By ALLEN RAU
When Linda Crouch-McCreadie took a quilting class for fun while working as a lawyer in Memphis, she probably never imagined it would lead to this.
Fast-forward to the current period where she has a large store carrying every possible tool and ingredient needed to make every possible quilt.
Crouch-McCreadie and her sister-in-law Brenda Crouch own Tennessee Quilts, located across from the visitors center near downtown Jonesborough.
She also recently participated in the 4th Annual Quilt Turning for the Quilt Trail of Northeast Tennessee event held at the McKinney Center.
“Families who have these quilt blocks on their barns and have the quilt that those blocks came from will bring those old antique quilts, and we’ll have a place where we can lay these out,” Crouch-McCreadie explained. “Then the family member explains the history of the quilt, who made it, where it came from, something about the farm that is represented by the family. So each year there are about four or five different people who bring their quilts and talk about them.”
A quilt block is the pattern which, when sewed together, makes up the quilt.
“The Quilt Trail started, the theory was, to promote agri-business. It was a way to get people out onto the farms to see what farmers had,” Crouch-McCreadie said. “The family would have an old antique quilt that would be made out of various blocks or all one block and they would take one of those blocks from the family quilt … paint it and put it on the barn.”
Crouch-McCreadie’s family is also part of the NE Tennessee Quilt Trail.
“We have a farm out there (in Boones Creek) that is on the Quilt Trail. We have a barn that was built in 1830 and it has a block, one of the painted quilt blocks on it.”
The Quilt Trail is not unique to Northeast Tennessee. According to the Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development, there are currently 45 states with Quilt Trails, but the original was located in Ohio. Each trail is independent from the others.
The most recent Quilt Turning event was sponsored by the Tennessee Quilts shop.
Crouch-McCreadie first encountered her hobby when she would stay with her grandmother while her mother went to work.
“I had to stay with her on Saturdays because my mother worked at Parks-Belk. So she would keep me busy to keep me out of her hair,” Crouch-McCreadie reminisced. “She taught me how to embroider. I did all my aunt’s pillowcases, anything you could embroider, I did for years. I also took four years of Home Economics at Boones Creek and learned how to sew and did a lot of garment sewing when that used to be the thing, when you made your own clothes.”
As she grew up, she added cross-stitching, knitting and crocheting to the skills she learned while growing up.
“So when I went to quilting class, I had already done some needlework. Holding a needle in my hand was not foreign … I started quilting in 1988. I lived in Memphis and was practicing law and took a quilting class just for fun and got hooked,” Crouch-McCreadie continued, “I jumped in with both feet. As a lawyer, it was kind of a stress relief from practicing law. And I enjoyed it. It was something calming. It was something I was in control of.”
Crouch-McCreadie spent 13 years in Memphis when her firm merged with a firm that had offices in Johnson City, so she took the opportunity to return home, where she spent another 15 years practicing law.
Crouch-McCreadie and her sister-in-law have kept the Tennessee Quilt store up and running and offer an extensive range of materials. With over 8,000 bolts of fabric in their store, finding a pattern or fabric they don’t carry would be a tall order. The store also offers lessons and the ability to shop online at their website, tennesseequilts.com.
While Crouch-McCreadie has been able to run a business involving her hobby, it means much more than that to her.
“It’s patience and enjoyment. We’re not manufacturing quilts. I see it as creating art, really.”