October 20, 2010


I’ve brought home something new from Nova Scotia!
Pastime? Art? Craft?

Hooked rugs. I saw, I was intrigued.
Here was something I’d never even heard of, and it’s very popular in Nova Scotia!
The first work we saw was in a Cheticamp craft shop. I liked it! I now realize that this imagery style is quite traditional. In olden days, pioneers would weave strips of cast-off clothing through burlap to create warm floor coverings. Today artists use knitting yarn or thin strips cut from woolen fabric – solids, mottled or patterned – pulled through burlap. One woman scoffed at some who use torn t-shirts instead of wool. 

But a gifted t-shirt hooker gave me my first lesson! Kenneth at the Mi-Caréme Museum of masks in Cheticamp showed me how they were made and taught me the stitches. His work is great, fanciful, funny. 

Mi-Careme Door to Door Maskers
As an aside, Mi-Caréme, the middle day of lent, is celebrated in Cheticamp and a few other Cape Breton towns by masked revelers going to house parties where attendees make merry and try to guess who’s who behind the homemade masks. http://www.micareme.ca/

Mahone B Encompassing Designs Rugs Bonnie

I met other rug hookers who were warm and generous with their knowledge. Each opened the window a bit wider. In Mahone Bay there is an exciting shop called Encompassing Designs. I was inspired by their artists’ work. Bonnie gave me a lesson and lots of tips. http://www.encompassingdesigns.com/
I bought basic tools: a hook and a big embroidery hoop. And a starter kit. And extra materials.
I’ve always enjoyed learning a new process and finding out how things are made – in the arts or crafts field, that is!

There were spinners and hookers at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg, one of our most favorite towns. We had a fine chat!
They showed us some work in the museum’s theme. One is the famous fishing schooner Bluenose, the other a traditional boat of longliners ready to bring their catch back to the mother ship.

Hooking by the Sea is a craft shop on Brier Island, far west in Nova Scotia. Their building was once the boot shop where Joshua Slocum was forced to learn the trade as a child (I mentioned this historic tidbit in a previous post). The first picture at the top of this post also shows Hooking by the Sea rugs. The second picture at the top is a wall piece from the Dancing Goat Cafe in Margaree Valley.
Today, some artists like Deanne Fitzpatrick dye their own wool and incorporate a great many other materials for artistic effect. The result may actually be a rug…or not! There seem to be no limits. Happily, hooking is not technically difficult.  Many shops sell beautiful kits. A woolen hooked rug is extremely durable and will last for years. These wall pieces are from the Deanne Fitzpatrick studio and shop in Amherst, Nova Scotia, where I got excellent information, and bought more materials!   http://www.hookingrugs.com/index.html

Be aware!! The work  at the left is imported from China. It is beautiful, elaborate, perfect and less expensive. But I don’t think hooked rugs are Chinese craft!

 Here’s just one more from my talented friend at Mi-Caréme, where this all got started:

For my Mexico pals, there is even a rug hooking project in Mexico that helps provide income for a village near San Miguel Allende! http://www.charlottebell.com/rugs/about.htm

So call me a hooker – a rug hooker!
I can hardly wait to tear up some t-shirts!

October 9, 2010

Viva Canada! Hello USA!

We’re baaack!
On September 28, Chuck & I crossed the Saint Croix River from New Brunswick into Maine at the Calais (Cal-is) point of entry.

We entered Canada July 19 at Sioux St. Marie, so were in the country one day short of 11 weeks. Eleven intense weeks! But not enough.
We now know Canada as a country of personable, friendly, welcoming people who seem to have plenty of time to chat with strangers about their towns and themselves. A fine example is our visit with Diane and Noel Lalone of Bear River, a town upriver from Digby that is built on stilts to accommodate the huge Bay of Fundy Tides.


A century ago, Bear River was a shipbuilding center. Today it’s an extremely laid-back arts, wine, and photo destination. One of the yellow buildings is Diane and Noel’s kitchen/shop, Myrtle & Rosie’s. Here we found conversation and delicious carry-out meals, as well as “treats and treasures.” Diane named the shop for her two grandmothers, who stand beside the door to welcome visitors. I’ll bet they’re capable of keeping out the riff-raff, too!
As we’re endlessly drawn to bodies of water, most of our trip was along the Canadian coastline in Gaspe, Cape Breton and south and west Nova Scotia. Here are fishermen offloading their catch in Rivière-au-Renard, on the Gaspe Peninsula.

Our route included dozens of small towns, harbors, scenic highways, museums and local historic places, special events and parklands. Also, some memorable music events! And lots of living cultural experiences and conversations with people we’d be delighted to have as forever friends and neighbors. We didn’t see many cities, but had a great day in Quebec’s Old City and two fine days on the Halifax waterfront.


We enjoyed twenty-five campgrounds in Ontario, Quebec (most of the time on the Gaspe Peninsula) New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, including much of Cape Breton.
That’s a lot of moving, with little down time after all the sight-seeing. We’ve enjoyed so much, and have so far told you just a wee bit! Our only excuse is a full schedule and increasing exhaustion, which is by now grinding us down some. Maps! Brochures! Routes! Campgrounds! Visitor Centers! Internet searches! Aaarg! We plan to slow down somewhat.

Fall is here. The season provides a lovely show! But somehow, when we planned to follow the colors south, I’d forgotten that it could get chilly! We’ve unpacked the jackets and bought an electric blanket. We stopped in Maine to see Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, the very fine Abbe Museum and three little harbors, then camped again near Kittery, in the south. Today we’re in Mystic, CT. Tomorrow we’re bound for tall buildings, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
We haven’t yet seen a U.S. recycling bin in the campgrounds! I know we’ll find them somewhere…