Saturday, June 30, 2018

Little Boxes

Little boxes, some zooming right, some left, some turning in mid-zoom to hurry back the direction from whence they came.

What powers the little boxes? Determination to arrive at a destination? Fear of the point of origin? Or merely a desire to move?

I watch from a safe vantage and think of stories to match with the boxes. The red one contains a mother in a hurry to get home to the stove, with little ones fresh from some sport's practice and yelling simply to be yelling. The frenetic box seems to be pushing, jumping at stop lights both to stop and start. No pausing to “smell the roses” for that red box.

Here comes a dark blue box, so dark as to almost be black. It travels sedately — no hurried braking here. Each stop carefully made; each start eased into. Oh, what's that — a turn signal? A planned deviation in its course is telegraphed to other boxes in the vicinity. One can almost see the inhabitants sitting serenely in the comfortable seats, their daily lives mapped and accounted for. They speak softly to each other about the happenings of the day. When all necessary words are spoken, the box is filled with silence.

Other boxes pass my vantage. A large white box is loaded with ladders and tools for the craftsman inside. It has a sign painted on the side proclaiming the owner to be the “Best Fix-It Man Around”. The box travels proudly from place to place. No loitering for this box; there are appointments to be kept – money to be earned.

A small sporty box has windows rolled down with music blaring. At this time of day young people must be traveling to school. The box bristles with energy, visibly bouncing at the light in time to the music. Be careful, sporty box, and get them to classes safely!

An old box is piled high with stuff. Is someone living in the box? It moves slowly as if its various moving parts need oil. It's destination seems uncertain as it starts to turn and then stops. I watch as the dulled and dented box moves out of sight. I wish I could call it back and see if help is needed.

I look at the parked box nearest me. I will enter this box in the near future and join the stream zooming along. What will my box say to someone watching?

Monday, March 09, 2015

Jakes Creek Hike 

     After all the cold weather and snow last month it was good to stretch my legs for the first hike of 2015. My friend, Karen, and I chose the Jakes Creek trail for this outing. The entire trail is 6.6 miles roundtrip which is a little much for us now so we opted to go about 1.5 miles one way, retracing our steps on the return.
      The trail starts just past Elkmont campground. The Elkmont community was the center for logging operations in the Smokies from 1901 through 1939 by the Little River Lumber Company. In 1909 a daily train from Knoxville started and Elkmont became a vacation spot for. Many people bought land from the lumber company and built vacation cabins. Several of these are still visible along the beginning of the trail, standing abandoned and deteriorating.
      The trail rises in elevation but not so much to present problems to two aging out of shape hikers. We passed the junctions with Cucumber Gap and Meigs Mountain trails. Those will be hikes for another time: in the spring the area will be awash with wildflowers so we will go back.
    There was a pretty spot along the trail where a small waterfall flows into a pool. Leading down to the pool you can see loops of cable assumed remnants of the logging cable used to move the logs down the slope to the rail cars.

Waterfall along side Jakes Creek trail
Rusted rail left from railroad

     At 1.2 miles down the trail, we saw the piece of rusting rail noted in the guidebook History Hikes Of The Smokies by The Great Smoky Mountains Association with text by Michal Strutin. It serves as a reminder of the railroad which once ran along here. There was a train wreck in this area that killed 3 railroad men who were bringing logs down the mountain on wet tracks.

Karen on the Newt Prong footbridge

    We crossed the Newt Prong footbridge and walked a little further along the trail before turning back.

     We found the trail leading to the Avent Cabin on our return trip. There is no sign marking the site so without directions you wouldn't know there was a reason to veer from the trail. You would be missing something! The steps at the beginning are a little steep but with care and a couple of hiking sticks apiece Karen and I made it down. A narrow footbridge crosses the creek and leads to a rather steep, rocky path up a hill. The trail was wet and muddy from recent snow and rain but not impassable. At the top you come upon a restored log cabin. Built in the 1850s, Mayna and Frank Avent bought the cabin in 1918. Mayna was a nationally known artist who taught painting in Nashville. She used the cabin as a studio, adding the large southwest facing window and other improvements. It is the only original log home still standing along the formerly busy route.
Avent Cabin from the trail

Avent Cabin kitchen and chimney

     I highly recommend Jakes Creek trail for anyone interested in the history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I look forward to returning to do more hiking in this area.

Monday, October 13, 2014

I finally got the Fall 2014 Newsletter and Class Schedule finished. You can get your copy at the shop or online here: .

It's hard to believe that it is almost time for the holidays again. The years really do seem to be going by faster and faster. Spooks and jack-o-lanterns will soon be giving way to turkeys and then santa and snowmen. Makes me want to pour another cup of coffee and relax for a few moments just to enjoy the present.

I've been working on finishing the formatting of some patterns so I can get them out there for sale. Some are knitting and crocheting, some are cross stitch. There are more in the pipeline so keep an eye out.

I hope you have a great day and week!


Monday, July 21, 2014

An Afternoon In History

Civil War history has interested me, but especially after my brother and I started researching our ancestors. It turns out that we have ancestors on both sides!

I live in a region of the country (the mountains of east Tennessee) that is rich in both Revolutionary and Civil War History. On July 20, 2014 I went to a Civil War living history event at the Wheatlands Plantation in Sevierville, TN with some friends. We had a great time! The plantation was established in 1791 by the Chandler family who lived on the land until the 1970s. The house currently on the site was built in 1825. The present owners are restoring the house and grounds while giving tours and hosting events such as the one we attended.

The group of re-enactors was small so they didn't stage a battle. They instead showed a skirmish between Confederate soldiers trying to steal chickens, the women left at home when their men went to war, and a Union detachment pledging to protect and get the chickens back. It may sound comical but that happened often, I'm sure, with either side perpetrating the thievery.

A very interesting part was the presentation given by the "Doctor" in his medical tent. Some of the instruments don't differ a lot from those used today - thankfully medical practices have improved.

At the end of the skirmish the two leaders each gave talks about the units that they were portraying, explaining about the gear the soldiers carried, the hardships faced, and what a re-enactor needs to take part in a living history event.

President and Mrs. Lincoln were on hand as was General Lee (who was very happy to pose for pictures with the audience).
That will teach me to go dressed for comfort and not publicity!

It was a very enjoyable day. I congratulate the owners of Wheatlands Plantation and all of the Civil War re-enactors for a job well done!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Knitting With

Want to spice up your knitting and
try something a little different? Add beads! You can make jewelry,
Christmas ornaments or add pizzazz to your clothing.

There are three major ways to add beads to your knitting without
sewing them on a completed knit.

The first way is to thread the beads onto the
yarn. It is time consuming and means the yarn must go through the
hole in the beads. For jewelry and items with several beads added to
the same row, this is a good method to use. The stitch size
(controlled by the needle size) needs to be roughly the same as the
bead size.

      1. String the beads in the order needed for your design (or randomly if you want). Push the beads away from the end of the yarn.

      2. Cast on the correct number of stitches and work to the point where the first bead is needed.

      3. On the knit side of stockinette stitch insert the right needle into the back of the next stitch. Pull the bead down to the needle and pop it through the next stitch so that it sits on the front of the work. Knit into the back of the stitch.

      4. On the purl side of stockinette stitch push the bead through to the front side of the stitch and purl it as normal. Knit into the back of the beaded stitches on the next row.

    The second way is to use a crochet hook to pull a stitch through a bead. The hook has to be small enough to go through the hole. This method allows you to put a bead right where you want it which is an advantage if you are knitting a design using different colors of beads.

      1. Knit to the point where the bead is needed.

      2. Place the bead on the crochet hook.

      3. Slide the stitch off the left needle onto the hook. Pull the stitch through the bead.

      4. Put the stitch on the right needle, holding the yarn at the back. Purl the stitch as normal on the next row.

    The third way is to string the beads on a small thread and hold it along with your larger yarn as you knit your project. In this way you can add seed beads to a design. Thread that is clear or matches your yarn keeps the extra strand from showing. Carry the beads along the back of the work as you would a second color of yarn, catching the thread every inch or so to avoid long floats. When you reach a point where a bead is needed, swing the thread and one bead to the front between the needles. Knit the next stitch. Move the thread to the back and knit the next stitch.

Enjoy making different designs with beads in your knits! It's not
as hard as you might think.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hello all! Spring is finally here (I think). It's been a long and dreary winter. Maybe now we will all feel like stirring around and getting some things done.

I've been working on some sweater designs. So far I just have samples done for toddlers but the adult versions are coming. I think you'll like them.

The Spring / Summer 2014 Newsletter is out now. I'm trying shorter versions of classes for the next few months. That way you can try out a craft technique without making a big investment in time or money. Check out the newsletter here: Spring / Summer 2013 Newsletter and Class Schedule .

While you are on the site, take a look at the home page. It looks a little different. You now see the departments listed on the side without having to enter the store. You'll also find a coupon there that you can print before you come into the shop.

Join us on Google+ and Facebook for announcements and pictures.

That's about all for now. Happy Crafting and I hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


One of the questions that I often get is “Where do you get your ideas?”. I design and write patterns for the shop and national craft publications. Some of the things that I do for publication have certain themes but the way the themes are implemented is up to me. The short answer to the question is “Everywhere!”.

 I read a lot so the atmosphere created by a story might lead to a color scheme or style. I’ve been reading many historical novels this summer so fitted garments with lace accents are floating around in my head. No tight corsets necessary though!   

 I hike around east Tennessee with a friend. My camera goes with me. Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook see some of the pictures from these hikes. What you don’t see are the ones of strangely colored fungi or an odd bark on a stump. These are to remind me of colors and textures found in nature. Flower shots may show up in embroidery patterns. My pictures are nothing that would win any awards in a photography contest, but good enough for me! Try it sometime. The fresh air, beauty of the outdoors, and good company are a great way to sooth the stress of everyday life and rejuvenate the creative spirit.

Sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected places. Sitting at a stop light one morning, I noticed that the tail lights of the car ahead had an odd pattern on the acrylic cover. I remembered it and incorporated it in a knitting pattern for a small purse. Yes, it was a long light.

Lastly, some of my inspiration comes from meeting people and teaching classes. Both push me to try different things and improve my skills. Doing a specialized technique leads to a swatch, then a sample and a finished design which I can share with friends and customers.

Inspiration can come from anywhere at anytime. Observe, listen, and absorb the world around you. You can’t help but be inspired!