Saturday, 9 August 2014

For Sue : Festival of Quilts, Birmingham 2014.

Dear Sue,
given the state of your head when they walked you off into the First Aid room at the NEC I figured there was a strong chance you wouldn't be back to attend the Festival this year so I thought if I wrote up what I saw it might give you some idea of the event.
Firstly may I ask after your husband? He was looking a little bit pale and wan as he helped you up from your tumble by the path. I can understand why; that hen's egg-sized lump above your eye was enormous and getting bigger by the minute. Couldn't be sure exactly how big because I hadn't yet purchased one of those 'Bloc Loc Rulers' which was on my list but it was definitely over an inch proud of your head.
You should know I think you were terribly brave, in fact all of us who could see just what had happened thought it. Once you were away from gawping NEC workers and the  bossy Aussie holding a tissue to the badly grazed duck, egg-sized lump over your eye, and safely ensconced inside the First Aid room I hope you let rip and flooded the room with tears. A little bit of wailing and teeth gnashing wouldn't have gone amiss either. And then again in the ambulance they better have called for you because chica, you *needed* to be pumped full of the strongest analgesics possible before getting that goose egg-sized lump x-rayed. Fingers crossed your orbital bone wasn't fractured and that the lump the size of an emu egg was merely really ace fake make-up. Anyway.
Once into the Festival of Quilts the first thing visible were (unsurprisingly) rows and rows of quilts on display. Plus the Quilting Guilds booths. Not being a quilting guild I ignored them because you know, not me. But oh Sue! The teeny weeny mini quilts people made were sooooo fabliss and stunning.
The pieces in this are so little Sue. You seemed to have 20/20 vision so you probably wouldn't have had to squint but I saw a few older women leaning in for a closer peer. Actually this was one of the bigger minis, there were some that must have been about six inches square. Don't tell anyone but I can imagine having a bash at a teeny one and possibly/maybe entering it at FoQ 2015. Let's make a deal Sue, you physically get yourself through the doors at the NEC next year and I will have a micro mini on display for you to look at.
This one was Maria's favourite. No, I wasn't surprised either.
I don't know about you Sue but every year on the way up to FoQ we say we must buy a programme and every year we are so excited to just get in there and see everything we don't. As a consequence we venture up and down the aisles and get lost and confused and spend too much money, double back on ourselves, see loads of stuff and miss even more.
These were some of the quilts that worked for me. There were loads of stunning quilts, technically fabulous quilts, funny (haha) quilts, funny (peculiar) quilts, some modern art quilts and a few I confess I looked at and just thought "Hmmm..." The ones in this collage aren't those. All of these spoke to me; I know, I know - a little bit 'Pseud's Corner' but they just did. All of them were extremely clever in their construction, quilting or use of colour and that London Modern Quilt Guild one is all of that. I think it was by Judi Kirk. I may be misremembering her name but she was one of the desk jockeys at the Modern Quilt Guilds section of that Quilt Guilds booth/office place right up the front.
The Spools was a feast of Liberty chosen by an expert eye and I couldn't help but smile as I went passed it. It feels as if it has been made with a lot of love. If you actually know who made it Sue please tell them how it gives me a little glow when I look at this picture, and if it was made with much swearing and crossness I don't have to know . I wish the lighting in the venue had been better because this photo does NOT do justice to the colours at all.
That skullington is creepily magnificent or you know, magnificently creepy. Clever, clever pattern designer and good work exhibiting sewist (if they are different people). The general consensus of people drifting past it was it was clever but they were feeling a little hypnotised looking at it. Given the headache you undoubtedly have it is probably a good idea you avoided actually looking at this one Sue.  The bottom right was a winner for me because of the colour choice being so totally in contrast to the traditional block.
And the Festival is a little bit about the shopping isn't it? I hope that all your spending money can be used in your Local Fabric Shop. Or you could always convert it to Paypal (which we all know is free money) and spend it online. If so I would thoroughly recommend Magee Donegal Tweed. Normally
tweed has a slightly rough edge right? No matter how flash the brand you always know it is going to smell of wet dog and wee if you get caught in the rain. Not that it is such an unpleasant smell, almost weirdly comforting but still not the parfum de choice for most. But this family firm has cracked it, delicious colours that had us fizzing around the stall touching everything we possibly could because it was all so soft. So incredibly soft. Like a tweed blanket created by weaving unicorn tails. As I said, delicious. Do you think I bought any Sue? No. Because I am a dumbass. I couldn't chose which one to go for and what to do with it if I could. Some might call it an intervention by my pennypinching, tightwad conscience. I call it Left Brain Bastardry; I think we can all agree FoQ is *not* about logical thinking.
Earlier in the week I had pulled out every piece of fabric my husband thinks I own and sorted it. There was a big mess in the kitchen I have to confess and as I cleared it all up and folded it into its new boxes I realised there is practically NO yellow. Searching through the shop stands I could see why. Most of it was manky. Wrong tones, babyish patterns, smelled funny, you know the sort of thing - just not right. And then we saw this stand - Fair Trade Fabric - as if I wasn't already sensorially blissed out from the tweedy people I then got to play with this cotton. Soft, beautiful drape, tonal like Oakshott but more delicate. I will definitely be shopping online with them Sue, maybe you could have a little look there to spend some of your 'free' pounds?
Given the size of the NEC it must be possible to actually spread the shopping streets out because there were *so* many people. Everyone jockeying to get past the knots of women oohing over fabric, stroking fabric, watching the demonstration of some gadget to do with fabric. I think that shopping hall was a bit like the internet; the feeling of anonymity in the shuffling mob lets people do things they would *never* do in real life. I was pushed in the back by so many white-haired old ladies with ENORMOUS bags to get me to move forward that at one point I turned and said "I cannot move. You are behind me, the lady in front of me is standing still and cannot move and is blocking my path to the side. What would you like me to do?" She kind of sniffed a little bit, glared at me then turned into the serpent her soul yearned to be and slithered off in the other direction.
Sue if you had been declared fit enough to be let loose they might well have suggested you use one of the NEC's mobility scooters. I *love* mobility scooters. They are a brilliant invention that has given so many people freedom to be a part of their community and in charge of their own lives. My mother has had cause to use one when travelling and my lovely neighbour in the front house would be housebound without hers. I really do think they are great but the scooters provided by the venue were HUGE. Proper off-roady type ones with a long wheel base and hubs big enough to ferry small children. Not ideal for the incredibly confined space of the shopping hall. Plus I don't think many of the riders had much experience. Just sayin'. Let's not mention those cuboid, hard plastic trollies being pulled behind people.
Have you been to the Festival before Sue? Just like last year we went off to the side hall to have lunch. There were tables and chairs to sit and relax before heading back into the fray of the main halls except this year there weren't. How ridiculous.
 So we sat on the floor beside a booth  and had our picnic;  this was less than ideal especially for those with a dodgey, arthritic knee. I know there were benches dotted about the place but it isn't the same. We only met briefly Sue but I am sure you would be impressed at my restraint when later I passed Mr Twisted Threads, the organiser of the whole event and did not collar him with my complaint. 
Our day was only halfway through but I imagine your eye is now completely swelled shut and your head must be pounding. I hope the ambulance arrived really quickly.
love love,



  1. I almost feel as if I'd been there with you - fabulous post, missus!

    I vow I will be there next year. Have never been but always wanted to.

    Get well soon, Sue.


  2. Love your post Trash! My favorite part was when "She kind of sniffed a little bit, glared at me then turned into the serpent her soul yearned to be and slithered off in the other direction". I can't stop laughing!!!

  3. Oh My Gosh -- what a great read. You're hysterical!!! Here's my favorite line: ".. I ignored them because you know, not me." Good thing I didn't have a drink in my mouth!!! Sounds like you had a fun time -- thanks for the wonderful report!!!

  4. Oh poor Sue. Yes the Lmqg one was made by Judi Kirk and it was designed by Katie Spencer.