Friday, May 29, 2009

There's quilts in them there hills . . .

The weather wasn't too kind to us the last few weeks, but we finally has a few sunshiny days, so Gracie--the faithful pup--and I headed up to Hancock County, TN last weekend to visit the barn quilting community there.

Stayed in Kyle's Ford at River Place; I recommend it if you are ever up that way--very peaceful. Gracie didn't get to swim, though--as we were staying at the retreat there, and the linens were awfully nice. When we camp--she swims! The Blazing Star quilt in the photo is about a mile from the retreat; if you look just to the right, you can see the Clinch River.

Finding barn quilts in the mountains is always a bit tricky; maps are never quite to scale and often don't include all of the roads. So I turned to the trusty voice--my GPS. The first time I found myself driving down a single lane gravel road to nowhere, I thought, "OK--maybe I put in "shortest route" instead of "fastest." Don't ever use "shortest" in the country! But when the Honda got mired in mud along a creek where I had to back out since there was no room to turn around--I decided I couldn't depend on the gal in the machine this time.

Luckily I had another gal--Kim, who coordinated the trails in the area--who carefully filled in by hand on the map all of the missing roads where I would find quilt squares. As always, I found that barn quilters are some of the nicest folks around. I was treated to dinner--including deviled eggs--at a peaceful cabin on a high mountain ridge. I am told that Alex Haley was a friend of the former owner and visited from time to time. It was indeed an ideal setting for a writer; perhaps I will take them up on their offer and stay there next time I visit.

As is always the case when talking with farmers, I learned a bit about agriculture, including the different varieties of cane and tobacco. Tobacco varieties are actually of some importance to my project, as the type of curing required dictates the structure of the barn. No need to consult a book--just ask a farmer!