Wanderlust Wednesday: Sewing in Sheffield

Stitchers inside Dewey Memorial Hall, Sheffield, Massachusetts.

Stitchers inside Dewey Memorial Hall, Sheffield, Massachusetts.

Sheffield resident Lisa R. and I met through Revolutionary War reenacting. Looking for ways to extend the fellowship of the hobby outside of encampments and to coax local crafters out of their homes, Lisa scheduled a couple of dates for a community sewing/craft day at Dewey Memorial Hall in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Last Saturday’s was the first; the next is March 23. A small donation is asked for the rental costs for the building for the day.

Dewey Memorial Hall is one of those buildings where you inhale when you enter, you smell the wood and floor polish and you get a sense of its history. To the right when you enter is the library, and in the main room is a small stage and a kitchen. They hold numerous events there, including a pie contest, where townspeople judge the quality of dozens of entries.

While there was certainly a lot of 18th century activity going on (like Amy M. fitting my basted together stays and my draping Virginia A. for a gown), other attendees worked on dressmaking, doll assembly, and clothes darning. A Featherweight Singer was in attendance, as well as lots of knitting. A few scenic snowflakes fell and the room was filled with talk.

Lisa made a great big pot of warming soup, and many other good munchies were to be had:

Scandinavian Summer Vegetable Soup

4 carrots (1 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup peas
Cauliflower 1/2″ buds (1 cup)
2 potatoes (1/2 cup)
string beans (1/2 cup)
4 small radishes cut in 1/2
spinach (2 cups)
1/4 – 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
1/2 lb. shrimp
white pepper
Dill or parsley to serve
Place all veggies except spinach in pot with H2O and 2 teaspoons salt and boil uncovered 5 minutes or until tender. Add spinach and cook another 5 min. Strain liquid and leave in pot. Place veggies in a separate bowl. Melt 2TBSP butter and stir in 2TBSP flour.  Slowly add stock to paste and beat with a wire whisk. Beat in 1 cup milk. In a small bowl combine 1 egg yolk & 1/4 cup heavy cream. Whisk in 1 cup of hot soup 2TBSP at a time. Now reverse and slowly whisk cream back into soup. Add veggies and simmer (do not boil). Add 1/2 lb shrimp, 1/4 tsp white pepper, and simmer 3-5 minutes. Top with 2TBSP parsley or dill and serve.

Dewey Memorial Hall in Sheffield, Massachusetts, was built in 1887 to remember Orville Dewey.

Dewey Memorial Hall in Sheffield, Massachusetts, was built in 1887 to remember Orville Dewey.

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.