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