My first CQA conference was in another province and I took 4 days of classes and almost lost my mind! Seriously, it was very overwhelming! Now that I am a more experienced quilt conference participant I know how these events are for me (completely exhilarating and creatively overstimulating), and I have learned what I can handle and how to cope more effectively.
Here are some of my tips that I am
1) Pace yourself: There is so much going on at the conference that you really have to make a plan of what you want to do the most. I am only taking two classes this year, so that I have enough time to do all the other things that I want to do, at a pace I can enjoy. I have scheduled a whole day to see the National Juried Show, the Invitational Show, the Trend Tex Challenge, and of course visit the merchants mall. My problem is that I don't look at quilts the way normal people do. I visit them. I have conversation with them and get to know them. It takes me a long time to take in all the detail. Hopefully I have planned enough time to see everything and not feel rushed.
2) Be prepared for your activities: It's really important especially if you are taking a class to bring everything you might need. I know what it's like to be the teacher when students don't bring what is on the supply list and come unprepared thinking they probably won't need this or that. I don't want to be that student! If the class supply list says you need something - bring it! And of course we all know that the perfect fabric you need will be the one that you left at home. I predict it will happen and I will just have to deal with it!
3) Be rested: If you are affected by crowds of people, and/or you are really revved up by amazing beauty and creative overload, you will be exhausted by the end of a day at Quilt Canada. Take time for short rests during the day, and get a good sleep at night (ie ... don't talk to your quilting friends all night long about what you saw, bought, and learned at the quilt show!)
4) Be organized: It's a long long walk from the parking lot to find the classrooms, and you will be hauling your class supplies all that way. I have a rolling suitcase that can easily hold all my class supplies, plus water and snacks for the day.
5) Be relaxed: One of the challenging parts of taking a class at a huge venue like this is having to sew on a sewing machine you've never used before. This concern is based on a workshop experience at my first Quilt Canada (read about it here). I worry about being able to adapt to sewing on a new machine quickly enough to keep up with the class instructions.
I have lots of experience with different kinds of vintage sewing machines, but am not very good with anything computerized.
I really want to just chill out, and enjoy the whole experience, so I will try to remember all of the above tips! Wish me luck!
I will blog throughout the week as time and internet connections allow.