Monday, May 26, 2008

The Passing of the Baton


As we all know, the rug hooking community is filled with amazing women of all ages. In my time as a member of this community, I have had a chance to share time and conversation with many in their golden years whose energy, passion and experience is only outshone by their willingness to share all of it.

This past Saturday, two Toronto branches of the OHCG got together for a potluck lunch and some hooking. On the agenda was a silent auction, which is always fun. One of the more senior members of one branch was looking to reduce her “stash”, as she had done last year. There was lots of wool, a Puritan frame, several patterns and a few rugs that had been colour planned and/or just started (we all admit to having a few of those, no matter how old or young we are).

I had the good fortune (and this is not an exaggeration of the term) of bidding on a Kilim rug plus all the wool required to hook it. A tiny section had been hooked, and a colour plan established. Although the last thing I need is another big project, the design and colours definitely spoke to me and I found myself bidding a couple of times to get it. And I did.

Although I fully realize that the price I paid was ridiculously low, I feel good in the knowledge that I will finish this rug, and my benefactress will be a large part of the story that goes forward with the rug. She will have a credit on the label. And I will never forget how lucky I was to inherit this project.

Next weekend, I will put the pattern onto my as-yet-unassembled Cheticamp frame and it will become the cottage rug that I will work on when I am there. It will be placed in a permanent spot for easy access. This will mean that I no longer have to take all my hooking paraphernalia to and fro every weekend. It will also ensure that some quality time gets dedicated to this project.

And I am thrilled to have this opportunity and promise to do this rug proud. I think that the finest compliment we can pay to the people who have shared their time and talent with us is to keep it going. We have to pick up where they leave off and share everything with those coming behind us.

I believe the rug hooking baton has been passed to me many times already. I’m sure it will be again and again. And I promise to do my part for this art form, just as these magnificent women have with me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Eat, Read, Sleep


That’s what I did all weekend. Lots of all of the above. With surprisingly little hooking.

Mother Nature didn’t give us a great weekend weather-wise, but you really can’t blame her. After all, someone decided to have the May 24th weekend a week early. This time of year, a week makes a big difference. Just watch - next weekend will be amazing, because it is the REAL May 24.

There are always bonuses to a bad-weather weekend, long or otherwise. Case in point, the bugs were too cold to come out. They were all rifling through their closets looking for their winter coats. (See what happens when you switch over your wardrobe too early?) I don’t think they’ll come out again till next weekend.

The traffic going north was significantly lighter. I heard on the radio that the statistic was 30% lighter. That makes a BIG difference to the time spent in the car. I wasn’t unhappy about that.

I was secretly rubbing my hands in glee at the prospect of how much hooking I would get done, between eating and sleeping. Big surprise - I hooked less than I generally do on a no-weather-restrictions weekend. Instead, I buried my nose in two very good books.

Both were Mothers’ Day presents. Since I read far more at the cottage than I do at home, they were packed into the cottage bag. “Shoe Addicts Anonymous” came out first. It was a very quick and light read - a perfect cottage choice. I totally ignored my hooking until it was done.

For some reason, even after finishing the first book, the hooking wasn’t holding me. So out came “Eat, Pray, Love”. To those of you who said I would love it, you were right. It was recommended by at least four people, including Laura, who gave it to me rather than lend me her copy. I guess I am a third done - having finished the “eat” part.

A couple of people said it made them think of me. Not because I am a traveller - in fact, I seldom go anywhere other than Parry Sound every weekend (which I think doesn’t count as travelling). But one said the writing made them think of me - I now know enough to feel extremely flattered. Another told me that the writer reminded them of me - I feel a tad anxious about that (just kidding). But I am loving the book. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, this is a hearty recommendation.

Looking back, I think the new rhythm of this past weekend was a nice respite from my usual “Eat, Sleep, Hook”. I think I'll try to keep some time for reading. But I also know that just around the corner, after the real May 2-4, there's gardening, staining, landscaping.......etc. etc. etc.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gorillas in my Midst.


There is something about gorillas and their chimpanzee cousins that have always held a special fascination for me. In a weekend conversation about the first teddy bears or stuffed animals we could remember, mine was a stuffed chimpanzee with a rubber face. It had a rubber banana you could put in its mouth. I have no idea what happened to it, but it stands out above all the rest.

An unforgettable primate encounter happened years later when Rick and I took Laura to the zoo. She was in a stroller and was wearing a pink fuzzy snow suit. I think she was just over a year old. When I stopped her stroller in front of the gorilla compound, a mother holding a baby (much like the one in this piece) stared at us for a long time and then brought her baby over to show it to me. My husband and I couldn’t believe it.

So I fell in love with this piece that Patti Armstrong created. It was the winner in the Wide Cut category at last weekend’s OHCG Annual. I, like others, was drawn to the tenderness captured in this piece.

Yesterday, on Mothers’ Day, my family gave me a new charm for my Pandora bracelet, which is called “Gorilla Family”. I love it, and it was uncanny that I should receive it a week after seeing this rug in the show. So I knew what today’s post would be about - gorillas and babies and tenderness.

My babies are now 25 and nearly 22, and on days like yesterday they can still melt my heart as easily as they did when I first held them. I’m sure over the years there have been lots of ways that I looked at them that weren’t quite so tender, but there is no argument that they are my very best masterpieces. And on Mothers’ Day, all those not-so-tender memories fall away.

Hope you all had a great one, with your mom or your kids - gorillas included.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Hooked on Midland.


This past weekend the OHCG Annual was held in Midland, Ontario. It was an incredible weekend and it's always hard to decide what was the best part.

Is it the show?
Hundreds of this past year's amazing creations by some incredibly talented artists. For me, one of the highlights was seeing the fruit of the labour of the START committee of 2007. We had 25 faces to put in the display and they were quite a conversation piece and photographed by nearly every visitor.

Is it catching up with folks you haven't seen in a while?
The hugs, the laughter, the quick conversations, the re connections. That wonderful reminder of the importance of community.

Is it the selection of goodies to purchase from all the vendors?
It's a shopping mall of hooking suppliers, with everything a hooker dreams of - and then some. Every year there are colours and textures and so many choices to add to your stash. Books to inspire. New patterns to ponder. The perfect counterpoint to the inspiration in the show.

Is it the program created by the hardworking committee?
Excellent venue, fun-filled activities, great food, inspirational speakers and general silliness. Midland committee - you rock! The drumming circle on Friday night had even the biggest skeptics joining into the Zen. Suzanne Conrod's talk about The Rug Museum of North America was a rallying cry for us all to pitch in to protect the heritage of our art form. Rhonda Kellet's impassioned plea on behalf of the Women of the Congo reminded us that we all have the power in our hooks to further a cause that touches our souls.

Is it getting away for a weekend of no cooking, no laundry, no children, no work?
Yes, it's pretty nice not having to do any chores for three days. Food appears when you sit down. Delicious meals and goodies. Laundry and grocery shopping are not on the agenda. It's like Mothers' Day a week early.

Is it having time to poke around cafes and shops in a new Ontario town?
Yes. Starting with a beautiful harbour, lovely decor shops and lunch in an amazing tea room, there was lots to see. But this year's bonus was a stay at an unbelievable B&B (The Victorian Inn) with amazing hosts Carol and John who made Elaine and me feel like family. Please check out their website (see in favourites) and if you ever have a chance to go to Midland, please stay there and give them a hug for me.

I think the real answer is that it's all of the above. And every year it's a weekend that I look forward to knowing that it will be the same, but different, each time. Since we are all scattered around the province and since we only get together for schools and hook-ins and weekends like this, it's a celebration of people and our passion for this incredible art form.

And I loved every minute of it.