Beginnings

You cannot have a beginning without an ending.  The truly hard part is that both are accompanied by an influx of conflicting emotions; sadness, excitement, fear, anticipation.  These are the hallmarks of change.  At the studio, we are in the midst of many changes.

Our newest addition, Angela, started this week, bringing  enthusiasm and new eyes that will make her a wonderful addition to our little family.  At the same time, we are sadly losing our Georgina, who is pursuing a new life a little farther afield . Needless to say, she  goes with our love and will remain in our hearts as she begins this new phase of her life.

In the meantime, yours truly will attempt to step into her shoes-a  daunting challenge, especially when you consider how truly multi talented and special this lady is.  I have spent the past few weeks trying to absorb all of Georgina’s various responsibilities, shadowing her like Marley’s ghost, as she wrestles with the everyday adventures in running a busy studio while providing endless support to all of us.  Georgina leaves behind a legacy of professionalism , respect and love.  I can assure you with truth that my future is going to encompass many new challenges and experiences as I try to do justice to what she has accomplished.

Here’s to wind in your sails, my friend-you will be very missed.

-Angie

*PHOTO: Who wouldn’t love that gorgeous smile?

The Importance of a Moment

 

We rarely appreciate  the little moments;  a laugh, a hug, a chance encounter.  In retrospect, all of these little vignettes  take on huge importance when life suddenly changes.  How many times do we forget to tell our friends, family and partners how much they mean to us?  Perhaps we are blinded by the outside life noise-the job, the appointments, the groceries; perhaps we are just plain tired and the moment  slips away, not because we don’t care, but because we are just too weary.  Daily life can become an effort and we inevitably shortchange the moments that should matter.

Remembrance Day is a good time to remember, not only our veterans, but those left behind.  Picking up the pieces and carrying on is a monumental task and having someone take a moment to acknowledge your efforts can make a huge difference.  Carrying that philosophy into the days beyond November 11th is important.  There will always be someone who is hurting and we all have the power to help ease the burden.

Lest We Forget…

 

The Lesson

“Today I am going to teach you how to fix the serger.”

My words were greeted with a look of pure horror.  With its complicated array of threads and scary looking technical parts that periodically just refuse to play nice with others,  our serger is known for striking frustration and terror into even the bravest of souls.  I had grimly promised Logan a session in troubleshooting the beast and now the day of reckoning was upon us.  I was scheduled to be out of the shop for the next few days and I knew that the serger would definitely choose to quit during my absence.  I had always joked that  my job security was assured due to the fact that I was one of the few that could brave the mass of moving parts and re-thread the monster, but , out of necessity, it was time to give up my McGyver crown and pass along the torch.  For those of you familiar with our kits and patterns, the serger is the machine that we use to provide a nice finished edge to our patterns, ensuring that they should not become unravelled during  the process of hooking .  It works almost in reverse to a sewing machine, as it cuts a clean edge and binds at the same time.  In fact, picture a sewing machine on steroids. You are faced with four intimidating ways of threading four individual needles-all of which must be done in a special order. Yep-job security at its best.

Logan  bravely took a seat in front of our nemesis as I pulled open the front casing, displaying the innards of the machine or, as I like to call it, the ‘BOWELS OF MORDOR’.  A complicated array of metal bits and levers interspersed with an intimidating Cat’s Cradle of heavy thread stared back at us, visibly taunting my young friend.  She gulped and stared at me, silently begging to be let off of the hook.  Being fairly heartless, there was absolutely no way I was letting her go at this point.  So we began…I explained the complexity of the job, which is actually deceptively simple once you understand the order and educated her on all of the technical jargon, like, ‘grabby bit’, ‘pointy thing’, and various other important terms that every knowledgeable  McGyver apprentice should know.  Moment of truth:   I cut all of the threads off and left her  alone to reassemble it, sweat beading on her brow and hands shaking slightly as she took up the challenge.  A surprisingly few minutes later she called it finished and I went over to inspect her work.  A whoop of delight erupted as I pronounced it perfectly done, quickly followed by a groan of dismay as I cut all of the threads  and gestured back to the machine.

“Again.”(yep-heartless)

By the third re-threading, she was getting more confident and called me over to inspect her work with surety in her voice.  This time, she cut the threads herself and giggled, confidently returning to the task at hand.  Score: Logan:4/Evil Serger:0

I was more than rewarded the next day when I received a photo from Georgina, our lovely manager.  My Logan, confidently re-threading the beast in my absence.

Kudos, young grasshopper, I always knew you could do it, you just had to convince yourself.  Congratulations.

-Angie

Down Time (or How To Hook With A Cat)

There are times when we all could use a little help.  That being said, there are also times when perhaps a little less aid is called for.  I found myself in the latter position on my last day off.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I tend to be a little obsessive about scheduling my days off.  I try to allot my down time in such a way to accomplish as much as possible while still giving myself a bit of much needed relaxation.

Picture a quiet Friday morning, basic housekeeping chores finished, a lovely hot chocolate standing by while I make myself comfortable at my cheticamp frame with an elementary design stretched and ready for my undivided attention.  Of course, a large selection of yarns and fabric are gathered, laying across my burlap as I begin, hook in hand…

Thump! Somehow, my cheticamp is now serving a dual purpose as a comfy cat hammock as one of my supervisory felines decides to position herself across my work space, intent on helping me with what is obviously a task unsuited to an unsupervised human.  This particular cat is incredibly dedicated and goes completely limp at any attempt to remove her from her perch.  Perhaps I should add that a cat that does not wish to be moved automatically triples in body weight, much the same way a cat or dog laying across your legs at night turns into a mass best compared to  a large piece of cement.  A short but fruitless battle of wills ensues with the cat claiming victory as I give up and try to continue my day off ‘me time’ activity, resigned to living with the cattish attention(read: intervention) to detail.  Every piece of fabric and yarn demands scrutiny, sometimes resulting with a fuzzy paw interrupting my hooking flow as a particularly fascinating end proves irresistible.

Jump ahead an hour; my hand is now aching-not from hooking, but from trying to lift the mass of cat from on top of it.  Apparently, wherever my hand is, just so happens to be the ‘perfect’ napping spot and my sweet kitten has the girth of a well fed mountain lion (her alter ego).  Somehow, she senses when I have had enough and leisurely saunters across the burlap and leaps to a nearby chair.  The sag in the burlap lends silent testimony to the war that has been waged.  I stand, tired. but triumphant as I look at the small amount of coverage I have achieved and the tangled mass of fabric that needs to be sorted after suffering intense feline attention. The cat stares serenely from her perch on the chair.  I stare back,  already looking forward to tomorrow night’s challenges…

-Angie

PHOTO: ‘Squeak The Terrible’ at one with the creative process

Legacies…

I had been explaining the ‘recycling’ aspect of rug hooking and how my  grandmother had made use of every piece of fabric in her household even after it had outlived its original purpose.  It is one of my favourite themes; how we have begun to return to lifestyles that reflect a ‘reuse’ aspect and how we can incorporate so much of our own personal history into a lovely hooked rug by simply using clothing that means something.  Everything we wear says something about us, about our special days, about our life experiences.  Keeping those memories alive by incorporating those precious fabrics into a hooked piece will automatically start conversations  that revolve around, “Remember when…”

Every one of us has a small hoard of children’s clothing, school uniforms, wedding dresses, etc-why not turn some of it into a piece of art that will reflect your story?

I could tell by the look on her  face that her loss was still very fresh.  She had been telling me about her own grandmother and how she still kept a collection of her  clothes.  She had no intention of ever wearing them but couldn’t bear the thought of throwing them out or giving them away.  She spoke of a special relationship, of  warm cookies and kitchen dancing, gardens and tea and her Granny’s life of love.  So many good thoughts and treasured memories to snuggle close in her heart.  I could see the wheels turning as she began planning a piece that would reflect everything special about her grandmother and she was going to do it with her own hands using bits of her granny’s favourite clothing.  She excitedly began to  tell me about how the design should involve tea cups, cookies and flowers.  It was all I could do to smile, inside, I was choking up.  Being permitted to share such a moment is an amazing gift and I sincerely hope that her granny’s legacy inspires others to think about doing the same.

 

Perhaps it is time to start your own ‘legacy’ piece?

-Angie

Discoveries

There are times that you just have to pony up and take one for the team.  My day of reckoning came last week when I noticed a small brown paper bag on our table in the studio.  Anyone familiar with the studio knows that the large wooden table by the cash register is the home of the oatcakes and a gathering spot for lunches and communal activities.  Anything food related on the table is generally considered fair game and it has been the staging area for some pretty amazing treats lately.  On this particular day, I was the first to notice an innocuous brown bag that had mysteriously appeared at some point during the afternoon.   It was an unassuming little package with a clear cellophane window that revealed a  glimpse of what appeared to be something vaguely chocolatey (with almonds, no less).  Being the self sacrificing type, I immediately threw myself into action-after all, there was no telling what this might be! It was up to me to taste test and confirm that it was completely safe for the rest of the team.  I valiantly assumed the guinea pig role and took a nibble …and then I seriously considered hiding the bag.  What a delight!  Lovely crispy caramel goodness topped with chocolate, sea salt and almonds-my taste buds rejoiced with every bite.  Where had this magic come from?  I had to know even though it meant giving up the small bag of delectable yummies to my cohorts in order to find an answer.  After somewhat reluctantly sharing, I discovered that Vivian, one of our Thursday lunch group of knitters and crafters had been responsible for the gift.  My mission was clear and the following Thursday I presented myself and begged shamelessly for the recipe and, joy of all joys, she gave it up!

Fast forward to my day off and a shopping trip later.   My cooking day had arrived and the recipe was a simple one. The heady scent of caramel began to waft from my kitchen as I got down to business.   My husband, who has the nose of a good hunting dog, began lurking around, searching for the source of the magical aroma.  Jealously, I guarded my creation, only presenting after it had cooled sufficiently to be enjoyed in all of its glory.

I waved a plate full of little treasures in front of him, grinning.

“What’s this?” He asked of me suspiciously.  To be fair, I have been known to sneak some pretty bizarre mixtures into his diet.

“Just try it.”

The proffered bit of goodness disappeared and I was immediately rewarded with the look that says it all.  Needless to say,  this extremely simple recipe has joined my collection of favourites and will be played with and adapted from this day forward.  Curious?  I have to give credit where credit is due-this version of the recipe came courtesy of the Smitten Kitchen website-chocolate caramel crack(ers).  Give it a try,  it is extremely easy and makes tons. Bon Appétit!  -Angie

 

Woolbox Magic

Every month a special package is carefully designed and assembled for our Woolbox members.  Inspiration for the colours and textures comes from a photo, which is also included.  The thought that goes into the development of each box results in attention to even the smallest detail and enables our team to create truly beautiful combinations.   When the box  is completed, it is then sent out to our members who are delighted by the ever-changing selection of fabric and textures arriving on their doorstep.

Last month, the creativity spoke to me personally.  The colours were inspired by a photograph of fishing buoys, a truly maritime theme. Having spent some years living on the south shore of Nova Scotia, for me,  it brought back the crisp salt air and the conversation of fishermen on the wharf  as they carefully mended treasured nets, weathered and callused fingers weaving an intricate pattern of rope.   Childhood memories of rocks, gulls, starfish and sea urchins-treasures of the sea.  In my heart I still hear the mournful cry of the lighthouse, always comforting.

Such is the magic of our Woolbox and every month a unique photo conjures up fresh inspiration.  Intrigued?  For more details, click under ‘Wool’ on our website and become part of the fun! -Angie

A Typical Day or ‘Why I Love My Job’

There are times when something happens that drives home how very special  our studio is.  I am constantly gratified by the reactions of visitors on their initial visit to the shop, as they slowly wander through the main floor, completely captivated by the riot of colour and texture.  We usually make a point of directing them  around the corner where we assemble kits and orders, then into the little antechamber where Logan is usually happily dyeing a new batch of yarn or wool, always contributing to our lovely inventory of colour.  Chuckles can usually be heard when the washer/dryer combo with their funky graphics come into view quickly followed by gasps of wonder as they discover yet another huge room on the other side.  This space boasts incredibly high ceilings and lovely hardwood floors with a comfy couch and chairs that invite a nice break for chatting.  As always, one of a kind custom pieces hang throughout all of the spaces, displaying Deanne’s limitless talent and imagination.  Deanne’s private studio is visible through large glass doors and our visitors are always amazed at the works in progress  on the large hooking frame that takes up a good part of the space.

Saturday was a day that demonstrated exactly how a welcoming creative space inspires community and kindness.  Several people passed through our doors throughout the day, many from ‘away’ and all making a special effort to stop in as part of their travels.  A lovely lady named Diana popped in and shyly admitted that although she was a gifted knitter, she had little experience with hooking.  A two minute lesson on how to hook was offered and I found it so rewarding to witness her delight as she quickly picked up on the skill.  During her visit, our draw winner, Patsy , stopped in to pick up her  prize.  Everyone in the studio gathered round as she carefully opened her package, revealing a hooked purse.  The oohs and ahs quickly turned to speculation on how to make a similar piece.  Design conversations and oatcakes led to purchases as the ladies became excited by the idea of future projects.  Diana picked up a few items with a promise to return later for a kit that I was in the process of assembling.

True to her word, she returned later in the afternoon with her little dog, Miss Millie.  The two had made the long walk from their campground to our downtown studio!  A bowl of water was provided for Miss Millie and she happily curled up for a rest under the table as her  special person enjoyed a well deserved rest and an oatcake.  We debated for awhile about supplies and projects, exploring various options.  During the course of our conversation, a lovely group of ladies entered the shop and began offering very helpful advice as we explored the best possible supplies for Diana’s future projects.  Lively banter regarding  experiences and places shared ensued as Deanna joined the group, enjoying the fellowship and enthusiasm.  What had started as a short lesson in hooking had now bloomed into new friendships and knowledge as these wonderful ladies offered Diana and Miss Millie a drive back to the campground.  As ladies departed, I was struck once again by the sense of  community that this space brings to all who visit.  From beginners to professionals, all are welcomed and included.  Friendships are forged and knowledge is shared.  Encouragement and advice is offered freely as visitors become part of our family.  I am so grateful to be a part of this magic place.   -Angie

Photo: Paula/Lynn/Deanne/Pattie/Diana (Miss Millie was camera shy)

 

 

Summer?

Although our weather is constantly  reminding us that Nova Scotia can periodically lapse back into winter when you least expect it, there is an air of excitement as we slowly enter the summer months . A lot of activity is going on at the studio these days as our days are filled with kits, wool boxes, pattern of the month and lots of  special projects.  So many colours and textures to play with!  As usual, the humour and good fellowship of our days together produces an amazing array of ideas-some of which will be coming to you very soon.  Enjoy the solstice and keep an eye to our website as new kits, patterns and other colours start to emerge.

-Angie

camaraderie-a thought from Angie

ˌkäməˈrädərē,ˌkaməˈrädərē/

noun

noun: camaraderie

  1. mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together.
synonyms: friendship, comradeship, fellowship, companionship, fraternity, conviviality;

mutual support, team spirit, esprit de corps;

 

Laughter drifts from the other room where my new friends and colleagues are working on various projects.  All of us are busily engaged, surrounded by colourful islands of amazing fabrics and yarns.  I am just around the corner, assembling kits and out of sight for the moment, completely absorbed in what I am doing but grinning ear to ear as I listen to the conversations and the giggling from our work room.     All of us, Deanne included, are busily sorting and cutting, sharing thoughts and experiences as we work.   I feel like I have known these special people for a long time, that I have always been a part of this magical space.  After four weeks in this environment, I am secure in the knowledge that laughter is always going to be a part of my daily studio experience.  How wonderful is that?

A New Journey Begins…

Being the new kid on the block can be intimidating but not so in Deanne’s wonderful studio.  I have been welcomed with open arms and included in the magic of this lovely creative space.  My name is Angie and you will be hearing from me now and then with little updates and thoughts.

As an artist, I have found that my various adventures over the years have landed me in some unique situations-all opportunities for learning and growth.  I firmly believe in a much loved saying that pertains to my life’s journey; ‘Ever teaching, ever taught.’   I can foresee a bright future of putting that philosophy into good use here.  For a first post, I will keep this short and assure you that every positive thing that you have heard about Deanne and her studio is quite true and I look forward to bringing you my little adventures as time passes.  Let the fun begin!!

Who ever imagined….

I never imagined when I was this little that I would be an artist. I had never seen a hooked rug. This picture is of my earliest memory. I remember very little about the day my oldest sister was married but I do remember the dress and I can still see the deep red velvet of those roses and the baby’s breath. I was two, almost three. When we look at pictures of ourself as a child it feels as if it all happened in another land. We had no idea where we were going. When we look at where we are we can see so many detours that we took along the way that led us to our current place.

Who ever knows what they will end up doing. I have not picked up my hook today but I did write the introduction to my next book. It will be about twenty five years of making rugs and will have images from over the years. This afternoon I will go to my frame , humbly, as the rug I am working on is not going along as planned. I will also approach it hopefully, because I have learned you just never know. The beauty slips in unexpectedly sometimes and wakes you up to new ideas, new beauty, that is to follow. In writing the introduction to a book about twenty five years of making rugs, I had to think a lot about the past and what I might have hoped for.Then my brother in law posted this picture on Facebook and I was thrown back to another time, a time when possibility did not matter. A time when all I had to do was reach out my hand for a sister to hold. Whenever I write I go into the past.writing makes me evaluate and sift. Writing a book is like making rug. When you are in the middle of it you have no idea if it is any good but you go back to it with hope and humility, time and time again.

Art is Everywhere


Beauty is more important than perfection when you are making art. If you were performing heart surgery, well perfection would rule. There is no doubt.

Scientists and mathematicians also talk about beauty though. There is beauty in everything.

We only have to open our eyes.

Last week I spent the week in Manhattan, looking at galleries, and seeing art everywhere. I learned so much in that week. If you asked what I learned, I would be hard pressed to list it, I just know that I came away with a new inspiration, a new vision, a new appreciation.

I feel like I love cities more, but I also love country roads more. They are completely juxtaposed, and I am so thankful for both. Today I am excited to be back in my studio, thrilled really. I am ready to hook. I drew a design on before I left and I wondered if I would be interested in it when I got back. Actually I am more interested in it. I want to hook it with all the influences have had. I actually see it in a different way.

There is so much beautiful art in the world. It is in the music, the buildings, the way people dress, the shoes, the jewelry, the stone work, the food, the decor, it is everywhere, and that is not just in Manhattan, that is everywhere.

Art is everywhere.

Look for it, Deanne

Hooking Impressionistic Floral Gardens – 2018 Winter Online Workshop

This years online workshop is hooking your own Floral Garden.  Join Deanne this March and create something beautiful.

This course will be about hooking floral gardens in an impressionist style to create a modern rug with painterly elements. We will be working through the winter, thinking of summer, and the beauty and scent and feeling it brings as we learn to turn simple and pleasing shapes into impressionistic flowers.

Flowers are full of meaning and we celebrate with them.

Flowers are more than just the beautiful petals, they are nested in their natural surroundings, greenery, ferns, grasses, and all the depth that lies under these.
Hooking this workshop will be a feast for our senses. Scent, form, beauty, flow, and touch.
The Studio will be offering several packages for this course, pattern, wool, course and a kit.
Please look for these on the website  at http://www.hookingrugs.com.

 

 

Rug Hooking Tip: My wool is always at hand

I don’t store my wool because I want it at hand. I just fold it on my shelves and keep it out where I can see it.

I think everyone who hooks needs to find a way of displaying their wool so that you can see what you have st your fingertips. It makes colour planning and choosing easier.

So when people ask how I store my wool, I guess the answer is I don’t.

White lights for winter

One thing I love about the winter is white lights. They are just so comforting. It is my favorite thing to do in the evening , turning on those bright white lights outside and the little set in my studio. My daughter made me the little signs, focused and fabulous ( I just did not want you to think I made them for myself, lol I might be a bit of a diva but that would be going too far). There is something so cozy about turning on these little stations of light for ourselves. My Christmas decorating is kept pretty simple. A crèche. Always a crèche. Somewhere close to the holidays I will put up a tree and put out bowls of lemons with a few cloves in them. Last weekend my husband bought walnuts in the shell and a pomegranate, that is Christmas too. But I start with the white lights early and I let them linger through out the winter.

I think we need it here in this cold dark climate. Personally I need those little lights to brighten up the evenings and make me cozy. Such a small thing, but it makes me feel special. In the media we have heard lots about hyyge, the Danish art of living well in a cold climate. I believe we have that here in Canada but we just don’t have a word for it. We all know that you have to have throws on your couches, wood in the woodbox, and warm soft sweaters. It is a cultural thing. Most of us have at least one piece of buffalo plaid, especially this year as it is all the rage, and we all know the colours of the stripes in a Hudson Bay blanket. We get winter. We get cozy. We were hyyge before hyyge was hip.I have to say though that I love it that the Danish have a word for it and have made it a thing because when you wake up in the dark and go home from work in the dark you need hygge. It makes total sense.

Caught off Guard

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.

Summer Roses

Some colour combinations are such classics. Take this one of red, black, white and lime. They are almost sure to look good together.

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!

Butterflies

You might need some colour inspiration.

You might need to look at form.

You might have one landing on your hand right now.

Butterfly. Butterfly.

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.

New potatoes. 

Old friends.

Knowing your blessings.

Feeling your abundance. 

The evening light. 

Sunshine.

Summer. 

The Myth of Cattiness

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.

The rug in progress

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. 

Meeting Doris

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.

Singily Skipping Along

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. 

Singily Skipping Along

Things I love more as I get older

There are things I love more as I get older….

humility, that softening of heart and soul,

high heels

and comfortable shoes.

Lipstick, my mother told me I would,

gentleness,

good manners,

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).

Marriage

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.

Cozy sweaters

and fried eggs.

These things seem to matter more now than ever.

Studio in March

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! 

Art is everywhere

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. 

Emotional connection. 

Find the art. Find the feeling.

Art is waiting for you. 

Look anywhere at all.


25 the Anniversary Pattern

25th-anniversary-rug

I ‘ve decided on an anniversary pattern and it will be geraniums.

Why 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.

Twenty five years and counting

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.

Joy.

We are the community

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.

Twenty Five Years a Beginner

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. 

Just make. 

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.

Fill up the cup

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. 

Breathing in. 

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. 

Fill up. 

Show up. 

Make the work. 



Begin

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. 

Resolutions. Promises.

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.

Plans.

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. 

Don’t wait for the muse. Be the muse. Hook.

On the eve

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.

Grateful. 

Thankful. 

Hopeful. 

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.

May we all be a blessing in 2017.

 

Working

I have decided to start to write more here because I believe the more I write the easier it will be to write. I just want to kick off the new year with a practical creative habit. 

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?

What if you hooked everyday , what would happen?