It was a bad weather QuiltCon sandwich this past weekend! Now that we are home, we can look back and laugh (not sure the stress crying has finished yet though).
We left for YYZ last Wednesday and drove through a bad snowstorm. We were already stressed from leaving our daughter and not taking her on a family vacation, me asking if we left the stove on, then add blowing snow and double the driving time and we white knuckled it all the way down the 401.
Thankfully the pilots in Canada seem to be a little more experienced with the weather than Austin pilots and none of our flights were cancelled. The alarm at the hotel went off at 2:30 AM and we were on our way! I took two Gravol and ended up sleeping most of the flight to Dallas. We arrived early afternoon in Austin and headed to the hotel- left our bags with the concierge, and went to the Convention Centre to check in with Registration. Dan wanted to see my quilt hanging in the show so we had a quick peek around together before we headed down the block for lunch. Since it was our first meal in Austin, we found a Mexican restaurant, which would be the first of a lot of delicious meals! Margaritas, chicken tortilla soup and tacos, with and endless supply of nacho chips and salsa. What were we thinking? Our tummies were too full the first hour here.
We checked in at the hotel after lunch and I freshened up from the long trip. Not sure if it was the fact that I was in Texas, or if it was the curling mousse, but my hair was so fluffy! I became high maintenance for the rest of the trip then and there!
I had two lectures on Thursday- Becoming a Better Quilter with Angela Walters and The Use of Negative Space with Alissa Haight-Carlton. Both were good lectures and so began my weekend of being overbooked in classes, shopping until I dropped, and getting lost in the maze that was the quilt show. After my lectures, I met up with Dan (who had been touring around Austin on his own) and since the sun was setting, we went to the Bat Bridge to see the bats. Now for those that know me- I HATE bridges and I HATE bats. But we had to see this as it is a big tourist thing in Austin- they even have bat statues and bat souvenirs everywhere. Once I pried my hands off the bridge and could move my legs again, we headed up to 6th street to listen to some bands and continue drinking margaritas. I think this night we were in 5 different bars, seeing 5 different bands. So fun!
My alarm went off kind of early the next morning, or was it the fact that I was out too late the night before that made 7:30 seem early. I had a free morning so Dan and I had breakfast at Jo’s, a cute little diner up the street. At 11 I had another lecture where Heather Jones was talking about Large Scale Piecing. I love Heather’s quilts, and her class was very informative. While waiting for my next lecture, I went to the show floor and looked at the amazing quilts on display and did a little shopping. My next lecture was another one with Angela Walters on Quilting Negative Space. She sure is a captivating and humorous speaker.
I was getting pretty hungry and remember seeing a fried chicken restaurant on the way to my hotel, so I stopped in there for a late lunch. It was the BEST fried chicken I have ever eaten. Guess that is why their restaurant name is Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. I also ordered the deep fried dill pickles- YUM YUM YUM! Worried that Dan didn’t have lunch, well actually I was more worried he would come back to the hotel room and smell my fried chicken; I left him some to try so he would not be jealous. Turns out he already ate his dinner, but had no problem finishing mine too. Later in the week he also had no problem ordering more fried chicken after our dinner at Manuel’s-LOL. He must have loved the chicken!
After the best tasting chicken in the world, I was back in a lecture at 4- Colour Theory for the Modern Quilter once again with Heather Jones. In the evening there was a social Meet and Greet for the Modern Quilt Guild Leaders so we could meet one another and network among guilds. I met Rebecca from the Toronto MQG and hopefully we can brainstorm with some events that our two guilds can participate in together. I also met Susan from West Coast Crafty- who is with the Portland MQG. I found out it has over 200 members and is the largest MQG in the world. She is a super nice lady and she introduced me to a few more people. Susan is big on documenting quilts, and was explaining a bit about her lecture on that topic and showed us some samples of MQG quilt labels she made. She was also very interested in the Learn To Quilt program going on in the Limberlost Community.
After the M&G wrapped up, Dan and I were out on the town again. This time we went SoCo, which is another trendy neighbourhood on the South side of Congress. The Continental Club had a jazz band we listened to, and we drank Austin Amber beer. Since I missed dinner, we grabbed a slice of pizza from a place called Home Slice Pizza. I saw Guero’s across the street but we were a bit too late and they were closed. My brother recommended this place and I am sad we missed it. I found it quite funny how a lot of bars and restaurants close by 11PM. Seemed a bit early, especially when bars in London are open until 2AM. Not that I am ever out in London at that hour- don’t want to get shot! In Texas everyone carries a gun, in full view, but I always felt safe walking around.
Late night pizza and beer seemed like a good idea the night before, but not at 7:30 the next morning! But nothing, not even exhaustion, could make me late for my Bill Kerr Colour class. Funny that he should be in front of me at Starbucks, then in the elevator- you would think we were going to the same place. Oh wait, we were. This class was the one that required me to bring swatches of fabric in all kinds of different colours. I had a crap load packed, turns out I only needed some blue, green, brown fabric. I was hoping to use up all my bags of swatches to allow for more room in my suitcase for shopping- but sadly no, the bags all came back home with me. This class was amazing! He talked about colour theory, showed us some of his quilts, and then had us work on an exercise. Each student was given a photo of a famous painting and we were required to look at the colours in the painting and find fabrics that were in that painting and then arrange them.
Not sure how long it took me to find my fabrics, but boy did it take a while. I then had to cut and glue my fabrics on paper, trying to not reproduce the painting- while keeping each colour in a certain proper percentage.
At the end of the class Bill showed us some of the trendy neutral fabrics to use instead of just using white or black for the background. I think I will be required to purchase these fabrics in bolts!
Class done, back to the show floor to finish seeing all the quilts and to make another pass or 10 through the vendor area. With my camera memory card full, and my phone battery dead, I didn’t spend much time at the quilt show. And knowing this was my last chance to shop, I headed back to my favourite booth Crimson Tate, where I just had to buy more fabric!
Bill Kerr was my next lecture and this one was called Details Matter. I thought it was going to be about details within quilting, but it was more of a design details lecture. There were some interesting things to be learned, but not sure I would have signed up for it, as it wasn’t really to quilting related.
Bags in hand, I headed to the hotel room to get ready for a nice dinner out with Dan. We walked up a block or two to Manuel’s and once again had margaritas and the never ending, tummy stuffing baskets of nacho chips and salsa. I love soup, so I ordered the corn and queso soup with flautas for dinner. AMAZING food! Go to Manuel’s if you ever are in Austin! Seriously- GO! I saw a sign saying Sunday was margarita day, but since we were leaving on Sunday, I had to make up for missing it and had extra margaritas on Saturday.
We then wanted to see a show at the Paramount, but it was sold out, so back to 6th street for live music and margaritas. Are you seeing a theme here? Once we called it a night, and back at the hotel room, I remembered that I had to print our boarding passes for the next day’s flights. Nothing indicating an upcoming problem at this point- boy were we wrong! Thankfully I knew nothing at this point about our flights home, or I would have started panicking that evening. But instead in our lack of knowledge, we had a few more drinks at the hotel bar, then up to pack. I had my already full on arrival suitcase, to stuff full with all my QuiltCon swag and purchases. I brought one of those space bag things from home so vacuumed my clothes flat, which left more than enough room to pack my fabrics. *PSA Airport security does not like vacuum bags or tightly stacked charm pack or fat 1/4s BE WARNED! Little did I know this when jamming everything in.
Sunday morning, my last day and my last class at 9. Krista Withers was teaching a class on Compositional Drawing for Quilting, which is where you mark a quilt top and then quilt it. Thankfully this is something I have done a time or two, as I over heard another student say her 6PM flight out of Austin was cancelled. Oh my, that was my flight. I spent 1 hour on the phone with the airline, and the plan was to somehow get to Dallas and catch our second flight. Thank you to the lady in the class that let me use her phone- I can’t thank you enough for your kindness. And a huge apology to Krista as I had to leave her class ASAP. The airline had given me 2 options- be stranded in Austin for 3 days until they could rebook me on the same flight times as Sunday, or pick up the second flight in Dallas. And no they don’t pay for your hotel or meals if a flight is cancelled for weather.
I grabbed my things, tears streaming down my face, got in a cab and went to find Dan at Stubbs. He was there for the Sunday morning Gospel Brunch. He had stuffed himself with BBQ so full, he couldn’t even finish his pecan pie. He was a little concerned to have his crying wife appear, but calmed me down a bit and we went back to the hotel to check out.
Here is where it gets a little crazy! If you have ever seen the Steve Martin and John Candy movie called Planes, Trains and Automobiles, this was our Sunday, only a little less Hollywood.
From the time I got off the phone with the airline, and arrived at the Austin Airport that lady on the phone that suggested we rent a car, drive to Dallas and get our 2nd flight, had taken us off that Dallas flight and given our seats away. This is where I get a little angry! Why would she tell me this, only to change it without me being able to know? So our next 2 options were take the flights offered for 3 days from now, or take the flight out of Austin on Delta the next morning to Atlanta, then on to Toronto. Since at this point that was our best option, we took the next day flights. Would American pay for our hotel this night because of their error? Or course not! But ever so kindly asked me to go check in with Delta at their counter. I was also getting a little concerned as I kept hearing other passengers having their Monday morning flights get cancelled too. Here we were booked on a flight the next morning that also had a huge chance being cancelled. Once again a kindhearted person helped us out. The Delta lady said I should talk to an American supervisor and complain about getting taken off the Dallas flight. So back to American we go to see if we can get some help.
After 1 hour at the counters and an additional hour on the phone- somehow 2 seats miraculously opened up on our Dallas flight. How these seats were not there 2 hours ago with the counter attendant, but voila here they were on the phone with a supervisor, I will never know. But the problem now was we had wasted 2 hours in the Austin Airport and had only 4 hours to rent a car and drive to Dallas for the flight to Toronto. No problem right? Well we have no idea where we are going, and the construction on the highway from Austin to Dallas is insane. We pulled into the rental car return at 6:30 for a 7:10 boarding time. Thinking of how in Toronto you have to be there 3+ hours in advance and wait in line with hundreds of other people, I doubted we would make this flight.
But they must know how to run an airport in Dallas- unlike Pearson. Because we arrived, printed our boarding passes, got searched in secondary, and actually had a half an hour to spare to grab some dinner. Which is good as I was starving! I had a granola bar that day, Dan had Stubbs- I could have gnawed off my own arm I was so hungry, Dan’s full tummy was still happy!
Did you like how I quickly mentioned the secondary security search?
Well here is the explanation. Vacuuming my clothes flat made that bag so dense, the X-Ray attendant did not like what he saw on the screen. That and the bundles of fat ¼’s that looked like bricks. So as I am putting my shoes back on, the security guard is asking whom the bag belonged to- YIKES it was mine. He opened up my suitcase and everything tumbled out. Those damn baggies of fabric swatches were quite slippery, my dirty laundry and all my quilt patterns and fabric were all taken out so he could get a look at my vacuum bag in the bottom of my suitcase. Thankfully he believed me when I said it was only dirty laundry and he did not inflate the bag, or nothing would have made it back in my suitcase. He also fanned through the charm packs and bundles looking in between each piece of fabric. Guess his wife is not a quilter or he would have recognized my purchases and not been suspicious of them. Finally I got the green light, repacked my suitcase and continued on to the plane, only for it to be delayed 2 hours for take off. Guess we did not have to rush as much on the highway as first thought.
So there is my whirlwind trip to QuiltCon and Austin Texas. I had so much fun, as busy as it was! Unfortunately I missed the Leaders lecture for the MQG on Sunday, but saw as much as I could in the 4 days we were there.
Next blog post will be of the quilts in the show- I know you probably wanted to see those first and don’t really care to see nacho chips and margaritas, but hey, I want you to experience the whole trip, not just the quilts!
Here is the Best In Show quilt- I Quilt by Kathy York.