Maritime Treasures

Anyone who has ever had the good fortune to travel to the East Coast of Canada, will appreciate the rich heritage and value place on Arts and Craft. The provinces of New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia are literally dotted with artisans doing every kind of craft.  Potters, woodworkers, knitters, and painters as well as many other artists can be found on the back roads of these provinces.  Oh, and when the car rental agent asks it you want “pot hole protection”, say yes!!

My sense is, that being an “artist” is more fully appreciated than in other parts of Canada.  Value is given to the wonderful works of art that are being produced.  For example,  Cape Breton has plotted out an entire CRAFT TOUR of the entire island!  It doesn’t get much better than that (as my husband and kids found out!)


The Celtic roots of the Maritimes is evident, especially in their knitting!  Cable knits are very popular as well as traditional fisherman knits.  The Rustico Bay Wool Sweater Company features many of these heritage knits. Click HERE to see their selection.


If you would like to try some cable knitting, we would suggest you check out the Fair Winds Beanie and Scarf by Churchmouse Yarns.  Suitable for both men and women, this simple cable pattern is really effective done in Berroco Ultra Alpaca.


Click HERE to have a look at our Fair Winds Beanie and Scarf Kit


The Briggs & Little Woolen Mills has been in operation in New Brunswick since 1857 and has been rebuilt four times following fires!!  A truly Canadian business, it is amazing that they have carried on for over 150 years now.

“Briggs & Little carries an inventory of 100% Canadian made pure wool yarns in 8 weights with colour ranges up to 46 shades in each one. Our yarns are suitable for hand-knitting, machine-knitting, crocheting, and weaving. Sizes vary from 24sts to 10cm (4 in.) and 1720 Yds/lb, to 11sts to 10cm (4 in.) and 340 Yds/lb. We also have a Classic Aran weight available in white only, and an 80%/20% wool nylon blend yarn available in 11 shades. Our wool spun and roving unspun knitting yarns are suitable for knitting, crocheting, and weaving”


We will have some Country Roving from B&L in stock soon, if you would like to make this Oh Canada sweater by Darling Deviance!  Check back !

Several years ago, I was fortunate to attend a full week of rug hooking called “Mad about Maud”.  The entire week was devoted to reproducing, thru rug hooking, the art of the a true Canadian Folk Artist, Maud Lewis.  If you haven’t seen her art, or heard her “story”, it is well worth the time.  A fascinating and odd woman, she looked to be crippled by rheumatoid arthritis (just a guess), but she married, lived in a very small house which she decorated with her art and married.

Maud painted with very simple paints on any canvas available and sold her work to tourists for a meagre return.  She loved painting outdoor scenes and completely captured the charm of Maritime life.

(and my version with rug hooking!)

Highland Heart Hookery has the rights to many of Maud’s paintings redrawn on Rug Hooking Canvases.  Click HERE to see their selection.

Anyone that has had the pleasure of touring the East Coast of Canada will tell you that these folks are some of the NICEST people in the country.  Their Celtic roots as well as the influence of the French Canadian settlers have created a unique community.




I’s the By Who Builds the Boat…Newfoundland, Our East Coast HeavenApril 18, 2017 12:42

I remember singing this song when I was in public school.  I thought it was hilarious when I conjured up a mental picture of people dancing around, in their rubber boots, “up to their knees in gravel”!  Newfoundland and Labrador was the last province to join Canada and we are sure glad they did.  This province has the most warm-hearted and funny people who have, and continue to, contribute immensely to Canada.

I’s the B’y
Folk Song
I’s the b’y that builds the boat
And I’s the b’y that sails her,
I’s the b’y that catches the fish,
And brings them home to Liza.

Hip yer partner*, Sally Tibbo,
Hip yer partner, Sally Brown,
Fogo, Twillingate, Moreton’s Harbour,**
All around the circle!

Sods and rinds to cover your flake,***
Cake**** and tea for supper,
Codfish in the spring o’ the year
Fried in maggoty butter.


I don’t want your maggoty fish,
That’s no good for winter,
I could buy as good as that,
Down in Bonavista.


I took Liza to a dance,
As fast as she could travel,
And every step that she did take
Was up to her knees in gravel.


Susan White, she’s out of sight,
Her petticoat wants a border,
Old Sam Oliver in the dark,
He kissed her in the corner.


I’s the b’y that builds the boat
And I’s the b’y that sails her,
I’s the b’y that catches the fish,
And brings them home to Liza.



A few years ago, Canadian Living magazine, posted a pattern for Thrummed Mitts and we all made several pairs.  These East Coast mittens are knit up in warm wool, while “thrums” of short lengths of roving are knit into the fabric.  The result is a pair of super thick, woolly, and warm mittens for a cold Canadian winter.

(photo courtesy of the Yarn Harlot)

You can see from this great photo, the outside and inside of these wonderful mittens.  If you would like to knit a pair, please click HERE for a link to a free pattern courtesy of Debi Wilbur.  Any worsted weight yarn will do as well as about 50 gm of unspun roving.  We love ours done up in Peace Fleece yarn.  Check out our selection HERE.

And, if you are loving the mittens, how about a pair of THRUMMED SOCKS!  If that doesn’t keep your tootsies toasty, nothing will!!  Click HERE for a free pattern courtesy of Linda Boudreau.



As a Rug Hooker, I have been fascinated by the Grenfell Rugs of Newfoundland.  While women had been hooking for years before Dr Grenfell arrived, his contribution to their cottage industry made a huge difference for many poor families.

“The quiet months of February and March were known as the “matting season” along the rugged coast of northern Newfoundland and Labrador.  it was a time of respite from the fishing season.  Decades old by the time the Grenfell Mission began, the roots of mat hooking lay with the founding English and Scottish settlers.  The women all hooked, most from their earliest childhood.

In 1892, when Dr Wilfred T. Grenfell arrived from England, he met courageous, hardworking people who were fighting terrible odds against chronic disease, hunger, poverty and exploitation.  From his determination to alleviate their distress, Grenfell’s medical mission began.  His conviction that outright gifts of money, food and clothing would offer no long term help , led to the development of a cottage industry known as the “Industrial” which produced distinctive handicrafts including hooked mats.”

Map of Newfoundland (chrome)

Silk or rayon stocking material, dyed.  Mat maker unknown, Circa 1938

Picture courtesy of Paula Laverty

“To the mat hooking industry, the mission brought standardization, colour harmony and incentive.  Sixteen mission picture mats, many designed by Grenfell himself, were in production by 1916. Distinctly norther images – dog teams, snowy owls and polar bears, were now in the centre of the mat.”

Two Polar Bears on Ice Floes

Silk or rayon stocking material, dyed: 28: x 39″; Mat maker unknown.  Circa 1928

Photo courtesy of Paula Laverty

“The first call for silk stockings occurs in 1928 in “Among the Deep Sea Fishers”, the quarterly publication of the Grenfell Mission.  The use of silk stockings, dyed to beautiful soft hues, helped to propel the mat industry into its peak production years.  By the winter of 1929, 3000 mats had been hooked and revenues from the sales had rising from $27 000 in 1926 to $63 000 in 1929.  New designs were in production.  Geometric and floral patterned “scrap mats”, often of the mat hooker’s own design, were popular and provided an interesting contrast to the picture mats.”

Falling Leaves

Silk or rayon stocking material, dyed: 21″ x 27″; Mat maker unknown, Circa 1930

Photo courtesy of Paula Laverty.

“Mat hooking has had wide-ranging benefits for the women of Labrador and Northern Newfoundland.  In the early dye of the mission, their mat hooking income would only provide the bar necessities: clothing and medicines.  But as the industry and their income grew, the goods they were able to purchase with “mat money” inspired a new pride.  Women could earn their own livelihood and were no longer forced to marry young.  The men looked at the women with new respect.”

(2002, Paula Laverty)

Lastly, in order to be called a true “Newfie: you really have to be screeched in by one of the locals. So if they offer, be prepared to kiss a cod and drink the local beverage, Screech, and probably a lot of the latter before you kiss this fish.

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