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Greetings from the North Gower Farmers' Market

Market Sketches - fine quality sewing

There's lots of produce at a farmers' market, but a farmers' market has a lot more than produce. Among the artists and craftspersons at the North Gower Farmers' Market are some who skillfully set their hands to sewing.

Drusilla Stone is an experienced seamstress, specializing in dress making and draperies. For the farmers' market, she makes smaller items, "As a hobby, in my spare time," she explained. I admired the colourful table runners, place mats, tea cosies and wine bags; work that shows the extra care taken by a craftsperson. The place mats, for example, have teflon inserts sewn into the middle, to protect tables from hot dishes.

At a nearby table, with a fine display of children's clothing and toys, is Charlotte Berube of "Charlotte's Web". It's a great name for a home sewing business. Charlotte started early. "I've been sewing since I was 8," she said, adding that she really enjoys sewing. It shows in her work. Charlotte, who is from Heckston, has been at the North Gower Farmers' Market since its beginning. She also sells at craft shows throughout the region. Ask to see her "Boo Hoo" dolls.

It's easy to notice the work of Sandra Crawford and Mary Ferguson: they have the first display as you enter the inside market area. Their children's clothing features bright prints and attractive designs. Since they are a team, the question is: who does what? Sandra explains: "I do the smaller sizes, Mary does the larger. Mary also sews the novelty items: dolls' clothes, aprons, pot holders, the childrens' and ladies' hats, and the pillows for visits from the tooth fairy."

Everyone loves a quilt. At the market you have different options. Select one from the displays, take a course from a vendor and make your own, or try to win one in the Market Raffle. The raffle prize is a queen size, hand tied quilt in the log cabin design. It's made by Deborah Egan, of Stoney Meadow Farm. Deborah makes quilts in four other traditional designs, in a range of sizes suitable for everyone from babies to royalty (queen and king size).

Next we visited Joan Lindsay. Joan, who makes quilted sleeping bags, quilts and quillows, is the concept designer and one of the key organizers for this September's Rideau Rally, a driving tour of rural Rideau Township. In addition to the display items, Joan does custom work and offers courses. I asked her for some Quotes On Quilting. "The important thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself," she said. "Quilts have the warmth of a blanket, and the tradition of previous generations. Collect your scraps and quilt away."

It's something I'd like to try, but first, it's on with the tour. Most of the vendors who sell clothing are indoors. Helen Watkiss has a large outdoor display, a red and white van with bright blue awning in case weather threatens. It's one of the first displays you'll see on the market grounds. Helen has an impressive collection of stylish hand-knit sweaters and vests, and crocheted blankets and angels.

Now let's nip back inside, to see Lorraine Falcioni, of Over the Rainbow Country Crafts. Lorraine puts marketing theories into practice. "Keep a variety of colours and materials," she explained. "Make things that are practical, and keep prices reasonable." Most of her products are priced below $10. She designs scarves "to appeal to the fashion wise, and kitchen bag dispensers in prints to suit any decor. Useful things," she said, "for practical people." I also noticed tote bags - just right for trips to the local farmers' market.

Lorraine has been at the North Gower Farmers' Market since its beginning. It's the only farmers' market she attends. She gives two reasons: it has an indoor display area, and it's vendor-friendly. "For a small town market," she said, "North Gower brings in a lot of people, and a lot of repeat customers."

Interested in home weaving? Janet Whittam has placemats, rag rugs, vests, shawls, afghans, and cocoon jackets for (obviously) cocooning. As cocooning involves gradually settling into a state of comfort and relaxation, it is keenly recommended.

While we can't mention everything that's available, here are two hints for you to start a tour of your own. Visitors usually feel that it's the vendors that brighten the North Gower market grounds. But now the barn itself is now brighter than ever, with some very colourful sewn banners, courtesy of the folks at Stillwoods. And while this may be the last thing you want to think about at this time of year, watch for the knit socks and mittens. We've tried them and we like them.

We hope you enjoyed this mini-guide to the seamy side of the market. The sketch part of today's Market Sketches is Jo-Anne McDonald's picture of an antique sewing machine. In our next column we'll be sharing some of our favourite market recipes.

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