I’ve still not quite caught up with posts from the summer, so apologies for this one being a few weeks late!
I’ve scattered eye-candy photos throughout rather than having a clump at the end! They were taken on my mobile so apologies if not as clear as usual.
Each August the Festival of Quilts exhibition is held down in Birmingham at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre), it’s the biggest quilt show (I think) in the country and every year it clashed with something in my diary. This year I was determined to go. I requested two days off work, booked a two day ticket for the Thursday and Friday (if I was going to go I was going to make the most of it!) I booked a train from Leeds at 06.50 which would get me to the NEC just as it opened at 10am. An AirB&B nearby and I was sorted!
When I was looking at tickets, the two day ticket wasn’t that much more than a one day ticket and I felt that if I booked a couple of workshops during the Thursday afternoon I would be more able to keep going all day – it’s hard work wandering round exhibitions! I booked two one hour courses which as it happens were both embroidery based. I’ve posted about those earlier in the month here.
Catching a train at 6.50am seemed a good idea at the time, until I realised my OH was away so couldn’t take me to the station! I booked our regular taxi driver for 6am, he had a panic in the morning as he had a puncture, so he sent his brother instead as he was so worried I’d miss my train! I got there with plenty of time to spare.
Of course whilst on the train I sat and stitched one of my little cross-stitch projects. I’ve not been to the NEC before, it’s actually very well situated, next to the train station ( a 5 minute covered walk) which is next to the airport and the M6 motorway! I also hadn’t realised how big it is, it’s huge, we were in halls 7,8 and 9, there’s 12 altogether!
Having arrived I decided to try and be methodical, up and down each row…I got so far in and completely lost my sense of direction! I went with a couple of projects in mind, my nieces quilt (the hummingbirds one) and a jellyroll rug. I was pleased to see it wasn’t just quilting stores though, there were dressmaking fabrics, embroidery supplies, general craft supplies.
I was pretty good with my fabric and just bought what I needed for the two projects, the jellyroll rug is going to be for our dining room floor to protect the oak from constant muddy paws, it may seem odd to use a handmade rug for there but it will be easily washable and I bought quarter yard lengths of several blue-grey batiks so I can cut my own jelly roll length, most jelly rolls seem to have a mixture of light and dark, I just wanted dark and fairly dark! It was certainly a lot cheaper than buying even a basic rug!
I fell for some embroidery kits, the mandala one is really pretty, I’m looking forward to making that one, if I’d just seen the photo on the kit I doubt I would have bought it, but having seen them made up it was hard to decide which one to choose as they were all gorgeous. I bought some beautifully hand-dyed linen for counted cross-stitch and a box of Aurifil embroidery threads – a treat!
On the Sunday I found the Rowandean stall, I always make a bee-line for them at the Harrogate show as they always have a stitching table where for £5 you can embroider a little project, it’s a little oasis of calm and tranquility amid the hustle and bustle of the show. I had just made myself comfortable when a voice from the other side said ‘Hello, I know you!’ it was Marilyn Pipe, the tutor from Denman College who originally inspired me to start ribbon embroidery when I went on one of her courses. It was lovely to see her and we had a good chat and catch up, I was quite proud to be able to tell her that my silk ribbon embroidered flower lattice had been short-listed for the Needlecrafters award.
Of course the one big pull for the Festival of Quilts is the quilts on display.They were stunning, I don’t know how many there were but it felt like hundreds! There were modern ones, traditional, appliqued, pieced, handpieced, miniature, I’ve included just a small selection and scattered them through the post rather than one long photo-list at the end…this Cathedral window quilt had tiny embroideries in each window!
This one was stunning, it was about 12 inches square, yes, 12″!!!
There was also exhibitions of Russian quilts and Japanese quilts. There was a Japanese lady demonstrating hand quilting and her stitching was exquisite, so tiny and so perfect, quite awe-inspiring.
I had a fabulous couple of days. Helen met me to drive me home at around 2pm and by then I had definitely spent up! Looking back on it, I think from a stalls perspective there’s just as good a variety at Harrogate Knitting & Stitching, but it’s nice to see some different ones, the more southern shops attend FOQ, there’s a few international stores too such as Lynette Anderson from Australia. Where FOQ does have the edge is the quilts on display, it is worth visiting just for the inspiration and awe they evoke. I’m already planning my trip next year!
Credits; I tried my best to always take a photo of the maker’s details too, but they didn’t all come out, hopefully I’m crediting correctly, otherwise huge apologies.
- Kyoko Yamauchi
- Michiko Inaba
- ? Liudmila
- Liesbeth Manning
- Philippa Naylor
- Catherine Tyndall & Rachel Tyndall