More Old Photos
May 31, 2006
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am from northern Maine, Aroostook County. It's a center of forest-related industry, as well as farming. There are a lot of farms up there. For a couple of years, I've been puzzled by the fact that for my whole life, I never heard or saw any indication of sheep farming in the area. You never saw people raising sheep or spinning wool into yarn; old attics were bare of any spinning wheels, in my experience. The whole fiber preparation thing was just oddly absent. And yet, it seemed like almost everyone around me knit. I grew up totally surrounded by knitters. Everyone knew how to knit, and they knit a lot. I never wondered where they got their wool to knit with, until a few years ago. It seemed to me that sheds and barns and attics should have held the same detritus of fiber preparation that they held for cooking equipment or farming equipment or old toys. But there were no odds and ends of spinning wheels or niddy noddys or hand carders or combs or pickers. Nothing. Seemed odd to me.
Then the other day as I was browsing through the Library of Congress pictures, I experienced joy when I found photographic evidence of the elusive Aroostook County wool-production on small farms. Here are some pictures of actual sheep being raised in the county in the 1940's:
And then I found pictures of women in Aroostook County actually spinning wool and weaving on a loom!!! Here they are:
And then my heart truly fluttered -- as I found possibly GENETIC reasons for my last spinning wheel purchase! I couldn't believe my eyes! You may recall that I recently purchased a gorgeous spinning wheel from David Paul of Merlin Tree fame; he built me a beautiful reproduction of an antique Quebec production wheel. When I saw the wheel in his booth at the NETA Spa last year, I knew immediately I had to have it. There was a strange attraction it held for me. People who know me, who know how little I spin, who know how many spinning wheels I already had, nearly disjointed their eyeballs, rolling them so hard. But here is my justification: in the picture below, a woman is spinning on an Aroostook County farm and she is using a wheel that is nearly identical to my wheel! I am betting that somewhere in my genetic past, a woman in my family owned a wheel like that, and my DNA recognized it and cried out for it. I will never regret buying that wheel. I am putting a photo of my new wheel next to the picture from the 1940's, for comparison purposes: