O Canada! Or, What Doug Kreinik Did On His Summer Vacation—and you know it involved textiles...

Nova Scotia is a wonderful place. For this year's summer holiday, my wife, Myla, and I traveled to this Canadian Province for the second time to seek out moose and whale. We found no moose, but saw a squirrel and lots of whales. If you've never experienced it, let me tell you: It is very exciting being in the Bay of Fundy smelling whale breath. 


I stopped to see my good friends from Dragon Dreams designs, Jennifer Aikman Smith and her husband Nick (see http://www.dragondreams.ca). We talked about the industry, her new designs and the way the design market has changed.  She dropped us off at the only counted needlework shop east of Mississauga located in Moncton, Because You Count (you can find this fabulous shop on Facebook).  Her store is filled with everything counted, from cross stitch to needlepoint and embroidery.  Shelly told me that while I was in Nova Scotia, I had to visit rug hookers—apparently this is a very popular craft in this part of Canada. I love any type of fiber art and the whole handmade process, so we set out to visit some rug hookers.


Rug hooking was made popular early on in history.  It was the ultimate in Reuse, Recycle and Reposition. Canvas from grain sacks were used as the base material and cut-up fabric or leftover yarns were used to make the design. (This technique seems like a perfect place to use Kreinik Bag O'Bits, which is leftover metallic thread).


First stop was in Amherst, at the studio and store of Deanna Fitzpatrick, http://www.hookingrugs.com/.  She has a dye studio selling her custom-dyed yarns, a work studio, and classrooms. She is well-known internationally for her books and DVDs on rug hooking. Here, I saw very artsy rug hooking.  She uses all colors of yarn to accomplish very large and beautiful tapestries.


After Halifax, a wonderfully historical city, we went down to Peggy’s Cove, which is very picturesque but fairly touristy. Next, we headed to Mahon Bay where we found two other rug hooking artisans who used fabric instead of yarn. The first was Spruce Top (http://www.sprucetoprughookingstudio.com), and here you can learn the art of rug hooking, purchase finished rugs and take braided rug classes.  Carol, the owner, showed us a slitting tool capable of making 1/16” widths out of any fabric or even leather. The second spot was Encompassing Designs (http://www.encompassingdesigns.com/).  Christine creates charts and sells her own kits, has an exceptional selection of felt in shaded colors, and she has created many new types of tools for rug hooking.


In Lunenburg, we met with Laurie Swim, http://www.artquiltpublishing.com/ author of “Rags to Riches-Quilt as Art.”   Laurie took us through her gallery and studio as we talked about her work and philosophy behind making quilting into art. At the time of our visit, she was working on a large tapestry from a photograph.  Later, we traveled to her hometown down the coast, got out of the car and saw the exact same landscape scene along the beach that she used in her latest quilt. The experience was remarkable.

 

We stopped into a number of yarn shops, including Hand’s on Crafts in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and Cricket Cove in St. George, New Brunswick.  We concluded that Canadians like to spend their cold winters with a needle in hand, and they seem to enjoy all types of hand crafting.


And yes, we did see two humpback whales.

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