future self: Unless there’s something specific you want to buy, wait until Sunday to check out the vendor area! I stopped in at the booth run by my friend Kim’s mom, and caught up with her for a while. Then as a group we convened near Michelle’s second prize entry, and she talked about how she and Sophie made it. Next stop were Helen’s two quilts, where Helen explained how she had made them.

For our last night, I had dinner with Michelle, Helen, Carol, and Lyn, and a ring-in Carol from New Zealand. And then it was all over.

Tomorrow some head off for other destinations, and I head off earlier than the others to IAH for my flight to DFW. Most of us are on the same DFW-SYD flight, though some will be in different classes and different parts of the plane. Once in Sydney (Wednesday), we lose the Tasmanians, the Canberran, and the Sydneysider, and I fly back to Perth on a later flight than those that remain.

And that’s it for another QuiltVenture. We don’t know yet if there’ll be another in two years’ time, and if so, where it will go. But travelling with a group of similar women and the friendships that ensue, can’t be underestimated. Many thanks to Michelle, especially, for being our fearless leader, and for organising yet another AMAZING trip. There’s an enormous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make it all seem so easy, and Michelle is responsible for all that. Thank you, my friend.





QV2018: Day 19: Houston Quilt Festival

11 11 2018

The only class I had today was in the afternoon, so I had a leisurely breakfast with Mary Beth and her husband. I first met Mary Beth at the first-ever Quilting Adventures workshop I went to in New Braunfels, Texas (2012). I’ve since met her at Festival. This was the first time I met her husband.

After breakfast, I wandered back over to the quilt exhibition to see a few more sections in detail, and to check out some of the vendor mall — it wasn’t so crazy busy today as it was on Thursday, thank goodness (for me as an attendee; perhaps not so much for the vendors). Then back to my room to pick up my class supplies and to call and catch up with Kim, the ex-owner of Quilting Adventures (now closed). Kim’s mom has a booth in the vendor mall, which I missed, so I’ll check that out tomorrow when I go say hi to her. My class was on Super Fast Binding and Piping with Melody Crust, and it was super fast — I was done in half the allocated time!

This evening we had our final group dinner at The Grove restaurant in Houston, and said goodbye to Miss Pat, the lovely Texan who joined this mad group of Aussies on this trip — she leaves early tomorrow morning.

Here are some more photos of quilts on display at Festival this year (for all the photos, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157702513543445):

One of Jane Sassaman's quilts -- I did a whole day drawing workshop (Abstracting from Nature) with her

One of Jane Sassaman’s quilts — I did a whole day drawing workshop (Abstracting from Nature) with her





QV2018: Day 18: Houston Quilt Festival

10 11 2018

I had three classes today — morning (Floating Forest, with Rita Lynne), afternoon (Improv Color Blocks, with Cindy Griselda), and evening (Professional Quilt Edge Finished — The Envelope Edge, with Grace Errea). See https://rhondabracey.com/2018/11/11/qv2018-houston-classes/.

I met Sara, a friend of mine from Texas, for lunch, then had about 45 mins after lunch to look more closely at some of the quilts on exhibit, specifically the SAQA (Studio Art Quilters Association) exhibition and the quilts up for the silent auction.

Some of the most intricate quilting is coming out of Spain, and it's by men -- I'm pretty sure this is one of them

Some of the most intricate quilting is coming out of Spain, and it’s by men — I’m pretty sure this is one of them

 





QV2018: Day 17: Houston Quilt Festival

9 11 2018

I did two classes today — Luscious Landscapes (Peggy Martin) and Modern Simplicity (Jodi Robinson). See: https://rhondabracey.com/2018/11/11/qv2018-houston-classes/

After class, I met a friend from our first tour group in the bar, and others from the current group joined us. Some of us had a late dinner at a local restaurant (late because it’s almost impossible to get a table at any restaurant in the vicinity when Festival is on). Then it was time for bed. I have 3 classes tomorrow (morning, afternoon, and evening), so it will be a full day.





QV2018: Day 16: Houston Quilt Festival

8 11 2018

Today was my first day of classes at the Houston international Quilt Festival. I had an all-day drawing class (‘Abstracting from nature‘ with Jane Sassaman. I don’t think I’ve ever spent 4+ hours drawing in one day, and it was surprising how much better I got with that sort of practice!

After class, the Festival opened for 2 hours to delegates, before the general public could gain access to both the quilt exhibition and the vendor mall. As in previous years, my strategy is to start from the back, work the whole back section, then move to the front section — by then, the crowds have started to head back. It’s worked well before and so it did again tonight. My other strategy is to walk quickly, take photos of quilts that appeal to me, and get a sense of what I want to go back and revisit over the next few days. I’d walked the whole exhibition and taken some 150 photos in 90 minutes! And yes, my feet hurt — in previous years, my Fitbit has told me I do >15K steps in that 90 mins.

Once I’d finished with the exhibition (for now), I went to the vendor mall (still only delegates, so not HUGE crowds yet), and made a beeline for two booths that had two of the items on my five-item list. Then it was off to put my vendor mall strategy in play — start from the far end at the back, ignore any booths that have things that don’t interest me (e.g. beads, yarn), ignore any booths that have things I can’t take back to Australia on the plane (bulky goods, electrical goods, etc.), and only look (quickly) at those that might be of interest. However, I wasn’t able to put my strategy into play, because just as I got to the back corner of the vendor mall, an alarm went off with an announcement to evacuate the building. Somewhere in that announcement was something about fire/smoke (but not in a panicky way). By the time I got to the centre section of the mall, I could smell smoke, and a couple of the vendors said they’d smelt it for 10 mins (I presume they’d let the building security know). The smell dissipated the closer I got to the exit doors. It was still 20 mins before Festival opened to the public, so I hope the evacuation didn’t affect the organisers or the vendors for too long. I don’t know when it re-opened — I went back to my hotel room to process my photos and rest my feet!

Here are just a few of the ~150 photos I took tonight — you can see them all on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157702513543445

This is Sophie Standing and my friend Michelle's 2nd prize winning quilt in the Animal category -- 'Roaming free'

This is Sophie Standing and my friend Michelle’s 2nd prize winning quilt in the Animal category — ‘Roaming free’





QV2018: Day 15: Calgary to Houston

7 11 2018

We were up around 3am this morning, for a 4am gathering in the hotel lobby and a 4:15am pickup for Calgary Airport and our flight to Houston. It was COLD — minus 5C or colder — and snowing, but we knew it was going to be 30C or more in Houston, and humid. Most of our group dressed for Calgary weather, gradually discarding jackets and thermals from the airport onwards! (And yes, they had to de-ice the wings)

We flew on WestJet, a Canadian airline I’ve never heard of, let alone flown, before. And I doubt I’ll ever fly them again, at least not on one of their 737-600/-700 series planes! Six of us paid quite a bit extra for ‘Plus Economy’ seats, the only thing WestJet has other than standard Economy. Their website says the seats are larger, have more legroom, meals are served etc. What a crock!

Instead the seats are NARROW — ‘Plus Economy’ seats are effectively just three economy seats with the middle one used for an arm/drinks rest. They are certainly not equivalent to Premium Economy or Business Class (or First Class on US airlines). None of these seats have open arms, which means you can’t ‘spread’ a little past the width of the arms. You’re boxed in. There may be a tad more leg room, but there’s NO more width. Yes, I can blame my bum for being bigger, but when you pay a lot extra for seats that are described on their website as being bigger, you sort of expect slightly wider seats. Those in economy had no shoulder or bum room, and were very up close and personal with their neighbours. Fortunately, for those in our group seated together, we’ve got to know each other quite well the past few weeks…. Plus Economy also boasts a ‘meal’ for flights over 2.5 hours (ours was a 4-hour flight). That meal for breakfast was a boxed turkey wrap (stale; ‘use by’ date tomorrow) or a boxed ham and cheese croissant. With it came some packaged apple slices that had a ‘use by’ date two days previous. This was an international flight from Canada to the US. And yes, I’ve been spoilt by Qantas…

Enough! Let’s get on with the trip!

We arrived early into Houston and went straight to our gate. Once the luggage came through (that took a bit longer than expected), we exited into a wall of heat and humidity, and then onto the blissfully air-conditioned bus. (We’d cleared US immigration/customs in Canada, but that’s another story for another day, so our flight was treated as a domestic one.)

Once at the hotel we exited into the heat again, then into the lovely cool hotel lobby. Some of our rooms were ready straight away, while others had to wait several more hours for theirs to be ready. My first port of call was the International Quilt Festival registration desk to pick up my name badge, program, final room assignments for classes, IQF pin for 2018, etc., then I went with one of the new ladies this tour to show her where the Phoenicia market was.

At 5:15 our group gathered and went over to the convention centre to line up for Winners’ Circle — the ceremony announcing all the award-winning quilts for 2018 — from Honorable Mentions, to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize winners in each category, to the final eight quilts that won big prize money, including the Best of Show.

There were too many people crowding to quilts for me to take many photos of them, but photos of all the winning quilts (but not close-ups, unfortunately) are here: http://quilts.com/fqf18/iqawinners/list.html. I’ve put some of the photos of my favourite quilts in this post; the others are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157702513543445 — I’ll add to this album as I take more photos of the quilts in the exhibition (which doesn’t open until Wednesday night for delegates, and Thursday for the general public).

 





QV2018: Day 4: North West Trek

27 10 2018

Off to Eatonville, Washington on the bus this morning. Why? To go to North West Trek, an animal park about an hour or so’s drive south of Seattle. I was last there about 20 years’ ago, and I was pleased that it had hardly changed.

We started with the two grizzly bear cubs (less than 12 months old), which are only on display twice a day for about 2 hours each time) Next was the 3-carriage trolley safari bus thing to see the large prey animals on the 435 acres of open land — bison, elk, black-tailed deer, wild sheep, moose, etc. Awesome stuff, but as it rained quite a bit today, most of my photos didn’t turn out very well.

After the trolley tour, we were on our own until lunch. I walked to the wolf and fox exhibits, but saw nothing (if they had any sense, they were sheltered out of the rain). Next were the cats — I saw the back of a bobcat sleeping in the humpy, no cougars, and a lynx. The owls on display were the snowy owl (his photo came out looking like a bright white blob!), barn owl, golden eagle, and turkey vulture. Others also saw the otters and raccoons, but I didn’t get there,

After we got back to the hotel, a few of us went to the top of the Columbia Center (73rd floor) for some amazing views over Seattle. We had a few drinks up there as the sun set, then made out way back to the hotel to pack. The drink in the photos below was sort of like a margarita, but with red wine poured over a spoon on the top, and an ‘eyeball’ for Halloween (it was really a bubble gum encased in a hard sugar coating). It was as nice as it looked!

Roosevelt elk (male with antlers)

Bison bison

There’s a grizzly bear cub in there!

Bison bison

Seattle at sunset from the 73rd floor

More picture available on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157697065648340