Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Newfoundland Rug Camp is my New Found Heaven.

From beginning to end, my rug camp experience in Newfoundland was beyond incredible.  We flew into Deer Lake in two hours, which seemed very quick. Got our luggage and rental car in under 15 minutes. Off to a great start!

Visitor centre at Deer Lake Airport. 
My travelling companion, Jane Stewart, was the best. It's nice to have friends who are so easy to spend long periods of time with. I enjoyed being in her company very much. And she was quite the "sherpa" in sharing things she has learned to love about Newfoundland.

Our first day there began with another typical Newfoundland story.  I realized that I hadn't brought all the bedding that I needed for camp and when I mentioned it at the Holiday Inn Express and asked where they would recommend I go for pillow, sheets, towel, etc., they asked "Do you mind if they are lightly stained?" to which I said of course not. So two minutes later, out came a bag of "gently used" linens - everything I needed for camp. And for payment when I asked - "Just a hug."

So, we do know that none of those stories are exaggerated.  They appear to happen all the time. I heard several more while I was there and loved every one.

Off we headed in our little red Sonic from Deer Lake to Gros Morne Park and a 5.4 km hike into Western Brook Pond.  I think my chin was in my lap the entire way. The scenery was so incredibly beautiful - each turn in the highway more stunning than the last.  And the rain held off, leaving us dry to admire the incredible cloud cover on the mountains.

This sign shows the board walk that crossed the bogs. 
The expanse of the bog between us and the mountains.  
The cloud cover was incredible. 

A fabulous look out spot with more signs about what you are seeing. 

We didn't have enough time for the fiord tour there, but I will keep it in my pocket for another visit. A few of the ladies at camp had done it and said it was definitely worth doing.

Next, a quick trip to Rocky Harbour for some supplies and lunch and a poke around in some of the charming craft stores. I took this picture of a boat model - typical lobster boat - just like the one our childhood boat was built from.


Another relatively short drive and we arrived at Killdevil Camp in time for registration. As soon as I saw the place, I understood why it is called "Rug Camp".  It is a camp ground and very reminiscent of the camp I went to when I was a kid. Absolutely beautiful in its setting. The cabins were set up with three bunk beds per room plus the counsellors cots. Spartan, perhaps, but certainly all we needed to be happy during our stay.

Across the greens are the cabins we stayed in.

Our classroom from outside.
The view out the door from the classroom.
Doris Norman, our teacher, in the classroom. And that is Jane behind her.

The view from just past the canoe shot above. Incredible!
A beautiful path and this staircase took you to the beach. 
Low tide at the beach. Lots of gulls and rocks. 

Everywhere you looked, you were reminded of how rugged and vast this part of the world is. Hard to believe you are still in Canada.

For me, it was the perfect place to come for the first time. I am thrilled that this was my first experience. Camp will be there again next year as well and there is some discussion about making it a permanent home. I can definitely understand why.

The Celtic class was excellent. I learned a lot about Celtic design. And the biggest lesson of all is that you need to work on small areas at a time to not lose your way in the maze of knots and creatures that are featured in the work. Doris Norman, our teacher,  was extremely knowledgeable and happy to help everyone who ran into an issue with their "over's" and "under's".

I made the decision to reduce the size of my "D" pattern so it could be a sofa pillow. In hindsight, this was not a very smart move, since even with a 3 cut (yikes), I still had to edit some parts of my design out. They were just too small. But I made good progress and look forward to finishing this piece.


The dots on the outside in the background are referred to as "Rubication", which was a common enhancement of the illuminated letters. I think I will space them further apart and may even try french knots instead of loops.

In addition to the hooking and learning, there was much too much eating. The food was prepared by a kitchen staff that seemed to be peeling things every time we came into the "mess hall", which seemed to be every two hours.  The food was pretty authentic Newfoundland fare. And there was lots to be had.

A highlight for me was the soft molasses cookies from my childhood. Although we didn't put raisins in ours, the softness and taste was exactly what I remember. I took this picture so I could share it with my sisters.


In addition to the hooking and too much eating, there was lots of meeting and greeting. To a person, the group there could not have been more welcoming. There were lots of activities to encourage "mingling" and I got to meet an amazing number of women.

I think one of the great things about having the school in Killdevil camp versus St. John's is that there really isn't anywhere to go - at least not without a car. So the hooking campers stay and spend time with one another - laughing, singing, line dancing and generally having a wonderful time.

The Theme for this year's camp was "Western" and I have never seen so many cowboy hats and kerchiefs in one place in a very long time. Everyone got into it in a big way. There was live entertainment and a western themed meal: corn bread, brown beans and/or chili and seriously --- cowboy steak - a.k.a. fried bologna.  At dessert, I had my first taste of partridge berry pie and quite liked it. A little bit tart, but yummy.

The line dancing was fun for all. I will have to try to share the video I took with my iphone, even though it will be very dark. Not quite sure how to do that.

For my costume, I wore the "Trent Dress", which will be featured in another post. For those who don't know the story of the Trent Dress, it gets presented to someone every year and they are required to take it on an adventure and have their picture taken. Well, I honestly don't think that dress ever had this much fun!! It caused quite a sensation. And if I hadn't made an impression before then, I sure did with the ugly dress. Someone took lots of pics, so I will share them next time.

There was a rug show - small but mighty - in the big gathering room, along with 5 x 5 mats that were in the friendship mat exchange on Saturday night. Ironically, nearly all of the 12 people from Ontario ended up getting mats from other people from Ontario. Not sure how that happened, but I got a sweet little mat, even if it wasn't created by a Newfoundlander.


There was a viewer's choice for the favourite rug in the display. Here it is, hooked in yarn. What a gorgeous hooker/artist Gwen is. For those who don't recognize those things in the middle, they are cod - salt cod, I believe.  And the hit and miss border is just perfect.


On Saturday night the RHGNL Annual Meeting was held after dinner. Turns out that the camp is the largest gathering they have, so the perfect place to hold it. A bit more relaxed than the OHCG Annual Meeting, it was also filled with laughter and hoots of appreciation.

After the business meeting was done, there was a presentation made by one of the hookers about her project entitled the "Forget Me Not Blanket". This incredibly talented artist created a unique and historically accurate portrayal of the role that Newfoundlanders played in the First World War.

It was a powerful thing to behold. She says she got to know all about the soldiers represented in this tribute. Each flower stitched on the blanket represents a soldier who gave his life. Each battle is represented with the number who died. And for an island that lost an entire generation, this is a very touching tribute.




To top off my stay, as if the whole thing wasn't perfect enough, I won the draw for a tuition refund!! This is something they do every year - not quite a free school - but class costs reimbursed and I WON!!!  Couldn't believe it. Talk about icing on my "camp cake".

Oh yes, there was a bonfire on our last night. Apparently there is one most nights, but we did have quite a bit of rain. It was wonderful to sit around and listen to someone fiddling. Everyone sang, a few danced, but mostly we just sat and enjoyed.


Doris, our teacher, had to leave unexpectedly on Saturday because of a family matter. So Jane and I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to do another little road trip to Woody Point. It just so happens that while camp is on each year, Woody Point is host to a Writers' Festival -  the perfect way to convince my husband to come with me next year lol.

So after a quick drive, we visited the town of Woody Point, including a couple of craft stores, one owned by a fellow student in our class. Here's a link to Molly Made.  I ended up purchasing one of her little coaster kits of a puffin, which I will hook with the yarn provided and treasure for years to come.

Another scenic outlook yielded these beautiful shots.





And then, it was all over! Time to head back to Deer Lake. It was a very short trip that went by in a minute, but one I will treasure forever. And hopefully, I can extend my stay the next time I head there.

There is a spell that is cast by this magical place and I certainly fell under it. The people were even friendlier than I expected - and my expectations were pretty darn high. The scenery (you can never truly capture it with a camera) took my breath away at every turn.

Would I recommend this experience to every rug hooker I know? You betcha. If you don't have the time of your life there, then there's something seriously wrong with you. The Newfoundland hookers know how to have a good time and don't seem to take themselves too seriously.

Thanks Jane for being my great guide.
Thanks rug camp for being beyond my expectations. Kudos to Jane and Sue the co-directors for a job more than well done.
Thanks Newfoundland for worming your way into my "displaced Maritime" Heart.

As Arnold would say "I'll be back."

2 comments:

Maureen McIlwain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen McIlwain said...

I would so love to go to the Newfoundland rug camp - I was wistful about it when I lived closer and still wisting... wishing... and hoping. We'll see. One of these fine days, I'll be there!

Glad you had a great time. Sorry to hear Doris had family troubles. She is a lovely teacher and beautiful hooker!

cheers, Maureen

(sorry... typo/autocorrect in last msg)