The merino sheep at Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock MA will shrug off their winter fleeces and step out into the spring sunshine Saturday and Sunday, April 28th and 29th, at the hands of professional shearer Fred DePaul of Plymouth VT.
DePaul, who has been performing this task for 55 years, will tell visitors about the need to shear—sheep’s wool does not stop growing—and demonstrate his deft technique when the village holds its annual sheep shearing demonstration throughout the weekend, accompanied by additional demonstrations of dying, spinning and weaving.
These tasks, the origins of which are lost in the mists of time, were regular rituals in the pre-Industrial Era. Shearing fell to the men, but the wearisome task of processing the wool—washing, picking out debris, carding, spinning and weaving—all fell to women.
The clothing they produced was durable and highly valued, held so dear it was sometimes included in wills and passed from generation to generation. Included in the shearing weekend will be exhibits of rarely-displayed Shaker-made woolen items, including the famous Dorothy cloak (like the one worn by First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland to Grover Cleveland's inauguration).
Enthusiasts are invited to bring a knitting project and join a Sit 'N Knit all day Saturday. Participants can also register for a little knitting instruction at the Shaker Maker Knitting Workshop on Sunday. Registration includes the materials to create fingerless mittens with the Shaker stitch, a lunch with wine, and a private tour of the textile collection.
Admission to the sheep-shearing weekend is included with admission or free to members. Please visit the link below for further information.