Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Pretty Amazing Weekend

I have just finished unpacking from my teaching weekend at the OHCG School in Ancaster. My class was called "Wide and Wondeful" and although it wasn't my original choice of class name, it has turned out to be the perfect one.

From Thursday evening until 1:00 today - Sunday - I got to spend my time with 14 wonderful women. I'm not sure who learned more, who had more fun, or who walked away happier. But I guess that's what makes the whole thing so truly special.

I must confess to having been a bit nervous about the weekend. I was facing 14 different "wide cut" projects - no two of which were the least bit similar. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the diversity of subject matter was a teacher's wish fulfilled. Every time a specific issue presented itself with respect to one rug, there was a teaching opportunity for everyone present. We had faces, and primitives, and proddy and pictorials and just about anything you can think of. We had things that I had never experienced myself before, so there was a good amount of learning for me as well.

I had a detailed itinerary of mini lessons and the accompanying hand out materials, but I think the impromptu learning was better. Instead of being "theoretical", these were real life, right there examples of things that they could learn from. Pretty amazing all around.

I'm not sure how often an entire class "gels", but this one did. There was certainly a diversity of ages and personalities, but almost on sight, these 14 women formed a bond. And it held strong and fast all weekend. Not only did they spend their class time together, they tended to eat together and talk after class. No cliques in my class! It was all about the sharing - of knowledge - of stories - of lives - all through the common denominator of rugs.

The only teensy fly in the ointment of the weekend was a wicked case of laryngitis, or "teacher's voice" or just a bug that literally took my voice away. However, my students were supportive and caring and even came forward to help me in a pantomime presentation on Saturday night. It was funny, unusual and I believe quite memorable. I doubt that will ever be repeated again either.

As I told them, and anyone else who would listen, this was a magical weekend that I will remember forever. It was my first solo teaching weekend. I know that there will be many to follow, but none will compare to this "virgin" experience. Every workshop I give will be compared to this one. Every group of students will remind me of my very first group.

And I will never forget the women in my Wide and Wonderful Weekend.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why hookers are great bloggers.

I started my blog a few months ago and it has become part of my routine. I like having a place to write about whatever I want. It’s like a diary, only better, because it’s a journal I am happy to share.

My blog was inspired by Jennifer Manuells’ blog. I visited hers every week to see what she was writing about – what story she was telling – what creation she was featuring. It was the sharing I was going for. I felt like I was in the same room with her as she shared pictures of her latest project – finished, or in progress.

In my job, I receive lots of information about “new media”. Technology is really changing how we talk to people - both from a marketing standpoint and a personal one. Now it’s all about blogging and podcasting - what they call “social media”. We are now using electronic devices to create a social experience. The irony of this is not lost on me.

The pundits are speculating long and often about all of it. How impactful are blogs? What is the effect if a podcast? How is mobile advertising being received by the new “cell phone” generation? No matter what insights come across my desk, I put them in context of not only my clients, but myself. My work. My life. My kids’ lives - since they are the new target market.

I marvel at how the hooking community has adapted to the “social media”. Let’s face it, when it comes down to it, “social networking” is what hooking is all about. Once you get past the physical aspects of pulling loops and creating something wonderful with wool, the truth is that hooking is all about getting together to share the rug and the story in the rug.

The best part of any hook in (although some might swear by the penny auction) is the “show and tell”. We never get tired of looking at rugs created by our peers and hearing what inspired them – what spark ignited that creative moment when the rug was born. We scour websites to look at rug galleries. And we visit news sections or diaries on sites to see what stories are being shared.

I think it’s always been this way for hookers. And quilters. And women in general. They knew that “social networking” was taking time to find out what was happening in each other’s lives – in their hearts – in their souls.

That’s what blogs are. Blogs are ‘hook ins’ in a world where we all seem to have more electronics and less time. And they are a great way to share the stories, across great distances. Across the world even.

So blog on fellow hookers - whether that means starting your own - or posting comments on the ones you visit. Become part of the “bee”.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Am I already internet dating?

I know a few people who are dating online, and I must say that I always thought it was not for me. But this morning in the bath, my usual "brilliant" time, I realized that in many ways that's what every internet experience is.

For example, if you are reading my blog, we are having an internet date. If you don't know me, you are getting to. If you already do, you are finding out what's in my head today.

Since I have been able to use the internet, I have made some incredible friends through email, blogs, etc. And I have already really liked them before I met them in the real world. That's what internet dating allows you to do. Get to know someone, form your relationship with them and decide whether or not you want to meet the physical them.

In most instances, my opinions have been spot on. My very good friend Jennifer (see her blog link below) is a perfect example. I think we are soul mates, and probably were from the very first connection. But in the time I have known her, our internet based relationship formed and sustains the bond between us.
Don't get me wrong - we are thrilled when we get a chance to see one another, but the internet allows us to do that daily.

This week, Jennifer is in Nova Scotia, attending Deanne Fitzpatrick's Creativity Seminar. Her blog has allowed me to spend every day with her - or at least find out what she did every day. It's so easy, so visual, so personal and so amazing. Even long distance phone calls can't give you the same "date" as this does. (Check out her last few entries - and have a date with Nova Scotia.)

But let's take a step back even further. Every time you visit a web site and check out a new hooking supplier, or a designer, or a blogger, you are doing exactly that - "checking them out". You are going to make a decision whether or not you want to spend any more time with them. It is always a little like a first date.

The internet also lets you have dates with people you never get to see anymore. So much faster than letter writing, it lets you share pictures, stories, news, everything - but instantly and far more frequently.
Those friends that you miss are somehow closer and you get to have "dates" with them as well.

A very dear friend Barb visited my blog recently and said as a result she lost the entire afternoon. And she said it was marvelous. She drifted from my blog to my links - to Jennifer's site - to Jennifer's links
- and spent the entire afternoon speed dating a whole bunch of websites. I guess it's no different than making a date with a good book, but it somehow feels more personal.

I don't belong to any social networks like face book or my space, but my kids do and I often check out their pages to see what's new. I can imagine others doing the same - some people who know them, and some who want to.

I love being able to get to know people through email or their blogs or their websites. I think the internet allows the voice of the person to come through, regardless of how comfortable or uncomfortable they might be in a social situation in the real world.

I know it's not truly internet "dating", but I think it is pretty darn close. And it's really not such a bad thing, is it?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

By George-town, I think you’ve got it.

Last night, I attended the regular, monthly meeting of the Georgetown chapter of the OHCG (Ontario Hooking Craft Guild). I was the guest presenter, there to showcase my jean purses, which will featured in a workshop next March. I have always heard that Georgetown was a very dynamic chapter, and I saw for myself that is not an overstatement.

Since I had no idea how long it would take me to get there, I based my timing on bad traffic. I even left the office early, hoping to get a jump on everyone else. Incredibly, there was no traffic. Sure, there were other cars on the road, but they were all MOVING instead of sitting on the 401 or 427. So, not only was I ridiculously early, I also had time to window shop and eat before heading to Norval.

The meetings are held in an old Church there, which is as welcoming as the chapter members. As I stood waiting in the parking lot with the early attendees, all sorts of people I knew started arriving. They came from near and far - Aurora, London, Toronto, Mississauga. We all talked about the “no traffic” phenomenon. I marvelled at how far they travelled to be there - not one of them thought it was too far to come at all.

My presentation followed the business portion of the meeting - and the coffee break (complete with Rice Crispie squares). The business meeting was well-organized, thoughtful and was a combination of jovial and serious, with proper business procedures followed to a T. The agenda was jammed with reports on workshops, rug displays and the upcoming Christmas party and exchange. This vibrant group is totally engaged in their activities. Participation in everything is never in question.

My presentation was enthusiastically received as well. Lots of questions, comments and positive feedback. I believe many of the members will sign up for the workshop, provided we can find a satisfactory date.

Following a wonderful “Show and Tell” session, I drove home - again with virtually no traffic - totally understanding why time and distance are not an issue for members of this Georgetown group. And I am seriously contemplating how to fit becoming a member and driving to their meetings into my crazy life.

Here’s to you Georgetown Chapter, for making me feel so welcome. You definitely have it going on.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Thanksgiving - The Wonder of Leftovers

Well another Thanksgiving has come and gone and I am nursing a turkey hangover, like I do every year. What's that wonderful chemical they say is in turkey that makes you sleepy after you eat? I forget. Oh well, as soon as the last of the pumpkin pie and turkey are gone, I can start saving myself for Christmas.

This is a picture of Trinity (just like the sign says). She and her Dad joined us for Thanksgiving dinner this year. It was wonderful having both of them - they added a lot of joy and energy to our usual family crowd. Trinity is my favourite 6-year old, not that I know very many any more. She is a big fan of rug hooking, especially mine, so I made her this for her bedroom. She loves the colours, which I felt quite sure would cover all her “favourites” as she grows up.

This sign is the hooking equivalent of turkey leftovers. Nearly everything in this project was left over from earlier projects. Just like there are never enough turkey leftovers to send home with everyone, there often aren’t enough strips left over from a project to make an entire rug. That's why I like to use them in smaller projects - hooking “snacks”. Thankfully, these leftovers don't have a "best before" date and can be incorporated into something whenever the mood or colour scheme strikes. And unlike turkey leftovers, they can hang around for a very long time.

Trinity loved it when I suggested that her great-great-grand daughter might ask her one day where her name sign came from. That's why there is a label that says the month and the year and that it is "to: her" "from: me". I told her it will connect me to her and to her kids and her kids' kids. That idea just made her giggle. But I know it's true.

The tradition of Thanksgiving is one that is celebrated the same way year in and year out at my house. The menu stays the same. The decorations are pretty much the same. The guest list changes, like it did this year to include Trinity and Chris. But I like the fact that it is a tradition and I hope it stays the same for my kids' kids, leftovers and all.

Knitting in Paradise

Every year when we come to Barbados, I pack a knitting project or two. Usually socks to knit on the plane and something to take to the ...