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Archive for July, 2010

Awhile back, I shared with you that I drank the Bernina Kool-Aid. Well, a few weeks ago, I visited Orlando, FL, to attend Bernina University. What an experience! And more Kool-Aid!

Martin Favre Welcome at BU 2010

Martin Favre Welcoming Us to BU

The kick-off meeting was a huge multi-media event hosted by Martin Favre, Bernina of America’s president. The opening was filled with audio, video, dancers, showcases, entertainment, education, and, of course, sewing machines. You’re seeing pictures of the screens, since they photographed more clearly than the people on stage. 

Jennifer Gigas and a 380

Jennifer Gigas Introduces the 380

Before we went to Bernina University, we kept hearing about the new 3 Series machines: 330, 350, and 380. It was worth the wait to see these machines in action. They are wonderful machines for sewers of all kinds. I can easily imagine these machines being snapped up by young moms wanting to sew for their children and homes, by sewers who are becoming a little more serious about their work and want to upgrade from their beginner machines, and by sewers who want a second (Or third or fourth – you know who you are!) machine to take to retreats or classes or travel. The Quilt Patch, where I teach and manage the Bernina department, is planning a 3 Series event in late August. If you’re interested, you’ll have to reserve your spot. Look for the announcement on the Quilt Patch website in the next week.

Of course, Bernina University is about more than ceremonies. I took classes and learned until my head was full. My classes included machine embroidery, the CutWork tool software (OMG, too cool!), information about the 820 and the 830, and using online resources like websites and social networking. I saw amazing art-to-wear done as I prefer it – to personalize and augment your look, not to announce your entrance. It was inspirational.
View from the Window

The View from our Hotel Window

I wasn’t looking forward to Orlando in the summer, but northern Virginia was actually hotter than Orlando. Amazing. It felt odd to go all the way to the Land of Disney without actually visiting Mickey, but we had a tremendous view from our window of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. In the evenings, we watched amazing sunsets and then caught the 9:00 fireworks. All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I came back with my head full of ideas and projects. Now, if I only had more time…

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Vermont Quilt Festival LogoI enjoy traveling to meet quilters, and I looked forward to my trip to the Vermont Quilt Festival from the time they contacted me with an invitation to teach there.

I planned and packed, pulling quilts and supplies for my classes. I knew I wanted to drive because I didn’t want to ship supplies for four classes. A few days before I needed to leave, I decided to plot my course from Virginia to Vermont. How long could this drive be, right? Well, pretty long, as I found out. MapQuest said it would take me about ten hours. Hmm. I went to my GPS for a second opinion: ten hours. Okay, ten hours, then.

Hey, Quilters, what do you do when you have a long drive ahead of you? Not a long ride, a long drive. I print out directions, pack maps, borrow the plug-in cooler from my friend Kathy (Seriously, this kind of travel is not possible without Diet Coke), and load plenty of tunes and books on my iPod. For this trip, I downloaded The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Ya Can’t Get Theah From Heah

Off I went, leaving as early as I could be awake and presentable. I stopped only when I had to, and I always hurried back to my car to hear more of the book and to try to beat the ten hour estimate. I drove through Virginia, Maryland, Delaware (waving to my old apartment as I crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge), and New Jersey. Once I hit New York, I felt like I was getting close to my destination.  I drove and drove and drove. Just when I was sure I had missed a turn, my GPS warned me that I would be turning right in two miles. Puzzled, I replied “I can’t turn right; there’s a lake over there!” At the appointed milemarker, I did turn right…right into the parking lot for the ferry!

Waiting for the Ferry

Waiting for the Ferry

Yes, the ferry. Do you have a GPS? I have a TomTom that I call Yoda – it’s a long story – and it always asks me if I want to avoid the toll roads or if I want to avoid the HOV lanes. Don’t you think it could have asked me if I wanted to avoid leaving the road entirely?! As I stopped my truck next to the ticket booth, I asked the attendant if there was a bridge nearby or if I had missed the road most people take to Vermont. Nope. The ferry was my only option unless I wanted to add two hours to my trip. She recommended ice cream from the place next door, since I’d be waiting twenty or thirty minutes for the next ferry.

“Driving” on the Ferry

  Truthfully, the ferry ride was the highlight of the journey. It was a beautiful day to be on the water and I met other quilters on the boat. And what a view!

The added bonus? I got to see what the GPS screen looks like when you’re on the water, but not on a bridge. Interesting.  

At the Vermont Quilt Festival

After ten and a half hours (I had to wait for the ferry, remember?), I drove onto the campus of St. Michael’s College where most of the classes were held and many teachers stay during the show. The campus is absolutely gorgeous with lots of trees and beautiful buildings. Check-in was a snap and I was able to set up my classroom the day before classes began. Too cool!

The students were amazing. They really brought their “A” game. Just about everyone came in with all of their supplies and a solid idea of what we’d be doing. One student really surprised me when she unpacked photos from my website. I guess she did her homework! Everyone was cooperative, helpful, positive, and ready to get the most out of each class. What more could a teacher want? I had a blast! For those of you keeping track, I offered Finishing Techniques for Art Quilters, The Pen is Mightier Than the Needle, Design Your Own Memory Quilts, and Trees (from my pattern).

 I really had a great time at the show and I hope I can make it back next year. At least I know to expect a ferry ride!

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