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I'm Heather McGarrigle and this is my blog - a colourful celebration of culture, crafting and creativity in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Bringing home silver from the brand new #bloggies!

If you follow the PQ on social media, this is old news but... we won silver in the Arts & Culture category of the Blog Awards Ireland 2015!

To say I am delighted is an understatement. I've engaged with the 'bloggies' since they launched in 2012, almost exactly a year after The Patchwork Quill did.

I was shortlisted that first year in the Best Craft Blog category, shortlisted again in 2013 in the Best Designed Blog Category, and was a finalist in 2014 for Best Craft Blog and Best Arts & Culture Blog. 

So as the awards have evolved over the past three years, it seems the wee PQ is keeping up, doing a little better every time! 

Ready and raring to go for the roaring Twenties-themed awards!

This year saw a change in management, with Ashville Media taking over from co-founders Amanda Webb and Lorna Sixsmith.

The 2015 awards got off to an ever-so-slightly shambolic (but reassuringly Irish) start, with a queue still snaking up the street from the entrance of the new venue, The Tivoli Theatre, about half an hour after doors opened.

Looking at the Facebook photos, it seems they'd been asking attendees to pose for pics as they arrived in their flapper finery, as per the 'roaring Twenties' theme, and thus created a bit of a traffic jam in the tiny theatre lobby!

They soon abandoned the photocall and before long we were all in, greeted with goody bags of freebies, a complimentary glass of bubbly, plus tokens for grub and a couple of pints.

The Tivoli was a really cool venue choice; reminiscent of The Black Box, with a Sunflower/Hudson-esque courtyard adorned in colourful street art.

The funky outdoor space played host to a selection of 'street food' outlets, offering kebabs, fries, veggie food and salads. As a vegan, it was great to be able to have something to eat that wasn't yet another bowl of chips!

The benchrows we sat on for the awards ceremony were a far cry from the plush round table elegance of the 2014 bash, but I actually preferred it - informal and intimate. We had great chats with the girls we were perched beside, including the gorgeous blogger behind Where Wishes Come From, Sadhbh Devlin (who I fell in love with a little bit).

The Arts & Culture category was the first announced, so it wasn't very long before I got the amazing news. The last couple of months leading up to the awards have been so busy work-wise that I've been kicking myself for missing this event, or not getting that piece up on the blog... so the silver prize honestly was a very happy, but very real shock. 

This year they split each category into a Company and a Personal Award, with each of those awards having silver and bronze winners too. In one fell swoop, they multiplied the number of category winners by six, meaning the ceremony format was updated to keep the night flowing smoothly and quickly.

The only downside was that I didn't get a little 'moment' in the spotlight, as only Gold winners went up to collect a trophy and have their photo taken - but this was a great logistical call on the organisers' part and I am more than happy with my shiny silver blog badge!

The entertainment was superb; I only wish I took more photos, but I was too busy lifting my jaw from the floor at eye-popping aerial, burlesque and hula-hoop artistry. I was lucky enough to get chatting to one of the fabulous performers - the stunning Shir Madness (pictured below) - after the show, and I'm excited to hear she is performing at The Belfast Burlesque Festival which runs between the 27th and 29th November 2015. 

It's corny, it's a bit hackneyed, but I don't care - The Patchwork Quill would not have a chance of reaching awards finals and winning silver trophies if it weren't for you - my loyal band of Quillians. Reading, sharing, nominating, tweeting, voting... thank you all so much for supporting the Quill for four fun years.

I'm inspired anew to fill the PQ with bigger, brighter, better content in the year ahead and who knows - maybe there'll be gold on the mantelpiece next year...?

Vote for me in the UK Blog Awards!

Vote for me in the UK Blog Awards!

Thrifty Thursday: Budget boutique with artistic vision

Thrifty Thursday: Budget boutique with artistic vision