October 17th, 2005
We arrived at the CAT ferry in Bar Harbor at 6:45 on Wednesday, August 24. The CAT runs from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes. That’s a lot less time than the other ferry from Portland to Yarmouth, which is no longer operating and took 11 hours. The trade off is the price — the CAT is ENORMOUSLY expensive — I probably could have flown for what it cost the 2 of us! But it wouldn’t have been a road trip, then, would it? We ate a mediochre breakfast on board and settled in to listen to the 2 screaming kids next us. ( Luckily the parents toted them off to the tv room pretty quickly.) We were hoping to see some whales during the crossing, but it was so foggy we couldn’t even see the front of the ship. We could, however, hear the constant pinging and beeping of the on-board casino which starts operating 3 miles off shore.
We arrived around noon (it’s an hour later in Nova Scotia), piped in by a bag piper strolling the grounds of the Visitor’s Center. We hit the road quickly, wanting to get to Halifax in time for the official “Meet and Greet” at the Casino Nova Scotia hotel, our place of residence for the next 5 days. Unfortunately, we forgot it was nearly lunch time and we didn’t have any Canadian money. (Not really a problem, most Canadian businesses are happy to take American dollars. )
Not far outside of Yarmouth we spotted a helicopter circling above the road. Mind you, this is a 2-lane road with nothing but trees and skies on either side. (It’s lovely not to see a gas station or a McDonald’s for miles. . . ) As we neared the helicopter, we noticed several cars and trucks and men standing around. Barb spotted it first: a moose at the edge of the woods. We found out later that there aren’t too many moose (mooses?) in Nova Scotia, so they take good care of the ones they have. I guess they were trying to keep it off the road. Seeing the moose made up for not spotting any whales earlier in the day.
We stopped in a little town named Barrington to have lunch and to change our money. We loaded up on loonies and twonies (the Canadian $1 coin is called a loony because it has a loon on the front. So if that’s a loony, of course the $2 coin is a twony. I do not like to carry coins around — I have a big can full of them at home that I take to the bank periodically — but one has no choice in Canada. There just aren’t any dollar bills). After having a light lunch at a little restaurant who’s name I’ve forgotten, we headed north on Route 103, passing by the Barrington Woolen Mill Museum.
We made it to the hotel by 5:30 after making a few wrong turns despite our detailed Mapquest map. I found it a bit unnerving to drive in the city after all that open road with very few cars on it. I was exhausted to boot — two solid days of driving takes a lot out of me. We dropped our bags off in the room and headed for the Biennial Registration.
We were greeted by the charming women of ATHA Region 15, a chapter which encompasses all of the Atlantic Provinces. The volunteers all wore tartan swags, making them readily identifiable. We were given our class information, meal tickets, and small zippered bags to wear around our necks with our names and hometowns on them. We also received a tote bag full of all sorts of treats: pads of paper, pens, samples of wool, lapel pins, discount coupons for the vendors, and, best of all, a hand-hooked coaster of a lighthouse. We went right back to our room to paw through the bag of treats like kids on Halloween! Region 15 really did a terrific job — everything was very well organized.
At 7 PM we headed downstairs for the “Meet and Greet,” which we assumed would be wine and cheese before dinner. Turned out it was a chocolate fountain with fruit for dipping. We wanted hardier fare, so we headed out to the waterfront to look for a restaurant, but not before stopping to chat with Peg and Jim Irish. Peg, who is one of the most talented and innovative rug hookers around, was there to teach a 1 1/2 day class entitles “A Nova Scotia Impression.” On our way out the door we ran into Nola Heidbreder, who taught a fabulous class at the Shelburne Museum in April called Historic Rugs (which I’ll write about at a later date). Nola joined us and on her recommendation we had dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Sweet Basil, right across the street from the hotel. I enjoyed wonderfully sweet Digby scallops and Nola’s company. She is incredibly funny as well as remarkably creative with just a touch of flamboyance. Dinner was a treat.
We hit the sack early so we’d be ready for day 1 of Sandy Cheverie’s class “Rug Hooking and Rug Braiding.”
to be continued . . .
October 14th, 2005
Because I live on the very eastern end of Long Island, I have to add two hours onto every trip I take. That time is either spent driving west to New York City or on the Cross Sound ferry to New London, CT. So I was out the door at 6:15 AM on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 in order to catch the 7 o’clock ferry. By 9:45 I had picked up my sister Barbara (who has forbidden from calling her Barby ever again in these pages) and we were on our way to Maine, the first stop on our excursion to Halifax. We had a dull day of driving punctuated by yucky rest stops and bad fast food. We were on a mission: get to Searsport Rug Hooking in Searsport, Maine before closing time!
Thanks to my expert (and fast) driving, we made it to Maine in time. We were greeted by Searsport Rug Hooking co-owner Julie, one of her employees, and my calendar of vintage rugs hanging behind the check out counter! This place is a hooker’s dream! There are rooms of rug hooking supplies here. Finished rugs are on display everywhere, some for sale. Julie was in the dye kitchen, smiling through the steam while preparing wool for an upcoming class with Polly Minik. Barb and I were able to have our pick of freshly dyed wool, still warm from the dryer. The wool room walls are lined with bolts of fabric and cubbies of hand-dyed wool, all irresistable. I bought plenty of stuff, including a small frame with gripper strips for Russian punch needle, the newest craft fad in the rug hooking world. We ended our visit with a chat about the new Townsend frame — all $750 worth of it! They didn’t have a model there to test, unfortunately, but they do carry the Townsend cutter and just about everything else a hooker could desire.
There are no rug supply stores — or even fabric shops — anywhere near my home, so I was pleased to see a rug hooking shop doing so well in a small town in Maine. What a great place to vacation! Soak up the sun and salt air on the coast of Maine and on rainy days head to Searsport to shop for wool, take a class, or just sit and hook in one of their comfy armchairs. ( I threatened to take up residence in the room with the sleeper sofa.)
We headed to the Comfort Inn in Belfast, a run-of-the-mill hotel that actually allows pets. Our room was clean and had a small balcony overlooking Penobscot Bay. We went to the Chart House next door for dinner, which was a mistake — we should have asked Julie for a recommendation. We both ordered fried clams. (It’s a nostalgia thing — we used to go to Jimmy’s of Savan Rock for clams when we were kids. Even though I live in a place surrounded by salt water, I can’t get a decent deep-fried whole clam anywhere so I’m always on the lookout for the perfect clam when I travel.) We regretted our choice the next day. It was an omen — except for 2 meals, the food was horrible for the remainder of the trip. We turned in early so we could be on the road to Bar Harbor and the high speed ferry to Nova Scotia by 5:30 the next morning.
to be continued . . .
Want to visit Julie?
Searsport Rug Hooking
396 East Main Street
Searsport, ME 04974
October 13th, 2005
After I begin rug hooking in 1990, I started taking what I call Rug Hooking Road Trips. My husband Peter and daughter Clara were my constant companions until they both got bored with rugs. For awhile my good friend and rug-hooking fairy godmother Marie Brush travelled together. (I met Marie at my first rug class at the Long Island Rug School in Greenport, NY. Since then she has been extraordinarily generous with her knowledge, time, and hooking supplies.) We’ve been to the Dorr Mill Store, Green Mountain Rug School, the Fairfield, CT rug show, and to Rug Hooking Magazine’s first rug show in Ephrata, PA. Marie doesn’t travel much any more, so I’ve drafted my sister Barbara to take her place. Barby started hooking a couple of years ago and just finished her first rug in August. (She also makes a variety of wonderful and whimsical seasonal decorative items and reproduction sewing implements mostly from wool. Look for her website under the name Thimblefolk soon. She also hand dyes wool for rug hookers.) We’ve made a couple of great excursions centered around rug hooking, the most recent being our trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia for the ATHA (Association of Traditional Hooking Artists) Biennial in August 2005. Come back tomorrow to hear about stops at Searsport Rug Hooking, Maine State Museum, Peggy’s Cove, Frenchy’s Thrift Stores, the CAT Ferry, the classes we took with Sandy Cheverie and Deanne Fitzpatrick, and the very bad food we ate along the way.
October 5th, 2005
A few years ago I came up with the idea to start a publishing company devoted to rug hooking. What a great way to combine my desire to write and edit with my love for hooking rugs. And so Paisley Publications was born in the spring of 2004, it’s first products being a calendar and note cards featuring vintage hand hooked rugs. Well, after a year of doing EVERYTHING one has to do to create, print, and sell cards and calendars (except the photography) and ending up with a pile of calendars in the dumpster and no time to hook my own rugs anymore, I decided to change my focus.
“Forget about paper,” my computer whiz neighbor Seth told me. “Go digital.” He’s right, of course. The cost of printing on paper — especially beautiful four-color ph0tographs of hooked rugs — is astronomical. Working on the computer is an inexpensive alternative , and I don’t have to travel from rug show to rug show, carting heavy boxes of merchandise. I can sit at home in my cozy studio and publish anything I want to the web at next to no cost.
Now I’m the proprietor of The Paisley Studio, a web page that will feature not only my thoughts on various aspects of rug hookings — book reviews, rug shows, suppliers, etc. — but patterns on both backing and paper, templates for creating rugs, and original hand hooked rugs for purchase as well.
This is a work in progress — I’m still learning how to manipulate the computer (thank you, Seth), so expect changes and check in often to see what is new.