I collected an enormous white van then spent the whole day pacing up and down worrying that all of the longarm machines & frames would arrive on time until I finally received a call from the international shippers to confirm that the German on loan from Claudia Pfeil would be delivered direct to Birmingham. In addition to a machine from Ireland, three from the USA and one of my own, the van was packed up with just about everything I could think of that may come in handy at the show. I went shopping for essentials such as chocolate, painkillers and a few bottles of wine.
There was a dramatic thunderstorm with pink lightning overnight so I did not get much sleep and I set off early on the first leg of the trip to collect Kay from the Scottish Borders. The van radio was pretty useless so we caught up on quilting gossip, latest book purchases, projects in progress and we discussed various quilt blogs.
Wednesday was set-up day where "The Team" met for the first time. As well as Kay, I had help from Ani and her sidekick, Lilian, who kept us in stitches with her irreverent comments about all and sundry. Mark Caraher flew in from the USA to represent APQS and help out with sales and technical queries. It was great to have someone so expert at assembling these machines quickly for a show as it took all day to get the stand ready. As we had the luxury of a large trade-stand, we hung an enormous stage backdrop that made it look like we were in a quilter's studio, as well as three blue and white bed quilts, bunting and garlands. The generous amount of floor space allowed us to demonstrate two Millenniums on a 12 ft table, a mid-range Lucey on a short table and two smaller Lennis on another 10ft table.
Over the next four days our impressive stand was much admired by existing longarmers, traders, quilting teachers, and beginners alike. We received many compliments about the information that we shared, the explanations of how things worked, the friendliness of our team and the work that was on display.
There was very little time to explore the quilt show except for a quick run around first thing in the morning. I had a very brief look at the show quilts and exhibits. Kay took many great photos and posted them on her blog, borderlinequilter.blogspot.com I managed to buy just what was on my brief shopping list except that no-one had any gold lame on sale!
It was a fun but hard working week: the team gelled really well, we ate far too much good food in the evenings where we discussed the day, flummoxed ourselves with taxes and dollar conversions and we nicknamed one member of our team, "Algebra Ani".
The show ran really smoothly until the final afternoon where the NEC traffic supervisors held all of the vans in the queue for over two hours and we almost missed our deadline for getting the German machine picked up by Schenkers.
Kay and I had a long drive home on Monday as we made a detour to IKEA then sat in crawling traffic for almost two hours. When we stopped for a cup of tea we opened and read our quilts' judging comments and I really could not decide whether to feel indignant or embarrassed. My score was the lowest that I had ever received from FOQ judges. One said that the series "lacked cohesion" which I did not understand. I was not upset whether the judges did not like my choice of materials but I was concerned that by now I should be attaining "excellent" for skill at the very least. I admit that I sulked and worried for most of the remainder of my journey. That evening my Facebook friends were all very encouraging and generously boosted my morale but I still wonder whether my work reaches the standard required by QGBI trained judges. I guess The Ostrych needs to go to another show to be judged again; I can always sell the panels off to fund a quilt trip if unsuccessful.