How can you complain? 

Flowers on your table.

Freedom to move.

Finishing things.

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.

Why complain.

Why worry. 

“Just be thankful.

We never had it so good.”

said a woman I knew. 

And I believed her.





Instagram and Me and Tanis Fibre Arts

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….

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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…..

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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!

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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.

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Catherine Bussiere: Chaouen blues

On the ferry we saw the edge of the Rif mountains
Africa
looking for a culture shock
looking for extra heat

we had been told many things
the cabs, the haggling, the food, the art, the hospitality
go to: Chefchaouen, Fes, Marrakech
do this, don’t do that
and
it won’t be much warmer

we experienced the cab first thing
an old Mercedes
the grand taxi
from Tangier port to the city
a good half hour drive
full speed

as soon as we step out a young boy is offering us direction
I know where I am going
I have my map
it’s around the corner
still he is one step ahead of me
pointing to where I am going
I tell him I have no money
which is true, I will need to find a bank first thing to get some local change
it doesn’t make any difference
one step ahead of me he goes

we’re at the hostel
still the boy and now another one are waiting around for us to be done with checking in
they want to take us to their uncle or other relative for dinner
we are exhausted and just want to settle in
it has been a long day
the clerk who knows them shoos them off

welcome to Morocco

Next day Chefchaouen or like people say Chaouen
the blue city
the Medina (the old city) is so pretty
just big enough to think you may get lost
but really, small, so you don’t

cats are everywhere
most of them look good
I think it’s a good sign
our hosts at the Riad are most welcoming
our house is your house
truly

we venture around
I click away
every door, every step
every shade of blue
catches my eye

there are shops everywhere
everything is beautiful
I don’t dare let my eye linger too much
the vendors know
they will catch me
once your caught it’s hard to get out

eventually I get caught
come to see this carpet shop one says
I will take you there
innocently I go
sure, let’s have a peak
we are treated the royal way
the place is large
mounds and mounds of carpets and blankets
all of them absolutely gorgeous
two men are busy picking several out to show
unrolling them on the floor
tea is offered
we agree
it’s a ritual
it’s also a trap

I really didn’t have any intention of buying anything that day
I was going to be smart and inform myself first
I had been told to bargain
I was not going to buy anything big
we are backpacking

you see where this is going

a couple hours later I came out with a large carpet
two small ones
and two blankets

did I bargain?
no
I couldn’t get myself to do it
the craftsmanship shown to me was so beautiful
how could I undermine it

later I felt a bit like a fool
my daughter and I, on another walk, got caught in a different shop
the vendors are so slick
so nice
like fine fisherman, they know how to hook you and slowly get you in
I am the biggest fish around
he offers prices that are way below what I just paid
I feel tired, I had enough
we manage to get out of this one empty handed

my daughter tells me what we got was way better
thanks Charlotte

there is much to adjust culture wise
as a foreigner I don’t want to offend anyone
we are in Muslim country
what do I know
much to learn

we are in Fes today
biggest Medina in the world
this time we will get lost

here are some Chaouen photos
enjoy

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Sheree had a little lamb…little lamb..little lamb

Last Saturday I called Sheree Fitch to see if she was home I wanted to go for tea. It turns out she was going to be home all day because she was preparing her barn for her new arrivals. When I got there she was painting the inside of her little barn pink and purple so the lambs would have a happy home.

Some people are extra loveable I think.

She has this playfulness that abounds and joy just seeps out of her.

The next day she send me this picture.

The sweetness of friendship.

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wine and wool on a Friday afternoon

 

 

 

A few months ago Katherine from the Fleece Artist said she would like to come and have a wine and wool tasting. She is a beautiful wool dyer and we have carried her yarns for years. I love her yarns for hooking rugs and now for knitting.

Wool tasting? Sounds fuzzy to me. But in my last post I was talking about the importance of curiosity so this afternoon I am waiting for the fleece artist’s arrival. I got the cheesecakes, some snacks, and the wine. Katherine is about to arrive with the wool.

How do we do it ? Everyone has been asking.

My answer? I have not got a clue.

I am just sitting here waiting with the wine and the cheesecakes, wondering how it’s done.

Happy to be a participant, and make a nice January afternoon, a little nicer.

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Only One day left to Register: Online Course Wild with Style starts November 12

IMG_7341Join me online as we roll into Winter together.

Wild with Style my online course about designing hooked rugs and developing your style and creativity in rug hooking starts next week. You can Register Here.

We will leave it up for you to access until mid January so you have lots of time to review or work on it after the holidays.

People who have taken this course tell me that it really motivated them and made the idea of designing rugs seem and feel easier. It is a good course and I check in daily to answer your questions and see what you have been posting on the activity stream. Join me !
Register Now!  

There is no prerequisite, you can start with this course if you like.

If you want a texture package to accompany the course you can order it here

This next course will focus on design and creativity with an introduction to hooking faces, and hooking abstract design. It will be about creating your own style as you hook rugs, and being expressive and creative with it.

www.hookingrugs.com 

You can order anytime online or by calling 1-800-328-7756
Getting Wild with Style, level two of Getting Wild with Wool
will start November

 You can find out more information and register online by clicking on the link above. The course will start September 10 and will be an independent study class with articles, video, audio, and community participation. You can register anytime .

 Here are some of the comments from participants in my online courses….

“I wanted to say if anyone is thinking of signing up for Deanne’s online course – do it! As anyone who’s taken a course with Deanne knows, she’s  a great and generous yeacher who brings alot of experience, imagination, and , always, creativity to her courses. Getting Wild with Wool is no exception. I found the course chock full of information and inspiration with many different avenues of learning. And best of all was the communication with other participants from all over the world. It just made me so proud.”  Maile in Seattle

“Thanks so much Deanne. I have thoroughly enjoyed your writings , videos etc. In a previous time I taugt painting and it was incredible when a person realized they could produce art  when they always said, “I have no artistic talent.” I have thoroughly enjoyed your class and all the lessons and I keep going back and reading everything over and over”

“I wish I could bottle this feeling and sell it because I would be a rich woman. Wow, do you ever inspire a person.”

“Great Workshop Deanne, so much info and ideas. these lesssons have been really packed.”
 

How the course works:

The course website has been set up and once you register you create your personal password.
Once you go to the course site you use your password to log in. The lessons will begin on the start date of your course.

I will post the first lesson  on the site on the day the course begins.

Once you are on the course website all lessons will be on the private course website.

if you want to learn more with me, we can do it online

 visit the website, there is some thing new everday!

Look with Lorna

When we moved my office out of the back room, the intention was to create a more useful dye kitchen. It has taken a little while to get things going but this week Brenda went out and picked up crock pots and cleared the space. Dying in small amount really gives you a chance to get the perfect colour.

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Playing in the fleece

Whenever Delia sends us a bale of wool we want to play with it a bit and take a few pictures. How can we not really get our hands in it and carry on. Mostly we take pictures because they are guaranteed to be so gorgeous. Megan , Mary and Elwira all work with me. Elwira (left) cuts the wools for the kits which we are thankful for. Mary(right) retired from teaching a few years ago  and has been working at the studio on Tuesdays for a year. She is aka Maritime Mary and blogs here on Tuesday. Her latest post was about the island. Megan works here everyday, Monday to Friday and does just about everything from updating the websites to filling orders. They were contented to pose for me, I just could not let the opportunity go by. Who would not want to get down and play in all that fleece. IMG_7326 IMG_7327 IMG_7335 IMG_7336

Look with Lorna

Megan’s Lichen & Lace yarns

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Burly Spun Yarns 100 % Wool

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Our friend Vicky has been enjoying Deanne’s new Knitting Shop. Vicky knits and sells  these beautiful purses.

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She made this gorgeous purse with the Fleece Artist Chantel Silk yarn.

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Wool Stories #2

 

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I heard Leana talking in the back to Evie. So I turned in around  the corner and said, “What are you guys talkin about?”

Leana, quick as can be looked at Evie, and said , “She’s gotta know everything.”

Me,  Hope,  that is, it’s true. I am far nosier than I need to be. I like to know too much and then sometimes I am disappointed once I know cause then there is nothing left to find out. I love the element of surprise. Like the studio itself. You never know who is going to walk in. I always fantasize that maybe Lyle Lovett will come in and want a rug, and then we’ll get to talking and he’ll fall in love with me but  me I’d stand by my man and tell Lyle that as much as I like his lyrics all I have to give him is my art. He’d bop out the door and write a song about knitting or something. My fantasy world…really the you never know what is going to happen here is true. But as for stars, ussually as exciting as it gets is that someone from the CBC drops in. We are not a place that attracts the rich and famous, though Anne Murray has a cottage down the road and she has bought clothes at my friend’s shop. She is too busy golfing and tweeting about hockey to crochet.

I smiled, saw that Evie had a a big brown bag in here hand, so naturally I queried, “What’s in the bag?”

She opened it under my nose and screamed happily, “Three kotex, are you happy now you know?” I looked in and saw three big thick pads. The same kind my daughter used to use for Barbie Mattresses. Now sometimes she duct tabes tapes them to her legs to stop the bleeding if she cuts herself when she shaves her legs.They grow up so fast. Della, my girl went from barbie mattresses to shaving her legs in a month when she she was thirteen. I did not bother sharing that with Evie. Instead I breathed a sigh of relief.

I thought to myself yes I am actually happy. Evie was forty nine and last weekend was going on that she thought she was pregnant. I didn’t even know she was dating which was amazing because the info from that one, love her I do, is sometimes  a little too free flow.You know there is quite a bit you do not need to know even if it is really interesting. The problem with me is I think in pictures. So what ever she tells me I imagine. That can be a burden depending on who you are talking too.

I had calculated that she would have the baby right around the time of the big wool festival here in Atherton, and I thought  that would be a bummer. Then of course I quickly remembered that it would be much more difficult for Evie than for me. I was only worried about staffing. She would have been fifty with a baby. Probably the oldest new mother in town in the last twenty years, and she’d be mothering through the Wool festival until she was seventy. That put things in perspective. I could always drag an unsuspecting friend into help out.

Of course , it was just the old menopause and the wonky periods. We were all having a little mental pause to think it was pregnancy in the first place. That Evie looks on the bright side though it is her nature. She probably spent last night looking at baby bootie patterns. This morning she is rejoicing that she got her period. Actually I am too.

I said, “Now that we don’t have to plan the baby shower, maybe we could plan on making some kits?”

Already started said Leana, we are doing up a half a dozen, and we have a few patterns ready to transfer as well.”

“Grand “, I said, ” Did you see the order for the woman who wants a hundred hoops? Do you think she wrote that down wrong? Should I call her?”

Evie said, “Maybe she is making a sculpture or something. Just ship it.”

I said, “Evie, really?”

“Call her for lord sakes , she added a few zeros where they don’t belong, anyone can see that. She just laid too heavy on the zero key when she placed her order online.”

“Ya think?”

“I know” said Evie , “Women on the first day of their week late period are very wise.”

Yeah, I thought, wise enough to know better. How the heck did she manage to sleep with someone and no one in this studio notice. Who was it?

Look with Lorna

It has been a great week here at the studio with our Abstract Workshop taking place. Lots of people around and lots of rugs to look at and admire. The back studio is starting to take shape as we order more yarns, knitting needles, and the new shelving should be here in a couple of weeks.

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Sandra was here for the workshop but stayed an extra day. She had the back studio all to herself just to sit and hook the day away. Love the bright colours!

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workshop….mmmm…so nice

After I give a workshop I always feel  so inspired. It is a bit of  high to be in the studio for three days with people who just want to make beautiful rugs. It gives me a kind of high. This week, we had fourteen people for landscape and abstract together. Some were from Ohio, Maine, New Jersey, Ontario, New Hampshire, New Brunswick and Ontario.

We started out and no one had an idea on the frame. Inside myself I wondered…will everyone get their idea on the frame. By the end of the first day everyone was hooking something they designed and created themselves, or at least they had a lot of input into it. It gets me excited to see this, to watch people create.

Three days of questions and answers, of handling wool, of laying  colour down on the frame.

Three days of oatcakes and tea, and good lunches…oh and that coconut cake with butter cream….remember that….yum

Three days of stories , or learning about where everyone came from.

Three days of watching light bulbs turn on, and seeing ideas click.

Three days of creating beauty

Three Glorious Days.

Now they all go off full of ideas and energy.

The studio gets a little quiet.

We miss all the energy, all that verve.

We settle in again and think about next year…what are the workshops for next year?

Let me think about that.

I hope you come.

 

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teach until the lights start to flicker

Dear Diary, I cannot begin to tell you what a workshop in the studio is like. I can only tell you this..

I get excited before people come and a little anxious.

After they leave I feel like I lost something.

I love to be able to lay a hand full of wool on the frame and know that it is exactly the right thing.

I like the light that happens in people’s eyes when I do that.

I love to teach in a natural way with out pressure or curriculum.

I love the variety of people who gather with different abilities and ideas.

I learn myself.

I teach.

Other’s learn.

People leave different then they came some how…at least that Is what I hope.

That lights go on and glimmer for months after wards when they sketch and see their own wool.

I want to keep teaching here in the studio. I want lights to be flickering here all the time.

Megan Ingman, who works with me is planning a studio series with many great teachers.

So we can use that workshop space and fill it with ideas, energy, life.

So that we can take ideas and make them tangible.

So that we can help others

Create beauty everyday.

Stay tuned…..

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Diane Krys: The Cowichan Sweater Tradition

This display window in downtown Victoria,B.C. instantly brought back memories of my mother’s knitting. Years ago she made a multitude of these type of sweaters. Growing up I was accustomed to living amongst these sweater parts as they were being made and then seeing my Dad, uncles and family friends wearing them once they were finished.  Even so  I didn’t fully appreciate the  cultural history that inspired them until my recent trip to Vancouver Island.

We called them buffalo sweaters because of the Buffalo brand yarn used to make them, which was in fact not buffalo fiber at all but sheep’s wool. Also referred to as Indian, Siwash, Mary Maxim or Curling sweaters, the original iconic sweater was developed by the Coast Salish people in the early 1900’s and is now know as the Cowichan Sweater. 

The Coast Salish have wool working traditions that go back hundreds of years;however, they used these skills primarily for weaving wearable blankets until European settlers came to Vancouver Island and introduced them to knitting.

The Coast Salish women combined this new technique with their love and knowledge of wool to create a unique garment perfectly suited for their coastal climate and to keep a husband warm while he fished. They only used the natural colors of the sheep and processed the fleece by hand into a roving style yarn. ( as opposed to twisted and plyed like most yarns) Thick wool was warm and leaving in some of the natural lanolin also made it very  water repellent. Using a Fair Isle technique they incorporated symbols and images from their life and culture in the banded motifs. These were hard working, practical, stylish sweaters and because of that they gained popularity far and wide. Times were extremely tough and Coast Salish women would make sweaters to feed the demand and feed their families. In some ways this history reminds me of rug hooking  and how it evolved from a practical need and a “work with what you have” sensibility where designs came from daily life and immediate surroundings.

A cottage industry developed that continues to this day. This shop on Government Street in Victoria has been there since 1967. They have  different women hand knitting their sweaters. Each one is authenticated and signed. While the original roving is still used, spun yarn is now favored by some knitters. Martha was a knowledgeable  salesperson and with her  help I could appreciate the details that were unique to each knitter. Variations in yarn thickness, construction techniques,collar style, pocket details, etc revealed the person that made them and the sweaters were more special for it.

In Sylvia Olsen’s wonderful book,”Working With Wool-A Coast Salish Legacy &  the Cowichan Sweater “, one story recounts a grandmother’s advice to a young granddaughter learning to make a sweater,”… do it with love in your heart and care in your hands so you do a nice job.” Perhaps this simple philosophy is the real key to their enduring beauty and appeal.

“Cowichan Sweaters have been worn by Queens and Presidents and Hollywood stars but for most of us they are simply old friends– well worn treasures that have been part of our lives and part of our families for generations.”

Christine Welsh from The Story of Coast Salish Knitters

 

 

 

All photographs were taken with permission.  The spinning artifacts and archive photograph  are displayed in the Royal BC Museum.

This trip altered my normal posting date but I’ll return to schedule with my next post on May 10th.

Thanks for stopping in!

Catherine Bussiere: to catch a whirlwind

I spent the day with Deanne yesterday
As you may know she has created a new online course about hooking people
She asked me out of the blue a week ago if we could shoot a video
I didn’t ask much, I said sure, when

There’s no point asking too much
I like working with Deanne
it’s always a little bit of a challenge and it’s always fun
so I just say yes

Working with her is like trying to capture a whirlwind
you never quite know which way it’s gonna go
Be ready, place your nets around and hope for the best

I had to be bossy a couple time
I actually had to take her sharpie away from her
when she wasn’t able to stop herself from moving on when the cameras were not rolling
Sure enough a sharpie magically appeared in her hands again
There is no stopping her

I tell you

I love seeing someone create
it is beautiful and somewhat magical all at once
In front of me over the course of the day
I saw different figures appear
as Deanne was talking away
I heard the story of these woolen figure come to life
In a group of sisters one got a flamboyant red dress
Not to be left out, pouting
the one in plain blue
was given a colorful scarf
She seemed content after that

No doubt
whoever is in for that course
is in for a good time
No one gets left out

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Catherine Bussiere: snow, tea and milk fibre

It’s a wet damp winter wonderland this morning
a mist filled wind is slowly working it’s magic on the trees
depending on how the weather goes
nature will be covered in bling or go back to mud
it’s a Cinderella kind of morning I guess
it could go either way

As far as I’m concern I know pretty well what’s on my board today
I have a hint of a cold naggingly scratching the back of my throat
I’m going to take it easy
drink some tea
have a sauna
watch a movie

that sounds like a great plan

In other news
to be random
I got some – Oh my God this is So Soft – wool at Deanne’s on Friday
I never buy wool.
I’m neither a knitter, a hooker or a crochet(er)
but this wool was on the counter begging to be touched
and it was less than half price
so I picked it up
read the label which said : 60% Milk Fibre
Milk fibre?
Have you ever heard of that.
Then: 30% silk and 10% cashmere
You can just imagine
So I picked up five bundles of an ochre color
with no plan except maybe
to ship it to my sister so she can knit me something
but
last night
bundled up with my two favorite girls and a sleeping son
while watching Funny Face
I attempted to knit (I was just practicing)
I don’t even have knitting needles around
I had to use chopstick
But it was fun and the feeling of that Milk Fibre…
well, you’ll just have to try it someday

Last but not least for anyone with a cold (or not)
Yogi tea (not the bear, the other yogi)

Bring 1 1/2 cup of water to a boil with: 3 cloves, 3 black peppercorn, 4 cardamon seeds, a pinch of powdered ginger, 1/2 stick of cinnamon. Boil for 5 minutes then add 1 tsp of black tea. Simmer for 2 more minutes. Add a little milk and a little honey. Very tasty.

 
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Diane Krys: A Short Yarn About Blankets

(One evening during the holidays,  I walked by our t.v. room and saw my favorite trio of seniors (mum, dad and auntie)  bundled up in  my blankets watching a movie. It felt like I was swaddling them with a wooly hug from afar. At one point, I was on a roll knitting blankets. You might even say I was obsessed.   I was a relatively new knitter at the time, looking to branch out from obsessively making scarves.  The way I explore and learn: make one, make one hundred!   Plus, we had recently converted a spare bedroom into a t.v. cave so I really did need one or two or ten blankets.

My training wheels came off my knitting needles when I made those blankets and I got to know the world of yarn in a more thorough way.  Their bigger scale gave me a different perspective and a lot more practice.  Although I didn’t  think about it at the time, repetition  builds skill and skill can exponentially move ideas forward. Creativity is not always so mysterious. Try a new technique or material, build some skill and new ideas will come. My combination knit/hook pieces  wouldn’t have developed  without  my blanket making marathon.

 (Detail from Jasper, Diane Krys, 2012)

I tried various types of needles as well. I abandoned metal needles in favor of bamboo and wood, and experimented with circulars(which I quite like). I made blankets with everything from sock yarn to luxury blends. It’s easy to fall in love with a ball of yarn but you really  have to work with it to fully understand and know it.    Colorways and textures can unfold in surprising streaks; some yarns knit up as light and soft as a feather, others are dense and heavy but oh so cosy.  Others need a little coaxing with needle size and gauge to get the right feel. A swatch of blended cashmere  against your cheek makes you forget the price tag. Who cares, just wrap me up from head to toe!

A couple of blankets were knit in smaller squares and then pieced together. It made it easy to increase the pattern from skimpy to a ‘mummified on the couch’ size. Mixing bold and unexpected colorways kept me entertained. I never knew how the yarns would blend until I knit them up and no two squares are alike. Piecing them to balance the riot of color was an enjoyable  puzzle.

When I finished with small squares  I tried my hand at crocheting by making one giant blanket sized granny square using my stash of sock yarn. It’s light, airy  and surprisingly warm, and I no longer feel guilty that I haven’t learned to knit socks yet.

I found a new rhythm  making these blankets.  Another beat to influence  other  fiber work. It’s like building a song  by laying down and layering different tracks. No matter how complex  I envision a future mix, it’s soul satisfying simply having  practical home made blankets  to use and give the cave a spot of color.  It’s their greatest honor to comfort; for movie nights, lazy day naps; they even make a pretty good fort.   The pile is right there by the t.v. so if you come over, grab one and make yourself at home.

Catherine Bussiere: Felting

cover cat

on a stormy December day
near the very end of the year
most like a blizzard really
how comforting to look at felting
in itself it makes you think of warmth
cozy colorful bundles of warmth
I have not wrapped myself in it
rather played with it
creating little people
it became contagious
my kids got to it
and a cat was made
and a princess was made
and so was a mermaid
the plain white Christmas stockings were hit by the needles
in an ongoing process that may evolve over the years
how fun
and refreshing
to see my teens
get away from a screen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look with Lorna

Lots of new things arrived in the studio, if you see something that catches your eye give us a call @ 1 800 328 7756.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

reclaiming the dye kitchen

Dear Diary, Today Mrs. Davis in Accounting as she is affectionately referred to, was ousted from our dye kitchen. We moved nearly every table, every skein of yarn to accommodate her in a new spot so that we could take back the dye kitchen and expand our studio space. We want more room for studio visitors to roam in. We are getting ready to open up that back room to guests so there is more space to wander when you come visit.

So we opened up two new areas that lets you be free to wander through when you come visit the studio. So be sure to come see us .

We’ll get some pictures up of the changes soon enough. Right now it is looking very pretty. Brenda , LOrna (mrs.Davis from Accounting that is) and I are looking pretty weary in comparison.

 

 

 

 

Getting hooked

What a busy week at the store.

Ladies coming, returning, saying that’s it, and coming for more. It’s hard to resist all this beautiful wool.

First you look at it.

Someone somewhere got it off the sheep.

Someone carded it.

Someone dyed it.

Soooo tempting.

All the beautiful things it makes you think of. What could I make? What could this become?

Personally I would wrap some of that wool right around my neck just like a scarf. Done. It’s silk, it’s merino, it’s got my name all over it.

Were you thinking the same?

This week was great. Inspiring. I took a couple workshop as I am a beginner when it comes to fibre. I have to say I’m an easy catch. I loved it. I love how rug hooking just took my mind away. I zoned out. Captivated by getting that strand of fabric through the burlap. Changing colors. Not thinking much, just having fun, playing with it.

Here are a few photos I grabbed on the way. You may be in it. Or your work.

Hope you don’t mind.

Catherine

 

 

 

 

Mounting a rug

This is what a masonite box mounting look like.

As an alternative to glue you may use small nails or mat pins. The great thing with using nails is that you can interchange your rugs!

 

 

light falling on wool

Dear Diary,

Light falling on wool  makes me feel like hooking rugs.

Light falling on wool is warm.

Light falling on wool makes me remember fall and winter,

and the cozy joy of snuggling up by the fire .

Light falling on wool. Perfect.

 

 

 

 

bag in, bag out

Dear Diary,  For years I did things like kept pens that had no ink in them, batteries that were worn out, pens that leaked. I hated to throw things out. I went to yard sales and brought home things and let them sit in my barn, just sit there. I kept clothes that I would never wear again. I saved books like I might read them twice.

I have changed. Not much gets past this door that is not going t be appreciated for it’s beauty, savoured for it’s goodness, used well, or at least loved. I like lean.

As much as I love beauty, pretty , sweet, or cute is just not enough. It has to be beautiful. Now that beauty can be a piece of seaweed, an old book jacket, it can be broken, it can be cheap, it can be expensive. It just cannot be superfluous I guess. At least not my stuff. My family keeps a collection of broken hockey sticks, skates that are too small, and helmets that do not fit. I do not say a word for fear they’ll turn on my wool, or my shoes. They do not know about my lipsticks.

So every time I bring a bag in the house. I try to bring a bag out. To the  Salvation Army mostly, or the local Bridge Workshop. i just do not want to be tripping over anything but wool. It makes for a soft landing. You know I think I need more wool. Honestly. In my home studio I have five shelves full, and sometimes I just do not have enough choice. I still struggle with finding just the right piece.

For example, you can have a lot of blues but you might not have Joggins blue, or Bay of Fundy brown, or the the gold that is the centre of daisies under a grey sky, or yellow that is the centre of daisies under a blue sky, or  June’s green grass. There is no way I could have every colour I imagine. I wonder what my rugs would be like if I did. I wonder what they would be like if I doubled my on hand stash. Would they change?

Now I am gonna be bringing some bags in….but they will be going out in another form.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dyed in the wool fun

Dear Diary, We have had so much fun with the camera and the wool lately. Brenda, Lorna and I set up a little photo shoot for ourselves when the wool from MacAusland’s woollen mill arrived at the same time as Delia’s fleece. We were killing ourselves laughing as we played with all the wool. Like, sometimes, you just have to make your own fun, and it’s easier if you are like us, pleased by simple things, or my mother might say, “a little bit simple”

 

 

 

 

 

 

where wool comes from

Dear Diary, It is no secret where wool comes from, but truthfully, most sheep are raised for the meat and wool around here at least is a by product. The sheep have to be sheared to keep their coats trimmed and cleaned. For most farmers, they get little more for their wool than the cost of shearing it. It is the refinement of wool that makes it more precious. Here are a few of Fred Porter’s lambs from up the road.

 

 

 

 

Does wool do this to you?

This post got lost last week when I transferred servers so here it is again…too good too loose

I work with Brenda. She is serious and kind and lovely and she can turn her hand at

anything. I am jealous of her that way…..the way she can do everything…but still I love her cause she shares her talent..She looks like this sometimes…

 

Then last week when I came back to the studio with a pile of wool she  changed from this ( see above) to this ( see below) ….. look what a nice pile of wool can do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Bags of Wool

Dear Diary, My friend Delia came to visit for an impromptu visit this week while blog reader Betty Heath was visiting the studio. I think Delia gives new meaning to the term” five bags full” from the nursery rhyme. She dyed me some beautiful wool as she always did. She was on a road trip so I jumped in with her for the ride. Remember those pictures of Brenda, well they got lost when I transferred the blog to a new host this week. She was jumping in Delia’s wool. I will post them again.

So we have Delia’s wool in fresh if you want some be sure to order while there is tons of colour choice.

I love her wool because she loves her animals, because it is her passion, because it smells so good, and feels so natural and because Delia is Delia!

 

 

Fleece Artist feathers my nest

Dear Diary, some people do things so well. For years I have sold yarns from the fleece wrist. Today I visited her website and saw this beautiful image that I thought you might enjoy. I have really enjoyed watching people do interesting things with yarn in photography. At Christmas the fleece wrist sent out a card with yarn in martini glasses. It was playful, then Brenda and I spotted this image on their website of  woollen eggs in the nest. I have used fleece artist yarns for years, loved them, enjoyed them, and continue to do so. Kathryn, and her daughters run the company, importing and dying their own special woollens. I love working with them because they answer the phone, they are around, they are their own business. They know beauty.

In my work I like to deal with people who create, and they create beautiful wools.

from the fleece artist website. I love working with people who like to make things beautiful

Image from Fleece Artist website

5 skeins of slub yarn

Dear Diary, I have the list for the online rug hooking course compiled. Yipppee..yippee ..yippee. One yippee just was not enough. Since January first I have been adding names like crazy, making texture packets like a mad woman, and tormenting Brenda, Norma, Katherine, and Lorna to work extra hours. God bless them,  they did. I would have been lost with out such flexible organized people to work with. We all need a treat, an outing of some sort.

Every time we would get a bundle of texture packs made up, I would say to Brenda, “If I got one of these in the mail, I’d be happy.”, and she’d say, “Me too.”. They were gorgeous. I think we all wanted just to sneak away with one of them and make something. Sort of like going off with a box of belgian chocolates and a  a book. You just want to sneak away with it, and make it a private party of just one. Honest to goodness we felt that way when we saw them. Each one was evocative of something. Today before I left the studio I bought 5 skeins of slub, 2 variegatated yarns, a swatch of blue hand dyed, five carded fleece, and eight sari ribbons. We just got our new order in of sari ribbon and they added two new varieties of silk, water colour dyed and chiffon. Both were gorgeous.  I couldn’t leave them alone with Brenda and Norma so I brought them home with me.

I have a rug on the frame that I might finish tonight, then there will be a blank canvas, and my new textures from the studio. Yes I get just as excited with a new bag of wool today as I did twenty years ago. Visions start dancing in my head, and I dream big beautiful ideas, then I try to carry them out and I am tamed somewhat.

At night I have been watching “brotherhood” on Netflicks. I rarely watch tv but this Irish mob/gov’t show set in Rhode Island just got me hooked. I am on the first season and it is a bit of an escape. I have been to Providence so I like seeing the city again. When I was a little girl my neighbor Mrs. Edna, used to have her grandchildren visit every summer from Providence so it is a city that always lived in my imagination. I love the photography of the houses, the setting, is just so real. The characters like all such television are amplified versions of characters.

As a kid, there were always American cousins in Brooklyn, or New Jersey, or Rhode Island that were coming home for the summer. These places lived in my imagination.  Funny how a kid thinks. My mother’s sister Aunt Nell ran a couple of rooming houses for years in Brooklyn, before heading out to Long Island. Her husband Uncle Bill worked on the high steel. My father’s brother Uncle Don, lived as a bachelor on a third floor walk up in Brooklyn for forty years. He also worked on the steel, walking on girders so far above the city. They must of had nerves of steel, all of them. Any way, those places have connection for me because I heard so many stories, and names that linked NL to New England. I am sure this show I am watching now has nothing to do with their lives but it puts me in mind of their stories, their place in the world which has always been so different from my place in the world.

 

 

clearing

final stages…a wall to hang a rug on

 

so long dark cupboards. I loved you once.

my good man and I did this in about two hours, our first diy project in twenty years. We’re not that handy.

Welcome skinny white shelves…

 

Thank you Ronnie, you are such a good neighbor, and you’re so handy

 

Dear Diary, After the past few days of reorganizing the studio, thanks to Ronnie who built my shelves, and Robert who helped mea tear out the top cupboard in my studio to create a counter space, I feel like I have a fresh space. I am excited about it. It feels like something has opened up, but like I said yesterday, I have nothing to fill it with. I am just sitting on the film of an idea. For the first time in twenty years I have a wall in my home studio that is big enough to hand a rug on.

Last night before we went out with my daughter to our friend’s house,  we  decided we could haul out the shelves in the new year.

When I built these cupboards eighteen years ago, I had a mud basement, and our barn had a med floor. We had no storage so we stored everything here. I no longer need the cubby hole space any more. I used to keep my extra wool in there but sometimes , because the doors were shut, I forgot that I had it. This morning we ripped, tore, carried away wood, and then painted. Now I have a clean counter top, right height, nice and deep, that is begging to be used as a bed for some kind of creativity. Blank spaces are good things.

I also removed a big foot stool from the studio that was about two inches higher than my chair. I would lay in my chair with a book, put my feet up and twist myself into some unworldly position and read for hours, resulting in  a sore body for days afterward. I have done this off and on for years. It has been banished and I have talked some sense into myself. I am almost through a thorough cleaning of the bottom cupboards, which I intend to keep to store my studio supplies and bits and pieces. They are necessary.

It feels bigger up here. I have excavated a lot of space. I think clearing out, clears out the mind. It is more than just a physical exercise, it is a mental one. So today I cleared somethings out, cleared some things up. Thanks to my handsome helpers.  Alone, all I could have done was move things around. It was a collaboration.

wool dying

Dear Diary, My sister in law Jeanette is traveling and it seems she thought of me when she saw these women dying wool for their weaving. They were so beautiful I thought I would share them here with you.

beauty reminds me…..

Dear Diary,here is a recent peek at the studio. Brenda does a lot of the “making pretty” . I do some. I think that when you walk in here it is our job to make you want to create, and so we go with that.

Everything should be beautiful, whether it is just a jar of pencils on the table, or cakes of soap in the bath. The details of everyday life require beauty even more than the big events for they become mundane so easily. A handmade pottery cup, a pretty cup towel, a delicate plate, a soft beautiful towel, crisp sheets all matter more than I once thought.

This year I bought a new fridge, with a stainless steel front and overtime I look at it I admire it’s sleekness. There is beauty there now, where once there was white plastic. I like everyday beauty, a bloom on the table. Right now I have an orchid that came as a gift. I admire it every day. I actually look at it and am amazed, and I think of Georgia O’Keefe, and all she saw. Beauty reminds me of things I should remember.

So we don’t just throw piles of wool around the studio, or stack skeins, we handle them with care, as if where we put them mattered, because to us, it does. If that makes us crazy, then that’s how I wanna be….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

summer bucket method for dying wool

Dear Diary, someone asked me today about the summer method that we use for dying. Well it is simple really, here’s the steps…

  • get some large five gallon ice cream buckets with covers
  • 1/4 fill them with hot water, add a kettle full of boiling water
  • add your dye, using instructions for the particular dye you are using
  • add your fleece, or wool cloth to water with dye in it
  • cover your container and leave it in the sun for three to four hours
  • check it periodically to see if it is the desired colour
  • add your mordant, usually vinegar or citric acid
  • make sure rinsed wool runs clear and the dye is set
  • Do all this outside on the lawn
  • Dry fleece on the lawn, or wool cloth on the line. You need a nice sunny day for this in warm weather.
  • this method does not require stoves or heating as in the pictures below, they were taken a few summers ago when Joanna Close was dying some wool for me. It gets lighter shades.


plenty of wool

curls of wool
blue green stew

Dear Diary, taking time with colour this week, playing with it one shade at a time. Bring every shad of a colour you have together and see what you can come with. I did a sees of projects this week, which I ‘ll show you once the finishing is done.

One of them was actually inspired by two balls of yarn that landed on the windowsill out of no where. When I asked where they came from, my husband said that they were left over from a sweater, a woman who used to work with him made him over thirty years ago. Odd they showed up, and I needed them. It is just a decision to be open to what come up, hook what is right there in front of you.

I hooked them in a little circular pattern, using the darkest chocolate islandic wool for the inner centers.

I enhanced the outer rings with the two natural shades.

wool sometimes just appears...perhaps there really is a wool fairy

I do need some velvets in these shades. I put the swatches in my big lug bag to carry with me in case I hit a fabric shop.

It is a good idea to keep a tiny swatch of a strip of a colour you love in your bag, then when you are out and about, toy can get more of that colour, or shades close to out to add to your stash.

Sometimes you are glad to use what is at hand, other times you need that boost of inspiration, that a new texture, or shade brings. Wool inspires me to create. When I see a great yarn hanging on my wall, or a gorgeous piece of cloth, it tells me what it wants to be.

speak to me..tell me what to make of you
lots to choose from

the scent of wool

in the making of wool

Dear Diary, Last summer I took a trip back to MacAusland’s Woolen Mill on Prince Edward Island. I had this desire to get back there and see it again, how they take the big old bags of fleece, turn it into yarn, turn it into blankets.

The mill is old and beautiful, and I found every aspect of it very picturesque. I love the smell of the lanolin on my hands when I use wool. Sometimes I just want to bury my head  in a big bundle of yarn or cloth when I am carrying it around the studio, and I do just that. I push my face right into the wool, and breathe it in.

Now you know I’m foolish.

workin' on the line

When we sell our $4 bundles of Delia’s Natural Sheep’s Wool, I sometimes remind people that she fed the sheep for that too. It’s included in the price.

form and beauty, it is everywhere

I love the patina on the wood of these spindles.

Waiting on the wool

Some things never have to change…..they remain beautiful and useful.

a touch of colour

The light was beautiful the day we were there. I could not stop photographing these wooden spindles. Everytime I saw them, they looked more beautiful than the last.

I was glad I returned there to see it again. It had been more than ten years since I had gone. Memory fades, and images need to be rekindled.

just for the sake of the hook

close up...you cannot tell

Dear Diary, close up, you just cannot tell what things really are sometimes. Whether it is a hooked rug, or a life experience, you might just need to step back, to step away, to see things as a whole. I enjoy looking at parts of things, seeing the whole truncated, cropped, a piece of something bigger. It is one perspective , while stepping back is yet another. When I hook, I mostly step back when I walk away from the frame. I am not like the imaginary painters with their easel, who take five steps back, and wave their paint brush in the air.I think nearly everything about me is practical and efficient. I see it from afar when the phone rings, or I go to answer the door , make the tea, or pass through the studio. It is not done as an event in itself but as part of living. I go by the image in my head , most of the time, knowing that my experience with the wool, tells me what something will look like. I try to challenge that, finding new materials, new designs, putting new mixes together.

piles wait for the hand to hook them

I like to pile my wool, based on how I might hook it. What works together. I move those piles around, play with them, assort them. When I do not do this they start looking stagnant, uninspiring. Wool wants to be played with. The bit you see on the top is a detail from Cliffs Cross at the Light, a new pattern I created based on old inspiration. Light houses here are not maintained the way they one were. They have become a symbol of what we were , more than what we are, but they still excite the imagination. Sometimes I just want to hook, and a cliff and a bit of water, is just the thing. There is no great new idea, just a pile of scraps, a little $10 hook, a piece of primitive burlap stretched across my frame. I hook the way my grandmothers did, just for the sake of it.

eye candy and soul seasoning

Dear Diary, Today during a hockey game there was a craft show going on and a local potter, Eric Sparling was selling his novel, “Tantramar” at his pottery display. My husband bought the book for me and I just spent a few hours reading it. I really enjoyed it. He had been in to the studio and we had taught him to hook rugs. I knew he made pots but I had seen the novel around and wondered who wrote it. It was funny to make all those connections once I saw the book on his display.When I saw the book my husband had just purchased it for me, unbeknownst to me.  The author kept saying to me that it was not very good….that I should not buy it. I was puzzled, what writer would say that about their own book. I said, “How bad can it be, Breakwater published it.” Finally he said I don’t know how I can stop her as I kept shoving the money at him. He and my husband were laughing and I was bewildered. Finally my husband said, she does not pick up on things, and pulled the book out from under his coat. He had bought it for me for Christmas. I started reading it on my way home from the rink and kept at it  till I finished it. I loved the references to the Fenwick hill which is just beyond my house. It had very good characters and was a good book. Christmas was early.. no fear as my daughter says, I am easy to buy for. He’ll have to come up with another gift. Mothers generally do okay at Christmas. I think that is how your family shows regret for the oodles of dirty dishes they have left for you, and plan to again, right after Christmas dinner.

I worked in the studio today, enjoying seeing the visitors come in for Christmas gifts, either for themselves or someone else.So many know that their favorite gifts are the ones they get for themselves…. that yard of linen, or skein of sub. It was fun to see. I also did a bit of writing on a project that I want to create for next year…I’m cooking something up again.

We were pretty busy today. Norma dyed some tan paisley wool green and it was so gorgeous you just wanted to throw it over your shoulder and wear it somewhere. Then she dyed the same in gold and I wanted to wrap that around me and go somewhere else. Years ago , Libby Moore from Newfoundland was visiting the studio and putting together piles of wool on the counter to add to her stash. When I was about to  add it all up, she look at it and said, “Oooo I just wanna get naked and swim around in this stuff.”  Crazily enough I knew exactly what she meant. I had this picture of myself filling up an old fashioned tub with all my favorite colours and textures and bathing in it. The wool just makes you feel so good. Even my daughter said the other day…”Your studio looks so pretty.” Who cannot be charmed by colour. It is candy for the eyes, seasoning for the soul.