Kathy Paterson
Posted: Jan 8th, 2020 | Volunteering

Volunteer for 18 years & former Volunteer Workroom Manager

This month’s volunteer spotlight is on Kathy Paterson. A reception volunteer since 2000, Kathy was also the manager of the Volunteer Committee’s Workroom for many years. We sat down with Kathy to talk about her time at the Museum as well as her knitting travels around the world.

How did you get involved with the TMC and how long have you been a volunteer?

KP: I became a volunteer at the TMC in January of 2000, encouraged to do so by Audrey Hozack upon my retirement from a teaching career. Audrey Hozack was one of the original volunteers; in fact I think she helped create the volunteer committee at this museum way back. She brought me in, she said, “you call me when you retire and I will have a position for you”. And she did.

Describe your position at TMC. Why did you choose this kind of role at the Museum?

KP: I have always been at the Reception Desk, filling different shifts over 17 years, and for a short period early on, acting as scheduler for the front desk volunteers. I encouraged the transition from the pre-computer days of phone calls and a hand written schedule, to email and a printed schedule that could be shared online – no more phone tag! Hard to imagine in the era of 24/7 communication.

What has been your favourite part about volunteering?

KP: Greeting visitors at Reception continues to be a pleasure, especially as awareness of the TMC’s presence in Toronto has increased. Visitors from all around the world have made it a travel destination, and are often well versed in knowledge of textiles. I love it, as people come in with more knowledge, and interesting questions or walk out talking about things that they liked or with a big bag from the shop.

I was doing the Wednesday evening shifts way back, I think 2004. We had just received a donation – the Vodstrcil carpet collection. Herta Vodstrcil was an elderly woman in Montreal whose son, Andrew Vodstrcil, had sadly passed away and he had been a carpet collector. At the opening night reception for the carpet collection exhibit  there were people from Montreal, people from Toronto… and it was as much a celebration of the man as for his collection. Our Director at the time was down in the lobby to meet Mrs. Vodstrcil, so I got to meet her – it was a really big night.

Tell us about an outstanding experience you’ve had at the Museum

KP: Who can forget the “tent city” surrounding the TMC on the last weekend of May for the Annual “More Than Just a Yardage Sale”! The line-up for bargains at the annual volunteer sale of everything textile related has recently migrated to Artscape on Shaw Street. I was manager of the Workroom for many year. My years of sorting, pricing, and bagging knitting yarn for months in advance, and keeping the sale tables full on that weekend, was both the highlight and reward for me and many other volunteers. It continues, and I cheer them on!

What upcoming events are you excited for?

KP: I’m looking forward to the upcoming Itchiku Kubota exhibit! I also wish I could go to The Rooms in St. John’s, I’ve visited there a couple of times but I’d love to be there right now and go see the Grenfell rugs. I loved them when they were here and I’d love to see them again.

If you could take home one piece from the Museum’s collection, what would it be?

KP: I couldn’t possibly make a choice!

Do you have your own fibre art practice?

KP: I knit, and have done so most of my life as a relaxing and pleasurable hobby. And I have travelled with other knitters on knitting excursions around North America as well as to places noted for their history of knitting, like the Shetland Islands, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and just about anywhere that might have a yarn mill. Harris tweed in the Hebrides, lacework in Normandy, or “gansey” sweaters in Cornwall have also been on those itineraries created by a marvelous Canadian tour planner, also a knitter. I have already booked my own visit to Edinburgh in March of 2018 to take in that city’s Yarn Festival.

What was your most memorable trip?

KP: Whitehorse – even the flight up there was memorable, it was a clear sky and we just flew over that range of mountains from Vancouver all the way up to Whitehorse. We got to meet a woman there named Wendy Chambers and she was the first Canadian to develop a way to gather qiviut yarn with the local community. Qiviut fibre is the undercoat of the muskox which is predominant on the Northern Islands. Their downy coat is even softer, even smaller in micron measurements than cashmere. It’s just so very soft and a very expensive yarn. She had a shop in Whitehorse and we pretty much cleaned it out when we were there. I think that was a very good trip, I never imagined I would get that far north just because I’m a knitter.

Thank you, Kathy!

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