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Getting local crafts into people's hands


This sign greets patrons to the Some Good Market in Makinson's.

Laurie LeGrow knows the amount of work craftspeople put into their projects. A knitter since the age of six, LeGrow is also aware of the challenge craftspeople have when it comes to getting a fair price for the work they do. Crafts take time, she says, and craftspeople's time is just as valuable as anybody's else's.

"They've got a skill - maybe they've gone to school or maybe they have life skills that they've perfected. In my mind, there's no difference between a master plumber or electrician and a master craftsperson in handcrafts like knitting and pottery," LeGrow explains.

"When someone looks at something (handmade) and says, 'That much for that?,' sometimes they don't realize that the craftsperson is probably putting the price down so people can afford it. They're not making $10 an hour. There's no minimum wage."

LeGrow, who has won awards for her knitting, is interested in preserving the skills of Newfoundlanders from years gone by. In addition to knitting, she bakes and makes pickles and other preserves, and runs what she calls a "starter farm," with vegetables, goats and chickens, on Hodgewater Line.

"Whenever I'm doing any of the things I do, I always think about how our grandmothers did all this stuff, because they had the kids and the husbands were out on the boats," LeGrow said.

"If they wanted to be fed, they had to make all the food themselves. If they wanted to be clothed, they had to have the sheep and spin the wool and knit the sweaters and socks and underwear."

At the beginning of the summer, LeGrow got together with a few crafty friends and started Some Good Market, an outdoor market on her property, selling locally grown and made products at fair market prices. It quickly grew as the word spread, and became a weekly event.

With cooler weather drawing near, LeGrow and her fellow craftspeople figured the market's days were numbered, until she looked into the possibility of renting somewhere indoors. This week, Some Good Market will move to the community centre in Makinsons.

"I went down there and had a look, and thought, let's do it here; let's get the community going. It'll bring some money into the community centre, because they rely on grants, I found out."

The lineup for this week's market is varied. Vendors will include sealskin jewelry by Sealed with a Kiss, wool and organic catnip toys by Mewwwfoundland Purrrfections, fudge by Patti's Sweets and items by Linda Lewis of Baynoddy, who raises sheep, llama and goats on her farm in Chapel's Cove.

Jasmine Paul, a 24-year-old graduate of College of the North Atlantic's textile studies program, will be at the market with Who Knit You?, her line of knitting and yarn, which she dyes and spins herself by hand, and local author Charles O'Keefe will be on site to sign and sell his novel "The Newfoundland Vampire."

Tie-dyed hemp T-shirts and bags by Fit to be Dyed, a.k.a. 10-year-old Max McMillan, will also be available. Max started tie-dying at age six and has sold his products at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, among other places.

LeGrow and her mother Christine make and sell knitted goods under the name Spindrift, a company which is set to be featured on an upcoming "Land and Sea" production, LeGrow says.

"I knit some baby things - not traditional baby things, but little pants and hats," she says. "It's fun to do for something different."

LeGrow will, as usual, have vegetables and a limited supply of eggs from her own free-range chickens - eggs that have proven popular at Some Good Market, especially since they're naturally green.

The colour is down to their breed, LeGrow explains.

"They're called Ameraucana and Araucana chickens, but most people just call them by their common name, Easter Egg chickens," she says.

"Mine lay a couple different shades of green, but others lay blue, pink and purple. It's fun to show people those, especially the kids."

Markets over the next few weeks will include Britannia Teas, One Bite at a Time cupcakes, and handmade soap by Sherry's Suds and "Scent"sationals of Roaches Line. The goal is to continue Some Good Market all year round, and eventually include workshops and classes in things like knitting and pottery.

"I think it's really important, as a Newfoundlander and for the idea of intangible cultural heritage, to keep those skills alive, and to teach them to people," LeGrow says.

"Whether they learn them or not, at least they'll understand that when someone knits a pair of trigger mitts, this is what they do and how long it takes."

Some Good Market will take place on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Makinsons Community Centre.

The centre is located one kilometre in on the main road in Makinsons, off Veterans Memorial Highway.

Craftspeople interested in booking a table can get more information by emailing LeGrow at Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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