Friday, May 4, 2007


I took a bus to Paducah, Kentucky, last Friday for the annual AQS quilt show and all I can say is, wow. When a writer can only say "wow" it must be good. I should be able to come up with some other words, but no, sorry, I can't.
My quilt guild took a bus down. We left at six in the morning, stopped for breakfast and made it there with a running desire for the ladies room before ten. I went on ahead and walked down to the AQS Musuem, which I have wanted to see for fifteen years. I was not disappointed. The display this year is Rose of Sharon quilts. They had the old ones (about 1825 to 1890) and then they had a contest to see what new and amazing ways quilters could alter this old and much loved pattern. I am continually blown away by todays quilters and their inventiveness. (Is that a word?) This display was really up my alley because the Rose of Sharon pattern is one of my favorites, and antique applique quilts have always held a special place for me.
I also visited the Eleanor Burns shop--for those of you who know who she is--and was a bit overwhelmed by all the people. I didn't really get to shop because of it. So, I guess that just means I'm going to have to go back to Paducah when it's not Quilt Week. I also did not get to visit Hancocks of Paducah, so it's not as if I'd be making a trip down there just to visit one store. (Wink Wink.) At least that's what I'll tell my husband. Seriously, though, Eleanor Burns is one of my heroes. You talk about a woman who knows how to market herself. I hope she's on the scene for another 25 years.
Aside from probably walking ten miles, I got to ride the trolley. (The entire town pretty much stops for the quilters that week, including free trolley rides all over downtown.) I also ate homemade ice-cream with peaches. That right there was worth the bus trip down there.
I got to meet fellow mystery author, Emilie Richards, who was signing books. She is a lovely and gracious woman. I shopped and shopped and shopped. The shopping was actually the most disappointing part of the trip, because the booths are so small you can barely get in them to see everything that the vendors have. And when there's five women all looking at the same pattern, well . . .
Last but not least was the show! I'm not sure how to express my feelings about that. I was both inspired by the quilts in the show, and humbled, and . . . at times sort of felt like, "gee, why am I bothering?" Sort of how I felt after I read "Fried Green Tomatoes." I thought, well, why am I bothering writing when Fannie Flagg's already written the perfect book? Well, that's how some of these quilts made me feel, too. But, I suppose it's a lot like writing. I have my own fabric to work with and my own quilts I want to make. So, I can strive to be as good as some of these ladies, but I'll be happy with what I create. I'd like to mention that fellow St. Louis quilter, Connie Chunn got an honorable mention for her miniature quilt and Suzanne Marshall got first place in the hand applique category for her dragon quilt. You go St. Louis Quilters!!!
I was also fairly surprised that having all of that estrogen under one roof didn't cause any major problems.
I met quilters from Japan, England, France, Australia . . . I even got directions from a German woman who could not speak a word of English, but managed to tell me the right way to go where I needed to go. Quilting really does unite the world. It's all in the language of a needle and thread and a scrap of fabric.
I was a little disappointed that we didn't break out singing . . . "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" on the way home, but I have to admit that most of us ladies were snoring on that bus ride home. I know I was.
Well, I feel like a real quilter now that I've been to Paducah, Kentucky. I can't wait to go back next year. Lessons I learned: Do not take a back pack. It gets in the way when you're in those tiny booths. On more than one occasion I hit some poor unsuspecting woman with it. Drink more water. You might have to make a trip to the potty more often, but getting dehydrated is worse. Take more pictures (of course.) Stay more than one day. This one goes without saying. To really have the true Paducah Experience, I think I should stay at least Friday and Saturday next year.
So, those were the highlights of my trip. It truly amazed me just how many quilters were there and from all corners of the globe. I don't think this "hobby" can be considered "old fashioned" or "out of date" any longer. It's not just something your grandmother used to do. It is a thriving industry and popular medium for people to express their creativity through.
Take care and happy reading!
Rett MacPherson

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