Thursday, September 19, 2013

As most of you know, we indie designer types spend a lot of time home alone, but occasionally we leave our dining rooms and computer desks and get to do some pretty cool stuff.   Which is what I did yesterday.  

In preparation for a workshop I am going to be doing at the Slater Mill Knitting Weekend this January, I drove down to Pawtucket, Rhode Island to visit the site and meet the folks who run the museum and are putting the event together.

How beautiful is this?

The Mill has been turned into a gorgeous museum complex with two original mill buildings full of artifacts and old industrial machinery, an original saltbox house, a gift shop and a really lovely park along this river, with sculpture and benches and grassy areas.  A nice respite from my dining room table, I tell you!

The coolest part of mill for me was the little behind-the-scenes tour that I got from Andy, the curator.  Behind his workspace full of old, leather-bound books with faded titles was the archive.  

And in the archive were shelves and shelves of vintage photographs and quilts and smaller pieces of machinery that had been used almost 200 years ago.  This little box was in a drawer of hand-knotters - strap on contraptions straight out of a steampunk novel, that would allow workers to retie strings that had broken on the machine, without getting their hands too close to dangerous machine parts.   (and note the name on the box!)  Who knew?  So cool.

And, then there was this. 
Oh, this....

I nearly died when he opened a box and took out some of the original catalogs of lace motifs and fabric patterns that the mill produced and delivered to their clients in the 1800s.  On each page were beautiful and delicate notes, drawn in careful calligraphy, listing delivery dates or quantities or client names for the specific patterns. 

I'm a stitch dictionary junkie already and I could easily have sat down right there for the rest of the day and been happy.   Instead, I snapped a few photos and hinted that I would love to maybe come back sometime and take another peek.  For now, let's just say that this is NOT the only photo I took of an open page on these books. 

My visit to the mill wasn't all fun and games though, we were making plans.   Some of you careful readers may have noted that I mentioned a workshop up top in that first paragraph.  More details will follow, but it should be a fun weekend, and I'm not the only teacher that will be there!  Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

I love fiber field trips, and I love Pawtucket! I took a guitar-building workshop there, and it was so much fun. That whole area is wicked artsy in the best way.

Kristen said...

Sounds like heaven to me. That last beautiful photo, oh my, I want more.

Glenna said...

What beautiful pictures... look forward to hearing more about this wish I can come play!

Anonymous said...

pretty terrific place, no?

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a surprise for me. I see you recognize your last name, but I see "Barber Colman Rockford Illinois". That' box is an historic relic from my town here in Rockford Illinois. Barber Colman Co still exists.