The question is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely. If you’ve never attended, you might wonder what all the fuss is about — and why you’d commit personal time and money to attend one, especially if lengthy travel is involved.
I decided to ask some rug hooking acquaintances, since I’m a relative newcomer to the craft (done it in spasms over the past seven years). I’ve attended two annuals and loved them both! But that doesn’t make me an expert…
Workshops, rug displays, fun
Someone who DOES know about the Annual is Pat Bonn, longtime member of the Ottawa Old Forge Rug Hooking Branch and a certified teacher with the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild (OHCG). Pat has attended about 10 over the past dozen years, and declares: “There’s something good about every Annual.” She lists as top personal highlights: rug displays, workshops, sharing.
“I’ve met so many people across the province, it’s great fun … and I’ve seen more of Ontario than I ever would have otherwise.” She adds you can’t beat the inspiration and opportunity to learn and find new perspective at these gatherings. And it’s focused, creative time among friends — no need to break for household chores or meal preparation.
Stephanie Gatszegi, another Olde Forge branch member, has been frequenting the Annuals just as often, and is equally enthusiastic. She loves the shopping, especially if there are vendors with unusual yarns and abundant fabrics, tools and fibres. Making a personal connection with a vendor can pay off, she says, particularly if you have a tough challenge in a piece to discuss. They have considerable knowledge and experience to draw from.
Stephanie also enjoys workshops when they offer something new, or a twist on standard techniques. But it can be an intense few days with “so much to see and learn.” Her advice? Rest up before you go, and bring your stamina!
Best of the best
With four or five Annuals under her belt, Kemptville resident Pat Reid (Rideau Valley Boots & Bundles branch) shares one experience with the two Olde Forge members that she’ll never forget: working as a host branch volunteer/planner of the gathering. It’s a huge undertaking, they confirm, rewarding and worth the experience but not to be taken lightly.
The Annual represents “the epitome”, in Pat Reid’s view, of the amazing range of ideas, colour, creativity and ever-evolving technique that the craft now embraces. It’s great value for OHCG members, and she urges anyone contemplating it: “Don’t miss the opportunity to go … and bring a friend, so you can talk about it afterwards.”
Source of inspiration
For my part, I came home exhausted from the Annuals I attended — but in a good way. I had bags of notes, tips, ideas and projects-to-come, and was thrilled to meet so many inspiring creators. As Pat Reid told me, “You never know what you’re going to pull out from inside of you” when you take up your hook to begin that next piece.
And as I heard recently at a similar gathering of rug hookers enjoying a lively presentation and hooking session (not an Annual): Sharing = Joy
See you in the loop! And we’d love to hear from ‘newbies’ about that first Annual — what were your experiences? Anything especially memorable?
Marla, Content creator