Paddles up! Ready-ready. GO!!!


That phrase packs incredible punch — an instant jolt of anticipation, excitement and steely determination to all who heed its call.

For me, it conjures up memories of some very special shared times on the water. I’m no paddler, or even athletic, but two summer sojourns on my employer’s dragon boat team were electric. So much fun!

Dragon boaters everywhere will recognize the above-noted phrase. It’s a command issued just before the start of a race, when the boat is in position but not moving. Competitors are advised to lift their paddles into the air as they focus and prepare for the challenge ahead, then the coach calls “ready-ready” to have paddles lowered to the water, followed by a mighty “GO!” when the starter horn blasts to send the paddlers off with a lunge.

Let’s make waves

What does this have to do with hooking? Well, here’s the thing: Area 1 OHCG members have been challenged to create unique pieces that reflect our 2018 Annual’s logo. We have a line drawing of the logo (without text), and there’s plenty of room for personal interpretation.

So get your game on, ladies and gentlemen of Area 1, we want to see those water droplets and rolling waves! The resulting pieces will be recognized at the Annual in a special, non-judged display, and some will be used to help promote the event.

Here’s how it works: the drawing from the logo image has been circulated, and it must be part of whatever you Area 1ers choose to hook. The main requirement is that the line drawing must be clearly visible in your piece; it doesn’t have to dominate. Find full challenge details here.

“When we first thought about the logo, we wanted it to be a hooked image. However, time wasn’t on our side, as we needed to have our ‘memento’ item ready for the 2017 Annual in Cobourg,” explains Lesley Larsen, the 2018 Annual’s planning lead.

“With Area 1 branches co-hosting the 2018 Annual with the Ottawa Olde Forge branch, members from across our region appear keen to participate in this challenge… Not only have they helped shape the theme, they’ll now help us promote it and make it truly an Area 1 event … (and) we’ll see the diversity and creativity that is just so rich in this amazing fibre art.”

Coming in September — preview of challenge entries

I’m really looking forward to this project, and my head is already awash with potential colours, textures and design ideas. How about you?

Hooks up, ready-ready, GO!! And I’ll see you in the loop,
Marla, Content creator

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What’s so great about the Annual?

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

Oshawa Textures, 2014, Hooked by Marla Fletcher

Oshawa Textures, 2014. Hooked by Marla Fletcher

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

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And so the fun begins!

Have you ever been stuck on what to hook next? What might you do to try something new, add something extra to your piece? Did it leave you frustrated?

Where can you find the inspiration and guidance to avoid this sorry state?

That’s the beauty of the Annual — there are so many friendly, willing teachers and fellow hooking enthusiasts gathered in one spot, eager to share their knowledge and experience. And it’s the perfect getaway, with no day-to-day chores or meals to prepare!

In May 2018, that magical event will be hosted in Ottawa, and an excited, dedicated team is already hard at work planning and preparing for the big weekend! Our theme ‘Hooked on Waterways’ captures what it’s all about: a visual feast with a glorious rug display that includes many saluting Canada’s rivers, lakes and streams. There’s also the ripple effect, as we expand our rug hooking knowledge and broaden friendships. Oh, and then there’s the shopping…

The scoop on reserving early

You’ll need to move quickly to take advantage of preferred rates at one of the two adjacent hotels linked to the conference centre. As of mid-May, you can use a special code – it will be posted here – at the Courtyard Ottawa East Hotel to reserve. (Hotel bedrooms are double queens or single kings, all equipped with microwaves and fridges.)

The Ottawa Conference and Event Centre is bright, spacious and well suited to the Annual, with close indoor proximity between the various events, workshops and hooking room. The site is well located just off a major highway to downtown Ottawa (about 10-15 minutes away), and on a key bus route. Taking time to explore the beautiful National Capital Region is an encouraged added bonus.

Keep an eye on this space for inside information, updates and other highlights as the 2018 Annual takes shape.

See you in the loop!
Marla, Content creator

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