Back in March, I wrote a post, The Signature is a Hint, that featured a photo of a basket from Gertie Youngblood as a “hint” to where we would be moving to. If you missed that one, you can find it here. But don’t forget to come back and read the rest of the story!
So fast-forward to now. We left New Hampshire in April (or was it May?) and moved to McMinnville, Tennessee. The property, in addition to a run-down, falling-apart, barely-standing 1950’s farmhouse (I’m probably exaggerating here, but only a little bit), has a fabulous, wide-open, not-falling-apart, relatively-new, structure that was a church before we bought it. We named it McSoHo and we live in that building. The farmhouse is Eric’s workshop. Every room of it. Some day, we will renovate it and live there, but for now, we’re enjoying McSoHo.
That is, until last week when we came home from Florida. All the pipes were frozen in Mr. Basketmaker’s workshop (the farmhouse) and the furnace condensation pump malfunctioned in McSoHo. So in comes the plumber. And what did we learn about our new plumber?
He is related to the Youngbloods! Yup. His name is Dane and he came back the next day with two baskets for a show-and-tell.
His grandmother married into the Youngblood family and these baskets were given to him my his mother. Dane stated, “They were made by grannie’s kin.” With me being a born-and-bred New Englander, when he said the words ” grannie’s kin” I immediately said “I love that! Grannie’s Kin. We are really in the South!” Thankfully, he laughed and found my interruption amusing.
Both of his baskets are great representations of Appalachian White Oak Basketmaking. Truly, an invaluable handed-down family historical treasure.
So even though our pipes freezing was a nuisance, it turned out to be not so bad after all. And speaking of “nuisance,” like clockwork when I try to photograph something, here’s Chance, running over to get in the picture. This time with one of his own treasures — his white shark toy, dropped right at his feet like he was adding it to the show-and-tell collection!
It resonated with Mr. Basketmaker and myself that in addition to admiring the Youngblood’s work, it was a family business and a way of life — all of them weaving baskets and caning chairs, and Gertie teaching students from all across the country. And here we are, living and working in a small town right next to Woodbury, where many of them lived. Then after we settled in a stretch, we meet one of the Youngblood kin who is in our own home helping us get our furnace back up and running so we can get our way of life back to normal and Mr. Basketmaker can continue doing what he does best… making baskets. All thanks to another basketmaker’s kin.
To learn more about Appalachian basketmaking, there is a great book on the history and craft of this basketry. Check out Appalachian White Oak Basketmaking: Handing Down the Basket. I have a link to it below.