Saturday, August 26, 2017

(Backup) Amherst, Nova Scotia

Thursday we drove to Amherst, Nova Scotia--a stop Trisha had been looking forward to for some time, ever since she got into rug hooking.  Although she first became intrigued with rug hooking on our first trip to Nova Scotia in 2014 when we visited many museums and shops, she didn't really get into doing it until this past winter in Sarasota.  Our friend, Janine, started a rug hooking class at the RV park there, and also got Trisha, our friend, Sherry, and our new friend, Donna, to go with her to a rug hooking group and Trisha was able to meet many more women who were avid hookers (it always tickles me to say this-LOL!).  Anyway, several of these women were from Canada and talked about Deanne Fitzpatrick, a world renowned rug hooking artist and designer, who lives in Amherst.  Trisha ordered one of her patterns and hooked a beautiful rug that now hangs on one wall in the RV.  So, to say she was anticipating a visit to Deanne's studio with great excitement is sorta like a kid on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa to arrive!  So as soon as we got the RV hooked up at the campsite, we jumped into the car and drove into town, and here it is!!  Took this first picture before we went in, and you can tell by the look on Trisha's face how excited she was!  Check out the yarn strung across the top, and the geraniums in the hanging baskets!

And here is a big frame right on the sidewalk in front of the studio, with chairs where people can give it a try--really cool!

And here's Trisha with Deanne herself!  Her store is huge, with several rooms of patterns, yarns and wools, with a dyeing room.  Deanne sits in this fairly small, windowless room where she creates her amazing designs.  She does patterns, makes kits as well as hooking her own finished products on this frame.  She was so amazingly friendly and encouraging.  She likes to encourage people to take her patterns as a starting point, and then to customize it in their own way.  She has written several books and we saw some cards that had photos of her artistry, accompanied by truly beautiful poetry.  She is amazingly talented.  We found several Christmas themed patterns--I know this comes as a surprise that we were looking for this theme--and one that we really liked was of a village with two Santas, one at each end of the village.  I was watching one of Deanne's staff take the pattern, which was drawn onto a thin mesh netting, tulle, I think; she laid that onto the linen or burlap backing piece and used a Sharpie to trace over the tulle, so the markings came through right onto the linen or burlap, very interesting technique.  We commented that it would be even better if the pattern had one Santa and the other figure be Mrs. Claus--well she said "Just go into Deanne's room and ask her, and she'll be happy to do that."  So Trisha asked Deanne, and just like that, she had drawn a Mrs. Claus into the picture--so wonderful!  Trisha can't wait to hook that one.  

And in Deanne's little workroom, she has this Ethiopian proverb hanging--so that endeared her to us even more.  Not just for the sentiment that she chose to hang on her wall, but that it comes from Ethiopia, the country our son Jeremy has now adopted as his home!  

This is the Deanne design that Trisha hooked and hangs on the dinette wall in the RV--Such vibrant colors!

And here's the pattern Deanne customized for us--Santa's happy now that Mrs. Claus is in the picture,. HO!HO!HO!

Sophie has been such a good traveler--so we found a special treat for her--peanut flavored frozen yogurt, just for pups!  She was so happy!

We stayed in her studio a couple of hours, just taking it all in, talking with Deanne and her staff.  Trisha was just floating off the ground with excitement! We came away with an interesting book Deanne wrote, plus enough patterns to keep Trisha busy for quite a while!  People come from all over the world to visit this place, so it was really special to visit!  It was also funny in that the staff person who checked us out was so excited when we walked in--she said she had seen Santa outside and she's a self professed "Christmas freak," so I had fun talking with her about that.  I asked her if she would like a picture with Santa and she squealed with delight--"I was hoping but was afraid to ask."  I told her that, like Trisha says, anyone who keeps a long white beard and always wears red shirts and a red cap that says Santa On Vacation is more than happy to do this!

One of the things we loved most about Nova Scotia when we were here before was the music, lots of foot stomping fiddle and keyboard music, some singing and dancing.  Derived from the Scottish/Irish tradition, a "ceilidh," pronounced "kaylee," sometimes called a kitchen party, where folks used to gather in the kitchen to sing and dance and play on cold winter nights, is now any session with lots of this music and dancing performances, in pubs, concert halls, etc.  So we asked Deanne if there were any ceilidhs in town--alas, we learned that this is more in the Acadian tradition on Cape Bretton Island, but she told us of a local pub down the street that has open mike night every Thursday.  So we went that evening and had a lovely time.  Along with typical pub grub, they also had a wonderful hot vegan hummus wrap!  The place is small, and the tables are jammed up close, so we were seated by a table of three women, close enough to be part of the same group.  One woman does Mrs. Claus, so that was a natural conversation starter.  Of course, those of you who know Trisha and her lovely smile and welcoming countenance, will not be surprised to learn that before the evening was over, the woman sitting closest to her was pouring out her life's story, telling her of some of her trials and tribulations.  It never ceases to amaze me how often this happens with Trisha.  I joke that she has a flashing neon sign on her forehead that says Come tell me all your troubles!  But of course she did her usual compassionate and wonderful job of offering on the spot pastoral care, and by the end of the evening we were all hugging and happy!  Plus we got to hear some wonderful locals singing and playing guitar--some better than others, but all having a great time.  We loved it!

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