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Giving the Gift of something Handmade cannot be Beat

As we celebrate the season of giving, I still believe the best presents are not the ones that can be bought on-line or at some retail outlet but those gifts without price tags attached – but the gifts one makes by hand.

How wonderful are the holidays when grandma comes with a deliciously handmade apple pie, just ready to put in the oven? How often do we look forward to Aunt’s fruitcake, cousin’s cookies or a friend’s cinnamon rolls? There are those that always make an ornament or holiday wreath. We have knitters and quilters that do it their way, knit and sew stitches with ultimate care. We all have those crafty friends and family members that take the time out to show they care. These types of presents are the gifts that simply can not be replaced.

I’d like to share with you some of the handmade items, I received this year for Christmas:

1.Hooked Rug: It is certainly not every day someone will give you a hooked rug. It takes many hours of time and dedication to end up with a finished product. I remember making my first and only hooked rug to date in Winter 2011. It took 50 hours to complete. Hooked rugs represent a time of economic development, especially for women, as Dr. Wilfred Grenfell encouraged women to make hooked rugs to help supplement family incomes. They still sell Grenfell rugs at the Grenfell Centre in St. Anthony today. I love this rug and everything it represents as it depicts a shrimp at sea – the lifeblood for many communities of the Straits-White Bay North. Without such fishing activity and processing our region would face much difficulty. It now hangs in my bedroom near the window, which boasts a view of the water. I can not thank the giver enough for what it means to be presented with such a gift!  Please do keep up your efforts, as this hooked rug inspires me to push harder for the fishers and those who make their living from the sea.

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2. Knitted Socks: My grandmother had included in her present a pair of knitted socks. I love them – a pair of knitted socks is to be coveted. I’ve already placed one on my feet when I attended the 3rd Annual Mummer’s Walk.  The other foot had a striped knitted sock done by my Aunt Christina. These socks like others will find a home when I wear my seal skin boots or want to ensure my feet remain nice and cozy. These have been a tradition of Newfoundland & Labrador for centuries.

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3. Sealskin Business Card HolderA traditional-bark tanned sealskin has been designed to hold my braille business cards. I will use it proudly. We have such a history on the Great Northern Peninsula when it comes to sealing. For instance, St. Barnabas Church, Flower’s Cove is known locally as “sealskin boot church” because the building fund was provided by sales of women making and selling sealskin boots. This product will go nicely with my bark-tan wallet. Thank you SabrinaLisa for another incredible gift.

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4. Handmade QuiltMy 81-year-old grandmother has given me a beautiful handmade quilt for Christmas that she made herself this year. She has always made lots of quilts throughout the years, but never one to call my own. Christmas 2012 is very special to have the gift of a handmade quilt from Nan. I’m not sure how many more she’ll make, but I hope she continues the tradition. I’m quite pleased to see at least a couple of her daughters have picked up the skill, keeping quilt-making in the family alive and well.

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Traditions, culture and local knowledge should be passed on. I hope my liveruralnl.com blog continues to help document some of the many traditions, culture, heritage, history, landscapes and people of the Great Northern Peninsula.

Happy Holidays & New Year to All –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

Care in Every Stitch

Knitting at My Grandmother’s House

 Knitting has been a long-lived tradition in Newfoundland & Labrador. Most people no longer have spinning wheels and wool carders to make their one homespun wool. It can be purchased and we may be headed in that direction for increase the value of our product.

My Grandmother still does some knitting, although she is spends much more time at other craftwork, which will include quilting, sewing and plastic canvas. I remember she use to crochet, as well. One afternoon, I managed to catch her knitting put down beside her bible next to her chair where one can often find her if she is not spending her day in her flower garden, vegetable garden or strawberry patch.

Knitting seems to be another rural tradition that may be on the verge of dying. My sister, my mother, my aunts and many people in the community do not knit. However, many people who have knitted a lifetime continue to do so today and are vast producers. It was a treat when my Aunt Chris (Christina) gave me two knitted pairs of stockings and a pair of vamps as a gift. They have been greatly enjoyed.

After attending a Craft Industry Development Workshop on May 19, 2011, hosted by Nordic Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with CBDC NORTIP and Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, I was able to meet other talented knitters.

One knitter in particular from the Town of Main Brook seemed quite committed to the trade. She produced some exceptional product, especially for children.

 This individual loved trying different patterns and using a variety of colours. When you have a love for a craft or hobby there is opportunity to elevate hobbyists into micro-enterprises, home-based businesses or working co-operatives. It will really all depend on the craft producer or the hobbyist. Some are satisfied with small production and dis-interested in commercialization. While others may be interested in earning additional money, but not want to take on starting their own business.

I can only imagine a small child wearing this little Christening dress. There are cottage industries that can be developed on the Great Northern Peninsula. Maybe someone will become specialty producers for knitted Christening dresses and sell them at a premium. These type of ventures are happening in other parts of rural North America, where handcrafted furniture or embroidery is sold to the world. Our telecommunications highway gives us this opportunity! Unfortunately, not all areas on the Great Northern Peninsula has access to Broadband Internet, which will be a limiting factor for on-line selling for some. However, we can not let this obstacle prevent business and community development. We can work with a stakeholder that does have access to be our online broker of cultural commodities.

If you have an interest in selling your craft to the world, Live Rural NL can provide you with some advice. Drop an email to liveruralnl@gmail.com

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula –

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

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