Friday, May 6, 2011

Brownington Road Trip

Kate at the front door


the man's frock coat in question

Lynnette loading the raddle

Kate and Lynnette beaming on

Kate tying on to the cloth beam rod

our indigo and natural wool singles warp

Kate adjusting the height of the harnesses

beginning the weaving...

On a dreary, cold, and rainy day last week, Kate and Lynnette and I piled into the car and drove up to Brownington to set up the warp we'd made on an old barn loom from Morrisville at the Old Stone House Museum. It's a far piece to get there, as it's way up in the Northeast Kingdom, just north of Orleans, where the Ethan Allen furniture factory still lives and breathes.

Brownington proper is a gorgeous old village, and looks very historic, situated on its wide green hilltop. We easily found the museum, as the stone house itself is the dominant architectural feature of the landscape and can't be missed. Once we got inside the building, setting up the loom was pretty straightforward, as we'd brought a good barn loom tool kit and could set to rights the few things that needed fixing before we could beam on. Susanna Bowman, the museum's Education Program Coordinator, was there to observe the process, & to warm us up with hot coffee & lively conversation.

Working smoothly as a team, everything went off without a hitch, as Kate, Lynnette, & I are all well-versed in getting a loom dressed. After fine-tuning a few details, Kate started the weaving just to see how the fabric would look, and to do a final check for any threading errors (there is one...but nothing that won't come out in the washing & if you go visit the exhibit, see if you can spot it!).

After the major portion of the set-up was complete, Lynnette & I wandered off to look at an old pipe organ in the front hallway, & wound up exploring each of the four floors of this remarkable building. There are rooms & rooms filled with old treasures from the surrounding area in the Northeast Kingdom, each thing more amazing than the last. And the stone house is a great old structure, with wide wooden floorboards, lumpy plaster wall, and deep-set windows. It's a true gem among Vermont historic sites.

Evidently this is a very active historical society (Orleans County) & there are many educational programs & events that happen at The Old Stone House Museum year-round. There is more information about that on their website, if you'd like to learn more.

The reason we were asked to set up this loom for them is that they wanted an active demonstration of weaving a historic fabric documented by a piece in their collection (see man's frock coat above) because they're about to open a two-year-long exhibit that will be all about textiles as made at home by women in the Northeast Kingdom during the first half of the 19th century.

The exhibit officially opens on May 15th, & afterwards their hours through the warmer months will be as follows:
Monday & Tuesday closed
Wednesday through Sunday: first tour at 11A, closes at 5P

There will be a live weaving demonstration on Saturday afternoons. Maybe you'll see one of us up there!

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