New Jersey State History Fair 2011


For several years, one of our favorite living history events was the New Jersey State History Fair, “The Spirit of the Jerseys.” “The Jerseys” is a nod to the colonial distinction of East Jersey and West Jersey, although now we’ve factionalized to the point of being North, Central, South, and the Shore. Even with this, people will argue what is really the Shore, the Bruce-Springsteen-Asbury-Park Shore, or the Long Beach Island Shore.

It was nice to have a State History Fair, especially in New Jersey. We were one of the original 13 colonies, but, typically, everyone thinks history began when they were born and so don’t realize the state’s role in the past. This event brings together living history reenactors from all time periods to teach about the past. The Wool Merchant’s Daughter has always presented the handspinning demonstration.

Then, in 2010, deep budget cuts sanctioned by our new governor derailed the history fair. The original site of Washington’s Crossing State Park in Titusville, NJ, was a wonderful location but did not have a large base of volunteers who could assist with organization of the event. However, for 2011, the NJ Div. of Parks & Forestry (who, for reasons relatively obsure, also administrate historic sites in the state) found an alternate solution. They partnered with Allaire Village, Inc., a non-profit group that leases and runs the Historic Village at Allaire, located in Allaire State Park. Allaire Village, Inc. has a fairly large volunteer base and could contribute considerable support into organizing the event.

This change of venue was not a bad thing. Yes, it is all the way across the state from the original location, but happened to be 15 minutes from where we live. So, for once, we did not have to arise at the crack of dawn, dress in our 18th century rigs, and then drive clear across the state. It was much less stressful to put everything in the car Friday night, get up at a reasonable hour, and take a short hop to the event.

Yours truly, spinning away. In the midst of the thousand of other projects I’ve been working on, I finally found time to make a new dress. I loved the blue striped one I had worn in the past, but a girl needs a new gown every 7 years, at least! Plus, I was better versed in construction techniques and finally had the petticoats and skirts pleated correctly to fit over the panniers. It made for a much more comfortable experience.

And I did get some serious spinning done. I continued working on the musket shetland fleece cited in a much earlier post. I am spinning this one in the grease:

This fleece is from Windswept Shetlands, and I heartily recommend them if you a looking for good Shetland fleeces. A wide range of colors and the shepherd, Mike Ludlam, is a great guy to work with. This fleece is so clean, I just flick the longs with a historically incorrect dog comb and spin from the lock. This is the spinning so far on my Country Craftsman wheel:

Spinning in the grease allows for an easily-spun laceweight; the grease helps stick the fibers together so I can draw a long, thin thread. Here is the before and after, a finished washed skein on the basket of fleece:

And a close up of the finished skein:

Of course, I don’t knit laceweight, so I guess this means I am going to have to learn!

2 Responses to New Jersey State History Fair 2011

  1. Jess S says:

    …there’s a history fair? I’ve lived in NJ 29 years and never heard of this concept. Which is a shame, because I would’ve been there. Twice, if possible. The gown and the yarn are both lovely!

  2. it’s wonderful to see you, and all decked-out! that is a beautiful fleece – musket is a wonderful colour, and the finished yarn is just lovely. i’ve never tried spinning in the grease – would you recommend it?

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