Yesterday a group of knitters, embroiderers, needle pointers, lace cap makers and patchworkers went to work in the Parlor of the Clarke House, which is the oldest standing home in Chicago. Now a museum, it offers tours Wednesday through Sunday for the public. Visitors can enter the rooms of the house at 18th and Indiana but they must, of course, stand behind the ropes and not touch the furniture. I've been a docent for almost 11 years at the Clarke House Museum--only imagining what life was like there from the time it was buit in 1836. Yesterday, I got a real taste of what it was like.
A group of us, mostly from the South Loop--but a few from beyond--signed up to bring our chosen handiwork to the house and actually sit in one of the home's parlors to stitch and sew during a Historic Handiwork Circle
. What a thrill! What a kick to actually sit and do something domestic right in the house, from the other side of the ropes.
So there we were, with all manner of material, chatting away in a room that has been and always will be off-limits to ordinary people--aside from standing and observing the house from behind the ropes, as in any museum. We discussed everything from what we did for a living to the fact that President Obama would be eating dinner at a house the following night on Prairie Avenue
, a half block away.
I brought one of my two long-time knitting projects as my admission ticket. One half-done scarf I have been knitting for about 25 years, and another for about five. Neither of which I have gotten anywhere near to completion. But now that the Clarke House is offering a chance to come back the last Thursday morning of every month--all the way through the end of the year--I have higher hopes for the two scarves and the possibility of wearing them next winter. Provided someone in the group can quickly show me how to officially finish them off once I get the length I want.
There are a handful of spots left, if you have an old-timey craft you work on and want to join in. You must be at least 10-years-old, as well. In addition to the above mentioned handiworks,, the house is also seeking people who may do, among other things, whittling, leather working, rug hooking, spinning (no, not the kind we do today with the stationary bike!) and crocheting. Call 312 326-1480 for information or to reserve a spot. You, too, can take an authentic journey into the past.
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