06 September 2013

Visiting the Shakers

While in Maine we drove up to Sabbathday Lake to see the Village, which is the last active community in the world. Did you know that there are only three Shakers left? In the world? It makes sense, since it is a celibate religion, reliant upon conversion. Though they are often compared to the Amish, the Shakers embraced technology (all three Shakers have mobile phones). In fact the first circular saw in America was "invented" by a Shaker sister based on ... you guessed it, the spinning wheel!

Most of the village is now a museum, as well as a working farm. We took the tour and got to spend time in the meeting house, which also included living quarters for some of the elders and eldresses (their weaving and boot making tools were upstairs in the living quarters, too - I so wanted to take pictures!). Sadly, photographs were not allowed inside, so I can't show you the dark, lovely blue paint used on the built-in benches around the perimeter, nor the freestanding benches in their classic Shaker style. You can see a photo of the interior here. According to my notes this Shaker blue paint was only used in meeting houses and is a milk-based paint tinted with blueberries, sage, and indigo. Is it just me or is that delightful?!

But I can show you a couple of sheepy shots:
Sheep in the barn

Sheep in the field (look at the view!)
And the goodies that came home with me: Shaker 2-ply in Scotia, Rose Water, and Eldress Hester's Potpourri. Now, I am generally not a potpourri person, but there is some intriguing spiciness to this that makes me love it. Love it! I get a little boost when I walk into our room.
Yarn, rose water, and delightful potpourri from the Shakers
I guess this yarn is actually close to that blueberry/sage/indigo color inside the Meeting House, though lightened up with its tweediness. Something lovely will come out of this!

If you find yourself in Maine, I highly recommend visiting the Shakers. And if you bring two little girls, you might get to visit the Candy Making Room. During the Depression, the Shaker women realized that the market for some of their goods had disappeared, so they took up candy making. As you can imagine they did quite well with it. As an amateur candy maker, I loved seeing their set-up. The Candy Room is no longer on the tour, but our guide thought the girls would get a kick out of it and showed it to us anyway.

But my favorite room was the Fancy Goods Room. I'm not even sure that is what they called it, but it was set up as something of a shop to display all the little baskets and needlecrafts the Shakers sold. Go look at this photograph. I'll wait. It was pretty much exactly the same, just in color. Actually, I think they have since turned it sideways, since the window was to the side of the large case, not behind it. Needle books, sewing cases, all sorts of other little velvet-lined containers for bits and bobs related to sewing. And that cloak! It is a lovely soft red, and that circular drawn portion at the back of the hood is just the best.

More adventures to catch you up on shortly. The kids finally start school next week, and once Penelope is eased into Kindergarten (Friday is her first full day), I'll be able to refocus on blogging, knitting, pattern writing, and so on. Until then ...

Happy knitting!

P.S. The Sabbathday Shakers have an Etsy shop! Only some maple syrup on there now, but they did sell some yarn there. I love Etsy, so maybe we should encourage them to sell more yarn there...

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