The international quilt show held yearly in the Alsace region of France was held again this year in Ste Marie-aux-Mines and surrounding villages. For the first time I was able to go! Leslie and Maria went last year, so Leslie was the perfect guide, and Mr. Bob was the perfect chauffeur, and I felt totally pampered the entire week. We left midmorning on Friday and drove down easily, arriving in time to check in, unpack, and then be driven off again for dinner. We were met at the hotel by a nice, cold glass of what they called Cremont (check my spelling, that's how I heard it but never saw it written), which is the local sparkling wine. This is a very civilized habit and one I could definitely get used to!
The show is hung very imaginatively, utilizing local churches, cathedrals, events halls, and shop spaces over 4 villages in close proximity to each other. Every shop on every street has some sort of quilt or quilt-related item displayed in the windows, so the entire local population is extremely supportive of the show and extremely patient with the yearly mass influx of humanity. The drive to and from each venue is extremely picturesque, with beautiful mature vineyards nestled into a backdrop of mountains.
The villages are mostly from the Middle Ages, and the architecture is what I would, in my amateur architectural knowledge, term "Alpine" as in what would be expected of Switzerland or Germany. The roof overhangs are deep, I suppose to keep the snow from dropping down on the doorstoops, and the windows are mostly shuttered. But the most unexpected thing was the color - more of what I have seen around the Mediterranean, Greece and Italy, the pastel stucco with the wooden beams. The regional food was also different from my previous experiences with French food in that the meals were hearty and initially everything came with sauerkaut and potatoes. We learned quickly how to order better.
The exhibits were varied and interesting this year. Of course due to copyright issues I can't publish pictures of the different exhibitions, but they are available at the website of the Europeen du Patchwork, http://www.patchwork-europe.com/. The Dutch chintzes were interesting, of course, and well represented by a variety of quilts. Some of the other exhibitions were, in my opinion, not very complete, and the information available in English was woefully inadequate for me to understand the point of several of the exhibitions. I realize that this is partially my fault for not knowing French but the lack of background definitely limited the experience in some of the shows. The Hungarian and New Zealand exhibitions had some very fine quilts in them. And the competition, "The Colors of My Country", also had some very good and imaginative quilts. Sandra Meech had the best exhibition of all, and her work is so very well done and interesting to look at. She also has a new book, which I purchased and brought home to peruse, hoping some of the magic rubs off on me!
Of coure, no quilt show is complete without vendors, and this one was no exception. There were many quilt shops represented with fabrics from all over the world, and other necessary items such as beads, buttons, lighting, threads, and miscellaneous notions. The fun is in the browsing. And the purchasing of little things to take home, fat quarters, a new brand of thread, books, new scissors, patterns and such. I found fantastic new YLI zippers this year, and Leslie discovered some glass beads. Above is Beryl Cadman in her Gammill booth, with our "Little Amsterdam" hanging behind her this year, and below are Andreas Wolf, tempting us with some of Heide Stoll-Weber's hand-dyed sateen and Ilka Rave just looking beautiful, as usual. I would like to take her home!