When the biting cold makes it too cold to be outdoors for long, knitting more makes plenty of sense. Knitting calms, is useful, and produces warm-as-toast garments for human and beast.
On a recent outing for books (another passion), a volume surfaced that contained details of the once-vibrant silk industry in Northampton, Mass. A few minutes later and the slim tome “Unknown New England” by Jon Marcus, former editor of “Boston Magazine,” was in my hands. The treasure trove of facts, figures and small stories contained within were like salted peanuts – one led to another, then another – and provided entertainment all the way home. For instance, did you know that “America’s first factory” is the Slater Mill Historic Site, located in Pawtucket? Or that the original two-story mill still stands at the center of the complex? Well, according to the book, that is so – and creates curiosity to take a drive and go see it for ourselves.
Stories knit time and place together. They tell us what makes a place different from everywhere else.
The Slater Mill on the Blackstone River in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is now a museum complex and is the “first water-powered cotton spinning mill in North America to utilize the Arkwright system of cotton spinning as developed by Richard Arkwright,” according to the site history. “Construction of the machines, as well as a dam, waterway, waterwheel and mill began in 1790 and completed in 1793. Slater initially hired children and families . . .”
Now knitters can see for themselves – and soak up some knitting time and learning too. Registration is now open for the Community Guild Studios at Slater Mill annual Knitting Weekend Feb. 10 through Feb. 12. Designers, authors, workshops, trunk shows, book signings and a marketplace, all sponsored by Berroco. Highlights include a three-hour workshop with Deborah Newton, author of “Finishing School.” Seaming, blocking, yarns, edges and trims, buttons and zippers, buttonholes and pockets, $50. Andean intarsia with Mary Jane Mucklestone, $100. Beaded cuffs, Helen Bingham, $40. Log cabin gone crazy, RoseAnn Hunter, $100. Thrummed mittens, Helen Bingham, $40; plus an optional kit fee. Marketplace hours are Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bake sale and yarn swap hosted by Hook and Needle Guild. The mill complex is located at 67 Roosevelt Ave., Pawtucket, Rhode Island; call for a detailed brochure, (401) 725-8638. Space is limited.To see an original 1790 spinning frame from Slater Mill that was donated to the Smithsonian in 1883, click here.