Market Fair is almost here! This year’s event will be held October 29-30, 10am-4:30pm each day. We so look forward to this event this year, because it means we can really travel back to the 18th century, and we get to see old friends from around the country gathered together! Our vendor spotlights over the next few weeks will highlight some of the wonderful people who help make Market Fair so fun and authentic with their goods and trades! Let’s start with Peggy, from Loom Hall Textiles!
I’ve been hand-weaving and creating handspun yarn for a fairly long time. I’m still learning from researching historic textiles and from interacting with others in the trade. I learned to weave during the Bicentennial of our nation, so history seems to have been a large part of my fibercraft career. Raising sheep for 4-H, and later as an adult, has given me an appreciation for taking raw fleece through the entire process of washing, carding, spinning and dyeing yarn to use in creating handwoven textiles. Since then I have focused on applying the skills and knowledge necessary to create heirloom-quality textiles inspired by those of the 18th and early 19th century. My husband and I live in southern Indiana, on the farm originally owned by my great-grandparents, and we raise Shetland sheep, Jersey cattle, and Angora goats.
Last year was my first year as a vendor at the Market Fair, my husband and I enjoyed it very much! It’s a wonderful event; we heard so many positive comments from the visiting public, and enjoyed making or renewing acquaintance with the other re-enactors, both merchants and military. Our friend Madeline Norman, of Ballyhoo Farm, brought some of her sheep, and they were quite popular the entire weekend.
I like visiting with other craftsmen at 18th century events. What I enjoy most, though, is helping people understand how textiles are made, how we appreciate our flocks and our tools and equipment, and that it is entirely possible to create items of value and usefulness by employing processes and tools from two centuries ago.
The challenges of my trade are to keep learning, continue researching, and to share with and learn from others of the same trade and those who are in the museum or re-enacting communities. Sourcing quality materials is a challenge to some weavers, but our flock of Shetland sheep provide the raw material of locally-grown fleece that’s spun into wool yarns for weaving blankets, coverlets, and for knitting. Probably the most amusing challenge is to help the public, who may be first-time attendees at historic events, understand why we would want to “spend time making things when they sell that a lot cheaper at Walmart.” They have no idea that the historic approach to craftsmanship is light-years removed from the modern industrial, factory-produced product with planned-obsolescence and profit margin as key driving factors. What we do takes time, care, craftsmanship, expertise, and more, and results in useful and beautiful objects, like a woven coverlet or a sgraffito-decorated redware platter, that will last much longer and whose origin is known to us, because we made it or we know the artist who did.
Besides the October Locust Grove Market Fair, I am an exhibitor/vendor at several 18th century and living history events primarily in Indiana, such as the Vincennes Rendezvous in May, the 1812 Muster at Musee de Venoge in June, Locust Grove’s Hemp Festival, and contemporary events such as Mack’s Merry Market Holiday Show in Terre Haute and Christmas in New Harmony.
Being a craftsman-vendor at Market Fair is a great experience, we meet so many interesting people, and each person who comes into the booth or watches the spinning or weaving demo has some kind of feedback or question for us. I guess what I look forward to the most is the moment when the historic tent is up, my booth is filled with textiles and yarns I have created, and I put on the “costume” of a shift, short-gown, petticoats, apron, and daycap, and step into the 18th century. Walking along the lane of Locust Grove, stepping over fallen walnuts and autumn leaves, and smelling the wood smoke of the re-enactor’s cooking fires…..there is nothing like that to bring peace and contentment, and a sense of adventure. We can’t wait for the Fair weekend to begin!
Thanks for sharing, Peggy! We can’t wait to have you (and the sheep!) back again at Locust Grove.
With deepest regards,