Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Attractions for CNY Knitters and Spinners

Summer is the time for road trips. In addition to the joy of finding a new local yarn shop, there are also several nearby attractions for knitters and spinners in the Central and Southern Tier areas of NYS.

One very interesting site is the Bemont-Billings Homestead in Newark Valley, NY. My family hails from this hometown so pardon me for boasting. The museum is run by the local historical society. The best time to go is usually on a big festival weekend. http://www.nvhistory.org/festivals.shtml
The Apple Festival in the fall is a lot of fun. Bring your kids for hands-on craft activities. The museum works with the local school system to train "youth interpreters" who learn traditional activities (driving a pony car, baking bread, weaving, etc.) and then run the booths for craft activities for the kids attending the festival. Usually, the Apple Festival also has demonstrations from the local Blacksmithing and Spinning Guilds. The town is easy to find. If you are coming from Syracuse or Ithaca, Newark Valley is approximately 45 minutes south of Dryden on Route 38. From Binghamton area, go over Route 38B and head north on Route 38.

A little farther south, in Orwell, PA is the Home Textile Tool Museum. http://www.hometextiletoolmuseum.org/.
This museum is of special interest to spinners and weavers. There are at least 5 barn looms which are available for demos by the staff. When I visited 3 years ago, I was invited to "sit down and try it" (a barn loom) under the supervision of museum volunteers. This aspect is unique to any museum I have been in. The museum also hosts a collection of historic spinning wheels. If you are a spinner or a knitter, bring your wheel and/or project and a lawn chair with you. It is not uncommon to see people just having a great time socializing on the side lawn. The day I visited happened to be a spin-in by the local spinning guild, some of the nicest people I have met. You may want to contact the staff before your visit to see if any of this information has changed recently. The staff is very knowledgeable. They are spinners, weavers, and many times, teachers in the local area. When I was there, a great wheel was being demonstrated as a well as a spinning wheel with a willow distaff.

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