In typical technophobe fashion, my post comes a bit late. A computer glitch had kept me from posting earlier, much to my frustration. Perhaps it was karma’s way of making me reflect a bit more on what I wanted to share. With the help of the wonderful Deanne, I am now back in the game and ready to share my thoughts.
A new year, new hopes, new dreams. I always find it a bit disturbing how easily we dismiss the previous year, hoping for a ‘do over’ of sorts. All of the failures and challenges tend to be at the forefront when a new year rolls around. It seems a perpetual second chance to make things right, to be a better person, to strive towards those goals that we had hoped to accomplish the previous year.
Could it be that we are approaching the season in the wrong mind set? What if we looked back on the previous year and acknowledged the successes, the achievements hard won, whether they be small or large? Why not start a new year with a list of the positives of the last year, not the negatives. Perhaps our goals should be to build, not necessarily change, who we are.
As I think about what I wish to accomplish in this coming new year-my own ‘do over’ year, I choose to think of it as a platform to build on what I have already accomplished and use the disappointments as teaching moments instead of failures. I resolve to enter this new year facing forward, not carrying the weight of past mistakes. I resolve to make ‘let it go’ a bigger part of my own personal philosophy.
Let us all take the best of 2018 with us into this bright new year.
You cannot have a beginning without an ending. The truly hard part is that both are accompanied by an influx of conflicting emotions; sadness, excitement, fear, anticipation. These are the hallmarks of change. At the studio, we are in the midst of many changes.
Our newest addition, Angela, started this week, bringing enthusiasm and new eyes that will make her a wonderful addition to our little family. At the same time, we are sadly losing our Georgina, who is pursuing a new life a little farther afield . Needless to say, she goes with our love and will remain in our hearts as she begins this new phase of her life.
In the meantime, yours truly will attempt to step into her shoes-a daunting challenge, especially when you consider how truly multi talented and special this lady is. I have spent the past few weeks trying to absorb all of Georgina’s various responsibilities, shadowing her like Marley’s ghost, as she wrestles with the everyday adventures in running a busy studio while providing endless support to all of us. Georgina leaves behind a legacy of professionalism , respect and love. I can assure you with truth that my future is going to encompass many new challenges and experiences as I try to do justice to what she has accomplished.
Here’s to wind in your sails, my friend-you will be very missed.
*PHOTO: Who wouldn’t love that gorgeous smile?
We rarely appreciate the little moments; a laugh, a hug, a chance encounter. In retrospect, all of these little vignettes take on huge importance when life suddenly changes. How many times do we forget to tell our friends, family and partners how much they mean to us? Perhaps we are blinded by the outside life noise-the job, the appointments, the groceries; perhaps we are just plain tired and the moment slips away, not because we don’t care, but because we are just too weary. Daily life can become an effort and we inevitably shortchange the moments that should matter.
Remembrance Day is a good time to remember, not only our veterans, but those left behind. Picking up the pieces and carrying on is a monumental task and having someone take a moment to acknowledge your efforts can make a huge difference. Carrying that philosophy into the days beyond November 11th is important. There will always be someone who is hurting and we all have the power to help ease the burden.
Lest We Forget…
“Today I am going to teach you how to fix the serger.”
My words were greeted with a look of pure horror. With its complicated array of threads and scary looking technical parts that periodically just refuse to play nice with others, our serger is known for striking frustration and terror into even the bravest of souls. I had grimly promised Logan a session in troubleshooting the beast and now the day of reckoning was upon us. I was scheduled to be out of the shop for the next few days and I knew that the serger would definitely choose to quit during my absence. I had always joked that my job security was assured due to the fact that I was one of the few that could brave the mass of moving parts and re-thread the monster, but , out of necessity, it was time to give up my McGyver crown and pass along the torch. For those of you familiar with our kits and patterns, the serger is the machine that we use to provide a nice finished edge to our patterns, ensuring that they should not become unravelled during the process of hooking . It works almost in reverse to a sewing machine, as it cuts a clean edge and binds at the same time. In fact, picture a sewing machine on steroids. You are faced with four intimidating ways of threading four individual needles-all of which must be done in a special order. Yep-job security at its best.
Logan bravely took a seat in front of our nemesis as I pulled open the front casing, displaying the innards of the machine or, as I like to call it, the ‘BOWELS OF MORDOR’. A complicated array of metal bits and levers interspersed with an intimidating Cat’s Cradle of heavy thread stared back at us, visibly taunting my young friend. She gulped and stared at me, silently begging to be let off of the hook. Being fairly heartless, there was absolutely no way I was letting her go at this point. So we began…I explained the complexity of the job, which is actually deceptively simple once you understand the order and educated her on all of the technical jargon, like, ‘grabby bit’, ‘pointy thing’, and various other important terms that every knowledgeable McGyver apprentice should know. Moment of truth: I cut all of the threads off and left her alone to reassemble it, sweat beading on her brow and hands shaking slightly as she took up the challenge. A surprisingly few minutes later she called it finished and I went over to inspect her work. A whoop of delight erupted as I pronounced it perfectly done, quickly followed by a groan of dismay as I cut all of the threads and gestured back to the machine.
By the third re-threading, she was getting more confident and called me over to inspect her work with surety in her voice. This time, she cut the threads herself and giggled, confidently returning to the task at hand. Score: Logan:4/Evil Serger:0
I was more than rewarded the next day when I received a photo from Georgina, our lovely manager. My Logan, confidently re-threading the beast in my absence.
Kudos, young grasshopper, I always knew you could do it, you just had to convince yourself. Congratulations.
There are times when we all could use a little help. That being said, there are also times when perhaps a little less aid is called for. I found myself in the latter position on my last day off. Anyone who knows me, knows that I tend to be a little obsessive about scheduling my days off. I try to allot my down time in such a way to accomplish as much as possible while still giving myself a bit of much needed relaxation.
Picture a quiet Friday morning, basic housekeeping chores finished, a lovely hot chocolate standing by while I make myself comfortable at my cheticamp frame with an elementary design stretched and ready for my undivided attention. Of course, a large selection of yarns and fabric are gathered, laying across my burlap as I begin, hook in hand…
Thump! Somehow, my cheticamp is now serving a dual purpose as a comfy cat hammock as one of my supervisory felines decides to position herself across my work space, intent on helping me with what is obviously a task unsuited to an unsupervised human. This particular cat is incredibly dedicated and goes completely limp at any attempt to remove her from her perch. Perhaps I should add that a cat that does not wish to be moved automatically triples in body weight, much the same way a cat or dog laying across your legs at night turns into a mass best compared to a large piece of cement. A short but fruitless battle of wills ensues with the cat claiming victory as I give up and try to continue my day off ‘me time’ activity, resigned to living with the cattish attention(read: intervention) to detail. Every piece of fabric and yarn demands scrutiny, sometimes resulting with a fuzzy paw interrupting my hooking flow as a particularly fascinating end proves irresistible.
Jump ahead an hour; my hand is now aching-not from hooking, but from trying to lift the mass of cat from on top of it. Apparently, wherever my hand is, just so happens to be the ‘perfect’ napping spot and my sweet kitten has the girth of a well fed mountain lion (her alter ego). Somehow, she senses when I have had enough and leisurely saunters across the burlap and leaps to a nearby chair. The sag in the burlap lends silent testimony to the war that has been waged. I stand, tired. but triumphant as I look at the small amount of coverage I have achieved and the tangled mass of fabric that needs to be sorted after suffering intense feline attention. The cat stares serenely from her perch on the chair. I stare back, already looking forward to tomorrow night’s challenges…
PHOTO: ‘Squeak The Terrible’ at one with the creative process
I had been explaining the ‘recycling’ aspect of rug hooking and how my grandmother had made use of every piece of fabric in her household even after it had outlived its original purpose. It is one of my favourite themes; how we have begun to return to lifestyles that reflect a ‘reuse’ aspect and how we can incorporate so much of our own personal history into a lovely hooked rug by simply using clothing that means something. Everything we wear says something about us, about our special days, about our life experiences. Keeping those memories alive by incorporating those precious fabrics into a hooked piece will automatically start conversations that revolve around, “Remember when…”
Every one of us has a small hoard of children’s clothing, school uniforms, wedding dresses, etc-why not turn some of it into a piece of art that will reflect your story?
I could tell by the look on her face that her loss was still very fresh. She had been telling me about her own grandmother and how she still kept a collection of her clothes. She had no intention of ever wearing them but couldn’t bear the thought of throwing them out or giving them away. She spoke of a special relationship, of warm cookies and kitchen dancing, gardens and tea and her Granny’s life of love. So many good thoughts and treasured memories to snuggle close in her heart. I could see the wheels turning as she began planning a piece that would reflect everything special about her grandmother and she was going to do it with her own hands using bits of her granny’s favourite clothing. She excitedly began to tell me about how the design should involve tea cups, cookies and flowers. It was all I could do to smile, inside, I was choking up. Being permitted to share such a moment is an amazing gift and I sincerely hope that her granny’s legacy inspires others to think about doing the same.
Perhaps it is time to start your own ‘legacy’ piece?
There are times that you just have to pony up and take one for the team. My day of reckoning came last week when I noticed a small brown paper bag on our table in the studio. Anyone familiar with the studio knows that the large wooden table by the cash register is the home of the oatcakes and a gathering spot for lunches and communal activities. Anything food related on the table is generally considered fair game and it has been the staging area for some pretty amazing treats lately. On this particular day, I was the first to notice an innocuous brown bag that had mysteriously appeared at some point during the afternoon. It was an unassuming little package with a clear cellophane window that revealed a glimpse of what appeared to be something vaguely chocolatey (with almonds, no less). Being the self sacrificing type, I immediately threw myself into action-after all, there was no telling what this might be! It was up to me to taste test and confirm that it was completely safe for the rest of the team. I valiantly assumed the guinea pig role and took a nibble …and then I seriously considered hiding the bag. What a delight! Lovely crispy caramel goodness topped with chocolate, sea salt and almonds-my taste buds rejoiced with every bite. Where had this magic come from? I had to know even though it meant giving up the small bag of delectable yummies to my cohorts in order to find an answer. After somewhat reluctantly sharing, I discovered that Vivian, one of our Thursday lunch group of knitters and crafters had been responsible for the gift. My mission was clear and the following Thursday I presented myself and begged shamelessly for the recipe and, joy of all joys, she gave it up!
Fast forward to my day off and a shopping trip later. My cooking day had arrived and the recipe was a simple one. The heady scent of caramel began to waft from my kitchen as I got down to business. My husband, who has the nose of a good hunting dog, began lurking around, searching for the source of the magical aroma. Jealously, I guarded my creation, only presenting after it had cooled sufficiently to be enjoyed in all of its glory.
I waved a plate full of little treasures in front of him, grinning.
“What’s this?” He asked of me suspiciously. To be fair, I have been known to sneak some pretty bizarre mixtures into his diet.
“Just try it.”
The proffered bit of goodness disappeared and I was immediately rewarded with the look that says it all. Needless to say, this extremely simple recipe has joined my collection of favourites and will be played with and adapted from this day forward. Curious? I have to give credit where credit is due-this version of the recipe came courtesy of the Smitten Kitchen website-chocolate caramel crack(ers). Give it a try, it is extremely easy and makes tons. Bon Appétit! -Angie
Every month a special package is carefully designed and assembled for our Woolbox members. Inspiration for the colours and textures comes from a photo, which is also included. The thought that goes into the development of each box results in attention to even the smallest detail and enables our team to create truly beautiful combinations. When the box is completed, it is then sent out to our members who are delighted by the ever-changing selection of fabric and textures arriving on their doorstep.
Last month, the creativity spoke to me personally. The colours were inspired by a photograph of fishing buoys, a truly maritime theme. Having spent some years living on the south shore of Nova Scotia, for me, it brought back the crisp salt air and the conversation of fishermen on the wharf as they carefully mended treasured nets, weathered and callused fingers weaving an intricate pattern of rope. Childhood memories of rocks, gulls, starfish and sea urchins-treasures of the sea. In my heart I still hear the mournful cry of the lighthouse, always comforting.
Such is the magic of our Woolbox and every month a unique photo conjures up fresh inspiration. Intrigued? For more details, click under ‘Wool’ on our website and become part of the fun! -Angie
There are times when something happens that drives home how very special our studio is. I am constantly gratified by the reactions of visitors on their initial visit to the shop, as they slowly wander through the main floor, completely captivated by the riot of colour and texture. We usually make a point of directing them around the corner where we assemble kits and orders, then into the little antechamber where Logan is usually happily dyeing a new batch of yarn or wool, always contributing to our lovely inventory of colour. Chuckles can usually be heard when the washer/dryer combo with their funky graphics come into view quickly followed by gasps of wonder as they discover yet another huge room on the other side. This space boasts incredibly high ceilings and lovely hardwood floors with a comfy couch and chairs that invite a nice break for chatting. As always, one of a kind custom pieces hang throughout all of the spaces, displaying Deanne’s limitless talent and imagination. Deanne’s private studio is visible through large glass doors and our visitors are always amazed at the works in progress on the large hooking frame that takes up a good part of the space.
Saturday was a day that demonstrated exactly how a welcoming creative space inspires community and kindness. Several people passed through our doors throughout the day, many from ‘away’ and all making a special effort to stop in as part of their travels. A lovely lady named Diana popped in and shyly admitted that although she was a gifted knitter, she had little experience with hooking. A two minute lesson on how to hook was offered and I found it so rewarding to witness her delight as she quickly picked up on the skill. During her visit, our draw winner, Patsy , stopped in to pick up her prize. Everyone in the studio gathered round as she carefully opened her package, revealing a hooked purse. The oohs and ahs quickly turned to speculation on how to make a similar piece. Design conversations and oatcakes led to purchases as the ladies became excited by the idea of future projects. Diana picked up a few items with a promise to return later for a kit that I was in the process of assembling.
True to her word, she returned later in the afternoon with her little dog, Miss Millie. The two had made the long walk from their campground to our downtown studio! A bowl of water was provided for Miss Millie and she happily curled up for a rest under the table as her special person enjoyed a well deserved rest and an oatcake. We debated for awhile about supplies and projects, exploring various options. During the course of our conversation, a lovely group of ladies entered the shop and began offering very helpful advice as we explored the best possible supplies for Diana’s future projects. Lively banter regarding experiences and places shared ensued as Deanna joined the group, enjoying the fellowship and enthusiasm. What had started as a short lesson in hooking had now bloomed into new friendships and knowledge as these wonderful ladies offered Diana and Miss Millie a drive back to the campground. As ladies departed, I was struck once again by the sense of community that this space brings to all who visit. From beginners to professionals, all are welcomed and included. Friendships are forged and knowledge is shared. Encouragement and advice is offered freely as visitors become part of our family. I am so grateful to be a part of this magic place. -Angie
Photo: Paula/Lynn/Deanne/Pattie/Diana (Miss Millie was camera shy)
Although our weather is constantly reminding us that Nova Scotia can periodically lapse back into winter when you least expect it, there is an air of excitement as we slowly enter the summer months . A lot of activity is going on at the studio these days as our days are filled with kits, wool boxes, pattern of the month and lots of special projects. So many colours and textures to play with! As usual, the humour and good fellowship of our days together produces an amazing array of ideas-some of which will be coming to you very soon. Enjoy the solstice and keep an eye to our website as new kits, patterns and other colours start to emerge.
|synonyms:||friendship, comradeship, fellowship, companionship, fraternity, conviviality;
mutual support, team spirit, esprit de corps;
Laughter drifts from the other room where my new friends and colleagues are working on various projects. All of us are busily engaged, surrounded by colourful islands of amazing fabrics and yarns. I am just around the corner, assembling kits and out of sight for the moment, completely absorbed in what I am doing but grinning ear to ear as I listen to the conversations and the giggling from our work room. All of us, Deanne included, are busily sorting and cutting, sharing thoughts and experiences as we work. I feel like I have known these special people for a long time, that I have always been a part of this magical space. After four weeks in this environment, I am secure in the knowledge that laughter is always going to be a part of my daily studio experience. How wonderful is that?
Being the new kid on the block can be intimidating but not so in Deanne’s wonderful studio. I have been welcomed with open arms and included in the magic of this lovely creative space. My name is Angie and you will be hearing from me now and then with little updates and thoughts.
As an artist, I have found that my various adventures over the years have landed me in some unique situations-all opportunities for learning and growth. I firmly believe in a much loved saying that pertains to my life’s journey; ‘Ever teaching, ever taught.’ I can foresee a bright future of putting that philosophy into good use here. For a first post, I will keep this short and assure you that every positive thing that you have heard about Deanne and her studio is quite true and I look forward to bringing you my little adventures as time passes. Let the fun begin!!
I never imagined when I was this little that I would be an artist. I had never seen a hooked rug. This picture is of my earliest memory. I remember very little about the day my oldest sister was married but I do remember the dress and I can still see the deep red velvet of those roses and the baby’s breath. I was two, almost three. When we look at pictures of ourself as a child it feels as if it all happened in another land. We had no idea where we were going. When we look at where we are we can see so many detours that we took along the way that led us to our current place.
Who ever knows what they will end up doing. I have not picked up my hook today but I did write the introduction to my next book. It will be about twenty five years of making rugs and will have images from over the years. This afternoon I will go to my frame , humbly, as the rug I am working on is not going along as planned. I will also approach it hopefully, because I have learned you just never know. The beauty slips in unexpectedly sometimes and wakes you up to new ideas, new beauty, that is to follow. In writing the introduction to a book about twenty five years of making rugs, I had to think a lot about the past and what I might have hoped for.Then my brother in law posted this picture on Facebook and I was thrown back to another time, a time when possibility did not matter. A time when all I had to do was reach out my hand for a sister to hold. Whenever I write I go into the past.writing makes me evaluate and sift. Writing a book is like making rug. When you are in the middle of it you have no idea if it is any good but you go back to it with hope and humility, time and time again.
Scientists and mathematicians also talk about beauty though. There is beauty in everything.
We only have to open our eyes.
Last week I spent the week in Manhattan, looking at galleries, and seeing art everywhere. I learned so much in that week. If you asked what I learned, I would be hard pressed to list it, I just know that I came away with a new inspiration, a new vision, a new appreciation.
I feel like I love cities more, but I also love country roads more. They are completely juxtaposed, and I am so thankful for both. Today I am excited to be back in my studio, thrilled really. I am ready to hook. I drew a design on before I left and I wondered if I would be interested in it when I got back. Actually I am more interested in it. I want to hook it with all the influences have had. I actually see it in a different way.
There is so much beautiful art in the world. It is in the music, the buildings, the way people dress, the shoes, the jewelry, the stone work, the food, the decor, it is everywhere, and that is not just in Manhattan, that is everywhere.
Art is everywhere.
Look for it, Deanne
What is going on at my studio right now? Well I am working on a new combination sketch book journal which I hope to have ready to sell for Mother’s Day. I was choosing rugs for the cover and here were some of the top picks but there were others too.
I am also working on my website, trying to add my own little story to every pattern and kit and rug that is on there. That is over 600 tiny stories. But I think it will make the website far more interesting. I am only about a quarter done but I am getting there.
I also featured my story on the front page so people can learn why I hook rugs, and hopefully get inspired to hook rugs themselves.
Choosing covers for journals and sketchbooks. is just one of the best parts of my job. It is just fun. I love to see the rugs used in lots of different ways. As cards, journal covers , etc because that way I get to keep them forever in a way. Once I have the image it does not really matter if I have the rug anymore. I just like I record of everything I made. It helps me see where I have been and where I have got to. My work is very different now than when I started hooking rugs. Unrecognizable in some ways. But then I am different from that hippie inspired twenty four year old. And that is ok, perfectly ok.
Change is so hard and so lovely at the same time. Saying that it is the only thing that is constant is such a cliche. But then cliches are cliches for a reason.
I started my studio with a $2000 loan from my mother and a trunk and hutch in my front room. If I did not accept change I would still be lifting my rugs out of a trunk.
Really I embrace change. I don’t always find it easy but I am quick to cave when I don’t see any choice. Acceptance strengthens you. It makes you resilient. Whether you want it or not, change is here to stay.
from the archives…..how I got my sign on the highway….
If you think it can’t be done than you are absolutely right.
If you are sure it can’t be done then it will never happen.
I am always thinking about where I will take the rug studio in the next few years.
Metaphorically that is.
What direction? What is the next project?
And I need to remember that if you believe it can happen, then it will.
This sign on the highway is a great reminder of that.
Last spring, Laurie Glenn, who works with me said,”You should have one of those signs on the highway.”
I answered, “I tried to do that but I could not get it. So I am not going there.”
Then I came into my office and I thought. If you think it cannot happen, than it won’t happen.
I decided that it had been years since I tried. I called the Department of Tourism.
I learned that maybe I could have a sign.
Then I did a little dance.
I thanked Laurie for pushing me.
Then I did a little jig…just another kind of dance.
Then I waited for weeks and months until I heard that yes I could get a sign.
Then I waited for months for the sign to get put up. As soon as it did I had oatcakes delivered to the highway garage for the guys who put up my sign. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Then I danced again.
Then a few weeks later I went out and had my picture taken under it. I looked so small…like a little fairy girl standing beside it.
Then the little fairy girl did a little dance, and her little fairy friend took pictures as cars zoomed by wondering what those fairy fools were up too.
Then the fairy girl got in her truck and drove back to Amherst and on the way she turned into herself again and she realized something.
She learned that if she had to keep thinking that she could not have that sign then she would never have. She realized that if you think something won’t come true, than it won’t.
But the big thing she realized is that you have to work at it.
And that when you try, magic happens.
Sometimes that magic might not be exactly what you imagined it to be but sometimes it is just what you thought or even better.
So this little revelation is one I am carrying with me today and into the future.
Because if it can happen for me, it can happen for you.
It can happen for the people we love.
It can happen for our communities.
It can happen.
You have to believe it….but you also have to work at it.
it is so satisfying to see people finish their work….
Hi Deanne – although it’s taken a while for the attached photo to arrive, here it is as promised!
When I saw you last (in March) I shared that we (Alan, Pattie, Ann and I) were doing the big “reveal” of our 4 mats all started at your 2015 workshop. Well they didn’t all get collected until yesterday when they were displayed together at our 9th annual Carnegie Hook-in at the Saint John Arts Centre. We had 102 in attendance and this display received a lot of attention.
I think a lot of the credit goes to you for pushing each Fibre Artist to leave our comfort zone and make each piece our own.
Personally I think each mat turned out so well – the 4 of us are all delighted with our final product and we hope you are too!!!
Here’s the sign I posted to hang in the middle of the display so folks could appreciate the story of our mats.
All the best
This is a favorite post from the archives. It is a response to a young mother who wrote me a letter in 2013….
Dear Diary, I have had lots of interesting responses and conversations about the question I posed Why have knitting and quilting have become so popular, while rug hooking remains more obscure. Today I even got a beautiful handwritten letter in the mail from Carrie Clem a reader in Aylesford , Nova Scotia. In it she asked me to write a bit about when I was a young mother with small chidren and how I managed to work at that time.
That brought me think of this Christmas when my son agreed that I was much nicer now that he was an adult. I said thanks, then he said, “You’d still be cranky though if you had a bunch of young kids running around here.” I had to laugh because it had a serious ring of truth to it.
When my children were little sometimes I was a bit of a grump because I was always trying to be two things at once. I did take lots of time for my children. My son and I would make things together before he went to school. I walked him to school in the mornings. When he was really little we went to a play group every Friday morning and we would often go to a local restaurant for a cinnamon bun together. I was always around. I baked cookies. I hooked with him on my knee. I went to his classroom and made crafts. My daughter and I did the same thing, though I was only ever welcome to carve pumpkins in her class , she never wanted the crafts.
Sometimes as I did these things I bemoaned or complained a bit. I was no saint but I was a present mom, and knew somehow that this time was fleeting, just not how fleeting. At the time, I also had the pressures of two aging and ill parents but so I was sandwiched between multiple needs. My career was just getting off to a start. I wrote Hook Me a Story during all those in between intervals of caring and loving and complaining and sometimes I hooked rugs with a child on my knee. If I have one regret, it was that I was cranky with them and would lose my patience. Sometimes instead of having my mind on mothering, I had it on mat making. I know that if I had it to do again I would make mistakes again. There is no getting through those years of mothering, parenting, and loving without making them.
I often worked from eight in the morning until ten at night. The work involved everything from reading a bedtime story three times, to baking cookies, to wrapping packages for mail order, to hooking a rug. I was in the thick of it and I could not imagine that there would ever be a time that I was not yelping because I stepped on a piece of lego, or that we would not be driving in two different directions for hockey games on snowy days, or that there would not be lunches to pack. I was lost in mama land.
It was only this fall after my son had been away at university for a year already that it started to sink in that raising children is just a part of your life. Honestly, once I had kids , I felt it was my life. My family and my home was my priority, and my business and my art came second. Sometimes there were at war with each other a bit, when one would demand the other step aside for one reason or another. My son has been away for two years now, and it is just sinking in that he is a man now and that his life is his own. I can hardly believe it. My daughter is a young woman. They remain more important to me than any other part of my life but I have to tell you…..
I am so thankful that I have other parts of my life to turn to because with out my art , my business, my community, and my friendships, I would feel like a loose thread. I would be lost.
As we raise our families it is so important to hang onto ourselves and to carve out something meaningful for our lives. Rug Hooking has provided me with that in a multitude of ways and I believe that no matter how busy we are we need a few minutes to ourselves each day. We need to hang on to ourselves, to express our creativity and to carve out a life that is our own outside of our family. Khalil Gibran, the famous Lebanese philosopher, in speaking about marriage said, “Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.” He also said, “Let there be space in your togetherness”. I feel that this is true for families in general.
I never found parenting easy. In fact I loved mothering but really never loved parenting. It is a hard job, and unlike my rug hooking job, gets very little recognition. There may be no household where you are told each day what a lovely job you did on the laundry. Children may want and need to be parented but there are many times they do not enjoy it. My son is right though, I am more pleasant now because I have that much needed time to myself, time to think, time to be, time to create, time to work. One time I had to carve out those times out of a busy schedule.
I am glad I was able to, but also glad that I kept hearing that Harry Chapin song in the back of my head…”Dad can I borrow the car keys, see you later can I have them please…….we’ll get together soon Dad.” I never wanted to be the Dad in that in song, and if I ever am it won’t be because I wasn’t there. No doubt though, they’ll remember what I crab I was at times, and I’ll always be able to say, “”at least I was there, contrary maybe, but present” Who gets everything, I’ll tell them. I also do not reminding them that it wasn’t easy being with people who held their pee and yelled at you because you were making them use the bathroom, or regularly insisted on leaving three thousand pieces of lego all over the living room floor as the project was not finished, or pooped behind the chair in the living room , or refused to wear shoes.
For me being a mother was the most important thing I did but I am glad I spent time with people who went to bathroom with out being forced, and wore shoes when needed. I am glad I insisted on an hour to myself now and then, and that I made sure I got at least twenty minutes on my own each day, because un beknowst to me, it did not last for ever. I remain , a mother and a wife, and I remain Deanne. I am glad I hung on to her along the way.
Carrie, thank you for your thoughtful letter. I hope this answers your question…
Winter is not over here in Nova Scotia.
A big snowstorm is blowing down Church Street right now.
The wind is lifting the snow off the ground.
I hardly ever make winter rugs. I made a few earlier on in my work .
The truth is winter inspires me in a more abstract way. I never much want to hook the winter landscape. Instead I like to take the shades of winter and abstract them and play with them in rugs like this. They are warmer of course than what I am looking out at right now, which is a March blizzard.
There are many ways to understand winter in art, and this rug is just one of them.
I think of my community in a broad sense.
It is anywhere with in a forty minute drive I guess….maybe beyond that.
It is the people I see shopping in my Studio, at Mansours or Thirty Church.
It is my online community at the studio
It is the people I sit on community committees with.
It is people who contribute, who give back to their community.
It turns out my community is more about people than place.
The town next door is part of my community.
The road to Parrsboro is part of my community.
What goes on in these places can matter to me
as much as what is happening on Church Street.
I love it that my studio is fifteen minutes from a Unesco World Heritage site.
That is an amazing thing.
300 Million years ago something was happening here.
Then think about how small you are in the scheme of things.
You cannot feel self important and look up at those cliffs.
We might be small in one sense but there is no room
to think small anymore.
You can think local.
You can think about the importance of independents.
But you cannot think small because the world is too big and too vast.
There are too many ideas that are easy to access now.
We can all do so much more because there are so many tools.
You can produce a movie.
Make a music video.
Just with your phone.
You can sell to China. It is possible.
The limits that I feel are mostly my own. That might be true for others too,
Our small local economy is part of something bigger.
I have learned this from my work.
This morning I had a note from a woman on the west coast of Ireland
about my last blog post. It resonated with her an ocean away.
I have learned from doing business here in this community.
People come from away because they like it here. They like it HERE.
Years ago watching a little black and white tv in my parent’s mobile home
I saw Katherine Hepburn starring in a movie and she said, “The key to happiness kid is wanting what you have.”
To want it you have to find some ways to appreciate it.
You have to seek out the people and things you can appreciate,
You have to ignore the idea that to be hopeful is to be foolish because the nay sayers and fun suckers want you to believe that so you’ll join them.
Misery loves company but so does happiness.
Happiness loves company too.
Republished post from 2016
This years online workshop is hooking your own Floral Garden. Join Deanne this March and create something beautiful.
Flowers are full of meaning and we celebrate with them.
I don’t store my wool because I want it at hand. I just fold it on my shelves and keep it out where I can see it.
I think everyone who hooks needs to find a way of displaying their wool so that you can see what you have st your fingertips. It makes colour planning and choosing easier.
So when people ask how I store my wool, I guess the answer is I don’t.
Learn all about hooking Sleep Santa.
Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel.
One thing I love about the winter is white lights. They are just so comforting. It is my favorite thing to do in the evening , turning on those bright white lights outside and the little set in my studio. My daughter made me the little signs, focused and fabulous ( I just did not want you to think I made them for myself, lol I might be a bit of a diva but that would be going too far). There is something so cozy about turning on these little stations of light for ourselves. My Christmas decorating is kept pretty simple. A crèche. Always a crèche. Somewhere close to the holidays I will put up a tree and put out bowls of lemons with a few cloves in them. Last weekend my husband bought walnuts in the shell and a pomegranate, that is Christmas too. But I start with the white lights early and I let them linger through out the winter.
I think we need it here in this cold dark climate. Personally I need those little lights to brighten up the evenings and make me cozy. Such a small thing, but it makes me feel special. In the media we have heard lots about hyyge, the Danish art of living well in a cold climate. I believe we have that here in Canada but we just don’t have a word for it. We all know that you have to have throws on your couches, wood in the woodbox, and warm soft sweaters. It is a cultural thing. Most of us have at least one piece of buffalo plaid, especially this year as it is all the rage, and we all know the colours of the stripes in a Hudson Bay blanket. We get winter. We get cozy. We were hyyge before hyyge was hip.I have to say though that I love it that the Danish have a word for it and have made it a thing because when you wake up in the dark and go home from work in the dark you need hygge. It makes total sense.
Here I am on a rainy morning.It is too wet to walk but it will clear later in the day. I am in the cozy nest of my own home. I had to go to Halifax yesterday for my sister in laws’ book launch and we drove home late last night. That is not uncommon for us . We love being home. I recently completed this set of tiny landscapes for my home. During the last workshop we visited my friend Allison’s home to see her collection of 50 landscapes that I made. One the participants asked me if I had a set in my home and a light bulb went on. I wanted to create a set for myself and here they are. Denice, Georgina and I spent all afternoon finishing up the binding and framing on Wednesday and I hung them Wednesday night. When I came down the stairs on Thursday morning I was taken aback by them. I love that feeling of being caught off guard by your own work. It only happens sometimes. Oh but when it does. It feels so good. I made these 36 set in March or November. Mostly I hook them as if they were summer but I wanted a much more subtle colour range for this group. I learn about colour from each one. Individually they are studies but as a whole they are a completed painting in wool.
As the winter approaches I am so happy to have my hooking.
Today it was so cold I went home and got boots and sweater.
Wrapping myself in warmth.
I bought a fruitcake from a woman at the market.
I am gonna soak it in whiskey and wrap it.
There is nothing wrong with winter if you are ready for it.
I got book on hygge from the library but I think we instinctively know this in Canada.
How to warm the winter with our hearts and minds, as we reach out to friends.
Fire, light, love and kindness.
warm me up I am ready.
Let the chill begin.
So here we are in November and I finally get to wear my sweaters. I cannot say I mind it. There is something odd about us wool people. Once the fall comes we long for scarves and sweaters. I am settling in to my new space out back of my studio. I have made a few good rugs here so it is christened. That was all it took.
I still think of November as fall. Winter does not really start for me until January. This of course is my own made up set of seasons. Today I walked to work from the local car dealership where they fixed the rattle in my car by removing a can of mints from the dash. Yes. I puzzled over it for weeks. I have not test driven it yet so lets hope that it really was the mints.
I was able to wrap myself in a nice plaid scarf and walk down the hill. Simple as I am, that made me happy.
As for my rugs, I am making set of tiny landscapes for my own home. The little 8 by 8 frames are being made right now and I plan a set of 36 of them for the wall as soon as you walk in my house. I have this idea that it is going to be gorgeous.
This week I took the time to walk in a local waterfowl park, have lunch with a friend, and visited neighbours two nights in a row. I was reading the latest National Geographic about happiness. It seems the amount of socializing you do is directly related to a person’s happiness levels. It is fascinating article about how in certain countries people seem to be happier. Canada is way up there. I have been reading National Geographic since I was a kid but took a long hiatus until I subscribed my husband to it last year for Christmas. I am not sure he has picked one up but I am liking it. One of those gifts you buy for someone else and end up enjoying yourself.
So as I try to find new stores for our beginner kits, and think about what I will do for an online workshop this winter, I am spending my time walking, reading, hooking, and dreaming about what is possible from a title studio in Amherst , Nova Scotia.
I can think of others such as …
Orange and denim blue
Pale yellow and soft blue
Lime and turquoise
Mauve and brown
These combinations and many others give you a feeling. They work together in a special way.
In this rug I started out knowing the combination of colours even before I decided upon the subject. Red roses are a favorite of mine to hook so they were a natural compliment to the black and white pots. In the long thin rug I chose a coral for the pot just to change it up because I knew that coral and red always work well together in my rugs.
The stems needed to be noticeable and stand out from the background but I did not want their curvy nature to overtake the rug. If I had chosen a bright colour that is all you would see. The deep green real works well I think.
Sometimes colour is your first inspiration!
Rug hooking is a fantastic pastime and we want to spread it around, teaching people one by one. We have started wholesaling our beginner kits to shops and stores. If you have a store or know someone who is interested please have them contact us at email@example.com.
It is a wonderful hobby year round, and one that you can grow with. One of the reason I love hooking rugs and running the studio is that everyday I meet people who are passionate about making rugs, colour, creativity and design. When you find something you love to do it changes you.
People love the chance to express their creativity, and turn their hand at something worthwhile. When you sit to hook a rug you can see the bits of cloth and yarn becoming something right in front of you. It is a wonderful craft and I love seeing people changed by it.
We have had tremendously moody skies over the last few evenings. The air has changed here and the humidity has broken. That means the sky has changed as well.If you want to hook great skies the first thing you have to do its study it. You have to be a sky watcher. The other day I was looking at the horizon line and there were little entangle clouds peering out over it. I immediately thought I need to sketch that. When I sketch it, even quickly, even badly, I remember it so much better. I also keep myself from forgetting it completely.
The other night I sat and tried to catch a picture of the lightning across the bay but picture after picture I missed it. Regardless I was happy sitting there in my excitement to watch the sky. Thunder and lightning is exciting. I have actually never hooked lightning. If I did I would have to make it whimsical or magical looking. It is hard to really capture that kind of light in wool. Maybe the lightning would have to be a kind of paisley.
So I have been spending time watching the sky and I can feel sky rugs brewing again. A new kind of lightning has hit. If you want to hook skies begin with the sky above your house. watch it in the morning, watch it in the evening and watch it through the day. When is it most interesting? What do you want to capture?
Take pictures of it. Sketch it. Think about the colours of the sky as you fall asleep. Then get ready to hook it.
You might need to look at form.
You might have one landing on your hand right now.
Watching them fly around so beautifully
Made me want to hook rugs.
I hope it does the same for you.
Beauty in abundance. Everywhere.
Summer in a garden.
Fresh strawberries down the road.
Soon to be a bowl on your table.
The slightest breeze.
White sheets on clothelines.
Knowing your blessings.
Feeling your abundance.
The evening light.
Inspiration seems to be everywhere for me in June. It is in the first days of summer that I really feel the beauty of the season. You go from lilacs to lupins to roses. Does it get any better? I love the scent of roses in the air as I go by on my bicycle.
I have been busy pulling loops of patterns from the Pattern of the Month Club. I hooked two last week and hope to hook a couple of more in the coming weeks. Hooking does not stop over the summer for me. It changes. I work smaller. I sometimes use my laptop frame instead of my cheticamp. I find I still need that meditation of pulling the loops and when I go a while with out it I notice it. I begin to stir the pot, my own pot, so to speak. Hooking for me is a comfort and since I learned I rarely stop for any length of time. I hook because it comforts me.
Today the studio has been full of visitors. We have taught a few people how to hook but others came for a yard of linen, or to pick up a new kit. Some fell in love with a swatch of wool and had to have it. Most are on their way somewhere. That is the lovely thing about Amherst, it is on the way if you travel through the maritimes. We are in the centre of NS, NB, and PEI. I love the sound the voices and the oohs and ahas that people make as they look around. It makes me feel special, like I did something! Having a small business here in town is a blessing for me. I love having somewhere to go!
It is a real joy to see people come in and see in real life what they have been looking at on the internet. When it comes to life for them it is fun to be here and see it happen. I have been busy working on the private learning website for Pattern of the Month Club and WoolBox Club members. It is called Woolcake and will also be available as a separate subscription offering how to videos, lessons, tips and inspiration. It will be updated weekly. It is a lot of work but I am excited by it. I felt it was time to take this idea and run with it. It has been in the making for over three years. Usually I am good at getting things off the ground quickly but this one has been stewing a long time.
We have plenty of fun and foolishness here as you can se. Having Georgina and Denise constantly in everyday means that the studio has a lot more continuity. It also means for me that I have time to hook and to play with new ideas, and get pictures of us that make no sense what so ever.
When I think of the things that have inspired me lately I would have to say:
Well that is just a few things lately that got me rolling. I hope you are finding lots in your community to inspire you. That’s one of our jobs in life, to inspire each other.
That is my letter for today…..
As always, I am happy you read this, Thanks so much, Deanne
Pattern of the Month Club
Once a month you will get a surprise in the mail…
Click on the above picture to hear Deanne describe the Pattern of the Month Club
Do not forget when you join Pattern of the month you get FREE access to
WOOLCAKE , our online learning portal
I just wanted to say…
I have been surrounded by great women all my life.
And that I think that the notion that women are mean and catty is mostly a myth.
Anyone can be. I can be. Maybe you can be that way too. Mostly though all my life and right up to today I have personally found that women are good to each other.
My earliest memories are of my mother’s friends. Names like Edna, Kitty, and Mary come to mind. They shared their lives. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes sad. I still see them on the street or in each other’s kitchens passing stories, being each other’s blessing.
I watched my mother look after her friend Ann Bartlett when Ann was sick and dying. For a year I went to the Bartlett’s for school lunch because that is where mom would be. I would go in and visit Ann at her bedside and she was so happy to hear about my day. When I think of my mom I know that is who she was. She was a woman who loved and cared for her friend who was dying. That single act of caring in my mothers life makes her amazing to me.
Then there was my Aunt Beth. I watched her go to summer school and get educated. I saw her good judgement and kind heart. She lived through loss and saw the importance of the joy to be found in each other. She loved her seven neices and was so proud of us. She was always telling you how good you were. I still think of her as someone to emulate.
In my Aunt Mary and my Aunt Nell I saw business women who were generous and kind but sharp as tacks. My Aunt Nell ran two boarding houses in Brooklyn, New York. She would send me an outfit, or my mom a cheque for $50. She stayed in touch and loved us. She worked hard and held her shoulders back and her head high.
Aunt Mary was always there in St.John’s to welcome us from around the bay. Her house was a welcome home. I would watch my mother with her sisters and sisters in law and know that there was comfort in getting along. They were all women I try to be like.
Except for Aunt Mary and the overnight guests. Sorry I am just no good at that. I do though sent people out of my house with food I made or got on sale somewhere like she used to do.
I have six sisters of my own. I never really grew up with them as most were left the house shortly after I came along but they have always surrounded me like a quilt. I remember them coming home for the weekend with gifts for me. New colouring books. I love them all and they love me. I watched them get married, get educated, have children and grandchildren. All their stages came before mine and watching them prepared me and still prepares me. It is like a video of what may come. Everyone of them is different and I love each one in their own way. It is because of them that I go educated. There was no other way. You got yourself educated and you got a job and you looked after yourself.
I have two good sister in laws. My mother in law took me in to her family easily and was kind and generous with her time and also with her advice. When she was alive I rolled my eyes ( right in front of her) but now that she is gone and I am older there is so much of it I follow that it sometimes worries me.
My daughter is like a dream come true. I could not imagine a better one.
Then there are the women I work with at the studio and 30 Church. They are pretty great. We all have our moments but we all have our gifts. Everyday I learn from them and watch them grow into themselves. They are soooo good to me.
Then there are my good friends. We went to school together or raised families together. They know you. You know them.
I never feel afraid to walk out of the room at work or with my friends, or my sisters, or my co workers or any of the women I surround myself with.
Do they sometimes talk about me?
Well yes. I can be a pain in the arse.
That is not the question. The question is do they care about me?
The question is when it comes down to it do the people you surround yourself with have your back?
It is natural to talk about each other.
It is fine really as long as you also talk to each other about whatever it is that you say about each other.
That is the rule I try to follow. Sometimes it is impossible but when I can I like to bring things to the surface. I do not like to talk about some one unless I am able to talk to them about it.
I am no Pollyanna. I know we can be hard on each other.
Recently I heard a woman talk about another woman with great disregard. I was just in the room, not part of the conversation. And I was shocked.
I have been thinking about it for weeks. It really bothered me.
The more I think about it though I realize I was shocked because this was the exception. Mostly in my life I do not hear women tear down other women. Mostly I see and have seen and still hear them build each other up.
Cattiness is really not that common in my world. That might be because I don’t make any room for it but I also think that it is not as common as we are lead to believe.
I watch women in my community every day support and be kind to each other. It is mostly what I see.
When one woman is sick, another woman is organizing a parade of meals. When another woman is having a hard time, her friends are making sure that someone is dropping in regularly.
I think women have got a bum wrap in the cattiness department.
Sure when we were young there was some cattiness.
Sure there is a bit a gossip.
Sure we can be hard on each other.
But really what do we see mostly?
I see women reaching out to each other.
I see them praying for each other.
And I see them putting out their hands for each other so they can help another woman step up to the plate.
I have seen it all my life.
One of the most difficult things about starting a rug is deciding which colour to start with. That first colour determines all the other colours that you will use. I hate to colour plan the entire rug in the beginning. It is just not the way I work. Instead I like every colour I add to help determine the next colour.
So colour planning is not something I really do. It is more like colour processing. Through out the whole rug I am processing the colours I choose and deciding if they are right.
For me if I worked out all the colours before I started I would have the puzzle worked out. The fun would be gone. I like to make it part of the whole process.
Yesterday I worked on this pot. I knew from the start that the pot would be black and white but the teal stems evolved. I had imagined green but then chose three shades of blue and hooked them in. The teal won.
I think black and white will appear again in my rugs. It is such an easy palette to jump off.