Why We Hook the Animals We Love

This is my Welsh Corgi, Tru.  (If you really want to get to know her, she has her own Facebook page here.)  As you can see, she was sunbathing this morning while I was putting the finishing touches on the first pattern for the Parris House Hookers’ Circle subscription service, shipping this week.   As I posted on our Facebook page this morning, I am painfully aware that Tru is now about twelve years old, and that most of my time with her is behind us.   I never thought I could love a dog this fiercely until she came in to our lives, but here I am, pondering a post-Tru world even though as of right now, she is still happy, active, and healthy.

For this reason, I have been thinking lately that I need to gather up all the photos I have of her (there are many!), and also sit quietly with her, make a sketch of her sweet face, and hook it.    Now, I have never hooked an animal in a detailed way, the way I want to hook Tru’s image.   I want to capture the glint in her eye that still exists even though I see the encroaching cloudiness of cataracts.  I want to hook the pretty combination of “red” and white and maybe now a little gray that defines her face.  I want to add the teeny tiny white eyelashes and delicate fur in her ears.  I think this project is going to have to be refined and textural and multimedia, but since I can see it, I know I can make it a reality.

Prior to this I have not hooked many animals.  One of the most popular patterns in the shop is “Tesla’s First Snow,” which, rather than a late-in-life portrait, is a depiction of our big orange tabby, Tesla, as a four month old kitten seeing his first snowfall out the window.  After being initially perplexed, he wanted to “catch” the snowflakes as they cascaded down.   I snapped a picture of the scene and the result was this:

As you can see, this is a very primitive rendering of Tesla.  His back is turned to us so that, frankly, I didn’t need to deal with the detail of his face, although that is still true to the photograph.  This was done in 2012.  I learned to hook in 2011.  I was simply not ready to take on the complexities of Tesla’s face!   (In case anyone is wondering, he is named for Nikola Tesla, the scientist/inventor.  This happens when you have four sons who dig science.)

I also hook animals for Beekman 1802, and it is absolutely true that I love these animals I’m depicting.   I actually met Polka Spot back in 2014 on the day Jen and I first presented our work to Josh and Brent.  They kindly sent us on a farm tour with Megan, who was then their artisan coordinator, and we were thrilled to see the baby goats, Bubby the cat, Onder the dog, and, as they say, “every living thing at Beekman farm.”   Bubby passed away since then, and Polka has also “gone to Paris,” but both of them had distinct personalities.  Polka was one of the most regal animals I’ve ever encountered, and it was clear that she took her watch over the goats seriously.  Bubby was just one giant furball of love, demanding our attention while Onder ran in and out of the barn playfully.  Here is the menagerie I hook for Beekman 1802.

Last year I had a major commission for a customer’s beloved Pharaoh Hound.  The story on that is here, and the result is below.

Why are we willing to put so much time and effort in to these portraits of our favorite pets or animals?  Or, if we aren’t artisans ourselves, willing to commission someone else to create them?   I think it’s about the innocence, unconditional love, and nobility of character we so often find in our pets.  I don’t say that to anthropomorphize animals.  As my biologist/ecologist son, James, likes to remind me, “They don’t think the way we do.”   And, of course, he’s right.  They don’t think the way we do.   In fact, it’s impossible for us, really, to get inside their heads.  They are coming from an entirely different reality, biology, instinct than we are.  And yet…it is so easy to make important connections with them, and they with us.  We want to immortalize them in art because we know – we are so painfully aware – that their lifespans are much shorter than we’d like and that our own lives are so much better with them by our sides.

Sometimes they’re exasperating.  Tesla wants to kill my knitting if I don’t put it up and out of the way.  Tru wants to be directly under my feet if I’m preparing chicken for dinner.   Tesla is incapable of having a hairball in any location except on a carpet.  Tru occasionally gets so excited over visitors she pees at their feet.  Yeah.   And the fur.  It’s everywhere.  No vacuum on this planet is its equal.

Yesterday, my oldest son, Robert, shared this picture of his and his girlfriend’s, Tracy’s, cats peering out their apartment window in much the same way Tesla peered out at his first snow about five or six years ago.   They are Valentine and Playdough, respectively, and both are well under a year old.   Just the beginning of another generation’s connection with animals.

I hope you will share pictures of your animals and also pictures of artwork you’ve done inspired by them.  Feel free to tell their stories and what they mean to you.  I look forward to learning all about them.

Happy hooking! – Beth

Tesla one-upping Tru and snagging the sunny spot.

 

Lessons from a Weaving Lesson: A Beekman 1802 Artisan Experience with Rabbit Goody of Thistle Hill Weavers

Last weekend I had the good fortune to take a beginner weaving class with Rabbit Goody of Thistle Hill Weavers.  Some of you may know that Rabbit is an extremely well known and highly respected weaver, with an extensive knowledge of her art and so many related topics and disciplines.  For a more complete portrait of who she is and what she has done, click here.  Rabbit is a fellow Beekman 1802 artisan, and it was through Beekman 1802 that this particular class was offered.   The extremely imperfect scarf shown at left was the result of my first go at weaving, showing many errors on my part, but I fully intend to wear it anyway as a reminder of this fantastic experience and some of the larger life lessons it brought to mind.

Rabbit is a generous, patient, and effective teacher.  It is nothing short of miraculous that she is able to take a room full of absolute beginners and, at the end of two days, send them off with wearable, lovely silk & worsted scarves of their own making.  Mine was by far not the best example in the class; one in particular looked flawless to me.  While as a student I was mainly focused on process, not result, I know that when I am teaching I take a certain amount of satisfaction in seeing my students produce something truly beautiful.  I think Rabbit does too, and she certainly achieved successful results.

I think there are often life lessons embedded within any creative pursuit, and weaving is no exception.   Here are just a few that came to mind as I learned the rudiments of weaving.

Small actions can have lasting consequences.   We spent the entire first day of class learning how to wrap the warp and set up the loom.  I had previously known nothing of the painstaking work required to prepare a loom for weaving, and these were relatively simple four-harness looms suitable for beginners.  Once the warp was placed on the loom, we needed to carefully thread each heddle in the correct order, one strand at a time, to achieve the correct pattern in the final result.  Following that, each thread had to come through the reed in the correct groupings.  Needless to say, for a beginner it is very easy to make a mistake at some point in this process, and I did.  A couple of my errors were visible right away to Rabbit, who corrected them, but another was only apparent once the weaving began.   Rabbit was able to fix the latter to some extent, but there is still an imperfection all along the warp in that section of the scarf, a reminder that just one small mistake can have lasting consequences.  But I don’t want this to only be read in the negative.  It is also true that one positive act can have far reaching and lasting consequences for good.  There is a ripple effect in many things that we do, and being focused and present even in the smallest of things can matter a great deal.

Bringing your best to whatever you do is a wise investment and multiplies your efforts.   Rabbit provided us with beautiful silk and worsted thread with which to weave our scarves.  She knows what I also know as a teacher:  if you do not provide your students with the best materials for their very first project, they will not get a result that will encourage them to continue in the art.  Additionally, they may actually have a harder time learning, because cheap, low quality materials do not perform well in an artisan’s hands and can be uncomfortable and frustrating to work with.   Whether you’re a beginner or a master, bring your best to every endeavor and share that best with others if you want your message, your passion, your art – whatever it is – to become a contagious force for good.

Sometimes, we seemingly create something from nothing, and when we do, it is deeply rewarding.  One of the many wonderful conversations that took place over the weekend was about the almost inexpressible satisfaction that comes from having a real, three dimensional, thing of beauty come in to being under your own hands.  Ideas are powerful.  In the course of our weaving weekend, ideas became scarves.  In my own work, a fleeting glimpse of a landscape or the issue behind a protest may take root in my mind as an image or an idea.  From there it will make its way on to paper as a sketch, then on to linen as a pattern, then through wool and handwork it ends up a work of fiber art, tangible, tactile, real.  All it was at its inception was an idea, and it becomes a physical thing, but it doesn’t end there.  It becomes a thing that generates more ideas and feelings, and may even become part of someone else’s story, which may in turn generate more inspiration that becomes some other new thing.   Archaeologists have unearthed woven fabric that is thousands of years old, fabric that started out as someone’s idea.  This manifestation of creative thought presents itself thousands of years after the death of the thinker.  In some ways, creative making is the closest we get to immortality while also being reminded of our own personal impermanence.

Don’t judge anything too early in its story.  The hookers in the audience know that it’s impossible to truly judge a rug prior to the steaming process.  In fact, when I teach hooking, I confidently promise my students that upon steaming, their rug will subtly, and yet dramatically (yes, I mean that contradiction), change for the better.  Imagine my delight to find out that finishing is equally – possibly more – important in a woven piece.  Rabbit taught us a variety of finishing techniques for our scarves.  In the case of mine, she sprayed it gently with water and ran it through a vintage rotary iron.   After the steam pressing, she handed me my scarf and it was amazingly, tangibly, thrillingly transformed.  It was softer, my weaving errors were less apparent, it had developed more of a sheen, and it was just significantly different.  This is a great reminder that often it is best to withhold judgment, especially during moments we are most compelled to judge.  Judging too early can lead to giving up too soon.  It can lead to unfairly dismissing a project, an idea, or at worst, a person, long before we have enough information or legitimate reason to.

Believe you can.  To be honest, when I first signed up for Rabbit’s class I was not at all sure that I would be able to come home with a scarf even as good as the one I have, even with the mistakes its sporting.  Weaving is a precise, intricate, mathy, technical, and yet endlessly creative art form.  It seems to me to require a Renaissance mind, one that is equally comfortable with traditionally left and right brain thinking.  I am infamously weak with mathy pursuits.  I somehow passed calculus in college, but I remember none of it, with the exception, perhaps, of the trauma the class inflicted on me.  I knit…a little…but, oh please, do not ask me to design a knitting pattern or fix an error three rows back.  My chosen art, the one I’m so passionate about, is way more abstract, like painting with wool.  I can handle that with relative ease.  Why on earth would I think I could do something with such strong spatial and technical components?  Well, on one hand, I correctly believed that Rabbit was simply a fantastic teacher and that she’d seen the likes of me before.   On the other hand I simply chose to believe that I could do this.  This is a discipline in itself, and one I learned later in life.  As humans, we really do have limitations, innate characteristics that might really prevent individuals from doing some things.  However, I believe that we have to sort out the real limitations ( I will never be an Olympic athlete) from the lies we tell ourselves (I’m not left brained enough to weave).   The best things that have happened to me in the past several years have come about because I’ve learned to silence the inner voice that fabricates limitations, and listen to the one that objectively recognizes realistic opportunities and possibilities.

Creating things creates community.  This needs very little explanation.  On Saturday morning, we four students and Rabbit had never met before and, except for Rabbit, had never woven before.  By the end of the weekend we had chatted about our lives, our families, things we love to do, and watched and supported one another with the challenges of learning a new art.   We shared our experiences to our wider communities on social media and spread the word about this incredible workshop.  Today I showed my new scarf to our Tuesday hooking group, and the circle became wider.  Humans are innately driven to create and share in the creative process, and I have to think that this is not only because that drive is somewhat evolutionary – a means to physical survival – but also because it binds us together in communities that meet our needs for connection and belonging.

There are so many more lessons within the lesson, but these were foremost in my mind as I drove the six hours back to Maine from upstate New York.  I am very grateful to Rabbit for sharing so much of her time and resources with us, and to Josh and Brent of Beekman 1802 for arranging this experience.  I am also grateful to my three weaving classmates who were inspirational in their own right, creating beautiful things out of “nothing” as well.  If this is something that would interest you also, follow Thistle Hill Weavers on Facebook where Rabbit posts her upcoming classes.   Also follow Beekman 1802 on Facebook for notifications of other upcoming Artisan Experiences as they are offered.

I’ll share some other pictures from the weekend, from Rabbit’s gorgeous studio, and from the Beekman 1802 Mercantile below (click the side arrows to scroll through).  I hope you’ll consider doing something totally new to you this year, and pondering the lessons within the lesson too.  – Beth

 

New Silhouette Pillows Exclusively Available Through Beekman 1802!

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Have you ever been in an antique home and seen an 18th or 19th century silhouette portrait?  Or maybe when you were growing up your parents had one made of you?  Well here’s a modern twist on a classic idea, and it’s a whole lot cozier than the paper variety silhouettes you may have on your walls!

You may recognize the handsome silhouettes above as those of Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, the Fabulous Beekman Boys and founders of Beekman 1802.  Jen and I feel very honored to be making these pillows in celebration of Josh and Brent’s second wedding anniversary, which, by tradition, is the cotton anniversary.  These pillows are available in your image or images with a variety of colors of wool backs or backed with 100% organic cotton fabric.  Additionally, the pillows are stuffed with 100% organic cotton batting in a cotton muslin case.

The process of making these is extremely personalized.  Once your order is placed, Beth will be in touch to arrange for you to provide the photographs that will be the basis of your design artwork, and to talk about the colors you would like for your hooked background and pillow backing.  Once your artwork is sketched out, you will have the opportunity to approve it before the hooking begins.  Once approved, Beth or Jen will hand hook and sew your pillow.

This is what the artwork looks like when submitted for customer approval.

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These would make wonderful wedding or anniversary gifts, or keepsakes of growing children.

You may order exclusively through Beekman 1802 by clicking HERE.

We’d love to work on your modern heirloom!

On Goats and Gumption

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I’ve had two recurring themes on the brain this week:  goats and, for lack of a better term, gumption.  Gumption is one of those funny sounding English words that leaves you wondering who first came up with it.  It is described by Merriam Webster as:

1 –  chiefly dialect:  common sense, horse sense

2  – enterprise, initiative

Sometimes events just bring us recurring themes.  For example, that beautiful Ball jar of milk in the top picture is not from a cow.  Nope.  That milk, with the delicious cream on top, is from the goats of a new student and member of our Tuesday group, Terry E., who generously brought it to hooking along with some fantabulous homemade goat milk mozzarella.  The Saturday before, during her hooking lesson, Terry and I had talked about goats and their indefatigable ways.  Terry has way more one on one time with goats than I do, but I’ve spent a little time with them as well.

One thing I know about goats is that they are born with that bouncy, LOOK AT MEEE, nothing is impossible nature.   When Jen and I went out to Sharon Springs, NY a little over a year ago to present our hooked wares to Beekman 1802 (something that in itself took all the gumption we could muster), Josh and Brent were incredibly kind to send us with their right hand woman, Megan, to see Farmer John’s new baby goats at the Beekman farm.  The instant we walked in to the barn the babies were clamoring to see who was there, what was going on, and how they could be part of the action.  They were so sweet, so affectionate, and so off the charts charming that Jen and I left there vowing to have goats some day.  Will this ever happen?  I can’t speak for Jen, but as the empty nest imminently approaches for me, I’m thinking that after 25 years of raising kids, I may not want to dive in to raising “kids.”  Terry’s goat milk is great.  I may not need to add goats to the big flock of chickens already living in my barn.

I’ve been hooking a lot of goats since we joined the Beekman 1802 Rural Artist Collective.  I’ve been hooking Faintly, a goat born on the Beekman Farm several years ago…

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And I’ve been hooking Baby Goat (in fact, I shipped another one today), because well, it’s spring and baby goats happen…

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And I’ve been hooking Grown Up Goat, because you’ve got to have those to make baby goats, right?

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We even have a goat design in our Etsy shop, independent of Beekman 1802, called Goat Go Round.

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We clearly have a thing for goats.

But where does gumption come in?

Well, goats have gumption.  Try telling a goat it can’t do something or go somewhere.  Try telling a goat not to love on you while you’re trying to get something else done in its presence.  Try telling a goat not to eat something…you know, anything not nailed down and sometimes things that are nailed down.

That’s gumption.

I’ve been seeing a lot of gumption this week, along with all things goat.  The aforementioned Terry, as a new student, is tackling one of our most challenging designs, A Murder Among the Magnolias.  When she left here on Tuesday she had the first crow finished absolutely beautifully.  If you aren’t familiar with this pattern, this is Jen’s completed version of it:

I’ve also been part of a business coaching group on Facebook listening to the stories of other fledgling women entrepreneurs as they navigate their way to their true callings, and sharing our own.  Inspiring and loaded with gumption.

An artist friend of mine told me this afternoon about how gumption and listening to his inner voice landed him a significant sale, but then this man’s entire existence is about gumption…and faith.

And then the newest issue of Rug Hooking Magazine landed in my mailbox.  There’s an article in there for hookers who want to design their own patterns, but believe they can not draw.  The article promotes using stencils to create rug designs for the drawing challenged, and I confess, this is not a bad idea.  Stencils are fun and easy and produce pretty rugs, especially when combined in interesting and unique ways.  But…I never accept it when a student tells me she can’t draw.  I just don’t.  Stencils may be a good confidence builder and learning tool, but at some point you’ve got to just fearlessly grab an art pencil, a LARGE eraser (I’ve got a big eraser here and I’m not afraid to use it!), a metric ton of gumption, and start drawing.  Yes, yes, you can.

Recently Jen got up the gumption to start sketching out her own patterns.  Heretofore she had successfully partnered with our go-to realistic style artist, Dan Rosenburg (who is still doing custom patterns for the Maine hookers when I know the style requested is more his than mine), and together they created some absolute marvels, including A Murder Among the Magnolias, 1796 House, Southern Elegy, Victorian Rose & Bluebird, and our WWII and Atomic Age patterns.  (To see all of our patterns, please go to our shop section, “Patterns.”) What she is coming up with all on her own now is absolutely fabulous, and I can’t wait until we can get them up in the shop for all of you to see, and to hook.  You will not be disappointed.  Rather, you will be enchanted.

One of the questions in the business coaching group I’m part of this week was, “What fear or limiting belief is holding you back from something you really want to do?”  Or, in the context of this blog post, “Where do you need to apply gumption and simply do whatever it is you really want?”

Maybe you really believe you can’t draw and therefore can’t create a pattern that’s really, really you.

Maybe you think you can’t hook in 3s and 4s or do fine shading.  Or conversely, maybe you think you can’t hook primitive.

Maybe you think you can’t break out of a style box you’ve been in for a lot of years now. (If this is the case, see the inspiring articles in this issue of Rug Hooking Magazine on steampunk, portraiture in bright colors, and more.)

Maybe you think you can’t make a career or business out of something that’s an absolute passion for you.

Maybe you think no one would be interested in your craft if you set out to teach it, or maybe you think you don’t know enough to teach it.  Try it out on an 8 year old.  Having taught a few children now, I can assure you that there’s a future for this craft if we all apply gumption and spread it around.

Two weeks from today I will teach my first class at the Squam Art Workshops.  Am I nervous?  Absolutely.  But I have the love of our craft to steady me.  The attendees this year were so very interested in rug hooking that my class was one of the first to sell out.  That’s not about me; they don’t know me yet.  That’s about our craft, this craft which was born of gumption (remember? enterprise, initiative, horse sense?) as a way to decorate and cover cold New England and Canadian Maritime floors.  Our foremothers and forefathers in the craft used what they had, which turned out to be burlap sacks, repurposed wool clothing, and lots and lots of gumption, to start a heritage we still enjoy today every time we pick up our hooks.

And, I’ll bet they had a goat, or two, or ten.

Let’s be like them, and like their goats!  Let’s apply our gumption to our craft and to our lives.  Let’s try new things, believe in ourselves, and make beautiful rugs along the way.

Happy goats, happy gumption, and happy hooking!  – Beth

Three New Buckwheat Warming Pillows in the Beekman 1802 Mercantile!

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Jen and I have been busy making new things for the Beekman 1802 Mercantile.  Some of them just went up, and some are for the future (you’ll just have to wait…).  You can click on the hyperlinks below to see them in the Mercantile.

A word about buckwheat pillows…

We infuse buckwheat seeds with essential oils to make lovely and soothing scents.  These go in to the pillows which are then microwavable for warmth, or freezable for coolness, useful for muscle aches, headaches, or simply just for relaxation.  We encourage you to give them a try.  They’re pretty too!

This is Jen’s Lavender Jasmine Buckwheat warming pillow.   It’s inspired by the laying hens at the Beekman farm, with the 1802 logo numbers on the front.

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Also Jen’s, this is her Orange Cinnamon Buckwheat warming pillow.  This is a modern take on the classic vintage kitchen towels of the 1930s and 40s.  Jen is working on a red one as well.

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This is Beth’s Baby Goat Lavender Buckwheat pillow, inspired by Farmer John’s playful baby goats.

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While you are looking at our pillows, check out the rest of the beautiful offerings at Beekman 1802.  Josh and Brent carefully curate the Beekman 1802 Rural Artist Collective to bring you the best of American craft.  We’ve said it before but we are so very happy to be part of Beekman 1802 and this initiative to promote and preserve American hand work.

Happy hooking, and happy shopping!  – Beth

Be Cool or Warm Up with Buckwheat Pillows and Sachets

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Lavender buckwheat sachets, 4″ x 4″, available in our Etsy shop.

Have you discovered buckwheat pillows and sachets?  Jen and I are starting to make a line of them for our shop and also exclusive editions for Beekman 1802.

Here’s what’s so great about buckwheat seeds:  used to stuff pillows, they can either be put in the freezer to make cold packs or popped in the microwave (please be careful – do NOT overheat!) for warm packs.  These are wonderful for boo boos, headaches, muscle aches, stress relief, or just enjoyment of the scent.

We add essential oils and botanicals to our buckwheat seed pillow interiors to create lovely fragrances to soothe the senses.

Keep an eye on our Etsy shop and in the pillow section of home decor at Beekman 1802 for more offerings as they become available.

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Autumn leaf cinnamon orange spice buckwheat pillow, 6″ x 8″, available exclusively at http://www.beekman1802.com

Happy hooking! – Beth

The First of Our Hooked Pillows are Up at the Beekman 1802 Mercantile!

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Polka Spot hand hooked pillow. 15″ x 15″ Available exclusively at Beekman 1802.

We’ve been working on this collaboration for the better part of this year, and today is the day the first hooked pillows in our line for Beekman 1802 have gone live on the on-line Beekman 1802 Mercantile.  We are so excited to be part of their Rural Artisans Collective!

We hope you’ll shop the Mercantile, not only for our pretty pillows, but for all of the other wonderful artisanal products that Josh & Brent curate for the shop.  Beekman 1802 is a company with a strong ethical conscience, doing well by doing good.  In other words, a company we can be proud to work with.

You can see our pillows in the Home Accessories section of the shop, or also sort on Pillows.  If it’s hooked, we made it exclusively for Beekman 1802!

There will be additional hooked pillows going up this year, including more scented and warming pillows made with buckwheat and essential oils.

Happy shopping and happy hooking!  – Beth

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Mark Your Calendars for the 2014 Holiday Open House at the Maine Studio of Parris House Wool Works!

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Please join us for our second annual Holiday Open House at the Maine Studio, 546 Paris Hill Road, Paris, Maine on December 6th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Welcome to the Parris House!
Welcome to the Parris House!

We will have a cookie swap, delicious refreshments, goodies baked from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook, a prize drawing, and a 10% off sale on all wools!

Some of our delicious heirloom desserts from last year’s open house!
We had samples of our handcrafted soaps last year and will have some this year as well.
Hope to see you on December 6th!  Happy hooking!
Hope to see you on December 6th! Happy hooking!

A Southern Girl Wakes Up in The City That Never Sleeps…

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…as well as the little town of Sharon Springs, which was experiencing its own bout of festive insomnia.

I departed Nashville last Thursday, landing four score and several milligrams of Xanax later in the poorly-aged concourses and listless luggage carousels of LaGuardia Airport. My apprehensions at this arrival quickly waned as my shuttle whisked me past blocks brownstone and canyons of concrete, finally depositing me in the midst of sensory overload, courtesy of the neon-fed fervency of Times Square!

I stayed at the nearby Hilton thanks to my father’s wise recommendation, and savored every moment of the posh and pampered atmosphere they provided. Two days of deco skyscrapers, decadent dinners and Dita Von Teese and it was time for Penn Station and the final leg of my odyssey: boarding the Empire Service to Albany! Business Class on rails!

Once there, the PHWW team was reunited and Beth and I were on our way to Sharon Springs and the Harvest Festival! It was a weekend of new friends, new experiences, and new beginnings…and I thought you’d all like to see a few samples of the Northern hospitality this Southern girl got to enjoy!

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View of the Chrysler Building

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New York Public Library

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Radiator Building

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Sharon Springs Harvest Festival

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American Hotel

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Black Cat Cafe

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Beekman 1802 Mercantile

Sharon Springs, NY Harvest Festival 2014 – by Beth

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This is my “sign selfie” out at the corner of Routes 20 and 10 in Sharon Springs before the festival. Jen has one too, and you’ll probably see a pic of it on her festival post.

As many of you know, Jen and I attended Harvest Festival in Sharon Springs, NY for the first time this past weekend.  This festival is sponsored by Beekman 1802, and this year they had a special co-sponser, Etsy!  Needless to say, this was an event we were not going to miss, and we are so glad we went.  Many, many thanks to Josh & Brent of Beekman 1802, Etsy and its staff, Sharon Springs Mayor Doug Plummer, and the scores of others involved in making this a truly outstanding festival.

When I first arrived at the festival, I was very interested in meeting the Etsy folks.  I was not disappointed. Although the Etsy canopy was in danger of flying away on this windy fall morning, the Etsy staff was immediately engaging as I approached the table. We met Katie and Amy, who were extremely encouraging of us in our business and who were genuinely loving what they do.  It turns out Amy is a rug hooker!  We had a great conversation with her about the craft, and how to promote it to a new generation.  Etsy had an entire street of Etsy sellers, mostly from NY state, I believe at least some from the Hudson Valley Etsy Team.  The variety and quality of the craftsmanship on display was mind boggling, and made me very proud to be a fellow Etsy seller.

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The Etsy booth early in the morning on the first day. It was very windy and when I arrived the staff was making sure the canopy stayed in place. The second photo is Etsy row.

There was so much to see around the village.  I am not sure how many vendors were there, but it was many.  Every open village space up and down main street had artisans, farmers, artists, and makers set up selling their wares. At the end of the first day I realized we had still not seen them all. We hope to have a table of our own next year, but are kind of glad that this year we were able to just browse and take it all in.

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Top row: 1) Jen buying seeds at Landreth Seed Company on the second day. Barbara, who was manning the booth was extremely knowledgeable and encouraging about the kind of gardening season I’d had! 2) This old building housed a fantastic antique shop. 3) These alpacas were very adorable. Second row: 1) A view of one of the village greens. 2) This is the owner of Cherry Valley Tinsel Company showing us how the tin icicles are made. Third row: 1) The spectacular pastries at the Black Cat Cafe on Main Street. 2) Animals and artisans on the lawn of the Roseboro Hotel.

One of the highlights of the festival is the swearing in of Honorary Sharon Springs Citizens.  Mayor Doug Plummer (co-owner of the American Hotel) arrives in full regalia to preside over the ceremony.  It’s not to be missed. Josh Kilmer-Purcell wrote the solemn (ok, not…) text for the ceremony and I am now a Sharon Springs citizen! I couldn’t be prouder. Jen was sworn in on Sunday.  If you go to the Sharon Springs Wikipedia entry you will see the number of honorary citizens is carefully counted!

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After I was sworn in as an Honorary Citizen, I had to leave to pick up Jen at the Rensselaer Train Station.  She had spent a little time in NYC (which she will tell you about on her post), and had come by train from there.  The building was kind of interesting so I took some photos of it as well. I’m a bit of an architecture geek and particularly like the vaulted ceiling.

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Having retrieved Jen, we both went back to the Festival to party on for the next day and a half…

This is the first year that there has been a main stage at the festival.  This is a brand new pavilion in Sharon Springs, and will be finished out with a cupola, copper roof cladding, and gingerbread to look historically correct in the village.  There were programs going on all day both Saturday and Sunday, but we did not make all of them.  Here are some of the ones I saw, and thoroughly enjoyed.

I am going to do the captioning in text below the photo, so that I can put the appropriate hyperlinks on for you to click for more information.

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Clockwise:  1) Chris Stout-Hazard gave an incredible presentation on interior design and color.  Check out the business he and his husband, Roger Stout-Hazard, have at RogerandChris.com.  2) Josh and Brent of Beekman 1802 demonstrated their Bloody Mary Soup recipe – with vodka!  It was delicious.  Their latest vegetable cookbook can be found at Beekman1802.com.  3) This is Cynthia Falk of SUNY Oneanta giving a fascinating talk about New York barns.  Her book on this subject is called Barns of New York and is published by Cornell Press.  4) This is Rose Marie Trapani and her daughter demonstrating Sicilian cooking.  Rose Marie has a wonderful Facebook page called “Our Sicilian Table.”  Check it out!

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Josh and Brent used some yellow tomatoes in the recipe this time, which gives the Bloody Mary Soup a lighter color. This recipe can be found on page 91 of their Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook.

This is the spectacular American Hotel.  Jen and I stayed there in April, when we first met with Josh and Brent to talk about doing hooked items for Beekman 1802.  Owners Doug Plummer (Mayor) and his husband Garth were so incredibly warm and kind to us, and it’s apparent that everyone who visits gets the same great hospitality. In our case, they were responsible for soothing our frazzled nerves just prior to our meeting with Josh at Beekman 1802 to present our wares. Doug kept us laughing so hard for the twenty minutes we spent in the lobby prior to the meeting, that we realized as we walked out the door that our nervousness was greatly diminished.  They also run a beautiful restaurant in the hotel, which is on our list of places to eat when we return to Sharon Springs.

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The Roseboro Hotel is a very large building on one of the corners in the village of Sharon Springs.  It has recently been purchased and will be undergoing a full renovation.  The new owner had a champagne reception for everyone, which was pretty sweet. I’m not sure how many champagne glasses that is in the photo, but it made quite an impressive display. There were two fewer by the time we left.

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Of course, it was very nice to see Josh and Brent again, although extremely briefly given their weekend schedule, and to shop in the Beekman 1802 Mercantile. We purchased the new Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook, which Josh and Brent kindly autographed for us, and will for you too, should you purchase one through the Beekman 1802 Mercantile.

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For those who would like to see these photos and a few more in larger format, here is a little gallery.  You can hover over the gallery to click through at your own pace as well.

We had a magnificent time in Sharon Springs! If you go to the Sharon Springs town website, you can keep up to date on all of the events there and in the area. It’s a wonderful place to visit, and we are so grateful to have made the associations we have there.