History infuses Knoxville, TN quilt trail

I’m quilt trail rambling and blogging again after that special time during February when I wore my Mimi hat. The boys and their parents are doing great, by the way.

An excursion to NC for my mother-in-law’s 92nd birthday took me through Knoxville, TN. I found evidence of quilting heritage right downtown. A fort stands out in stark contrast amidst the modern buildings. It’s the homestead of Knoxville’s founding father, James White. The quilt block is Bird’s Nest. A sign at the fort reads “Birthplace of Knoxville, 1786.” I didn’t have time to take a tour, but it the website hints at an interesting piece of East TN history. For those more sports oriented, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is directly across the street. Talk about contrast!

The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum hosts a lovely Tulips block on its maintenance building. Spring flowers were just opening to brighten the trails. The peace and beauty of the area made it hard to believe the bustle of a city surrounds this refuge.

The former homestead of HP and Alice Ijams is now a 275-acre wildlife sanctuary and environmental learning center on the TN River. Ijams started a bird sanctuary in one of Knoxville’s heavily industrialized areas back in 1910. This quilt block painted directly on this maintenance shed is Garden Walk. My husband and I plan to return in late spring to take photos along the many trails. You’ll enjoy the Ijams Nature Center video on their website.

A few miles east of Knoxville, the terrain becomes farmland, orchards, and a vineyard where the Renfro Farm barn displays Rolling Star.

I had one of my rambling adventures along the French Broad River. At the Claussen Barn there’s a beautiful Bear’s Paw block. From there I expected to find more squares in Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge, but couldn’t locate a way to access Kelly Lane from Seven Islands Road. The GPS was lost … not me! Back on the Interstate, I found the proper exit—the one that led to the other side of the river and Kelly Lane. Oh well, it was time to head on to NC. A good excuse to have another quilt barn adventure next time I pass that way.