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  • Writer's pictureJackie Millins-Horne

The Festival Awaits!


It is Tuesday and the day has been somewhat full on. Having broken my front tooth on Saturday morning I was in somewhat of a limbo status on when I was going to get to much as I am not a vain person I did not want to be seen in public with half a front tooth! Luckily for me my amazing dentist Alex took pity on me this morning and I am back with a shiny front set of pearlies.

I was due to head up to Festival on Wednesday morning but I am not a fan of the traffic around Newport so decided to make the trip a day earlier and get settled in. Having arrived I have found that the hotel near the NEC is VERY busy!!! Currently sitting in the restaurant among those heading off to the airport and sunnier climates (it is quite wet here today), a few people here for work and the odd group of ladies and gents that are clearly members of the quilting fraternity…how do I know…no idea but I just know. I probably don’t think I look like a typical quilter ..maybe I should look in the mirror more!

So am I excited..yes! I love coming to Festival and seeing all the incredible talent in the competition pieces but I am such a fabric addict that the idea of walking through miles of retailers lavishly set up with swathes of rainbow coloured cotton to tempt me is my idea of Heaven. However this year is different…there is no husband to stem my spending ..but also no husband to help me carry everything! We had an honest discussion before I left on what I actually needed to buy…and I have promised to stick to finding backing fabrics and not be tempted away to new collections and ranges from the designers….maybe!

So why am I here alone? No Nigel has not finally had enough of traipsing around after me, but rather I was asked some months ago by the lovely Liz and Pete of Pinhole Quilting if I would come along and work on their stand. Liz and Pete are the UK and European distributors of Handiquilter machines…otherwise known as my longarm, Stumpy. I was thrilled to be asked. I am not a high flying freehand quilter and I do not use a pro stitcher, which is computerised quilting accessory for the machine. I was asked to come along it seems because of the experiences I run and the fact I have a “knack” of taking away the fear of these great quilting beasts and get people to realise they can quilt on them and get great results straight away from using a pantograph.

So I am joining quite an elite group this week…Liz and Pete have their own team of engineers and other personnel here but also the Handiquilter Ambassador and Educator Lynda Jackson. then there is the lovely Abigail Sheridan de Graaff of Cut and Alter, who is also an Educator and is the reason I not only quilt but also piece with Glide thread. I am so looking forward to meeting Gina who is an Educator from the US and a few others who have crossed the pond for this week!

What I also think is brilliant and is going to provide such a colourful and enriching week is that I am not the only “customer “ in the group…so I am joining Sandra, Carol, Carolyn and Graham....we seem to have an array of machines between us…what fun to swap stories!

So what else will I be searching out in my little “my time” sessions? Interestingly enough there are two exhibitions that bridge my day job and quilting. I must see the Grenfell Memorial Quilt that will be on display. This will be such an emotional defining moment for me to see how this has helped the community. The reports and details of that tragedy is part of my other world and so this will be a very personal moment for reflection.

Another one I must see as I have worked with those involved with the Guru Nanak community is the community piece that Paula Hope led on Oneness to celebrate the 550th birthday of the founder of the Sikh faith.

There is also always the whole “celebrity” thing many of the quilting world celebs will be here too..I always enjoy being the total gushing quilt nerd and having my pic taken with my inspirational heroes!

There are so many exhibitions on display, interactive sessions and lots of talks and lectures…and I am sure I will be drawn to them all….I love to find inspiration! BUT I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to literally just being on the stand with potential new long-armers…I have been there when that decision was to be made…do I really want one…can I fit it in..will hubby shoot me for spending all that money…can I really learn to use that massive thing!

I am not a salesperson though..nor am I really a teacher (don’t forget I was thrown out of needlework)..but what I am is in love with quilting and more than that I am in love with sharing our hobby. Those of you who have been to the studio know what a social person I am. The idea of sharing how to longarm with a pantograph gives me so much joy..taking someone who has made a totally unique creation and now being able to help them finish it themselves on a professional machine is just icing on the cake…a happy quilt is a finished quilt. What I do know though is that the expression on everyones’ face as they walk through the studio door and see Stumpy is a mix of excitement, amazement….and a dose of fear, fear that I usually dispel pretty quick!… this week my target is help those who are at that crucial moment of decision and my primary job is to take away the fear and prove you can use it and you can produce something truly remarkable in a matter of minutes.

If you are coming to Festival I do hope you will come and say hello…even if you are not looking for a longarm for your sewing room! If you are not going to make it to Festival then I will probably be posting and doing videos and live streams all week…so do watch out for them on my social media channels.

For now though I am hoping that dinner will arrive soon as the wait is quite long, but I do live on Welsh time now so I am use to waiting…and the only other thing I need to do tonight anyway is sleep and dream of getting set up on the stand tomorrow and stem my excitement for Thursday!!

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