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The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth

Take A Book On A Journey
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 12/20/2017
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, December 20, 2017
I found this handsome softcover at a local Savers thrift shop. It examines the partly-historic, partly-nostalgic "age of homespun" through the histories of a variety of handmade objects from New England. The earliest is "an Indian basket" from 1676; as with many of the items here, it has a story attached, but one without strict provenance. So the author takes each object and its purported history, and delves into information about the craft itself, the history and lore of the region it came from, and comments on the cultural and societal significance.

Since many of these crafts were primarily the work of women. One of the chapters deals with fine knitting as in the making and mending of stockings, and uses excerpts from period diaries to show how some women spent massive amounts of time at the work.

There are nods to the societal changes wrought by mechanized mills, at the culture clash between early settlers and the Native Americans, and changing fashion in homespun and other decorative arts. The chapter on Hannah Barnard's cupboard (early 1700s) includes the question of why her name was so prominent on the piece, with the author's note that it exemplifies "both the enticements and the difficulties of historical interpretation based on physical evidence alone".

Other items include an embroidered chimneypiece from the 1700s (that one's in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, though not currently on display; there are excellent digitized photos here); a niddy-noddy from 1769 (I did not know what this was before reading this book - it's a wooden cross reel used in spinning); a linen tablecloth (that chapter includes lots of new terms, such as swingle and hetchel; and more.

A poignant entry is the "unfinished stocking", from the collection of the New England Historical Society; for some reason it was left incomplete, with the very fine steel needles still in place and two balls of fine linen thread still attached. It ties in beautifully to the many completed items, though the question of why this particular half-done stocking was preserved that way for long enough to get into a museum!

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Released 5 mos ago (5/23/2019 UTC) at Nashua, New Hampshire USA


I'm adding this to the Biographies of Things bookbox (bookbox journal here). Hope someone enjoys it!

Journal Entry 3 by Dove-i-Libri at Cape Coral, Florida USA on Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Rec'd as part of MaryZee's Biographies of Things Book Box (Link) . Keeping it to share through BookCrossing!

Released 4 mos ago (6/22/2019 UTC) at The French Press Coffee Shop at Cape Harbor Marina in Cape Coral, Florida USA


Released as part of Booklady331's KTM Challenge (Link)

☺ Happy Traveling, Book! ☺

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