Friday, April 30, 2010

Elegance and Relaxation in Pennsy

Often we need to plan our vacations so that they are just that...a time away from the things that are common to us so that we can take a breath and be fresh when we return to our lives and routines. That is what I have done on my vacation this week.
I traveled from our home in Maine through New Jersey where I visited the town where I grew up...Cinnaminson. Then I went to stay for 5 days at the lovely Shearer Elegance Bed & Breakfast Inn located in Linfield Pennsylvania. This post will show photo's of the beautiful Inn.
My friend Kim drove up from Virginia to enjoy the long weekend with me, and it was a thrill to see her. We live so far apart that our ability to get together in person only comes once every few years. Our large room was sheer bliss. It had a lovely gas fireplace and a large four poster bed. Each room had a private bath and ours had a sweet old claw foot tub that was dripping with lace curtains and stenciled.
Each room of the Inn had special collections of the owner Cookie. Ours had two wall cabinets full of ornate beaded purses. It also had a large glass cabinet full of antique perfume bottles.

This was my favorite part of the room where I enjoyed many hours of reading. The wallpaper was actual fabric and the rugs were custom made to suit the unique shape of the room. Tall ceilings with chandeliers added an extra elegance to the atmosphere.
This shows the bed in another room at the Inn. Each room was large and elegant but comfortable.
This room is the small dining room and was about 20' X 30'. I spent most of my evenings sitting on that pink chair spinning on my spinning wheel and it felt quite natural to be spinning in that environment.
This is the main hallway of the Inn. The door at the back leads to the former servants quarters and kitchen and is where the owners live. Coffee, tea and cookies or cakes were always available near the back of the hall.
The woodwork in the home was fabulous and I always appreciate the work of master craftsman. This view is looking up from the stairs at the ceiling below the stairs.
Each stair landing was large enough for Cookie to create a lovely sitting area full of cozy spaces and antiques. There are three floors at the Inn.
This is the main living room. I was staying at this particular Inn to attend a spinning workshop. In my next post you will see these same rooms full of spinning wheels with fibery fluff all over the place!
There was quite a lot of stained glass in the windows and most of the doors of the home.
When I left home the daffodils were just coming up and there were no leaves on the trees. The gardens at the Inn and warm temperatures had me enjoying much of my time outdoors. The property is 3 acres that is beautifully landscaped with gardens, sculptures and water features such as a coy pond. Blossoms were everywhere.
Beautiful, isn't it? This magnificent and well loved Inn is currently for sale. Since it is in a very small town surrounded by "normal" homes the asking price is a mere $700,000. And it comes furnished!!! It is a successful and thriving business so if you are looking to find a dream home and welcome guests for weddings or vacations or workshops this is a bargain. Or if you are near Reading PA and looking for a lovely place to stay while you explore the area this place is perfect. http://shearerelegance.com/  

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Alfred Hook-in

Twice yearly there is a gathering of rug hookers in the small town of Alfred, Maine. This event began 25 years ago when Ethel Hills was inspired to bring a small group together for 3 days of making rugs, chatting, eating and lots of laughter. The lovely sheep rug above was hooked by Carolyn H. of New Hampshire.
I was negligent and didn't get the names of all the designers and makers in order to give them proper credit. But if you know that information please let me know and I'll update this post. I believe the following was being worked on by Barbara D. This shows only a small part of the design, which I believe is a Vermont Folk Rugs pattern.
There were artist trading cards, and although I don't need another project I signed up to participate in a swap. After all, they are small. Of course to conserve linen you really need to make at least four at a time! I am thinking of something with a sunflower, or perhaps fiddlehead ferns. But who knows...it might be a spinning wheel or hot air balloon! Embellishments and 3-D items are encouraged. These are mailed and traded with others and you can gather quite a collection!
I loved this interpretation of one of Deanne Fitzpatrick's patterns. You may be able to get a closer look by clicking on the photos to enlarge them. Check out the eyelash yarn on the dress, as well as all the details including the fancy shoes! I believe Sandra Porter was finishing this off during the weekend. Fabulous ladies Sandra! Diane and I will be taking Deanne's "Big Boned Girls" workshop in September and this rug heightened my anticipation of the class and trip!
These are my favorite colors all together. I wish I could remember who was working on it!
This village rug was designed and hooked by Pam Bartlett of New Hampshire.
I wanted you to see the beautiful detail and colors of the corners with the fish and rowboat.
The details on many mats were very well done. I examined this binding and it was about as perfect as you can get. I like the three rows of alternating loops on the border.
Aren't these roses beautiful? They are framed to hang on a wall.
The colors in the next rug were fabulous! It was hooked by Lisa Larrabee I believe.
Pam A. was working towards her McGown certification with this Jane McGown Flynn pattern that she was given. Her contrast is great and I love the mouse!
These hydrangeas were being worked on by Betty Evans. It is a Jane McGown Flynn/ Charco pattern.
This magnificent peacock was being hooked by Karen B. of Maine. She was using some sparkly threads that made the perfect accent.
I couldn't stop looking at this next rug. Every time I thought I had seen the details I would notice something new. It is a family story rug made by Sandra Porter. It has taken several years to make and is magnificent. Remember that you should be able to enlarge the pictures. Here is one part of the large rug:
And another:
And another part:
And here is the rug on the floor with Sandra (blue shirt) explaining how the rug changed as she went along. She added grandchildren and pets and many details. I love it!
This lovely example is progressing quite nicely. It is quite large!
The next rug is designed and hooked by Lynda Hadlock. This rug of our solar system must have taken an incredible amount of time to design while thinking about the sizes of the planets, where they would go on the rug and then the color planning. Hopefully I will see it completed at the Fall hook-in.
This comical rug was completed by Victor. It is a fun rug, and I believe it was hooked with wool yarn. He typically uses yarn for all his rugs and is a prolific hooker and makes most of his own designs.
Usually the "hookers" are the only ones utilizing the buildings during the retreat. But this time there was a gathering of rug braiders at the building next to us. They came over and checked out our rugs, and we went over and checked out their rugs! Here is a shot of a braid being sewn onto a rug:
And here is the actual braiding:
And just like rug hookers, they lay their rugs out on the floor to show off their skill and receive accolades from their peers. I loved the rug in the foreground in shades of purple made by Barbara Broadbent. Notice the five row edge...not easy to do at all! The shapes and colors were wonderful and I hope they share the compound with us again. 
It was a great weekend full of friendship, chatting and food. Life is good, isn't it?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Inspiration at Moshimer's Studio...

If you attempt to accomplish all the things you need to do without finding a moment of peace or inspiration for yourself, you will find it hard to smile and enjoy the everyday blessings. My life is busy, but much of it is my choice because I choose to open my eyes to activities and inspirations that surround me. Sometimes that takes an extra hour of my day but it is important to me so I will take that time once in awhile. I need a breath of fresh air after work and find it by going to places that inspire me, or sometimes while sitting at my computer enjoying wonderful blogs, internet groups and websites.
The weather today was unusually beautiful for early April in Maine. So I decided to go to Joan Moshimer's Studio in Kennebunkport. It isn't far and an alternate drive towards my home. The studio is in an old home, and the walls are full of beautiful rugs and mats. Shelved full of lovely dyed wool, bolts of wool everywhere, and many hundreds of patterns from Frost to McGown. Many of the rugs were impeccably hooked by Joan, and most of the patterns can be found on their website. http://www.wcushing.com/index.html
I wanted to pick up a few Cushings dyes for my next rug and gain some visual inspiration for flowers. I certainly got my inspiration as the variety of rugs are like a breath of fresh air to me. I had no intention of buying wool, but of course I did buy a little.
This amazing Lion rug was hooked by Joan. It is 48" X 58" and quite detailed in about a #4 or #6 cut. There is a companion piece that Joan began but was not able to complete before she passed away.
Many of the mats have lovely braided edges, and I love the look. Making one is on my "Bucket List" of things to do before I "kick the bucket". The wools in the edge braiding are the same as the ones used to hook the center. I believe the shading in this tulip mat may have been what I was looking for as inspiration. I am not able to visualize how to shade a flower petal or leaf in my mind. I need to see something that someone else has created, and then I can take that information and create my own image. Mental notes for myself...create light near the petal edge to contrast with the background, and create dark veins. Blue and green can be used together in a leaf. Orange and pink can work well together. My mind is full of mental notes, and sometimes I actually put them on paper!
This amazing table wreath was done in the Waldoboro style of hooking. It is called that because it was done quite a bit in the Waldoboro Maine area and seems to have originated in that town with a group of women who gathered in what we would now call a guild. It is formed by using small cuts (#3 & #4) and hooking very, very tight so the hooked area hoves up. Then the area is trimmed or sheared. The result is a velvety sculpted mat. The Spring colors of this wreath are beautiful and my camera didn't do them justice.
This pansy rug was hooked by Joan Moshimer and measures 36" across. Notice the variegated yarn that was used to both bind the mat and create the fringed edge.
 
Some of the displayed mats are intricately shaded art made with 8 values of each color. But there are also examples of simple and primitive shading that are cheerful.
Chair mats are usually quick projects and the variety of patterns is endless. Most are 14" in diameter or smaller and can be primitive or detailed.
I do not aspire to make an oriental rug, but love to look at the designs. This was one of the simple designs and I really liked the way the colors play off of each other.
Joan's "Persian Blue" cat pillow has been widely published, but of course it is better seeing it in person. Thie cat belonged to her grandaughter LC. Look at the luscious colors on the rug behind it, and notice the scalloped edge.
And of course the Studio is known for their amazing dyed wool. Long ago they only carried their swatches that consist of 6 or 8 values, but have expanded to offer marbleized and dip dyed wools too. I like their Cushing dyes and enjoy the colors I get. I also use them to dye basket reed when I make my baskets.
It was a nice way to spend an hour, and on this beautiful day I am reminded how beautiful it is to live in this area of the country and so close to the ocean. Although it is still early and we might still see snow here, the marshes and grasses are ready to turn green with a small amount of encouragement from Mother Nature.
So my lesson for today is for you to take some time for yourself and live a more inspired life. It doesn't have to take money or very much time. Open your eyes to what is around you in your personal world that can inspire you. Take a walk...get mud on your shoes. Visit an art gallery. Meet up with a friend and enjoy a 'cuppa something with fresh scones. Visit a local farm and watch the sheep being sheared or baby lambs at play. Go to a bakery and enjoy the smell of fresh bread. Curl up with a good book. And then get back to me and let me know what inspires you...rejuvenates your spirit...opens your eyes...gives you confidence...and adds a breath of fresh air to your day. Enjoy your Easter weekend, and God bless you!