Friday, November 30, 2007

striped buttons

i have a running wholesale order with the craft council shop at devon house in st. john's. twice a year they place a big order (for summer and christmas) and i'm always working at it - a continuous flow of work (painted objects, sewing, knitting, hooking) being made and going to their shop. this way i'm never overwhelmed with work and they're never overwhelmed with product. so this week i'm finishing off the christmas order - some small mats, more booties and some chenille baby clothes. i've always sewn, but, like all the work i do, my favourite part is designing and chosing the materials (in this case vintage chenille, cotton lining and buttons). recently barb gave me a big bag of buttons (she has an extensive button collection). amongst them were these wonderful fabric covered buttons - a perfect accent for these overalls.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

new scarves

i've been knitting scarves. at the craft fairs this year my baby scarves sold out and many were bought by women who wanted them for themselves.

so now i'm knitting scarves for adults. i love the simple basic shape of the scarf that allows me to concentrate on colour and texture and i get to play with all the wonderful new yarn that i've recently picked up in st. john's and halifax.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

the norm

today i'm feeling myself. it's been a hectic fall - much travel, much much work. today i'm feeling settled. i spent yesterday filling out forms (i got some government support to attend the craft fair in st. john's and the conference in halifax) so it was a day of gathering receipts and making final reports. today i'm getting back to finishing some orders, some commissions i received at the craft fairs and planning a few gifts to make. i'm brim full of new ideas. i picked up wonderful yarn in halifax and st. john's and it's still lined up on my ironing board - can't bare to put it where it belongs.
last night keith's parents came to dinner. florence does some of my knitting and last night don got into the act by helping keith untangle some of my new yarn. in newfoundland, as in ireland, the men were knitters too, so i think keith and don were happily tapping into their roots!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

home to stay

sunday night, after a bumpy plane ride from halifax,we arrived in deer lake just after midnight. it was snowing and blowing heavily. keith had planned on picking us up but, without snowtires (we always wait till it's essential because we have studded tires) he got only as far as steady brook and turned back. he drove to star taxi and arranged to have us picked up in a safer vehicle. sooo... at 1:00 in the morning barb and i huddled in the back of a dark taxi and slowly battled our way the 45 km. home.
i hate winter travel. i'm a nervous traveller as it is - cars, trains, speed boats - i don't like going faster than i can walk. so my nerves are always on edge in the winter if i have to go anywhere. fortunately my next rip isn't until february so i'm home now and i can burrow in.

Monday, November 26, 2007

neo craft conference

i returned from halifax this morning around 2:00. a great weekend at the neo craft conference. it was an academic conference on the state of craft in today's world. at times i felt the air sucked out of me from parasitical academic blather but mostly the talks were large thoughts coming from strong feelings or expereince. it's what i'd hoped it would be.

i went with my friend barb hunt who is an artist/academic with a soft foot in the craft world (amoung other things she knits pink anti-personal landmines). we were a good balance and had a wonderful girlie weekend. luxury in the waverly inn - not expensive but very special in it's details, and close to the conference. in our spare time we hit the yarn shops to pull in a good supply for winter.

of course ate wonderful food - japanese, thai, greek.

saturday morning we walked to the halifax farmer's market we don't have a market in corner brook and it's something i always miss (i lived near kensington market in my last years in toronto before moving to newfoundland). we sampled food and chatted with local craftspeople (it was a wonderful antidote to all the words at the conference). here's rona schwartz of granny's garden with her imaginative hand knit baby hats. we visited galleries and chatted with old friends and made new ones. i'm planning a research trip to scotland next year and was delighted that there were so many delegates from scotland giving talks about the state of craft there. i feel very full now. ready to stay home and think and work.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

lucy sees like an artist

when i was 3 my mother gave me a small piece of cardboard with a square cut out of the middle. i spent hours moving around my world placing this cardboard on surfaces - the couch, the lawn...- and marvelling at different colours, textures. i was framing my world as an artist does - to bring it more into focus and make it manageable to reinterpret. my 2 year old granddaughter lucy sees like an artist. her world is one of colour and she describes everything in terms of colour (including nuances). her new house that is a nondescript pale greenish-yellow she describes as "a tiny bit yellow house". lying on her parent's bed she said "your room is very white". it is. lucy delights herself, entertains herself, consoles herself with drawing and painting. the other day when her father wouldn't let het use more glue on her sopping collage, she ran to her mother. "are you a sad girl?" her mother asked. "no" she responded "i'm a sad painter".

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


yesterday morning we woke to heavy frost. everything hoary and crisp. abigail was startled by the feel and sound when i put her out (she reacts to strange footing by going on her tiptoes like a plump little ballerina).while i was away, winter came. all the leaves are gone. the remaining flowers - phlox and asters and late roses- mummified by frost. corner brook got snow that lasted for days. keith (thank-you, thank-you) raked the yard , emptied the remaining flower pots, stored the garden furniture and bound the bushes (because of the amount of snow we get here, the weight would break the bushes if we didn't bind them). putting the garden to bed.

tomorrow i leave for halifax to attend the neocraft conference. it will be interesting to hear what the academics have to say about what i do... i'll be home late sunday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

what i'd like to move from st. john's to corner brook

there's alot i love about about this little town of corner brook, newfoundland but there's alot i'd like to take from st. john's and move here:

1. georgestown bakery. every day i walked my grandson to school and then walked on to the georgestown bakery to pick up bread for the family. baguette, bagels, some lovely dark rye. some days olive bread. corner brook has no bakery like this. to get wholesome and tasty bread, i make my own.

coffee matters. on the way back to the house with my warm bread, i'd stop in at the new cafe a block from my daughter's home and pick up a double shot cappuccino to go. after 10 years without a cafe in corner brook we now have one. it's a wonderful addition to the town, but coffee matters is spectacular - a wonderful choice of coffees and other drinks, elegant seating. just the place you'd love to spend a sunday morning in with a coffee and the gobe and mail.

wooltrends. i can buy yarn online but there's nothing like walking into a yarn store and being able to see and feel and smell the yarn. wooltrends is a wonderful yarn shop in an old house in downtown st. john's. they've just expanded to the upstairs livingroom where they offer knitting gatherings. i'd love to have something like that in corner brook. we used to have a wool shop in corner brook. now we have walmart.

the battery. i love this area of st. john's - a higgeldy-piggeldy hodgepodge of colourful houses perched on cliffs and overlooking the narrows of the st. john's harbour. my friend isabella lives in the battery and runs her "blue moon pottery" from here. she's been there since the 1970's - before running water and sewers... it still has such a feeling of "another time".

the family. it's hard being so far away from them. seeing the little ones only every few months. not being there when they need my help. when i need theirs. so many families in newfoundland have it worse. so many young people raising their families in alberta and ontario.

Monday, November 19, 2007

catch up

i got home last night after almost 2 weeks away and it is wonderful to be home. today is catch up day. unpacking and sorting. responding to personal and business letters. putting my house in order. giving my dogs alot of attention.
the st. john's craft fair went well. in corner brook my painted work was the big seller, in st. john's the baby knitwear and chenille clothes. because of this, i had enough product for both places. sales were up for me again from the last time i did st. john's and i was able to leave behind some of my work to complete an order at the devon house gift shop. so all the work paid off and i have money to get me through the next few months. this is how it is...
last week i stayed in st. john's and became mum and nana. my daughter and family have just moved into their new house and are in the throws of renovation. the house is old and full of character and will eventually be the house of their dreams for the family. i looked after the grand children. cooked and cleaned and did dishes. sewed curtains. in the evenings i worked on some commissioned projects. time is different when you're around young children. everything is frantic and fractured but at the same time s-l-o-w. i miss them terribly when i can't touch them but i'm happy to be back to my own time.

Monday, November 5, 2007

the cows ok but the chickens blew away

(that's a quote i love from a jamaican farmer after hurricane george). it was quite a storm. no rain but unbelievable winds. power outages and uprooted trees. the leaves on the trees mostly now on the ground (raking will have to wait till i get back!).

the craft fair was very successful. my prices are slightly higher than last year , so each sale seemed to make a difference in the total. mailboxes (my most expensive item) and wooden ornament/magnets (my least expensive item) were the big sellers, and i'm sorry i don't have more of either to take in to st. john's.

today i have to sort and reduce what i take in - product, booth, clothing etc (for 2 weeks), abigail - to make it fit into a small jeep. i'm staying an extra week to help my daughter and her family settle into their new home (they made the move on saturday). i have a few commissions that i can work on while i'm there, but after the fair i'll mostly be making curtains, cooking dinners and playing with the grandchildren. a good break. i get back on the 18th. i'll miss my blog and all of you who check in regularly. take care.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

day 2 of the craft fair

the clocks went back last night and i'm so grateful for the extra hour this morning. it's almost liesurely. slept well last night (the previous 2 nights were sleepless). day 2 at the fair saw bigger crowds but fewer sales - alot more browsing and chatting. i'm pleased that the pillows are selling. and bowls. lots of wooden ornaments. things are going well. don't know what the turnout will be today - newfoundland is getting the tail end of hurricane noel - on the west coast winds up to 145 mph - in corner brook gusts of 100 mph, so people won't be driving here from out of town. today the fair closes at 4:00. packup and take down. monday to reorganize then tues i'll drive into st. john's (an 8 hour drive) and set up there on wed. for the st. john's fine craft and design fair. it again is a juried fair run by the newfoundland and labrador craft council. they have about 90 booths. it runs from thurs. nov. 8th - sun. nov. 11th.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

day 1 of the craft fair

yesterday was a very successful first day at the craft fair. mailboxes, small boxes and paintings. all the knitting - hats and booties and surprisingly the new vests and funky awkward scarves sold well . but only 1 pillow and no mats. you can never guess what will be popular and today could be completely different. when i wasn't with customers i was knitting a scarf (and sold the scarf i knit...). saturday is usually twice as busy as friday so i'm optomistic about today.

Friday, November 2, 2007

and let the show begin

yesterday i spent 7 hours setting up my booth for the show. it's the biggest booth i've ever had . i have so many different things i do - hooking painting sewing knitting - it's always a struggle to design a booth and have it make visual sense. this year my booth is 8'x16' - the larger the booth, the more you pay for it, so it is a gamble. but i love the space. i have little "rooms" - the paintings and boxes room, the chenille decoration room, the baby clothes room etc.
and a good space for me to sit and work (i always demonstrate rug hooking at the shows). the west coast craft fair in cornerbrook is a lovely intimate show. it's a juried show (by the newfoundland and labrador craft council) of around 30 booth holders. this year we have 8 new booth holders - artisans from across the province - always good to see new faces, new products. i love the comraderie at these shows. a knowlege that we all "get it" - how difficult and laborious the process is to get here, how beautiful and refined the product is. many of the people we'll see and talk to over the next few days "don't get it" and you find yourself having to explain your processes, defend your prices. so this is the quiet moment when everyone is together and supportive and happy to know that they aren't the only one crazy enough to chose this life...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

things change

yesterday morning we woke to the first light sprinkling of snow. i've been too busy to ready the garden for winter (put away all the lawn furniture, empty the flower pots, bind the bushes with burlap). winter is the one season i don't anticipate with pleasure. it's hard work. i live in a "winter wonderland" - lots of snow well into april, downhill and crosscountry ski facilities within a 10 minute drive, snowmobile trails that lead you far into the hills with vast vistas of mountains and ocean. aside from a little cross country skiing (which i confess i do enjoy once i'm out), i find i really just want to hole up in my house - the fire, my work, a book, the tv... until the cold weather passes. this is one change i don't embrace.
yesterday i sent off work to couple of galleries - mats to the moorings gallery in nova scotia for the "7 fibreticians" show that opens nov. 17th, and more work for fog forest gallery (my work sold well in the sept. show so they need more for christmas sales). today we set up for the corner brook craft fair that starts tomorrow..