The Paducah Diaries: a Guest Post by Ellen

Listener Ellen traveled all the way to Paducah, KY, from Scotland this spring to attend Quilt Week. She was kind enough to take notes so we could share in her fabulous experience. Read on for all kinds of quilty fun!

The Paducah Diaries, by Ellen H.


Day 1: Tuesday

We arrived in Paducah on Tuesday afternoon a little later than planned so it was a bit of a rush to get to the Awards ceremony.

We knew that Kay hadn’t won anything (see Kay’s quilts at the bottom of this post), but it was a good opportunity to see the quilts that had won and see some of the winners. There weren’t a great many winners there. One of Kay’s friends, Linda Hrcka and Lisa Bongean, won the large longarm machine quilted for “Sunflower Gatherings,” so Kay was really pleased to be there and see the presentation. “For Tanya,” one of the prizewinning quilts from Quilt Con also won in the Modern section. That was one of my favourites, so I was pleased to see it win here. Miriam Coffey, one of the quilters was there, and she was so excited that she ran down the aisle, onto the stage.and across it to pick up her prize. That will always be one of my memories of this trip to Paducah.

I was sorry that more of the big prize winners weren’t there. When I went to Houston a few years ago the majority of the winners were there. At Paducah a minority were there. I know that there are all sorts of reasons for that and I’m not being critical of contestants but merely observing that it does a disservice to the competition and to those who come to Paducah for Quilt Week.

Immediately after the ceremony we went over to the Convention Centre for the”Sneak Peek.” If you or anyone else is coming to Paducah in the future, it’s worth paying to attend this. It is busy, but nothing like as busy as the next few days and it gives you time to see all the winners and the other quilts much more easily and get photographs without the hassle that it can become.

This is “Majestic Mosaic” by Karen Kay Buckley and Renae Haddadin , which was the overall winner. Karen wasn’t able to be there at all. I believe that she was unwell, but Renae was there on Friday.

Day 2: Wednesday

On Wednesday we spent the day at the Convention Centre and the Pavilion. Apart from seeing all the quilts, which are over three areas, there were all the vendors. We’re working a system now, which we have perfected over a number of quilts shows. See fabric, etc., once, note where it is, go away and look round the rest of the show, and if it’s still on your mind after that, buy it. It’s certainly cut down on the amount of fabric that I’ve acquired.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable day, met quite a few folk, but by 4pm our feet had had enough. We had been on our feet from just after 8am, after all. Linzi and Kay made their first purchases — antique 1930s flimsies for $40 before 9am and breakfast. (We didn’t realise how much of a bargain these were until the next day). So we retired to Kirchoff’s Bakery & Deli in South 2nd St for a soft drink and some lovely cookies. Don’t miss this bakery if you are ever in Paducah.

Once our feet had recovered and since we were over that way we continued over to Finkels to see the “Hurt” books and meet up with Linda Hrcka at “Primitive Beginnings”. It was lovely to meet up with her and have a chat.

This is “For Tanya” by Emily and Miriam Coffrey from North Carolina. My personal favourite. This one also won at QuiltCon:

This one is “Hard Times”. I believe that there was some controversy about it earlier since it uses a photo taken in the 1930s from the Library of Congress:

Day 3: Thursday

We were out of the house about 8.30 to go for breakfast on Thursday morning and then head for Hancock’s early. We did spend a few hours in Hancock’s, but why wouldn’t you? Kay had a great time spending money. We did have to do an intervention at one point because she went a bit berserk in the sales area. Having only one spare suitcase between three people is a great way of maintaining a focus!

Once we had dragged ourselves away from Hancock’s, we went to the Rotary Club Show. Their display this year featured “hexie”quilts and there were some beauties. It wasn’t too busy when we arrived so we had plenty of time to look at the quilts, but just as we finished looking at them a busload of people arrived, so things got a little busy.

There were quite a few vendors there, including Cherrywood. We met Miriam Coffey, who was one of the people who made”For Tanya,” there as she was helping out on the stall. She was a really lovely young woman, and we had a great chat with her. At the back of the centre was the Cherrywood “Wicked” display. It was an interesting exhibition because there was a huge range of style of piecing and quilting although the colours were all the same of course.

We had to do a bit of spending here; after all, quilt shops need our support. The most interesting booth was Hmong Pandua Needlework. The fabric was from India( I think) and it was gorgeous. If you ever see it at a quilt show, check it out but if you want to buy anything there be prepared for it to take a while (15-30 minutes), because the lady selling the fabric has her own unique style of doing it.

Our next stop off was the Quilt Museum in the centre of Paducah. The quilts on show in the gallery were amazing. I really couldn’t pick one out as my favourite of the ones on show that day. There was a cross section from the earliest to the most recent times, so it was interesting see the changes in styles of quilting–hand to machine, traditional to more expressive (not sure that’s the word that I’m looking for but can’t think of another). Linzi and Kay would pick out different quilts from myself because they are professional long arm quilters. I’m just one “of the rest of us” so we had quite a conversation about a few of them.

We weren’t so keen on the SAQA exhibition which was based around food items. I’ve seen their exhibitions as the Festival of Quilts at Birmingham and they are all quite interpretative and diverse. This one just wasn’t for me. The last exhibition was “Old-Modern” and was based around nine patches. Both the traditional and the modern side of the exhibition were worth spending time on but for different reasons. The traditional side was clearly nine patches used in different ways to interpret the theme. The modern side was more about finding the nine patches. Some quilters’ imaginations knew no bounds. We frequently played hunt the nine patch and they were not always squares. Some were stars, hexies, rectangles …

Obviously the exhibitions at the Museum change all the time, so no matter when you go you will always see something different, but I think that the Museum staff do an excellent job of helping quilters to look outside of their comfort zone.

I should have said at the beginning of this “report,” which is turning into an epistle, that one of Linzi’s friends had arranged for us to stay with the Mayor of Paducah, Gayle Kayler and her husband when we couldn’t find accommodation last August. She and her husband couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful to us during our stay with them and their 3 rescue dogs were just delightful. I had some very long conversations with them.

Anyway about 5 years ago Linzi made a quilted Yurt (see picture at the end of post). It’s about 18 ft in circumference and can seat about 40 people. It’s made up of a large number of panels which have been pieced by Linzi and a number of other quilters. Linzi quilted most of them. The original yurt’s panels were made by folk from the UK and the USA. Linzi calls them her stunt quilters.

The yurt was originally exhibited in 2010 at Loch Lomond. After that Linzi split the panels up and made additional panels for what became the Scottish Quilted Yurt and additional panels for the yurt that became the American one. It was been exhibited in several places including Houston but now it’s on display in a museum in Wisconsin. The Scottish one has never found a home except rolled up in Linzi’s studio. Gayle and Linzi had a conversation the previous night and at the end of our visit to the Museum they met with the Director and other folk from Paducah and the net result is that Linzi’s Scottish Yurt will shortly becoming to Paducah to stay to be used for creative events like the literary festival.

Now was that not the biggest waffle that you have ever read to get to that piece of news? I’m sorry but I can’t think how to say that in a shortened form.

This is “Robbers’ Roost” by JoanneBaeth. If you can look closely you can see some of the things that they have stolen hanging on the tree.

Day 4: Friday

Friday was our last day and we spent it catching up with the few exhibitions that we had missed,walking around the “pop-up” shops in the town and saying good-bye to the quilters that we had met as well as finishing our shopping. It is well worth walking around Paducah and seeing the way in which the town has been rejuvenated. At the same time, you will see all the displays in the shop windows to reflect Quilt Week, displays of quilts in homes and the artisans who have made their homes into their workshops.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Paducah. It was lovely to meet folk that we have only spoken to on the internet and to talk to other quilters in Kirchoff’s Deli and Bakery  (a place not to be missed), restaurants and around town generally. The people of Paducah generally are just so warm and welcoming.

The fabric bargains that we got were amazing. Perhaps they wouldn’t be so good for folk from the US but for us they less than half what we usually pay.

A lot of the notions were a big saving too. You are all so lucky!

The final photo is of David Taylor’s winning quilt:

Ellen’s friend Kay had two quilts in the show:


kay2The first quilt is called “Flower of Scotland,” the title of the Scottish national anthem. The second quilt is “The Horse and its Rider.” It commemorates the Battle of Flodden in 1514 and the beginning of the Common Ridings in the Borders of Scotland, where Kay lives.

And here’s Linzi’s yurt, which will be in Paducah shortly:

Linzi's yurt

Thanks so much, Ellen!

10 Replies to “The Paducah Diaries: a Guest Post by Ellen”

  1. What fun to read Ellen’s adventures! That YERT!! I’d love to see that in person. Robbers Roost, and Hard Times are fascinating. I’d like to know more about Hard Times, I’ve always been drawn to that photo. Thanks for sharing this, Francis!

  2. Thank you for sharing your wonderful Paducah experiences! That yurt is amazing. I really like Kay’s quilts as well. Having Scots in my ancestry, I am drawn to things Scottish.

  3. what a great diary of Paducah! i went about 15 years ago when i was a fairly new quilter and the mister and i have been talking about going back. i love your yurt. so great! thanks for sharing. nancyb

  4. Thanks for sharing. Interesting to read as my chances of making it to one of these shows from down here in NZ is pretty slim.

  5. Thank you for writing this recap of Paducah. I so enjoyed reading about the show from your perspective. I, too, love Scotland. I made a quilt of St. Margaret from a picture we took of the stained glass in the little chapel at Edinburgh Castle which always reminds me of your lovely country. I hope to return to Scotland soon as it was just the best. Again, thanks for this peek into another place I want to visit someday!

  6. I’ve only a minute to skim pics before work, and I plan to come back and tea all the words, but for now I had to chime in and express my undying love for the scrappy blue and yellow quilt pictured above.. “For Tanya” I hope I got the correct name with the quilt. Holy moly, but that is a quilt in my wheelhouse.
    I’ll be back!

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