Come See Us!
The Shop, a reconstructed 1830’s barn, is filled with the rhythmic sounds of the loom and the spinning wheel with myriad colors of cotton, linen, silk, wool and our own alpaca/merino yarns decorating all the surrounding walls and the hand hewn beams.
Our sale goods include everything from knitting needles to looms with an emphasis on hand made items and natural and home grown fibers.
Along with the earliest evidence of human culture, archaeologists have found cloth–and not just simple plain weave cloth but more complex weaves such as double cloth. In addition, the hand spun warp and weft was so finely spun (as that found in the linen shrouds of the Egyptian pharaohs) that the quality can’t be duplicated by modern spinning machines. If “primitives” could weave their own clothes, so can you!
In Colonial America, the cost of importing cloth and the colonist’s determination to be independent of the European nations created a “culture of homespun.” From the 1600’s to the early 19th century, farmers and housewives and itinerant weavers supplied almost all the colonies’ needs for woven goods. With the rise of the textile industry on the eastern seaboard, looms and spinning wheels became museum relics. Around the turn of the last century, there was a desire for a revival of traditional arts and crafts in America and Europe. The Scandinavian countries, which had not been part of the main thrust of the industrial revolution, still carried on their hand crafts in an unbroken tradition.
As a part of the Ploughshare Institute for Sustainable Culture, we teach year-round classes in beginning to advanced spinning, weaving, crocheting and knitting. In addition to our regular curriculum, we invite fiber artists, who are internationally known in their respective fields of spinning and weaving, to our campus several times a year to teach special workshops and seminars. You may look on Ploughshare’s web site for a complete schedule of all our classes.
Our Fiber Crafts studio is a reconstructed 1860’s barn from Middleburgh, NY. When you walk in the front door you will find yourself surrounded by color. The hand hewn beams are lined with spools of many hued yarns and the walls are covered with bolts of handwoven cloth, racks of handwoven towels, table runners, shawls, scarves, clothing; hand knit scarves, sweaters, hats and mittens, yarns and hand dyed roving. On the main floor you’ll be surrounded by looms warped in various projects, and up in the loft you’ll see our spinning wheels. Here we teach a full year ‘round series of classes for people who want to learn to weave, spin, knit and crochet. In addition, we hold mini-workshops throughout the year and our students and friends get together for “Knitting Saturday’s” once a month, complete with tea and cookies.
In the early 1980’s, as part of the greater vision for living our lives in a more sustainable, integrated manner, we began teaching our children to spin on the drop spindle and simple weaving. Soon these fiber crafts became more than a hobby/school activity. What you’ll discover here today is a third generation of young weavers and spinners—something almost unheard of in a post-modern world—coming into these skills as naturally as one might have found in Colonial America.
From the beginning we’ve found the joy of exploring that ever-changing learning curve that is in our working together, exchanging ideas and skills and sharing these with the wonderful people who come through the doors of our shop. Some visitors watch our weavers threading looms and say in a discouraged tone, “oh-what a lot of work.” There are steps in warping the loom that are harder than others but this is not work in the sense of drudgery. It is work towards a purpose that is actualized in a real finished piece, something of beauty. It’s that beauty that we strive for and find peace in producing.