I’ve suspended my writing for the week because I’m teaching elementary children on a month long contract and I’m focused and inspired and need to line up all my jelly beans. What I really want to sustain over this month is my time in nature because things are evolving so quickly out there…and so many new birds are on the wing.
I’m writing diligently about an art tour that I took at Pason Systems on this past Saturday…one piece at a time…it was such a fabulous experience! I suppose I’ll publish that during the coming weekend.
…here’s an exception. I felt I needed to write my gratitude for Wendy Lee’s invitations to meet and listen to the music of Ruth Purves-Smith, accompanied by the fantastic guitar player, David Holloway. So, for Juno weekend, I ended up having time on Sunday to attend Wendy’s house concert where chili was served, chilled white wine and the most wonderful company ever! It was a hub of Juno energy and such a down-to-earth experience.
It turns out that Ruth’s father, Bill Purves-Smith and his wife, Fen Roessingh, have a connection to my own family patriarch, John Moors…and so, Ruth and I are connected by the beautiful warm smell and coziness of wool! My grandfather is pictured below, a young man, in the throws of excitement about wool.
Bill Purves-Smith and a photograph that appeared on his memorial 1934-2011.
This story about the collision between Ruth’s family and my own appears on the Custom Woolen Mills website…
Fen Roessingh and husband Bill Purves-Smith developed a keen interest in weaving while studying at the Leighton Centre near Calgary, Alberta in the 1970’s. After being given a truck-load of raw wool in order to pursue their weaving, they began searching to find a mill that would process it into yarn. This took them to Magrath, Alberta, to work with John Moors in his mill, Wool Carding and Spinning. John had started in the woolen mill business at the age of 12 as a bobbin boy and worked his way up to running his own mill. When Fen and Bill came to work with him, John was in his 70’s and looking for someone to take over his business. Game for a challenge and motivated by their love of fibre arts, Fen and Bill bought the mill from John and moved it to Carstairs. They then acquired a wool washing system and additional carding machines from a small mill called Custom Woolen Mills in Sifton, Manitoba. The mill was owned by Anna Weselowski who, also in her 70’s, was looking to retire. Combined, the new mill was called Custom Woolen Mills Ltd. Wool Carding and Spinning, but everyone just called it Custom Woolen Mills for short. Over 35 years later, Custom Woolen Mills is still going strong; a hub in the community, a multigenerational family enterprise, and a producer of quality, Canadian grown and manufactured wool products.
Of course, as soon as I could, I grabbed onto Ruth…gave her a big hug…and we began to spill out the memories. I loved hearing about her playing in the back of the mill and watching the old television…I could picture it all.
Thank you for the stories, Ruth…and the music…and the generous heart. Thank you David for the absolutely amazing guitar accompaniment and the talk of clocks. And most of all, thank you to Wendy and Dan for their hospitality and for the sharing, always, of music and art! Good to see so many friends that we now share and for the introduction to so many more!
It was a wonderful experience…bought the recent CD….so should you!
Objects of My Affection: Woolen Blanket
Wool Card and Spinning: My Grandfather’s Story