What happens in the Winter?

“I don’t suppose you have much to do in the winter, once the Böd shuts down after Wool Week.”

We often hear this sentiment expressed, and smile wryly………

Today was definitely a day in the winter, with snow covering the garden as I set off for my weekly visit to the Museum. Thick jumper over vest, plus body-warmer just in case, and fingerless gloves, ditto – the Böd, being an old C18th building, can be extremely cold ! However, knowing some of us would be in working, I’d nipped in the previous day to switch on the storage heaters in the relevant rooms, thus minimising the time spent in the Arctic wastes of the stairs, the office, the kitchen, the shop and the Loom Room.

As I approached, I could see a couple of our volunteers already there. Wendy, our gardener, was examining some daffodil bulbs already beginning to push through the frosty earth – unfortunately, they were finding it difficult to force their way past a heavy fence. Last month’s gales had been too much for the 6’ high fence, part of which had fallen down. It proved too heavy for us to move, so will have to await further ministrations.

Barry in action

Her husband Barry had volunteered to take photographs for some advertising we have planned, so the kettle was immediately switched on while cameras were set up. Fortified with tea, and an extra heater, we got to work setting up backgrounds against which to photograph Fair Isle jumpers and fine lace scarves, items taken from our Collection of over 600 pieces. After much climbing on and off chairs to reposition items, Barry pronounced himself satisfied.

By this time, our Chairman Barbara had arrived, complete with comprehensive lists, which would enable us to continue our job of reorganising the entire contents of the building – we’re getting there ! Once the madness of Wool Week finished 3 months previously , we had had to empty the shop of its contents, send unsold goods back to the makers, write out cheques for the sales, pack away remaining books, cards etc. Then there were dozens of exhibition items to take down and pack away, or return to their owners. This had all been done, but today we still had to deal with boxes of items acquired during the year, mainly from donations, but occasionally something we had purchased. This might be an item which filled a gap in our Collection, or perhaps, as was the case this year, a piece of knitwear which was such a perfect example of its kind that it just cried out to be added to the Collection !

Part of our Fine Knitted Lace Collection

As an Accredited Museum, we have to follow rigorous laid-down procedures for storage. Therefore all these items have to be extensively documented, numbered labels sewn on, packed in acid-free tissue paper and made-to-measure Tyvek bags, stored in special boxes and added to the afore-mentioned lists, so that we can find them again. We intended to do that today, but then……..

……Elizabeth appeared – she had offered to come and look at our collection of spinning wheels, about which we had very little information. Another volunteer, Jennie, had been in last week and had most of them working, but Elizabeth was able to tell us a lot about who had made the wheels, who had used them, how old they were, etc.

While this was going on, Linda, our volunteer Archivist, could be heard coming up the stairs. Hailing from the deep south of England, she feels the cold terribly, so was “wuppit up” in a thick scarf and coat. Extra heater in her room too ! The Arthur Anderson room has been taken over by piles of paper, towers of boxes and lots of notes, and we spent some time dealing with her inevitable questions – it’s some job organising our archives, as it has never been done before, so our gratitude knows no bounds. All we need to do is find the space to store it……….. Grabbing a quick cup of tea in the warmth, we discussed one of the new season’s exhibitions, which Linda will be curating.

Only a small part of our archive

Next up was a box of items labelled “Don’t Know!”. These had been found while tidying up, and with the application of the combined brains, we managed to find information on some of them, but inevitably, some still retain the label !

Then, while leaning on the table writing out labels, I became aware that it felt damp. Further examination revealed more dampness….. there was a leak somewhere. Much shifting of boxes and other items into another room was required, followed by an urgent phone call to our maintenance men to come and have a look.

By then, it was time to go home, leaving the damp table and the squashed daffodils. Oh, and don’t forget to switch off all the extra radiators, and read the meter, and wash the cups.

No, we don’t have much to do in the winter once the Böd shuts down…….