Friday, May 05, 2006
CHARLESTON SAMPLER SYMPOSIUM
I wanted to write a short report on the Charleston Schoolgirl Sampler Symposium while it was still fresh on my mind. Rachel Chesser reported that there was about 70% participation on their target number. It was small enough to be intimate and visit with everyone and large enough to be exciting and see a number of "sampler celebrities". My personal excursion was with two fellow Azalea Sampler Guild members and friends. We left Jacksonville FL in the late afternoon on Wednesday heading to Savannah. Our idea was to stay at an inexpensive hotel up on I-95 and go into the historic district to eat at Paula Deen's "Lady & Sons" restaurant - NOT - There were about 50 people on the sidewalk and the hostess said "No Ma'am we are sold out for this evening" RATS - She said people stop by the restaurant early in the day to book a seat for dinner. I had previously eaten at a wonderful locally owned restaurant on one of the historic squares called "the Pink House" built in the late 1700's - I was just as happy eating a wonderful dinner there with my two friends and we managed to dodge the rain all evening. Thursday morning we were up like a shot and off to Charleston. We had lunch near our hotel at Jestine's Kitchen. Good southern fare and the BEST fried green tomatoes I had all weekend. Carol and I were taking the sampler class in the afternoon and Karen was planning to go antiquing and exploring with Ellen. Taking a class from Kathy Staples is like being in a time capsule. She talks about the old south like it was a familiar scene to her. She just rolls off such interesting information like it was yesterdays news and not centuries old practices. Our class even included a guided tour thru the exhibit by Kathy - it was spectacular and the adaptation of the antique sampler is just so neat and of course the supplies in the kit were all top quality and wonderfully presented by the Sampler Dames. After the class we rushed down to the Meeting St Inn in the heart of the historic district to check into our room. It was lovely and just as nice as I remembered when I stayed there previously for a museum class. We even had a few minutes to check out the simply marvelous new yarn shop in town KNIT. I had to be dragged out of there because as my blog name suggests (woolwoman) I love yarn and knitting. We vowed to return at our first opportunity. The reception was just wonderful. Shrimp and grits along with finger sandwiches, fresh veggies, dips and libations made it just a fabulous experience. We had to drag our exhausted bodies back to the inn but were so excited about the coming events we didn't even quit talking when we hit the beds and I think it was midnight or after before I drifted into sampler dreamland. Friday was another super day - we had 4 lectures - 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon - I won't name the speakers because I don't have my notes handy and don't want to slight anyone by misspelling their names or leaving someone out. Suffice to say that they were all wonderful speakers and had the most interesting research to report on. We all walked down to lunch at Rue de Jean - I was very shocked that we had a choice of soup or salad and entrees and even a choice of dessert. It was a great food memory and I was soooo glad I had my knitting with me - no matter how interesting the speaker - it was really hard to stay focused after such a rich and filling meal. Friday night we had dinner reservations at Carolina's - one of my very fav local restaurants - We had a large party - about 20 of us - it was very nice to meet a few women from England and some other sampler nuts from near and far. It is always wonderful to visit with old friends and make some new friends. Saturday morning Kathy Staples wrapped up the lectures and then if you signed up for optional tours they commenced at 11am. I was lucky enough to be in the morning group of the walking tour. The afternoon tour got rained out but got a very cool private tour of the exhibit with Kathy - I don't think anyone was disappointed and everyone was dry and safe. The walking tour was fascinating - we saw so many lovely historic homes and buildings and even saw some of the homes and sites of the girls schools from that era. Saying that I was exhausted after that walk is a total understatement. I was BEAT - I am not used to doing a lot of walking and the stormy weather had brought in the humid heavy feeling in the air. We stopped for lunch again at Rue de Jean and it was very good. I was signed up for the archival tour in the afternoon and saw many more samplers and interesting items from behind the scenes. Upon leaving the museum Carol dropped Karen and I at KNIT - WHOO HOO finally able to peruse that yarn shop. Honestly there was so much stuff in there I was hard pressed to make a decision - I say hard pressed but not impossible. I came home with a bag of wonderful swirled merino wool to make a neat jacket - how appropriate it is called Argyle - better get knitting if it will be ready for Ackworth! Saturday night we met another group at COAST - a restaurant near the museum - not my personal fav but I think everyone enjoyed the evening. Sunday morning we decided to get on the road and catch lunch at the Cracker Barrel on the way. We finished up our last meal together and what a wonderful way to end 4 glorious days of total sampler saturation. I hope others will write about their experiences and views on this sampler event. I was at the one in 2001 and this one was equal if not better than before. If you missed it this year - be ready for the next one and do come and visit America's First Museum!