answering a letter about being a young mother and hooking rugs…from the archives


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…




just keeping it real – my hall closet

Yesterday at work we had a conversation about real life, and how sometimes on Facebook, blogs,  and the internet we are just shown the sweet side of a person’s life. I know , even here we write about what is cooking, what we are making, and all the lovely stuff that goes on. The other night, my son and his friend were talking about exactly the same thing, how on Facebook people always show what they want the world to see. It is natural enough. We are not going to put up pictures of under the cushions in our couch, unless we just cleaned it ….

I guess it is kinda like how we used to feel about Martha Stewart, or those fine decorating magazines, except now we feel it about half the people we know. We know about everyones trips, their activities, their birthdays, the parties they go to. It’s all on the blog.The pictures are on Facebook. No one ever takes pictures of their weeks worth of unfolded laundry. Maybe we need to. Maybe , we as women should take the pressure off each other a little.

For example, I have never shown you my messy hall closet that hangs over me. I have never told you that when I do not know what to do with something I just stuff it in there, throw it actually and shut the door. This hall closet is so stuffed I can no longer walk in there. It contains things from ten years ago that no one wants anymore. I never clean it, I just stuff it. That’s the truth.

So today on the blog I am telling you something about myself that is just as real as the books I write, and the rugs I make.

It is a confession of sorts.

It is an honest admission that all the pretty things you see here are filtered and that life goes on in every house much like it does in yours.

I am taking the heat off anyone who might be like me and  when they read a blog where everything is just hunky dory, and you think I wish they’d give me the whole perspective because here I am just getting the polished version and the polished version can make my life look slightly burnished.

We all know, at this age, that life is full of everything, not just the idyllic. I love my life, don’t get me wrong. I love what I do.

I like to be honest here, so I am using the hall closet pictures below, just so we both know that there is laundry, and dishes, and unswept floors, and cranky kids, and whining, and contrariness, and all the rest of it everywhere, and this we combine with beauty , love, depth, and honesty and together we all, each and everyone one of us, do all we can to make the best of it.

So  if all the whitewashing puts any pressure on you to be something different than you are, be assured you can create beauty everyday just by being yourself…

Just be yourself,  there is something so lovely about honesty,

Just keep it real…..







knitting is

last year was the first year I ever put my head under water when I was swimming. Now every time I think about swimming I think, maybe tomorrow, then I remember that feeling of diving in and looking under water and I want to go. I swam today and yesterday and it was lovely.

I dove under all kinds of times. It makes me feel strong.

We have to push ourselves a little.

We have to try new things.

Right now something new for me is knitting. I sat on the deck this morning and unravelled my knitting. I called Megan first. We both think it is important to finish things even if there was a few mistakes here and there. I tell this to beginner rug hookers all the time. Just finish it. She tells the same to beginning knitters.

She said, “oh Deanne.”

I said, what would you do?

She said, …I don’t know I was never a bad knitter.

That did it. Every time I looked at my cowl, I thought, bad knitter…bad knitter

Then I’d look at the more recent part of it and I’d think…hopeful, good knitter…good knitter.

I want to be happy to say this is my cowl.

When Phyllis , my neighbour at the shore saw my bad parts, she said…oh well just call it primitive knitting.

primitive knitting?

no way, not with this fine yarn and these fine needles. I want , only …. not too much to ask….to be  an adequate knitter.

I have no grandiose illusions of writing knitting patterns

or of even being able to follow a complicated one,

but I want to be able to follow a simple pattern

and I want to wear my cowl proudly and comfortably

and I will finish it.

It wil take me $36 and 300 hours but I don’t care

cause I discovered that is not what knitting is about. It is not about the cost of the yarn, or how long it took to make that cowl.

Knitting is about the sound of the needles as they clink


it is about the music of peoples voices meet around you

and you listen, just listen.

Knitting is about the feeling of your hands meeting each other again and again

like a prayer and a song at the same time.

Knitting is about being there.

in the present moment

calmly and easily.

Knitting is a kind of restful joy.

It is all about the making, the doing, the being.

You can do and be at the same time.

knitting is…it just is

what more can I say








find someone under forty and teach them to be a rug hooker


Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 4.57.03 PM



Download the Four Page Portfolio

Dear Diary, Yesterday and today I spent a lot of time working on the Hooking People Course and making a portfolio of my work. My daughter was in a play this weekend so I go out to it twice and really enjoyed it. Yet the wekend was seemingly free. There was no hockey or long drives to anywhere. We took a run for a late breakfast on Saturday Morning to the Whirlygig in Wallace and ate bacon and eggs by the water. We took a brisk walk down the wharf cause if there is a wharf , and you are a Maritimer you are meant to walk down it. Mind you it nearly froze the arse off you. I was ever so glad to get inside and have a hot cup of coffee. It is so pretty in there with sweet hanging lampshades, and a mix of turquoise and mauve on the walls.

Over the weekend I thought a lot about getting more younger women hooking. One of the things I think we could do as older women and men (…I am forty seven, it is all relative) is for us to take it on as a cause so to speak. What if each of us said this year we are going to teach a woman or man under forty to hook rugs. You may have taught one already but that does not let you off the hook, you have to go find another. We have to find one who likes it and wants to keep doing it. So there is a little challenge for you….find a woman or man under forty and turn them into a rug hooker.

There are lots of ways. People have been sending me notes about it.

I have decided to leave my How to Hook Rugs download at $9.95 instead of $19.95 so that it won’t be cost prohibitive. I just want to make it cheap and easy to learn.

A lot of people say it is the cost that deters people, but I do not really believe that because look at the cost of quilting and knitting. They are just as expensive, maybe more so.

Why are there tons of quilting magazines? Lots of crochet and knitting magazines? I think they just don’t know how beautiful, how easy rug hooking is and how much potential it has. We have to show them.

We can do it in our communities by sharing, teaching and demonstrating. We can do it online through facebook, rug hooking online groups, pinterest, through websites and blogs.

I want to see the craft grow because I know that it adds beauty to people’s lives.

So go out there and create beauty everyday….. find someone under forty and teach them how to create beauty everyday.

stay close to the source.

Dear Diary, Here are some pictures I took earlier this winter that will lead me in my direction for behind the cabbage field. I am not sure how the apples will work in but we’ll see. I know the landscape around here now, the way I knew the landscape in Newfoundland. It arouses the same kind of feeling in me. Words like:

comfort   home   brush   scrub   basic   simple  easy  plain  enough


are all I think of when I see pictures like these.

I read a prayer book sometimes by Sister Stan an Irish Nun. It is called the book of hours, prayers based on the canonical hours. I picked it up in the airport in Shannon, Ireland , on my way back home from a trip. She combines verses from the Psalms with Zen like Meditations. It is a uniquely beautiful combination. In one of the verses she talks about how if we surround ourselves with wealth all the time our wants increase and we can never seem to get enough. On the other hand when we stay close to nature, to the basic sources of life, the simple things, our needs decrease.

I  can never read this passage enough.

“Staying close to affluence wants increase, vessels enlarge, rarely full, never overflowing. Staying close to the source of life, needs diminish, vessels reduce, always full, overflowing with joy. ” Sister Stan

I think it is one of the reasons I love to hook field rugs. I never tire of how they make me feel close to the landscape. How they make me feel close to my craft, my art. They allow me to use colour freely. To acknowledge the simple landscape that is out my back door. They are a reminder of nature. As I get ready to make yet another it would be easy to tell myself , “ah do something different.” Instead I tell myself, “Stay close to the source.”

All fields are grand and full of colour, no two are alike. Every mat is a new field.

Years ago, my son said to me, “Those rugs are your best work.” He was fourteen or so. I think of that often, the response of someone who lives in the house with you, to whom your work, is like running water, taken for granted. But you know I think I believed him. I think I believe him.

I should hook what I feel like. We all should make what we believe to be beautiful.

Staying close to the source for me means not getting caught up in worldly stuff to much. As tempting as it. As much as I might like the rubies, I want to be careful of the kind of crow I might become. I love Sister Stan’s words, how they make me feel.

I love a field with a broken down tree that reigns over a ditch and still bears fruit.

Let me remain close to the source. That is a prayer.


IMG_0979 IMG_0981 IMG_0977 IMG_0978 IMG_0982

Work and the Inspiration Comes

Dear Diary, Sometimes I start a rug with exactly no idea where it is going. I make a few marks on the backing and off I go as is the case in the beginning of this rug here. I knew I want to use these lovely skeins of wool that Maile brought me from Seattle and I wanted to use that purple silk. That was the day after I cleaned my studio and found some gems that I had not been seeing as well as I might.

I was feeling not creative, which is a poor excuse for not working. Even when I do not feel inspired , I get a rug on the frame. I find the process of hooking inspires me and I am usually lost in the rug before long.

Inspiration.  If you have it, sail with it like the wind. If you do not have it, just find something to work on. I have made the most beautiful rugs because I hooked with out particular inspiration. Work and the beauty comes.

Create Beauty Everyday.

If you just sit with a project, doing a bit every day all of a sudden the momentum takes over and before you know it, something beautiful is on it’s way. I may lack inspiration by times but showing up day after day to the frame, I am sure to find it again.

blogfeb8 blogfeb7 blogfeb6