International Quilt Festival, and frankly, I could have done without this trip. Solid construction as soon as you hit the Tollway. In the rain. With potholes. At one point, I was going 15 mph over the speed limit, being passed like I'm standing still (people behind me who couldn't get around were gesturing), and trying to figure out if it's better to hit the concrete barrier on the left or the concrete barrier on the right if my tire blows out.
THEN the sign said "Stephens Convention Center, second exit" and the second exit took me straight to the terminal at O'Hare. I think they just wanted an extra 80 cents.
I'd really rather not join a guild, but if that's what it takes to get on a bus next year...
Then there was a brief period of panic when I was surrounded by perfectly coiffed women wearing high heels and makeup, about thirty years younger and 125 pounds lighter than the average quilter. Turns out there was a "jewelry and fashion" wholesale show this weekend as well. I'm over the average quilter weight, but I'm about 6" over the average quilter height, so I hope it evens out. (I'm more than a year closer to the average age; there were a lot of mother-daughter and grandmother-granddaughter pairs bringing down the mean.)
I did not make a beeline for my quilt; I made a beeline for the bathroom before the line wrapped around the building, something I learned last year.
Overall, it was a pretty good show. The main show theme was the same as last year--Celebrate Spring--so the main body of quilts was much the same as last year. Apparently quilters grow up wanting to be Georgia O'Keeffe, there was three-foot flower after three-foot flower. The winner was the same man who won last year with a quilt of a songbird; this year he made a quilt with a rooster. At least it wasn't a three-foot flower.
I looked at all the Journal Quilts (mostly to compare myself to everyone else, a bad habit I can't shake) and read the artists' statements. Most people gave everything about a 30-second glance and didn't read past the artist's name and location. Much less leftist than last year's JQ exhibit--only four "the U.S. is a mean and evil and imperialist baby killer!" pieces and a couple of "ZOMG! Teh Gorbal warmening!" vs two tributes to family members who served in the forces and a very pleasant piece about the improved conditions for women after the Taliban were removed from power in Afghanistan. The quilter spent part of 2007 actually in Afghanistan teaching midwifery skills to women from villages; the death rate in childbirth is coming down in cities now that women are allowed to leave their homes and receive medical care, but the rural areas are still catching up. Altogether the political pieces were only about 5% of the exhibit; the rest were the usual mix of ancestors, death, cancer, trees, flowers, beaches, animals, babies, weddings, and abstractions.
And some nutburger made a Colts quilt.
I'm either more talented than I think I am, or not as good as I think I am, or both.
The really strange part is I came home with most of the money I left the house with. Three of the four vendors I wanted to visit weren't there; I don't have the money or space for a longarm quilting machine or fancy cabinets; if I just want fabric I know the location of every quilt shop between here and Des Moines. All I bought was a 2" ceramic black cat button handmade by artists from Colorado (I have a sudden urge to make sock monsters) who also have black cats, and a T-shirt from a woman from Iowa (her brother was one of the victims of the Omaha mall shooting last December, which I didn't know until I got home and started poking around the website...).
Then on the way home, the sign said "To 294 North" and either they lied, or they forgot to put up a sign for a second turn, because I ended up on U.S. 45 North, driving through beautiful (no, not really) downtown Des Plaines. And of course I didn't have a map, because I was going to a convention center off a freeway, so there would be signs, right? I figured there would be a road I recognized before I got to Fond du Lac, and it was only about ten miles before a sign that said "To 294 North" actually got me to the tollbooth and the concrete barriers, although not without running me along a section of road flooded out by the Des Plaines River.
I'm just grateful I didn't see snow until I hit Milwaukee County, where
Next stop: beer.