Warning**This post will be long winded...full of links....and pictures!!! Come on the venture with me...
Had a GREAT time in Gatlinburg (TN)...because...I was with my Honey~~and~~we found some FANTASTIC places to go back to and you really should go visit! Now for those who are not familiar with the Geography, Gatlinburg is in the Great Smoky Mountains just on the Tennessee side...opposite Cherokee, NC (remember we were there in October). I've been visiting here since I was a very, very small child...my first visit I was 3 years old (and I can remember very clearly)...some of you know how old I am but I'm not tellin'...let's just say it's been many, many years!
In many ways it's very disappointing to see how some of the ways that Gatlinburg has grown, tattoo parlors-5 different Ripley's Believe It or Not Museums-Tee shirt shops (which you would expect but, every other storefront?)-knife shops (and I'm not talking about pocket knives--swords and ninja knives??) and there were 5 that I counted! Sorry, I don't mean to paint a negative picture here. I'm getting to the good part...bear with me a minute! I remember when you entered town you could see all the way to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountain Park...now the high rise hotels and high rise malls really obscure all that! The traffic was bumper to bumper, it reminded me of going to Myrtle Beach and trying to get down the Grand Strand--but, being semi-familiar with it I new a couple of back roads that got us from point A to point B quicker. They can't build anything new including roads because this is located in the Mountains and backed up next to a National Park!
Okay...now for the good part!! You know that every time we go some where I have to scope out the *yarn/fiber shops* in the area we are visiting....I think I've found the BEST so far (for me that is~and maybe even you)...
Smoky Mountain Spinnery (no website) -her moto-"History at Work"~ Which happened to be less than a mile from where we were staying!!
The owner Nancy Thompson (and her husband Harold~stay tuned) ARE by far some of the nicest people I've met on my ventures! And Nancy's shop....oh my! Decorated with spinning & weaving antiques just adorable, but (in her words) as she put it she needs more room...her husband won't give up anymore room (more on that in a minute) but, she has managed to make the best of what she's been given! There's not so much in yarn as there is in FIBER!!! She has some basics in the yarn and the majority being in natural fibers. But the FIBER....she had an old apothecary chest filled with anything from cotton ~ silk ~ cashmere ~ yak....I think you get the idea! She started spinning with her Grandmothers wheel (I hope I have this fact correct~my brain just goes haywire when I'm in such a fine establishment~I don't retain like I should), which is on display in the shop and interpreting for students at a Festival they used to have in Union, TN (where she's originally from). There was a huge barn loom in one back room!! Yes, I'm still toying with the idea of learning to weave! She had some of the cutest stuffed Alpaca's a local lady made...each one doing what they love to do! (these were taken with my cell phone--not the greatest pics)
I could keep on but, I must tell you about the other 1/2...Nancy's husband Harold has the second half of the shop~
Smoky Mountain Angler...one of my other enjoyments of life...fishing (we also stopped at the new BassPro Shops in Sevierville on the way down)! Now you tell me...if your husband is an angler and you a knitter/spinner/weaver...isn't this the BEST! Your husband would NEVER rush you out of the store, in fact I bet you'd hear...."Take your time~spend as much as you want"
What did I buy?
Fiber...Fiber and more Fiber!!! Surprise you?? I bought 4 oz of Yak, some Silk hankies, sock yarn! I also bought a couple of patterns but didn't think I had enough room to put them all in this post. Oh...I almost forgot to tell you!!! I held in my hand the equivalent of gold...fiber gold! Nancy went to her secret hiding place in the back room and brought out 1 oz of this unbelievable and unbelievably expensive fiber...she let me hold it...and PET it!!! Vicuna fiber...$300 dollars worth!! ONE OUNCE COSTS $300!!!! OMG!!! I would be terrified to spin it!
Okay...now on to our next find (where we spent the rest of the day)~~
The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community
This is an 8 mile loop of nothing but local artisans selling their craft! Potters, woodcarvers, musical instruments, leatherwork, spinners, weavers and many, many wonderful Art Galleries!! THIS is what Gatlinburg is all about for me...not the part I told you about in the beginning!! We logged in 2.5 miles of walking !! Driving along the countryside is wonderful as well...Some of the shops we visited:
Alewine Pottery (where I bought my pottery)
Cliff Dwellers Gallery
Smoky Mountain Dulcimer
Jim Gray Gallery
Karen Emily Designs
and on...and on....
We have to go back because this being winter many of the shops like the Spinning Wheel Crafts and Wild Plum Tea Room (there are others too many to list) were closed until late March. A reason we MUST go back!!
I didn't get to do as much photography and hiking in the park so yet another reason to go back! Anybody wanna join me?
There's one other surprise...I will not tell you what it is I bought but I will give you a small hint until it gets here (it'll probably be a week or so)...I bought myself something that represents my Scotch-Irish mountain heritage! If someone does guess it I'll send you something but I'd be very surprised if you do get it! No more hints...I'll tell you when it gets here!!
Keep on Knittin', Spinnin' & Walkin'!!!