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An Awe-Inspiring Trip at Every Turn, Part Two

Part Two of this blog continues our 8-day vacation to Kentucky and Tennessee last month.

On Wednesday afternoon I visited the vendors and saw the contest quilts. The quilts are so amazing and gave me a lots of inspiration. Both of my class teachers, Judi Madsen and Bethanne Nemesh, were winners. I also talked to four vendors about domestic machines -- Baby Lock, Bernina, Janome, and Elna. I don't need a machine that will allow me to machine quilt since I do all of that on my long arm. I just need one for piecing and appliqué. I ruled out Baby Lock and Janome right away because I don't care for their blanket stitches. I liked the Bernina since I have one already and would be familiar with how it works. It has a knee-controlled foot lift, nice blanket stitches and decorative stitches, a back-and-forth stitch to join batting, letters with which to make labels, and my urgent extension table would fit. The Elna offered an interesting walking foot and a built-in thread cutter. I did not make any final decisions, so will need to research further when I get home.

Tom and I also spent some time walking around the Old Town area of Paducah where we found some fun shops and restaurants. We went into Eleanor Burns' store, Quilt in a Day, as well as a shop called Must Stitch Emporium where I purchased their Row By Row kit. We also stopped at Hancock's of Paducah and I was simply in awe of the amount of fabric that they had. Just when I thought I had seen everything, there was another warehouse-type area with kits and pre-cuts. If they didn't have it, then you didn't need it!!

In the evening, Betty took us to Pizza by the Pound. We had the house speciality -- a medium-sized pizza that weighs 5 lbs. The large-sized specialty pizza weighs 8 lbs!! They also put honey on the table and encourage you to add it to your crust at the end of the meal. Staying with Betty was one of the highlights of our trip as we were able to experience a part of Paducah that we wouldn't have otherwise known.

On Thursday morning I took a class from Bethanne Nemesh. Her award winning quilt in Paducah featured 42 animals that are quilted into the borders of the quilt. She taught us free-motion edge-to-edge designs. I enjoyed her class because she split the students in two so that some could be sewing while she gave instruction to the rest. That gave us so much more time to try what we were learning. I look forward to practicing those designs more as they will be doable, but I tended to sew myself into a corner and didn't know how to get out. Bethanne was a great teacher as she gave us very basic things to start with and then added elements for more complexity.

I then met Tom for lunch and we ate at Kirchhoff's Deli, a place that came highly recommended for their great sandwiches and baked goods. In the afternoon we toured the National Quilt Museum. What an awesome display of quilts!! We saw previous AQS contest winners, miniature quilts that were simply amazing, and Lincolnite Kris Vierra's tiger quilt.

In the middle of the afternoon we began the second half of our trip by heading to Memphis, Tennessee. Along the way we stopped at The Stitching Store in Covington to pick up their Row By Row. This shop had nice fabrics but was in a huge building that was quite dumpy. I’m sure that there was some kind of tale to be told about that store!!

In Memphis we stayed with Tom's brother, Steve. On Friday, Tom and I toured Graceland and saw Elvis’ home, cars, planes, clothes, and awards. I was a huge Elvis fan when I was growing up and still have the album for the concert that he performed in Hawaii. I bought a CD of that album while we were there so that I can now listen to Elvis when I am in my sewing room!! On Friday night, we went to Beale Street -- another highlight of the trip. Everywhere we walked we heard great music. We spent a couple of hours in that evening in a bar listening to a Blues group. It was awesome!! In addition, we ate at the Rendezvous and had delicious pork ribs!

On Saturday, we went to a neighborhood festival filled with food and vendors. For dinner that evening we went to a Cajun restaurant that had fantastic food with spices that we just don’t use often in Nebraska. After dinner we walked through the old Sears-Roebuk building that was recently repurposed into retail, residential, and office space after having sat empty for 30+ years. There are even a couple of schools in this huge old building as charter schools are numerous in Tennessee. On Sunday we toured the Civil Rights Museum and saw where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. We could have spent all day there as the displays were quite detailed and there was a lot to see. It was a fascinating museum, but quite disturbing at the same time. What a sad part of our history.

We headed for home on Monday and enjoyed reflecting about our wonderful trip. It was nice to stay with “locals” who knew the best places to go. I, of course, enjoyed all of the “quilty” things that I was able to experience. We both enjoyed the “touristy” events as well. And we had the most amazing food -- ribs and catfish with spices that were just fantastic!! We are now looking forward to planning another long trip next spring. I’ll be sure to report on that trip, too, as I’m sure it will include at least a few quilt shops!!

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