Catherine Bussiere: Hope

I met Hope this week
I didn’t know Hope
I went to her apartment complex where she resides in River Hebert
she used to live on a farm
but at 80 some she now lives in a much smaller space
with two cats
although residents are not suppose to have cats
actually one of her cat is missing
which is troubling her some

I met Hope because I was to interview her about seed saving
going to a seed saving workshop recently I was presented with some beautiful beans that had been saved and planted for decades
in awe of that I had asked if I could interview the lady that did so
and so I ended up in Hope’s apartment

Hope is a lovely lady
she answered my questions graciously
I found simple, plain wisdom in her comments
I kept telling her that I wanted to hug her so content I was with the turn of our interview

to the question why save seeds her answer is this
keep seeds from plants that grow well in your region
keep the best ones
save them, trade them
they are the best seeds you can get

to the question why garden and why buy local
her answer is this
grow your own food or buy from a local farmer because the fruit you get is the tastiest
period

now of course there are political reasons
we can save seeds to fight Monsanto
we can grow gardens to lower our carbon footprint
we can do so for financial reasons
for physical and mental health
(yes, it helps my mental bits to hang out in the garden)

for Hope it boiled down to taste

it made me wonder
have we forgotten what home grown food taste like
think about a fresh, perfectly ripen, strawberry
a tomato still warm from the sun
fresh shelled peas
carrots with their tops and a tiny bit of dirt just pulled from the garden

there are many reasons to grow a garden
save seeds
even forage for wild edibles

Hope said she likes to know where her food comes from
it taste better
I agree

1Q9A1886

DSC_0002

DSC_0013

Catherine Bussiere: nature walk

I went for a walk in the woods yesterday
it was organized by the Amherst museum and held at the Amherst bird sanctuary
a man named Bill was our botanist on site
a very knowledgeable week end botanist
on week days he is a lawyer

the funny thing was, the night before I had a dream that my car was stolen
I went to see the cops
someone told me don’t bother
you need to see a lawyer

Sunday was a beautiful day
only a handful of us took part of that walk
a brother and a sister were there mostly for the birds
she knew some birds by their song
we heard this lovely chant
she showed me the author in her book

we walked for a few hours
very slowly
our host seemed to know every single tree and every single plant
that kind of knowledge blows my mind
common name, Latin name, other names
properties, how to make the different between this maple and that one

so much to know

we saw the oldest sugar maple in Nova Scotia
twisted and knotted like an old man
majestic

we chewed on a leafy twig
I forget the name of that tree
but it tasted like spearmint

we saw a plant that once upon a time was used for bedding
we saw a tutu fern
a sensitive fern
an interrupted fern
and a cinnamon fern

we saw star flowers
dog wood flowers
lily of the wood flowers
and violets

tucked away just outside of Amherst
lays a protected piece of paradise
check it out if you are ever around

_Q9A0729

_Q9A0733

_Q9A0737

_Q9A0743

_Q9A0745

_Q9A0750

_Q9A0756

_Q9A0766

_Q9A0769

1Q9A0623

1Q9A0624

Catherine Bussiere: Taroudant, another carpet ride

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!

DSC_0062 DSC_0065 DSC_0066 DSC_0071 DSC_0073 DSC_0074 DSC_0075 DSC_0079 DSC_0091 DSC_0097 DSC_0099 DSC_0104 DSC_0114 DSC_0143 DSC_0145 DSC_0146 DSC_0147 DSC_0148 DSC_0149 DSC_0150 DSC_0151 DSC_0165 DSC_0176 DSC_0178 DSC_0179 DSC_0181 DSC_0183 DSC_0186 DSC_0189 DSC_0197

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.

DSC_0001 DSC_0002 DSC_0003

Catherine Bussiere: lots to do

DSC_0279 DSC_0283 DSC_0286 DSC_0295 DSC_0299 DSC_0307 DSC_0309 DSC_0311on the news and to get me going
– those are very small Beckwith news by the way
the mosquitoes are back
it’s been driving us crazy
it’s the end of the summer crop
they are small and they are hungry

then there is the garden in it’s full mature beauty
I walked through parts of it this morning looking at patterns
closing in to borage
how velvety it seems

a friend of mine spent the week here working away at four short videos
she is a percussionist extraordinaire
it’s been fun helping her out

but the most exciting news at the moment
is our upcoming trip to Europe
this week more then any
things have developed
we now know for sure that we will be helping out for a month
harvesting olives in Southern France
it sounds romantic
maybe it’ll be brutal
I doubt it
I’m up for new grounds, experiences and challenges

on my to do list coming right up
is a blog site (shared with my daughter)
that will feature our adventures in Europe
I’d like to keep posting photos and make short videos

I will keep a post on Deanne’s Sunday blog
it will most likely be linked to my new blog site
must figure that out

for now my friend is waiting
today we must wrap up her video projects
lots to do
have a good week

Catherine Bussiere: Kaffe

DSC_0120

my daughter and I had a delightful time at Kaffe Fasset’s presentation the other night
what a fantastic feat to be able to get such inspiration in our little town
the things I took home from Fasset’s presentation is that inspiration is everywhere
in your garden, in that old faded rug, at the flea market
it’s about having your eyes open
having an urge to create
to process what you see and put it into your own creation
it is for everyone
everyone who dares
it is not limited to the educated
it does not have to be thought out
it just is for whoever wants to embark and do
it may takes years
it may take a moment
it does not matter

the church was full on Friday evening
filled with people who makes art and craft
what a soothing sight
thanks Deanne and Megan and everyone at “this world class shop” to keep engaging people to create beauty everyday
thumbs up!

DSC_0121 DSC_0127 DSC_0132 DSC_0134 DSC_0137  DSC_0145 DSC_0149

Catherine Bussiere: school

For the past three year I have been an assistant in french classrooms.
The main requirement for the job was to have french as a first language.
I only have 1 year of university under my belt and even if I’ve done a few years of college, when it comes to certain jobs it doesn’t mount to much.
When I realized I could do this job in two nearby schools, one being where my kids went, I jumped on the occasion. I’d been self employed for a while and the prospect of a regular paycheck was rather incentive.

In three weeks I’ll be done my third year.

During these past three years I’ve had the chance to experience first hand what it is like to be in a classroom. From grade four to grade twelve I’ve spend time along side teachers going over the basics of the french language. Core french it’s called. During these years I have seen how in general the idea of speaking another language is, at first, for most, appealing. The little ones generally have fun with it. And they are quite good. They remember words and sentences, they have fun with it. But as the years go by, it doesn’t take too long, it seems like what was once fun becomes dull and unnecessary.  By grade 8 or 9 the kids are done with it. Even though they are told how important it is to know another language, even though they could potentially get a better job (or a job at all), they are not interested any more and some seem to have lost the little they learned in previous grades.

Many times I’ve come across this attitude of “I’m not good at it” therefor let’s not even try and keep the door shut. I know better. I know better because I have been around those kids for a few years now. I can see the potential. I can see how smart they are. I have kids of my own. Been there. Open up little one, don’t do that to yourself.
It takes a lot of nurturing to convince a kid (or anyone maybe) that they should give themselves a chance. To keep that door open even if it is only a crack. To inspire them.

At the end of the day, after the first year, the important thing for me was not so much how much french they learned. It was that they had met someone from elsewhere who spoke a different language. It was that they could say that they knew someone from Quebec and that person was fine. It was to bring down barriers and let go of the fear. It was to create a relationship of trust and care.

I sometimes wonder how it goes for other subjects. Math, english, sciences. How are they doing there? How much of what we do, what is taught, is for keeps, is of use.

In three weeks I’ll be done my third year and I’m calling it a wrap.
My daughter, my youngest, will unofficially graduate from high school (she’s skipping grade 12 by doing two correspondence courses on her own). We will celebrate with a journey through Europe and after, who knows. I feel like I’ve been in school long enough. I need to experience new things. Have new challenges.
It’s been a good journey though. It has been really good to meet all these fine young individuals. It’s been good to find behind a rowdy front, attention and mindfulness.
It’s been good to nurture the needs and to be trusted to do so. It’s been good to see my own barriers and fears fall.

I’m looking forward to a new journey and I will be happy to hear, when chances come along, the sweet sound of: Bonjour madame Catherine.

 

DSC_0045 DSC_0047 DSC_0048 DSC_0049

Catherine Bussiere: April = Easter Eggs

you’ve heard them sing

you’ve seen it thaw

it’s crazy how fast a season can change

one week we are buried under a blanket of snow

and the next the narcissus are poking their noses out

 

I was busy in my green house yesterday getting the ground ready, planting a few seeds

lettuce, spinach, beets

early greens that I hope to munch on in a month time

this morning thinking of Easter coming up

I looked for the eggs that were decorated last year

I wrote a blog then and I will share it again

if you have some old silk ties, or scarfs, or any silk with pretty patterns on it

round up some kids, empty a dozen eggs, and be ready to be awed

happy Sunday!

oh yes: the LINK

DSC_0057 DSC_0058  DSC_0060 DSC_0061 DSC_0062 DSC_0064

 

 

Scenes from this years’s Big Workshop

I know it is a tease to show you what you missed but the good thing is that every October during The Nova Scotia Fibre Art Festival I host a big workshop. Here we are at the grand opening at the festival and a few scenes from the workshop we had on the Joy of Rug Hooking.

My friend Beth was decked out in her piping outfit for the grand opening. My workshop began with a little cello recital from a local rug hooker.

We really focused on the joy of creativity and rug hooking. Next year we are doing Modern Design for Hooked Rugs.  I know it is early but be sure to make plans and book your space. It will coincide with the launch of my next book, Simply Modern.

I am planning for special guests though they have not be determined or booked yet.IMG_2511 IMG_2515 IMG_2518 IMG_2524 IMG_2530 IMG_2506 IMG_2511 IMG_2515

Look with Lorna

Last week Catherine was here for the afternoon doing some photography for the studio and her daughter Charlotte came along for a visit.  She was going to write her driver’s license later that day so she had her hair all pined up so it would be curly for her picture. I remember my Mother doing this with me only she used brown paper bags to tie the hair up. I had to laugh that she was trying to get her hair to have curls and I was trying to get mine straight.

Charlotte is crafty but has never tried crocheting before until Brenda was showing us this cute scarf she had made the day before. Well it wasn’t long before Brenda had Charlotte all set up and crocheting. She finished her scarf in a couple of hours and was exciting about making more for Christmas presents.

 

IMG_2941IMG_2944IMG_2940

IMG_2965

IMG_2960

IMG_2972

IMG_2973

 

Catherine Bussiere: Grow a Farmer

 

Over the past few years
slowly but surely
there has been a movement
of young men and women
that have educated themselves
by school, trade or self
about the essence of who we are
our very core, implanted in us
to grow and gather our own food

a forgotten art

Taken care of by something so big that it has lost sight
and so have we
of natural beauty and perfection
in a need to control and profit
our health and our environment has been jeopardized

But it is so easy and we are so busy
to support such endeavor
I can go to one place
the world is there for me
from China to Argentina, Israel, Costa Rica
Fruits and vegetables, perfect, shined, preserved, waxed
flown express from unknown fields to impersonal mega stores

in the meantime the air is polluted
the water is polluted
those vegetables have lost their original traits
and we are made to believe that we should at all time eat
one cup of this and two cups of that

what to do, what to do
I’m so small and I’m just me

Well…

over the past few years
slowly but surely
there’s has been a movement
of young men and women
that have educated themselves
these men and women are working hard and are not hard to find

Go to your farmers market
join a CSA program (community supported agriculture)
buy locally grown produce
meet this new generation of growers
embracing the battle of health and well being
bring your neighbor
tell your coworker

It is an easy thing to do
it is a pleasant thing to do
it’s the right thing to do

A couple links for you
now that you are all excited about such a nice and easy way to promote beauty!

CSA in Amherst:  http://www.wysmykalfarm.ca

A great link for more csa and farmers market around Nova Scotia:
http://adventuresinlocalfood.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/2012-csa-list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: Easter Eggs

A few years ago as I was visiting Louisiana I came upon this workshop on decorating eggs for Easter.

It is simple and the results are simply stunning.

Here are the things you will need:

– Thin colorful 100% silk with pattern (or not). Ties are often made of silk and can be found at second hand store and or in your husband’s closet.

– Eggs previously emptied and well rinsed

– Plain cotton squares big enough to cover the eggs

– Twist ties or thread and needle

– A bowl of water

– Flower petals or small leaves (optional)

First cut a silk square large enough to cover the egg, put in in water, squeeze excess water. Cover the egg placing the brighter side of material towards the egg

Using a twist tie secure the material as tight as possible to the egg

If you wish you may place some petals or small leaves on the egg before placing the material

Like this

Instead of using twist ties you can sew the material around the egg.

Cover each egg again with a piece of cotton and secure with a twist tie (this will prevent the dyes from the silk to bleed into one another). Place in a pot, cover with water.

Since the eggs are filled with air they will float. Place something that will fit in your pot over the eggs (like an aluminum pie plate) and place something heavy on it to keep the eggs immerse in water (don’t worry, they will not break). Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove eggs, cool down, remove cotton cover…

Remove silk cover…

et voila!

This can be done with kids and is incredibly satisfying.

Have fun.

Catherine Bussiere: to take a picture of your rug

It’s a gorgeous sunny morning here today. I will most likely spend some time outside pruning apple trees later. Yesterday I had a peak in our greenhouse and discover a carpet of young tasty “mache” (it’s a type of lettuce that loves to reseed itself and is rather cold resistant). I want to start some flower seedlings; nasturtiums and sweet peas is all I could find at the local general store. It will do for today. I’ll get my fix with playing in the dirt and chopping some branches. I love this time of year.

Alright now, lets focus, and talk rug pictures.

I am sure you all spend a fair amount of time hooking your rugs. True.

Now let’s spend a few minutes together taking pictures of those rugs and make them look as pretty (almost) on print as they are live.

Last week Cynthia commented on my blog and mentioned how she was not satisfied with the pictures she took of her rug. To illustrate my answer to her here is one of Deanne’s rug at the studio. It’s called “Coral Pine”.

First I cheated and placed the rug up high on the wall. I did so to show you NOT to do this. First thing, place your rug or rather place yourself, eye level with the rug. Why? So you get strait lines. Also in the example I had the flash on. Have a look.

There is a few problem with this picture. First, if you were to crop it so all you see is your rug you would loose some of the bottom side edge because of the angle. Second, the bottom of the rug is in focus but the top is a little soft. There is no need for that. Also the flash in this case lit the rug unevenly.

So all and all it’s a reject.

Here is my second picture, still with a flash but this time I am eye level with the rug.

This is already better but I told you last week not to use a flash if at all possible.

Why? Flash has a tendency when thrown straight on to your subject to flatten the image. There’s light everywhere, no shadows, no depth. It can work and can produce creative pictures but for this unless there is no option I go without.

Now for Deanne’s rug I use two methods. One is I take the rug outside in the shade and hang it on the wall. It works great if the rug is large. I use a little step ladder to place myself level to the rug and I move in as close as possible so the rug fills most of the frame. Here is the set up.

The rug is right under the yarn sign and there is a line of screws sticking out of the bricks placed there for that purpose.

If your rug is small like this one then find yourself a spot by a window in your house with no direct sunshine. A North window is great. Here I placed that lovely little rug on a black piece of wool cloth. It makes a nice background and with a simple editing software I can crop my picture without having to crop the rug.

Notice how there is this piece of white cardboard. I will be using this as a bounce.

 

Now, placing myself above the rug here is my first picture with no bounce.

Pay attention to the bottom of the rug. A little dark if you ask me. Now let’s see what happens if I place my white cardboard right at the bottom of the rug and angle it so it bounces the light from the window to the bottom of the rug.

Now I am content. Notice how the whole bottom half is brighter and vibrant. We can almost feel the  texture of this rug. You can see all the various wool cloth and yarn used.

I think you can all get great pictures of your rugs. Just take a little time. Try a few settings. Try it with flash and then without. See what looks best to you.

Good luck! Let me know how they turned out.

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: taking a picture

So since one of my job at the studio is to take pictures

I thought it may be nice to share a tip or two about taking pictures

here is one

This morning I looked around my living room for something to take a picture of

something random

nothing in particular

There’s this beautiful old door I was thinking of

but it will be for another time

So my eyes settled on this kettle my mom gave me

I wish I could tell you where it’s from

maybe somewhere in Northern Africa

maybe

The point is, it’s beautiful and I decided to make it the subject of this first photo tip

Here is the first picture I took of it

I placed myself in front of the wood stove, set my camera on automatic and made sure my flash was on

 

In my book, this picture isn’t a keeper

Why?

Well, for starters I’m not sure what it’s about

Is it about a wood stove, foil, a kettle…

What the automatic features on my camera decided to highlight with focus and flash is the foil

What the photographer (me) decided to frame is uncertain

First tip today, if at all possible get rid of automatic settings and most important, deselect the flash

– now flash is useful and necessary sometimes but that will be another blog –

Second, whatever it is you are taking a picture of make it the star

Here is my second picture

This time the flash is off, I framed it so I like what I see in my frame and I focused on the kettle

 

To me this one is a far better picture than the first

Now if you like you can play a little with the subject and see what it has to offer

For the two following pictures I came up close, stood on a bench and took close ups

See, that’s another thing, when you take a picture move around with the viewfinder in front of your eye

Look at your subject from different angles, you might be surprised at what you will see

If you can, play with focus

Pay attention to the light and see how it hits the subject

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kettle is dusty

I left it like I found it

I like the snaky curves

I like it just like that

-maybe I should dust my house a little though… or should I?

Have fun taking pictures

Let me know if this is at all useful and if you have any question I will make it the topic of other blogs

Cheers!

Catherine Bussiere: Oatcakes

These are my favorite oatcakes
A friend of mine brought me a batch years ago
she then gave me the recipe
which I have shared several times
Buttery and just sweet enough, they are the perfect companion to that afternoon tea

here it is

1 cup of softened butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup of oatmeal
1 cup of flour
a pinch of salt

Combine butter, sugar and vanilla.
Add flour, oatmeal and salt.
Roll between wax paper to about 1/4”
Cut into squares.
Bake for 10 minutes at 375˚

Want to dress them up
melt some chocolate
and dip them in
or zigzag over

• you may need to share this recipe

 

dream a little dream of a rug hooking resource room

Dear Diary, I am excited about the Fibre Arts group starting at the studio on Thursday. Whether we have three or ten come out, it does not really matter. The important thing is that we are using that beautiful back space for what it was meant to be used for. I feel terrible that it sits empty so much. I like things to get well used.  I hope that over time we will build a strong fibre arts community centred around that space and that we will find all kinds of uses for it.  I think whatever gifts you have, that you should use them and share them. It took me a long time to come to a hooking / fibre arts group at the studio downtown but now that I have decided I really look forward to watching it develop. We just had magnets made by Harry the Printer to remind people to come out, and we are having a sign made for the shop window.  So we’ll make a real effort to build a nice community .

Tonight I just left my Tuesday night group and came home to write this post. We were a small group this week, but still we enjoyed ourselves. We caught up on each others lives, lent a little support to each other, and gave us a place to go on a cold winter’s night where the welcome was genuine. I hope we can build this kind of group at the studio, one where gossip is  not heard, and kindness prevails.

As for using the studio backroom more, one of the things I have decided to do is host a guest artist. This July we will host April DeConick from Houston , Texas and she will teach hooking small impressionistic portraits at my studio. I just posted the workshop today. I am excited to welcome April.

I want this room to have a warm  feeling and a strong community built around it. In the future I imagine having a bit of a resource room there for people to come and research about rug hooking, create their own designs, and sit and ook and read. Dream a little dream, and the next thing you know, there it is, it happens.blog1 blog2 blog4

.

Catherine Bussiere: Joy

 

In a place called Sunset where forgotten residents live
a place regulated by the hours meals are served and duties done
where people like you and me for reason unknown or by natures draw
have ended there
People of all ages
people in need
in need of physical care
that can be charted and checked
and spiritual care
that can be forgotten or overseen
In this place I saw Joy like I have never before
I saw a woman who’s face shone so bright that all who surrounded her were lit by it
This woman whom I don’t really know
except that she is a musician and is employed at Sunset
has been getting live music happening once a week for a couple hours
in the heart of Sunset
I was invite to see
because my husband is a musician and because I am a filmmaker
We walked in and were welcome into the cuckoo’s nest
The music made was chaos at times and bliss at others
But for every time a resident picked up a shaker, a harmonica, banged on the drums or hummed to the tune the women’s face shone brighter and her smile got wider
And so it was contagious
and it went round and round
I was introduced and welcome
I gorged on the faces around me
Like old forgotten beacons
all were lit and engaged in the ongoing music
The women kept the fire going
Offering, feeding, engaging, never pushing
A little man went up to the drum set
for the first time
bewildered like a child who’s been given a magic wand
and like a child with only a few teeth
he came back stumbling around
after his first performance
asking
How did I do, how did I do
Joy, I tell you, is that smile and the one responding
You did great

 

These photos are not from Sunset, they are from a trip I took years ago in Honduras where I produced a short film about niños especiales (special children)

The older lady is from a center for elders that I visited at the time.

The image of the upside down laughing child is my daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 rooms

by Catherine Bussiere

there is a distant buzz, a chatter, laughter
walking through the first two rooms
wools of all colors
on shelves, hanging, posing
woman, looking, feeling, pondering
busy hands cutting, arranging, tying
I walk in another room
the dying kitchen invites me to dream
long skein of wool hanging
pots, dye, washing machine, filled with promises
the chatter is louder
I enter the last room
it is everywhere
in all forms and shapes
busy hooks
backing of all kinds
piles of wool cuttings
a sense of community, of joy, of ease
and the best
the infinite variation of design
from the hands holding the hook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on my way home

I am on my way back from two weeks spent away to care for my sister.
She is presently going through chemo and radio therapy for a cancer that is located around her throat. She’s had two tumors removed already and had a third one growing as she was about to start her treatment. The therapy is brutal as is her cancer. The fight is ongoing.

Cancer is everywhere. Who doesn’t know someone that has had cancer. I’ve had friends, uncles, in laws, that have gone through this battle. Some recovered some didn’t. This is the first time some one so close, my sister, is faced with it.

I know this blog is about beauty and creativity so really what does this cancer thing have to do with it. It may be hard sometime to find beauty or be creative. In such time one has to look at the small things to find it.

The first beautiful thing that happened with my sister’s sickness is the instant availability, presence and love that came around. Coworkers came to clean up her yard, some brought food, some offered rides to and from the hospital. Amongst siblings and close friends we made sure someone would be with her for the duration of her treatment and recovery. Without going in details we have had our frictions as a family, yet, when the time came to deal with taking care of my sister none of those silly frictions were in the way. It was a simple affair, one of love, presence and empathy. That is a very beautiful thing; one in which you would like to bathe anyone in distress.

The creative part is how to face distress. What to do, what to say, how to act. It’s a difficult thing. For example it is hard for my sister to have my mother around her. The main thing at the moment being that my mom can not hide her fears. She has a worried face even when she thinks she doesn’t. Her whole body spreads worry. I tell her there is no need for my sister to face that. Her battle is enough. I feel I have to wear my calm, deal with the business of the day, face when I’m with her. I am a quiet type, I am good for that.
I also found that I must keep busy to keep my mind at peace. So during my visit I took some pictures, I cooked, I wrote. I had planned to make felted ferries but couldn’t bring all the material needed. I have yet to make those.
I believe recovery comes with peace of mind. One must cultivate it in order to give it. Creating a picture, a nice meal, anything at all helps me clear my mind, helps me see beauty in the smallest things.

As I ride back home gently rocked by the train I feel grateful for all I have. Grateful that I was asked to spend time, grateful for the trust and love.

Soon my routine will take over. This experience which is ongoing is teaching me once again how difficult and beautiful life is.

Catherine

 

 

Look with Lorna

Well our first workshop of the fall is coming to an end, but it has been wonderful to have the studio full of conversation and excitment. So many great ideas being shared and bought to life. The oatcakes have been a great hit as usual and even a birthday cake for our Brenda. Thank you ladies, as always a wonderful experience. Can’t wait until next week to do it all over again !

 

 

 

 

 

 

April online course coming closer…and studio notes

Dear Diary, We are installing new shelves in the back of the studio as we just had cheap rough pine ones there that looked like some ones basement ( my basement actually I have the same ones down there). I bought some big beautiful wooden shelves that look more like furniture that gives us lots of room for wool storage where we make our kits on the way to the back workshop. I also bought Lorna a new desk. She called this morning after being away skiing yesterday and said,”I love my new desk”. When we went out to pick it out the other day I said it was not as functional as mine. She said,”But I like mine better , it’s way prettier.” She might be getting that beauty above function disease that I have. William Morris just groaned.

So the studio is in ship shape waiting your spring visit. Two weeks ago we did a Saturday workshop on hooking words, which was about more than hooking words, but about the beauty and importance of words when you use them in a hooked rug. I just loved seeing what people designed and came up with. It was an interesting day.

Old winter rose its’ head again here today, but as Wayne , my neighbour said,” March rides in and winter’s back is broke.” Thinking of it, poor Wayne’s back is not too good itself.”  We had a few days of spring, and it will come again soon.

Remember there are only ten days left to sign up for April online course. The response from the last course was excellent and people learned a lot and made some wonderful rugs. It was a completely different experience than teaching people in the studio but it was a great one because people had time to play and discover on their own then come back and show you their progress. It is a good course with lots of useful ideas. We had beginners in it, and people who had taught rug hooking for years. It is designed so that they can all get the goodness out of it. I loved making it and teaching it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

online course this winter? i need your feedback…

Dear Diary,

Over and over again I hear that you want an online course and I am thinking about it. I have been looking at webinar hosting sites and figuring out the best way to do it. I have no idea but I can figure it out. Yesterday I figured out how to change the sidebar on my blog after seven hours of playing with it and now I feel like….. well….smarter than I did the day before.

Here’s the thing though….are you interested and what would you want to learn?

I need your input on this one. I am thinking that it might be one night a week for four weeks….and we would work together to focus on a pattern with lots of question and answer time but maybe you have a better idea. Please comment and let me know what you think.

I imagine this course like a small exclusive hook in where we are all working on the same pattern but creating it in our own unique way. I’d like it to feel like you are in my small home studio with me where I make my rugs.

So you have asked for online courses and now I am thinking about it. Tell me if you are interested….what you would like to learn?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

first workshop in the new workshop room

Dear Diary, We just finished the September Workshops, six days in total of Sea and Sky. I have a new appreciation of both in terms of rugs hooking. It was one of the first times that we focused completely on a particular element in a three day workshop and I think the results were good.

It was also the first workshop in my new workshop space at the studio. It was so freeing to be able to have a space dedicated to learning and the needs of the participants. There was no one coming and going, except ourselves to get a piece of wool or a cup of tea.

On the last day of each of the workshops we had fresh hot blueberry pie, just to celebrate a little. Some of the people had been to workshops before and they all agreed that the new space was better than before when we mixed it up in the shop/studio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hooking Houses Workshop

Workshop on Houses

with Deanne Fitzpatrick in her studio
This summer series of halfday workshop is great for those of you who want a short retreat, a staycation, or are just passing through.  We storm the kettle, focus on learning one element of rug hooking, experiment with freestyle, and eat oatcakes…that’s what we do! Call us if you want to come, and register. We take a $20 deposit and you pay the rest when you come.

for August………

Shaped Houses 
with Deanne  in her studio
because Tuesday, August 23 9am to 1pm  is full

Due to demand we will offer this class again on Wednesday August 24, 9 to 1, to register call us at 1 800 328 7756.

Learn  the details of  hooking shaped houses, what to do with  outlining, inside the windows and roofs, and binding them into the shape of a house. Great for making little rows of houses ( ie jelly bean row, company houses, villages etc.)

the pictures shown are just samples  $98 includes materials

to register call 1 800 328 7756


 

 

 

 

She looks like she is having fun!

 

 

 

don’t be afraid of what your hands can do

is there anything perfect?

Dear Diary, I have been hooking rugs, teaching people about hooking rugs, and writing about the same for twenty years.

When you do something for so long, so seriously you’ll really start to believe you know something about it. I think it was Malcolm Gladwell who said after ten thousand hours of doing something you get to be considered an expert. I don’t believe in experts when it comes to art and creativity. In fact I think, if you think you are an expert, then you might be finished with art, because art is all about making mistakes, and that is hard on people who want to believe they are experts. Creativity and art are about experimentation, about constant learning, about failing, responding to failure, and growing from it. There are no experts , only learners.

I do think I know something about the craft of making rugs, the art of letting go, and the joy of making things but I am no expert. I love what I do. When I was going to sleep last night ( happy to be in my own bed, even though I rarely leave it) and I could not wait to get up this morning because I had an idea to play with on my frame. Art is exciting. It is the kind of exciting that looks dull to others, because they are not engaged and you are. Art is engrossing, consuming, and passionate.

art is of the hand there is no perfection (Bronze by Heather Mills)

Something I do know though is that what gets in the way of people making art, becoming fully creative with their rugs, or other work is that they are stifled by the fear of making a mistake. If you believe that it is not worth doing unless you do it perfectly, you’ll never finish your rug and be satisfied with it. You’ll always be held back, unless you learn to make mistakes gracefully.

art can be found at our feet on a beach

In my book, Inspired Rug Hooking I wrote about finding this little boat at the beach in Placentia. I looked down on the beach, and there it was. I looked up and I could see across the gut, the house I grew up in, where I sat with my father as he carved boats like these. That is art. Art just happens. Art is in the world, and the world , we know is full of flaws and imperfections. We are weak and we are strong, we are, every one of us, a work of art.

Preconfederation Newfoundland Stamps..one inch works of art

So today, I hope you find art at your feet, in your hands, on your table. I hope art surrounds you.

If you have time and want to think more about the necessity of imperfection to make art, you might want to look over Canadian Designer Bruce Mau’s Manifesto for Growth, or listen to Mary Hines interview him on CBC Radio’s Tapestry.

I put the links below.

Thanks for reading, keep reading, I am glad you’re there.

Bruce Mau’s incomplet Manifesto for growth……

http://www.brucemaudesign.com/#112942

A radio interview with Bruce about the importance of mistakes in design

http://www.cbc.ca/tapestry/episode/2011/01/16/to-err-is-human/

it’s in her stitch

teach one, you never know what you are giving

Dear Diary, This week my friend Heather came out to teach me a bit about cameras.  I dropped by Megan Lewis’s studio and she taught me how to use my tripod. Hollis Bartlett, who helps design this site often teaches me how to carry out new things on the site. I am surrounded by teachers.

I am a teacher. I use this site, my books and my workshops to instruct, and teach others about rug hooking. I hope that  it nots just rug hooking that you learn about here, and through my work, but that is not up to me. Learning is up to the student. I have put down a book one year, and devoured it another because I was more ready to contain whatever it had to offer. The same goes for everyone. We learn what we are ready to take in.

The one thing I have learned is that handwork, rug hooking, or any other kind, is not about  the thing you are making. It is often about what is going on around you while you are making it. What you are feeling, thinking and doing. Rug hooking, if I might be bold enough to say , is about a way of life. In choosing it , or any other handwork, we choose to take time out for ourselves, to step back, to settle in, to create, to be.

every little circle is its own work of art

The mat, by it’s very nature forces you to sit with it, to think about your life, to engage in your self. It is something you are never going to find at the mall. It is something that you can only get when you retreat and slow down. Quietude, slowing down the pace, spending a whole day in the house with a pot of soup the stove and a hooked rug or knitting on your lap on a regular basis will change you forever.

I always remember , when I teach someone that first stitch, the only stitch they need to know to hook a rug, that this could change this person’s life. It did mine. Learning to hook, did not just change the course of my life, it changed the flow of my life. It made me step away from being “highly charged” ( some might argue this still) to become more thoughtful and more reflective.

Rug hooking has helped me open my eyes, not only to pattern, and colour all around me. It has helped me to see the value of white on white, the subtleties of the everyday that matter.

I see pattern everywhere. I have learned the value of white on white.

Every year in the studio we teach hundreds of people how to make that first stitch. We have a policy to spend a few minutes with anyone who wants to learn, and teach them for free. They can try  it right there on a cheticamp frame in the studio. Many never go past the first lesson, but many do. Some make many rugs, and through doing it they learn the value of creating something one stitch at a time.

They learn that it is not the finished rug that matters as much as what they learned and felt doing it.

They learn about themselves on loop at a time.

So when you teach someone this tiny stitch, know that it can be a powerful one.

That you are not just teaching someone how to make a rug, but about a way to live a life.