CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

A Visit to the Past

In July I returned to my roots with a visit to rural Ohio for a reunion with classmates and family members that I hadn’t seen for some years.  The last day of the visit, we decided to visit  The Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  Within the area of the park, but separate from it, is the Hale Farm and Village, a project of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

The Hale Farm and Village is a living history Museum with artisans’ demonstrating glassblowing, pottery, blacksmithing, candle and basket making as well as spinning,dyeing and weaving.

Becky Monegan weaving cotton checked curtains for the Saltbox House in the Hale Farm loom room.

I met Becky Monegan on the village green where she was dyeing handspun yarn in a pot over a small fire.  Her natural dyes were made from plants grown on the property and she had already dyed several skeins with fustic, carrot tops and weld and she had a lovely collection of colored yarn to show for it.

The Saltbox House at Hale Farm & Village

As I talked with Becky I found out that she has had a position as museum educator at The Hale Farm and Village since the mid-eighties.  In that position she has demonstrated spinning, weaving, natural dyeing and also has done production weaving for the museum gift shop.

The village green, where I met Becky, is a recreation by the WRHS.   The Hale Farm was bequeathed to them by Clara Belle Ritchie, Jonathan Hale’s  great-granddaughter, to be established as a museum.
The Society did that and used some of the farm land to lay out a typical village green and moved significant 19th century structures in the area that were in danger of demolition to the site.

Three handwoven towels

Handwoven table mat and handspun and knit linen washcloth

Handspun and woven wool blanket, knit shawl on bed and handwoven rag rug

The Salt Box House is one of the houses.  Recently it was reopened after extensive repairs. ”I thought it looked so empty and sad. I knew it would take me forever to produce enough textiles for the building, so I asked for my Guild’s help,” said Becky.

The Medina Spinning and Weaving Guild formed a study group to produce period accurate textiles and, to date, have donated about 20 pieces. And as Becky says, ”The house is a great public showcase for our guild members’ beautiful work.  Their work has made the Saltbox House look more like a home.”

Although Becky Monegan spends a large amount of her day in the 1860’s, she is quite able to function in  the 21st century and communicate with me by e-mail. JYF

Press here to go to the next article