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.
It is time for a good old fashioned letter as summer begins. So long June, here comes July. A lot of you are in your gardens and I admire that. My gardens are small containers. I can never seem to get the hang of weeding. I guess I am too busy pulling loops instead of weeds. Years ago I wrote letters all the time. My friends said I wrote just like I talked. Lately most of the writing I do is for this website. I still try to send out thank you notes, but very rarely do I write a letter. Just here…
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:
- Maudie, the movie about Maude Lewis’s life.
- The smell of wild roses.
- A bunch of books about how to draw things.
- The old Lighthouse in Spencer’s Island that is preserved by the community.
- Driving my bicycle down the yellow line on old country roads with no cars around.
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
$24.91 usd (subject to change) Shipping included
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.
This week we had a fashion show in Moncton, a small city north of Amherst for 30 Church Women’s Clothing. Before the show I sat with a 91 year old woman, Doris, who had travelled the world, and eventually came home to retire. Our conversation was easy. It was not about what Doris did but about what she was doing. When ever I meet someone older who is living a full life it makes me embrace aging even more.
The thing about getting older and wiser is really true for many people. You carry so much experience with you. You have sorted through so many ideas. You know yourself more, and therefore you know more because it is always that struggle between self and the world around it that needs sorting out.
For me turning fifty was critical in coming to terms with aging. I have lived over half a century. Surely there has to be some serious learning in half a century. I always felt like an old soul. I would have to say I see that same old soulness in my children. Some people have that way about them. But at turning fifty I feel that I am not just an old soul, I am actually an older person. And this morning at least, I like that and meeting Doris at the fashion show inspired me to embrace aging.
It is not about what I have done, that is just collected knowledge. It is about what I am doing on any given day, at any given moment. Being thankful for peace of mind and a healthy body.
I just love meeting people who inspire me. When I got to work the next day, there was a message from Doris, thanking me for the visit the night before.
She gets me. I get her.
Aging is just part of life.
Life stays good.
Today was a lot of fun. Sheree came to read the book I illustrated for her on YouTube. And we kinda had a Singily Skipping Along kinda day.
We went to 30 Church and got her in some dresses, had our nails painted at Damaris and then had tea, dim sum and wonton soup at Victoria Faire. It is so nice to be able to do all that within a block of the studio. We did not actually skip but almost. It was a happy day.
The book has been out now for over three years but when she reads it to me again it feels new to me. It is the only time I ever illustrated a children’s book, and it was really something to be part of. It took a winter to make all the rugs and part of that time was imagining the words as images. Not in too literal a way, but a beautiful way. That was the trick.
It was one of the loveliest projects I have worked on over the years. Both Sheree and Nimbus Publishing were fun and easy to work with. It was a happy collaboration. Spending time together today made me think about what else I might like to work on.
You can see the video on Youtube.
So I grew up with homemade spaghetti nearly every Saturday. It was good. I have always made ok Spagetti myself. But it was just ok.
Until tonight. It was really good because I did it differently.
2lbs lean ground beef
3/4 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Mix and form into two inch balls
In food processor, finely chop 1 red pepper, 2 cloves garlic, 1 large onion, 5 large mushrooms
Sauté in 1/8 cup olive oil.
Pour in 1 cup white wine and two tablespoons balsamic vinegar.
Sauté five minutes.
Add I can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce. I used Hunts thick and rich.
Two teaspoons each: Italian seasoning, basil, oregano
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
Bring to a boil. Stirring. Take the meatballs and put into boiling sauce, turn heat down , and cover til meatballs and thoroughly cooked. Basically I boiled the meatballs in the sauce and it made a nice thick sauce that stuck well to the noodles.
I woke up this morning, excited, cause there was more work to be done. I have been working on creating an online course called Hooking Painterly. I am doing this because so many people asked me too. It inspires me to work when I know what people want. You can pre-order it here.
When I am busy working , it makes me happy, because my work is fun. The other beauty of it is that I am not working alone. We have a good team at the studio and they help me with a lot of the work.
So today I recorded some videos on the importance of colour in painterly hooking. The course is well on it’s way.
Flowers on your table.
Freedom to move.
Colour and Comfort around you.
Words to live by.
Something left to learn.
Hands to make things.
Prayers to say.
A meal on your plate.
A warm hand in yours.
“Just be thankful.
We never had it so good.”
said a woman I knew.
And I believed her.
There are things I love more as I get older….
humility, that softening of heart and soul,
and comfortable shoes.
Lipstick, my mother told me I would,
and quick wit, the kind that catches you by surprise.
Youthfulness in the young, but especially the old.
Lines around other people’s eyes
(I am still coming to terms with my own).
and faith in all it’s forms.
A kiss on the top of my head from someone who has known me forever,
or at least twenty years.
The smell of fresh air on someone I love.
A bath before bed.
A good story from the horses’ mouth.
and fried eggs.
These things seem to matter more now than ever.
I am fortunate to live near a sugar woods with three active camps. It is just ten minutes from my studio. Every year I go (almost) and every year I come home inspired. It feels like the most natural thing in the world to gather sugar from the maple trees.
What is so inspiring about it is you see people working so hard doing what they love. Most camps have people there lending them a hand. Everyone is working together in the simplest of conditions. People are there making syrup, and have been for generations because they love what they do.
The scent is comforting. The steam is rolling. And people are making…just making.
Most of my morning was spent working on a rug but it was lovely to take a hike this afternoon with members of the local trails society and see the maple syrup and candy being made. I always come home feeling ready to get back to work.
Remember when you were in school and you were taught to write a proper letter. I loved that part of school. I loved writing my address up in the corner. I wrote like I talked. I thought I would do that today for you. Even though it is not written by hand , I want you to know in spirit it is. I am here clicking away, thinking of everyone out there who reads this, writes back to me, and supports my studio. Thank you.
You can order this limited edition pattern here.
My most favorite rug right now is the hot pink moose. I thought I would include a couple of snapshots so you could see how I hooked it.
So the hooking of the circles in the moose took a lot of patience. Honestly it gets on my nerves a bit but I love the result so I do it. Rug hooking can be that way. I sometimes use fabrics I do not love to hook with but use them because I love the results. Here is a close up of the circles.
It is also a bit difficult to choose the colour. You need tones but not too many, or too jarring.I add lots then eliminate.
I outlined it in yellow so that there would be a strong contrast between the moose colour and the background colour. This is very important. It would be so easy for the moose to recede or get lost. Yellow is hard to lose.
One decision was whether to use the circles in the antlers. I almost did not. I thought I might just do lines. As I told you hooking circles irritates me so I was trying to get out of it. Then I tried to close my eyes and imagine it both ways. The circles were right I knew it and I had to push on.
You know what the rug needs when you close your eyes and imagine it done. I started on the background and went wrong with shades of green. I had to pull it out. Then I chose the colour of a real moose as my main background colour. That made sense to me. Make the moose the colour of the berries on a marsh, and make the marsh the colour of the moose.
Well you are probably wondering about me, because I am telling you how my rug hooking mind works. It is peculiar and silly and that is the truth. I spend a lot of time pondering colour and shape and movement and it makes me happy.
You can see I chose some soft greens and tans for the background too. I used cloth, yarn and sexy jersey in both the moose and the background.
Right now I am pondering making a canvas print of the moose and perhaps a pattern but for a while I just like to leave it in my studio and get used to it. I learn more from looking at a finished rug on the wall than I do from hooking it sometimes. Right now it is my favorite rug, but then again, it is the last one I finished. The last one you danced with always lingers in your mind after the dance.
So that is a tiny moose tutorial for you. A lesson in being loose with moose.
If you want to hook a moose we do have a moose kit that you can try.
You can also see our deals of the week here.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read…. Deanne
P.S. Guess what I am hooking? Yup…you got it four moose
Why Do I Hook Rugs? Click on the image above to find out why!
Fighting off colds.
Reimagining my beginner kit designs.
Thinking about why someone begins to hook rugs.
Creating a beautiful Instagram Account.
I have noticed that young women are making things.
More often people come to the studio with young children .
They are reconnecting with their hands.
They are hooking rugs for the same reason I do.
I love my phone like a teenager but when I put it down after browsing I do not feel satisfied.
I feel the need to do something.
To make something.
Making things fills a need in us.
It unites us.
It makes us happy.
It soothes us.
It makes us feel like we matter.
Making is a big movement right now among young people.
because it is filling a need .
When I first started making rugs I felt like I had found a home.
I belonged to that one simple stitch.
And it changed me.
That is powerful to think that making things can change a person.
but it does.
and we need to share that
because we should.
Clementines is our new studio treat. Do not worry , we still have oatcakes but for those of us there everyday we need some fruit.
I was looking recently at store windows when I visited Montreal and there were bowls of clementines everywhere. It looked good so I want them here too.
My new desk is working well. I have room to draw and to write.
I have finished four new rugs in the last few weeks. Ones I had been working for awhile. It feels good to have new work on the walls.
We are looking forward to clear roads and visits from you!
I look for it, it’s true.
I want to find it everywhere.
I see it in the window boxes.
In the windows.
In the galleries for sure.
In the churches, art is all about the Mystery.
On the street you might find it in the shadows.
In a restaurant it might be on your plate, or it might be overhead.
When you broaden your definition, the art world opens up for you.
Art is everywhere.
It in the fine things.
It might be in the squashed cardboard on the street.
Or the way the snow and ice are melting in the winter sun.
It hangs on the walls.
It lays on the floor.
It is stacked interestly on shelves with love and care and attention.
Beauty built, carved, designed for eyes to see and hearts to feel.
Find the art. Find the feeling.
Art is waiting for you.
Look anywhere at all.
I ‘ve decided on an anniversary pattern and it will be geraniums.
Well they are hardy, like you have to be if you have been in business for twenty five years.
They are a simple plant, no fuss, and there they are from May to early November, showing up everyday, still blooming. Sometimes I forget to water them, other times the rain pours on them. Either way they manage with just a little bit of attention.
They also remind me of how I see a community. I want to be the person who chooses to plant geraniums to make their community a little prettier. Somehow geraniums remind me of the importance of giving back. It is such a simple thing to do and it reminds me that small things matter a great deal in a community.
You’ll notice the four white houses in the background of the pattern. They are there to represent community. When I moved my business into town , one of the things I decided was that I would commit myself to the community. It has been good to me, and I must try to be good to it. Building and supporting my community is an important part of my everyday life.
So is beauty. I love to see the storefronts in our downtown in full summer bloom. It makes coming to work, walking the street, and driving by a little sweeter for everyone.
I think of geraniums as an old fashioned flower. It is traditional.
But it isn’t meek. It is quite showy. And I kinda like that about them. Plain but showy. I relate.
So this is a very simple pattern but it is meaningful to me and part of my celebrating twenty five years.
We have listed it on the online shop here.
On this our twenty fifth year it is important to celebrate. Even if the truth is we have been celebrating all along.
Often it is a cup of tea and an oatcake.
Last year Carol made us 972 oatcakes that we have to studio visitors.
The oatcakes are special.
They are crisp and delicious.
Carol is an important part of the studio because she does this for us. We so appreciate her.
Visitors sometimes ask us how much they are.
We are so happy to tell them they are free.
Just a thank you for visiting us.
Often if someone is waiting while the other shop they are so happy to have a little treat.
That is something to celebrate.
Carol McCall making them for us makes her someone to celebrate.
As a small business owner I have found that people like Carol who are retired but are willing to help a small business make a big difference.
We rely on her and are thankful for her.
For twenty five years I have been hooking rugs and running a business around it.
For twenty five years I have been an artist.
That is a reason to celebrate.
Twenty five years and counting.
I began with a two thousand dollar loan from my mother and an old trunk and hutch in my front room that I used to sell supplies from.
My sister Joan, God Bless her heart, bought many of my early rugs. So did my other sisters. They were all supportive.
My mother wondered what the heck I was doing as I had just graduated with a masters degree in counselling but had decided I wanted to hook rugs for a living. She had right to wonder. She had not hooked rugs for sixty five years but she started again.
I never wondered. Everyday I did something that would make my business a little better.
For a while I spent more money than I made. I poured any money I made back into my business.
My husband paid the household bills. Being married really made a difference. It was so much easier knowing I did not have to pay the light bill.
I paid an employee before I paid myself. I needed help as there was so much to do.
When I think back to my early years in business I think of packing cards late at night.
I loved pretty much every minute of it.
I still do.
Today I am trying to come up with a small pattern to celebrate twenty five years. I went to bed last night thinking about it and I woke up this morning thinking about. That is what it is like. What you do is just part of you all the time.
Twenty five years of grace.
Twenty five years of beauty.
Twenty five years and counting.
Grateful for the years gone by.
Hopeful for the years to come.
Prayers and Blessings.
On Friday night as I was going to Duncan’s for nachos I stopped by the new downtown rink. There was a couple of families skating and playing on the ice.
After dinner another group was out for Friday night skate.
It was so good to see that kind of vibrancy.
The other day on instagram, Cumberland Public Library posted a book called “This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place Where You Live.” I checked it out because I thought the title was good advice. You have to love the community you live in. When you do it is better for everyone. We can all take some responsibility for making the town a better place. It is easy really to commit to some little thing that makes your town better. It can be tiny. It can be big. Either way , we are the community and we need to carry it out, to make it happen.
In her book, Melody Warwick says that simple things increase the happiness factor you feel about your community. She suggests getting out and walking, volunteering, shopping and eating local, being creative,and knowing your neighbors are just a few ways of loving the place where you live.
I remember years ago there was a woman being interviewed on the radio about her home. She said, “It’s not what you got, it’s how you keep it.” Whether you live in a mansion or something more humble how you keep your place says alot about you. I think the same can be said about our community. A town does not have to be growing to be good. Goodness comes in all sorts of ways. It does not have to be big to be a great place to live. There are many communities much smaller than ours that are amazing places to live
Last summer a visitor was sitting in the window of my studio for a couple of days while she was here on a workshop. She was watching all the comings and going and she said,”This place is like Cedar Creek off the tv.” I wanted to say Cedar Creek is idyllic. It is on the water. Everyone there is beautiful.
But I did not. Instead I listened to what she said and looked at it from her perspective. We live in a small place where people know each other. She was here watching the community and she had a valuable persective.She was watching how we treat and interact with each other. I have thought about that a lot. Especially when I doubt Amherst. I remember that we are a community. We are in a constant state of change because we are made of people. People come and go. Their needs and abilities change. People change with in themselves. Because of this communities change.
We are even more of a community than Cedar Creek because we are real. It was really interesting to see our community from her perspective.
Small things that do not cost a lot like the outdoor rink, or the big block walk through the downtown (3 times around is two kilometres) add to the life of our village. It creates a sense of place, something for people to do and enjoy. When we live here it is our responsibility to create and find the joy in the community. There is buzz in seeing people enjoy and utilize their community. We are all strengthened by it. It is our job to make them happen;to work together to create beauty in the community.
Thanks to the town for listening to the community and working to make it just a little bit more like those sweet little towns on tv.We might not be Cedar Creek, but we’re Amherst.
As I work to create a selection of new beginner kits for the studio I think a lot about what it is like to be a beginner.
I have been starting to paint. Playing with new materials, learning how to handle them. It is a whole new world.
That must be what it is like when people start rug hooking. I remember how I was. I was so curious. I was starting out. Curious about everything.
I feel the same way whenever I start to paint.
I have never painted consistently enough for me to loose that beginner feeling.
I want our beginner kits to inspire people to make more rugs. I want them to make them curious about new and different materials. Curious about design! Curious about finishing and moving on.
I am going to make lots more small kits. I will see what I can come up with to keep people hooking. Small projects that are not daunting. Little pieces that they can finish easy and move on to new materials and colours. It will be like a little series of explorations. You will be able to play with designs, colours, and textures.
For the next little while as I explore painting big as a beginner I am also going to explore hooking small and imagine what it might be like for a beginner.
This year I will be in business for twenty five years. Every new year there is a new beginning. Anyone who works as an artist or as a business person. You are always starting over.
As I hook these small pieces and paint large I feel a real juxtaposition on some levels. On other levels there is a synchronicity. I find them both fun, and both challenging. In paint I work to complicate the materials so they are more interesting. In rug hooking I am trying to simplify the materials and keep the designs interesting.
The thing I am most happy about is that I am making. Ideas are emerging slowly but they are coming and I am excited about the possibility.
You would think if you were good at one it would be easy to be good at the other but it is not that way. I think I will have to make fifteen or twenty paintings to get anything I like. Maybe it is the same for rug hookers. You have to make lots to get to a point where you really start to like your work.
Be happy to make.
Be grateful you have the luxury to make.
It is a joy.
Twenty five years is a long time but really I am twenty five years and counting.
Twenty five years a beginner and hoping to remain that way.
Twenty five years and counting.
Sometimes I have to pull myself away.
I took a road trip on the weekend and delivered 22 of my rugs to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia for their permanent collection.
I was happy to see them off and into good hands.
Getting around to taking them down there should have been easy but instead I keep talking myself out of hitting the road.
For me it is like a workout. I like it when I do it. I feel good afterward but I do not look forward to it.
It would be nice to try and change this but that would be like a diet. It is not going to happen. See I am happy like this. It is just that my curiousity does not get satiated so I have to break the bonds of home sometimes.
Once I got to the city it snowed heavily and I walked about and had a lovely time. It was just so pretty with all the lights. It does not get dark there at five o’clock because there are lights on everywhere.
A good dinner out.
A morning at the market.
Perfect really. I loved it.
I just needed a kick in the arse.
It will be easier if I just keep going away lots.
Just a night here and there.
Filling up the cup.
I wandered around the AGNS and one of the docents came along and guided me through a show of Nova Scotia artists. She asked really interesting questions, ones she herself did not know the answers too. I liked that. It left room for discussion. Art is so beautiful to talk about.
I bought a book by a painter I have been curious about. I bought some pens. Little things.
I looked at more art.
It was like one of Julia Cameron’s artists dates. We need them. We need to socialize the artist in us. She needs to be met in different places.
I came home, still not terrifically inspired but ready to work.
If I work the inspiration will come. I know that. Twenty five years at this has taught me to show up whether you feel like it or not.
Showing up and making lots of work.
That is the answer.
Make the work.
I told myself I would go somewhere in January but it has come and I am not feeling that desire. I am feeling the need for my nest.
I did not book anything for the month because I wanted to keep it open just in case I got the urge to travel.
We all have opinions about this time of year.
Regrets about resolutions not kept.
A friend told me yesterday that they love January. It is time to metaphorically clean house for her.
So many more feel as if it weighs heavy on them. I feel some of both.
The freshness and promise of the new year.
The trepidation and vastness of the year before me.
Hope would be a better word.
I feel the freshness that my friends feel.
We have shed the windows of their Christmas decor.
Georgina has taken down the rugs from The Very Mention of Home show to send to their permanent home at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
The studio is claiming a different vibe. Hot pink foxes. Red moose. Vibrant coves.
Change is in the air in lots of ways.
Decisions must be made.
A new plan for a new year.
I have not started the first rug of 2017. I feel like once I do it will settle things into place.
For me the new year will begin when that hook slips through burlap to create something.
It will be then that I will settle into this year. A reclaiming of my routine.
On the eve of the New Year I am thankful for the last year.
Sitting with a few prayers, and hair in a towel ready to go out with friends, I look back and see that there was so much beauty behind me this past year.
My family thrived.
Work was good.
I loved so many of the rugs I made.
I sit here hopeful that new ideas, new interests, new beauty will follow for all of us, for you.
Lately when I wake in the morning I think “Let me fill this day with good things.”
I love the video that Maya Angelou made where she tells people to “Be a blessing.”
So often we look for blessings but she reminds us to be one.
A succinct statement. Be a blessing.
May 2017 be just that.
I fell down walking up Victoria Street. My niece and I were talking when I saw that part of the sidewalk was covered with a skiff of snow. I stepped on it.
It was not an easy fall. It was one of those falls that you are in the air first and then you land face down. It was a fall like the ones in the cartoons. A dramatic big time real life smash.
Luckily I had on my big fake fur coat which gave me a nice padding. Not a thing was hurt. Not even my pride. I have fallen a couple of times lately. Once I slipped on all the rotten apples under the tree when I was doing the pine boughs. I thought wouldn’t those bare branches with apples look so good in my window boxes. Wham right into the rotten apples. I was covered with brown scum but I continued with decorating. When I came in the door I took off the dirty clothes right by the door. I felt like a kid again.
It is strange how falling makes you feel like a child. As an adult though , when you get up ok, you are filled with this great sense of relief. Thank goodness nothing was broke. You just know you will be stiff. And I am. Stiff and sore and relieved. That sense of relief makes you happy. Oddly enough, after a fall you have this sense of elation. “I am ok, whew that was close.”
“That old black ice took a hold of me”…but I got up , continued to walk with my niece and just counted my blessings. Today, however, I will walk at the rink. I should be fine on that nice rubber floor as I walk slowly and stiffly trying to juice up my muscles and apologize to them for my clumsiness.
This is my niece and I prior to the dramatic slip on the ice where I pummelled into the air before hitting the ice with a thud. It was misty out so we were protecting our hair with our scarves. Had I known I could have also worn some hockey gear.
In my writing I have periods where I write a lot and periods where I barely write at all. I find that when I hook a lot I get better. Ideas flow more easily. I am going to try to write in the same way I hook. Just let it flow.
So I will not wait for the new year.
There will be no beginning.
Instead it will just be a continuance.
I will start from here. No waiting for the right time.
Why wait when you can begin.
I might wait for something else. Something I have to build a commitment to.
Something I do not look forward to.
I love to read my old writing. The old blog posts here from years ago.
Once I have written them I am glad.
Sometimes I read things over and I remember.
Sometimes I read things over and see how I have grown .
These writings will be right off the cuff.
I want to write from the spirit inside me that wants to write. They will be done in the moment because that is the only way I do it well.
Maybe these will be a conversation. Maybe sometimes I will ask a question. Right now I am wondering…
Are there practical creative habits that you need to start?
It happens so suddenly, that after Christmas feeling. Just a few days ago we were awaiting the magic and now it is past.
Personally I feel a kind of peace to have things back to normal, but also I feel a sense of loss.
I love the idea that it can be Christmas all year long, that we can keep that Christmas spirit, but if that was perfectly true the magic of Christmas would be lost.
I love gathering. I love the beauty of the lights. I love the season.
On the other hand, I do not love the winter. I just try to accept it.
I must adapt to this new season. This season of winter, with all it’s faults, beholds a great deal.
It is a time to renew and prepare.
It is a time to collect out thoughts.
A time to collect out thanks.
In all the barren and bareness, there is so much joy and hope.
So much anticipation of what might become.
Those bare branches will bloom again. I just have to wait.
Over the past four months I have visited a local Syrian family who has moved to our community. I have watched them adapt to winter so easily, with such gratefulness and acceptance.
It is cold, yes.
It is slippery. It is wet. It is windy.
There is also a fire in my wood stove.
The pantry is stocked.
Life is good here.
Watching someone else appreciate the peace here has made me more grateful in general.
When I start to waver I remember that others have come a long way to be in these blizzards.
Many other wait, and dream of the day that they can build a snowman with their children.
So there is loveliness in the bare trees.
When the roads are bad I will try to just settle in,
find some hand work,
say my prayers,
and be grateful even when things about the winter are getting own my nerves.
The pond was fit for skating yesterday. Today it is ten degrees.
This photo of my friends was taken by a photographer from the states who was here on a Rotary International Film crew. It is so beautiful.
I am hooking neutrals…..
There is nothing like home. I have had a long tradition of making a rug for myself in December. I had just finished making a rug for my kitchen.
The other night I walked into my home just after dark and gasped at the comfort it offered. It surprised me. I walk in this house every evening but somehow the light surprised me, it was the glow from the fire in the wood stove. The rug in the corner, the twenty year old couches, the plant on the coffee table were waiting for me. I felt so certain I was in the right place. That is home.
It waits for us.
The house feels fuller because we are there.
We belong, feel situated.
It takes very little to turn a house into home.
It is the light, the people, the fire.
It is the bits of me memory in the little things.
A painting, a rock picked on a beach somewhere.
The books that you love.
Something soft underfoot.
And the thankfulness that it is there upon your return.
Waiting for you like you never left.