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Last week, we were in Portland, Ore., for International Quilt Market. We walked into the convention center amid a wealth of vendors getting ready to transform bare concrete floors and ugly white curtains into beautiful displays.
We shipped everything we needed to set up our booth in large wooden crates. Well, almost everything. Once we started laying our floor (we have gray interlocking foam squares), we discovered one box had been left at the warehouse. There were only enough squares to cover two-thirds of our booth. We pondered the feasibility of using fewer tiles and shortening our space but in the end resolved the issue by placing a frantic phone call back to Kansas City. The rest of our floor arrived the next day.
We also had shipped the quilts. Box after box had arrived at our hotel. I loaded them into our rental van, and we took them to our space in the convention center. We had eight Schoolhouse sessions scheduled for Thursday, and we like to have all the quilts shown in each book at each session. Schoolhouse is a time set aside where one can speak about his or her products to shop owners. Each session is 15 minutes long, and depending on how comfortable an author is with speaking, that can either be the longest 15 minutes of her life or the shortest.
For Sharon Smith, co-author of Fresh from the Prairies, it was probably one of the longest 15 minutes. We discovered shortly before schoolhouse began that her quilts had not arrived. She had shipped them from Canada, and they were stuck in Nashville, Tenn., in customs. Seems as though the wise folks in customs just couldn’t let them be sent to Portland until they knew whether the quilts were knitted or woven.
It’s a devastating turn of events to walk into a crowded Schoolhouse session with empty hands. Sharon gave a remarkable presentation about making scrap quilts come together no matter how many different colors and fabrics were used in a quilt. It’s unfortunate that we had no gold medals to award, because she surely deserved one! The good news was that we would get the quilts the next day.
After the Schoolhouse sessions were over, we were able to begin hanging the quilts in our booth. We have clips that look like snap clothespins that fit onto a hook that goes over the pipe holding our black curtains. The clips let us hang quilts quickly and easily. We drape boxes and bins with black fabric and display more quilts and projects right under the quilt that is hanging.
By 6 p.m. our booth was nearly complete (except for that big blank spot we reserved for the quilts from Fresh from the Prairies). Our day was far from finished, though. We sold our books at Sample Spree from 8 to 10 p.m. Sample Spree is the craziest time at Quilt Market.
Long lines begin forming up to three hours before Sample Spree opens. It’s a shopper’s paradise for those who work for a shop and attend market as an assistant to the owner. Wholesale prices are the norm, and an individual can buy with no minimum order.
It’s always fun to see the swarm of people heading for the Moda tables. It’s also kind of frightening. It looks like the typical cartoon of women at a sale fighting to grab the same item. I’m a bit claustrophobic, so I try to stay away until most of the mob has moved on. There are plenty of places to spend my money in that room, and I don’t have to shop for long before I have very little cash left.
By Friday morning at 9:30, we were ready for business. Our booth looked great, except for those missing quilts that Sharon brought around 10 a.m. Once those were hung, our entire booth was a vision of beautiful quilts and a far cry from the cold concrete floors and ugly white curtains with which we began.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, Quilt Market closed. Once again, the convention center returned to its former state and was ready for another group to move in and transform it with the magic of smoke and mirrors and a few black drapes.
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Quilt Market is less than a week away, so it’s time to start thinking about the events you just can’t miss. We hope our Schoolhouse sessions and books signings make your list.
Here’s the schedule for our Schoolhouse sessions, Thursday, May 16:
Christina McCourt, Portrait of a Lady: Quilts for a Woman’s Journey Through Life, 10:20 a.m., B119
Donna di Natale, What’s New at Kansas City Star Quilts, 10:20 a.m., B118
Carolyn McCormick, A Flock of Feathered Stars: Paper Pieced for Perfection, 10:40 a.m., B118
Carolyn Nixon, Butterfly Fields: A Scrap Quilter’s Journey, 10:40 a.m., B119
Edie McGinnis, Tending the Garden: A Blooming Bouquet of Quilts, 1:55 p.m., B118
Betsy Chutchian, Lizzie’s Legacy: More Quilts from a Pioneer Woman’s Journal, 1:55 p.m., B119
Sharon Smith, Fresh from the Prairies: 12 Quilts that Capture the Spirit of the West, 2:15 p.m., B118
Amy McClellan, It’s a Circus!: A Parade of Colorful Quilts and More, 2:15 p.m., B119
All of our book signings will be in our booth, No. 1002. Here’s the schedule:
Friday, May 17:
Christina McCourt, Portrait of a Lady –10 a.m.
Carolyn Nixon, Butterfly Fields –2 p.m.
Amy McClellan, It’s a Circus! – 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 18:
Devon Lavigne and Sharon Smith, Fresh from the Prairies –10 a.m.
Betsy Chutchian, Lizzie’s Legacy – 2 p.m.
Carolyn McCormick, A Flock of Feathered Stars –3:30 p.m.
Sunday is Mother’s Day. There are plans afoot for going to breakfast with Joe, Clarissa and Jackson. Michael and Sarah will call, as will Casey and Courtney. I treasure those phone calls far more than any gift they could give me. And, if I’m very lucky, I will get face time with my grandkids over the computer.
This year, I have opened the bin of pieces I cut shortly after my mother died 16 years ago. I am revisiting those bits and pieces of fabric I cut from her collection of cotton Japanese kimonos. I wonder what I was planning to make when I sliced the fabric into two different sizes of triangles. A foggy memory of thinking that a “Birds in the Air” quilt would be perfect flits in and out of my mind.
Ah, yes, of course. I sift through the pieces, and I see the overwhelming number of pieces that have birds on them. Funny, I only cut a few of the white triangles I would need to make this quilt. I have also noticed that the white I chose was “too white.” I need a softer, creamier color.
The fabric feels oddly rough and coarse. It’s not at all what I am used to working with when I am making a quilt. Perhaps it will soften up when it is washed. Upon reflection, I should have laundered everything before I cut one patch. Now I wonder how much the indigo dyes will run. I see a large number of Color Catchers in my future.
I can’t look at any of the pieces I’ve cut without having memories of my mother flood my mind. Some of them are painful, some are funny and some are simply confusing. She was brilliant and a study in contradictions, and she should have been born in a time when women were not pressed to be wives and mothers. Those occupations were not as fulfilling to her as working.
I laugh when I think about her career. She spent many of her working years selling and writing advertising. She was a talented saleswoman who couldn’t spell. Trying to figure out exactly what she was trying to say as one wended through her atrociously misspelled words was a challenge, to say the least. I still recall the embarrassment I felt when I had to take an excuse to school that read, “Please excuse Edie as she had a sore throught.”
Ah, but I digress.
I recall dragging all of those kimonos out a few weeks after Mom’s funeral. I had been working on a quilt for my oldest son. He watched me as I ripped seams and cut triangles. I saw him looking askance at me as I cut piece after piece. I knew he was wondering why I was cutting out another quilt when I was in the midst of working on his.
I tried to explain my actions, but all I could come up with was, “I’m sorry, I just have to do this right now.” He nodded and walked away. I’m guessing he was thinking I had lost my mind. And maybe I had, just a little. More likely though, I wasn’t ready to let her go, and cutting pieces for a memory quilt seemed to be the best way for me to deal with her death.
As I cut pieces, I laughed and I cried and I started to deal with the finality of losing my mother. By the time I finished cutting all of those triangles, acceptance had arrived, and I knew the healing had begun.
My mom seems to be on my mind quite a bit lately. Maybe she is nudging me to finish that quilt. I’m not sure how pleased she would have been to see me take a rotary cutter to the kimonos she prized, but I’m sure she would have loved the quilt.
I expect the time has finally come to finish the quilt. My life has been rather stressful of late, and perhaps I need to experience the restorative power that making a quilt in a leisurely fashion provides me.
And as I make our Birds in the Air quilt, I will remember all the reasons she made me laugh. After all, it isn’t every parent who will put a sheep in the backseat of a Cutlass convertible and take you for the ride of your life.
And do yourself a favor: This Sunday, no matter what, call your momma.