If you have read and followed my blog lately, you know I have been gearing up to go to the Machine Quilter's Exposition (now called New England Quilt Festival). This is my favorite quilt show that is within a reasonable trip distance from where I live, and I look forward to going each year. Today is the last day of the show, and I am now home. Need less to say, it has been a whirlwind trip full of every emotion imaginable.
I arrived Wednesday morning. Judging was all over before then, and I did actually post full pictures of the three quilts I have entered on Facebook. I knew before driving to Manchester, NH that I had earned a ribbon. No details were provided to us winners, though, about which quilt earned a ribbon (if we entered more than one) or what the placement was. It didn't really matter. I had a ribbon and I was more than content. I arrived early enough in the morning that I thought I might help with the quilt hanging before my afternoon class. The pre-show scene was pretty chaotic, though, and I was tired, so I decided to just wait for my class. In hindsight, it is probably a good idea because they might not have let me in there anyways!
After my class, which I can go into in another post, was the awards ceremony. It was fun to get to see friends I'd met last year at the show, and to meet facebook contacts that I've messaged with. I asked one of the gals that was helping hang quilts, and she assured me that my quilts were all hanging nicely. I'd worried a bit about my largest one, "Big Bertha" because it's 99"x99" and I have only seen it hanging once, and wondered how it would do. Early in the awards ceremony I got a 2nd place ribbon for the quilt I expected to get something for (my small quilt showed in a previous post). I had peeked through the show book in the afternoon and knew that the competition in the categories of my larger quilts was very stiff. It seemed unlikely that I'd beat enough of them to ribbon. All was good - I had the ribbon. They got through the awards for all the categories, including the ones for my larger quilts - and as expected the ribbons went to the quilters I figured would get them. Quilting can be really predictable in some ways. Then they got to the "big" awards...best quilting, best embroidery, etc. I was pretty sure I wasn't up for any of these. Now I can be like a card shark at Vegas too. Because I had looked through the show book, I knew who of the "big hitters" had not gotten anything yet (but often do). Often it is these quilters that take the bigger awards. Sure enough, one by one, they were given out. I had two quilters left in my head that I suspected might be up for the last award, Best of Show. Not once did I even consider it could be me. Seriously, not once. I couldn't see how my quilt could beat the greats like Marilyn Badger, Janet Stone or Gail Stepanek/Jan Hutchison. Heck, all of these had quilts in Houston, with ribbons. They are phenomenal. But then, I also knew that they'd already taken placements in their respective categories, so there were only a few choices left. I'm telling you, when they called my name I think all the blood left my head. Shock set in. Part of me thought I was dreaming. Winning Best of Show was not anywhere my radar, certainly not at MQX. I am shocked, surprised, elated, and a thousand other words. This award is mine this year. Mine.
I hope you enjoy learning the ins and outs of how I choose designs. I know I didn't post a ton during the construction of this quilt, but am happy to share it now.
The last few days have been overwhelming getting to meet so many of the folks that have followed this quilt either here or on facebook. I cherish the many congratulations and hugs received this week from all of you. Those complete strangers that go to the trouble to introduce themselves to hug me are delightful. Being a somewhat reserved person, the experience leaves me grateful for the outgoingness of the rest of the population. Thank you.
Fabrics...over 50 modern or semi-large scale green prints, all solids for background and outer border are Michael Miller Krystals, quilted with 3 shades of silk thread, and highlights in red on the flower centers are in 40wt trilobal poly. I used QD wool over Hobbs 80/20 batting. The dark green bias wave and prairie points are machine appliqued, but every Dresden and dot are done the old-fashioned way (aka needle turn). FYI - the Tortoise loves handwork :-) It was on the frame a total of 6-7 weeks for quilting, for a total of 175-200 hours. Remember, it is 99" square finished. All quilting is free-handed (no computer). All photos here are compliments of the great Jeffrey Lomicka - MQX photographer extraordinaire.