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Turns out the road from The Festival of Quilts leads to Shetland!

Having my son Maxwell's quilt as part of my display added an extra special element to the show.

If you follow me on social media, you will have noticed that I did not tour southern England after the Festival of Quilts, but instead spent a week in the Shetlands with my sweetie Dave!. First, let me share a few highlights and lessons learned from my trip and my time in Birmingham!

Lessons learned while travelling, what not to do.

Lesson #1 Do not try to avoid the big, scary, overwhelming airport and navigating the trains by taking two flights. Next time, fly directly to London and take the train to Birmingham like a big girl!

Lesson #2 When booking two flights, give yourself more than 90 minutes to make the connection. Luckily even with a Toronto delay, I was able to exit the plane and walk directly onto the next one.

Lesson #3 When flying for extended hours, be sure that some of it is overnight. My flight to Edinburgh, left Toronto around 5pm, arrived in Frankfurt at 12:30. I may have slept an hour, not really sure. Since the next flight was only 90 minutes long, sleeping wasn't happening for me on that trip either.

What i did do right was wear my sexy compression stockings and not check a bag! That's right , 17 days and two completely different trips with just a carryon, but what a heavy bag it was! Okay, I cheated Dave brought my hiking boots!

Behind the scenes at the Festival of Quilts and a few of my Highlights!

Upon landing in Birmingham at 3:30 am my time, I hauled my carryon and backpack to the NEC, aka The National Exhibition Centre. I found my quilts with the amazing Bill Bowden Freight team and borrowed two of them, because I needed something else to carry around and keep track of.. One of mine and the other by Canadian author, instructor, walking foot expert and quilter extraordinaire, Melissa Marginet, both were made with Stuart Hillard’s Kyoto Fabric. He is the one who arranged for me to appear on Sewing Street Tv with him, so I thought it was appropriate! I still can't believe they have a shopping channel devoted entirely to quilting and crafting!

Next, I took two trains to Redditch, where the Sewing Street studios are located. Understand that in Canada we don't just hop on and off trains, we tend to hop in our cars, as our trains are few and not as frequent as they are in the United Kingdom. Lets just say that by now I’m exhausted but very excited! Too excited to do the smart thing and have a nap! So I went to the studio and dropped off the quilts for tomorrow's backdrop. A smart traveller would have taken a nap, but no, I grabbed a shower, then went to a pub with Stuart, followed by dinner with his good friend Pauline Wheeler. I even had a sneak peak at her new line of stamps! It was an early night as we were leaving for the television studio at 5:30 am Wednesday Morning! Ugh!!

The folks at Sewing Street TV made me feel right at home. I was on first thing, and my books sold really well, I’m not sure if there are any left on their website? Stuart is a regular host, and does this all the time, but It’s hard to believe, he and I haven’t done this before! Watch our segment, we are chatting as if I’d been there a hundred times.

Next it was back to Birmingham, so Stuart could help Charlie put the finishing touches on his festival of quilts stand, and I needed to hang my quilts. When you see quilt exhibits at shows, they are often installed by teams who choose the layout, measure the batons for the hanging sleeves, and then drill those batons into the wall to hang their quilts. They have volunteers in the gallery to chat with viewers and explain the nuances of the quilt. Live and Learn. I didn't get to spend much time with my display.

A member of the NEC team Josh and I hanging the six Sew Grateful quilts.

I on the other hand, borrowed a tape measure and pencil from my very kind, very calm and organized neighbour Nicola Dodd, who was setting up her booth for CakeStand Quilts. We were side by side as my quilts were a late addition to the show, and my gallery space ended up being in the vendor section, which they call exhibitors, so more confusion for me. I was so honoured to have the Sew Grateful Quilts accepted, I would have been happy hanging them in the parking lot! I can’t thank Anna Baptiste enough for making that happen. The entire Immediate Live team are exceptional. So next, I met Josh, a member of the NEC team and together we hung the six Sew Grateful quilts.

An early, quiet night followed. Luckily I had a laptop with me as the Crowne Plaza had three channels and zero movies. I finally got to watch season one of the Great British Sewing Bee, where Stuart made it to the finals!

Thursday was a full day, starting with a beginner’s walking foot workshop with instructor Sarah Ashford. Sarah even made my sandwiches for me, as I didn't have space to bring them. My samples went home with my new friend Emry, (who I called Henry all day) he will sew them into something useful. I popped out for an hour to give my “Loving your Longarm” lecture, which thankfully happened to be in the room next door.

Sarah’s class was relaxing and easy to follow. I met quilters from around the world, one of whom is coming to my house for Christmas this year. Yes, I’m that person in the class, who enjoys the social aspect as much as the education. After class, there was a tutor cocktail party, and I got to rub elbows with creative, brilliant creators from around the world. Meeting Sarah Payne was a highlight, even though I gushed like a tween at a Harry Stiles concert. Yes, she is as nice in person as she is online.

Next it was off to dinner with a tableful of quilters, including one of my ticket giveaway winners, fellow tutors and show neighbours. Such a very small world. I sat beside an Australian quilter, that I think may be originally from the UK, I am terrible with accents, and surprise - we talked all night.

Friday was just not my day! It started with me walking into a glass door at my hotel. Looking back, I was definitely concussed but survived! I spent the day with Jo Avery in her Pattern Rings: Freehand Foundation Piecing class. I couldn't concentrate and didn't even finish one block, but it was the technique I was there for, and the fellowship. That’s what workshops are all about! It was awesome to see what some of my fellow classmates were creating. Since I didn't have a block to hold, a kind soul gave me one of hers for the photo. During our lunch break I was able to give the two quilt tops I brought with me, to the volunteers at the Project Linus booth, which freed up a little space in my suitcase. Friday night I finally crashed and was able to catch up on my sleep, even though my daughter was on concussion alert and wanted to call me every few hours. I was fine.

Saturday I gave two presentations. The "Ergonomic Toolbox" lecture went well, though I wish we could have had more time, so we could play with a few of my favourite toys. My afternoon lecture “ Sew Smart , the ergonomics of healthy quilting” was in the big hall, on the big stage, what a blast! In between those two presentations I attended a lecture, even though it meant missing meeting up with the Free Bird FB group!

Sarah Humphreys’ talk “Help I’ve lost my Mojo” was the most relaxing hour of the entire show for me. She has a great message about not only boosting creative juices, but living a healthy, creative, balanced life. If she is doing virtual lectures, your guild will love her! Saturday night was another dinner out with new friends and old. I’d met Jo at FOQ in 2019, I’ve “known” Sarah since asking her to be one of my Tipsters, but just met in person this year. Our photographer Emry (not in picture) and I were fast friends as we were both at the show on our own. Last but not least, I met the Quilter on Fire herself, fellow Canadian, Brandy Maslowski. We both agreed we felt like we had known each other forever. Brandy’s podcast is huge and it was my first one, which led to several opportunities! Brandy was at FOQ following the tour she had just finished leading through Wales, oh yeah, and her private visit to Kaffe and Brandon’s house.

Sunday was yet another whirlwind day, with two presentations. Machine Maintenance, Healthy Quilting from the inside out, or I think it was called something else as that title is a bit confusing. I finished the festival with my “Quilting is my Therapy” lecture. Whew!!

Now I finally had time to visit the gallery of competition quilts and the amazing gallery installations. Competition Quilt Photos below.

I chatted with vendors but since I had zero room, shopping was not on the agenda. I did manage to grab a copy of "Bare bottomed fun from the village of Woolly Bush" one of the Nudinit books by Sarah Simi, from Stuart's booth.

I havent knit in forty years, but I couldn't resist, as these books are hilarious. The only other purchase was a metre of blue linen from the Studio Flax booth and yes, they ship to Canada.

I was able to squeeze in one last visit with Emry and Jo as we waited for our flights. Then it was off to Edinburgh to meet up with Dave, looks like the Shetland story will need to wait.


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