Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn CrawlΒ is on through Sunday, September 25.

Travelogue: I Can’t Believe This Place Exists, but It Does

Dear Kay,
I’m up top the mountain in Monteagle, Tennessee, where the hooting dog still hoots, the rooster down the road continues to launch his fake-sounding “cockadoodledoo” at 4:53 am, and swifts have taken up residence in our chimney, chattering like bats all day long. It’s so LOUD up here.
I had a note from Lily, an 18-year-old knitter who is Sewanee bound this fall. She wisely has begun sussing out the yarn situation atop the Cumberland Plateau. Her inquiry sent me on a little recon mission to a place people have been telling me about all summer. They keep saying, “It has vegetables. And antiques. And goat cheese. And yarn.” It’s on the highway to Sewanee, they keep saying.
Well, it’s true. There exists a place where you can buy quinoa, fresh eggs, a nice side table, and hanks of hand-dyed silk. It’s the craziest place I ever saw, so new that it doesn’t even have the store sign up yet.
This is Mooney’s Market & Emporium. And this is Joan Thomas, who opened this dreamland about a month ago.
Here’s a great article about her efforts to rescue this building.
Each room has its own purpose. Antiques room, yarn room, weaving and spinning room.
The vegetables walk into the cooler, they’re so fresh.
Joan says she’ll be cranking up her loom soon after many years away.
No space wasted here.
Sewanee spinning vixen Lynne Vogel has her handspun yarns and creations here, as well as Claire, a spinner who was actually on site when I stopped by.
Recycled saris. Had to liberate some of this stuff. Do you think there are any saris left, anywhere in the world?
Thanks to Joan for creating the sort of place that we all dream about. So great. And be sure to Like Mooney’s, because heaven knows there’s plenty to like there.
PS You are all cordially invited to the Cottage Tour on Friday, July 20. Somebody asked me when I was going to paint my shed again; she thinks the eggplant is starting to fade. I think it’s just starting to get good. Here’s the story of how the shed got painted in the first place. Stop by and provide some input on whether the shed needs a new coat. I guess you know that I’m not all that interested in painting the thing again.
PSS I know you’ve been worrying. The bluebirds are definitely back in the bird house this year. In seven years, this is the latest they have come. The dowel that serves as their perch fell off during the winter, so I had assumed they ditched me for nicer accommodations. It is all decay in this place, let me tell you.

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  1. What a great little store! A local community gathering place is wonderful thing. Yarn is just an added bonus.

  2. The building looks so different on the inside than the outside portends!
    xoxo Kay

  3. What a beautiful little Shoppe!!You’re so lucky to live so close to it. Something to see in each room.

  4. This place sounds like a wonderful, dreamy place.

  5. J-E-A-L-O-U-S, yes that is what I am, just plain jealous that you get to experience such fun and meet so many interesting peoples! So thanks for sharing the photos. I am wishing great gobs of success to the Ladies of Moodys.

  6. How absolutely charming. Makes me a little sad that I live so far away…

  7. I just finished Bowling Avenue and I loved it. What seemed like a story that would have a predictable ending had an ending that left me to my own imaginings. Life doesn’t have predictability so why should novels?
    Great first novel. Are you working on another one?

  8. As soon as this heat breaks we’re breaking out the motorcycle again. I’ve already packed a bag for yarn to ride in, an egg carton and bubble wrap in case we find Heisey, and plastic cutlery for finding great cheese on the road. Sounds like Monteagle might be the perfect destination! Last cool weekend we hit Bell Buckle and Lynchburg for Moon Pies and Diamond Gussets. Ha! You thought I was going to say RC Colas and Jack Daniels!

  9. I, too, just finished Bowling Avenue and I LOVED it! I immediately sent a message to The Last Independent Book Store in The County (where I used to live) and urged the owner to buy a few copies.
    And tonight I’m going to do something that I never do, which is to start the book immediately all over again and read it again with the eyes of someone who knows what’s going to happen.
    Thank you, Ann, thank you thank you!

  10. Gah, what would I not give to grab a coffee with you & head to Mooney’s to while away the better part of my day? πŸ˜‰ Best, and try to stay cool…

  11. So glad the bluebirds are back. Love that store too, thanks for sharing.

  12. Why do I suddenly wish I lived in Sewanee?

  13. Wow, that’s awesome! But I can top it: my town (La Conner, WA; pop. 800) has a store where you can buy hand-spun yarn or get a tattoo OR BOTH.
    We’re talking real tattoos, too. With the chair and the needle and everything. Not temporary or henna tattoos.

  14. A road trip mirage!

  15. I just have to say, I liked everything about this post. That’s all.

  16. SOOOO Jealous…want to come down there right now!

  17. “Quinoa, fresh eggs, a nice side table, and hanks of hand-dyed silk.” Truly one-stop shopping!
    Congratulations and best of luck to Mooney’s Market & Emporium.
    Oh, and welcome back bluebirds!

  18. It’s amazing the interesting fiber artists one finds in out-of-the-way places. The shop is beautiful. I just returned from rural western New York State and bought some yarn in some great shops.

  19. Wow, it’s like something out of Harry Potter!
    M A G I C A L !

  20. Faded eggplant makes a fabulous background for knitwear photoshoots. Just thought you should keep that in mind. Freshly painted? So….predictable.

  21. What a happy summer post! It covered everything I’d wondered about – the blue birds, the shed, the tour — plus the added bonus of Mooneys. Life is good.

  22. lovely store lucky you wish the owner many happy
    years mail order in the future hopefully
    there will be blue birds over
    the white cliffs of dover old world war two song
    happy summer time

  23. Comment on your book. My husband is reading it! Likes it since he grew up in Green Hills area and recognizes places.

  24. Comment on your book. My husband is reading it! Likes it since he grew up in Green Hills area and recognizes places.

  25. Comment on your book. My husband is reading it! Likes it since he grew up in Green Hills area and recognizes places.

  26. Perfect post to accompany the end of Bowling Avenue. Laughed my head off & will never think of purple underwear – aka eggplant – in the same way again. (Also teared up more than once.) Thanks a bunch for a good, generous read. And glad the bluebirds came back; ours mooched around for a bit and then took off for parts unknown.

  27. I wish I could go, but not this year!
    A hooting dog? We kept hearing what sounded like a hooting bark and discovered it is the deer that live all over the neighborhood and eat our hostas and pansies!

  28. I wish I could go, but not this year!
    A hooting dog? We kept hearing what sounded like a hooting bark and discovered it is the deer that live all over the neighborhood and eat our hostas and pansies!

  29. OK, it started last summer. you dropped a casual mention of Monteagle and I dropped an hour or two on Internet searches and MapQuest and whatnot. I have held this place in my head for a year now and I’m just going to have to bring the kids up to explore. when I was a little girl, my family spent a couple weeks each summer at a church assembly (is that the right phrase?) in Cape Cod — cottages around a green, wooden chapel, a post office open for two short months (also selling popsicles). so my sentimentality is well earned. Monteagle, you will be mine. now I have to MapQuest again and see how long that drive is . . .

  30. Hi Ann, unrelated to this post but I had to tell you how much I enjoyed Bowling Avenue. What a fine book! The characters were wonderful and real and engaging and the setting and events were so authentic – such a cozy book, I savored it. Thank you for writing it, I’m looking forward to your next one.

  31. Lotsa text, but no pictures!

  32. That store looks awesome, like a more complete version of a shop I went to while vacationing in New Hampshire. Of course, the shop I was at had wool instead of silk, but it was still beautiful yarn that couldn’t really be found anywhere else!

  33. Thanks so much for checking this place out! I can’t wait to get down there (less than a month now).
    One itty-bitty correction, though. I don’t know if I mentioned this in my email, but I actually won’t be 18 until next July. When I am, though, I will celebrate with silk yarn. πŸ™‚
    Looking forward to coming to the Mountain!

  34. Lily, whether you are 17 or 70, you are in for an adventure at Sewanee. It was the most amazing time of my life! Yea, Sewanee’s Right!

  35. This place must be perfect; it has all my favorite things! Thanks for sharing – I’ll add it to my must visit list!

  36. Love. Love. Love. Practically makes me cry with joy. Thanks for the share.

  37. Not to put any pressure on you, or anything, but are you ever coming DOWN from the mountaintop? Or haven’t you knitted all the available yarn yet? Hahahahahaa


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