What is going on at my studio right now? Well I am working on a new combination sketch book journal which I hope to have ready to sell for Mother’s Day. I was choosing rugs for the cover and here were some of the top picks but there were others too.
I am also working on my website, trying to add my own little story to every pattern and kit and rug that is on there. That is over 600 tiny stories. But I think it will make the website far more interesting. I am only about a quarter done but I am getting there.
I also featured my story on the front page so people can learn why I hook rugs, and hopefully get inspired to hook rugs themselves.
Choosing covers for journals and sketchbooks. is just one of the best parts of my job. It is just fun. I love to see the rugs used in lots of different ways. As cards, journal covers , etc because that way I get to keep them forever in a way. Once I have the image it does not really matter if I have the rug anymore. I just like I record of everything I made. It helps me see where I have been and where I have got to. My work is very different now than when I started hooking rugs. Unrecognizable in some ways. But then I am different from that hippie inspired twenty four year old. And that is ok, perfectly ok.
Change is so hard and so lovely at the same time. Saying that it is the only thing that is constant is such a cliche. But then cliches are cliches for a reason.
I started my studio with a $2000 loan from my mother and a trunk and hutch in my front room. If I did not accept change I would still be lifting my rugs out of a trunk.
Really I embrace change. I don’t always find it easy but I am quick to cave when I don’t see any choice. Acceptance strengthens you. It makes you resilient. Whether you want it or not, change is here to stay.
Winter is not over here in Nova Scotia.
A big snowstorm is blowing down Church Street right now.
The wind is lifting the snow off the ground.
I hardly ever make winter rugs. I made a few earlier on in my work .
The truth is winter inspires me in a more abstract way. I never much want to hook the winter landscape. Instead I like to take the shades of winter and abstract them and play with them in rugs like this. They are warmer of course than what I am looking out at right now, which is a March blizzard.
There are many ways to understand winter in art, and this rug is just one of them.
As the winter approaches I am so happy to have my hooking.
Today it was so cold I went home and got boots and sweater.
Wrapping myself in warmth.
I bought a fruitcake from a woman at the market.
I am gonna soak it in whiskey and wrap it.
There is nothing wrong with winter if you are ready for it.
I got book on hygge from the library but I think we instinctively know this in Canada.
How to warm the winter with our hearts and minds, as we reach out to friends.
Fire, light, love and kindness.
warm me up I am ready.
Let the chill begin.
So here we are in November and I finally get to wear my sweaters. I cannot say I mind it. There is something odd about us wool people. Once the fall comes we long for scarves and sweaters. I am settling in to my new space out back of my studio. I have made a few good rugs here so it is christened. That was all it took.
I still think of November as fall. Winter does not really start for me until January. This of course is my own made up set of seasons. Today I walked to work from the local car dealership where they fixed the rattle in my car by removing a can of mints from the dash. Yes. I puzzled over it for weeks. I have not test driven it yet so lets hope that it really was the mints.
I was able to wrap myself in a nice plaid scarf and walk down the hill. Simple as I am, that made me happy.
As for my rugs, I am making set of tiny landscapes for my own home. The little 8 by 8 frames are being made right now and I plan a set of 36 of them for the wall as soon as you walk in my house. I have this idea that it is going to be gorgeous.
This week I took the time to walk in a local waterfowl park, have lunch with a friend, and visited neighbours two nights in a row. I was reading the latest National Geographic about happiness. It seems the amount of socializing you do is directly related to a person’s happiness levels. It is fascinating article about how in certain countries people seem to be happier. Canada is way up there. I have been reading National Geographic since I was a kid but took a long hiatus until I subscribed my husband to it last year for Christmas. I am not sure he has picked one up but I am liking it. One of those gifts you buy for someone else and end up enjoying yourself.
So as I try to find new stores for our beginner kits, and think about what I will do for an online workshop this winter, I am spending my time walking, reading, hooking, and dreaming about what is possible from a title studio in Amherst , Nova Scotia.
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.
I am fortunate to live near a sugar woods with three active camps. It is just ten minutes from my studio. Every year I go (almost) and every year I come home inspired. It feels like the most natural thing in the world to gather sugar from the maple trees.
What is so inspiring about it is you see people working so hard doing what they love. Most camps have people there lending them a hand. Everyone is working together in the simplest of conditions. People are there making syrup, and have been for generations because they love what they do.
The scent is comforting. The steam is rolling. And people are making…just making.
Most of my morning was spent working on a rug but it was lovely to take a hike this afternoon with members of the local trails society and see the maple syrup and candy being made. I always come home feeling ready to get back to work.
Remember when you were in school and you were taught to write a proper letter. I loved that part of school. I loved writing my address up in the corner. I wrote like I talked. I thought I would do that today for you. Even though it is not written by hand , I want you to know in spirit it is. I am here clicking away, thinking of everyone out there who reads this, writes back to me, and supports my studio. Thank you.
You can order this limited edition pattern here.
My most favorite rug right now is the hot pink moose. I thought I would include a couple of snapshots so you could see how I hooked it.
So the hooking of the circles in the moose took a lot of patience. Honestly it gets on my nerves a bit but I love the result so I do it. Rug hooking can be that way. I sometimes use fabrics I do not love to hook with but use them because I love the results. Here is a close up of the circles.
It is also a bit difficult to choose the colour. You need tones but not too many, or too jarring.I add lots then eliminate.
I outlined it in yellow so that there would be a strong contrast between the moose colour and the background colour. This is very important. It would be so easy for the moose to recede or get lost. Yellow is hard to lose.
One decision was whether to use the circles in the antlers. I almost did not. I thought I might just do lines. As I told you hooking circles irritates me so I was trying to get out of it. Then I tried to close my eyes and imagine it both ways. The circles were right I knew it and I had to push on.
You know what the rug needs when you close your eyes and imagine it done. I started on the background and went wrong with shades of green. I had to pull it out. Then I chose the colour of a real moose as my main background colour. That made sense to me. Make the moose the colour of the berries on a marsh, and make the marsh the colour of the moose.
Well you are probably wondering about me, because I am telling you how my rug hooking mind works. It is peculiar and silly and that is the truth. I spend a lot of time pondering colour and shape and movement and it makes me happy.
You can see I chose some soft greens and tans for the background too. I used cloth, yarn and sexy jersey in both the moose and the background.
Right now I am pondering making a canvas print of the moose and perhaps a pattern but for a while I just like to leave it in my studio and get used to it. I learn more from looking at a finished rug on the wall than I do from hooking it sometimes. Right now it is my favorite rug, but then again, it is the last one I finished. The last one you danced with always lingers in your mind after the dance.
So that is a tiny moose tutorial for you. A lesson in being loose with moose.
If you want to hook a moose we do have a moose kit that you can try.
You can also see our deals of the week here.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read…. Deanne
P.S. Guess what I am hooking? Yup…you got it four moose
Why Do I Hook Rugs? Click on the image above to find out why!
Fighting off colds.
Reimagining my beginner kit designs.
Thinking about why someone begins to hook rugs.
Creating a beautiful Instagram Account.
I have noticed that young women are making things.
More often people come to the studio with young children .
They are reconnecting with their hands.
They are hooking rugs for the same reason I do.
I love my phone like a teenager but when I put it down after browsing I do not feel satisfied.
I feel the need to do something.
To make something.
Making things fills a need in us.
It unites us.
It makes us happy.
It soothes us.
It makes us feel like we matter.
Making is a big movement right now among young people.
because it is filling a need .
When I first started making rugs I felt like I had found a home.
I belonged to that one simple stitch.
And it changed me.
That is powerful to think that making things can change a person.
but it does.
and we need to share that
because we should.
I ‘ve decided on an anniversary pattern and it will be geraniums.
Well they are hardy, like you have to be if you have been in business for twenty five years.
They are a simple plant, no fuss, and there they are from May to early November, showing up everyday, still blooming. Sometimes I forget to water them, other times the rain pours on them. Either way they manage with just a little bit of attention.
They also remind me of how I see a community. I want to be the person who chooses to plant geraniums to make their community a little prettier. Somehow geraniums remind me of the importance of giving back. It is such a simple thing to do and it reminds me that small things matter a great deal in a community.
You’ll notice the four white houses in the background of the pattern. They are there to represent community. When I moved my business into town , one of the things I decided was that I would commit myself to the community. It has been good to me, and I must try to be good to it. Building and supporting my community is an important part of my everyday life.
So is beauty. I love to see the storefronts in our downtown in full summer bloom. It makes coming to work, walking the street, and driving by a little sweeter for everyone.
I think of geraniums as an old fashioned flower. It is traditional.
But it isn’t meek. It is quite showy. And I kinda like that about them. Plain but showy. I relate.
So this is a very simple pattern but it is meaningful to me and part of my celebrating twenty five years.
We have listed it on the online shop here.
Today as I look around the studio and the women’s store I feel the season of Christmas fast approaching. Remembrance Day has passed and we are busy prepping for the holidays. Windows are glittering with white lights and shiny balls.
At night at home I have little lights on timers that come on at five until ten and when I come home in the evening they are waiting for me. I try to think of winter as a festival of light. I miss the early morning and evening light that came naturally in my window so I reinvent it with a little sparkle. I put small white lights on shelves to lighten up the long hours of darkness in my house studio. They make me feel cozy and warm.
Our windows in both shops are simple but they too focus on the warm white light that we need in winter. Georgina, Susan (30 Church Women’s Clothing) and Denise put the windows together today. Watching them really got me in the mood for this long season of celebration.
I just do not engage in all the negative hype we hear about Christmas. I think it is a miracle season. It is a time when we look outside of ourselves to help, or cherish others. I still see the beauty in giving and receiving gifts and love the symbolism of it. The wisemen brought frankincense and myrrh to the baby and it turns out, he too , already had everything. Gifts can be simple, joyous, and useful. We do not have to overburden anyone. I love to give gifts.
I look forward to the little celebrations that people have.
The joy and comfort. The hope, peace, and charity that prevail at this time of year. It still makes me believe in possibility. It reminds me of the importance of faith.
It is our season. It is my season. Time to spread a little joy. Time to remember others’ kindness.
There is no way that I am going to diminish the beauty of this season. It is a celebration of birth. I want it. I want to share it. I want to celebrate it.
These months of darkness need a blessing.
And Christmas is just that, a chance to celebrate what we have, what we had, and what we hope for.
So the season starts, not with endless shopping, though I will do some of that.
Not with endless plans for fancy evenings and complicated foods.
It starts with a little white light in the window.
There are lots of weddings today around here. I know these things now because we dress people for them at 30 Church Women’s Clothing across the street. It is a lovely thing to help people get ready for big important days in their lives. Who knew I ‘d like it but I do.
I am midway through a project of 51 small squares that combine landscape and abstract. It has been so lovely. 51 because I am 51. I take small square pictures on my walks and then hook versions of them. Sometimes I still think I am 50, When I hang them I might make myself 49 because that would be 7 by 7. I am one of seven sisters and I like symmetry, so I’ll be 49 when I hang them if hang them 7 by 7. I think I will actually have to make 60 or so to get the right combination, but I’ll not be sixty for nine years. It is fun to talk nonsense isn’t it? A little foolishness is good for ya.
Yesterday Tanis from Tanis Fibre Arts , a beautiful knitwear designer and dyer came by the studio. If you are a knitter you should visit her site to see some great designs and colour ways. While she was there she gave me some great tips on doing My instagram is….
I think Instagram is a great way to get inspired. I use it like a magazine with a cup of tea, and scroll through it following people who post beautiful images. Tania also showed me how to edit my images. I thought you could just do filters but you can also highlight, lighten etc. She showed me quickly and now I am instagram happy. You can see some of the squares on my instagram. I encourage you get the ap and follow Deanne Fitzpatrick Studio and Tanis Fibre Arts.
I think what I loved about Tanis visit is her willingness to teach and to share. I also loved that someone who surrounds herself with colour on a daily basis was inspired by the colour we create in the studio. She really got me thinking about pallettes, about making things even more beautiful than they might already be. You see beauty has no limits, it is like love. The more we share with each other the more we become aware of our own possibilities and those of others.
Summer shots below, and my rugs of the Pugwash estuary…..
Mary who works with me on Tuesdays laughs because it is sometimes a day that I hardly work! Well I work but I don’t hook that much on Tuesdays. My work, honestly, is a pleasure. I heard her once refer to my office and say, “If you can find her there.” Somedays I am there , hook in hand , all day. Other days I am on the floor at the women’s clothing store we have across the street. Either is a pleasure, just a different pleasure.
Today at 30 Church Women’s Clothing we did a makeover on Lisa, a customer and that was so much fun. So I was in and out of the studio like a cuckoo clock. I loved that she was so willing and open to whatever we had in store for her. She just let the morning unravel. You can see pictures soon on our 30 Church Facebook page.
I love how the women’s clothing store and the rug hooking studio balance each other out. They are two different kinds of work but yet they require many of the same skills. You need to be good with colour and composition whether you are dressing a woman or designing a hooked rug.
I sometimes wonder myself how I ended up doing both. The only answer I can tell you is that they both happened because I open to the mystery of what is next. Like Lisa, I was open to the process. It is easy to let what you have always done define you. But the truth is we should always be open to a makeover.This carries through in my rug making as well as personally.
If you want to be good at making rugs you have to open up to the mystery of what might happen if you use that wool, or throw that dye in. In life I try to be open to the opportunities that surround me so that life will remain interesting and creative. The more I hook, write, and bring ideas to life the more I see that art is a constant metaphor for life. I believe that to live well I need to live artfully, and this just means opening up to the goodness and wisdom that is around you.
As you hook this summer, try to be open to the process. Allow new ideas to refresh you. Change your habits. Invest in yourself. Strengthen your intuition. Take charge of the rug in front of you and make it beautiful, and remember that this is just a metaphor for life.
Thanks to Georgina who painted all our dark wood cupboards to make them more studio like. Now they are lime and yellow.
This spring we spruced up the place. The walls get tired from rugs being put up and taken down and a place, much like a person needs nurturing.
I am always conscious of thespace around me. A room can be cool or cozy. I treat the studio like my home because I spend so much time there.
For some it might not matter but I am keenly aware of my surroundings. Occassionally something remains unrepaired…like the books holding up a couch at home. But truthfully I even chose what books I would use to hold up the couch. Silly. Yup. But if I have to look it I want to like it.
I just pretended I was writing for Fodors Travel Guide
I still like to pretend the way I used to when I was a kid. I used to pretend I had a little newspaper sometimes. Sometimes I would play house or store or post office. So last week I pretended I was a writer for Fodor’s about this area. I created a little travel guide.
It is a work in progress but I created a little travel page about our area….Cumberland Westmoreland. It is a work in progress and I am just getting it going. Katherine from California just came to our Spa Retreat in May and she said she had a hard time finding out about things to do in our community. I know there is lots to do because I am out and about lots. I decided to create my own little guide to the area. It is just things I like to do, or things I think other people might enjoy ( for example the golf course…the only reason I go there is to get one of Janie’s cinnamon buns).
I will add more things. In fact I just remembered another. If you have someone come to visit the area give them the link to this page. I think it is worth reading. If you are planning to visit yourself then yippee! ….you’ll find lots to do!
Friends from different parts of my life have been wanting to try rug hooking so recently I gathered them together and hosted a Wool and Welsh cakes Sunday brunch at my house. Even my sister dug out her rusty hook and joined us along with the her friend Linda, the Welsh Cake Making Queen. I set up one buffet for good eats and another for hooks, hoops and wool. The day was a play session to see if rug hooking sparked anything for them to take further. I showed them how to pull a loop and then gave them as little direction as possible. It may sound stingy but I didn’t want to hamper any mad science impulses by filling their minds with arbitrary ideas about the “right” way to hook. Sometimes, the best way to teach something is simply to set the stage.
I loved seeing their experiments unfold in front of me. It made me think the more proficient a person becomes at their art and craft the more they need a dose of the unbridled impulses and playfulness of newbies. I was so taken by their random patches of rug hooking the next day I started a new piece with my own random patches hoping to capture some of their precious naivete and fearlessness. Working on it has led me back to a forgotten experiment from my early days. Funny how my friends’ baby steps brought me back to one of my own. It’s like I discovered a seed waiting for more experience to germinate and it’s already blossoming into a new direction for my work.
Reflecting on our day also made me realize how long it’s been since I’ve rug hooked with a regular group. I really enjoyed attending a small weekly rug hooking group when I first started, however, there came a point in my journey when I needed to focus my time to work on my own. I’ve never felt the need to be part of a regular group since but suddenly the Wool and Welsh Cakes gathering has brought out a desire to keep this thing going. It feels special to have people you already love to laugh and spend time with interested in sharing a creative passion and I’m glad to be in a place where I can embrace that. I think an artistic path is ever shifting and it’s important to always keep moving towards what feeds your soul.
I’m happy to say everyone is inspired to do more rug hooking and Wool and Welsh Cakes Part 2 is in the works. Apparently a few friends hit a Value Village before they even made it home and there’s been a lot of mad science brewing all around since. I can’t wait to see what they’ve been blowing up and I’m not sure who’s going to be teaching who!
At Deanne’s studio, we are always pleased when customers bring in their finished pieces to show us their work. Nilda dropped in a few weeks ago to let us have a peek at her work in progress and to select more perfect colours. Georgina then took a photo of her almost finished winter scene and many of you saw it posted on the studio FB page.
I was nicely surprised when Nilda came in again last Tuesday with not just one completed project, but two. Her hand drawn winter scene is shimmery and icy with sparkly snow, but warm and cozy at the same time. The skies tell us that there may be more snow in the way. There is so much Canadian winter in this piece!
Her second piece really surprised me. I had seen a small image that was the inspiration, centred around a birch tree, but as you can see, it is so much more. Aren’t the colours amazing? Quite a bit of studio dyed jersey made it into this fabulous piece.
For two years I worked on a knitting book with Megan Ingman’s help. I started out as one idea and over time morphed. I had made all the designs with Megan’s help, done the knitting and written the manuscript.at some point Megan decided that she could not co author it with me and we agreed that I would go ahead with it alone. So the bookstarted out as one thing and morphed into something else.
I even had a publisher all lined up. Last week we were ready to the photography and I just felt that I needed to call it off. I felt as if in doing the book I was not following my spirit so I had to call a halt.
Everything was good with it. Megan and I remain good friends even though she does not work here anymore and the book was ready to go. I just felt that for some reason I could not define I did not want to go ahead with it. It was one of those things that was seemingly right but something was niggling at me about it so I let it go. I stepped back, and in doing that I felt relieved. Sometimes there is no answer about what direction you should go in. There is no arrow, or well defined path. You just have to sift your way through. I have learned that in saying no, or sometimes in stepping back I feel as much as freedom as I do in saying yes and moving forward with something that really excites me.
I cannot tell you why I changed my mind about doing a knitting book exactly. I can tell you however that when you say not to one thing it opens up room for more of another thing. Right after I decided to move on I picked out some lichen and lace yarn and started a new knitting pattern for a shawl to match my new boots. The colour is day lily, and really at night I just want to knit that shawl, and it makes me happy. Sometimes you just need to bring simplicity back into your life. Projects can be tempered and tamed down. Dreams can still happen they just might be different than you anticipated.
Almost every day there is a wash line on an apartment balcony that is on my drive home. Once it was all denims hung perfectly upside down in a smile shape. Another maritime wash line, just so you know they are not all quilts on the ocean blowing in the wind. A bit of reality here, a little grittier than the classic Nova Scotia scenes, I love the reality of it, the honesty of it. It reminds me of the saying, “It’s not what you got , it’s how you keep it.” I love that saying, and remind myself of it often enough. It is so easy to take things for granted once you have them.
Right now I am knitting a big grey wrap that I imagine will keep someone cozy. On the frame is a large rug that feels quite daring to me right now. Lets hope I feel that way still when it is done. I have turned to the blog to write to give my fingers a rest. I am excited enough about the rug that I want to hook far longer than I should.
We have lots of plans up coming in the studio. One is our winter nights series of events that we are planning for this winter. If you are local , stay tuned , we’ve got a plan to make the winter a bit sweeter.
Every Tuesday is different. When I arrive at Deanne’s studio on Tuesday mornings for my day of work, the first thing I do is to look around to check out what changes were made since the previous week. And every week, something is different. It could be a new rug on the wall, a new product, new wool colours, new yarns, or the furniture, well it could very well be changed all around. There is always something.
Today was as most days are, filled with variety. Interesting people passed through to gather wool for projects, Bill Hopper came in and made us laugh, Harry the Printer dropped in, orders were filled and kits were prepared. We talked as we worked, that happens with a work force of women. It’s a great place to work.
Today Deanne spent some time drawing one of a kind designs on linen and burlap.
Laurie was busy at the serger preparing backing for Deanne’s designs.
Megan was catching up on emails.
Poppies on the Edge of Town kits were prepared.
Subscribe to our youtube channel here
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.
As I was recently opening a fresh new pack of gel pens, I found myself smiling. Really such a small thing can give a little thrill. I was reminded of being a child and getting that new box of 64 Crayola crayons (the pack with the sharpener in the back, you know the one), and looking at all those lovely pointed crayons and the beautiful colours in flawless order. Oh, the joys!
I’ve been thinking about and appreciating the little things, those nuggets that can make a day sweeter.
– a friendly greeting from a stranger
– cold hands around a warm mug
– getting just the right texture for rug hooking
– warm winter sunshine through the window
– delicious aromas coming from the kitchen when I’m not cooking
– a funny text from a friend
– peanut butter
– a quiet moment, time to think
– hearing the awaited car arrive in the driveway
– a compliment
– that first warm blast of warm water in the shower
– finding something you’ve misplaced
– singing along with the radio when alone in the car
– starting a really good book
– reconnecting with an old friend
– a glass of red wine with a barbequed steak.
And so it goes, moments, things that have made my day. What makes yours?
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….
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.
Denny is Megan’s Friend from Toronto.
This week she is here visiting Megan and comes to work with here each day.
You might say this week she is our studio cat.
She helps out. She does the dishes, talks to customers, helps them with their projects. She did the finishing on two of my latest knitting projects.
Thanks for that Denny.
She brings in projects to work on everyday. Yesterday she had this tiny spinning wheel invented by Ghandi that is portable and beautiful.
The day before she had a little hand quilting project with paper piecing.
Today here and Megan are off galavanting.
I wonder what she will bring tomorrow.
This is the second time Denny has spent a week with us. After Megan first started working here, she said, “I have an odd request. My friend is visiting from Toronto and I was wondering i I could bring her to work with me?”
I said, “Well that is an odd request, but we can try it.”
You see Denny used to work for Megan when Megan owned Lettuce Knits in Toronto so she is used to working in this kind of place.
Anyway I wanted to show you this amazing little spinning wheel that she was using yesterday.
A charcoal barbecue
a beach walk
a bicycle ride
a car drive
a summer weekend
a little too hot
followed by the breeze of a cool night
and a full moon
a summer weekend
Sweet and salty
Seaweed on your toes
life riding softly by
not too fast, not too slow
filled to the brim
beautiful summer weekend
Yesterday we had two young girls come learn how to hook. They were not exactly taught at their grandmothers knee but it was the next best thing. It was so nice to see them interested in learning a tradition and having their grandparents make sure that could happen.
I love the idea that many many years from now those gorls will be old women who learned how to hook rigs with their grandparents right here in my studio. It is like roding a bike, once you learn to hook rugs you always have that. Be sure to teach a little one and set them up with a little project.
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.
Last week was so much fun, I missed it on the weekend. We had a wonderful workshop with seven people on working big. You can see Fiona and Paul leaving the workshop in their convertible.
Then we launched the Yarnstormer, our new mascot for the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival, along with our brochure for 2014. There was over forty people out at town hall for the launch and the website s just now getting revamped.
We also had a group of travel writers come, sponsored by the NS Dept of Tourism and it was lots of fun to teach some new people how to hook. I gave them the studio tour and Megan taught them. Lots of hooker jokes on twitter with their visit. People love hooker jokes so we might as well join them I guess.
And that bicycle I showed you…well I made it all the way up the big hill on Academy street with out stopping on Sunday. woo hoo! The weekend was filled with family and visiting and my bike. On Saturday I had to stop part way up the hill and walk the bike but Sunday was triumph!
This week we are working on a new online lesson on Hooking Water so keep your eye open for that.
So lets hope this week is just as delightful . It has started out nice with a visit from one of our Pattern of the Month Club members!
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.
We had such a good time. Three Days in the studio. Five beautiful women. They learned. I learned. It was beautiful. You should have been there. Plan to come if you can.
Pictured here are four of the participants. The fifth, Sandra from Boston left a day early but her she and her rug were beautiful too./
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.
Beverly Mulcahey has hooked a lot of my patterns.
She has been visiting my studio since my kids were little. They remember she sent them those oversized sunglasses when they were little.
She hooks. She knits. See her sweater she has on…she knit that.
She knits to relax so it’s easy she says.
She is joyful and fun. She teaches nearly forty students in her hometown of Paxton, Mass.
I see her every year and every year she has a story or three or four.
She is always excited to come here.
She is a good friend of the place so she understood when we started moving furniture while she was here.
She knows what we are like.
She hooks beautiful rugs.
She is Beverly… and we are glad she comes and teaches and inspires others.
Every once in a while someone asks me about starting a business…theses are the things I know
A Woman’s Guide to Small Town Business
Fill a need in your community.
Foolish optimism is necessary.
Pay attention to your passion, it should be nurtured.
Invest in yourself.
When you follow your passion , you love to work
You do not have to be good at everything.
Find people who are good at the things you are not and work with them.
Work with people who love what they are doing because their passion will inspire you.
Life shouldn’t be boring. If you are bored you are on the wrong path.
Discover your own community there is gold to mined there.
Money is a great tool for creativity but not the only one.
Ideas are for playing with.Turn them inside out and upside down and watch them morph and a change.
A new project is a beautiful thing, run with it.
Don’t network, care about others and they’ll care about you.
Gossip gets you nowhere, it’s mean spirited.
Be a blessing whenever you can.
Sometimes when I look back over things I have made I can hardly believe my hands were involved with it. Do you ever experience that?
These rugs were some of my first attempts at Abstract and modern design. They have all been sold except for my Chasing Klimt, the first picture you see here.
I like to review my work, whether it’s rugs , or just the growth of the studio. It makes you feel like you have been somewhere and that there are places left to go. Review is important, whether it is your sketch books, your scrapbooks, old pictures.
Our rugs sort of review our lives the way a photo album might. Instead of remembering what you were wearing you are more likely to remember how you were feeling, or what stage you were at. When you look at the design you can remember the place you were in when you were making it. You can see it by the design and colour that you used.
In these rugs I can remember the trepidation I felt venturing away from the pictorials towards more abstract design. I wondered if I was heading in the right direction. I wondered if they would ever sell, thinking…maybe not but that is no reason not to make them.
We need to look back and see where we have been to appreciate where we are.
Sometimes I forget that I started my rug hooking studio in a trunk with a two thousand dollar loan from my mother. That’s the truth.
Sometimes I forget that my first rugs were as simple as they were.
Sometimes I forget that twenty two years is a long time.
Sometimes I need to just go back over things just so I can remember.
Katie Allman from Ohio has asked that we post a video with a welcome to the studio for her group that is coming for a workshop next fall.
Welcome to the Studio…..A Five Minute Video Tour
So come join us for a workshop… see them here…Workshops 2014
I bought myself a bike to replace curling in the summer. I never drove a bike as an adult but I figure now is as good a time to try something new as ever. I am scared of going down hills so I have been picturing myself doing it even as I sit here in the snow storm.
I am forty eight and I bought a new bicycle from the new bike shop in town. I like the sound of that. I also bought a rack so I can carry it places. Now I just sit and picture myself cycling around town because today there is a Northeaster blowing through.
My latest rug Beach Path $1800 32 by 54″
and the news from the latest newsletter
For me March has been immersed in turquoise . While other people were off for their week south at the beach I was here hooking the beach, imagining Amherst shore and star fish, and I loved what happened. I have never been south. Never even really dreamed of going. Winter never bugs me til March and only then if it stays cold and snowy. I never realized it while I was hooking this rug but I think it was an attempt to go south in my own mind.
This month we bought for our new women’s wear store that is opening in the Fall of 2013. It will be clothing and shoes and will be directly across the street from my studio. It is a very creative process developing and opening a new business. Creativity enters every part of our life and enriches it. Just this week I have gotten excited about the new store. Now I can imagine all the beautiful clothes and dressing women in their own style, and helping them find it. It is a lot like what I do with rug hooking and the Wild with Style course I teach. Style, like creativity enters all areas of our life. Yesterday I bought several books on dressing and style so I am hunkering down for some learning. We got a name it is Thirty Church….The Women’s Store…Clothing, Style and Substance. I want it to be a place where a woman can feel good about dressing, can express herself, and like here, can enjoy a drop of tea while she does. It will be a comfortable place.
My new book on Rug Hooking, Simply Modern is in the final stages. The photography has been done by Nimbus so all my new rugs are missing from the studio.I am looking forward to getting them back and lightening the place up here again. They add a lot of life to the place , a creative energy that I miss now that they are gone. I still have to work out which photo goes where in the book and that will take some time.
Megan has started putting together the snowy owl and the brown owl kits for you. When I sent out the newsletter we had a lot of interest in these as kits so they are now available. You’ll see the link below.
My creative routine has changed for practical reasons, my daughter got her license. This has meant she often takes a car so instead of working home in the mornings on my rugs I have to catch a ride to town and work here at the studio. I make my rugs in the afternoon now and sometimes into the evening. It is interesting how the logistics of life, the practical things can impede on the way you have done things for years, and that you end up just reframing the way you do things. To be honest , it has been good for me. For years I woke up, walked, made tea and pranced up to the studio . I really am a prancer. If it was not for sharing a car I would still be working the same routine but the truth is shaking it up a bit has been good for me. It makes you look at things differently and really appreciate the time in the studio. I am about to start a new yellow dog series based on a rug I made earlier this month. As important as routine is to the discipline of creativity I have learned that adaptability is equally important. As we go through stages in our life our needs, desires and abilities change and you just have to roll with it.
I am reading lots . One good book this month was Anne Leary’s The Good House. I picked it up in Charlottetown. I also really liked Stephanie Domet’s book Falsy Downsies.
The Mystery Patttern Club is now going into it’s third month and I find that keeping you inspired is keeping me inspired. As a special thanks to the members we’ll be drawing this month for one of Roberta Hancock’s Silver Pendants.
So that’s it for me. Thanks for reading and all your support of the studio. I am so happy to be here for you. Call if you need something. Our number is 1-800-328-7756.
Sometimes lately when I go to write this blog I do not seem to have any new pictures and I feel frustrated. I know why I don’t. It is because in my daily life I like to be the lens instead of behind the lens lately. Last week my niece was playing the piano beautifully. I was sitting and listening and I thought “I should go get a picture for the blog. ” Then it dawned on me that in doing that I would miss the moment. Seventeen year olds might only play for a few minutes. I sat still and listened. I wish I had a shot for you of long fingers on piano keys. That lovely image of skin tone against black and white but I don’t because it is in my mind not on my camera. I just can’t afford to miss the moment to get the shot.
I still take pictures. I have a nice small camera that fits neatly in my pocket or purse that shoots really good images. I just have been forgetting it is there sometimes and when I do remember I feel like I am leaving the present moment , not enjoying things as they are. Honestly I think this is a good thing, a maturation of sorts for me. I will still take pictures but I think it will be with the intention of taking pictures rather than as an interruption.
For example when I am visiting my little baby friend Charlotte, I only get down there for a half and hour every week or so I want to be with her. Watch how she has grown. See her reach for things, discover her hands, become aware of words. I leave my camera in my purse. Or when I see my daughter and her friends lying with their legs thrown over each other on the couch, or when I see the light hit the orchid on the window sill, or when I see the ice form on the window box, sometimes I am just there and I don’t think I should fight with that. Isn’t that what an artist wants, to be in the moment, to see what is around them.
Yet I want to share what I see. I love it that this blog is read faithfully by so many. I enjoy that instantaneous response on Facebook though I still find the whole Facebook thing odd to say the least….still if you want to join the oddness you can like my Studio Facebook page.(isn’t this ironic?) It surpassed 1800 likes the other day and I felt good about it. Why? Who knows? Just because it is there and I am part of it. I just joined last year and I enjoy posting progress on my rugs, things that go on around me. It is just like a quick little journal. Yet I find it weird that this is how we communicate now. Friends don’t call me much anymore they fb me. We organize get togethers. Today I am going out to a St. Patrick’s Day lunch because a friend face booked me. I would not want to miss the lunch.
So as much as I am a part of the whole social media thing, blogging, fb, twitter, I do not want to miss my life. It is not online that I want to see my life. What if the power goes out indefinitely
( won’t happen, don’t worry, just makin’ a point) and you can’t review your year on fb? I ‘d like to think that I have a movie I can play in my mind, and that I’ll always have that movie cause I lived it and I was there. I smelled it. I saw it. I felt it. I heard it. I was present.
Mind you I ‘ll find time for a few pictures but I’m making sure that there is lots of time in front of the lens, and that my eyes are the lens, and that I am making that video called memory that I can play back just by sitting down quietly for a moment.
Just some shots..
a weak ode to St Patrick’s Day…..
We have decided that we really appreciate mystery pattern club members. We just sent out our second Mystery Pattern, and I just hooked up the third! They are small patterns, 15 by 15″ or around that size so you always have something on the shelf ready to hook. I liken it to the feeling of always having another good book waiting for you on the shelf.They are committed to us so we’re committed to them too. In the Month of March all mystery pattern club members will be interred to win one of Roberta Hancock’s pure silver necklaces.
You can join here
I hope you all have a good weekend. I am cooking beans and fishcakes this weekend with some salt cod that I have in soak right now. I do not have any big plans but I hope to do lots of walking if we do not get any more snow and lots of hooking on Sunday. Typical weekend for me, hookin’ and cooking’
When I was home last week I cleaned under the cubboards in my studio. I used to shiver at the thought of what was underneath them.
Knowing what is underneath them now is kind of a relief. When I walk up there now and start to go in those cupboards I still expect a mess and then I am presently surprised that when I look under them there is a sense of order.
I even stood all my old sketchbooks up so that I could slide one out and take a look. It is quite a resource of ideas, all those old sketches. I have twenty years worth of them. In them are lots of ideas I never did hook. There are also the sketches for rugs that are long since sold. It is noce to see the sketches, the rugs that csme from them come right bsck to me.