And the Universe Said, “Yes.” – Squam Art Workshops, Spring 2015

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I am rarely at a loss for words.  I’m an avid writer of blog posts, and an even more able chatterer (unless the context is public speaking…then all bets are off).  Words are my thing.  I usually choose them carefully and aim them true, but here I sit finding it difficult to find the right ones to convey everything I experienced at the Squam Art Workshops last week.  The last time I was this verbally lost over an experience I had taken my oldest son and fellow Thoreauvian, then 17, to Walden Pond. The blog post that followed that trip was called, “Speechless…for a change.”

For months prior to teaching at Squam I had been contemplating what my proper direction in this craft really should be.  Like all big decisions, the answer was right there all along.  You know how this feels.  The answers are located right in the center of your being, it feels almost like they’re sitting at the center of your body, and therefore the old turn of phrase “gut feeling” applies.  We treat these gut feelings like heartburn or hangovers.  We ignore them when we’re very busy doing whatever it is we think we should be, or when they don’t seem convenient.

But at Squam, you’re living in that space where the answers are, and the pressing and influencing expectations of others, or even of yourself, fall away.  You are encouraged to be in the present moment, to be attentive to process, not product, and to shelve your preconceptions and let the retreat unfold for you as it will.  As it is said at Squam, this is where the magic happens.

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The lacy dreamy dreamcatcher at the Squam Art Workshops. We were encouraged to write our dreams on a feather and pin them to the bottom. I actually pinned the dream of a dear friend on to this, because at Squam, you feel as though all of your own have come true.

Squam feels magical, but I would be remiss if I did not say this:  the magic is made in part by the vision and hard work of Director Elizabeth Duvivier, her assistant Forrest Elliott, and every single person who helps her, including the staff at Rockywold Deephaven Camps on Squam Lake.  While I am a true believer in the manifestation of dreams, I believe equally that none of that manifestation takes place without the hard work behind the dream.  Elizabeth and everyone involved do that hard and heartfelt work, and to them I am so grateful.

Of course, I went to Squam to teach rug hooking at the beginner level.  I owe this to Elizabeth’s generosity in inviting me, on taking a chance on someone and something completely new to Squam, because my friend, poet Sarah Sousa, called my work to her attention last year.  As I was explaining to my own teacher and mentor yesterday, I learned so much from my students that I am still processing it all.  At Squam, students are uncommonly open, adventurous, and filled with energy.  They are also collaborative and incredibly kind.  I’m not sure there is another teaching experience quite like this.   There are those that are as good, but Squam brings together artists and artisans with a unique kind of creativity and camaraderie, and to teach them is really an honor.   I hope I lived up to it.

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Zodiac, the home to our class, Modern Heirloom, at Squam.
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I brought a little wool for my students…

I want to apologize for not getting pics of my first of two classes.  To my students in that first class, you are every bit as dear to me as those in the second!  I was simply very focused on running that first class for the first time and did not break out the camera.

Here are my amazing and beautiful students from the second session.  Every student I had, from both classes, picked up this craft in a heartbeat and immediately started making it her own.  Some had stories to tell of how their fore mothers had practiced rug hooking, and of the hooked pieces that had been handed down.  Since part of our mission is to keep this heritage craft alive and thriving in to the next centuries, it was so rewarding to see the enthusiasm and creativity at work in these wonderful women.

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We hooked inside…
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We hooked outside…
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The variety of interpretations of the pattern was really fun to see.
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This was the prototype design, but every student created something very unique to her own aesthetic and style.

Why did I choose a dock and dragonfly for the prototype design?  Well, this is Squam lake, our venue…

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Having grown up summering on Little Sebago Lake in Gray, Maine (see a previous post on this here), I really feel at home and in my element in this kind of environment.  It centers me in a way no other space can, and this contributed to the magic I felt at Squam.

Also contributing to the magic?  Great lodging and great food.  I shared our cottage, aptly named “Bungalow,” with Sarah Sousa.  We had a great time catching up, having not seen one another in person in almost two years.

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The food was amazing. Whatever your dietary choices or restrictions are, you are well taken care of.

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And then, of course, there was yarn bombing.  Lots and lots of yarn bombing.

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And the chalkboards…every day at the dining hall…

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The Squam Art Fair and Ravelry Revelry, held on the last evening of the retreat, is a hand made paradise.  The amount of talent and creativity in that one room is humbling.  It is open to the public, and I highly recommend you visit it – and shop! – whenever it is held.  I did not get many pictures of the fair because I was a participant with a table, however, there are many pics out there on the net.

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I went to Squam not knowing exactly what to expect.  I was a bit nervous about teaching for the first time there.  Would I be good enough?  Would my class be engaging enough?  After all, this was a very accomplished group of students who had already worked with some very well known teachers.  Would I be enough?  What I discovered was two-fold.  On the one hand, I was enough.  I received the sweetest feedback on my class from my students, and I want to reach through the screen and hug every one of you.  On the other hand, I have so much to learn and so many directions in which to grow.  I was enough, but I can be so much more.  This is one of the primary lessons of Squam.  We are enough.  Right here and right now, in this moment, we are enough.  And yet, we are filled with potential at every point in our lives to do more and be more and catch our dearest dreams.

In the midst of these lessons, I gained clarity.  Questions offered up for weeks and months were answered resoundingly in the affirmative, and that’s a gift.   I do not believe my experience is unique.  I think this was happening all around me, in the lives of my fellow “Squammies.”   If we give ourselves the space and the freedom, the answers come.

The little fairy village below was on the wooded path between the dining hall and my classroom.  Literally and figuratively, love and spirit can be found along the paths at Squam.   Hope to see you there next year.  In the meantime, happy living and happy hooking.  – Beth

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Headed to Squam – Maine Studio Closed June 3rd through June 7th

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:

‪#‎squamartworkshops‬
‪#‎squamlove‬
‪#‎squamwardbound‬
‪#‎squam2015‬

FMI about Squam, should you want to join in for a future retreat, click HERE.

Have a great week, and happy hooking! – Beth

On Goats and Gumption

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

1 –  chiefly dialect:  common sense, horse sense

2  – enterprise, initiative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We clearly have a thing for goats.

But where does gumption come in?

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

That’s gumption.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a New Week – Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

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Every Monday I try to put a graphic or post on our Facebook page that’s motivational.  This week, I’m writing my own because from Friday afternoon through the weekend, so many things pointed in the direction of Tolkien’s much used (overused?) quote from “Lord of the Rings”:  Not all those who wander are lost.

Let’s start with Friday afternoon.  My youngest son, Paul, was being inducted in to the Cum Laude Society at Hebron Academy.  Cum Laude is an honor society, similar to Phi Beta Cappa at the college level, for outstanding high school students.  It’s not just about grades, but also about human qualities of compassion, leadership, enthusiasm, and others.  He is the second of our sons to be inducted in to Cum Laude, and needless to say we are very proud of him.

There is always a guest speaker at Cum Laude ceremonies.  This year it was Hollis Hurd, a prominent attorney who has written a book called, “You Just Have to Be Smarter than the Rope.”  It’s an advice book he wrote for his grandchildren, and for young people in general.  He spent most of his speech outlining a concept in the book called “reverse engineering.”  The examples he used were about how, during his lifetime, he has reverse engineered goals.  One example was how he looked carefully at the steps he’d need to take to become a partner in a law firm.  He worked backwards from that goal through the steps of what kind of law student he had to be at what point in his education, and the step by step career milestones that would lead to that goal.  Another example was how he won a military drill competition at his high school.  All very plotted, very calculated, very linearly driven from point A to point B.  He recommended the students pick a goal, far in the future, and work to it on the straight and narrow until it is achieved.

Do I think this is admirable?  Heck, NO! I thought this was terrible advice for young people.  It is way at the opposite end of the philosophical spectrum of how we raised our four sons, all of whom are experiencing tremendous academic, personal, and working life success.

I regret not visiting with Mr. Hurd after the ceremony and saying, “With all due respect, not all those who wander are lost.”

I thought of all the goals and plans I made in my teens and twenties, and the ones I worked to in that fashion, only to realize perhaps they were not what my spirit really craved.  Did I get a degree in business administration/marketing, and then work in corporate America, because I was told I’d never get a job in music or art or writing or teaching English, my first loves?  Yes, yes I did.  Did I settle down for way too long in suburban New Jersey when my heart was firmly planted in rural Maine from the time I was a toddler?  Yes.  Why?  Because I was afraid to wander.  I was afraid to take the side path and try it.  The advice given to the beautiful, bright young students with a thousand paths in front of them at Hebron Academy on Friday afternoon was, “Don’t wander…at least not too much.”

I know this generation, though.  I’m sure many, many of them will not heed that narrow advice.  Yay for them.

Fast forward to Sunday.  I ran out a favorite running path, Mount Mica Road in Paris, Maine, for the first time since last fall.  It was positively exhilarating.  I have run this country road many times, but every time I do I see something different, notice a different plant or shadow or scent.  Something.  I have wandered off the road to check out the abandoned cellar hole of a farm long gone.  I discovered 19th century grave stones to the side of the road in another area I’d passed scores of times before unnoticing.   I found them because finally I took my eyes briefly off the familiar path and caught the sight of hewn granite in the brush.  Later on Sunday I climbed Streaked Mountain in Paris with two of my sons, James and Paul.  James is home from college for the summer, an aspiring ecologist/wildlife biologist.  He and Paul went off the trail a few times to observe some early spring plant, or sometimes just some thing left a decade before by a careless hiker (for example, an old pop top Old Milwaukee can).

Were I not off the metaphorical trail I set for myself in my younger years, there would be no Parris House Wool Works.  I worked in real estate for a decade prior to founding this company with Jen.  Real estate was a logical fit for me, the business/marketing college graduate, the person who grew up in a family business, the person who knew how to do sales from attending the occasional trade show.   I have no art training.  I never went to an artisan school.  I had no background in textiles except for the fact that my father’s business was clothing manufacturing.  But I was eager to get off the path I’d so carefully constructed for myself, and in the stupor of grief following my mother’s death, looking for what I called then and call now a “zen craft,” I wandered in to Artful Hands in Norway, Maine and asked hooking guru Connie Fletcher to teach me to hook.

That was one of the best detours I ever took.  And the evolution of Parris House Wool Works has been marked by serendipitous events and opportunities we could not have imagined, let alone planned.  We have a very long way to go; we are very fledgling in this endeavor.  We have a lot of planning to do, but more than a little wandering too to find out about the things we can’t possibly see now.

Not all those who wander are lost.  On this Monday morning, I would encourage you to wander.  Be ok with uncertainty, because it often brings opportunity, surprise, and joy.

Happy wandering and happy hooking.  – Beth

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The summit of Streaked Mountain, Paris, Maine. May 3rd, 2015

Parris House Savory Dill Easter Bread

We all have THAT cook book, especially if we’ve been around the kitchen for a while.  It’s the cook book with the dog ears, the stained pages, and a history.  For me, THAT cook book is the old 1980s version of the Betty Crocker Cook Book.  I received it as a gift for my bridal shower in 1987 and have used it faithfully ever since.  It has the best mac and cheese recipe ever in it, and the recipe for quiche which wins me accolades.  In fact, I served that quiche at our Maine studio opening event in 2013 and a couple of people still talk to me about that quiche.  Really.  But aside from using the recipes just as they stand, following this classic cook book also taught me a lot about cooking, and how to make my own recipes.  I even have a four leaf clover pressed in to the pages of this cook book. I think that makes it extra lucky.

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For a lot of years I used the basic bread recipe in this cook book when baking bread, but gradually over time I started diverging from the recipe, and then I started just winging bread recipes entirely.  It became like soup; you just do it.  The recipe for the Parris House Savory Easter Bread is a combo.  The basic bread recipe in this cook book was the jumping off point, but I changed it considerably.  And the traditional Italian Easter bread, which is actually a very sweet bread with lots of sugar in the dough and sprinkles on top, also inspired this bread in form and appearance.  My mother made Italian Easter Bread every year, and so I hesitated before so radically changing the recipe for our Easter dinner, but I wanted something savory with a rustic farmhouse look. Here’s what I came up with…

  • 1 package dry yeast (or 1 TBSP)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 TSP sea salt
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3-1/2 cups bread flour (add more if you need to but be careful not to make the dough tough)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

Just before baking:

  • Six RAW eggs, colored or not (your preference)
  • 3 TBSP melted butter
  • 2 TBSP sea salt

OK!  Combine the yeast and all the wet ingredients, the sea salt, and the sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk them well. Gradually mix in the flours  until you have a wet dough, then add the chopped dill, mix some more.  Add the rest of the flour and when you have a knead-able consistency turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead it for several minutes until it starts to become nice and smooth.

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Use a little cooking spray or oil in a large bowl and plop the dough down in to it.  Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm location to rise.

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While the dough is rising, choose your decorative eggs.  I chose to use the eggs just as they are straight from the Parris House Hens.  These girls lay pretty eggs.

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However, you could certainly use any eggs you wanted, and in traditional Easter breads, dyed eggs are used.  I chose these six:

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After about an hour your dough should be at least double in size.  See the before and after pics here…

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Now it’s time to punch the dough down, and create the circular braid.  Divide the dough in to three equal sized balls, then roll them out in to equal length and width ropes.  From there it’s just like braiding hair.  Braid the dough and then form it in to a circle, molding together the two ends.  Don’t worry that the connection doesn’t look braided; you’re going to just put an egg in there.  Space the other eggs evenly tucking them in the nooks in the braid.  These eggs should be RAW because they bake in the oven as the bread bakes, so be careful about pushing on them too hard at this stage lest they break.

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Now you need to let the bread rise again, about 45 minutes.  It will again almost double in size and puff up around the eggs.

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Now it’s time to prepare the bread for baking.  Melt a little butter and brush it on to the bread, avoiding the eggs so that they do not discolor during baking.  Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on the buttered areas, again avoiding getting it on the eggs.  I actually did get a bit of sea salt on my eggs and they speckled from it.

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Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (I’m sorry, my Canadian friends, I don’t know what that translates to in Celsius) and bake on the top rack for about 15 minutes, then move to the bottom rack for another 15 minutes.  I do this in my oven because I find that way it doesn’t get too brown on the top or the bottom.  However, I would caution you to check the bread frequently because ovens differ.  For example, the electric oven at my lake cottage will burn things like this in a heartbeat if I’m not carefully watching them.

When the bread it finished it will be golden top and bottom but not too dark.

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That’s it!  It’s a very easy bread to make and would go nicely with a variety of dishes.  The eggs are hard boiled (or really, hard baked) when the bread is finished and can be eaten along with it.

Tomorrow my husband Bill will be making his family’s homemade French vanilla ice cream recipe.  Stay tuned for that as well.

Happy Easter, happy Spring, and happy hooking! – Beth

Maine Maple Sunday 2015 in Minot, Maine

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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

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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.

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

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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

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Painting of the West Minot Grange by Hester Gilpatric.

Two New Spring Soaps Up in Our Bath & Body Shop Section!

ParisLilac

Every May, our little village of Paris Hill, Maine erupts in to a riot of lilac blossoms.  We have deep purple, lavender, white, reddish lavender, and everything in between.  The scent is intoxicating.  Walking around the village you can catch the scent of these gorgeous flowers on a spring breeze.  It is truly one of my favorite times of year, especially after the long winters we experience here.

Here at the Parris House we have several large lilac bushes (lavender and white) and I cut the blossoms to bring in to the house.   Anyone who has cut lilac, though, knows how briefly these blossoms last.  I decided making a lilac soap might be just the antidote for that long wait for the blossoms to appear and then the wistful nostalgia once their brief season is over.

This is our first batch of Paris Lilac, but I plan to make more and have it available throughout the spring and summer.  Enjoy!

I’ve also made another fresh soap to wake up your senses from winter hibernation.  This one is limited edition, because I combined essential oils and fragrance oils in a one of a kind formulation based on what I had on hand.   Spring Sunshine will only be made this once, but it’s an invigorating combination of floral and citrus, with mostly lemony notes.

SpringSunshine

The next batch being made in Maine is going to be lavender, and I’m planning on introducing another bath product to coordinate with that, so stay tuned!

For all nine of our soap varieties, please check out our Etsy shop HERE and click on the Bath & Body section.

Happy soaping, happy almost-spring, and happy hooking!  – Beth

Beth Will Be Teaching at the Squam Art Workshops, and Is She Ever Excited!

For those of you who have not heard of the Squam Art Workshops, directed by Elizabeth Duvivier and held both on Squam Lake in New Hampshire and in Providence, Rhode Island, I recommend you click HERE and watch the video, less than a minute long.

I’ll wait…

Did you watch it?  When I first watched that video earlier this year, my first thought was, “This is me.  This is who I am.”  My New England soul immediately connected with the lake, with the women lost in creative endeavor, with the natural surroundings, and I thought, “I have to go there some day.”

Imagine my delight and surprise when I was presented with an opportunity to teach there!  And that is just what I’ll be doing for the Spring Retreat, held June 3rd through the 7th, 2015.

I will be teaching a class, suitable for beginner hookers, called Modern Heirloom.  The pattern shown at the top of the page will be our foundation, but you can bet not a single one of them will look exactly like that finished, and if I’ve achieved my teaching goal, each one will reflect the inner heart and creativity of the individual student.  I will provide a wide variety of hand dyed and as-is wools, as well as a plethora of more unconventional materials for experimentation and expression.

If you’d like to know a little bit more about me, my teacher profile is here.  But be sure to read about all of the other wonderful teachers too, including my amazing friend Sarah Sousa who will be teaching a workshop called Found Poetry.

I will be teaching two classes of ten students each, so if you’d like to join us, please sign up soon!  Students come from all over the country and many describe the retreats as life changing.  Registration information may be found here for the Spring Retreat.  I hope to see some of you there!

Happy Monday, Happy December, and Happy Hooking! – Beth