AQS Lancaster 2012 (and 2011!)
I can’t believe more than a month has passed since the AQS Lancaster Quilt show. Spring is apparently when time gets away from me more easily: I had actually started to write a post about last year’s show, but got busy and never finished or posted it. So I’m going to beg your patience and try something a little different: let’s call it a time travel post! Starting in the past:
On Saturday, March 19, Ronan and I attended the AQS Lancaster Quilt Show. We met Diane and Lisa there, and spent from 10 am to 4 pm on the premises. The crowds were decent, but not unmanageable; although it was the only weekend day the show was open, it was also the last day of the show. Quilts were viewed, stuff was bought.
So far, everything from last year applied to this year’s show as well. I reiterate my frustration with AQS’s policy of running their shows Wednesday – Saturday rather than continuing to Sunday the way the Mancuso shows do and Quilters’ Heritage Celebration always did. The rationale that’s given at my father-in-law’s model railroading shows is that vendors who have brick-and-mortar stores can be open on Monday if they have Sunday to travel and unpack. Yet at the same time, I frequently hear representatives of both hobby communities lament the increasing average age of hobbyists and bemoan the difficulties of attracting younger people. Talk about unclear on the concept! Younger people work, or attend school, or have young children. In this economy, I see plenty of people who are afraid to take a day off work for dental treatment, let alone to attend a quilt show; child care is also frequently easier to arrange on weekends. To me, having the quilt show end on Saturday is saying to young quilters, “We are not at all concerned about making your attendance easier, because we don’t need you.” Not exactly the message I’d expect.
Hey, who left that soapbox out? Anyway, back to 2011:
Based on a rereading of my blog posts from last year’s inaugural AQS Lancaster show, I’d very much like to claim to be a great predictor of the future. However, my March Madness bracket hanging in the office lunchroom puts the lie to that. So I’ll have to settle for believing that the powers that be at AQS must be very perceptive, receptive, and willing to fix what doesn’t work. I’ve been impressed with the organizers of Quilting with Machines on the very same counts, which gives me hope that the future of organized quilting is with people who are open to change.
First, and most important, it was all under one roof this year– no more silly Liberty Place nonsense. And as if that weren’t triumph enough, they utilized the space they had in the convention center far more effectively for displaying the quilts, placing them in the most brightly lit areas of the main exhibition hall. The displays are still chained off, making it difficult to see details on the center quilt in each group of three, and AQS policy is still that no turning of quilts is done by the “white glove angels” to show quilt backs, but overall the quilt viewing experience was vastly better this year.
Again, nothing to add. They’re still playing with the layout of the competition quilts on the main floor, and I think this year was the best yet for traffic flow and lighting.
I can’t talk about my show experience without discussing how different it was to walk a quilt show with a four-month-old. He was in his element: there were colors, lights, and lots of people smiling at him. He’s a little ham, and quite the extrovert, so of course he was smiling and showing off his dimple and generally flirting with everyone in sight. He was mostly well-behaved, only fussing when he needed to be fed or changed, and was willing to ride in his stroller for most of the day with just one interval mid-morning of needing the Baby Bjorn. That was when I had my big moment of starstruck quilt geekdom, when Rachel Pellman (!) came over to me (!!) to confirm that I was the pregnant woman she had talked to at a guild meeting last August and to see the baby!!! So Ronan made Rachel Pellman remember me! I can live with that. Far better than if she’d said, “weren’t you the one who told that cat vomit story at a guild meeting?”
It was even different again to attend with a 16-month-old. Ronan was very well behaved in his stroller, smiling at ladies and even reacting to some of the quilts!
I tried to be as considerate and unobtrusive with the stroller as possible, and while the multilevel nature of the convention center required me to spend a far greater fraction of my day waiting for elevators than I would ideally have liked, I can’t fault the facilities otherwise. There was a lovely “family bathroom” in the main exhibit hall that made changing Ronan very easy and convenient, and the third floor had clever little banquettes built into the wall that made for a quiet, private place to feed him. Overall, good baby and good environment made for an excellent experience.
That quiet area on the third floor also worked out this year as a place for him to run around and burn off some energy after having been in the stroller for too long.
As I’ve been trying to do at most quilt shows I’ve attended lately, I kept fabric purchases to a bare minimum, just a panel for a gift and some interesting salesman samples still on their cardboard hangers. I did buy a decent amount of thread, hitting the Superior Threads booth as anticipated but also getting some to try from Fil-tec, which is located right in relatively nearby Hagerstown, MD. I also fell victim to my usual Achilles’ Heel, intriguing notions and gadgets, with the purchase of a set of strip pressing bars that have already made themselves very useful in my studio.
But of course, as always, the stars of the show were the quilts. I’m always looking for inspiration for quilting designs, as well as just enjoying the beauty, especially the unexpected. The official show website has better pictures than I could ever take of the top ribbon winners, but here’s a sample of some of the others that stood out to me: