Socks and Sweaters: Expand Your Knitting Horizons with Margaret Radcliffe

Margaret Radcliffe is teaching two Knitting classes next month at the Folk School: My First Sock (Feb. 28 – March 2 / Weekend) and the Easiest Sweaters in the World (March 2-8). Come learn new techniques to take your garment knitting to the next level (or the first level if you are new to socks and sweaters). I chatted with Margaret about Knitting, the Folk School, and what it is like to write about Knitting. Enjoy our interview!

Sweater by Margaret Radcliffe

CP: Where are you from?
MR: I grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia, and now live in Blacksburg.

Community Knitting Project

CP: How long have you been coming to/teaching at the Folk School?
MR: Since 1997. I was starting out as a knitting designer and teacher and saw an ad for the Folk School in Knitters Magazine. I got a catalog and discovered that there was one week in the summer, Little/Middle Folk School, when I could come with my daughter. She was just old enough (seven), so that summer we both came. We loved it so much, we kept coming back. It was actually years before I even approached the school to teach-I was too busy learning. That summer was the beginning of a tradition, attending Little/Middle with my kids, that lasted 15 years. I started teaching knitting, both adult classes and during Little/Middle in 2004. A few years later I expanded to add dyeing to my classes.

Continue reading Socks and Sweaters: Expand Your Knitting Horizons with Margaret Radcliffe

Little Middle Folk School Applications are posted!

Little Middle

We’ve all been waiting for this day to come…
Little Middle Folk School Applications are now available on our website!

This summer, Little Middle Folk School is June 16-22. Every summer the Folk School opens its doors to young folks age 7-17 for Little/Middle Folk School, an opportunity for youths to discover Appalachian culture and to take part in hands-on programs in dozens of arts and crafts.  “Littles” are rising second-graders to rising sixth-graders, and “Middles” are rising seventh-graders to rising twelfth-graders. Be sure to register your child early, as classes are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Click here for a Little Application.
Click here for a Middle Application.
Click here for an Adult Application. 

Little Middle Folk School

There are also classes for adults to take this week. While your children are having the best time of their lives, you can enjoy Dance Callers’ Workshop with Bob Dalsemer, or you can try your hand Contra and Square Dancing!

Square and Contra Dance


Can’t make it to Little Middle this year?
Try Intergenerational Week! July 14-20, 2013

Intergenerational Week features the partnership of our young folks with our adult folks- Intergenerational Week. We’ll offer a variety of classes this year including:

Blacksmithing; Family and Friends, Forging for Fun
Extraordinary Painted Paper Baskets
Beginning Wheel and Slab- What a Combo!
Introduction to Metal Clay Jewelry
Enameling; Blossoms, Big and Small
The Lost Art of Old Time Cooking
Life Begins at the End of Your Pastel Stick
Paper Sculpture
Photo Fun
Expressive Glass Mosaics
Design on Paper and Cloth
Weave Your Own Time Machine
Woodcarving Woodspirits and Wizards
Woodturning; Turning, Family Style
Boat Building

Littles Use Big Creativity in Mosaics

Gluing One Piece at a Time

I always love time spent at John C Campbell Folk School, whether I’m teaching or taking a class, the experience is always wonderful. But the Little Middle week holds a special place in my heart. It’s the week each summer that the Folk School is given over to our youngest creative friends, kids ages 7-17.

Mosaic Making is FUN!
Using the Nippers to Make the Piece Fit Just Right

I’ve taught the “Littles” mosaics in the Festival Barn for three years now, and enjoy every minute of it. One of the most amazing things about this week is that in general, kids don’t know that they CAN’T do something, so with a little guidance, and access to materials, they embrace all the new methods and materials with unbelievable energy and excitement, and just create.

Collaborative Group Mosaic Project: “The Wave & the Moon”

Important behind-the-scenes preparation that goes into a successful week with children, both on the part of the instructors and wonderful Folk School staff, but it’s plain to see on Thursday’s performance day and Friday’s Finale Exhibit why this week is so special. Thank you JCCFS for continuing this summer tradition of sharing and creating with our young people, and thank you kids for making the week so incredible!

Checking Out All the Beautiful Mosaic Tiles

Visit Jeannette Brossart’s website, Mother Nature Mosaics, to see her incredible Mosaic Work.

Two Blacksmiths are Living at my House

The following is a post by local blogger, Tipper Wilson Pressley. Visit Tipper’s blog, Blind Pig & the Acorn about all things Appalachia.

Two Blacksmiths have moved into my house this week-well actually they already lived here-I guess I should say 2 of the Blind Pig family have become Blacksmiths this week.

During Little Middle at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Chitter and Chatter have been taking the Blacksmith class. Yesterday I sneaked in to see how it was going.

If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the Folk School-you might be surprised to see their new Blacksmith Shop. See the 2 circular column type things-those were silos from back in the day when the JCCFS had cows. I’m glad they kept them-incorporating them into the design.

Don’t worry-if you loved the old shop as much as I do-it’s still there-they just connected  the old to the new.

Notice the floor in the old shop-I like imagining all the feet that have walked it over the years.

As I walked quietly through the doors to the new shop-no one noticed me-and I could see the kids hard at work.

It didn’t take me long to spot Chitter and Chatter-it’s not like they stood out in their matching get ups.

I caught Chitter hammering on something-while

Chatter was heating something up.

The class had some amazing teachers-like Mary Grace,

Able Allen-a Brasstown feller, and

Mr. Rooney Floyd who hails from way down in South Carolina and happens to be a Blind Pig reader. Rooney has been teaching the Blacksmith Class during Little Middle for almost 25 years. In fact, during those years he taught Able and Mary Grace-you can tell what a good job he does since now they’re teachers themselves.

As I watched Chitter, Chatter, and the rest of the kids work-I was totally impressed. Each one was right in there-showing no fear of the heat-just pounding out their creations like pros.

Every afternoon when I picked the girls up there was a new blister or burn-each one a badge of a Blacksmith in training.

Yep it’s been pretty cool having 2 Blacksmiths around this week. Hope you enjoyed the tour.


Little Middle Comes to an End

The card games and volleyball have been put away, and the sound of children over the Folk School campus has dissipated. This can only mean that Little/Middle Folk School is over.  The students made a wide variety of wonderful Appalachian crafts.  They also enjoyed nightly contra dances, afternoon activities, wonderful food, and seeing old friends and making new ones.

Blacksmithing is always a coveted class among “Middle” students. It was great seeing Able Allen, a former Little/Middle student, now teaching students in the blacksmithing class what he has learned over the years.

The Blacksmithing class takes a break from the forge to listen to a lecture.

On Monday, when I went by the “Middles” weaving class, taught by Geri Forkner, students were paired up and warping their looms. Many of them told me that this was their first time weaving , and that they would love to do it again.

Team work on the loom

On Friday, I walked up to the Festival Barn, where the students displayed their creations so that parents and  other students could see what had been made in other classes.  The “Middles” Fiber Art class, taught by Margaret Radcliffe, made some beautiful knitted works such as scarves, toys, and hats. They seemed very busy over the week.

The Knitting & Dyeing class produced some amazing work.

In the Cornshuck Creativity class, taught by “Little’s” instructor Millie Chaplin, students used their imaginations and made some very creative characters out of cornshucks.

A couple proud cornshuck doll makers pose in front of their class' work.

Over all, by looking at children showing off their crafts to their parents and all that was made over the week, Little/Middle 2011 seemed to be a great success.