So yesterday was a whirlwind.

I was up at 3:41 when Jerry’s watch alarm went off, and I was out the door by 4:19 on my way out to Madison to get to the meeting place for the Heritage Quilters of Huntsville group that went to Paducah. Three ladies from Decatur (the place, not the activity, you nasty people) misread their information and waited in the wrong place, so we were about 25 minutes late getting out of Madison.

We were in Paducah at 9:46. Traci let me be a puppydog and follow her around all day, which was wonderful — she knew where to go, how to get there, and it was fantastic to have such a great tourguide. Plus, our tastes are similar and she approaches quilt shows and shopping the same way I do, so it was a joy for me to have someone so likeminded to walk around with. No lingering at vendors or quilts that didn’t appeal to either of us.

Because of copyright laws, I can’t show you any of the quilts that we saw (except for the ones that are on the AQS website), but let’s just say that I was completely blown away. There’s one that was so incredible that I went back 5 minutes before the bus left and took some closeups of the machine quilting so that I can try to mimic some of her designs. Truly, truly amazing. It won 2nd place in its division, so it’s not on the site where I can show it to you. 🙁 Actually, here it is on the Linda V. Taylor’s website — she doesn’t have closeups and info about it yet, since it was in the show, I guess, but there are also others she has made so you can get an idea of how ornate it was: Find the one called “Quilt TV” — that’s the one I saw yesterday.

The Best In Show quilt, by Sharon Schamber, was staggering. The front was an original design, and it was spectacular. The binding was uneven — scalloped, funky edges, and finished with lots of hand-corded loops. TONS of exquisite machine quilting, trapunto, etc. Beautiful to look at. But the back. THE BACK. She had taken back art to a whole new level. It was a solid piece of fabric, gold in color, and she had heat-set 130,000 (!!) crystals to the back of it. Just the sheer magnitude of the expense was amazing…. Easily over $1000, probably over $2000 in crystals alone on the back of that quilt. Her prize winnings are $20K, if she’s willing to give the quilt to the AQS Museum in Paducah for permanent display. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

I set a budget for myself, but found it nearly impossible to stick to it. All in all, I went over by a bit… But ‘sokay. I got some GREAT stuff (and Jerry even agrees! He said, “You weren’t really naughty. Just a little naughty.”)

One of the things I got was a John Flynn Multi-Frame system for my home machine, so I will be able to more easily free-motion quilt. Mom had emailed me that she bought one (she and Dad were also up in Paducah, though I didn’t see her there), and that if I got a chance I needed to go by John Flynn’s booth and try it out. So Traci humored me, and we went to watch him demonstrate this thing for a little while. He was creating a desert scene, and as I sat down he said, “The next animal in the scene is supposed to be an armadillo, so feel free to do that…” So I did.

Elaine trying out the Flynn Frame

I found his frame SO easy to use, and so comfortable, that after a few stitches I had a good feel of it and was able to create a reasonable approximation of an armadillo. His daughter said, “Hey, look, Dad, you can go to lunch!” Hee hee…. Later I told him (when I went back to buy the frame) that it was a one-shot thing — kind of like a beginner hitting a bullseye on the first try. But the ease of it definitely sold the frame for me… Now I just have to figure out how to set the silly thing up. It comes with a DVD and an instruction booklet, so hopefully I can learn how to use it soon. I have projects to quilt!!

After we went through the show and all of the vendors, the bus driver took us all to Hancock’s of Paducah, which was ENORMOUS. I wasn’t going to buy anything, but I got sucked in to the madness. This is why I went overbudget. It was probably about the size of a football field, and beautiful high-end quilting fabrics as far as you could see. As Jerry said to several people yesterday, I was in Paducah having an “extended quiltgasm.” Indeed.

Also acquainted myself with this store, where my mother makes a pilgrimage at least once a year. I did most of my damage at their vendor booth, so I can totally see why she loves that store.

All in all, it was a great, though long, day. I arrived home at midnight, showed Jerry my haul, and passed out. The girls blessed us with a long night’s sleep, which was a perfect way to end it.