Well, here is my booth at the market. It went up without a hitch, thanks to the help of my wonderful husband, who not only helped me set up, but also stayed with me for the day. The booth was borrowed from my friend Sheila, and I was a little anxious about doing it on my own. It definitely turned out to be a two-person job. But we quickly figured out how to connect the panels with the little black plastic slip ties, which turned out to be perfect for displaying the rugs – since they fit right into the holes between the last row of loops and the whipping. That was my first stroke of luck.
The second was the location of my booth. It faced the beach and the lake beyond. The Town of Rosseau spent a great deal of time and tax $$ turning their waterfront into a destination. In addition to the market on Fridays, there are swimming lessons, slips for visitors to dock their boats, and easy walking distance to the charming shops in town. A band performed under one of the gazebos, which I’m sure must be a regular occurrence at the waterfront.
The weather seemed iffy, and certainly the trip up north on Thursday night had me fearing the worst. The word among the vendors was “no rain” and they were right. It clouded over several times, but the sun always managed to break through and by lunch I could feel the sun on my shoulders. By 2:00, I was a lovely shade of pink. Virtually every other vendor had a tent or awning, which afforded protection from both the rain and too much sun. We had brought along our deck umbrella, but didn't open it because it would have blocked the display. I think a tent is definitely in order.
The other vendors at the market were fantastic - friendly, helpful and very welcoming. The few that I had met at the meeting in May all came by to see how I was settling in. For the most part, they are there every Friday, and many of them do the other local markets in Bracebridge and Gravenhurst as well. One of them turned out to be a fellow hooker and is eagerly awaiting a hooking companion when Rick and I move up north.
From the moment the booth was organized, I had a steady stream of visitors wanting to chat about the pieces, see a demo (I was working on a piece on my lap frame), and just talk about rug hooking in general. It’s really quite amazing how many people are connected to this art form, even if they don’t do it themselves.
I met a woman who has an original Bluenose pattern she inherited. I met another woman who had two very special rugs, which had been hooked by an elderly caregiver when she was a child. She had fond memories of watching her hook and when she saw me pulling loops, she was delighted to share her story. I met people from all around the area as well as many from Toronto who are cottagers or vacationers there.
I had a sheet at my table for people to give contact information if they were interested in learning more about rug hooking. The sheet ended up with quite a few names, for a variety of different reasons. One person was looking for a teacher in the Pickering area, so I will have to “hook her up” with someone there. Another was interested in kits, so I will send her a list of possibilities as well.
There was a great deal of interest in the finished rugs on display. For many, it was first time they had seen them on a wall and they were quite taken with this textural art. I heard many positive comments about the designs, the colours and the creativity. It’s pretty tough to beat a beautiful day spent outside getting positive reinforcement about your work.
One visitor (who was from Utterson – like my friend Jennifer – who knew Utterson was such a hot bed of hookers) was telling me about the large tapestry rugs she hooks. She said that her dog has damaged one of them, so I said I would try to put her in touch with someone who can do a repair for her.
A few people were intrigued by the idea of commissioning a custom piece to reflect something unique. I had prepared a little handout on things to think about when considering a commission. I definitely gave a few people some food for thought. It will be interesting to see if I hear from them.
I brought some hooking with me on my small lap frame, and although I didn’t get much done, it was fun showing people how traditional rug hooking is done. One seven or eight year-old girl told me all about the latch hooked rug of a horse she is working on at home. She seemed quite taken with the traditional method.
The day flew by. I’m not sure it was quite so entertaining for Rick, but he was a trooper and hung in for the whole thing. He even bought me a sausage on a bun from the sausage vendor. I didn’t get to get to look around at the other booths, but hope to do so when I go back on August 8th.
So now I have a day at the market under my belt. I walked away feeling very happy to have been there. Although business was anything but brisk, the conversations were rewarding and I connected with quite a few people who I can get to know better when I am there full time.
Was it worth the $35 booth fee? Yes it was, in surprisingly delightful ways. I am very much looking forward to going back for Day 2.