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.
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…
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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…..
Today as I look around the studio and the women’s store I feel the season of Christmas fast approaching. Remembrance Day has passed and we are busy prepping for the holidays. Windows are glittering with white lights and shiny balls.
At night at home I have little lights on timers that come on at five until ten and when I come home in the evening they are waiting for me. I try to think of winter as a festival of light. I miss the early morning and evening light that came naturally in my window so I reinvent it with a little sparkle. I put small white lights on shelves to lighten up the long hours of darkness in my house studio. They make me feel cozy and warm.
Our windows in both shops are simple but they too focus on the warm white light that we need in winter. Georgina, Susan (30 Church Women’s Clothing) and Denise put the windows together today. Watching them really got me in the mood for this long season of celebration.
I just do not engage in all the negative hype we hear about Christmas. I think it is a miracle season. It is a time when we look outside of ourselves to help, or cherish others. I still see the beauty in giving and receiving gifts and love the symbolism of it. The wisemen brought frankincense and myrrh to the baby and it turns out, he too , already had everything. Gifts can be simple, joyous, and useful. We do not have to overburden anyone. I love to give gifts.
I look forward to the little celebrations that people have.
The joy and comfort. The hope, peace, and charity that prevail at this time of year. It still makes me believe in possibility. It reminds me of the importance of faith.
It is our season. It is my season. Time to spread a little joy. Time to remember others’ kindness.
There is no way that I am going to diminish the beauty of this season. It is a celebration of birth. I want it. I want to share it. I want to celebrate it.
These months of darkness need a blessing.
And Christmas is just that, a chance to celebrate what we have, what we had, and what we hope for.
So the season starts, not with endless shopping, though I will do some of that.
Not with endless plans for fancy evenings and complicated foods.
It starts with a little white light in the window.
Ok, it’s stewing time here in Amherst Nova Scotia
yup, in November I often simmer
on a back burner and I get a little bored waiting for the next idea
that could possibly become a reality.
Some of my ideas are bad, like this morning when I looked at the empty stone bank building and thought I should do something with that.
It would be a good idea if I needed a building but all I really need is a project.
That is why I simmer. I am not waiting for someone to give me an idea of what I should do next.
I just need to wait and see what I can do next. What motivates me and what I am inspired to do.
That is the simmer.
If you don’t simmer you never really get a well cooked , delicious stew. I know that.
So I came in to my office, unsure, thinking, if only I had an idea.
Then a little package came in the mail from a woman I met at 30 Church, my clothing store.
She said after coming to 30 Church and the studio she went home and read my blog from start to finish and that she was inspired. That inspired me.
Then I got a little thank you note from a lovely woman else for an event we hosted.
Then I thought, “Hey, maybe you just need to keep doing what you are doing.”
Two nice notes on one day. I posted them above my desk to remind me to keep doing, thinking and writing. To remind me of the kindness of others.
To remind me to do the same for other people who are good to me, or whom I enjoy.
Then I walked down to the bowling alley by myself and had a piece of pan fried cod. It was really good.
I got very little done today, and that’s okay.
Cause I’m on simmer.
There is no need to be on full boil all the time.
You cannot be everything all at once.
You are what you are.
Beauty is on the inside.
We know all of this . We have heard it a hundred times. Yet we wonder.
Am I enough?
We would not be saying, “I need to lose ten pounds.”
We would not be comparing ourselves to others if we were sure we were enough.
Recently I was surprised when a few of my friends and myself all agreed that sometimes we felt not enough.
We talked about it. It was our own thing, we owned it. It was not that people made us feel that way. We were just that way.
A few years ago there was a photography trend on the internet where people wrote “I am enough.” on themselves a had their picture taken. You have probably seen them.
I liked them. It is good to reinforce the idea that you are enough.
Then I started to feel that gnawing feeling. If she is enough, how come sometimes I don’t feel enough.
My friends and I were honest with each other. Sometimes we compare ourselves with others. Sometimes we feel that we are not enough. Not enough, not good enough, not loving enough, not kind enough, not thin enough.
Lately I have been hearing many women say…”Oh I am past all that.” Some are. I am sure.
But some I am sure, are not.
Some are past it some of the time.
Many struggle with it occasionally.
It is only human to wonder if you are enough.
Some days I am enough.
Some days I am more than enough.
But frankly, some days I could do better.
Some days I could be kinder, more generous.
Maybe I returned home with kitchen envy.
Maybe I ate a big pistachio square at the local deli.
Maybe I snapped at my husband.
Maybe I looked at the beautiful people across the room and felt frumpy..
Maybe I did not do any of those things in the last week but I know I am fsusceptible and know they might happen again. Cause sometimes I am good and sometimes I feel I’m a bit …well you know… a bit “not good enough”.
I just want to say that this struggle seems real to a lot of us.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” said Theodore Roosevelt, and that was before instagram, Facebook and photographic filters.
That was before we were all faced everyday with the marvels of social media where no one ever posts that they picked their nose. Warning: If you are thinking of doing that just to even things out a little, don’t. It is not a good idea. It is just something we don’t need to know.
The thing is comparing ourselves to others might be the thief of joy, unless it makes you strive to be a little more, a little kinder, a little healthier, a little better.
Only a few of us have been blessed with the kind of self possession that keeps us from looking around at what the other fella is doing. If you have it, good for you. Honestly, that is great.
For the rest of us, we are only human.
Sometimes we might forget our blessings.
We have been given hearts to love and minds to think so it is natural to wonder.
And sometimes we might even wonder about ourselves.
People weigh in all the time on what you should or shouldn’t do. I have found as I have gotten older I know that you cannot know what is good for another person. It is hard enough to know what is good for ourselves. When I started 30 Church Women’s Clothing store across the street I wondered if I was taking on too much. It is like that when you start anything new I suppose. You wonder how far you can push yourself. What I discovered though is that creatively, it opened me up because it made me step away from my artistic work. It made me take full breaks where I was not thinking at all about what to hook next. Instead of just plodding through I took a time out, and the results have shown themselves this year in my work. The 49 squares that I completed this summer makes me happy every time I see it. The house show , The Very Mention of Home has helped me explore my own very personal relationships with both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. I think essentially we spend our time doing what we want to be doing. I never feel as if there is no time to hook rugs because when I want to hook rugs, I make the time. When I need to step away from it I go across the street and help women pick out clothes and follow my values about what is beautiful. Beauty is everywhere. I seek it and I strive for it. There are many different ways of finding it. Trusting yourself about what you should be doing is the first step, then committing yourself to doing it is the next step. I love to make rugs. I believe rugs are art. Art is a way of being, one of of seeing the beauty around you. When I say it is a way of being, that also means it is about action, about making, about the practical act of creation. In making we can become more ourselves. I have learned this as made these last two series of rugs. I identify with them because they are part of me. I see the 49 rugs as 49 walks or 49 stories or 49 days or 49 places. They are my history and my present.
Last weekend on a visit to Newfoundland I thought a lot about the house rugs I made last winter. I thought a lot about growing up and where I live now. It is in the making of these rugs that I came to terms with my own notions about home. The act of making art is a process of discovery. You learn things about yourself that you never knew existed. I am always amazed to discover what comes out of it.
When the light hits the queen Anne’s Lace that way,
the way you know is sudden and special,
it is time to stop and breathe and just look.
When beauty lays itself before you,
simply and quietly,
it means to be taken in.
The walk might be the same every day,
but the light is never the same twice.
The sky does not have a way of being
that makes you accustomed to it.
I have never said, “oh there it is again, the sky.”
The sun rises every morning and transforms the same
road sides, fields, and shores that I passed yesterday,
making me feels as if I have never gone done the same road twice.
That is the power of light
as it shifts and paints
and makes me believe what I might have thought impossible.
There are lots of weddings today around here. I know these things now because we dress people for them at 30 Church Women’s Clothing across the street. It is a lovely thing to help people get ready for big important days in their lives. Who knew I ‘d like it but I do.
I am midway through a project of 51 small squares that combine landscape and abstract. It has been so lovely. 51 because I am 51. I take small square pictures on my walks and then hook versions of them. Sometimes I still think I am 50, When I hang them I might make myself 49 because that would be 7 by 7. I am one of seven sisters and I like symmetry, so I’ll be 49 when I hang them if hang them 7 by 7. I think I will actually have to make 60 or so to get the right combination, but I’ll not be sixty for nine years. It is fun to talk nonsense isn’t it? A little foolishness is good for ya.
Yesterday Tanis from Tanis Fibre Arts , a beautiful knitwear designer and dyer came by the studio. If you are a knitter you should visit her site to see some great designs and colour ways. While she was there she gave me some great tips on doing My instagram is….
I think Instagram is a great way to get inspired. I use it like a magazine with a cup of tea, and scroll through it following people who post beautiful images. Tania also showed me how to edit my images. I thought you could just do filters but you can also highlight, lighten etc. She showed me quickly and now I am instagram happy. You can see some of the squares on my instagram. I encourage you get the ap and follow Deanne Fitzpatrick Studio and Tanis Fibre Arts.
I think what I loved about Tanis visit is her willingness to teach and to share. I also loved that someone who surrounds herself with colour on a daily basis was inspired by the colour we create in the studio. She really got me thinking about pallettes, about making things even more beautiful than they might already be. You see beauty has no limits, it is like love. The more we share with each other the more we become aware of our own possibilities and those of others.
Summer shots below, and my rugs of the Pugwash estuary…..
Recently a neighbour thanks us for something that in most cases would go unnoticed. She said she liked to let people know when they had done something good.
Imagine if we took that approach with each other all the time. Picking apart the good in each other. Spending time thinking about the littlest things someone had done for you. It is so easy to fall into the other side, picking apart our faults.
Staying positive takes a community. We need to boost each other up . Mend things, create things, inspire each other to be better, stronger.
In a good marriage, we become more ourselves because we have the other person to give us some extra buoyancy. We stay afloat because someone is giving us that extra push. We sail because they give us room. A community is much the same. We live in community because we need each other. We thrive in that community because we are good to each other.
This week I will try to remember to pick apart the good in people.
One day a friend was listening to one community member complain about another. He said to the person complaining that the other person was ok. In fact he said, “I like them. I find them alright.”
The person complaining said, “You love everybody.” My friend responded, “Maybe but it isn’t easy.”
I loved this response. Just like I loved my neighbour’s desire to pick apart the good in people.
Nurture. Sow. Mend. Make.
Whether it is a garden, a rug, a relationship or a community, let ‘s make it beautiful.
Great day last Saturday when Georgina and I went to the Rug Hooking Museum of North America in Hubbards. We had a great lunch and book signing all under the direction Suzanne. She had done a besutiful job on the museum, especially in collecting antique mats and aquiring the tools of The Garretts patterns.
We had a beautiful day with about sixty rug hookers.
Thanks to Georgina who painted all our dark wood cupboards to make them more studio like. Now they are lime and yellow.
This spring we spruced up the place. The walls get tired from rugs being put up and taken down and a place, much like a person needs nurturing.
I am always conscious of thespace around me. A room can be cool or cozy. I treat the studio like my home because I spend so much time there.
For some it might not matter but I am keenly aware of my surroundings. Occassionally something remains unrepaired…like the books holding up a couch at home. But truthfully I even chose what books I would use to hold up the couch. Silly. Yup. But if I have to look it I want to like it.
On Saturday morning my friend Katherine and I headed across the Eddy Road, an old road that goes across the marsh, from downtown Amherst. Once we got to Fort Lawrence, we turned right and then a left on the Mount Whatley Road which took across to the New Brunswick side of the marsh. It was a great ride, challenging at time as it was a dirt road and the Mount Whatley hill is quite steep. We made it, turned around and came back the same way, it was so beautiful. It was a gorgeous ride.
I captured a picture of our bikes across the river that divides Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I also got one of Katherine with her camera…as she really is. She loves her camera and posting her pictures on Facebook. Our ride has already been posted there no doubt.
It is quite nice to think you rode across to provinces, even if that is not exactly the truth. It sounds so good! The dirt roads are a little rough but there was hardly any traffic so you could ride really comfortably. Mostly all we saw was cows, flowers and fields. Along the Fort Lawrence road you could smell the lilacs in the breeze as you rode by people’s gardens.
Overtime I go down on the Tantramar Marsh, I am amazed by the simple beauty. On the way back Katherine pointed out a hawk in the sky that was flying over and watching us. The sunlight was filtering through the tips of his wings. It was a great way to end the trip, a reminder of what waits for you so close to town.
I just pretended I was writing for Fodors Travel Guide
I still like to pretend the way I used to when I was a kid. I used to pretend I had a little newspaper sometimes. Sometimes I would play house or store or post office. So last week I pretended I was a writer for Fodor’s about this area. I created a little travel guide.
It is a work in progress but I created a little travel page about our area….Cumberland Westmoreland. It is a work in progress and I am just getting it going. Katherine from California just came to our Spa Retreat in May and she said she had a hard time finding out about things to do in our community. I know there is lots to do because I am out and about lots. I decided to create my own little guide to the area. It is just things I like to do, or things I think other people might enjoy ( for example the golf course…the only reason I go there is to get one of Janie’s cinnamon buns).
I will add more things. In fact I just remembered another. If you have someone come to visit the area give them the link to this page. I think it is worth reading. If you are planning to visit yourself then yippee! ….you’ll find lots to do!
My phone is always around so you get out of the habit of using a real camera for pictures. When I took out my Canon Rebel again after a year of relying on my phone I had forgotten how to use it. I had to spend hours just getting to know the knobs again. I know the word knobs is from sometime in seventies but I still understand that term.
Once I did I realized that there is a depth to my camera that I cannot get with my phone. People always look flat with the phone. Yet that phone is so slim, and light, and convenient. It is hard competition.
As I start preparing for the abstract workshop next fall I know I need a viewfinder. I need a new set of eyes to see things differently so I am going back to knob and tube….well not quite. Here is the first round.
Every once in a while I like to review the library of rugs I made. I did that today and found a few of theses I would like to share with you. Everything I have made influences what I am now making. Sometimes I cannot see it, but I know it is there. It is good to look back at your old work and review it because I think it can renew your current work in surprising ways. Sometimes you might even forget what you did really well.
I have just finished a series of houses and we have decided to have a party here in early June to celebrate it. Stay tuned…The details are coming.
I am two things, actually, like all of you I am many things. People are this lovely combination of many interests, ideas, values, loves and passions. That is what makes them so interesting. What makes them so beautiful. For most of us though a few things stand out.
Myself I am an artist and an entrepreneur. I like creating, whether it is a rug as art, or a job for a woman in my community. It is still making. I can see it. It is real.
Sometimes people wonder why I started a woman’s clothing store. They ask it like it is oddest thing I could have done. This morning I came up with one of the answers. It is about beauty. I think that most people like to feel beautiful. They like to feel good about themselves.
I have loved clothes since I was a little girl and they came second hand as my cousin’s hand me downs in bags from my Aunt in St. Johns. I have always enjoyed picking out what I was going to wear “where”. I remember my life in outfits, my polka dress that I wore to my sister’s wedding when I was three, my gold knit suit on the first day of school, my navy paisley skirt for the speech contest in grade seven, the tan jacket I was wearing the night I met my husband. It goes on. You have your own list I am sure.
Clothes to me are more than just stuff. They can help transform the way I walk, the way, the way I hold myself, the way I feel. Call me shallow. I don’t care. I love a pair of high heels and a bit of lipstick. They are another layer of ornament and decoration, another way of creating beauty. I love working with women and reminding them to reframe the way they speak and feel about themselves as they buy clothes. At 30 Church Women’s Clothing, there are no saggy arms, or fat arses, instead they just part of us, the way we are, and none of us are perfect. We are built for beauty if we want it. We just have to choose it.
I feel that this love of beauty is no different than my love of beauty across the street at my studio. At the rug hooking studio I try to make the wool the best it can be. When I come up with some little sketch, I dress it up with ornamentation and colour and texture. I try to make the most of what I have just like I want the woman who is getting dressed across the street to make the most of what she has. We all have something, we just have to see it and make the best of it. Beauty is what I seek.
So these two things I do, one across the street from each other are really not that different after all. My belief that beauty matters carries the same weight in either place. I am not foolish enough to believe that clothes make the woman, but I am certain that the woman can make the clothes.
I know that the birds in the trees and the flowers in the field are dressed more beautifully than any of us. Yet I believe that I was put here to create beauty everyday, in any way that I can, and that sometimes two things that do not seem to belong to each other are really very integral.
So I cross the street over and over again each day because I believe that beauty matters and that it needs to be redefined, so that as women, and as artists, we can own it.
Why do you do it? Why do you live in a small town?
It is not a question I ask myself because the honest truth is I just found myself here. I never decided to live in a small town. Life does not happen that way for many of us. We live where we live for all kinds of reasons. It might be love, it might be family, it might be work.
Myself I just responded to what came up, love and family then turned into work, which turned into art, then turned into business.
It was never written in a journal. It was never dreamt up. It just simply happened.
There is so much pressure these days to plan out a great life. To seek abundance, to be more, to seek out your dreams, to be the most you can be.
Yesterday I saw a chalkboard that said, “Do something amazing every day.”
Really? How about “Do your dishes everyday.” or maybe “Pack your lunch everyday.”
Maybe just, “Be kind to others.”
I get a lot done but there is no way I can do something amazing everyday.
It makes me think about our studio motto, “create beauty everyday”…let me assure when I say that I mean that a sandwich can be a beautiful thing. I also mean that tidying your sock drawer can be too. Don’t take any pressure from me, beauty is surely in the tiniest of things.
I keep seeing journals with things like “Live your dreams ” written on it. They scare me. I’d rather a blank one so I can write in it things like…”I made macaroni for supper. We were out of cheese so I just ate it with butter. Yum.” I don’t need pressure from inanimate objects around the house.
Even my “think” sign sometimes gets on my nerves.
No one tells you you can end up being an artist and business person just by responding to what comes up. No one seems to say that if you live in a place where the people you love are then you will feel safe and comfortable and you might take a few more risks. People don’t seem to like to say that you can carve an opportunity out in any place.
We so easily forget the little things, that really are the foundation for the big things. You can’t just “dream” cause the cover of the book tells you to. The conditions have to be right.
Everywhere I look there are quotes telling you to seek, to shine, to grow.
Yesterday I saw a box that ” Stuff I pretend is important.” I was tempted to buy it just because it was honest. I didn’t.
Believe me, I love change and growth. I think it is important to dream. I just don’t want pressure to do those things because pressure to do those things is exactly what can stunt it.
“It is okay to flounder.”
“Say your prayers.”
“It can happen anywhere.”
Something came over me this morning.
It was like a sudden wave and I had to act on it.
I saw a piece of art from Newfoundland and suddenly I wondered why I was not making houses and sea and sky.
Why had I stepped away from what I loved. From what motivated me from the very beginning.
Why shouldn’t I begin again.
With years of experience.
Start in a new place.
Honestly if I could have boarded a plane right that minute I would have been home.
Though I have two homes now, one was my beginning.
Suddenly I had a passion to start a rug that I haven’t felt in a long time.
A passion to speak what I know, what I knew.
And so it begins again.
The artist in me revisits.
House, sea and sky.
I have missed you.
For two years I worked on a knitting book with Megan Ingman’s help. I started out as one idea and over time morphed. I had made all the designs with Megan’s help, done the knitting and written the manuscript.at some point Megan decided that she could not co author it with me and we agreed that I would go ahead with it alone. So the bookstarted out as one thing and morphed into something else.
I even had a publisher all lined up. Last week we were ready to the photography and I just felt that I needed to call it off. I felt as if in doing the book I was not following my spirit so I had to call a halt.
Everything was good with it. Megan and I remain good friends even though she does not work here anymore and the book was ready to go. I just felt that for some reason I could not define I did not want to go ahead with it. It was one of those things that was seemingly right but something was niggling at me about it so I let it go. I stepped back, and in doing that I felt relieved. Sometimes there is no answer about what direction you should go in. There is no arrow, or well defined path. You just have to sift your way through. I have learned that in saying no, or sometimes in stepping back I feel as much as freedom as I do in saying yes and moving forward with something that really excites me.
I cannot tell you why I changed my mind about doing a knitting book exactly. I can tell you however that when you say not to one thing it opens up room for more of another thing. Right after I decided to move on I picked out some lichen and lace yarn and started a new knitting pattern for a shawl to match my new boots. The colour is day lily, and really at night I just want to knit that shawl, and it makes me happy. Sometimes you just need to bring simplicity back into your life. Projects can be tempered and tamed down. Dreams can still happen they just might be different than you anticipated.
There is so much about renewal in January it can overwhelm you. Make you feel that your life needs to be more and better, that you need to be more and better.
It is a lot of pressure really. I always feel it in January. It is as if you have to have a plan for the year to be it’s best. Any other day you can just wake up and carry on. But in early January, all of a sudden you need a plan.
Whew, that is a lot to take stock of. Today in my bible study with Don Miller ( also the man who dressed up in sexy jersey for me…so it is a special bible study and he is a special minister) he used a passage in Isiah to remind us that the best is not behind us, there is also much good to come. Expecting good, he said , is a tenet of the bible. Whatever your beliefs are, the idea that there is good to come is essential to good living. You do not have to have a resolution or a big change planned. It does not have to be revolutionary. You just have to believe that there is good to come. I think the word for this is “Hope”. It is so much easier on me to believe that there is good to come than it is to make up big idea for the new year.
The more I think about this, the more I think that is ok for me to just have hope. Hope for my community, faith in the people who live here, and both faith and hope in myself and my own dreams and desires to evolve.
I have not got an amazing plan for the new year. And that’s okay.
I don’t have a plan to transform myself or my community.
What I do have is faith and love, and a belief that together with who and what is important to me, transformation will happen.