contributed by Emily (and written a few weeks ago!)
School is starting back up for me and that means that I’m about to lose some of my knitting time in favor of reading history books. Normally, I’d be quite grumpy about anything that takes me away from my knitting, but I’m so totally fascinated by the past that the sacrifice isn’t too painful.
Knowing that my free time is about to become quite limited, some friends and I took advantage of one of Vermont’s unbelievably gorgeous summer Sundays to visit the Shelburne Museum.
We went specifically to see the current temporary exhibit on Robots, Rocket Ships, and Steampunk (you can see all of those pictures here), but once inside of the museum grounds, there are so many other wonderful things to see and do.
One of my favorite things to see are the automata. From the museum’s website:
Automata are large (sometimes three feet tall), often comical wind-up toys with accompanying music that were displayed in parlors, especially in France, in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. The Museum exhibits about 30 automata, including several particularly fine pieces by Gustave Vichy of Paris, France. These include a drunken chef, a magician, and a clown walking on his hands.
The one that will most interest our customers is the knitter in her very traditional, late nineteenth-century clothes and frilled cap:
The museum shows a video in the automata room featuring the machines in motion. Unfortunately, they haven’t made the video available online. She isn’t accurate enough to actually create stitches, but her hand movements were definitely worked out by an engineer who knew knitting very well.
In the general store, I was thrilled to see a beautiful line of 19th- and early 20th century hand knitted socks and stockings hanging all in a row:Who gets excited about a bunch of old, used socks? I do!
Hanging off to the side of the stockings was a stack of wooden stocking blockers. One of my absolute favorite things about studying history is when you notice the little things that have remained almost untouched throughout the years.