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Tea Party Winners: Vicki Talley McCollum's Never Say Goodbye, A National Park Romance novella goes to: Caryl Kane, Deanne Patterson, Deana Dick, Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners Beverly Duell-Moore and Cindy Pratt, Roseanna White's winners - Betti Mace, Gabrielle Meyer's winners -, Deb Marvin's paperback winner - Rachel Dodson

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Spinning Room: Homespun Inspiration


The Boston Chronicle in April, 1766 wrote that women there "exhibited a fine example of industry, by spinning from sunrise until dark."  Spinning bees were held in early America to encourage the production of yarn to provide homespun fabric. In the 1760's these events became popular as a means to demonstrate opposition of the importation of heavily taxed British goods and for the mutual aid for those in their community.

It reminds me of the industrious writers we have here at Colonial Quills, spinning tales and weaving stories on the looms of our imaginations. Just as the spinners of yesteryear gathered and shared in the spinning room, I imagine this a place where we can come together and talk about the yarns we spin in our Colonial American stories. Thus, "The Spinning Room" where we will post every now and again to invite conversation on special topics.

Photo taken by Carla Gade at the Windham, ME
Historical Society museum.
Please share the source of some of your own homespun inspiration.  We'd love to hear about the hometown or state that has inspired your writing. Perhaps it's where you were raised, somewhere you have visited, or where you now live. Join us at your spinning wheel and tell us what place inspires you!

38 comments:

  1. Often before the spinning bee began refreshments were served. I brought some colonial hot chocolate especially prepared in my copper chocolate pot. Would you care for some?

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  2. I'd love some chocolate!

    Inspiration for my 1783 book came from living in Annapolis, Maryland for 6 years. It's impossible to walk around downtown without running into history, and when I considered setting a book in the years just following the Revolution, I thought it would be fun to put it there, during the 6 months Annapolis was the capital of the nation while D.C. was under construction.

    In the years leading up to the war, Annapolis was called "the Athens of America," for being the center of fashion, but at this point Baltimore's star was rising, forcing Annapolis's to set. It was really fun to get a glimpse of how the Annapolitans felt about this shift!

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  3. Roseanna, I love Annapolis. It's so charming (and fun knowing all those cadets are around the corner).

    Congratulations to the Colonial Quill contributors, for coming together to bring together some of the best Christian historical authors. I am blessed to benefit from your collective books, knowledge and friendship.

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  4. It was kinda funny writing about the town BEFORE the Naval Academy came to it, Debra! Hard to imagine it without those white-clad Midshipmen, LOL. (Although for the record, I highly recommend avoiding the city if at all possibly during Naval Academy graduation. Worst traffic I've ever seen . . .)

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  5. My 1793 historical, Kindred, was partly inspired by time spent in Asheboro, NC (near the Uwharrie National Forest), as a child and teenager, and my maternal family history of southern Virginia tobacco farmers going back to the early 1700s. And of course, the fiction I'd been reading at the time I began writing Kindred, including Diana Gabaldon's Drums of Autumn, set in Colonial North Carolina. There was a minor character in that book, a slave called Josh, who spoke with a Scottish accent, because he'd grown up hearing the family who owned him speaking that way. I happen to know Diana, and asked her whether she found such a situation in her research, or made Josh up out of whole cloth. Turns out it was from research. She pointed me in the right direction, and Kindred was born from my taking such an historical character and asking a long string of "what ifs?"

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  6. I would love some chocolate, Carla! I have two manuscripts inspired by genealogy and research and then brewed by my imagination. A while back I wanted to do more of the genealogy on my mother's side of the family. I almost stopped when I got to two Rousch cousins who had married near the time of the American revolution. I took a deep breath and clicked online and found their father, Johan.There are several nonfiction books about him. Nine of his ten sons fought as did his daughter's husbands. When I read about the background of the Palatinaters (far western Germany, formerly a duchy)and all they had suffered, I wondered why a man like that would support the revolution. His wife was a mystery to some extent. Just not a lot about her. So I changed her nationality and made her a French Huguenot escaping from Versailles when her family is found out. So fictionalizing based on fact has been a lot of fun for me!

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  7. As both a writer AND a handspinner, I love the analogy here! I have not written anything in the colonial era, but I would like to. I am an unabashed history geek and this is one of my favorite time periods.

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  8. Carla, this blog is GORGEOUS and so interesting! Isn't it exciting to start a new blog, especially one packed full of your passions? Have fun with it!

    Cheers,
    Jen

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  9. Wonderful post, Carla:) Dear to my heart because my current heroine is a spinner:) Or a Mistress Spinner as they were then called. Before breakfast she spun 8 skeins wool and 5 of tow and now dear Eden can have her tea. Love the analogy about spinning stories, too. So glad to see Jen and Pegg here! Their heartfelt wishes are so appreciated! Also Debra up there and others. What a treat to wake up to all this creative energy!!

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  10. Whoops, suppose I should answer the question! I don't want to belabor this as most of you know Kentucky is my home state and my family has been there since Revolutionary War days. Being born and raised in the area that Daniel Boone settled, it's my foremost inspiration. I'm becoming quite fond of Pennsylvania though for my new series. It's just as rich in history as KY and there are many similarities

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  11. What a lovely place! I am thrilled that you have created this spot on the web where I can come back "home."

    I was raised primarily in the south, but as my father and husband both had military careers, I lived all over the country and even in Okinawa, Japan. I never felt that I had a hometown until we moved just outside of Boston in 1999. In the 26 months we lived there, I got to visit all the places that had fascinated me my whole life.

    Our house was a 5-minute walk from the spot where Paul Revere was captured by the British. Nearly every evening we walked the Battle Road. It was wrenching when my husband was transferred to Utah after such a short time there.

    When we left, though, a story kernel went with me. I wrote up a bit of it, even had it critiqued at a writers conference session. It was well-received, yet it sits in my unfinished manuscript file.

    This lovely website has inspired me to get it back out and tell Emma's story all the way. Thank you for your efforts here!

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  12. Hi ladies! I'm so thrilled to be with this group. And what a beautiful blog! It's like stepping into the past. Waving at many familiar names here! Thanks for having me. I just have to comment on Annapolis because I'll be there in a few weeks attending my step-daughter's graduation from the Naval Academy. We are so proud of her and I"m really looking forward to the entire event. Roseanna is right. Annapolis is such a quaint little port town just filled with history. I just adore it.
    For me, since I grew up in South Florida, I'm partial to the tropics and the ocean. Out of that love came my first series set in 1650 on the Caribbean. Since then, I fell in love with Charleston SC. during one visit and can't seem to stop writing about that city. My Charles Towne Belles series is set there in 1718.
    Blessings to all of you!

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  13. Following up on MaryLu....(whew!)
    Had to comment on the lovely place the Lord planted me--the beautiful Mohawk Valley and Adirondack region of N.Y. "Last of the Mohicans" territory.
    Grew up reading "Drums Along the Mohawk"--and seeing such movies as Johnny Tremain--an actual school assignment! (anyone remember that? :) I also share some of Carrie's Palatine background, which inspired me to write a story centered around the massacre of Herkimer village in 1757 by French & Indians. I also have a very precious elementary school book that belonged to my mother, "When We were Colonies" (1934).
    Waving to Debbie! I'm grateful to her for asking me to join her on a trip to Ganondagan, a Seneca (Iroquois village a few yrs. ago) for research.
    And of course, being a part of this lovely blog, and all you ladies. Lovely job on the spinning post, Carla--I have a spinning scene in my story; and this really helps. Thank you!
    ...and I'll have just a wee bit of that hot chocolate.

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  14. I have to share this. I was researching what is now my second manuscript in this series and I went to the Fort Boonesboro living history center in Kentucky. They told me about the lady who had been there within the preview month, who was a writer. About a year later I "met" Laura and discovered it was her!

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  15. Carrie, I love that story:) Since I grew up around Fort Boonesboro and spent so much time swimming in the very river by the old fort site, that means a great deal to me. The Lord linked us, that's for sure. I've been thanking Him ever since!

    Love hearing MaryLu and Pat's stories among others here. They really show how we were inspired from childhood on. Love seeing how God's hand was in our writing even before we knew it!

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  16. Congrats to your daughter on her impending graduation, MaryLu! Will you be going a bit early to see the Blue Angels? The first year I was in town for that, it nearly scared my socks off when they were buzzing the city the day before the show, practicing, LOL. Had a coworker not patted me on the head and told me to calm down, I may have thought we were under attack. ;-)

    Everyone has such awesome stories! Love seeing all the wool that goes into our yarns. (And good to know there are so many woolgatherers around!)

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  17. I just wanted to stop in and comment to let you all know that I will be following this thought inspiring blog. Laura's blog sent me over! I have enjoyed reading the comments of the writers who have been inspired by a certain hometown or state. Even though this blog is a virtual setting, I believe it will give inspiration to any of us that would like to write someday. It looks like on any given day I will be able to take away something that will motivate me to pick up my quill and weave a story of my own. Thank you to all that have dreamed it into a reality!

    Stacie

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  18. I grew up in Kinderhook, NY, established in 1609 by Hendrick Hudson. (I now live a few minutes away in Hudson, where we receive visits from the Half Moon every so often.) K'hook is big on Colonial history. During the Revolutionary War, we were part of the Knox Trail and housed an injured Benedict Arnold and POW Gen. Johnny Burgoyne.

    As you can imagine, we have much Colonial architecture. When I visited Williamsburg several years back I thought, "That building looks like our library . . . and that building resembles our museum," etc. I felt right at home! I don't write Colonials (but love reading and watching them.) As a writer, I'm drawn to set my stories in small town settings. And the towns I describe always end up looking and "feeling" like Kinderhook :)

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  19. My interest in Colonial times piqued during our church's home missions conference a few years ago. On the wall in the foyer hung a large poster of The Trail of Blood. It showed the martyrs throughout history.

    I was fascinated with the section on the Puritans. Being Canadian, I didn't have a solid foundational knowledge of American history. I knew my own ancestors moved to Pennsylvania from Germany to get away from persecution. How amazed I was to learn that persecution existed for Anabaptists in this new land?

    I fed on every bit of early American history revolving around religion that I could find. In particular, I wanted to know about the Baptists. A passion formed and that led to two completed novels based on the Baptists in the 17th century. On Friday, you can get a taste of the second novel on my blog.

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  20. I'll take a cup of that chocolate, Carrie! Need the caffeine!

    I love the spinning analogy as it's such an apt image for what we do...though I'm sure some would call it wool gathering. lol! I was raised a Mennonite and grew up in cenral Indiana on a farm outside of Kokomo, Indiana. My interest in history and particularly in the colonial period arose from the story of my Amish Mennonite ancestors, who came to Pennsylvania from the Alsace for religious freedom and were massacred by the Indians in 1757 during the French and Indian War. So we have that in common, Pat. The irony is that they are pacifists, and they refused to shoot their attackers. Three family members were killed and three were carried off into captivity.

    My inspiration for my series came from watching the Scarlet Pimpernel with Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour back in 1983. I immediately knew I HAD to write my own version of the story. Since I wasn't interested in the French Revolution, the American Revolution was a natural substitute. I decided that the main character would be a beautiful young woman who disguised herself as a man and served as a spy, smuggler, and courier for the patriots. And of course, I needed an arch opponent and a love interest, and British Major Jonathan Carleton stepped into the story to fill both roles.

    So Daughter of Liberty was born, with Boston as the setting. And I really fell in love with the town and its surroundings. I hated to leave it as the action moved south, but I'm falling in love with each setting as I research it for the next volume in the series.

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  21. What lovely and fascinating conversation! I can just picture all of us chatting with one another at our spinning wheels in period costume.

    My own homespun inspiration came from being raised in Wrentham, Massachusetts which was founded in 1660. When I was a girl we had a huge tri-centennial celebration. I grew up going on school field trips and family outings to Boston, Plymouth Plantation, and Olde Sturbridge Village. One of my favorite things to do was ride around town on my bike or my horse looking at the old houses and riding through the historic cemetery.

    Over the past several years I've been doing a bit of research of my family history. Although I'm full Swede on my paternal side, my maternal side consists much of New England first settlers of the early 1600's mostly to Massachusetts (Mayflower, and Newbury, MA)and Maine.

    This have given me the inspiration for the Colonial period stories that I've been weaving as of late. I often imagine what my ancestors lives were like and read a lot from original sources about life where they lived.

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  22. Renee Ann, I hope you come back and leave your email address because you won a colonial book yesterday! I have a CW blue and white toile tote to give away tomorrow morning to one of the yarn spinners today. Joan, I have your chocolate right here, along with venison pie, but honestly they do not go well together. Stacie, Carla has made my dream come true - a virtual place to gather and to also direct people toward Christian colonial sites. Roseanna, when your book comes out I should ask my spouse to prepare the carriage for a trip north for your launch! I think Lynn Squire can tell us how many stops we would need to make (a lot!). MaryLu, we lived in Charleston for quite a while and I have some scenes set in the dungeon down there by the waterfront and of course at Middleton Plantation, a fav of mine. Pat, I interviewed Bartelemy Descotis the other day, a descendant of the St. Bartelemy massacre guy. He said he wondered why his parents named him after him and that one parent was Catholic and the other Protestant. Patricia, pull that colonial back out and get writing or revising! Jen and Pegg, welcome spinners! Debra and Lori, we owe Carla bigtime, hmm, what would be a good Colonial expression for that? I daresay I am humbled by the goodwill with which she has indulged her fellow spinners!

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  23. I just checked yesterday's comments and emailed you, Carrie. I'm so excited I won a book! Woo hoo! Thanks so much!

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  24. Peg, how wonderful that you are both a writer and a handspinner. We hope to see you again!

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  25. I'm blushing over all the nice comments about the blog design. But I am humbled and blessed to be part of this great group. You all have such fascinating stories of your own and it is so great to see what each of us can contribute.

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  26. I am not a published author, but I am a storyteller. Since I was old enough to put two words together, my vivid imagination has been well used. As I have stated many times, I am VA born and raised, and the history and culture of VA is as much a part of me as is my own family history. I am a Southerner to the bone, and I relish my Southern heritage. My mother and I always lived with her parents, and I consider myself very fortunate to have been raised with the values and traditions of several older generations. I am an “old-fashioned modern woman”. I move at a steady pace through the ever-increasing chaos around me. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes I am left on the side of the road...and that's okay! I learned to sew on my great-grandmother's sewing machine. I still have it and it still works. My grandparents were both instrumental in shaping the person that I have become as an adult. They both taught me many life lessons which were half pratical advice and half personal reflections. I treasure them all. The happiest time of my life was the very short period of my life when I was a child wrapped in the cocoon of my grandparent's love and care. I am not sure that I emerged as a butterfly, but they did give wings.

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  27. Virginia, your thoughts are very welcome here. What a blessing your background is and you put it so beautifully about being wrapped in the cocoon of your grandparent's love and care.

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  28. Patricia, so glad you took that kernel of history from Boston with you! It sounds like you have lots of affirmation about your ms - would love to hear Emma's story!

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  29. Debra and Jen, so glad you came by to see what we are doing here. Feel free to chime in any time. More chocolate anyone?

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  30. I'm a little late to the party, but if there is some chocolate left, I'll take some. I grew up in the heart of the Piedmont of North Carolina, surrounded by former plantations, Scots-Irish history blended with Quaker and Moravian communities. Somehow they all learned to work well together and we had our own set of Indians. The Eastern band Cherokee Reservation in the mountains of NC, which is still there, and the Croatan and Lumbee Indians toward the coast of NC, which is now the largest tribe in our state. My ancestors came here during the colonial days and fought in the Revolutionary War. family. I've grown up appreciating our history.

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  31. And Patricia will receive a Colonial Williamsburg blue and white toile print tote bag that she can fill with yarn! Congrats!

    And just for fun I did a CQ contributors drawing, using random.org for that, too, and our webmaster extraordinaire, Carla, and spinmeister, will have her choice of either an adorable little duo of American soldiers or British, in pewter, from our National Park store at Yorktown, where they have regular displays of Revolutionary military procedures. Declare yourself, Carla - Tory or Patriot. (Pssst, they try to tar and feather the Tories weekly in Williamsburg!!!)

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  32. I have to say that my homestate of Kentucky inspires me with any type of writing I do. There's some much history to be found in the Bluegrass state. Even though Kentucky didn't become a state till after the American Revloutaion it's history as a coun ty of Viringa is just as old. It seems that a lot of historical figures thoughout history have some sorft of tie to Kentucky.

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  33. Isn't it a wonder where God has placed us? I live in central Maryland along the Catoctin Mountain range and about a 15 minute drive to the Potomac River. The town I live in was established in 1749, and when one walks downtown you are transported back in time. The architecture alone tells many tales of past lives. Last August my editor Barbara Scott came to visit me, and we drove her and her husband over to the Potomac and walked the streets of Harper's Ferry and the hallowed grounds of Antietam. But the most inspiring moment was when we went up to a hilltop overlook and looked down where the river cut through the Potomac Valley and converged with the Shenandoah River. Across from us on the Maryland side towered cliffs, and I said to Barbara, "You see there? That is where Darcy stands in the opening of Beside Two Rivers". Barbara sighed with awe and we stood there in silence gazing at that magnificent scene. It was a wonderful to share that moment with her.

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  34. Carla dear,
    Why am I still surprised by what a thorough, artistic, and interesting way that you cover a subject? I am very happy to be your research companion!

    Love, Mom

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  35. Thank you, Carrie! I'm thrilled that I won, and surprised! I'm a Patriot through and through!

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  36. My Mom logged in as me from her computer. Guess I forgot to sign out...

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  37. My character chose me. My Revolutionary period and immediate life after the war is set in Plymouth Massachusetts. This past fall my research road trip to Colonial Williamsburg VA and Massachusetts made me fall in love with the east coast. The east is rich in history, something we lack in the west. That trip inspired many stories, I look forward to a return trip.

    Now I must have chocolate

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  38. I do agree, Teresa, I love the east coast and grew up in Massachusetts. I've spent lots of time at Plymouth. We have many ladies on here that love and/or live in VA. I'll be visiting Colonial Williamsburg this summer and cannot wait!

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