Monday, 24 November 2014

The Woman Who Only Bought a Fat Quarter

It has become, I realise, something of a small, private ritual. And it has taken me many years of going to textile fairs, in particular The Festival of Quilts and The Knitting and Stitching Show, to recognise it as such.

A good excuse to show again the fabrics bought at this year's Festival of Quilts 

Hotel bed during the Festival of Quilts, 2013
Back in my hotel or bed-and-breakfast room, after a day - or two, or sometimes three - of fighting the slow-moving crowds to edge my way to the front of the queues around the various trader stands, buying fabrics and thread and stuffing them in my handbag and an increasing number of carrier bags as my feet and purse take a bashing, I take a few moments before going to bed - tired but buzzy-brained and perhaps after a few glasses of Shiraz - to lay my purchases out on the bed and review them. And more often than not, I photograph them as a group before I arrive back home and they disappear into various drawers, boxes and project bags and the excitement is dissipated.

Furnishing fabrics bought at the "festival fringe"

Sometimes I have spent hundreds of pounds in an orgy of fabric fever; sometimes it is just a few carefully selected necessities. Four years ago, in Harrogate for The Knitting and Stitching Show, my most roaringly successful buy was four remnants of homely furnishing fabrics from the upstairs rummage box in a small shop on the way to the station. They went on to take a starring role in my degree show installation.

Knitting and Stitching 2014: beads, a fat quarter and monofilament

This year, at Harrogate again where I was stewarding for the Prism exhibition, my bed-top selection was probably the smallest yet. My fabric shelves are already groaning and economic necessity played a part, but I also like to think I have become more sure in what I want and what I am most likely to use. Which is not to say that I can't surprise myself: I have acquired several packets of beads with two holes in each. Who knew such things existed? Well, not me. Plus a fat quarter (frugality comes into play again after several reckless years of "Oh, I'll have a couple of metres please") of a sky fabric to add to my collection, this one with dark clouds and lightning. And some monofilament thread as I'm running out.

Government war poster by H.M. Bateman 

I have often envisaged a Bateman cartoon along the lines of "The Woman Who Went to a Quilt Show and Didn't Buy Any Fabric".  (I show my age by assuming that everyone knows who Bateman was, but to quote Wikipedia: "H.M. Bateman was noted for his 'The Man Who' series of cartoons, featuring comically exaggerated reactions to usually minor upper-class gaffes, such as 'The Man Who Threw a Snowball at St Moritz'.") I hope never to commit such an unacceptable faux pas. So I will try a bit harder next year.

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