One year ago people were posting like crazy about the Houston International Quilt Festival and I didn't understand what the big deal was all about. I mentioned that I had never been and was looked at in amazement. "If you want to call yourself a quilter, you must go at least once." I was told this multiple times. So, being the obedient person that I am, I watched for the hotels to open up their rooms for the next years festival. YES, I booked the room ONE YEAR in advance. How crazy is that? I have absolutely never booked a hotel room more than 3 months in advance. This is as bad as the dang beach retreat. I put out a post seeing if anyone wanted to go with me and Lydia answered with a resounding "ME." Fast forward to today.
Okay, okay - not really today yet. Two days ago I contacted Lydia to see what time we are leaving and then I bought and printed my tickets to the festival itself. (Lydia and I had not talked about it at all since that decision a year ago.) I had determined that for my first visit there I would be content with just shopping the vendors and drooling over the quilts. Classes/lectures/parties could come another trip. Now we are up to today.
It's just after 8:00 a.m. and we are on the road. Woohoo. I have only one task as I drive and that is to finish the embellishments on my little owl woolie. In the process, I have added some sparkle to Lydia's car. A little bling never hurts, right?
With only a couple restroom breaks and a stop for fuel (we may be excited to get there), we can say, "Hello Houston." For me, it is the first time I have actually been in downtown Houston. I have travelled through the city many times and have been to and from the airport, but this time is different. Woohoo. We arrive at the center, check into the hotel and store our luggage.
Way back when I was talking about coming here this year, I was told that I "must stay at the Hilton because it is a mere walkway to the festival." Again, I am obedient and that is where I book our room. Now that we are free from luggage, the next task is to find the walkway (we do), enter the convention center, and find the food court. Our task is accomplished and we are sitting and having lunch by 1:00. Yes, food comes absolutely first. Once our bellies are satisfied it is time to see just what all the hoopla has been about.
We make the decision to start at the Stitchin" Heaven booth (on the end of BOTH 2400 and 2500) - which also happens to be at the very end of the room. We will now work down towards 100 over the next few days -- I think we may need more time -- WOW, this place is huge -- and then onto the quilts. Hello Ana! It's good to see the face of someone I hold dear right away. From this point forward, Lydia and I are splitting up since we walk at different speeds and have different interests. Now, what treasures can I find that I absolutely cannot live without? I'll be back Ana.
My eyes simply cannot take this room all in. I make it to 2524 (hahahaha yep, a LONG way) before I hit The Creative Thimble and spot a bag that I would like the pattern for.
I especially LOVE the feet on the bottom of the bag.
As I am waiting to pay, I spot another bag that will make PERFECT gifts for little ones. Must buy it too. It has two zippered pockets AND two vinyl pockets for books, crayons, colored pencils, etc. I can it going places and many hours of fun being involved around it. Now, the question is: How many do I make?
I glance across the aisle as I finish my purchase and spot this booth filled with amazing color. Oh my -- must run away -- and with that, I am off.
As I come back down the 2400 aisle, I am once again at Stitchin' Heaven. This time I check out the booth a bit, say hello to Gus (the longhorn) and have a spin for a prize.
My attempt is rewarded with a spool of Aurifil thread. Score. Best part is, I'm out of orange and they didn't know that.
While in the booth I find a kit that is just so dang cute. Grabbing it, I start towards the checkout and then take a deep breath and remember that I have only make it through two aisles and have already bought two patterns. Slow down girl. Make a note about it and move on.
What? No paper or pen? Take a picture, silly. Done. Moving on.
I continue down the next few aisles and spot a Featherweight sitting with a Sew Steady table. I have looked at these off and on but only pause for a brief moment as I am just starting to discover the wonders of my Sew EZ table. As I prepared to round another corner I hear my name and turn to discover Fawn and her mother, Joyce, standing there. Oh my. I haven't seen them since last November and it's oh so nice to hug and reconnect. I will be seeing them at retreat in just 2 weeks but what a fun pre-visit. Such super sweet faces. Oh, oh, oh. Must take a picture.
I continue down another aisle and receive text messages from Bonnie that I need to check out a bag in booth 1604. Do you know many booths are between 2500 and 1604? A LOT! About the time I make it down one more aisle, I run into Lydia and within moments the hotel calls and our room is ready for us so off we go to put our bags away. I NOW have my empty mondo bag and am ready for serious shopping. It's back to the vendors for us. As we arrive back into the center, via the walkway, I want to find one of the overlooks to get a picture to send to Mister. This place is just so huge -- he must see it. First one: looking straight with the left side in view.
This one: looking to the far right. HUGE right?
We're back and I finally connect with Bonnie. NO, I have not made it to the booth she wants me to see yet but it's fun to see her and visit for a few minutes.
I've made it to the 1700 aisle. Woohoo. However, I am stopped in my tracks at the Whim's Watercolor Quilt Kit booth. I have been watching Sharon work on a couple of these for the last couple of years. The sewing themed top they have hanging just calls to me and I soon have the entire kit in my hand. I figure I can get one really cool thing while here and this is it. I go to pay, only to discover that the price I thought it was turned out to be the product ID number. Back it went. However, I still love it so much and they mention to me that it is available through block of the month. Sign me up. With the first block and some grid in hand, I am soon on my way again.
At the end of 1700, I find a wonderful demonstration on applique taking place compliments of Amidon Quiltworks. I am rooted in one spot listening and learning as much as I can. It turns out that I now know how to use my little tiny Clover iron. I'm super excited to give my new knowledge a try out.
Woohoo -- I'm at 1600. Do I remember what Bonnie said? Nope. I just continue on my way until I come across Hancy Creations, Inc. As I stare at the demo, it creates questions and when I ask them, Lydia walks over when she hears my voice. I discover that she has been there for quite awhile as well. We both get all of our questions answered and soon have full hands of wonderful new tools. I simply can't wait to give these a try. Yes, Bernie really is THIS fun.
Okay, time to move on. I round the corner to 1500 and make it halfway before once again something catches my eye. I admit it, I'm a gadget/tool gal. Notice how I haven't purchased a bit of fabric? This time is it ironing tools that have my attention. Completely. By the time I leave Bo-Nash, I have a new cover for my big board AND a cover for my iron itself. This will be interesting.
A little further down, I spot this cute machine. Oh so fun, but oh so pricey. I also stop and check out these fun design walls. No - one is not going home with me but it is definitely a great way to have one.
At the end of the 1400 aisle I finally find one of the items I actually have on my list. To make it even better, it is half the cost of what I was going to pay on Amazon. Awesome sauce. I am so thrilled that I make a call to Allison in case she wants one as well. Yep, please wrap up two of the for me. A bonus here? PM Quilting is from Sunburst, MT. Fun information for me. Do I know where Sunburst is? Nope, but I'm thankful to have found them here.
I must be getting tired because I am now on aisle 1000 and I haven't stopped at all. Once again, I turn into another aisle (900) and find familiar faces from Fabric Fanatics. Alliteration at it's best. It's great to check in and talk about upcoming events back home but I'm suddenly feeling beat. It's time to go back to the room. Stick a fork in me, I'm done.
I come back into the hotel and see this row of lights. Aren't they grandiose? Lydia is already there and we take a few minutes to talk about our purchases and decide if we are going to go up to the reception on floor 19. As we are talking, I take out my Chasing the Sun quilt which I have brought for the room. That leads to a wonderful discussion and I am thrilled with the turnout.
We take a few minutes to enjoy the view from our room. It's simply lovely. Don't you agree?
Now, the room feels more like home.
We've decided to go to the reception, but upon arrival discover that we waited a wee bit too long for it to be our dinner. With an about face, we are off to Pappasito's. Well dang, their waiting list is over an hour long. After putting our name on the list, we decide to bail and check out the 1600 Bar and Grille which has a buffet that will definitely satiate our hunger. We no sooner get our table and I receive a text message from Kay (the retreat owner at Brazos) telling me that she is receiving emails for all of my purchases here? What the what? How does that even happen. I don't even have her email address with me, nor would I give it to anyone. A call to my bank does not give any answers either. I guess I'll have to go back to the vendors tomorrow and find out what is up. Ugh.
By the time we finish dinner (which is very good), it's dark and we are both ready for some sleep. Tomorrow is another day and we have a LOT to still see and do. Here are my treasures from today.
I am super excited to see what will find it's way into my bag tomorrow.
Good night Houston.