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New England by Heart

The Season for Arts & Crafts

Photo of weaving in Christmas tree frame
Photo of antique spinning wheel
This is my great-grandmother’s spinning wheel – a prized possession!

While we’ve all been enjoying the gorgeous fall colors this year, there has been an army of crafters that have been busy, busy, busy getting ready for the holiday fairs all over New England and beyond.

Crafting is as old as history – humans are nothing if not creative and innovative. Of course, right up until the industrial age, crafting was a matter of necessity more than enjoyment. Need some light? Candlemaker. Need a holder for that candle or a hook to hang your coat? Blacksmith. A new wheel for your wagon? Wheelwright. A chair? Woodworker. Everything was handmade. 

Clothing was a real process. Gather some flax, sheer the sheep or buy some cotton, then spin some thread, weave it and then make a dress. Trading made it easier – I might have a flock of sheep and trade some wool for some spinning, and others might weave. So I could trade with neighbors or head to the local dry goods store and buy some cloth to make my dress, and even have a seamstress make it for me, if I had the means to pay. 

Needless to say, people took good care of their clothes, and they didn’t have a full wardrobe. It was a big deal getting a new dress or shirt. 

Photo of macrame wristlet key chains
These macrame wristlet key chains show that the art keeps evolving.

I’m actually old enough to remember that my mother made some of my sister’s and my clothes. And I have my great-grandmother’s spinning wheel sitting in my living room. It really wasn’t so long ago, this pre-industrial age, but that may be my perspective with more years behind me than ahead.

Today, though, nearly everything is mass produced in factories around the globe, and we can buy whatever we need with the click of a button. Crafts are mostly relegated to those who keep the art alive, and the rest of us are the happy beneficiaries, enjoying acquisition of something unique, molded by the hands of dedicated crafters. From jewelry to wooden bowls, knitted sweaters to woven table runners, handmade soaps and body lotions. 

This week, I’m helping my daughter churn out macrame and weaving for her booth (Cedar Brook Fiber Company) at the Barrel House Z Holiday Shop Local Marketplace, hosted by Inebri-Art on November 26th. She’s busy well into the evenings and through the weekends, like so many of her fellow crafters, and will be ready for our oohs and aahs at the fair. This will be a good one, with the brewery as an additional draw. Shop and quaff – what could be better?

There are lots more craft shows coming up too, capitalizing on the holiday shopping season. Google will turn up all manner of local and regional listings. I encourage you to follow your favorite crafters on social media  – they will let you know the craft shows where they’ll be showcasing their wares.

So go shopping – go local!

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