Thursday, November 3, 2011

International Quilt Market 2011: Part 1

If indeed heaven exists, I'm pretty sure it would resemble a Quilt Market. No, seriously. It is immense and wall-to-wall fabric, notions, quilts, kits, books, patterns, gizmos, gadgets, gifts, and everything else under the quilting sun. But I'm getting ahead of myself how was the trip?

Well, it's no secret that I'm a land lover. I absolutely and categorically HATE flying. Hate hate hate hate HATE. I figure, if I were meant to fly somewhere along the lines I would have evolved with wings or at the very least an unnattractive flap of skin with which to glide from tall buiding to tall building in a single bound. Last time I checked, I missed that evolutionary train and here I am, a biped with no flying parts. Or, going a different route, I'm pretty sure God would have created me with wings, or a gliding flap or hell, given me the ability to defy gravity and fly around. Unless my mirror is lying to me, neither scenario is true...I definitely cannot fly by any means so why on earth would I want to get into a heavy metal tube with affixed wings and play Russian Roulette with gravity and air speed velocity? Buuuuut, unfortunately, to go anywhere outside of our surrounding states, to fly is the most logical and economical transportation choice, and that's precisely what we did and for four hours one way and four hours back I hated every single second of it. I decided mid flight that while it has to be the most awesome job on this planet (and eventually several others), I would make the worst possible astronaut ever! Anyway, flight one was okay as far as flights go, except for the guy sitting next to me who decided it would be a blasty-blast to chat my face off the entire flight. Flight two sucked really, really, really bad. Talk about flying metal death traps! I'm all ready white-knuckled in the best of flying circumstances, but toss in some violent turbulence and I'm a crying, panicky little wuss....and that's exactly how that went. Yes, I, cried on a plane as an adult. Because hey, we got tossed around like an empty can in a wind tunnel. Fun times.

But we landed THANK GOD and then it was off to our first adventure in Houston, Texas. Let me preface this by saying despite my uptightness while flying, otherwise I'm pretty easy going when it comes to travel. I don't really care where we stop and I'm always up for a little city exploration but ho-ly crap. So we get to our hotel and it is definitely in the gangland. We stayed at the Marriot, which was actually really nice considering its location, and it wasn't until the following day that we noticed it was surrounded by barbed wire and its closest neighbor was a strip bar called "Sinfully." Keeping it classy, Marriot! Anyway, we ventured out for some dinner, which if you go to our store you know we were all about the Waffle House. We don't have those in Oregon, and we LOVE their hashbrowns. If you're not familiar, the Waffle House is the greasiest of greasy spoon chains, open 24 hours and the scene of many a late night hubub...Kid Rock got into a fight there once. Don't go for the waffles (ever), but go for the hashbrowns, because oh my God, yum. So we knew one was (according to Mapquest) 0.6 miles away from our hotel but damned if we could get there! Apparently, for one, Houstonians drive like stampeding wildebeest on PCP and for another, nothing is logically laid out or clearly marked. So we ended up in a frontage street going the opposite way in an area with gang graffiti and barred windows at night, in the dark in a rental car. Bonus. After a half an hour and a useless cell phone GPS later, we wind up at the Waffle House for some glorious hashbrowns (covered is the way to go, always) and I remember that oh crud, I forgot my toothbrush in Oregon. Blast! So mom says hey, we need to get one since they didn't have any in the quickie mart in the Marriot and hey, she needs some hairspray too. So we head out trying to find a grocery store or market or anything that would have toothbrushes and hairspray in the same building. Five miles later? No grocery store at all, no quickie mart that isn't poorly lit with bars on the windows with people loitering and gang graffiti. Finally after circling back we giveup and go to a Chevron to get our stuff. By now I'm tried and cranky and so is mom so we buy or stuff and get the heck out and to the hotel. When we get back, we learn after looking in the binder with all the local ammenities that if we would have just called down to the concierge we could have gotten a toothbrush, hairspray and tons of other stuff for free in the comfort of our pajamas. Life lessons.

So Friday was our first day at Market and we had to go into downtown Houston to the convention center for the Schoolhouse Series classes. A few observations...yes, Houstonians still drive like maniacs, there are still no dang grocery stores along the freeway into Houston aaaaand the streets were EMPTY. Even in downtown no one was out walking around! It was so strange. In Portland, pedestrians are all over and the parks are full and it's clear that people live there. Houston? Either a hurricane just blew through and people were still evacuated or maybe it's just not a pedestrian friendly place because there was no one out on the streets. There was a beautiful park across from the convention center and no one was there. Mom commented that it had to have been the economy hitting the city harder than Portland (which, it hit pretty hard in places too), which is probably true unfortunately. It really is a beautiful city, but the absence of people was just eerie. It was almost post-apocalyptic, no joke. I digress.

The Schoolhouse Series was worth the cost of the plane ticket alone. Each class lasted 30 minutes, with 5 minutes in between. during each half-hour segment, up to 20 different classes were held relating to bettering your business, learning new techniques, seeing new lines, reviewing new books, seeing how to use new notions better, color theory for quilters and Q & A sessions with designers. We met up with a family friend, Michelle, who owns Sooner Quilts in Guthrie, Oklahoma. I grew up with her kids, and my folks have been frtiends with Michelle and her husband for years, ever since we were in the Marines. Anyway, we decided to divide and conquer - I'd take classes I thought were good and they would take classes they thought were good. After all was said and done, we learned a LOT. Mom and Michelle took classes from Joanna Figueroa, Jinny Beyer, Jo Morton, Bigfork Bay...I'm not sure who else honestly, you'll have to ask one of them. I took classes from Kaffe Fassett, Brandon Mably, Tula Pink, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Valori Wells (an Oregon native), Jinny Beyer, Karen Brown, Stephanie Prescott (A Quilter's Dream) and other non-designers.

Here's an anecdote for you: I got kicked by Kaffe Fassett. Yes. Kicked. Kicked by Kaffe. Kaffe the Kicker. No, no, no, it wasn't intentional so before there is any righteous indignation brewing heres how it went...I was sitting in the classroom, where the aisles were narrow. Kaffe was apparently in a hurry and came barrelling down the aisle before I could move my knees to give him more room to walk through the aisle. He got me right in the shin, hard enough that I was thinking "Ow! Hey!" but no bruise, no nothing. Though I don't think he noticed, because he never acknowledged the kick. Ah well, makes for a good story!

Anyway, you're probably (maybe) wondering if we actually for-real MET any of these people. I did! You'll have to ask mom about the people she met, because honestly I can't remember. But I met Tula Pink, Brandon Mably, Kaffe Fassett and Stephanie Prescott. By met, I mean talked to for more than a "Hi, thanks for being here, love your work." Tula Pink reminded me of my roomate - sharp witted, funny and slightly sarcastic. I liked her, there didn't seem to be any hoity-toity fakeness about her which was really nice. Brandon Mably was really a nice guy, very obviously art based, but he didn't have that highbrow way about him either. We had a really nice conversation about composition and I was very impressed by him, especially since he went out of his way to talk to people. Kaffe, all kicking aside, I was less impressed by. He wasn't rude by any means but I found him very aloof and he was definitely very higbrow, and I found him bordering on arrogance. But I guess when you're as influential as he is... Stephanie Prescott is the designer behind A Quilter's Dream and I seriously cannot speak highly enough of her. She is incredibly nice and what I was so impressed with was that unlike a lot of other designers and store owners, she was very open and willing to share ideas with people and share the things that brought her so much success. She repeatedly said that while she doesn't want everyone to be a cookie-cutter of her, she really wants to help other businesses and designers succeed especially in this economic environment and if that means telling people the things that worked for her, so be it! THAT is how the quilting world ought to be.

On another note, Mom, Michelle and I had to eat lunch there at the convention center and it's amazing how brazenly these places flaunt that they know they have you by the short n' curlies. A cafeteria burger was $13, and honestly a Big Mac for less than half that is far better quality. During the Market, one slice of high school cafeteria quality pizza cost $5 and all drinks that you can get from a vending machine for $1.25 cost $3. Man oh man I forgot how they do that! Mom and I kept saying "we should have gone to Waffle House for this." lol.

So Saturday was the Market day, and hooooly mackeral I was not ready for what I saw. It. Was. HUGE. Take Portland Expo and multiply that 3 or 4 or 5 times. Immense. Like I said before, if heaven exists, I'm pretty sure it looks like Market. It was all wholesale stuff, so everything that could be bought was for stores only, not for customers...Market for customers didn't start until Nov.1. But anyway, shop owners had the option to make appointments and buy fabric with the different fabric companies, as well as see new pattern, book and notion designers along with all of the old stand bys. Designers had booths and quilting show hosts had booths and magazines had booths. It was nuts! Mom and I started walking together and checking things out until her meeting at 11:30 and then I went off on my own all googly eyed and in awe of the whole thing. I have to say, on a more personal note, it just reinforced that much more that I want to do quilting world careers and not academia geared ones. It was so COOL. So lets see...who all did we see there that we didn't see at Schoolhouse...Nancy Zieman, Elinore Peace Bailey, Marianne & Mary Fons, Patrick Lose, Jan Patek, Barbara Jones, Pepper Cory...good grief I'm sure there are plenty of others. We got lots of patterns, a a few books signed just for us. I got one signed by Kaffe Fassett...I mean it's the least he could do, right? ;-) Oh, I'm kidding. But no, I really did get one signed by him. Mom got a couple signed and I can't remember who of her favorites but her name is long and hard to remember through the fog lol. Ask her! We got a lot of great tips and ideas for new programs and new ways of doing things, so be on the lookout for that. Plus, we are going to have a FABULOUS Block of the Month starting in January....but my lips are sealed! You'll have to wait and see.

Well, after Market we pretty much crashed. We got home around 7 or 8 inthe evening, and we had to be up and out of the hotel by 4am (yes, a.m...Think I'm cave trollish now? Get me up at 3:30 in the morning and you'll see a cave troll all right...knuckles dragging, grunting and lumbering, the whole 9 yards) to the creepy Hertz place. We had a super obnoxious guy on our plane, who was shouting down the concourse at people and I'm pretty sure he was still drunk from the night before. When we got off the plane, he looked at this little girl and told her she was sucking out all the air and making people suffocate. Not his kid, but some little girl behind us just excited to get off the plane at Denver. What a weird guy. But we got to Portland by quarter to 9am and let me tell ya, I slept most of the rest of the day.

Pictures are all ready up on our Facebook page, but I'll post some here soon!

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