Penland School of Crafts is a magical institution nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Its mission and philosophy are as inspiring as the surrounding landscape, and believe me- it’s an incredible setting. I first learned of Penland as a student at the NCSU College of Design. As a young mother with little time and no money, Penland seemed so out of reach. My son, Zach, wasn’t even two when I started university and I was barely twenty; there was never time for more than being mom, working, and school and the ends never seemed to meet.

At the suggestion of one of my professors I applied for a Studio Assistantship. Luckily for me, the stars aligned and I was admitted – the rest is history. My mother helped with Zach, Penland took care of tuition, and I learned to dream of design. I’m still living that dream and will be forever grateful for that single summer that changed everything.

My son is now 30 – and expecting a child of his own. (Yes! I am going to be a grandmother!) I visited Penland for a few days last summer in anticipation of teaching for two weeks this coming summer. Life comes full circle.

The class, Explorations in Hand Sewing, runs from the the 8th to the 20th of July, 2012.  A study on Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, students will create sample blocks that serve as the basis for other projects, while learning a variety of both classic and innovative techniques.

I am looking forward to the mountain air, the delicious food, design, fellowship, early morning yoga, and long walks…

From the Penland website:

Natalie Chanin – Explorations in Hand Sewing – July 8 – 20, 2012.

This class will focus on fabric manipulation using various stitching, stenciling, and color application techniques. Students will learn to hand sew using time-honored methods such as appliqué, couching, and various kinds of thread work to create contemporary embellishments. Using Alabama Chanin 100 percent organic cotton jersey, we will explore color, layout, and inspiration for fabric design. Students will complete sample blocks that can be used for reference or pieced together to create scarves, pillows, or other items. All levels.

*Note that there are many scholarships available from Penland for all of the classes they offer.


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Click to read 5 comments
  1. Bobbi Jo

    After a family meeting and two very enthusiastic votes of encouragement from my husband and daughter, I’m applying. I hope the stars align for me, too.

  2. Robin

    Well haven’t I been blessed with serendipity today!

    I used to live in Penland and managed the Gallery at Penland School for several years. I have been involved in fiber arts and bead work for some time. And was a studio assistant to Carole Wilcox Wells while I lived and worked at Penland

    I recently began developing my own clothing line, and after speaking to my sister last week just learned of Alabama Chanin. Needless to say I was sunk with the beauty of the line at first sight.

    I was further sunk and amazed to find out that Natalie was a studio assistant there as well and will now be teaching this summer. I will be looking at getting into the class as soon as possible.

    Denise, that “house” is the dining hall at Penland School called “The Pines”, it’s a beautiful building as are the others on campus.

    Penland spins a magic that once visited upon you, will never be forgotten.

    I hope the stars align for us all and we meet soon at the magical place of Penland.

    I am so excited.

    Best Regards

    1. Robin


      If you haven’t yet chosen a studio assistant, perhaps we could talk about that. I would be honored to even discuss the possibility with you.

      Thank you.