On entering, the walls were a riot of colours and subjects, crammed floor to ceiling with amazing examples of hooking. As I tried to take it all in something on the back wall caught my eye. By the time I walked over for a closer look I was "hooked"! The staff told me a little about the museum and I told them I have wanted a purple pansy rug for a long time. What caught my eye had nothing to do with pansies, but there was a bit of purple in it! This rug is a maze of cats in every size, shape, and demeanor imaginable. A few birds are perched cheekily on heads and tails. The colours are chaotic and happy.
My friend could not believe I was drooling over it! You need to understand that I have worked hard for a very long time NOT to become "A Crazy Cat Lady" -- I live with a few of the real things so all my friends and family know I do not accept "cat gifts". As I agonized over if I could buy it and how to justify this major breech in my "No Cat Presents" rule, one lady very kindly mentioned the lay-away plan the museum offers people who fall in love with something after arriving without sufficient funding! That convinced me I could work out the financial angle and I decided I'd figure out how to deal with all the people who know me while I paid for my rug. I emptied my wallet to give them a down payment and promised to return in a few weeks.
The staff knew the rug was hooked in Ontario, but they thought the design was the inspiration of a Nova Scotia woman. I went home to see what the internet could tell me. It turns out rug hooking in Nova Scotia is alive and well. There are a few prominent designers and hookers mentioned often on Google search.
Back at the museum (armed with more money to top up my deposit), the ladies were really excited to show me the book they had found detailing when this treasure was created and who did the work. There were also patterns, a colour photo and notes from the artists who had named some of the cats they hooked. Apparently it's rare for rugs to arrive with information detailing their creation. How lucky am I!
The people who have seen "Say Cheese" hanging in my home have all leaned in for a closer look at the design and they seem just as fascinated with the details in the book as I am. When I went to work in Mexico last year, the rolled up rug came with me and the people there loved the colours. Before leaving for Mexico, further internet study lead me to the rug's original creator -- Christine Little and Encompassing Designs in Mahone Bay. I e-mailed her, she e-mailed back and I promised to bring the rug down to her shop and show her. Last weekend I finally got there. It was wonderful to meet her and her husband and see some of her beautiful work on display. I'll never be a rug designer or a hooker, but I do love colour and I've done enough other handcrafts to recognize quality work when I see it. Her store is brimming with quality, unique designs and beautiful colours. I will be stopping in whenever I'm in the area to see what new treasures she is creating.