When I sat down to think about the highlights of QuiltCon I came up with four main topics: friends, classes, quilt show, and community. I'm going to blog about each subject to try to keep myself from rambling aimlessly about the weekend.
First up: Friends
Throughout the years of blogging and swapping some great friendships have emerged. I can say that a couple of my very best friends are people I've met through sewing, and it's not always possible to see them in real life. Before the trip I compiled a list of people who were coming to the convention that I wanted to meet up with. I think my list consisted of about 15 people (not counting the awesome Chicago Modern Quilt Guild ladies).
I didn't have much hope to meet them all (especially since I had no idea what half of them looked like! But somehow it all worked out and over the course of a few days I met and chatted with nearly everyone on that list (with the exception of one or two notable people - I missed meeting Rossie! I'm sad about that).
Much of this weekend for me was about close friends. Of course I was rooming with the bestest quit buddy I could ask for (Emily), and we spent most of the weekend with Elaine who was once in our guild, but has since moved out of state. Emily, Elaine, and I even did a swap this weekend. We'd been working on our swap gifts for a long time, and this was the perfect time to swap them (more on that another day). It was so great to hang out with Emily and Elaine in person - we really had only met Elaine a couple times before she moved, but since then we've been chatting on facebook several times a week, encouraging each other in our sewing projects, and listening to the venting that goes on when one of our kids refuses to sleep.
Hanging out with Emily and Elaine this weekend felt like we'd spent every day for months together - easy friendship and hilarious conversations. It was so nice to be able to spend time together and chat about life.
I also had the opportunity to meet some people who I've gotten to know through blogging and swapping. Specifically Charlotte (another of our roomies!). Charlotte had come all the way from London and I'm glad she did. We'd known each other on blogs for so long, and that friendship translated perfectly to sharing a room and hanging out at the conference together. I learned some English things - like how to say "Orange"... Charlotte is pretty awesome.
I also had the chance to meet so many people I'd known for ages online - Julie (who sent me a swap for Urban Home Goods Swap ages ago), Jen (who helps run the Doll Quilt Swap with me), Mona (who recieved my Doll Quilt Swap 12 quilt), Amanda & Alex (the Threadbias people, so unexpected to meet them!)... the list of people goes on and on (as you could probably tell by that picture mosaic up there. Incredible.
Then there are the famous friends - some of which I'd known online prior to the trip, others I met for the first time. Anna Maria Horner was sweet and gracious, exactly as you would imagine after reading her blog for years (I'm still freaking out over meeting her). Thomas Knauer was witty and thought provoking and an all around awesome person. Angela Walters was a spectacular teacher, and all around inspiring - I took so much away from her class, I hope she knows that.
I also had some surreal moments - while I have met and chatted with Mary Fons (Quilty!), I introduced myself to her mom, Marianne Fons (of Fons and Porter!), thinking that I'd shake her hand and try not to geek out too much. In turn she ended up engaging me in conversation for a good 15-20 minutes, stopping for a picture of us, and then she even friended me on Facebook! Surreal. She really was the sweetest. Another surreal moment? Having lunch with the Denyse Schmidt. Yes, that happened. Sitting across a picnic table from her chatting away. Wow. That was just beyond crazy. She's very down to earth and it was nice to meet her. (insert lots of geeking out here... seriously I can't believe that happened).
I guess there isn't an easy way to say it, this trip was spectacular on so many levels, and a major part of that was being able to meet and connect with so many people. It was a long enough trip that I was able to meet and converse, and visit with many people. Meals were as much a chance to nourish our bodies as they were a chance to facilitate friendships. I'm so lucky to have these people in my life - even if we don't get to chat in person very often, it's good to know that these online friendships carry over into reality sometimes. I almost wish I could give a shout out to every person I met this weekend - they all made such a difference in my QuiltCon experience.