Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blanketing Our Whole Community

It seems like many traditional crafts are experiencing a renaissance these days. Knitting, weaving and quilting are among the increasingly popular pastimes that are infecting both women and men with the creative bug. People everywhere are picking up needles, looms and sewing machines and producing incredible works of art. And they are not just armchair crafters, picking away at personal projects in front of the TV during the evenings. Not at all. Serious crafters are gathering together and forming groups that are both social and supportive.

For many years in Houston there has been a spinners and weavers group and a quilting group. More recently a knitting group has formed.

The quilters who are officially known as The Cut Loose Quilters meet biweekly in the Canfor Room at HPL to hone and share their skills. Yarn It All, the knitters, also meet bi-weekly in the Canfor Room to do the same. We aren’t sure where the spinners and weavers are gathering, but I’m fairly sure that they are gathering somewhere!

The resurgence of these crafts in recent years is interesting to say the least. The artisans that create such beautiful and practical items do so with passion and pride. Not a single item seems to be less than a labour of love.

Last week, one of the members of The Cut Loose Quilters entered the library and unfurled an example of this labour; a gorgeous quilt, which was donated to HPL for the purpose of fundraising through raffle ticket sales. The tickets will be on sale between March 24th and May 24th after which a draw will be held to determine the winner. (See picture above)

This beautiful quilt is not just a pieced-together blanket. It is a community project that started with a simple idea and will culminate in a lasting legacy for the entire community. The purchase of the material to make the quilt was sponsored by the Bulkley Valley Credit Union. The quilt itself was created by the members of the Cut Loose Quilters (quilt mom: Ene Groot; quilting done by Pam Sjoden). It was then donated to HPL. The raffle will raise money that will be used to purchase new chairs for the Canfor Room. And some lucky winner will have it to treasure for – hopefully – many, many years to come. It could even become an heirloom!

The number of people that have, are and will be touched by the quilt is extraordinary. This humble little blanket is wrapped around many shoulders. It is a symbol of how our community works together, helps each other out and rallies to support good causes.

Tickets will be on sale at the Bulkley Valley Credit Union, the Houston and District Chamber of Commerce and, of course, at the library.
(BC Gaming License #32292)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mr. Brewstir Retires After Serious Arm Injury

For over a decade Mr. Brewstir watched over the HPL collection, ever vigilant under the weight of his personal stack of tomes. His loyalty and dedication to the library, the staff and patrons as he silently stood guard will be sadly missed as he now retires from service.

Mr. Brewstir came to Houston from the land of Costco in 1997. His first appointment was at Brewstir’s Books on the corner of 10th Street and Poulton Avenue; a job he fondly recalls as being “pleasantly aromatic.” “The smell of fresh coffee mixed with clean books... Ah! A most pleasurable place to earn a living,” Brewstir reminisced just prior to the surgery he recently underwent to mend a severely fractured right arm.

His move to the library was precipitated by the closure of Brewstir’s books in 1999. Though he nearly retired at that time, Mr. Brewstir decided to continue is career when a position suddenly opened up at the library. “I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be surrounded by all those beautiful books,” Brewstir said.

Brewstir’s peaceful work life came to a shattering end this past February when an errant and unsupervised toddler wilfully knocked him over. In the fall, Brewstir’s right arm sustained multiple fractures and his beloved stack of books was forcefully ripped away from his body. Staff members were horrified, but quickly assisted the fallen bibliophile back onto his unscathed plinth. The noble little man didn’t so much as groan, though the pain must have been terrible.

Arrangements were made to transfer the wounded Brewstir to a nearby hospital – of sorts – where he was lovingly tended to by Dr. D and his assistant T. The surgery to repair his damaged arm took just over two hours, followed by another 24 hours in traction to be sure the breaks would mend properly. It is expected that Brewstir’s stack of books will be returned to him tonight or tomorrow and that he will be able to continue to hold them for many years to come. Some follow-up, cosmetic surgery to hide the scarring is scheduled for the coming weekend.

Mr. Brewstir misses the library very much. “But it is nice not to have to spend nights and weekends all alone,” Brewstir said. “I think I shall find retirement quite enjoyable.”

"He was quite a character," said librarian Toni McKilligan. "He'll be missed around here."

At Mr. Brewstir’s request no retirement party will be held in his honour. He simply asks that everyone continue to visit the Houston Public Library and enjoy “the great books, awesome programs and convenient services thereof!”