Thursday, October 30, 2008

list of rug hooking blogs

I've started a list of rug hooking blogs on the left...and I just began by adding everyone who has left me a comment in the last few months. If you're a rug hooker and you've got a blog, I'll gladly add you to my list...just let me know.

I went all the way back to July. It was pretty scary to be reminded that it's been almost 4 months since I stopped hooking on my landscapey rug. Time is sure flying by....yikes!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

african threads

As I flipped through my photos from my trip last night, I discovered more things that I forgot to mention. Hopefully they will all trickle out this week...

First up.... Valerie Hearder. Valerie was one of the speakers at the symposium. As a part of her presentation, she spoke of a recent project of hers called African Threads. In an effort to raise money for those in Africa most immediately affect by AIDS, she is selling embroideries and textiles made in those countries. A percentage of every sale goes directly to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. You can read more about this project here.

Valerie brought many items to show and share - lucky us - including unique items both from her own personal collection and also some for sale. It was amazing to be able to see these textiles first hand. It's kinda like rug hooking - photos do not do the work justice.

Here are the two that I could not leave behind...

They are both so different, I could not decide on just one. For now, I'm just enjoying pulling them out and looking at them once in a while...but they are unframed and I will have to come up with a solution to that problem soon. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 27, 2008

happy to be the daughter of a dyer

Years before I started rug hooking - and even before I ever thought I might become a hooker - my mum was an active spinner and weaver and knitter. We were still living in Tasmania (20+ years ago) when she first started experimented with dyeing, using Cushings dyes she got from my rug hooking Grandma and fleece from our own sheep. Years later, she and AJ dyed hundreds - maybe even thousands - of skeins for sweater kits that were "Hand-dyed by My Sister and I". Growing up, I was definitely no stranger to the smell of vinegar in the air.

Even though she has dyed a lot of yarn, she still seemed to be hesitant to dye wool fabric for hooking. We've gotten together a few times since she started hooking for a Dye Day at my place, where she brings a bunch of wool and we play around with colour. Other times, she would just call me with her order when she needed a certain colour.

Mum's been talking for months now about dyeing up some of the boxes of fibre hiding out in her studio, even going so far as to wind up a dozen or so skeins of yarn, suitable for knitting socks. She did this in the summer...but she never seemed to get around to dyeing it (have I mentioned that my mum works best with a deadline?). I think that our recent trip finally gave her the inspirational nudge she needed.

At the end of last week, she and AB worked together to dye up all of those skeins as well as almost a bolt of fabric. They used the basic primaries of Cherry, Canary and Peacock, and also added some Terracotta, Crimson, Eqyptian Red, Ocean Green and Blue.

Here are the beautiful results....

...and not only can I cross having to dye for my mother off of my never-ending list of jobs - maybe I'll be able hire her to dye for me! ;-)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I heart Sundays

Even though it's overcast and gloomy outside, there's a certain relaxed contentment today. It started with a luxurious sleep-in, followed by a quick dye job, brief tidy, and now I can sit and enjoy my yummy cafe au lait.

Although I have several things I want to accomplish today, I'll happily pluck away at them with no real self-imposed deadline. Gotta love days like today, when you can hibernate inside and just do whatever you feel like doing--not what absolutely must get done...or else!

No doubt, I'll still be working on my final edition of the newsletter. I'm hoping to get it all wrapped up before I head to Shelburne in just a couple of weeks -- I'll keep you posted on my progress (so far I'm about half-done). I should also go and pick up a few groceries...I think that today will be a great day for making some soup or maybe some chili. Hopefully you're having a real Sunday wherever you, I'm off to listen to Stuart McLean.... ;-)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

remaining highlights...

I'm determined to finish wrapping up the recap of our holiday exploits. My friend Wendie has a great series of posts about the actual symposium...and I encourage you to check them out here, here, here, here and here.

Some of the other wonderful places Mum and I visited while we were away include....

Linsmore Sheep Farm - home of the River John knitting needles that I have been quietly seeking since one of my first Fleece Artist kit's called for swing needles. I'm now the proud owner of two pairs!

Ghita Levin's pottery studio - Ghita was one of the speakers at the 2007 symposium...and makes the most beautiful wood-fired pottery. If I lived closer, I doubt I could have left without one of her large birds tucked into my bag. But I am happy with my little birds jug.

• Heidi's heavenly London Wul - Heidi is not only a delightful person, she has beautiful and irresistible wool in her shop. It was great to be able to visit with her again...and as in the past, our visit left me wishing we didn't live so far apart.

• the Fog Forest Gallery in nearby Sackville - on Tuesday night, Deanne invited us to the opening of their fibre arts exhibit. It is always great to see fibre arts given their due...and there were some very interesting 3-dimensional pieces of rug hooking (using hardware cloth as the foundation, I think).

• A trip to Amherst wouldn't be complete without a stop at Duncan's Pub. The first time I came to town for a workshop with Deanne, I ate here three nights in a row - the food was that good. This time I was here for longer, and still ate there 3 times...just not in a row ;-)

Just in case I haven't already said it enough was a wonderful trip. My mum and I had some great mother-daughter time and it was good to get away for a while together.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bell Museum

Later on Sunday afternoon, we decided to check out the Bell Museum in Baddeck. We had heard many wonderful things about the museum, but I will admit that the Highland Village was a tough act to follow.

Both Mum and I were disappointed. Although it was interesting to find out more about all of AGB's many experiments, I went with a goal in mind: I wanted to discover more about the invention of telephone. The museum seemed to focus on everything else but the telephone. Apparently one of the first phone lines in Brantford ran between my great-grandfather's pharmacy (Tapscott's) and the local hospital...and I was really hoping to get a bit more information about it.

There was another Brantford connection, though. I discovered this rug and accompanying note inside the auditorium...

The Highland Village

Okay, so I know that I am quite behind in my holiday reporting...but seriously, I am trying to get caught up. Today I'm going to talk about the events and activities of the first Sunday of our trip (the day after Cheticamp and the Cabot Trail). We didn't really have too much planned that we wanted to do, so after quick visit to the local information centre we had some ideas.

Definitely the best surprise of the day was our visit to the Highland Village Museum in Iona. Not only was it a gorgeous day, with beautiful sights at every turn...

(doesn't the water look cool? The shadows aren't coming from clouds - there weren't any!)

But it was also a terrific history lesson. In some respects, it reminded me of the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. There are a number of authentic buildings that have been moved to the site, and they help to recreate the progression of new Scottish immigrants through their settlement in Nova Scotia. You begin by walking up a fairly steep hill, and then slowly wind your way back down with stops in each of the buildings, starting at a primitive stone structure and moving through a long cabin, centre-chimney house, two chimney house, a school house, blacksmith shop, barn, church, etc. Almost half of the buildings have interpreters who can give you more details about the particular building and lives of it's former inhabitants...but they are very low-key (which I like). There were even animals situated around the barn, including these pretty chickens...

We really lucked out, since it was not very busy on the day we were there and we were often the only ones inside a given building. This made the visit even more special.

Each of the buildings were quite sparsely furnished and decorated. Aside from being quite true to the time period, it was also perfect for the obsever. All too often at such places I find that I suffer from over-stimulation and "max out" very early on. Not so here.

I also liked the subtle emphasis on crafts such as quilting, rug hooking, weaving, etc. and the subtle integration of these tools and samples in each building. I took a pictures of some of the things that I saw that day, and here are my favourites...

I don't know much about the Bluenose patterns, but something about this rug makes me think it could be one...

You might not be able to read it, but I love their simple instructions: "Produce many shades by using less than a package or more than a package"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

First snow of the season

We're home safe and sound, arriving home just in time to experience this first snow. It's been steadily falling since just before I woke up, and is really starting to look quite pretty. I just took this picture on my way home for lunch...

I was grateful for the additional day of holidays yesterday -- it was so nice to be able to sleep in my wonderful bed and to have a fairly lazy day of movies, tv, napping, knitting, and just the right amount of tidying and unpacking. I know that I am way (way!) behind on my holiday recap....and I'll try to fix that this week. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lake Ontario (just before Guildwood)

Just past Port Hope

...hopefully it's just another hour to Toronto. With any luck, I should be home in time for supper (and it goes without saying how awesome it will be to sleep in my own bed tonight)

Welcome to Montreal!

Half an hour 'til Monteal

I feel a lot better now that I've had a quick power nap. The train is running a bit late, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that we make our connection.

Yes, it's 4:55am

...and I've already had a shower! Last night's sleep is definitely a contestant for "the worst". I just couldn't stand it any more, so I got up to come down to the Club Car and knit. Sorry the photo is so blurry - the train hasn't stopped jostling since I don't know when...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

North of Nelson (near Derby?)

Welcome to Rogersville

It's almost dark now, so there likely won't be too many more pictures today...

Riding in the club car...

(up in the dome). "Easterly class" is the right class for me! ;-)

Coming up to Sackville...

Bye bye Amherst...

The train arrived right on time....and we're on our way home.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

awesome gathering

Whenever rug hookers gather, there are always fun times to be had. The first day of the Artful Rug Hooker Symposium (today) was amazing....lots of smiling, happy faces, interesting projects, terrific guest speakers, tasty treats and of course, many laughs. In case that wasn't enough, we also paid another visit to the offices of Dr. Halina Bienkowski to see all of her fabulous rugs -- I couldn't believe how many rugs were new since last year. Wow. To finish off an already packed day, there was a special Fibre Arts Festival dinner, with an entire restaurant filled with (mostly) rug hookers. It was definitely a fibre-filled day!

Tomorrow will be another busy one, I am I'd better get some sleep...nighty night.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

still having fun...

Today was another great day...but busy, and we're feeling a little tired. Tomorrow will be a super-busy one, with the purse workshop during the day, supper at Duncan's with Wendie and the opening reception for the Fibre Arts Festival in the evening. I would love to type more and tell you all about the events of the last few days, but I feel like I'm starting to get a cold and I want to get a good night's sleep.....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Saturday - Cheticamp

In my previous trips East, I had not yet made my way to Cheticamp...and I was eager to learn more about this style of hooking on this visit. The town did not disappoint.

First up, we stopped at Flora's. Mostly we needed a pit stop, but it was interesting to see so many small mats available for purchase. There was also someone demonstrating in the store.

The next place we visited was the craft Co-op. I found the selection and variety of mats was much better here, and although there were a lot of the stereotypical mats with flowers and birds, there were many, many other designs to see. I was also amazed by seeing some larger pieces (even 3' by 2') and more pictorial scenes. The hardest thing for me at a place like this is to be able to take the piece out of the current context and imagine it far away from all of its cousins (which can be hard to do because there are so many).

The museum in the basement below is a sweet treat. There are several hooked rugs on display, including this one which was my favourite...

Unfortunately there wasn't anyone from the Museum around at the time whom I could ask to unroll these rugs (or 3 others on a nearby trunk) their complete designs remain a mystery.

By far, the best spot for rug hookers to visit in Cheticamp is les Trois Pignons and the Museum of the Hooked Rug and Home Life. Although small, everything inside is interesting and very well laid out. I was also appreciative of their permission to take photos of the rugs in their collection (no flash). Here are just a few of my favourites...

I love old hit and miss rugs...and especially this one with its organic shapes.

This next rug appears to be quite faded. I wonder what it looked like when it was first hooked...

I just love (love!) the faded background on this room-sized rug...

By far the best part of the whole collection is the Elizabeth LeFort gallery (click on the link for a brief history of this amazing rug hooker). Like all hooked rugs, any pictures do not do the work really need to see them up close and personal to really appreciate them. There are likely a couple of dozen pieces in this section (and 3 are very large, wall-sized works...such as 55 square foot Crucifixion)
I really liked the background (sky?) in this piece.

and closer....

And here is Jackie O. Once again, I love the background, especially on the left side...

In short, if you're a rug hooker or love rug hooking, you'll love Cheticamp.

Saturday - Cabot Trail

After a quick stop at Deanne's studio, we drove all the way to Cape Breton Island on Friday. We stayed at a very scary B&B that first night (and if we hadn't already known that almost all of the island was completely booked all weekend long, we would not have stayed). Suffice is to say that it was advertised as a former schoolhouse, but it was really a former school, turned into a house (of sorts). We were glad to be on our way on Saturday, even though it started out looking a little grey.

We really wanted to drive all of the way around the Cabot Trail, and we were happy that the weather cooperated. Most of the clouds had disappeared by the time we got to Cheticamp...and after a couple of mandatory rug hooking stops (more details in the next post), we decided to keep on driving.

There seems to be some debate about which direction you should travel the trail (clockwise or counter), but we opted to travel clockwise and we were not disappointed. Definitely the most spectacular views were in the first part of our trip, but the whole journey was beautiful.

At the beginning of the drive, we stopped often at the scenic lookouts and pull-offs along the side of the road...but this lessened as we drove. We drove up, around, along, and down many hills and valleys. There were a few steep mountains that caused us to question whether or not our rental car would conk out, but thankfully we always made it up to the top.

It amazed me how much and how often the landscape changed...seemingly after every curve in the road.

But what really amazed me - and what I was unprepared for - were the mountains. Many times I felt like I was driving in Vermont (between Dorr and Shelburne). Of course, the Fall colours were beautiful, but I'm guessing they peaked a week or so ago (as they did at home).

the train ride

We finally have good internet I'm back to update on the last few days. The train ride was good. As I tried to show in the photos I posted, there was lots of beautiful scenery. Taking pictures from the moving train with my iPhone was both a challenge, a constant experiment and a mystery. With the delay on the camera, it was impossible to shoot exactly what you were seeing (and wanted a picture of) I had to try to predict what you were going to be seeing next -- and I'm not a psychic! Too much foliage in the foreground led to blurred images, plus the constantly changing speeds of the train were difficult to guage...and too fast often meant blurry images, too. In the end what I found worked the best was to take a series of photos and choose the one I liked the most (since there is no good option that I'm aware of to edit the photos on the iPhone - without importing them to your computer).

We were very happy that we chose a sleeping cabin, and do not begrudge the extra fare to do so. Not only did this give us some privacy and peace between Montreal and Nova Scotia, the ability to have a shower in the morning was really great. Even though it was pretty tight in our cubicle, we were able to stand up to have a shower. In the main compartment, the ability to lie down and get snuggled in more of a real bed helped us to be able to rest much better. I fell asleep quite easily, but jostling of the train woke me abruptly, after only 40 minutes or so (although it felt at the time like I had been sleeping for the majority of the night). I was up for an hour or so after that, and then got the idea to start listening to my iPod. The train does rattle at random (and frequent) intervals...which can be jarring, but the music helped to distract me.

The only downside was the food. We are curious to see what it's like on our return home (when we're travelling "Easterly Class"). There were only two choices for this trip though: instant oatmeal, yogourt and toast OR scrambled eggs, sausage and toast. I wish I'd chosen the first selection. I have never before seen sausages like those - 1 part meat, 1 part cardboard, and 1 part rubber....and all gross. It did look like the food in Easterly class is different, so we're keeping our fingers crossed. One last comment about the food on the train - offering tuna and crackers on the concession cart is bad enough, but ordering it is even worse - the smell wafts quickly and lingers long after...yuck! Thanks to the stranger in the red polo shirt, I was almost sick...

Tips for future train travellers: bring your own blowdryer, try to take your shower when the train is stopped at a station, bring snacks and if you're not used to sleeping with ear plugs, bring your iPod, and don't order the tuna!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Having fun in Baddeck...

We just got back from a delicious lobster dinner, after another great day. The weather has been beautiful and it has really made our drives and sightseeing all the more enjoyable. The highlights so far are the Cabot Trail, the museum at Cheticamp (Elizabeth LeFort was a genius), and the Highland Village in Iona.

I'll be back soon with more stories and a few of my favourite photos from the past couple of days....including some of old rugs (whenever I can access Internet with my laptop).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

10:37am Saturday

We're just passing through Belle Cote...right at the start of the
Cabot Trail. The sun is out now, and there's the promise of a
beautiful day!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Near Amherst...just minutes away

Still east of Sackville

East of Sackville

Just past Moncton

Almost to Moncton

Near Rogersville

Near Belledune

Still just east of Cambellton NB