15 October 2009

Lots More from Houston Quilt Market

I have actually arrived back in Sydney and now have the pleasurable task to sharing the highlights of my whirlwind trip with you and my wonderful staff who have been doing a stirling job in my absence.

Pictured (left) is Anne from Breckling Press and we are clutching very possessively one of the first copies of Jinny Beyer's fantastic new book "The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns" , an epic publication of 4050 unique block designs.
The designs in this 488 page, hard cover visual encyclopedia are categorized in a way that eliminates duplicates and allows quilters to understand exactly how each block is successfully pieced. It is one of those 'I must have this in my patchwork and quilting book library' kind of temptations. We only received two into our showroom yesterday, and today they both walked back out again with the first two customers for the day, who couldn't resist. It really is one of those kinds of books! Don't panic, we will have more very shortly!

Pictured right in my favourite animal print top (I am a tragic for animal print shoes, jackets, dresses etc), I am surrounded by the softest and most devine Minke fabric samples, all in animal prints!!
Did they know I was coming?!

Pictured left, an expose of Kaffe Fassett fabrics (note the to die for Kaffe covered chair). He has yet another new book due out in April 2010 called "Simple Shapes, Spectacular Quilts". Kaffe works with a number of designers and one in particular stands out to me; "Phillip Jacobs". We will have new Kaffe fabrics in stock in November and we will be introducing Phillip Jacobs to our collection. His designs are truly remarkable and work perfectly with Kaffe fabric. I look forward to sharing this range with you.

There are so many things to enjoy at the Houston Quilt Market and I must say one of my joys is running into award-winning quiltmakers, authors, designers, publishers and all those wonderfully creative people who add their flair to our industry.
I had the pleasure of meeting one such Author and Designer of "Appli-Curves", Elaine Waldschmitt (pictured left). The quilt featured on the front cover of her book is actually hanging on the wall behind her in this shot. Elaine has recently designed and released a pattern for the jacket featured in the top left corner of this image which we will feature soon in one of our catalogues. Look out for it.
On Monday before heading to the airport to start my 20-odd hour trek home, I came across this interview taking place between renowned author (of many outstanding Quilting books), Alex Anderson and Quilter's TV host, Cindy Walter. They were filming a segment for the show with Alex talking about her 3rd edition of "Start Quilting" (we highly rate this book as an excellent beginner quilting book). It was enthralling to watch - and I was seriously wondering how I could get The Craft Mailbox logo into the scene). Alex was also showing off her new quilting 5-in-1 tool still in design phase, but sure to be highly sought after when it is ready for market.
Sandra May.

13 October 2009

More from Houston Quilt Market

This is my last morning in Houston! Alas, I lugged my suitcase down to the post office ready to (as cheaply as possible!) despatch my samples and multitude of wonderful things home, only to find the post office is closed due to a public holiday (Columbus Day) . Columbus has a lot to answer for this morning! Thank goodness for our good friend FedEx.

I have hardly slept while I have been in Houston, as my body clock never really adjusts. Waking at 4am and feeling ravenous is always disturbing. By day I trawl the 22 aisles of booths (can you imagine 22 aisles?) and by night I have been putting together our Christmas catalogue. With our lovely modern technology I was able to send our exciting 8 pager to our loyal printers via file transfer at 2am this morning.

My day starts at 6am - I am invariably first in the restaurant for breakfast after waking at 4am (lucky I had a thriller of a novel to read). Soon after 7am I am on a bus for the short trip to the convention centre. Grab a coffee and into the first lesson the day.

Day One was a class with Marti Michell learning how to use her log cabin ruler (see left, a log cabin with Kaffe Fassett fabric). I discovered how to use her rulers to quickly and simply cut fabric for maximum efficiency to put together several blocks in one sitting.

Day Two was creative time with Shiva Paintstiks. We received a very generous package of goodies (see my creation, right, using gold, orange, yellow and red paintstiks on plain black fabric. I discovered by using my finger as a paint brush, I could create a lovely shadowing effect from the rubbing plates.

Our package of goodies included the Paintstiks book, two rubbing plates, two paint brushes (see left), newly released stencils, light, dark and multicoloured fabrics to play on and three mini paintstiks. WOW!! I was really in my element here!

My creative senses have been working overtime with visual delights to be had everywhere. I always love cathcing up with Iris, the creator of Misty Fuse.

Sandra May

I'm Going to Houston

Did you know that you can tell a quilter from their reaction to the words, “I am going to Houston”? Throw the sentence into a group, and watch the facial features of the quilter change, light up and blossom with excitement (and sometimes envy!) I didn't go last year due to the frightful fall in our dollar however this year is quite a different story. Preparing for the trip starts early. You need to book your hotel by at least May to get a good price. All other preparation falls into scheduling the business and catalogue preparation, getting tickets to the events and tours in Houston, and of course 'what to wear'!! The internet can indeed be a most wonderful tool and knowing what the weather will be like is an advantage. It is normally quite warm and humid at this time of year so to maximise space in my suitcase for samples and other goodies, I pack one dress for each day (they take up less room) leaving at least 15kgs of space for all the good stuff! Flat shoes and a wheelie bag are essential tools for this epic journey. With 22 isles of booths to visit, I know I will be on my feet all day dragging purchases behind me.

This year I was thrilled when the organisers of International Quilt Market emailed back to report that I had a ticket to the “Cowboys and Quilts Tour”. The rest of the Craft Mailbox were ecstatic when I got entry to the “Sample Spree”, and started planning my exercise regime and stretch routine so that I could get the most out of it (for them)!!
Texting smiley faces (two - I was so pleased) to the girls after boarding the plane let them know which part I got upgraded to was fun...it made the trip all the more special to start off in style – and to catch up on sleep which was a non event in the last few days prior to leaving as I frantically prepared at work. I hit the ground running in Los Angeles to catch the connecting 3 hour flight to Houston (flying over the Grand Canyon is always a treat). My hotel is part of the convention therefore vitally close to the ‘George R Brown Convention Center’ and the large central core bar area is always kept busy with Australian shop owners and wholesalers.

To give an idea of the magnitude of this event; Houston is the 4th biggest city in the USA, and the combined Quilt Market/Festival is the biggest annual event in Houston! This is huge. Can you imagine 50,000 quilters over two weeks? The convention halls are enormous, and it takes up the whole centre...you do not wear fashion footwear to this show! There are hundreds of exhibitors, a whole floor of classes, and it is a bit weird to run into so many friends in the aisles and on the stands!

My first day here was spent touring outside the city – in a fit of indulgence I went on “Cowboys and Quilts” I even admit to a little bit of quilt shop envy! We visited three stores (image left is a quilt from The Quilters Cottage in Richmond made from 1895 Bali Watercolour fabrics) plus a 22,000 acre working ranch complete with oil wells (as it is in Texas), gas outlets, long horn cattle, cotton and corn fields and a historical village of homes and how life used to be (image right is an early 1900's home - magnificent).

The Sample Spree is a highlight for many in the business of Quilt Market. Definitely a lace up shoe event, ticket holders line up outside the closed doors waiting to bolt in to snap up fabric samples and deals! Companies have samples ready of all their new products, and this is a crazy two hours of snatch and grab.... and buy. I had to try hard to not get caught up in the spending euphoria and fabric fantasies as women carry in as many bags as possible, buy frantcially (often at retail prices) and then drag above their weight, bags of the latest fabric samples back to their rooms. It is a mesmerising scene.
Sandra May