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…
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
December for me has never been a month of being over wrought. To me it is a month to relish. to try to slow down a bit.
It is a festival of lights and I love how the colour lights up the dark nights. It feels less like winter is impending and more like something lovely is about to happen.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be busy this month but I mean to enjoy it. I refuse to get overwhelmed by the baking, shopping, visiting, cooking. I want to relish in it. I will do all the things that need to be done but I won’t let them do me.
That means I may or may not make a fruitcake this year. It also means my shopping will be close to home and easy. It means that whatever I need to do will get done but I won’t be holding to myself to standards of other years, or to the standards of others. Each year, each home is it’s own little entity.
I mean to be grateful for who is here, and mindful of who is not.
I want to have faith and joy in a season that is meant to be a celebration.
I mean to celebrate this dark month with little white lights, presents, prayers, and thoughtfulness.
Never mind all the fuss.
It was a sunny mid October Saturday morning. My boots crunched over colourful leaves as I made my way downtown to the bustle of the final day of our annual Fibre Arts Festival.
At the Zonta Fair, tables were filled with exceptional goods, in a multitude of beautiful ( and yes, delicious) fibres, both a visual and a tactile delight.
Two of our downtown churches were displaying an overwhelming number of pew draped and hung quilts, all colours and designs imaginable.
The Town Hall’s entrance was not only welcoming but displayed beautiful handwork and more quilts, modern designs this time.
Local rug hookers filled a very large gathering area with their work. I was left in awe by their designs, their precision, their colors. I was inspired to try to hook in new ways.
Everywhere I went, I met people, mostly ladies, in groups, happily chatting. With the love and appreciation of fibre as a common thread, conversations between strangers was easy. The air was filled with positivity, an appreciation for the talents of the hand and for the fibres that allow creativity.
As my downtown tour was ending in Saturday, a lady I chatted with while admiring a quilt together, mentioned how much she was enjoying our little town. She said, “You must love living here.” And I do!
As I walked home in that sunny day, crunching newly fallen leaves, my heart was full and I was inspired.
Dear Diary, I cannot make the rugs I used to make many years ago and still feel satisfied. I like a more modern design like those in my new book, Simply Modern, which was just reviewed nicely in Rug Hooking Magazine. In this rug I am working on now the purple area is all the impression of little purple houses. I have never done that before and I’ll be excited to take it off the frame. All there is left to do is the sky but somehow I could not sit still to work on it today. Maybe after writing here I will feel ready. Even just ten minutes, a few minutes every day and you’ll make good progress.
Here in Nova Scotia there is plenty of winter so there is lots of time to be at the rug. The weather today is cold but spring like so I have been out and about a bit. I run across the road to the women’s store to see whose trying clothes on, then I flit back here and work on our new little youtube studio, write, make tea. I am like something that lights upon a spot for a little while then flits off again. Not a butterfly exactly, that does not describe me, but some sort of bird probably.
So now to sit steady, quietly and listen to my own rhythm. Welcome to the frame. Your rug hooking awaits.
Dear Diary, It has been a while since I sat and wrote to you. It seems I have been talking in other ways with Facebook, Instagram, and Coffee with Deanne videos. There is only so much a girl has to say I s’pose. Today though I took a look at you, my blog and found you needed an upgrade. Isn’t it odd that for an upgrade I went back to simplest of themes again. No need to see every post and what has been going on for months here in the studio. Lets make you current, lets make you matter. I have taken to writing the diary in my newsletter because it reaches so many people. We publish it here too but I think now and again I’ll come back here just to tell you how I’m feeling. I work here at the studio six days a week and then I have a day of rest. Sometimes I hook but it is no burden on a Sunday. So there should be time to talk to you a little. To spend some time. Right now I am loving close ups of my rugs. They are little colour studies. I learn from them sand they make me see the whole rug in progress differently.
After a memorable stay in the desert (I missed last week’s blog for lack of internet but you will find a post on that experience here if you like) we are now in Taroudant, a town that the locals call “the small Marrakech”. We got off the bus two days ago after a long ride through more Atlas where stunning scenery of mountains and valleys, dry river beds, oasis, herds of sheep, dusty road stands with colorful potteries kept us entertained. The landscapes in these parts are rugged and beautiful.
As we got off the bus I started looking for a taxi when Thami, upon asking me where we were staying, offered us directions then took upon himself to lead us there and carry some of our luggage. When I offered Thami a tip for his service he promptly refused, welcoming us to his town and offering us to take a horse drawn carriage ride with him for a tour of the city the next morning at a very reasonable price. Why not. We’ve never done that.
If there is something I have to learn about morocco it’s to be open to whatever the day will give (or lead to). The ride with Thami didn’t last an hour as I had expected, it took most of the day. Not only did he show us the city rampart where here and there we hopped off to climb, get a good view and take photos (he knew of all the good spots for pictures) but he made us visit the souk and of course some shops. Now the nice thing about visiting shops with a tour guide is that you are made to feel that there is no obligation or pressure to buy anything. Have a look, ask questions, take pictures.
We visited a women cooperative where several products are made from the argan nut. I already had bought argan oil in Fes so there was no need for more. We visited a jewelry shop and there, since this region is famous for this art, and because we had not indulged yet, Charlotte and I splurged. We went into an ancient synagogue transformed into a art shop where I saw the biggest carpet show room I had seen yet on this trip along with several rooms filled with ancient and new art from Morocco and other African country.We might as well have stepped into Ali Baba’s cavern. I knew nothing there was within my budget but oh my, what a feast for the eyes.
We saw mountain of spices at the market, and several other small artisan shop. But what took the main part of our tour was yet another carpet shop owned by one of Thami’s relative. Soon after we got in and as a gentleman was about to show us some carpets (tea already on it’s way) we did let them know that we had already bought carpets and blanket earlier on the trip. In fact, that was the heavy piece of luggage that Thami helped us carry the night before. No problem my friends, just have a look, no need to buy.
Of course you know what is next. Next comes an array of beautiful thin blankets made of camel hair and cactus fiber. They are light and roll up to almost nothing. When will I ever have a chance to acquire such beauty. We ponder, we do not have enough cash, I plead that we must go back to the hostel and get a credit card if we are to make a purchase. I think that really we should finish our tour first. The gentleman doesn’t settle for that. It is Friday, couscous day, why don’t you join us for couscous. Finish the tour then come eat with us. Hum, homemade couscous is an invite no one should refuse. We agree, we finish the tour, we come back. I know already that we will get those blankets. After couscous and more tea we not only get three but four blankets.
Maybe because we are not good at bartering, maybe because we spend time, maybe because tourism is low at the moment, who knows, not only our gentleman lowers the price a little but he trows in a few cushion covers to go with the blankets and give Eric a Fatima hand for his mom. Hands are shaken, shukran (thank you) exchanged, we are all happy with our day. Moroccans depends on tourism and will do their best to give you a good time. I have seen here some of the most beautiful craft / art there is. Generation of men and women have passed down their skills from fathers to sons, mothers to daughters, and most of what you see has been made by hard working hands.
Thanks to Thami and extended family for a great day yesterday.
Here are some photos for you textile and art lover!
ps. one more thing, we visited Amoon, a collaborative of Berber women in Taroudant today, there was one rug that was hooked!
Here is their website: anmoon.com
If you ever visit Taroudant do visit their shop.
On the ferry we saw the edge of the Rif mountains
looking for a culture shock
looking for extra heat
we had been told many things
the cabs, the haggling, the food, the art, the hospitality
go to: Chefchaouen, Fes, Marrakech
do this, don’t do that
it won’t be much warmer
we experienced the cab first thing
an old Mercedes
the grand taxi
from Tangier port to the city
a good half hour drive
as soon as we step out a young boy is offering us direction
I know where I am going
I have my map
it’s around the corner
still he is one step ahead of me
pointing to where I am going
I tell him I have no money
which is true, I will need to find a bank first thing to get some local change
it doesn’t make any difference
one step ahead of me he goes
we’re at the hostel
still the boy and now another one are waiting around for us to be done with checking in
they want to take us to their uncle or other relative for dinner
we are exhausted and just want to settle in
it has been a long day
the clerk who knows them shoos them off
welcome to Morocco
Next day Chefchaouen or like people say Chaouen
the blue city
the Medina (the old city) is so pretty
just big enough to think you may get lost
but really, small, so you don’t
cats are everywhere
most of them look good
I think it’s a good sign
our hosts at the Riad are most welcoming
our house is your house
we venture around
I click away
every door, every step
every shade of blue
catches my eye
there are shops everywhere
everything is beautiful
I don’t dare let my eye linger too much
the vendors know
they will catch me
once your caught it’s hard to get out
eventually I get caught
come to see this carpet shop one says
I will take you there
innocently I go
sure, let’s have a peak
we are treated the royal way
the place is large
mounds and mounds of carpets and blankets
all of them absolutely gorgeous
two men are busy picking several out to show
unrolling them on the floor
tea is offered
it’s a ritual
it’s also a trap
I really didn’t have any intention of buying anything that day
I was going to be smart and inform myself first
I had been told to bargain
I was not going to buy anything big
we are backpacking
you see where this is going
a couple hours later I came out with a large carpet
two small ones
and two blankets
did I bargain?
I couldn’t get myself to do it
the craftsmanship shown to me was so beautiful
how could I undermine it
later I felt a bit like a fool
my daughter and I, on another walk, got caught in a different shop
the vendors are so slick
like fine fisherman, they know how to hook you and slowly get you in
I am the biggest fish around
he offers prices that are way below what I just paid
I feel tired, I had enough
we manage to get out of this one empty handed
my daughter tells me what we got was way better
there is much to adjust culture wise
as a foreigner I don’t want to offend anyone
we are in Muslim country
what do I know
much to learn
we are in Fes today
biggest Medina in the world
this time we will get lost
here are some Chaouen photos
Dear Diary, Well if I start with my weaknesses it might begin with the fact that I am addicted to White Cheddar popcorn in the same way I was once in love with big cup peanut butter cups. I tell myself I won’t buy another bag but there I go again, off to buy two bags. I even eat it with a cup of tea. Sometimes I eat it 9:30 in the morning. That was just one morning, this morning in fact and I thought it okay because I am nursing a cold. I eat bowls and bowls of it. One night last week I ate it for supper. I keep telling myself it is better than my peanut butter cup addiction, and I believe it to be true.
The other indulgence of late is pots of tea, namely Vicky Comeau has been selling Steeped Tea, so I bought a little pack from her. There is detox tea, immunity booster tea( that is my current blush as I have a cold) and numerous others. Instead of making a cup as I did today, I make a pot after supper and nurse it. Sometimes I even reheat a cup Another harmless indulgence.
Then there is the Just Us White Chocolate Bars from Manasseh. I buy one a week and keep it in the fridge. You see I stopped eating chocolate after my peanut butter cup fiasco. That was over two years ago. I will have a nibble now and again but mainly I switched to white because it is less accessible. I know how this sounds. I know it is foolish. After many tries I finally found a white chocolate worth savouring. The thing is though it can last me a week in the fridge. Makes me feel full of self control.
Finally I admit that since I started knitting I need a series. Yup I need a show, my show, to watch an episode of each night. I prowl netflix until I found something that will let me get three inches of a scarf done every night. When I have show I know that my night is made. That is sad sounding. I don’t binge on netflix like I do on other things (white cheddar popcorn for example). One show of a series at night and I’m good.
We all have our little indulgences. We need them. They entertain us. Okay I’ll speak for myself. I need my little indulgences. They make me happy. They give me comfort. They entertain me. Isn’t it funny how we go through phases( ok…it’s me I am taking about but the we is just so much more comfortable and I doubt you are a saint) and have these little habits that make home feel like like, that we look forward to. Simple things that cozy up our lives. Things that don’t mean much but that we savour. And isn’t it funny how these things slip from one thing to another. That’s why I am not worried about the popcorn addiction, it’ll pass. Something else will take it’s place. We just need a little comfort. Little things to look forward to no matter what kind of things we do during the day.
The pictures in this post have nothing to do with the post. Truth is even with my iPhone I have been forgetting to take pictures. These are the rugs hanging right now on my studio walls from my new book, Simply Modern. I erased most of the pictures on my phone last night and I hope to start taking new pictures, odd random ones like I used to. Around the house, in the yard, at the shop. I will. I will . I will. In the meantime, here are some rugs I made for the book….
Yes, I am back to writing dear diary because I feel as if I am writing to myself when I start like that. It is so much less intimidating. You will have noticed I am blogging less. I will keep trying to post once or twice a week.
I have to say I am excited about my new book…the best book yet…with out a doubt. Not only is it in hardcover but it is full of surprises and interesting instruction as well as my more personal writing. Simply Modern…I can hardly believe I wrote it.
My friend , Donny Miller, said one of the things he does not love abut me is that before I take time to appreciate one thing I am on to the next thing. We were talking early this fall, being honest with each other and that was his honesty with me. I really heard what he said. I was not like I did not know it. I know myself pretty good. I know that I might relish the moment but as soon as I do I move on to the next thing. It is a weakness and I plan to work on it. In fact I am working on it right now. Relishing my new book. Relishing the new store across the street. And it isn’t easy for me.
When I was in my thirties I sometimes thought that if I could do it, then it wasn’t a big deal. I took it for granted . That has since changed but I remain speedy. One thing done, on to the next. In my life there are lots of quiet and slower times but I am always thinking about the next thing. What should we do next? I think for the coming year, though I have some projects I am working on, it is important for me to think about how can this be the best?
That is what I did with my book., Simply Modern. I thought a lot about how it could be the best possible book. It is what I have done with my studio and it is what I want to do with our new womb’s clothing store, Thirty Church. I want to work on, instead of move on, taking Donnie’s advice seriously.
It isn’t easy for me. It’s a goal I suppose, to relish things more. To savour. Not to eat it all so fast that you barely get to taste it.
This is what I’ll start saying to myself…”Take yer time girl, yer not running a race.” or maybe I’ll try “Deanne , Deanne, don’t do it just because you can.” It is going to take some adjusting but this fall I want to savour, I want to relish, I want to love what I a;ready have, what has already been done for it is try;y beautiful; and it deserves my full attention.
This summer I took it pretty easy because I knew the fall was coming and there would be a lot of action both in my studio and with Thirty Church, The Women’s Store opening. I am glad I did make those day excursions this summer. I am glad I walked on the beach, read books and knit.
After two weeks of extreme busy “ness” : we opened a new store and with in a week I had to buy for the spring season. My own studio is always busy in September as well, I am on my first day of “normal”. I actually had time to drink my coffee this morning. I wore my jeans. I feel good. Yesterday I started missing my studio. I had not worked here for two weeks. That has never happened before. Good to be reminded that things run without you.
Routine has been my mantra for years and it has been interesting to see it shaken up. I really liked it. It was good for me. Now as fall settles in I ‘ll work on creating some new routines but I think I will keep in mind that I do not need the same routine every day . Even as I write this I can hardly believe it. Me, a creature of habit, suddenly realizing that supper can be late, and a walk can happen later and it does not matter. There is such a thing as a new normal, and I can like that too.
Now with two businesses going there is no way I can be everywhere. Sometimes I am here, sometimes across the street. Well who knew I needed that. It makes me realize that things happen just as well with out me in the centre of it all, all the time. “My , My” she says to herself, ” things roll along quite good with out you. ” Isn’t that something we all need to know. How to step back. Who would ever guess that throwing myself in at full throttle and opening a new store would teach me that even if I cannot be two places at once, things can go really well.
We all like to feel important, it’s true. It is nice to be wanted but really we are all just passing through. Each of us has certain gifts that make us valuable, but not invaluable. It only feels like that. When we take a step back from things we make room for the gifts of others to emerge. We make space for new flowers to bloom. As much as I like a tangled garden, there is something undeniably lovely about a cultivated one too.
Shots from the last four weeks:
This rug was recently completed by Margot who started it with Deanne at the 3 day Workshop last October. She calls it “JoyFull”. Margot says “Thank you for launching me on this wonderful adventure”. She did a beautiful job – look at that hair!
Margot loves Rug Hooking so much that she taught her 9 year old niece how to hook this summer.
Here is Margot’s Niece diligently working away on her Summer Fields Kit.
Margot went above and beyond – this is how she framed her niece’s work along with photos of them together. What a wonderful keepsake for for her niece. Thank you for sharing this with us Margot!
If you have a special rug, or rug hooking story you would like to share here, please email Megan at email@example.com .
As I sit here on a Monday morning in my office I see many small projects that need attending to, yet the only thing I think I really want to do is hook a rug so that is what I’ll do. I think I will put on something small because we have hardly any small rugs left in the studio right now. I want to always make sure that there is something here for everybody and that my pieces are affordable. It is something I have always managed to do.
We are in the process of creating a new Making Time Journal . It will be Volume two. You can get a sneak peek of it below on my desk. It is exciting to see a second volume come to fruition. Mary Williams has done much of the selecting and editing for it. It is a perpetual calendar and we are creating it rather than a yearly calendar this year. It has a little space beside each day for you to write a little note, or keep your calendar, keep track of birthdays etc. Each week there is a new writing and an image.
We also just got a new online lesson ready, it is a swimmers workshop! This one will include a downloadable pattern. So keep your eyes peeled for the new online course on the Swimmers. Last week we had a real live swimmers course in the studio. Everyone made each swimmer someone they knew or remembered so it was fun to see the personalities develop through out the day.
Many of you have been asking about Thirty Church, The Women’s Store. We are busy trying to get our inventory in and ready but it is coming in slower than we’d like. There are somethings we do not have control over. It is frustrating waiting but twit we must. We are in the process of making a webpage for it so you’ll see what great clothes we have and you can shop online if you like.
So as it rains outside I am here writing you a note, thinking of what rug I might put on my frame, and honestly, thinking about my lunch!
You can’t be inspired all the time. It is ok to be hooking, writing, or creating and thinking about your lunch.
Take it from someone who knows.
Why do writers put pen to paper?
Why does a painter put a brush to a canvas?
Why does a baker mix flour with his hands?
Why does a rug hooker slice perfectly good wool into strips and hook them?
Why does a knitter buy hand dyed yarn at twenty bucks a skein to make a scarf?
We all know the answer.
It is because we must. We are compelled.
There is something in the hand work that we cannot find anywhere else.
It is soothing, a time to let go of cares, or a time to figure them out.
It just depends on the project of the moment.
Now I have two things, knitting and rug hooking.
Knitting is a past time and rug hooking is a passion.
Well I knit when I gather with people or talk, or watch tv.
I make small simple functional things.
I don’t have to think a lot about the projects.
Rug Hooking is mostly more complicated for me than that.
I like to work quietly figuring out the colour and texture like a puzzle.
I usually have some idea I want to express.
I am more invested because I see it as art.
Knitting is creative but it is not how I express myself .
It is just how I make things.
Both I find compelling.
Both draw me in.
Both I need to do.
Like a baker needs to bake,
like a painter needs to paint,
like a maker needs to make.
Yesterday I took the day off and drove to the island for pleasure. Long country drives. A little city shopping downtown looking at art and then a stop at Victoria by the Sea. Two nice meals out. Good company , a lovely day.
Then this morning I slept a bit late, took my walk, phoned my friend Lily for a chat and wandered into the studio. I was stunned for a second when I walked in the door. There was a big black iris on the back wall. I had hung it on Tuesday and liked what I saw but this morning after a day away I was surprised by the beauty of it. It was like seeing it for the first time.
I looked twice as I rounded the corner to come in to the studio. I saw the iris like someone else , someone who did not make it. Suddenly I was taken aback by it’s beauty. This happens only once in a long while but I can tell you it is worth the wait.
When we make things we are close to them. They are familiar and the familiarity gets in the way of really seeing things as they are. When I started this rug I had an image in my head of a single iris on a coral diamond background. The coral diamonds felt too much like Kaffe Fassett’s work so I had to change that. He had just been here when I started the project. It was Brandon Mabley who said, Imagine your work as a big black iris. His comment made me want to see it for real. So this piece was influenced by their visit yet I did not want to make it reminiscent of their work, but of my own. It is a tricky balance. You want to have influences . It is how you grow, but you do not want to imitate. Imitation stifles me. It is only good as a practice as a way to learn. When you want to show yourself and the way you see things imitation will not work. For this you must find your own way .
I hooked the coloured diamonds because I thought the iris would be too serene just on a white ground and I was right. It is called Iris in the Rough because where I was a child irises grew in the ditches. I have always been surprised that they were so beautiful growing in such a rugged spot. It is a metaphor of course, like so much art.
When I feel this way I am so grateful. It must be the way a writer feels after a great sentence, or a guitar player after a great riff. Satisfaction in creating art only comes once in a while. When it does you’d be a fool not to be thankful.
Tzigane Caddell came to Kaffe and Brandon’s workshops and brought along a rug she finished after attending a design workshop she did with me last fall. You c an see from the look on her face that she is really happy with the rug she created and she should be. It is beautiful. It is great to watch people blossom in their work. This geometrically inspired landscape is a natural progression from the geometrics that Tzigane has found herself attracted to for years. Her sense of colour is jewel like for this rug. I think she did a marvellous hob and I so appreciated her bringing it to show me.
Sometime in the eighties I came across the work of Kaffe Fasset and like most of the people who see it I was stunned. Over the years I ran into it again and again and always I was inspired when I saw it. Mostly , like an artist I wanted to deconstruct it. I looked at the layers of colours , the materials used and tried to see how he did what he did. That is how artists often look at other artists work.
After reading his biography, A Life in Colour, in 2012, when Megan Ingman asked me if we could bring anyone to town, without hesitation I said Kaffe Fasset. His biography told the story of his life and his art and I was interested in meeting him. I liked the way he created so much and there was so much abundance in his work. I knew he had to work fast and instinctually and that is the kind of artist I am most interested in. I was not dissapointed.
I think that if anyone has any questions about craft being art Kaffe Fasset has already answered them in his work. He is an artist with a vivid imagination. He makes knitting art. It was great to have him in town for five days. He did a talk on Friday night with a slideshow at the Baptist Church. Because of the stained glass windows and the evening light filtering in we could not see the colour as well but that was no fault of theirs. Still people had a good time. He talked mainly about his inspiration for colour and how he found it .
The bonus of having Kaffe is that Brandon Mabley his studio partner joined him on this tour. Brandon is as astute and sensitive an artist as I have ever met. He sees and he does, it is as simple as that. Together they create art quilts, needle point, rugs, paintings, drawings, knitting, the list goes on. They have been partners in the studio for nearly twenty five years and they work together daily with immense respect for each other.
The following four days were workshops. Three on Colour with Kaffe and Brandon and one on knitting with Brandon. Before they came to town I had no assumptions about how it might go. I just assumed they were artists who when not teaching would want to do their own thing. My job was to get them here so they could do the workshops. It turned out that my job was also to feed them, and in doing so I got to enjoy their company every night. We’d eat a good home made supper at my house then sit and do handwork for an hour or two. It was lovely.
The workshops themselves used rag rugging as they refer to it to help you understand colour. What they wanted was to help people identify colour and use it in their mats freely and easily. They were not the typical workshops we are used to where it is a bit of a free for all. One woman said, “You just have to be ready for it, this is a workshop with a true artist, not someone from your local guild.” Those were her words not mine!
I knew what she meant. You were working in the presence of a master, some who had devoted his whole life to colour and textiles. It wasn’t just a hobby for him it was the meaning of his life. He used textiles art to express himself, to create meaning in his life, to show himself to the world. Together they played a good cop , bad cop role with Kaffe being the task master and Brandon softening the blows. They wanted people to get right down to work. They played lively music through out the day and they discouraged talking. As Brandon said in his knitting workshop, “Don’t ask the woman next to you, ask me, that’s why I am here.” He explained to me that he wanted people to get into their projects and he did not want their rhythm to be interrupted. They worked hard all day. It was the same in the colour workshops, they discouraged chatting, no time was wasted with introductions and where you are from, they just got right down to business. It was a workshop about being an artist because that is what being an artist is really like. You put your head down and go at it, diligently and sometimes with fervour. You work alone mostly and you let the rhythm of your work and the colours lead you.
This was a shock for some who have attended. As rug hookers we are used to a gab fest. Kafffe and Brandon really promoted a quiet environment where you worked diligently along. The harder and faster you hooked the happier they were. Everyone agreed it was an experience, and the majority loved it. A few were taken aback or imagined that it would be different. Most people who came had been planning it for almost a year. It was an event in our community and I am proud that I got to host it. Just spending the day with someone who has contributed so much to creativity in textiles was the experience. As one participant Sally Austin said, “Really, it is just about hanging out with Kaffe.” If you read his books you would quickly learn that the way the workshop was presented was how he works himself. He looks outside of himself for colour and pattern inspiration and that is what he was trying to inspire the participants to do.
For me I can tell you it was a beautiful week because I got to spend time with two great artists who know so much about the textile industry. They were generous and sharing of their thoughts and ideas. They were easy to please and to feed. On the third night I said, “Tomorrow I can get you lobster.” They said , ” Sure.” but as the conversations continued it came out that they’d be just as happy with chicken. They did not want to put me out and did not need a fuss. Chicken it was. I liked that very much. Simplicity and ease.
The week was an definitive experience for everyone who particpated , including me. I learned stuff. On the last night when Brandon and Kaffe took Megan and Denny out to dinner we were talking about knitting and I said something about my yarn getting tangled, Kaffe, the tall man that he is was standing over the table and in a very firm and clear voice he pointed at me and said , “You need to read my book.” Then he held out his strong arms about two feet apart, and admonished me, “manageable lengths…it’s in the book, manageable lengths.” I heard him, it made practical sense, and I smiled. There I was being bossed around by Kaffe Fasset.
Brandon is leaning in about to offer some advice. One woman said she got up from her chair. When she cam back she found Brandon hooking on her piece.
Erin Mckenna and Susan Morin working away.
Charlene was lost in her work. That is what they were aiming for, trying to get people to that “flow”
Celia Charlton finished her piece in record time…Kaffe and Brandon kept chanting hook faster. They were not worried about the loop but the whole. Kaffe is looking on at a someone else’s work.
The Cape Breton Contingent are hearing what he has to say. They were ready for it. What a marvellous group they were.
Brandon jumps in after Kaffe has his two cents worth. We laughed because Brandon would say one thing, then Kaffe another. It was part of their charm and honesty, confusing but the truth is you ultimately have to decide for yourself what goes here in your piece.
Mary works here on Tuesdays. This week she is gone off on a short vacation. A few weeks ago she was tearing up a pile of green wool with her brightly coloured shirt on and it struck me as beautiful.
Finding the beautiful in the everyday.
Knowing it when you see it.
I am thankful for people like Mary,
who though retired likes to keeps busy, and works with me.
She is another kind of beautiful.
Having good people around you,
that support you, but tell you the truth,
reminds you that people are good
and we are lucky to live in communities
where we can help each other recognize the good
in one another.
well there’s making rugs,
cooking a little,
being a mom,
oh and being the birthday girl…that was fun
being forty nine
writing in my journal
drawing, but not enough,
planning a new book,
getting ready to proof a book newly written and due out in September,
shopping and nesting, fixing up my house a bit
smelling the roses, literally
looking closely at poppies,
searching for fireflies,
listening to the pileated wood pecker and the peepers and the waves
all in no particular order, all important.
Deanne’s Fiddleheads rug.
When I was at my friend Denise’s she had the pillows that her and her daughter made last year at my pillow workshop on her rockers on the porch. It looked so cozy.
Summer Flowers Pillow Kits are available online.
Last Saturday I called Sheree Fitch to see if she was home I wanted to go for tea. It turns out she was going to be home all day because she was preparing her barn for her new arrivals. When I got there she was painting the inside of her little barn pink and purple so the lambs would have a happy home.
Some people are extra loveable I think.
She has this playfulness that abounds and joy just seeps out of her.
The next day she send me this picture.
The sweetness of friendship.
Last month the Royal Alberta Museum opened it’s much anticipated Western Threads exhibit in their feature gallery. Western Threads celebrates the history of fibre art in the western provinces. The exhibit showcases the Heritage Rug Hookers of Saskatoon, Studio Art Quilt Associates (Western Canadian Branch), and a retrospective of the Focus on Fibre Arts Association’s biennial exhibitions.
It occurred to me when I was dropping my piece off for the show, the majority of this work would most likely never be shown together through normal channels. This show was mixing work from artists at different points in their careers and development, as well as, bringing together technique specific communities. It was going to be a coalescence unique to a museum setting and it filled me with curiosity and excitement.
The excitement really started a few days before the opening with a yarn bombing at the museum grounds. There was a great vibe to the event with museum staff, artists,friends and family all chipping in. It was a pop up fibre community that perfectly reflected the spirit of the exhibit.
Featured artists gathered the following day for an exhibit preview where we heard remarks from the executive director as he showed off his new fibre lingo (apparently, embroidery floss and yarn bombing are not in everyone’s lexicon!), as well as, a speaker from each of the three organizations represented in the show. Listening to the presentation I felt a great sense of pride to be part of this event and the larger fibre art community.
The Western Threads exhibit is a feast for the eyes and one I will see a few times to fully absorb. My piece, Roundabout(2007), is exhibited as part of the Focus on Fibre Arts Association’s retrospective. Roundabout’s experimental nature helped pave the road to the artwork I create today. Participating in the Focus on Fibre Arts Association biennial was also my training ground to learn and experience the “call for entry” proposal process and show my work for the first time in a juried event. All three organizations offer important developmental experiences and provide gathering points that bring various guilds, fibre artists and artisans together through their programs, events and passion for fibre art.
I believe there is great power and goodness in these “Western Threads” beyond the visual beauty so dynamically displayed in the exhibit. These threads connect us and build our sense of community enriching our lives, artwork and culture. Wherever my fibre art journey takes me, it’s comforting to know my grass roots were planted in this warm and fertile soil.
If you happen to be in Edmonton between now and August 4, I encourage you to explore Western Threads for yourself. And if you feel inspired to try your hand, they have something going on for that too!
I have a new website with images and more information on my contribution. dianekrys.com
Thanks for stopping in!
When my husband saw this rug he said, “Is it our backyard?” . It is the kind of rug that resonates with you, makes you think you have been there before. I just came back from that hike yesterday along the beaver trail and it seems like this rug was that area too. There is something comforting about a field with spruce trees in the distance. I love how the dark green trees change to purple, plum, black and even blue at a distance.
We can never look at nature enough to really see it. It is always changing. Colours are always blending.
The sky is always casting new shades across the landscape.
We have a lot of land like this in Cumberland county. It is everyone’s back yard. Spruce, and Pine, and fields combed with gold. Touches of red from blueberry bushes. Purple casts on the sky reflecting that Fundy Shore I suppose.
Megan posted some new rugs for sale today on the gallery of the website . This is one of them but there are lots more if you have time to take a look.
I chose the word sage, not because it grows outside my door, not because it goes great pan fried in butter over ravioli, but because t ha a dual meaning.
Sage is a herb often rolled together and burnt and used in smudging ceremonies to heal negative thoughts. That is interesting but not the reason I chose it.
Sage smells beautiful. It is a beautiful colour. More great reasons to choose it for this word rug, but not mine.
I chose it because it also means someone who imparts wisdom, and we all need a sage in our life.
The definition follows….
a profoundly wise person; a person famed for wisdom.
someone venerated for the possession of wisdom, judgment, and experience.
adjective, sag·er, sag·est.
wise, judicious, or prudent: sage advice.
1250–1300; Middle English (noun and adj.) < Old French < Late Latin sapidus wise, tasteful ( Latin: tasty), equivalent to sap ( ere ) to know, be wise, orig. to taste (see sapient) + -idus -id4
1. philosopher. 3. sagacious.
There are sages around us. We miss them sometimes because they might be getting on our nerves or trying our patience. Yes , even sages can do that.
Sometimes, about certain things we might even have sage like qualities ourselves.
Wisdom is often in the obvious. It might not be common but at the same time I do not really believe it is obscure.
It is all around us and we may need to ask ourselves if we are seeing it .
It is often in the simple things, a mother’s words or a child’s story.
ps. Our website is down we are working on it.
Friday and Saturday I went to the acadian community of Pomquet.
I had a video workshop to give to a small group of teens at the local school. I’ve never been to Pomquet before. It’s right past Antigonish, on the way to Cape Breton. You wouldn’t really know it’s there driving on the highway. It’s easy to miss.
I took a left on Taylor road to what seemed like a road to nowhere. After a few kilometers I found a good sized new looking school. It’s a primary to 12 school, one floor, two wings, brightly colored inside. Nice, nice school. Inside I found something for you: a beautiful hooked rug depicting “Le grand dérangement” which, as you may know, is when the acadian were deported.
The youth I had the chance to meet and work with were simply wonderful. Knowledgable, pleasant, talented. What a treat. And, as it is a french speaking school, I had the pleasure to lead the workshop in French. So much fun.
The first evening, before going to the local B&B I went to look at the area a little. As I approached the harbor I found a lovely community bordering the main street. The iconic Catholic church stood nicely in the middle of it. Around it a cemetery with graves dating to at least the 1800. A little further I found a beach road to the local provincial park. Originally I thought I’d grab a bite to eat at a restaurant located on the highway but the site of that beautiful empty beach enticed me to go for a walk. I had some snacks, I decided to have a little picnic on the beach.
Nova Scotia is filled with gems. Next time you visit, or if you live here already, go for a drive, take a left turn on a unassuming road, it’ll be worth your while.
I have learned over the years that it is the beauty of the hooked rug that matters. This course is about taking wider cuts of wool , and interesting textures and using them to create interesting details in smaller rugs. It is about learning how to simplify your design and create designs that work as small pieces. You can choose any theme or themes to work on. This workshop is not limited by theme you choose the subject matter you want to hook: landscape, people, coastal designs, abstract, or any other theme In this workshop we are going to explore what is important in hooking smaller rugs. I would consider small anything less that 12 by 20″. We can look at the ideas of working on a theme, creating dyptychs and tryptchs, and creating smaller rugs that are both beautiful and interesting. Small rugs can be exquisitely beautiful when you approach them the right way. I find that I go from working big to working small, and when I do working small feels so rewarding because you can see gorgeous results fast. I will help you create and design one or a series of smaller rugs, and teach you how to make them stand out. Learn how to make every loop count. Express your big ideas in a small format. Small scale peices hooked with a #6, #8, or hand cut wool are the focus of this two day workshop. Please note! The Workshop takes place on Tuesday the 13th, and Wednesday the 14th from 10-3pm. There won’t be any instruction on the Thursday – but you are welcome to gather with your hooking in the studio to socialize and work on your project. Lunch, Coffee, Tea, and Oakcakes are all included. Also, some workshop materials are included (bring your frame and hook and the wool you love).
Theresa made her own tea today! and it was easy for her…..
Lorna is getting her own office, you see. She’ll be across the street at Thirty Church The Women’s Store.
I got a new bicycle..what does that have to do with anything?
Well see I wanted to be able to leave my bike at the studio but there was no room in my office because I shared it as the studio tea kitchen. The tea kitchen was hidden away a bit and if you wanted to make your own tea customers sometimes felt it was a bit awkward to come into my little space.
I was a little jealous of Lorna getting her own office with room for her bike.
See where this is going?
So we have been saying for months it might be nice to have the tea kitchen in our knitting room as we have a sink out there too. Last week Lorna, Brenda and I changed things around. Now I can fit my bike and my rug frame in my office. Yippee!
The tea kitchen is wide open in the knitting room. When you come you’ll feel comfortable storming the kettle on your own and making a drop of tea for yourself, just like Theresa did today. So come on over….we got the little drawers stocked with all kinds of herbals, and of course there is red rose or king kole.
Coffee too…french press is easy. Cream is in the fridge, help yourself.
The oatcakes are still on the table in the front of the studio. We want to give you incentive to wander around.
I have my very own office , first time ever.
I’m a big girl now.
Can’t let that Lorna out do me.
if we are busy you can help yourself, in fact we encourage you to
There’s Theresa with her cuppa
Lorna says…”You can’t out do me missy”
my frame and my bicycle …welcome home Deanne they say
Deanne’s newest rug ! The background is done with sexy jersey. I think this is one of my favourite.