Have You Signed up for the 2018 Belfast Hook In in Belfast, Maine? Read On for Details…

This is a reblog from www.207creatives.com.  If you don’t follow the blog over there, please do!


We’ve been fielding a lot of questions about when this year’s Belfast Hook In would be and about how to sign up.  Here are the answers!

This year’s event will take place on Saturday, April 28th, 2018 from 9 am to 3 pm.  We will be gathering again at the First Church of Belfast, 8 Court Street, Belfast, Maine.

me and my hoopWe are so pleased to announce that this year’s guest speaker is Doreen Frost of Vermont Harvest Folk Art!  She will be speaking on The Art of Punch Needle Embroidery.

Doreen’s full bio can be found here, but she is an accomplished folk artist and author from Pawlet, VT who creates marvelous designs and finished pieces in punch needle embroidery.  This is a different art than punch needle rug hooking, instead using fine fiber threads and very fine punch needles.   We are looking forward to hearing her speak about her inspirations, her art, and her techniques.  She will also be available for questions and have materials for sale if you are already a maker in this craft or would like to become one!  Please visit her site at http://www.vermontharvestfolkart.com for more information and a look at her beautiful and original artwork.

As before, we will have an informal rug show and our breakfast and lunch will once more be provided by the friendly chefs of For the Love of Food and Drink.   We will have vendors and door prizes, and of course, lots of wonderful camaraderie as we gather again to celebrate our heritage craft.

Ready to sign up?  You can find and print the registration form here, or, contact us at 207creatives@gmail.com, or, call Beth Miller at 207-890-8490.   Need a flyer to rally your friends?  Click here.  In response to feedback from last year’s event we are capping attendance at 96 this year, so please register soon!  Registration is $38 before March 1st, $40 thereafter.  Registration deadline is April 21st.


Playing Catch Up – News and Important Dates

With Corgi Tru. She was the canine love of my life.

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.

Tovookan’s Honey

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…

Project for The Stitchery

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!

Learn to make soap with us!

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 Hook In 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.

Some of the garden harvest so far.

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.

Happy hooking and thanks for reading!




Time to Get Out Your Calendars and Write Down These Dates

I am a planner junkie.   In fact, I have a planner, two workbooks, a wall poster calendar, and several calendars around the Parris House to keep me as organized as possible.  That’s not to say it’s always 100% effective, but I’m a writing-it-down kind of woman.   The particular organizing and planning system I’m using right now is created by an amazing Australian woman named Leonie Dawson.  She’s no nonsense and ethereal simultaneously.  Not sure how else to describe her but her work and life planner are highly effective, as is she.  To take a peek, click HERE. 

Regardless of what kind of time keeper/planners you use, however, I’ve got some dates for you to write down, so grab your planner, rip your calendar off your wall, whatever it takes, and write these down:

January 23rd:  Last day to register for the Intro to Hooking class I’m teaching at SAD44 Adult Ed.   It’s going to be fun!  We’re making cute 8″ x 8″ Valentine themed mats that can then be finished as pillows or table toppers or wall hangings – your choice.  Classes will be Monday, January 30th and Monday, February 13th.  FMI, click HERE.

January 28th:  Beginner Dye Class at the Parris House.  This is one of the most fun classes I have here.  You learn three different methods of wool dyeing and leave with a full yard of your own hand dyed wool, ready to cut and hook with, or use with any other craft you please.  FMI, click HERE. 

February 4th:  Intro to Cold Process Soap Making at the Parris House. You will learn the art of cold process soap making *and* leave with 2 pounds of freshly made soap, a recipe to use at home, a soap mold, and safety equipment. FMI, click HERE. 

March 11th:  Yes, You Are & Yes, You Can, beginner rug pattern design class at the Parris House.  Another great class that’s super fun!  You will learn genres, design tips and tricks, getting your pattern on the grain, and so much more.  You will leave with a completely finished linen pattern of your own design, all ready to hook.  FMI, click HERE. 

April 1st:  Soap making again!  See earlier description, but for tickets for this date click HERE. 

April 22nd:  207 Creatives Belfast Hook In, First Church of Belfast, UCC, Belfast, Maine.   Many of you already know about this event and are even signed up for it, but for ALL the information, click HERE. 

We are finalizing some summer dates for my classes at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village this year, so follow their page at THIS LINK for updates on my and many other great classes.

September 9th & 10th, Sharon Springs Harvest Festival, Sharon Springs, NY.  You know you want to go to one of the premier fall festivals on the east coast and meet the Fabulous Beekman Boys, so why not make this the year?  I will be there vending again this year and am hoping to persuade some other New England artisans to join me.  FMI, click HERE. 

November 4th, Fifth Annual Paris Hill Hook In, Paris Hill, Maine.  You read it here first!  Pencil (or better, do it in ink) this in on your calendar and I will have all of the information and registration forms coming by April.  In fact, I will have registration forms with me at the 207 Creatives Belfast Hook In, so ask for one there.

On the planning table for possible classes to be held at the Parris House are art journaling, ecoprinting/dyeing, a permaculture class, and natural dye techniques, so do stay tuned.

As I add more dates, you can always see what’s happening on our Classes & Workshops tab on the website and on our Events section of the Facebook page.

Plan to join us for some or all of these events and in the meantime, happy hooking!

Maine Craft Weekend & Registration for the 2016 Paris Hill Hook In Happening Now!

exterior1 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.

Happy hooking, and see you soon! – Beth

Save the Date for the Third Annual Paris Hill Hook-In – November 7th, 2015!

It’s time to save the date for the Third Annual Paris Hill Hook-In!  We had such a great time the past two years, and especially last year in our new venue, the First Baptist Church of Paris.  You can read about last year’s event HERE.

Registration is limited to 60 attendees so please register early.  You can find a registration form by clicking HERE and download a flyer HERE.

We will have Cherylyn Brubaker of Hooked Treasures and Kim Dubay of Primitive Pastimes back vending their beautiful wares, and Connie Fletcher of Seven Gables Rug Hooking plans to handle our check in table and sundry logistics again.  I am hoping that Ellen Marshall of Two Cats & Dog Hooking will coordinate our rug show again (true confessions, I have to ask her tomorrow…) and we will have Jennicakes Bake Shop once again provide the spectacular food.   All the details are below…

Our beautiful historic venue.  Some of the beams were left exposed in a recent restoration, and that rope to the far right of the bottom photo?  Well, that's the pull rope for the approximately 200 year old church bell that we had a little fun with.
Our beautiful historic venue. Some of the beams were left exposed in a recent restoration, and that rope to the far right of the bottom photo? Well, that’s the pull rope for the approximately 200 year old church bell that we had a little fun with.

Saturday, November 7th, 2015

10 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

First Baptist Church of Paris

Center of the Village Green

Paris Hill Road, Paris, Maine

    • Registration Deadline:  October 31st, 2015
    • Ticket Price: $28.00
    • Breakfast & Lunch included
    • Informal Rug Show: Bring your favorites to share! As many as you like!
    • Vendors & Door Prizes
    • Ring the Early 19th Century Paul Revere Foundry Church Bell!

The church hall is divided in to two sunny rooms.  I confess that when I first signed on with this venue I was concerned about the split, but it turned out to be a non-issue.  Here is the main hall at the entrance area filled with hookers!

Hope to see many of you there!  Happy hooking! – Beth

Maine Maple Sunday 2015 in Minot, Maine


Today was Maine Maple Sunday in Maine!  On this day the sugar houses generously open their doors to visitors, often providing pancake breakfasts, ice cream, and an astonishing variety of yummy maple treats.  Normally on Maine Maple Sunday, we visit a variety of nearby sugar houses, but because I was spending half of the day doing the craft fair at the West Minot Grange, I only visited one.  But what a GOOD one!

First, though, about the craft fair…

Old Grange halls are an endangered species.  I moved to Maine fifteen years ago from Pennington, NJ, the formerly rural and agricultural town where my husband grew up.  I well remember my heartbreak when the Pennington Grange was torn down to make way for a modern (and completely excessive) town hall.  It was one of many disappointments that solidified our determination to raise our four sons in an area where agriculture and heritage were held more dear.   I can not say that the old Grange tradition is completely safe in Maine either nowadays, but we do have some beautiful old examples.  One of these is the West Minot Grange.


Here is a little history of this Grange from the Minot town website:  “West Minot Grange #42 was organized in 1874; the petition to form was signed on Calvin Bucknam’s tall silk hat. This Grange also operated a grange Store at one time. Today this Grange is very active and has allowed the Minot Historical Society, which formed in 2001, to use a room in their building for storage.”

This gorgeous old building was the site of today’s craft fair.  I was invited to participate by the uber talented Pat Hutter, who also makes our “Wool Collector” signs as well as wooden signs for Sturbridge Yankee Workshop.  I had a great time and have to give a huge thank you to Pat for organizing a very successful and fun event.

Pat’s lovely array of signs can be seen in the far right corner. My table is in the left foreground. The rest of the space was filled with wonderful crafters and product representatives as well.
My table set up the afternoon prior.

Of course, one of the reasons we had so many wonderful visitors to the craft fair was because downstairs on the main level of the Grange, Slattery’s Farm and Maple Supply Company was putting on a fantabulous pancake breakfast.  I have to tell you, I love Slattery’s.  If there is anything at all you need for maple syruping, home canning, gardening, livestock, or just surviving Maine winters, Slattery’s has it.  They also produce many crops all summer long and sell beautiful produce from the store.  Here are some pics of the Grange I took the afternoon before as it was all set up for the breakfast.  I do not have pics of the breakfast because I was upstairs meeting and greeting!


After the craft show was over and I packed up my things, it was time to go over to the nearby West Minot Sugar House, also owned by the Slattery family.  This is a truly wonderful sugar house.  They were also serving meals over there (breakfast AND lunch), along with ice cream with maple syrup.


I have to agree.

When you enter the sugar house during a normal year, you are immediately hit with a warm, wonderful steam from the evaporator as it boils down the sap in to maple syrup.  This year, however, everything still looks like this…

Frozen stream beside the West Minot Sugar House.
Frozen stream beside the West Minot Sugar House.

Slattery’s owner explained to visitors that for the sap to really run, you need a good string of 40 degree days.  That has not happened in any part of Maine yet this season.  As a result, a good number of sugar houses were not able to run the evaporators on this particular Maine Maple Sunday.  However, that did not stop them from serving up the golden goodness.

Slattery's owner next to the evaporator.
Slattery’s owner next to the evaporator.

In fact, on Maine Maple Sunday it is customary to drink maple syrup directly out of a cup.  You read that right.  Directly out of a cup.  Hey, I’ve been super clean diet sugar free for a long time now but you know what? I did it.  And I’d do it again.  Cheers!

These are neither cold medicines nor medical samples. Think maple syrup. 😉

Of course, if you prefer your maple in solid form, there’s this…


One of the truly charming things Slattery’s provides on Maine Maple Sunday is draft horse drawn wagon rides by Meadow Creek Farm.  I caught them just as they were putting Bill and Ben, the horses, in to the trailer.  They shook and rang their jingle bells while I was photographing them.  I love draft horses.


As if it isn’t enough to provide food, maple products and education, and horse drawn carriage rides, this event also includes music.


To view a short video of these guys playing “You Are My Sunshine,” click HERE.

This was a really wonderful event, and as I said, special thanks are in order to Pat Hutter, craft fair coordinator and member of the West Minot Grange, and to the Slattery family who worked so hard to make a lovely event (and kindly sent my husband upstairs with a free coffee for me).  Thanks also to everyone I met today, and especially those who sat down to give hooking a try for the very first time!  I would be remiss if I did not mention a little girl named Alex who sat down and pulled perfect loops on her first try.  And I mean perfect.

This is what community is all about.  That move we made to rural Maine was and continues to be so rewarding.  Please come up and visit some March for Maine Maple Sunday, and experience this day first hand.  Happy hooking! – Beth

Painting of the West Minot Grange by Hester Gilpatric.

The Fryeburg Fair, 2014, Fryeburg, Maine – by Beth


In Maine, the Fryeburg Fair is the biggest and grandest of fairs.  People come from all over the country.  In fact, it’s estimated that 300,000 people come annually to attend the Fryeburg Fair, which began in 1851.  It is very common for Mainers to take a weekday off from work to go, because the crowds on the weekends are so intense that both parking and navigating the fair can be problematic.  My husband took last Thursday as a vacation day, and off we went.  Disclaimer:  It is absolutely impossible to capture the breadth of the Fryeburg Fair in a short blog, but what follows is a photo introduction.


First things first.  Edna Olmstead, who hooks with us on Tuesdays, and who makes our super popular flannel frame covers and felt snip containers, won two blue ribbons in the hooked rug category at the fair.  I had the privilege of seeing Edna working on both of these pieces, and photos can not do them justice.  Additionally, I had to shoot them through a glass case, but you get the idea.

Vintage style Scottie dog, hooked by Edna Olmstead. Traditional pattern.
Cows and ivy, hooked by Edna Olmstead, designed by Brenda Sauro of the Painted Mermaid Studio.

There were so many skills, handcrafts and trades represented at the fair it was mind boggling.  Here are some of the examples I found particularly interesting.

Top: Spinning and weaving. It turned out that the lady spinning was a good friend of a former neighbor of mine on Paris Hill, and we had a nice conversation about that. Bottom: Endless fleeces in the fiber building. I am not yet a spinner. Probably just as well right now!
Clockwise: 1) This is sea scene made via eggshell mosaic. I’ve never ever seen such a thing before. 2) The wall of quilts went on forever. 3) This is extremely fine cross stitch. You had to get right up on to it to determine that it was cross stitch at all. 4) Christening outfit in lace crochet/tatting.
Clockwise: 1) Peeling apples in the old fashioned kitchen 2) Blacksmithing demonstration 3) Making rice pudding on the wood fired cook stove 4) Sorting cranberries old school
Clockwise: 1) Making apple cider using an antique press 2) Getting corn off the husk with 19th century machine 3) Evaporating sap for maple syrup 4) Beekeeping
As the owner of a 200 year old home that has both antique clapboards on the house and had antique shingles (which regrettably we are now forced to replace) on the barn, this equipment fascinated me. The shingle making machinery is from the 1860s. Top: Jig and saw for carving tapered clapboards from a round log. Bottom left: Shingle cutter and finisher. Bottom right: Pile of finished clapboards.
Call me crazy, but I find color and pattern in almost anything, and I loved the variety of each in these tools of the trades displays. Top: vintage oil cans Bottom: chainsaws through the ages
The making of beanhole beans is an important New England skill. You dig a deep hole, and via either wood or hot coals build a fire in the bottom. A crock or Dutch oven of New England baked beans is then lowered in and slow cooked until they are done. My husband Bill enjoyed a sampling.

There are so many animals at the Fryeburg Fair.  The Wikipedia entry on this fair says that it may have the largest number of oxen, for example.  I did not photograph the oxen, I’m sorry to say.  Had I known of their claim to fame at this fair I might have.  However, I did photograph many of the other animals.

First, the cows…

I regard this as a practice cow…
Top: the milking parlor Bottom: my favorites, Belted Galloways
There were animals on the move everywhere, going to shows and events.

Sheep.  I love sheep.  After all, they are where our wool comes from.

The bottom left photo is actually of a “sheep show” that was going on. I have no idea why that one guy has his hand over the sheep’s tail area. Anyone else know?

Poultry.  Although we have twenty-one hens at the Parris House, I find that I am only partial to my own.  Not that crazy about a building full of others for some reason.

Top: cute chickens Bottom: not nearly as cute chickens; don’t even get me started about roosters

I know there are some of you who came to our page via also being fans of Beekman 1802.  Here are your goat pics.

Fair warning.
Goats seem to be like puppies that never grow up.

Let’s not forget the cool old vehicles…

Clockwise: 1) Stanley Steamer 2) this is how mail was delivered in winter in Lovell, Maine in the 1830s 3) an original military type Jeep – I coveted this 4) antique wagon belonging to the agricultural society

Before I end, I want to just throw a trivia question out here.  What are these two things, what do they have in common, and what are they each used for?  The Mainers will all know.


This is my last country fair post of the season.  I did not make the Common Ground Fair in September because we were at Harvest Festival in Sharon Springs, NY instead.  Common Ground would be the other contender for grandest fair in Maine, although with a decidedly different (and wonderful) character.

Foliage is at or near peak in many places in Maine right now, the air is crisp, and the scents of the outdoors are pretty intoxicating.  I hope if you haven’t already, some of you will share in fall and fair season in Maine.

Isn’t this what everyone does with their round bales?

Cumberland County Fair, Cumberland, Maine – 2014

Once again, I attended the Cumberland County Fair in Cumberland, Maine last week.  I did not put up a post on it right away, because our own Maine studio hooker, Irene Adams, had some lovely hooked items at the fair and did not want to know the outcome of the judging before she herself could attend and be surprised.  I am certain she was not disappointed!  So let’s get straight to the good stuff regarding Irene’s entries.

Irene's Bear Pond loon foot stool was selected as one of the Best in Show items!  Design by Parris House Wool Works.
Irene’s Bear Pond loon foot stool was selected as one of the Best in Show items! Design by Parris House Wool Works.  I was photographing through a glass case, thus the somewhat less than perfect photo.
Irene’s beautiful interpretations of our “Summer in Paris” designs earned blue and red ribbons.
“Best of the Best.” Indeed. Well deserved, Irene! <3

Seeing Irene’s great success was the highlight of the fair for me, but of course, there was much more to see and do.  The first thing I did was head for the animals.  It was a toss up:  animals or fiber art?  Since I was with my husband and didn’t want to bore him too much right out of the chute, we went for the animals.

Beautiful sheep, some of whom were being auctioned.
The activity on the left leads to the activity on the right.
The activity on the left leads to the activity on the right.

There were also chickens, rabbits, pigs, ducks, and more, but I did not photograph those.  Maybe next year.  The crowing of the roosters in the poultry house made me glad a thousand times over I have always refused to have a rooster among my flock.

OK, well…time for the fiber art!

Clockwise: 1) This was a best in show hooked rug. So well deserved. It’s gorgeous. 2) Needle felted sheep. Precious. 3) Penny rugs! These always make me feel warm and fuzzy just looking at them. 4) I can’t even tell you how long the glass case filled with knitted and crocheted items was. It was astonishing.
Once again, the Maine Tin Pedlar chapter of ATHA had a breathtaking display of their members' work.
Once again, the Maine Tin Pedlar chapter of ATHA had a breathtaking display of their members’ work.
I see these ladies at quite a few events. Always wonderful.
Yum.  Enough said.
Yum. Enough said.

Of course, there were many, many handcrafts and products represented.  Here are a few more.

Clockwise: 1) Beeswax items 2) Fly tying 3) Preserving 4) These were made of alpaca. Don’t you want to just touch them?

One of my favorite animals at fairs is the draft horse.  I love these horses.  If I ever had a horse, strictly as a pet, it would be a draft horse.  I know that’s ridiculous.  We were lucky to be at the fair when the draft horses were doing a pulling competition.




And, of course, as at the Oxford Fair, a sugar house, complete with maple sap evaporating going on.


One of my favorite features of the Cumberland Fair is its extensive farm museum.

CFCollage8 CFCollage9 CFCollage10

Sooooo…how about an antique shop in a trailer?

I’ll have all the cast iron, please.

There were quite a few horticultural displays too.  The two that caught my eye the most were the MEGA pumpkins and the hydroponic growing display.


And, of course, at every fair, the decadent food and the rides.  Frankly, I stay away from both, but I’m guessing some day grandchildren might pull me back in to this part of the scene.


And that’s my photo tour of this fall’s Cumberland County Fair.  We hope to get to the Fryeburg Fair next week, which is one of the biggest fairs in the country, let alone Maine.  We are such a diverse nation, and yet I think fairs are a common thread for all of us.  Feel free to post your fair pics over on our Facebook page under the link to this blog post.  Happy fair-ing!

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


…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!


View of the Chrysler Building


New York Public Library


Radiator Building


Sharon Springs Harvest Festival


American Hotel



Black Cat Cafe


Beekman 1802 Mercantile

Sharon Springs, NY Harvest Festival 2014 – by Beth

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.

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.

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!


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.


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.


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!

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.


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.


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.



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.