Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sustainability - one loop at a time.



For the last little while, both at work and at home, I have been exposed to a never-ending stream of information on sustainability, global warming, reducing my footprint and doing something personally to improve the condition of the planet. The research through work has led me to scads of websites with various measurement tools and suggestions of how to reduce my footprint. Some suggestions are easy to adapt. Some are not so easy.

When measuring my own footprint (which is based on consumption of water, energy, land, trees, etc.), I was stunned to learn how un-friendly my lifestyle is, even though I don’t drive a Hummer or fly to exotic locations every month. Simple things like laundry, appliances and newspaper subscriptions all add up to a not-so-great score. I am dedicated to doing what I can to improve that. But rather than beat myself up totally, I decided I would also pat myself on the back for things that I am doing that are good - like rug hooking.

Since my very first project, I realized that recycling old clothes and creating something beautiful and useful with them was very much to my liking. Maybe it’s that East Coast heritage, but I definitely relate to the first mat makers. Everything they used in the rug, and in creating it, was recycled from something else. Mind you, that’s what they had to do, and I’m sure their footprints were tiny.

I love the ceremony of deconstructing a garment. I love putting the buttons and zippers into a box for possible future use, undoing all the seams, letting down the hems, gently washing the wool and shocking it into a wonderful texture. I relish adding the new wool pieces to my stash. I would guess that more than 85% of the wool I have is from recycled garments. They may not give me all the colours I need for every project in my future, but I love creating designs and colour plans that incorporate what I have, rather than dyeing all new wool.

I love that friends are saving wool garments and allowing me the opportunity to give them second lives. Same with panty hose and polar fleece. I love it when I get to show them a rug that has their old winter coat or pants. They seem to love that too.

I also like the fact that each rug has fabric that has had a past life - often one that I will never know anything about. But when I hook with it, I get to send it to a future like with a new story, hopefully for generations to come. It will bear my initials and the year it was hooked, so a little of me will go forward too.

So here’s to all those folks who are teaching us how to save the planet. And to those of us who are doing our part to comply. Even if it is one mat at a time, it’s helping in a way that makes me feel really good.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I can't believe I miss blackflies!



Well, this was the first May 24th weekend (albeit not on May 24th) in 16 years that I have not spent at our cottage.
We did spend part of it there - pushing sawdust around and rearranging the huge pile of stuff in the screened in porch.
Yes, we are in renovation hell, which is preventing us from not only sleeping there, but spending time outside donating flesh to the blackfly population. My husband did don a bug shirt and whack some weeds, so he made a minor deposit to the blackfly bank, but, aside from finding the bug shirts in the pile of possessions in the basement, I donated only what could be taken between car and porch door.
It's amazing how not being able to go there each weekend (since last September) has changed the rhythm of our lives - and not for the better. The fall and winter have always been a special time there, since we are mostly the only ones who go. But the summer is fun too, because we've shared our lake with the same neighbours since we bought so very long ago.
We keep hoping we have reached the point in the construction where things will go more quickly, but at this point we are still without windows and although there is a brand new kitchen under the many boxes of lights and bathroom fixtures, we don't have appliances in or working at this point.
Hopefully, that will be remedied shortly and we can clean out a small spot amid the debris, throw down a mattress and sleeping bags and wake up to our usual pattern of coffee on the lower deck followed by a tin boat ride.
And we can stop missing the things that used to be the negatives about our weekly sojurns - the packing and unpacking of supplies, the long commute on Friday nite, the bug seasons have blur blackfly and mosquito together, the sad Sunday clean up before heading back to the city. And the blackflies!!!
We can't wait to have them all back.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

One Happy Mother!


Another year - another Mothers' Day. And this one was one of the best on record.
Since my daughter had to work on Sunday, she spent the day with me on Saturday, which included picking up my mother-in-law in Peterborough, having a gals lunch and a little retail therapy - at a store with Canadian designers only - awesome.

Sunday had the traditional breakfast (not in bed) - Egg McMuffin from the Golden Arches. A little gardening, a little rug hooking and a family meal made the day easygoing and fun.

My son gave me two CDs - Amy Winehouse and Feist - I highly recommend both. And a homemade card - which is always my favourite thing from him. My daughter gave me a gift certificate for summerizing fingers and toes (plus the Saturday lunch). And my husband (even though I know I am not his mother) gave me a Pandora bracelet with a little girl charm, a little boy charm and a birthstone spacer. Very nice.

My kids aren't so little anymore - they're 24 and nearly 21, but Mothers' Day is no less important - in fact in some ways, I think it is moreso. As your kids grow and leave home, you lose many of the traditions you have come to love. The fact that we can hold onto some of the Mother ones once a year always makes me feel loved and appreciated.

My mom has been gone for more than 30 years. I was my daughter's age when she died. I'm lucky enough to have a fabulous mother-in-law, who has now been in the role for longer than my mom. She has done an amazing job of being there for me.

Here's to all mothers everywhere. Mothering's a great job that we all do to the best of our abilities. Being acknowledged for it by the folks you love most, on a dedicated day, is always a wonderful thing.

Monday, May 7, 2007

It doesn't get any better than this!


This past weekend I attended a workshop at a fellow hooker's cottage north of Kingston, Ontario. Everything was absolutely perfect from start to finish!

This weekend has been in the planning stages for nearly a year, so the element of anticipation, and the possibility for lunchbag letdown were both high. I am delighted to say the entire weekened exceeded my every expectation.

Even the traffic on Friday cooperated, since I think we were ahead of much of it. Three of us carpooled, which meant lots of chatter on the way, a stop for lunch, and a quick race through a dollar store to pick up the forgotten toothbrush and a few other irresistable items.

When we arrived at the cottage, it was absolutely stunning. The country road in, the driveway, the cottage, the lake were all amazing. The beautiful craftsman style cottage overlooking the lake is now being finished with fieldstone patios and large rocks and boulders forming functional seating and amazing sculpture. It is in the landscaping stage of construction, which for someone who is at the front end of a renovation, is a much nicer place to be.

The host and hostess could not have been more gracious. The wife organized every little detail to make the weekend perfect. The husband's chief responsibility was to make snacks, clean up after meals and do everything in his power to maximize our hooking time. He was amazing and we all wished for husbands just like him.

Meals were planned and brought by the attendees and beleive me, we ate in style. One woman did incredible baking and we all indulged in goodies we would never have in our regular lives. Let's face it, none of us eat as well as we did this weekend -or at least not often.

And starting right after dinner on Friday nite, we hooked pretty much non-stop. With glasses of wine and lots of enthusiasm, we jumped right into our pennies and didn't put down our needles until midnight. The chatter around the table was first- night banter. Catching up for those of us who knew one another. And getting to know the newbies in the group. It was light and lovely.

Saturday, we were all up bright and early for a great breakfast, and back at our tables by 8:30. We worked right through the day - stopping only for mid-morning coffee a quick and delicious lunch outside - to get our Vitamin D. Then there was a short field trip (a.k.a. shopping excursion) for those of us who had never been to the area before.

We worked until dinner time - ate another gourmet feast - and then got back to it until 11:00, slightly earlier than Friday. Conversation moved into slightly more serious topics - kids, middle age, old age. Giddiness set in around 10:00. It was run.

Before heading to bed, we lined up our works-in-progress and looked at the 8 emerging rugs. Though we were all working with the same pattern, colour choices and indvidual customizing had created very different rugs. This never ceases to amaze me. We all bring our own colour palette and style to everything we do - consciously or unconsciously. And the results are amazing to see.

Sunday morning was more of the same - squeezing in every moment we could until it was time to break for lunch and then head home.

Bea Grant was an incredible teacher - as always. Her gentle style and guidance helped all of us get over any bumps and inspired us to try bolder, braver things. She has a way of positively encouraging you to try something else rather than make you think you have made a poor choice. She is truly a gentle genius.

There is no picture of the work in progress in this blog and there is a good reason why. This concept is Bea's, which she has kindly shared with us, as she will with other workshops she leads.

It's not often that something really new happens in the world of hooking (let's face it, it's a historical art form) but Bea has done it. She has broken new ground by combining two primitive styles like no one before her.

I think it will quickly become a norm in the hooking community, and we all encouraged her to get the book that is inside her head onto paper so she can share this fantastic method with the rest of us and garner the accolades she deserves.


Thanks again Loretta for hosting it (along with Gord), to Bea for her quiet teaching, and to my classmates Elaine, Sandra, Betty, Rhonda, Nancy, and Donna.
There is nothing I would change about this weekend. We talked about having it become and annual event and I really hope it does.