Lancaster Report--Part 1

I had so much fun at the AQS Quiltweek in Lancaster that to try to report in on everything in a single blog would be ridiculous. So I'm going to piecemeal it and do several blog posts. For the most part, they'll go through the week chronologically but I may throw some thematic stuff in there as well. So, let's get started with...

Setting the Scene

First off, here's a pic of my BFF/BQFs Lori and Katie standing with me in front of the AQS Quiltweek admission booth. This pic was actually taken later in the week, but it'll help you picture who I'm talking about in all these posts.

We stayed at the Best Western Eden Resort, which is about 10 minutes away from the Lancaster County Convention Center where the show is held. It was a great place. The beds were extremely comfortable and it's been recently renovated so everything was brand-spanking new. The indoor pool was just gorgeous, although strangely it was a mix of salt water and chlorinated water, which I haven't encountered in an indoor pool in the northeast before. The only downside was that with three in the room, I'd requested a rollaway bed. Their definition of rollaway bed is "air mattress." We rotated who got to sleep on it each night.

Day 1 (Wednesday)

I spent the first day in a full-day class with Ami Simms making a String Star quilt. I mostly took it because I really enjoy Ami's sense of humor and thought it would be fun to take a class with her. The project was incidental. Still n' all, I had fun making the project and I surprised myself by being one of maybe two or three people who actually got all the blocks made for the center. I was en fuego! None of us got it completely put together. She didn't really expect us to, it seems; the purpose of the class was to show us the technique and let us get a running head start.

String Star with African fabrics

String Star with African fabrics

I talked about the African fabrics I used in a previous blog post. I wasn't sure I was going to love my background fabric--I was a little worried it would end up looking too busy. I'm glad to say that I'm thrilled. It works beautifully. I couldn't be happier!

I still need to piece all the blocks together. Then I'll be adding a narrow border of more background fabric to float the star a little bit.

Detail of background

Detail of background

For the outside border, at the moment anyway, I plan to do what Ami Simms did on hers: more strip sets of the African fabrics all around the outside, with mitered corners. She'd warned that it takes more strips than you think it will so even though I have a lot left of each fat quarter I've already used for the blocks, I ended up picking up four more African fat quarters--likely from the same vendor I bought all the rest from years before--to give me some wiggle room. I'm going to strip them all up and sew them together to see how much border I might be able to get out of them. If I'm short, I'll add some batiks or hand-dyes. If I'm long, I'll throw the leftover into the backing or something. I just really want to use up all my African fat quarters.

I also made two new buddies during class--woo for new buddies! Ellen and Deb were a hoot to share tables with. Ellen was sitting alone at the table behind me but happened to be placed underneath one of the only actual lights in the room. (It was obnoxiously dark in there!) She kept inviting me to "Come to the light! Come to the light!" So I turned around and put my cutting mat on the empty end of her table behind my sewing space. We were sewing on Bernina machines--don't recall the model number. It took me a few minutes to get used to it but we were doing very basic sewing so it wasn't too bad. The Bernina woman (Mary Alice) was very nice and even figured out how to override some settings on my machine so it would behave more like I'm used to my Janome behaving. After that, I was flying!

And yes, Ami Simms was a great teacher. I picked up some tips for ironing fabric before cutting that will be useful. She had brought examples of string stars she's made to show us what works well and what maybe could be done differently--I really appreciated her showing us something she wasn't as happy with so we could discuss possibilities for backgrounds and such. She also did the lion's share of our pressing for us--at first, so she could check to make sure people weren't getting off track anywhere. Later, I think, just to allow us to be able to keep moving as quickly as possible. She was entertaining but educational at the same time. I'd take a class with her again anytime!

Meet-Up Number 1

Left to right: Julie, Judy, me, Jill, Sarah

Left to right: Julie, Judy, me, Jill, Sarah

After class was out, I had the joy of meeting up with four listeners. Woot for meet-ups and woot for listeners! Judy and I had actually met earlier in a vendor booth when she recognized my voice. (Not surprisingly, it was the ProChem Dye booth. Go figure.) Wednesday afternoon, I met up with Julie, Judy, Jill, and Sarah. Say that three times fast...

I coveted Judy's cardigan and will be checking out the Land's End website soon.

Sarah swears she's going to be using the fabric she just won in my recent giveaway almost immediately!

Julie gave me a lovely gift. It's a little pouch with that snappy-open kind of top that just makes you want to squeeze it and say " 'Salright" like the Parkay containers in those old commercials from my childhood. (And I might just have done that several times. Maybe.) I've had it in my purse ever since, waiting for me to figure out the perfect use for it. Thanks so much, Julie!

Evening Event: Author's Roundtable

Wednesday evening, Lori and I went to the Author's Roundtable which featured eight AQS authors demonstrating a technique or talking about the topic of their latest book. I'm definitely going to be trying out the fun, fast block technique that Billie Lauder demonstrated--it's perfect for a quick baby or wheelchair quilt, especially. I bought some Sulky foundation papers based on the Sulky person's demonstration (more about purchases later). And I enjoyed Edyta Sitar's presentation though I didn't end up purchasing any of her stuff. But I could see myself taking a class from her someday. She's charming. I really enjoyed all the authors' presentations, actually. Not a slow moment.

If you get a chance to do something like that at a show, take it. It's a great way to be introduced to what's new and happening, as well as get short snippets of a variety of potential teachers. I have Mom to thank for keying me into that. The first time I went to Houston was with Mom and she recommended I do whatever roundtables or round robins that I could to be exposed to as many techniques/methods/teachers as possible in a short period of time. I could then see what sparked my interest for following up later. And she was right! I've done it at most shows I've been to and have never been sorry.

After the author's roundtable, we all got back to our hotel room, did the requisite Show n' Tell of what we'd done during the day, and giggled until we couldn't stay awake any more. A true girls' night.

Stay tuned for Day 2...