Short and Sweet QuiltCon Recap

By now you’ve already seen pictures of all the exciting happenings at QuiltCon, so I’ll give you a short(ish) and sweet(ish) Reader’s Digest recap of my personal experience.  In a later post I’ll share a few pictures of my favorite quilts on display at the show.

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Wednesday. We have arrived! Hello, Austin. My, you have some charming architecture. Old friend from Houston drove up for the night to welcome us to her home state. We started the evening by stumbling into a cozy French restaurant, Chez Nous. There we sat for hours, nibbling appetizers, drinking rosé, and having one of those life conversations we women love to have. It was revitalizing. Next, Maggie Mae’s. You showed me what all the Austin rage is about.  Incredible live blues surrounded by a Wednesday-sized crowd of a dozen or so people with whom to enjoy it.  If I could put those hours on repeat and relive them every time I felt down, I would.  We capped the night by buying me a toothbrush at a convenience store on 6th street and finding this adorable little onesie.  Isn’t it sweet?

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Thursday.  QuiltCon begins!  Kicked off by breakfast at The Old Pecan Street Cafe.  Two words: tenderloin benedict.  Thank you, Texas.  Our walk from the hotel passes us over this enchanting bridge every day, and I am thankful.  One thing I didn’t appreciate: a 42-degrees-and-windy welcome!  I didn’t even pack my jacket (yes, Dad, I should’ve listened to you –at 26, my parents are STILL always right.  Annoying).  On the bright side, I was also welcomed to QuiltCon by an afternoon hand stitching workshop with the gracious and fun Anna Maria Horner.  Guess whom I sat next to?  Only one of my favorite fabric designers, Laurie Wisbrun.  I gushed and acted a little groupie-ish, but she was cool about it.  We’re pretty much BFFs now.

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Friday.  No workshops, just a whole day to wander through the convention center, sit in on some great lectures (which are available for free on Craftsy), admire the show quilts and enjoy the city.  What you see up there is my first foray into long-arm quilting.  It reads: Marta was here.  Witty.  Creative.  Original.  Those are my three middle names.  We had dinner at the Iron Cactus, where we ate some lip-smacking Tex Mex and left full and happy.  At the hotel that night I practiced my hand stitching skills acquired during Thursday’s class, amidst the chatter and giggles of my partners in quilting crime, Melissa (We Shall Sew) and Amy (Stitchery Dickory Dock).

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Saturday.  Jam-packed and FUN!  Debbie Grifka’s all-day hand applique workshop, with an afternoon break spent listening to Amy Butler’s lecture on color stories.  Later: Denyse Schmidt’s eloquent, evocative keynote.  Amen.

Sunday.  Fantastic workshop on machine-piecing hexagons.  Learned a ton from Jacquie.  Got to hang out with Laurie.  Yay!

Sunday and into the wee hours of Monday.  Trying to fly home while a blizzard raged in Denver.  Airport hours that were dreaded at first ended up as a blessing.  A heart-to-heart happened.  As did some MacGyver engineering with hair ties (friend, you know what I’m talking about!).  Life is full of stuff you can’t make up.

Fun with Anna Maria Horner

Awesomely awesome news: Anna Maria Horner visited my local quilt guild!

On Friday night Anna Maria gave an inspirational (read: mind-blowing) and eloquent lecture, exclusively for the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild, which included a fantastic trunk show and insights into her very deliberate and thoughtful creative process.

During our drive up, a couple guild friends and I were wondering how she could possibly speak–and hold our attention–from the scheduled 6 p.m. start until 9 p.m. when the lecture was supposed to wrap up.  How much is there to possibly talk about?  If you saw our faces, you’d see that we had absolutely no problem staying attentive (read: utterly rapt) throughout her 3-hour presentation.  Nor did Anna Maria seem to lose any steam; she was just as energetic at 9 o’clock as she was when she walked up to begin speaking, and it’s obvious how much passion she has for her art.  Our butts weren’t really thanking her enduring energy, and the 877 pregnant guild members (we’re a very fertile guild) and I were a little sore afterward, but of course it was totally worth it.

I left the lecture feeling completely refreshed in my creativity, as did our entire carpool group.  We headed back to Denver engaged in an excited chatter sesh the whole way home.

You think that’s the story?  Pshaw!  A group of us came back on Saturday for a full day with Anna Maria while she hung out with us and we all sewed Multi-Tasker Totes from her pattern!  Sewing with guild buddies and oooooohing and ahhhing over each other’s fabric choices while Anna Maria walked around chatting and giving super sewing tips was a blast.  She is sweet, funny and unpretentious –it felt like Anna Maria was one of the girls.

Anna Maria and me.

[Whimsical sigh]  It was just so much fun.  I actually didn’t finish my tote by the time we left Saturday, due in large part to my not paying enough attention to the pattern instructions and having to rip a few [hundred thousand] seams.  But it took me only 45 minutes or so at home on Sunday to finish my straps and complete my bag.  Here’s my beloved souvenir from this MAJOR weekend:

I can’t wait to see Anna Maria again at Quiltcon!

A Bit of Everything

I’ll start where my last post left off: retreat with the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild (FRMQG). After such an epic weekend, I planned to write an equally epic blog post, but instead will keep it short and sweet. It was a blast. I got what felt like a minuscule amount done, but made up for it in late-night bonding sessions with incredible women and giggling until my tummy hurt.

As planned, I completed Kelly’s Dresden plate block and learned some new tricks while doing so. Then, the Swooning. Ah, yes, the Swooning. I made two blocks from the ever-popular Swoon pattern, of the nine needed for my quilt (nine doesn’t sound like a lot, but these blocks are huge, so nine blocks actually make an 80″ by 80″ finished quilt).

The print fabrics in my Swoon blocks are all from Laurie Wisbrun’s Modern Whimsy collection for Robert Kaufman, which is decidedly my favorite fabric collection of all time. It’s whimsical (duh), and has a wonderful folksy Scandinavian feel that I’m crazy about. Just look at the little bunnies! And the colors! So cheerful and awesome. Wait ’til you see the sheep…

I didn’t get to working on Caiden’s 1-year quilt during the retreat, but I sure did get a lot done at home the following week. I cut all my fabric and assembled all 20 blocks. What’s left for me is to sew the sashing, assemble the top, and quilt the thing! This one’s from another great fabric line, Patty Sloniger’s Backyard Baby for Michael Miller Fabrics. It has all kinds of cool boy stuff like bugs and snakes and beehives and ants and anything else “backyardy” that little boys would want to get their hands on. Here’s a little preview, but I won’t reveal too much because that’ll ruin the final reveal for Caiden’s momma.

Some non sewing-related things have gone down in Chinatown this week as well. My beloved pup, Zeppelin, needed surgery to have a tumor removed from his paw. He’s recovering and the prognosis is looking good, but he still looks utterly woebegone (thanks, Jo Rowling, for the best ever use of the word “woebegone” in the Harry Potter novels that I use any chance I get).

Don’t you just want to cuddle him? We’re hoping for this face to come back as soon as possible:

To conclude this newscast: beautiful weather in the Rockies, and some beautiful little crocus stems beginning to poke out of the ground. Hooray! Spring fever is in full force (which of course means there will probably come a typical Colorado snow storm or five in the near future). In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my tiny glimpses of green.

So long, farewell…

I’m off to a retreat with an awesome group of UBER talented ladies from the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild!  You think packing for a regular vacation is hard?  Trying choosing what to bring for a quilting retreat, and having this wonderful little rainbow to pick from:

Yeah, I know.  Way too hard to decide.  So I’m basically bringing everything (in true female fashion).  There’s a lot I’d like to accomplish this weekend, so I’m hoping to be held accountable through posting about it.  The last two guild meetings, I chatted the entire time and didn’t sew a thing!  If you know me that won’t surprise you.  Here are the things I’d like to get done during the retreat:

  • Kelly’s dresden block (for the guild bee)
  • Vicky’s star block (for my Modern Minx bee)
  • Melissa’s 9-patch block (for my friend and guild president who’s about to have a little guy)
  • Piecing all blocks for Caiden’s 1st birthday quilt (good friend Amiee’s adorable son)
  • Shhhhwoon blocks (I won’t try to explain what this means)

If I complete at least two thirds of this list, I’ll consider this weekend a success.  Either way it will be a blast.  Wish me luck!