Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Shaking with the Shakers

Every year, we head out to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts for vacation.  Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is one of my “sacred places”, where I remember visiting as a child and then attending the summer program as a teen.  Oh, the days when I thought I would become a concert pianist!

Tanglewood shed

In subsequent years, we’ve added more Berkshire places which we must visit every year.  Hancock Shaker Village is one.  The first time I learned about the Shaker religious sect, I completely disagreed with their philosophy. Celibacy for a community is simply not a natural human state!  The only way they added members was through conversion, and indenturing and adoption of children.  That is not a sustainable model, especially once children hit adulthood and were free to leave.  Eventually their society died off, but they left beautiful villages to visit and impeccable craftsmanship behind.

Contemplating the Round Barn at the Hancock Shaker Village

Over the years, I got over my indignation of their celibate philosophy.  I opened my mind to the other positive aspects of their society: plowing the earth, sustaining livestock as well as embracing technology (this is where they differ from the Amish).  Just look at this beautiful setting!

Ducks in a row

The only way I get Adam to visit every year is to give him my DSLR camera.

Adam the photographer

The one curious aspect of the Shakers is the reason for their name.  They believed that they  needed to “shake” evil spirits away by singing and dancing into a frenzy.  My initial reaction was – of course they need to shake their bodies to get rid off all that sexual tension!  Then again, everyone needs to get out and have a good whole body dance every once in a while.

Shaker Dance Demonstration

During a Shaker demonstration, I gladly hopped in to try it out while my family watched embarrassed. Woo hoo, shake it baby!



It’s wonderful to watch volunteers hand quilting a quilt that they raffle off every year.  These volunteers are not Shakers themselves, but carry on their traditions.

Shaker Quilt

Isn’t it beautiful?

Shaker Quilt Detail

Visiting the Shaker village always inspires me to pick up my crafts again.  Dova could help me card wool for knitting.

Dova's carded wool

And Adam can help me with the weaving kit I purchased at their store.

Adam checks out the weaving machine

I saw this cross-stitch pattern displayed in their store. 

IMG_1761

They were out of kits at the time, so at home, I painstakingly mapped my own version of the pattern in Excel and added a title and a contrasting border.  Contact me if you’d like a copy of the pattern.  I even considered selling the pattern on Etsy, but really, I’m not that craftsy.

Hancock Cross Stitch

Here is my cross stitch so far.

Almost Hancock Shaker Village

The way the embroidery hoop cut off the words, only the letters “cock shaker villa” is shown of  the words "Hancock Shaker Village”.  Oops!  That’s not what they had in mind.

On the fence

We’re looking forward to more visits with the Shakers in the future!

1 comment :

Magpie said...

Love this. Love that you danced, love that you plotted your own cross stitch. It's very beautiful there.

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