Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Gloucester Daily Times - Front Page!

The hands that rock the cradles of Annisquam have always been busy, none more so than the talented and tenacious group of fundraising women known as the Annisquam Sewing Circle. 
Now celebrating its 180th year, the circle's annual holiday fair has been decking Gloucester’s halls with boughs of holly and holiday greens going back to the days when it was the Annisquam Female Benevolent Society, founded in 1837. Its first fair offered — according to its archives — "figures of men made of raisins strung on wires, little tables and chairs of pine and various colored worsted, perforated cardboard book-marks with mottoes. ... Pen-wipers from the wishbones of turkeys or chickens, dressed as Satan (with) cloven feet of black sealing wax, red wax for lips, horn and tail, white beads for eyes..."  
That first fair fetched $33 for the church. As the society evolved — in time calling itself a sewing circle— so too did its merchandise and its fundraising savvy. The circle worked to raise money for community causes through the sale of an ever-widening range of creations and events, one of which, its Christmas fair and luncheon, became an awesome annual.
Sunday's fair
Though it lasts just one singular sensation of a morning — this year, Dec. 2 — the fair is months in the works. And what works. Many hands may make the light work, but not that light.
This week — greens week — leading up to the fair "is back-breaking, but also lots of fun,” says Deb Bird, who with local artist Donna Caselden, is co-president of the circle.
"It's like stepping back in time," she says, when the circle's many gardeners turn their talented green thumbs to winter greens.  
Spruce, pines, holly, junipers — much locally foraged under the direction of members Bonnie Angus and Stevie Neal — come gloriously together in a festive frenzy of activity as the village hall fills with hundreds of wreaths strung like so many of Santa's undershirts on clothes lines, surrounded by dozens of sparkling center pieces and boxwood trees — all for sale — to raise funds for community projects.  
But all that glitters is not green. 
Members are also each required to create two craft items, as well as two items for the bake table, and with 49 members, that adds up.
Some items have made their makers local celebrities. Connie Mason is famous for her red hot pepper jelly, Grace Murray is famous for her wonderful, colorful knitted Peruvian "Chullah" hats. Dollar grabs are hugely popular, gorgeously wrapped and great for stocking stuffers, for pets, kids, dads, etc.
Jams, jellies, condiments, cookies, knits, ornaments, candles, cards, cakes, plants. Pine cones foraged on trips to the forests of California and Maine. Gingerbread houses, gingerbread light houses. Stockings stacked on tables with care. It's all there.  
Benevolent past, present
Considered the oldest continuous women's institution on Cape Ann, the Annisquam Sewing Circle had its "benevolent" roots in a time when — as for centuries before — sewing was considered the virtuous domestic benchmark of womanhood. In revolutionary America, it had given women a collective sense of purpose that went beyond hearth and home to the front lines; it was their needles that sewed  soldiers' uniforms, that kept them warm on frozen battlefields.
But wars aren’t always fought on frozen battlefields. In early 19th century Gloucester, they were also fought — as today— against poverty, hunger, despair, and through long New England winters aboard dory boats storm-tossed on the freezing waves of the Atlantic.
For the dorymen of Gloucester, staying warm was as essential to winning a livelihood as winning battles had been to colonial revolutionaries, so much of the early work of the Annisquam Female Benevolent Society was knitting for them; mittens to keep their hands warm, thick woolen 'nippers' to protect them from the rope burns that came with arduous line hauling.
By March 1854, that year’s fair raked in $252.29, followed in August by an afternoon “tea party in Mrs. Pierce's grove,” that added $76 and a dance party the same evening that brought in $10.74 more. In January 1855, the society held a "festival" entertainment, that realized $107.10.
Sewing circles were at the time gathering strength in other parts of Massachusetts, too. In Worcester, with the founding of the Worcester Anti-Slavery Sewing Circle, they became explicitly political.The Annisquam Female Benevolent Society was never explicitly political (unless you count as political performing “acts of benevolence”) but come 1861, its members took an active role in the Civil War effort. 
This year's proceeds will, as has been the tradition for a good many years now, go to a range of community causes and services.
More information on Saturday's Holiday Fair and the group is available at www. annisquamsewingcircle.org.
Joann MacKenzie may be contacted at 978-675-2707, or jomackenzie@gloucestertimes.com.
IF YOU GO
What: The Annisquam Sewing Circle's Christmas Fair and luncheon. Wreaths, table decorations, boxwood trees, handcrafted and custom-made items, gifts and grabs, gourmet gifts, jewelry. Local delivery available. 
When: Saturday, Dec. 2, 8:30 a.m.  to noon.
Where: Annisquam Village Hall,  32 Leonard St. in Gloucester's Annisquam section.
Luncheon details: Following the fair; reservations required by calling Linette French at 978-283-2247.
More information available at www.annisquamsewingcircle.org or Facebook

Friday, November 10, 2017

2017 Annual Christmas Fair & Luncheon


Each autumn the members of the Annisquam Sewing Circle gather to prepare for the Annual Christmas Fair, well known for its fabulous one-of-a-kind wreaths and center pieces as well as decorated boxwood trees. Also one will find beautiful bulbs and potted plants ready to give or take home, delicious homemade gourmet food items and handcrafted gift items. 


Annual
Annisquam Sewing Circle Christmas Fair
December 2, 2017
8:30 am - 12:30 pm
Annisquam Village Hall
34 Leonard Street, Gloucester MA 01930-1322



The Annual Christmas Fair & Luncheon and the Annual Plant and Gourmet Food Sale raise funds to support scholarships for graduating seniors who are going on to college, training for a trade or other educational opportunities and community projects on Cape Ann, for example: The Open Door Food Pantry, Backyard GrowersCape Ann Animal AidPathways for Children.


The Annisquam Sewing Circle was begun in 1837 as the Annisquam Female Benevolent Society. It is thought to be the oldest continuous independent society of women on Cape Ann.

The Society's purpose as stated in its Preamble, was "for the performance of acts of benevolence." Through the years, the Society, and now the Circle, has contributed generously to community programs and to individuals.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

ASC Workshops, Conversation and Special Orders

The members of the Annisquam Sewing Circle gather for another Workshop.

The group numbers over fifty women, each bringing a unique point of view. Every fall we bring our talents to bear in preparing for the Annual Christmas Fair. There will be a lot of cones and ribbons to prepare and other projects as well as tea, coffee, cookies and conversation to share. This diverse group comes together for friendship, and support for each other and the Cape Ann Community.

From the ASC Bylaws: For the furtherance of Friendship and Congeniality and the performance of acts of Benevolence.

The proceeds from all of the fund raising activities are returned to the Village and to the greater Cape Ann community.  (Watch the video about the ASC for a bit of history!)

One of the highlights of the Fair are the beautiful, custom decorated wreaths, table decorations and over-mantle swags. If you would like to order a special wreath of several for you home of business, please email AnnisquamSewingCircle@gmail.com with your name and phone number. One of the Greens ladies will contact you to discuss what you would like and to take your order. There will be several sizes available as well as color combinations to suit your needs. And a PLUS - we deliver the order to you!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

ANNISQUAM 2017 SEWING CIRCLE CHRISTMAS FAIR & LUNCHEON

Saturday, December 2, 2017
8:30 am – 12:30 pm

Annisquam Village Hall
32 Leonard Street, Annisquam, MA  01930



The Annisquam Sewing Circle Christmas Fair features handmade holiday greens, center pieces, wreaths and plants; exceptional handmade crafts and a glittering display of costume jewelry. Beautifully wrapped foods, baked goods and preserves all prepared by our members grace our gourmet table; and there is even something for a beloved pet! Delightful hostess baskets, grab bags and our own Circle of Recipes cookbook are popular traditional items at the fair.

A delicious three-course Annisquam Sewing Circle Luncheon will be served at 12:30. Reservations are recommended. Please call 978-283- 2247.

Founded in 1837, the Annisquam Sewing Circle is one of the oldest continuous independent societies of women in the United States and is the oldest one on Cape Ann. All proceeds from the Fair are contributed by the Annisquam Sewing Circle to Cape Ann community programs.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Annisquam Sewing Circle Annual Christmas Fair & Luncheon

Saturday, December 2, 2017
Annisquam Village Hall

32 Leonard Street, Annisquam, MA 01930

Fair 8:30 am - noon
Luncheon following the Fair by reservation

Come early for the best selection!
Open and free to all. Gifts for everyone on your list.

Beautifully decorated wreaths, table decorations, custom made items, that include delivery to the local area*, boxwood trees!
Hand crafted items galore, jewelry, grabs for every one including pets!
Gourmet foods, many packaged ready to give as gifts!
A reservation for the Luncheon a must! Reserve a table for your group - please call Linette French at 978.283.2247.
The Annisquam Sewing Circle was begun in 1837 as the Annisquam Female Benevolent Society. It is thought to be the oldest continuous independent society of women on Cape Ann.
The Society's purpose as stated in its Preamble, was "for the performance of acts of benevolence." Through the years, the Society, and now the Circle, has contributed generously to community programs and to individuals. The Scholarship Fund, to assist young people in the Village continue their education, was established in 1974.

For more about the ASC watch this skit by the Members on YouTube

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Annual ASC Plant & Gourmet Bake Sale


May 13, 2017

(the Day before Mother's Day)
8:00am - 12 Noon
Come early for the best selection!
The Annisquam Exchange Yard
32 Leonard Street, Gloucester MA 01930


A wide array of annuals and perennials – including hanging baskets, bedding plants and rose bushes Cut flowers and potted plants for Mother’s Day Plants that thrive on Cape Ann – collected from Sewing Circle members’ gardens Filled containers – bring a container or choose one of ours and a selection of plants and we will plant it for you! Gourmet foods – homemade delicacies – perfect for the week-end and for Mother’s Day


All proceeds to benefit Cape Ann community programs


Like ASC on FaceBook

Friday, January 13, 2017

As Winter settles in...


The excitement of the holidays has wound down. The wreaths are being removed from the doors. The daylight hours are increasing. Our thoughts turn to Spring.

Get out the handwork again. Try a new recipe. Make a list of the seeds and plants needed for the garden. The Spring Plant Sale will be here before you know it!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Thank you for making the 2016 ASC Christmas Fair a success!


Another successful Annual ASC Christmas Fair & Luncheon

The Annisquam Sewing Circle Members had a wonderful time gathering together and creating items for you.

We will be starting to prepare for the next Fair early in 2017. If there were items you would like to see again next year or if you have ideas for new items, please send the ASC an email at AnnisquamSewingCircle@gmail.com or send a message through FaceBook.

The proceeds will be donated to the Cape Ann Community including scholarship to high school seniors who are going on the further training for a productive work life.