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A Newsy Letter about Visits and Road Trips.

A Newsy Letter about Visits and Road Trips.

Good Morning,
Yesterday I told my friend Lily who lives a couple of hours away that I could drive down for a visit. She texted me back and said "I'll make a cake". I rarely leave home to hit the road so I think she saw it as fit for a celebration.
When I got there she had a little lemon coconut pound cake in the oven and a pot of soup on. It made me feel so special to arrive to a cake coming out of the oven. It reminded me of my mother baking date squares and lemon squares when company was coming. It was a long drive but it was worth it.
We didn't do much. We poked around her house and looked at the changes she made. We both share a love of home. Then we took a long walk through a hilly road and back through her friend's farm. We looked around an old barn for a bit, cut some forsythia for me to force , and had a cup of tea and lunch together. After lunch we went to town for an hour and I headed back home. I was back at my house by 4pm.
I often tell myself that I don't like driving but really I do. I get in the car, turn on a podcast and keep myself company. I drove a long way for a short visit but we are old old friends, 31 years, and she baked a cake so it was worth it. I ate two slices and then brought one home for Robert.
I remember once I drove five hours to take my old friend Doris Eaton out to lunch. I still remember that day. I had been writing my book Simply Modern and I was telling Doris that I had a title for it. I think it was something like Contemporary Hooked Rugs. Doris had had a stroke earlier that year and I was just happy to be with her. When I told her the title she smiled and said , "Maybe you'll think of something better." I laughed and she laughed. We laughed out loud in this pretty little cafe on a rural road on the south shore of Nova Scotia. After lunch she took me to meet Jane Steele from her rug hooking group, then I took her back home. It was a long drive for a little visit but it stands out in my memory. It was a beautiful day.
Friends are worth the trip. Often in the spring I feel the desire to get in the car for a little impromptu road trip. I don't want it planned. I just like to wake up and decide. That makes me happy. It is freedom to be able to get up in the morning and decide how to spend the day. That is a special freedom.
Today, after I finish writing to you I am going to get in the car again and drive out to the beach for a little walk about. It is spring and I feel the need to look around a bit and see what the winter left behind. When I come back I think I will sew a new rug upon my Cheticamp to hook because the light lasts into the evening now and so spring is a great time to hook.
Before I go I wanted to share a great meal I cooked last night. Whenever I go anywhere, I am always glad to get home. I get the fire going to warm the place up and I cook up something good. This was last night's supper. You could make it with any fish.
Halibut with spring vegetables 
Pan fry halibut or your favorite fish dipped in flour. I heat olive oil in the pan until it is hot before I put the fish in. Four minutes on each side. Set aside fish on a plate. 
In the same pan sauté 
1 clove garlic minced
1 sweet onion
4 mushrooms thinly sliced.
Cover with three cups water
2 cups chicken stock
Add 10-12 small new potatoes
Rind of one lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Cook about ten minutes or until potatoes are still firm
Add 2 cups green beans, cook uncovered until potatoes are done, and beans still firm. 
Toss in 1 cup peas and 1 cup asparagus, and juice of one lemon
Top with fish, cover for three minutes and serve. It is a simple but delicious fish stew.
So that's it for me today. It was good to be here with you this morning. Remember every Thursday we go live on facebook and instagram so I'll see you there.
As I write this to you now I am wondering what I'll hook today. I don't always know but I always show up at my frame and something comes. I love that .
Haver a good week, I hope you get a visit in with someone, even via zoom. It is good for us to stay in touch, thanks so much for reading,
PS. I am having a live zoom class next Saturday if you would like to spend the day with me hooking the caribou and learning about colour and design you can register here.
Sunday Letter: You have this well inside of you, keep digging.

Sunday Letter: You have this well inside of you, keep digging.

Good Morning,
I will get straight at it this morning. We were all born creative. We all have this well of creativity inside of us. We have this secret space inside of us that is made for making.
Some creative wells are pretty deep and they got that way because someone has been digging in them. You are creative. I am creative. This morning I am going to tell you a bit about my creative well.
Like you, probably, I drew as a child freely and easily. We never seemed to have any paper in our house so I would take the blank end pages of my father's paper back books and tear them out and draw on them. I would look through the old school text books in the house and see my older sister's drawings of women that they rendered while bored in class. I'd try to copy those drawings. And I would draw my own. I passed no judgement I just drew until I was about seven or eight and I started noticing others drew better.
Suddenly, it seemed the end papers of books became score tallies for card games. Fifty cents a game and a nickel in the hole, that was family time when I was growing up.
I left drawing behind as a young child.
I still made things. I made Barbie clothes, and crocheted granny squares. I played with copper wire and buttons to make really awful earrings. I wrote letters. Lots of letters. But I never thought of those things as creative. I never saw myself as creative. The only thing I ever drew was a vine with leaves, it was my go to scribble, my doodle. It never occurred to me I could draw.
Creativity was something I left behind as I grew up and even as I went through university. I never even thought about the word. And the word is a bit daunting. It just never came up.
In my third year of university I started visiting the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia just to look at the pictures. I had just discovered the difference between original art and department store art. I was twenty. I was doing a political science degree. I read books on Russia and the Middle East. I had no artistic inclinations other than I was curious. The idea that I could be an artist was not even an inkling in the back of my mind. I think it would have seemed a ridiculous idea.
But inside of all that, even though I did not know it, I was still the little girl who drew on the end papers of books.
Inside of each of us is that tiny artist. That little hand that brought what was around us to life so freely and easily with out judgement or despair, or foolishness is inside us.
That little hand is inside the hand you have now. Just look at your hands, really look at them and remember. Remember the time when they were not afraid to pick up the pencil, to mark things up with crayons, and hold them up their work for the world to see.
These hands are ours. They still hold this memory in them. And this memory is powerful because once we stir it up we realize that our well is there ready to be dug again. Ready to make.
I became interested in drawing again when I learned how to hook rugs. I was twenty four.
And it isn't all about drawing, that's just what happened to me. I still can only draw what I can draw. I know that the more I draw the better I get because I start to see again. Some where along the way I accepted that the way I drew was the way I drew. I could not draw everything but what I did draw had some feeling. The things I cannot draw I get some help with or I use a template or a pattern, and that's okay.
I don't limit myself by my own abilities. I learn from others. I study. I read. I teach myself. I ask for help. That way my abilities grow. That is the thing I love about creativity. It can be collaborative. It grows and builds upon itself and upon the creativity of others. As much as it is a well, it is also this big teetering tower that has grown because we have helped each other.
And if you keep using it, it gets better as you age. You have more sources, more knowledge, more history that you can draw upon. The well does not dry up. That's a myth. You keep digging, it will keep flowing.
Over the last year I put a lot of my creative energy into making DFS Colour School. I hope you will join me and learn this creative approach to colour for hooking rugs.
Enjoy your Sunday, and I 'll write next week,
and remember ...
You are creative!

PS. If you sign up for colour school before April 3 you will save $50 on the registration.
PPS. YES!!! Slubby yarn is back in stock. Order here
Hooking a Self Portrait.

Hooking a Self Portrait.

When I decided to hook a self portrait I thought about what I like to wear. Well for me that would be my blundstone boots. I live in them. Even more now that they come with a little heel. I can even dress them up a little. I love the little bit of black in the grey boot that looks like the elastic.

Hooking people is about capturing their essence, the thing that is really them. I felt that if I put the boots on the woman I am hooking people would clearly see that it was me. Just a little thing but I think it will make a difference when this rug is done.

I am really having fun making this rug. Picking out an outfit as if I was going out somewhere!

Thursday Live : Colour creativity and rug hooking.

Imperfection by Lily DeYoung

Imperfection by Lily DeYoung

This is written by my good friend Lily DeYoung about perfectionism.

I am that friend that no one in junior high wanted to partner up with when the sewing projects were assigned in home economics. I am the daughter whose mother had to always finish the project. Wistfully and with great optimism, I would find the most beautiful pattern for my prom dresses. I imagined that it would be easy to whip up and I saw myself transforming that bolt of fabric into a shimmering chic gown that all eyes would follow around the dance floor. While I excitedly purchased the fabrics and notions, my mother and sister grimaced in the background at the prospect of finishing the not-so-easy pattern – especially once the darts and zipper steps presented themselves. I later became the mother who never made her children’s Hallowe’en costumes or Christmas crafts. My creativity amounted to cooking and cleaning – and purchasing other people’s creativity. I consider myself a consumer of creativity, a mere interloper in the land of textiles, wool, yarn, hooks, needles and bobbins. Addressing an audience who know their tools and craft seemed almost fraudulent. What could I say about that which I have spent my entire life avoiding?

I first met Deanne in 1989 at Acadia University when we were both doing post graduate studies. She was 10 years younger than I – a Newfoundlander who was not afraid to speak her mind to the professor and put her feet up on the desk in front of her. I was old enough to think that those younger than me still had “lots to learn”. To be honest, sometimes Deanne annoyed me with her honesty! If she thought sometime, she just said it. Not meanly – but matter-of-factly without judgment. Her confidence and charisma were a direct foil to my caution and conscientious school teacher training.

Once we were partners in a career counseling presentation that tested the limits of our friendship. Deanne went home after it was assigned and completed her portion of the project the same day. It was not due for several weeks - which for me meant that you worked on it for several weeks. Procrastination is a by product of perfectionism. If I put it off, I would have an excuse for it not being perfect. The deadline loomed closer. I researched, reread and rewrote. Mostly I grew annoyed with Deanne’s ability to get something done with such relative ease. She was out having fun each evening while I hunkered down in the library. “Where was the partner in this partner presentation?” I complained. My brewing finally bubbled over. We had “words” and I had to take responsibility for my resentment. I learned early on in our friendship that Deanne gets things done. She doesn’t talk about it – she just does it.

Deanne has taught me about the beauty of imperfection. She gave me the word and the world of “Primitive” and it has served me well ever since. When I saw Deanne’s first attempts at rug hooking, they were simple yet striking in their uncomplicated beauty. Like the faces of my newborn children, I loved her mats on first sight. I wanted to create my own mat just as I had wanted to create my own gown from those Simplicity patterns at Goodmans in New Glasgow. Deanne told me I could.

My first mat was a mackerel. Deanne helped me draw the pattern. She taught me how to hold the hook. She encouraged me to relax and not worry about staying within the lines. I knew, too, that she would not finish the fish for me if I grew frustrated. Over time, I clumsily picked away at my fish friend. Sometimes I put it away for months when school start up schedules did not allow for time to do anything settling to the soul. Other times, like when my Mom was hospitalized, I had something to do while sitting by her bedside. One day it was finished. I had finally created something that my mother, my sister or my French Acadian aunts had not. I was more proud of that fish than any academic degree earned. I had made something with my hands that would last longer than a carrot cake. I had created something that maybe one day a future grandchild would place in her home and say wistfully, “This was my grandmother’s.”

Sunday letter..rug hooking offers focus in age of distraction

Sunday letter..rug hooking offers focus in age of distraction

This morning I googled the "age of distraction" and several books, talks and videos comes up. It seems we all know that we are living in a time when we are highly distractable.
Remember a few months ago I told you about my irritating habit of checking my email constantly. I checked it practically every time I saw my phone. It was a way of stepping out of the moment. It was a way of avoidance perhaps, though I am not sure what I was avoiding. Was it avoidance of being alone with myself for a minute or two with nothing to do? Was it avoidance of really listening to others?
Through the jigs and the reels of the last few months I have gotten into a healthier habit of checking my email and answering it 3 or 4 times a day. The thing that I have noticed is that I am much less distracted. And so now I much more aware of what is happening when I do get distracted.
Distraction, however we experience it, transports you from one place to another.
Sometimes we need this and set out to deliberately find it for ourselves. Some distractions are good ones, a friend texts you for a walk or your sister drops in. These are worth it. This for me is the good kind of distraction.
Other times it just pops up in front of us and takes us away from the thing we should or even want to be doing. When this happens to me I find that I sometimes cannot even remember what I was about to do.
Even with my new email rules I remain distractible. Because I made that change I have become more aware of what distraction does. I can observe myself being distracted. I can see it and I feel the results of it. It sometimes leads to stress and lost plans and ideas. Once I realize I was distracted by something, I often no longer remember what I was actually doing. I loose focus. My intentions are set off course.
Focus is probably one of the most important things we can offer our lives, our families, & our work. Certainly rug hooking itself requires deep focus and commitment. It takes time and love and understanding, just like most good things in life. When I put my attention there it makes me happy. It soothes me and leads me back to myself.
I get to choose where I put my attention. Sometimes I am led astray by a bit of glitter or a bump in the road and don't quite know how to get back on the path. When that happens all I have to do is pick up the hook and go to the frame and I'll find myself there waiting for me.
Rug hooking brings us into focus.That is one of the beautiful things it offers. In a time when we can so easily get lost in a sea of distraction, making things is like having a boat in a safe harbour.
I hope you get to make something today.
Thanks for reading,
PS. If you want you can take the course only option for the winter online course. It is $99. I am going to add extra videos in the course about how to work from your stash to create the rug. I want to hook the pattern again in a different way anyway. I love the pattern. It is full of opportunity to be creative. So I am going to extend the sale on the course only option! It is a good choice if you have your own stash.