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on knitting local and gumption.

28/01/2012

 

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i got the opportunity to take a break between contracts last fall and decided to go on a roadtrip to visit some creative friends on the east coast.

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i danced my happy heart out at the season’s first contra dance—a community event that came to be when the buddies behind the smokin’ contra band decided to organize the event.

i visited the bloomfield centre–a hub of a place–to see work done by natural plaster artists, the delightful agne kubiliute among them, in the old school-turned community centre. that summer, they got youth who use the space to roll up their sleeves, put on old slacks, and plaster-tile its hallways. with lovely results.

i got to spend a day with a beautiful fiber artist friend, owen brush, who showed me how to draft weave patterns and dress his floor loom. not only does this man card his own nova scotia wool, but he dyes, spins, and weaves it as well.

i got to help clean out a root cellar and spend a good soulful day with amy lounder, the farmer behind avon river csa, a winter vegetable farm an hour outside of halifax. we chopped onions and tomatoes she had grown that year to make chutney for her customers’ boxes.

i also made sure to visit the roberts street social centre, a community space with a zine library, a screenprinting collective, space for meetings, and a shed for hosting artists from out of town.

stumbling upon the word on the street festival, i got to hear tanya davis, the city’s poet laureate, read some of my new favourite poems.

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that whole city to me is made up of folks who, in the words of chester, nova scotia-based banjo-star chris luedecke, “work their dreams with their hands”. folks with big ideas, resolve and the gumption to make it all happen (an energy i truly miss living in risk-averse ottawa).

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on my way back to ontario, i stopped in sussex new brunswick (the mural capital of canada, by the way) to meet amy carpenter and alyson scott, two sisters who’ve started a custom fiber processing business called legacy lane. i’ve been gaga for all things wool and yarn since i learned to knit in grade school and this trip had been planned for some time. having visited custom woolen mills in carstairs, alberta that summer, i wanted to see what a smaller operation could look like, how young folks looking to run an environmentally mindful fiber processing business could sustainably do so, both personally and economically.

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when i heard about their business from a friend, i was immediately taken in : young people, young women, reinvesting rural communities, starting businesses, creating local and social economies. to counter the tragedy of emptied towns, of obligatory urban migrations, of deserted boarded-up type places. (these are dreams i dream for myself and stories i love to hear, read and write about).

 

those sisters sure spin beautiful yarns. they took the time to show us every step of the process and i made sure to leave with paper bagfuls of rovings to spin and yarns to knit up.

there’s something about knitting with these yarns, knowing they didn’t travel much farther to get to legacy lane than i did to bring them back home. knowing the spun skein’s story. (plus it’s a thoroughly sumptuous yarn.)

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on rainy winter nights, i am grateful for the journeys that have given me these fibers to work with, grateful for these storied strands to weave, and to the folks behind all of those creative projects who give me much hope in these times of questioning.

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