Nova Scotia Craft: Moose River Studio + Gaspereau Valley Fibres in Annapolis Valley
Alright, I’m convinced. Rug hooking needs to happen.
Before I left, my Aunt advised me that Moose River Rug Hooking Studio in the Annapolis Valley was a must visit. I’m not a hooker (in any sense of the word, Mum, if you’re reading) but I’ve always appreciated it.
I’d like to experiment with my own modern interpretation of this craft — a geometric wall hanging, an ombre throw pillow, different textures or materials… That’s the thing about craft, you have to be able to judge medium and style independently. It’s easy to say, “Oh I have no interest in rug hooking, I’ve got some of my Grandma’s old pieces and I don’t care for it.” Well do you dislike hooking (which is totally fine) or do you just not like the traditional patterns? You can take the skill and do whatever you want with it, make it your own. Don’t let a stereotype limit your outlook, you know?
Moose River Studio and Gaspereau Valley Fibres were the two places I visited in the Annapolis Valley. There are many other artisans and shops open in the Valley during the summer months. If you’re planning a visit, do your own research and pick up an art guide from a tourist information stop when you get to Nova Scotia, it lists a ton of places! See part one of my Nova Scotia Craft series for places I visited in Halifax and surrounding area.
Moose River Rug Hooking Studio
Rug hooking is a big deal in Nova Scotia. Hooking and quilting. There are weavers and spinners and other fibre artists of course, but all the craft shops I visited seemed to cater to hookers, knitters, and quilters.
Many of the displayed hookings are for sale, and they’re all made locally. I spent a while chatting with the man running it that day which was really interesting. He was so open and willing to share so I just picked his brain on all things craft in the province.
At one point I asked him if there are any young members in the guild and he responded, “Oh yes, we’ve got a couple guys that come out. They’re only 55 or so, just getting started!”
Haha! It was neat to see there seemed to be just as many male hookers as female though. (Tell me I’m not the only one who can’t stop giggling to themselves at the mention of hookers… I am twelve.)
The majority of the hookings displayed were done in fabric, expect this little section of yarn ones. That one at the top is an award winner (sure is in my books).
“Maritime Village” by John McBride. 71 x 17 inches.
Detail shot of McBride’s yarn hooking.
They sell a variety of patterns (is that what they’re called?). Apparently they’re good because a women flew through the shop while I was there raving about so and so “having a new pattern out I can’t find her work anywhere!!!” before spending $300 on fabric with the kind of ease most people purchase a latte. In and out in 5 minutes. What a hero.
Much of their wool fabric is imported from the States, and with the recent dip in our dollar that’s inflated prices.
He told me many hookers in the area used to get their wool from Frenchie’s (a thrift shop). They’d buy wool clothing and tear it up. Now you’d be hard pressed to find wool at thrift shops, because no ones buying wool clothes to begin with, because no one wants dry clean only garments! This means hookers are having to buy the fabric, and since there aren’t local mills that produce in this way anymore they’ve got to import it. All to say hooking is becoming a very expensive hobby, which is part of why it’s not picking up much traction with younger people.
Gaspereau Valley Fibres
I really nearly passed out when I walked in here, I was so excited. What a wonderful place — local fibre, super friendly staff, a cat, a weaving workshop underway, a cafe in the adjoining room with a knitting class, all in the loveliest converted-barn-feel space.
When they figure out teleporting, I’m lobbying the powers that be to prioritize a passageway between Toronto and this heaven on earth. OK maybe that’s Harry Pottery style apparition I’m thinking of.
You get the idea though. GO HERE.
Fleeces on display from their flock (that’s right, they even have their own flock of Cotswolds. And yes, yarn is coming).
Isn’t this wreath a great DIY project?
These wool blankets were so nice. And they’ll ship them if you’re looking to order one!
There are still a handful of woollen mills in Prince Edward Island. Most people I met who had their own sheep sent the yarn to PEI to be mill spun.
Felted beavers sporting Hudsons Bay sweaters — Canadian enough for you?
Look at this little thing!! Can I have one in my size?
Alpacas are pretty rare in Nova Scotia, Yarnsmith is one of the only local yarns I came across.
So you can imagine my shock when I got to my Bed & Breakfast in Antigonish that night… only to see alpacas in the yard! They owners had them as pets! There were a lot of those ‘meant to be’ moments on this trip.
A clawfoot tub filled with pay by weight roving — this is my kind of bath.
This is the yarn made from their flock of Cotswolds. So lovely! I expected it be spun in Canada, likely PEI, however none of the mills here have the equipment to process it because the stable fibres are so long. Currently it’s spun in South America, but they think they may have found a Canadian mill that can take it going forward. They’re just in the process of getting samples.
I’m not typically drawn to felting but I loved these creatures! What a sweet idea for a mobile.
Look at that fluff spillover!!
OKAY I’m done. If you can believe it that was the condensed version. Look out for my last Nova Scotia Craft post on my Cape Breton Island finds.