My second son, James, is a biologist/ecologist, a recent grad of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is at home right now, teaching biology and environmental science at Hebron Academy. He also serves on the board of the Center for an Ecology Based Economy in Norway, Maine. He is here until his Canadian girlfriend, Beth, graduates also this spring. Then he’ll be gone to Canada to start his life with her. But…for the time being, he’s home, and we have learned a LOT from him about nature, plants, soil science, composting, climate change, birds and animals, and more.
As a result, we were not surprised when he announced he was going to try to make a bread meal out of acorns, which is something native peoples did prior to the arrival of Europeans on this continent, and which people who like to try this sort of thing still do today. It’s a long process. The primary issue is that the tannins need to be removed from the acorns before they are fit for human consumption. Tannins are found in every day beverages, like tea and coffee, but acorns are extremely loaded with them. This makes them not only bitter, but prone to causing the types of gastrointestinal upset not spoken of in polite company or professional blog posts.
To get the tannins out, James needed to soak the acorn meal for an extended period of time and change the water frequently. He told me that some people will even put their bundle of acorns in to a running stream to let the tannins be leached out over time in the moving water. Before he could do the leaching process, he had to crack the acorns open, pull the meat out of the shell, and then grind it all up in the food processor. When he reached the point where he needed, “a cotton dish towel, or cheese cloth, or something” to hold the meal, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. I said to him, “How about if we wrap it in white wool and see if it will dye it?” Fortunately, he was game. And I knew that the water would be changed so frequently (several times a day in the beginning) that the wool would not get weird or stinky on us.
So the process began. The water was changed frequently over the course of weeks. Every once in a while we tasted the meal. Sure enough, the bitterness was dissipating, and the wool was getting more and more nut colored. I knew that at the end of the process, when the meal was ready for drying and baking, I’d have to mordant the wool, but this could obviously not be done while the acorn meal was still wrapped in it.
Finally, one day, James declared the meal ready for baking. He took it out of the water, and the wool, and dried it on sheets in the oven. The dried meal was then frozen in jars until he baked a bread with it at Christmas time. It’s…an acquired taste. There was some residual bitterness, but it also had an earthy, nutty quality that I very much liked. The reviews were mixed with the visiting brothers, girlfriends, cousins, and grandparents. If you’d like to try processing acorn meal and baking with it yourself, there are many resources on the web that can guide you.
I took the wool, mordanted it as best I knew how in a hot bath of white vinegar (I know there are better mordants for a natural dye like this, but this is what I had on hand), rinsed it, and dried it.
I like the color. It’s a soft, nutty, slightly mottled tan, a little darker and yellower where the meal actually sat all that time, and I have a half yard piece – or I can put it in to fat quarters if you prefer – to sell. I will be pricing them at $14/fat quarter. (Contact me if interested!) This wool is truly one of a kind as I don’t think I’ll be processing acorns again anytime soon. Or maybe I will. Maybe I will find a process more suitable to dyeing specifically and give it another try. This was serendipitous, kind of akin to the Thai iced tea dye I did a while back after noticing how brilliant the color of the tea was when it spilled on my counter top.
Natural dyeing is not my area of expertise. I do not currently teach it, because I feel that I don’t know enough about it. I do plan to invite someone wonderful who does, however, to the Parris House in the summer or fall, so keep an eye on “Classes & Events” for when I can get that scheduled.
On Saturday, November 4th, we had our Fifth Annual Paris Hill Hook In and I would say it was a great success. We changed things up quite a bit this year. Responding to feedback from hook ins that I’ve been an organizer and/or a vendor for, we reduced the number of guests from 62 to 50 this year in an effort to give everyone more space. We also went from three vendors to four. These are, to be honest, risky steps to take from the business side of conducting a hook-in, however, I would say that a good day was had by all and we plan to continue with these changes in coming years.
I would like to extend a bunch of “thank-yous” to the many people who made the day a success.
Firstly, I’d like to thank our guests for once again supporting this event, supporting our vendors, and being the reason the Paris Hill Hook In exists at all. Thank you, all!
My husband, Bill, and 24 year old son, James, gave a herculean amount of assistance in setting up and then breaking down the hall. They did lots of hauling, moving, and configuring on both ends of the event and I am very grateful for the help.
I’d like to thank the First Baptist Church of Paris and its Pastor Mary Beth Caffey for once again welcoming our event to their beautiful venue. Given the choice between getting a larger venue to make space or scaling down, I chose scaling down because I believe traditional hooking events, in venues with history, character, and grace are becoming rare. Our hooking heritage includes gathering in small, community spaces and supporting our home towns and villages. Because First Baptist Church is willing to have us every year, we can continue that tradition.
For the Love of Food & Drink, our caterers, knocked it out of the park again with an outstandingly delicious breakfast and lunch. Their kindness, conscientiousness, skill, and culinary excellence are a major part of what makes this event successful.
Our vendors are amazing! A huge thank you to Connie Fletcher of Seven Gables Rug Hooking, Ellen Marshall of Two Cats and Dog Hooking, and Cherylyn Brubaker of Hooked Treasures. And, of course, I was vending there too, and am very appreciative of everyone who shopped at my table yesterday. Did you miss the event this year? Click on all of our shop or web pages and shop the wonderful wares, just in time for the holiday season!
I am never able to get really great pictures at an event I’m personally running, so please excuse the lack of precision here. However, you will get a feel for how the event unfolded and hopefully see some faces you are familiar with. (To advance the slideshows, click on the arrows to the sides.)
Here are the pictures from setting up the day before. The church was so silent, in contrast to the busyness that characterizes the actual event.
And here are the pictures from the day, complete with beautiful sunrise over Paris Hill.
Finally, here are the rug show pictures. I was concerned that by scaling this event down the rug show would suffer, but no. Our guests delivered with a great number and variety of rugs. It goes without saying here that any design you see may not be copied without the artist’s/designer’s permission, so if there’s one you just love and want to track down ownership of, send me a message and I can try to get that information. Some of them I know right off because they are either my design and/or hooked by one of the Parris House Hookers/Tuesday Group members, but others I’d need to make a few contacts on.
Were you there at the Fifth Annual Paris Hill Hook In? We’d love to see your pics and hear your comments too. Remember, if you are using social media to post about the event, include the hashtag #parishillhookin so that we can all find one another’s posts.
Thanks to all, again, and keep an eye on the website’s Paris Hill Hook In tab for information about next year’s event.
I haven’t posted anything on the blog since May of this year, after being reasonably consistent about popping something new up for you at least a couple of times a month. May was around the time small and a few big things started to go wrong around here, starting with my Corgi Tru being diagnosed with terminal liver disease and cancer. Tru was my steadfast companion for the past eleven years and the dog our four sons were raised with. To watch her sicken, with one capability after another taken from her by the cancer, was both heartbreaking and demoralizing. On June 13th, it was clear that prolonging her life was not in her best interest, and I had promised, from the day she arrived to our home, that she would know nothing but love and care for all of her days. Our amazing friend and veterinarian came over that evening, and Tru passed away very peacefully outside on the grass with many of her loved ones holding and surrounding her. I didn’t really get off the sofa for about three days – not for any length of time anyway – and from there it’s been a summer of more minor mishaps, from the annoying to the comical. I will spare you most of those, but if you’ve been following the Facebook page you know that it’s included one of my bee hives swarming, having a lot of my inventory damaged in a microburst at a show in Portland, and then coming home that same night to find my favorite witness-tree birch on fire from a lightning strike, necessitating its felling. A friend of mine said, “Girlfriend, burn some sage at your house!”
I feel like I’m starting to recover now. Things are going a bit better and my spirits are always lifted as fall approaches. It’s my favorite season here in Maine by far. For a variety of reasons, summer is my least favorite season, plus, for me, fall is like my new year. Instead of spring, or January, my new beginnings often happen in the fall. This year especially, I am feeling the need to get back to learning, growing, changing, and moving forward.
So, let’s do a little catching up first.
One good thing that happened this summer was that we bottled our first batch of Tovookan’s honey from the Parris House beehives. We had about sixty pounds altogether and while I have sold quite a lot of it, I do still have some jars left. If anyone is interested in a one pound jar, they are $10 and available at the Maine studio, OR they can be shipped. Be aware, however, that shipping is running around $7 – $9, so I leave it to your discretion as to whether or not you’d like a jar from a distance.
I have also had the privilege of working with three publishers who I have long admired. Down East Magazine currently has some of my rug hooking kits and finished pillows in their Summer Pop Up Shop at their headquarters in Rockport, Maine. If you are traveling along the beautiful Maine Midcoast for the remainder of this summer and in to September, please stop in to the shop right on Route 1 to peruse not only my things, but a great selection of Maine Made products.
The holiday issue of Rug Hooking Magazine will also feature my pattern and project article as the centerfold pull out. I remember when I first started hooking thinking it was a really big deal to have that role in an RHM issue, and now here I am. As always, linen patterns and kits will be available for purchase through RHM when the magazine comes out.
Finally, I have a really lovely and fun project coming out in the fall issue of Making Magazine, assembled and edited by the talented and hard working Carrie Hoge, a fellow Mainer. I don’t want to put any spoilers here, but the theme of the magazine this fall is “Lines” and my project was designed accordingly. I loved making it and loved working the Carrie, whose outstanding photography truly captures the beauty of any project she’s shooting.
My work is also on display in the Maine Made kiosk at Bangor International Airport. It’s so fun to know that busy travelers going in and out of the airport can take a moment to see my bee pillow in the kiosk. It’s my hope that it brightens someone’s day.
I also just launched two new hooked pillows for Beekman 1802, a bee and a pink pig, continuing with the theme of animals you might find on the farm. My Instagram post of the bee is the most liked post ever in the history of my IG account, so I’m expecting it to do well in the Mercantile. It was also “liked” by one of my hooking heroines, who I will not name here. 🙂
So, let’s look forward to what’s coming up the last few weeks of the summer and in to the fall…
I have a beginner rug hooking class coming up at The Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, this Sunday, August 27th that you can still sign up for! We will be doing a double heart scented buckwheat pillow; this is the prototype, to the left. For more information and to sign up, click HERE.
On September 2nd we will have another of our SUPER FUN beginner dye classes here at the Parris House. To sign up, click HERE.
Once again, I will be participating in the Sharon Springs Harvest Festival on September 9th and 10th in beautiful Sharon Springs, NY! I will not be down in the vendor area this year, but rather I will be at Beekman Farm demonstrating and teaching rug hooking for our Beekman Neighbors who come to the farm tours. I hope to have some of my exclusive-to-Beekman 1802 pillows for sale in the Mercantile, however, for any neighbors who want to shop for them on the spot at Harvest Festival. Normally they are made to order and purchased online with a 2 week completion time.
I will also be having a beginner class at Scarborough Adult Ed (Maine) starting at the end of September. Follow the website and FB page for more information on that as it becomes available. We will be doing Maine forest/camp themed projects, so this is not to be missed!
On October 7th, we will have a soap making class again here at the Parris House. To sign up for that, click HERE.
The Hampden Hook-In, sponsored by The Keeping Room, will take place on October 21st this year and I will be there again vending. Hope to see many of you there!
Last, but not least, for events, the Fifth Annual Paris Hill HookIn is set to take place on Saturday, November 4th. If you have not signed up already, please do soon. I have reduced the number of participants this year to fifty. That’s a reduction of about a dozen spots because I am hearing so very many complaints at hook-ins about inadequate space. If the majority of hookers feel that more space is needed at these events but still want to enjoy the more down-home and charming venues, then the sacrifice has to be made in the number of attendees. Therefore, I only have a limited number of spaces left. For all of the information on this event, click HERE.
The Parris House gardens were not their best this season. In speaking to a friend of mine who is literally a professional farmer about how relatively poorly I think my tomatoes are doing, she said right away that the nights have been too cold and the days of high heat too few. I will say, though, that the Parris House apple trees are absolutely loaded, so let’s keep our fingers crossed for those!
And so we move forward. Not every year is our best year, but in looking back over just what I’ve written here, I realize that some very good things have happened. And just about two weeks ago, one other very good thing happened…
Meet Wyeth, our new five month old Rough Collie. (Yes, he’s named for NC, Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth – I’m an art geek.) My husband grew up with Collies and loves them, and since we have had the good fortune to live with my favorite breed for the past eleven years, I thought it was his turn to live with his. Wyeth was born in Georgia right around the time his breeder family (Morris Oaks Farm) was making a move to Maine, and that’s why he came to us so relatively late for a puppy. But this is perfect for me as he is already so well trained and socialized and best of all, housebroken! He already loves the attention of our Tuesday group hookers, although I do my best to keep him both out of their hooking bags and away from their lunches. Dog lovers everywhere will know the complexity of my feelings as I fall in love with this new puppy. I still shed tears for Tru, and at the same time find joy in getting to know Wyeth.
I will be getting back on the regular-blogging wagon. Tell me in the comment thread any topics you would like to see covered on the blog (can be fiber art, travel, gardening, beekeeping, whatever!), and if I choose yours I will give you an online or in person coupon for $5 off any purchase of $25 or more. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, which I will also be getting back to, by using the sign up box at the bottom of the web page.
After much preparation and anticipation, the first Belfast Hook In sponsored by 207 Creatives went off on Saturday, April 22nd at the First Church of Belfast, Belfast, Maine. We’d like to thank everyone who came out to this first 207 Creatives event and everyone who assisted in what turned out to be a very nice day. I took what photos I could of the day, but since I was an organizer and a vendor, I have to admit the photos I got are limited. (Note to self: assign photography to a helper next time.) I did, however, get quite a few rug show photos by taking a quick block of time to record the amazing work of our attendees.
For those who were not in attendance, 207 Creatives is the collaborative effort of Connie Fletcher of Seven Gables Designs, Ellen Marshall of Two Cats and Dog Hooking, and myself. Here they are at their respective tables at the hook in! (To my knowledge, there is no picture of me from the day…which is ok.)
First and foremost, we want to thank our 120 guests who made the day a success, provided us with useful feedback via their comment cards, provided rugs for truly one of the most impressive hook in rug shows I have ever seen, and who came from as far away as Canada to join us for this special event! The tradition of the hook in is so important to our craft, and our attendees came out to support this new event with enthusiasm, creativity, and good ideas for future events. Thank you, thank you!
Our special guest speaker was artist and teacher Rose Ann Hunter, who was accompanied by her daughter Kristin who helped immensely with the projector for Rose Ann’s presentation. Rose Ann’s table was continually visited by inquisitive guests looking at her work, asking questions, seeking demonstrations, and learning new techniques. We are so thankful and happy that Rose Ann agreed to join us and share her expertise with all.
As an extra service we invited Neill Peterson, a knife and scissors sharpener, to provide sharpening for our well used scissors. I did not get a chance to take mine over to him, but it seems as though he was busy during the entire event helping to keep everyone’s tools in tip top shape.
Our outstanding food was provided by For the Love of Food and Drink, just as it is at the Paris Hill Hook In. These folks prepare the food fresh right there in the venue kitchen and they do it with smiles on the entire time. I’m not this cheerful in my own kitchen when I’m not serving 120 guests.
More helpers included Mike Fletcher and Michelle Silveira, Connie’s husband and daughter respectively, who did anything and everything to help, as well as Roberta McCusker, friend and hooker extraordinaire who came over from New Hampshire. I do not have a picture of Mike, but I do have Michelle and Roberta here.
Very special thanks also to Edna Olmstead, who goes above and beyond in service to everything she commits to. Edna ran our rug show and is also an extremely prolific and accomplished hooker in her own right. Also, those gorgeous fluffy frame covers you buy from Parris House Wool Works and other lovely shops/vendors in the area? Edna makes those. I personally have three or four now, because I can’t stop myself from collecting them.
As I said, the rug show was absolutely stunning. I can not remember the last time I saw a hook in rug show of this quality and again, I thank our attendees for bringing in their beautiful rugs. The variety of styles, techniques, and subject matter was mind boggling. I have assembled my rug show pictures in to a click through gallery below. It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: these rugs are the property of their makers, the designs are the property of their designers. No image here may be copied for a “new” design without the express permission of the designer. Time constraints did not permit me to record the makers and designers of each of these rugs, however, IF there is a design that you see and would like to have the pattern for, I will do whatever I can to research the rug to determine its rightful owner and designer for you.
At 207 Creatives we are already brainstorming future events, so stay tuned for more news on those. Additionally, there is still space left at the Fifth Annual Paris Hill Hook In sponsored by Parris House Wool Works, scheduled for November 4th, 2017, but it’s about half full already. If that is an event you are interested in, click HERE for more information and to sign up. If you’d like to stay on top of everything happening here at Parris House Wool Works, by all means also sign up for our newsletter, The Street Corner, using the sign up box at the bottom of this page.
Thank you, happy hooking, and we hope to see you at future celebrations of our craft!
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
207 Creatives is a collaboration formed by Connie Fletcher of Seven Gables Designs, Ellen Marshall of Two Cats and Dog Hooking, and me, Beth Miller of Parris House Wool Works. It is our aim together to bring you the very best of fiber art and creative events, rug hooking patterns, supplies, & finished hooked pieces, and more. Together we have three times as many ideas, resources, and experiences to pool than we would have alone, and we plan to use that to help make your creative experiences even better.
Tell us more about the featured speaker…
We are so excited to present accomplished fiber artist Rose Ann Hunter! She will be doing a presentation called, “Enhancing Your Hooking with Historical Techniques.” In her presentation, Rose Ann will share with us how she mixes and incorporates historical techniques in her rug hooking. Her imagination knows no bounds and you, too, will soon be talking about standing wool, quillies, shirring, tambor, and more. Rose Ann’s bio on her webpage reads as follows: “Rose Ann Hunter has been a textile structuralist for the last thirty years. She was chosen in 2005 as craftperson-in-residence at Old Sturbridge Village in traditional rugmaking 1790 to 1850 and lectures at various museums, conferences and guilds throughout New England and the US. She has adapted and developed over 30 techniques of rug making by recycling fabrics that are sewn, knitted or crocheted into folk art.”
Will there be great food?
YES! There will be wonderful food at this hook in, provided by For the Love of Food & Drink. If you have attended the Paris Hill Hook In for the past two years, you will be familiar with this wonderful catering company. A fresh and delicious breakfast, lunch, and dessert, served by the friendliest people in catering, will be provided.
Will there be vendors?
Indeed. There will be vendors, to be announced, who will have everything you need for the craft. Yes, we know you already have stashes bursting down your doors, but hey, we’re hookers. You know how it is.
What is the venue like?
People have been worshiping in this beautiful church in seaside Belfast for over two centuries. The church hall where we will be hooking is spacious and light filled, and we are sure it will become a favorite hook in space.
Is this hook in replacing the Paris Hill Hook In in November?
NO! The Fifth Annual Paris Hill Hook In sponsored by Parris House Wool Works will still be there this fall with bells on (or a bell in the church tower, that some of you have actually rung…). I will be selecting a date for it soon and will get that information out to everyone.
How do we sign up???
We will be providing sign up information very soon, so please watch this page, our Facebook pages, and all of our social media for that. In addition, we will be sending post cards for those whose addresses we have, and I will be putting the info in The Street Corner email newsletter. If you are not sure we have your contact information and you would like a post card or email, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you on the list!
And there’s more…
We are still working on more fun details for this great new event, and will share more as we finalize those. We hope you are as excited as we are and will come out and spend some time in one of the prettiest towns in midcoast Maine. For more information about Belfast, please visit Our Town Belfast.
Thanks for reading, happy hooking, and we hope to see you in April! – Beth
The Fourth Annual Paris Hill Hook In is not yet filled! Join us on November 5th for a hook in that past participants describe as one of the best (and sometimes they say “the best) hook ins they have ever attended. I chalk this up to our warm, welcoming, and historic venue, our amazing locally catered fresh food, and, of course, the good company of over 60 hookers coming together for a wonderful fall day. We also have an informal rug show, the ringing (by you!) of the historic Revere Foundry church bell, and this year only we will pull the winning ticket for our Maine Medical Center raffle rug. Don’t have a ticket for that yet? No problem. You can buy them now by clicking here or you can even buy them in person the morning of the hook in. Once again we will be welcoming Kim Dubay of Primitive Pastimes and Cherylyn Brubaker of Hooked Treasures as our vendors, along with, of course, Parris House Wool Works. There will be door prizes as well (it’s not a hook in without door prizes).
You can get a hook in registration form HERE, but there’s a doubly fun way to sign up. You can join us this coming weekend for Maine Craft Weekend! We will be participating by having the Maine studio open both days, Saturday and Sunday, October 1st and 2nd, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Here is what you can expect: Parris House Wool Works is located in the beautiful Paris Hill National Historic District of the Western Lakes & Mountains Region of Maine. You can find us at the 200 year old historic Parris House at 546 Paris Hill Road, Paris and we will be open both days to introduce you to the heritage craft of North American wool-on-linen rug hooking! Join us for refreshments, demonstrations, lessons in rug hooking, and a studio filled with everything you need for the craft, including hooks, frames, original patterns, and wool, as well as assorted finished decor pieces to purchase. You will also be able to buy a raffle chance on a 3’x5′ hooked rug to benefit the Maine Medical Center Kidney Transplant Program; drawing November 5th. Feel free to walk the historic village while you’re here! Walking tour maps will be available.
We have recently added a variety of classes and events to our new calendar, and you may notice that the website is completely, beautifully re-imagined. This creative work was done by Jacks McNamara of Root & Blossom Design. Her services were extremely professional, but also warmly collaborative so that the site ended up looking like Parris House Wool Works, not a cookie cutter version of other sites. I highly recommend her!
So, hopefully you will join us for Maine Craft Weekend, the Paris Hill Hook In, or any of the other fun classes and events we have scheduled for the fall and beginning of winter.
Last year we were Wildcard Finalists in the Fiber Art category of this contest, and we were over the moon excited to have made it that far on our first try. This year we’d really, REALLY like to win!
Every year, the American Made Awards celebrate American makers in the areas of crafts, design, food, and style. This year we are again nominees in the category Fiber Crafts.
Here’s how it works. Martha’s staff chooses some finalists, and others are chosen by virtue of how much support they have. When you click on our Nominee Page, you have the opportunity to also click to share on Facebook or Twitter. That helps spread awareness of our work and shows support for our nomination. Then, if we are one of 500 entries chosen as finalists, voting begins on September 21st. Winners of the contest are awarded $10,000 in capital for their businesses, but more importantly, are given national exposure for what they do. Since we are committed to bringing a renaissance to rug hooking, much like as has taken place in knitting, we would very much appreciate your support.
To see our nominee page, and share it, please click here or on the American Made Nominee badge at the top of this post.
Thank you so very much and happy hooking! – Beth & Jen
Well, the time is almost here! I’m headed to teach my class, Modern Heirloom, at the Squam Art Workshops on Wednesday morning, and as a result, the Maine studio will need to closed from Wednesday, June 3rd through Sunday, June 7th. I will be open regular hours on Monday and Tuesday, June 1st and 2nd.
While class registration for the spring retreat has been closed for quite some time, it’s not too late to plan to come to the Squam Art Fair and Ravelry on Saturday evening, June 6th, from 7:30 to 10 PM! Come see me there! I will be there with THIS amazing list of other vendors.
If you would like to follow my social media posts and those of other attendees just look for these hashtags:
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…
And I’ve been hooking Baby Goat (in fact, I shipped another one today), because well, it’s spring and baby goats happen…
And I’ve been hooking Grown Up Goat, because you’ve got to have those to make baby goats, right?
We even have a goat design in our Etsy shop, independent of Beekman 1802, called Goat Go Round.
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.
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