by Tricia Hardin, Public Events and Interpretation Coordinator
Year after year, as the temperature out of doors slowly rises, the Hog Island Sheep here at the National Colonial Farm receive a parting of the fleeces, or a simple shearing. What becomes of all that short stapled, springy, tangled, dirty, messy wool? During the 18th century, the Colonists would only be too glad to process it into warm articles of clothing. Or, to have yarn to trade with neighbors or townspeople for needed objects. But in the 21st Century, what becomes of this Heritage Breed wool? To answer this question, the Accokeek Foundation began the Stitch ’n Time Textile Club, which is now entering its fourth year. This is a volunteer-based club for those people interested in preserving textile skills. In 2009, the club’s idea sprung to life with several volunteers ready to give the idea of total wool processing a whirl.
Looking back over last year’s accomplishments of the club members, the one I am most proud of is the completion of our long-term club project–a patchwork afghan, which was auctioned off and sold during the annual Winter’s Eve event in December. The amount of work required for that project was quite astounding. The afghan has 49 squares (7” x 9”) in a variety of knitting stitches. Yarn spun from 7 different Hog Island Sheep was used in the afghan. (Ishmael, Thomas, Dorothy, Inky, Yankee, Doodle and Bob.) The wool processing includes: skirting (the fleeces), teasing, washing, picking, carding, dyeing, spinning, plying and finally knitting. Then, once the squares were knitted, they had to be blocked (shaped) and then sewn together. Finally, a border was knitted to finish the project. Numerous volunteers carded the wool. We had 5 spinners and 6 knitters from the club. It took 2 years to complete this project. Along with work on the club project, many knitted items (caps, mittens, sweaters, toys and skeins of yarn) were produced and sold in the Visitor Center’s gift shop. We also have added to the interpretive clothing supply for the National Colonial Farm education programming. (New hats, mittens, shirts, shifts, bedgowns and stockings.) One volunteer helped the National Colonial Farm’s interpretive program by sewing much needed period clothing for the summer’s museum theater interns – 2 beautiful men’s waistcoats.
The success of the Stitch ’n Time Club is due solely to the work of dedicated volunteers with a special thanks to those individuals who contributed their time and talents in 2012: Barbara M., Evelyn W., Christine F., Joanna V., Sylvia D., Jeanne S., Marion S., Laura L., Deb F., and Linda R.
Join us this year as the Stitch ’n Time Textile Club meets monthly on the second Saturday from 1 to 4 pm in the Education Center. I look forward to another productive year of wool processing, spinning, knitting, sewing and sharing of textile techniques. The club is open to anyone interested in textile arts, novice or skilled artisan.
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!