Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Too good to be true.

I love it when things come together quickly: an idea + materials + plan + commencement all take place in a very short amount of time. It is great when you are so excited about getting started pulling loops that you can hardly wait to begin. This is where I was at on Sunday night, right after my last post. Eager to get started and see my plan executed.

...until "poof" it came to an abrupt halt. Now, I know that it's been a while since I hooked with nylons, and I know that I designed the purse, dyed the nylons, drew the pattern and prepared the packing for hooking (i.e. sewing on the ultrasuede and zig-zagging around several times) all in the same day. And I know that I used nylons that I bought from Dollarama. And I know that my colours weren't exactly what I had planned--much lighter than I had envisioned. But I don't think that I deserved this. Not when this project was supposed to entertain and delight me while away and spending five nights at various hotels. Alone.

Okay, so here is the problem....
I had forgotten was that once you cut off the "bands" and stretch them so the edges roll in, the inside is actually on the outside. Now, the outside of my nylons is a little "brushed" and so they appear darker than the inside (they are more likely tights than sheers). There is also a thread that didn't take on as much of the dye and actually appear a little shiny. The end result is a bunch of colours that look more like Easter than Summer.

I am at a stand-still. I don't know if I want to try re-dyeing for this idea or shelve it to be hooked with wool. In the meantime, I can't decide if continuing to hook my thick dark stripes is worth my time or not. Consequently, I did no hooking yesterday, and doubt that any loops will be pulled tonight either. I am really starting to wish that I had brought my knitting on the road ;-)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Queen Size.

I have been collecting pantyhose ever since I participated in the Padula Grenfell Swap a while back (2001 or 2002?....I can't remember). A couple of years ago, I bought a big bag of nylons in an auction at a rug hooking event. I also added to the bag from my own drawers (I would only ever hook with my own used nylons--never someone else's!)...and a bunch of white and cream nylons I picked up at Dollarama when it first opened in Huntsville.

If you are buying pantyhose to hook with, the cheaper the better, and bigger is best. One of these things is not like the others....

I dyed up a storm of legs and panties last night. I had forgotten how quickly the nylons accepted the dye. I took ten of the light coloured pairs (a mix of white and cream), cut the legs off at the crotch and then cut each leg in half....so I had a total of 50 pieces. Here are the rest of the results....

I was surprised at how much lighter they looked once they were spun and dried....so the finished colours are a big lighter than I was planning, but I will use them anyway. They are actually a little darker and brighter than they appear in the pictures.

I have been wanting to start a new project for a few weeks now....but work and life created their usual obstacles. I managed to break through my funk yesterday, and all the pieces fit together to create my newest design and pattern: a summer purse hooked with nylons...

I am anxious to get started hooking tonight. The Academy Awards are on, so I don't think I'll be seeing too many of the fancy outfits--I'll be too busy pulling loops. I'll still be able to listen for the winners...

I am on the road all week for work, but I will be holed up in my hotel rooms with my hooking for company. I'll try to give you regular progress reports.

Monday, February 19, 2007


The pillows are done. Finally. Even though I took them along on my trip last week—and hauled them in and out of four different hotels – all of the whipping was actually done at my place this weekend. Well, technically I guess I did do a little bit in Niagara Falls, but the lighting was so poor that I just ended up cutting it all out when I got home on Friday night.

I basically finished them the way I had planned…with the addition of basting the edge prior to whipping. I found that using a blanket stitch (with regular sewing thread) really helped keep everything neat and even when I was whipping – especially since the wool (pillow back) was a little shorter in some places than in others. When I got to the middle seam (where the zipper was sewn in), I had to modify the edge to prevent it from being much thicker than the rest. I trimmed the excess wool to about 1/16”, and then cut away about 1/4" of the linen backing, directly across from the seam (since I cut the backing just before basting over that section, I didn’t need to worry too much about it unraveling). This picture helps show what I did…

The edges were pretty wonky until I pressed them. I am so glad that my mum had an Elna press collecting dust in her laundry room—and that she let me (permanently) borrow it ;-) It does a great job with hooking, for far less effort that a plain iron. I think that this would be a good group purchase for a guild or group…

I also finished off my swap mat for the May 5th R.U.G. at the Simcoe Count Museum, months in advance. I know, I can hardly believe it—I am normally such a procrastinator. I am not done though, I still have to organize my game pieces…

For those of you wishing to participate in the swap, here are the details from the Fall/Winter 2006 edition of the R.U.G. sack
The next swap will be a GAMEBOARD of your choice.
The dimensions should be 12” by 12” and it can be hooked on the backing of your choice, with the materials of your choice, and the finishing of your choice. Yes, I know we are offering a lot of choice here but it is supposed to be fun and I am sure you are all ready for the challenge ☺
*Please be sure to attach a label with the makers name to the mat.
*Please include appropriate playing pieces or disks.
*Please include instructions for play if it is an uncommon or original game.
The mats will go on display again in the morning (please bring them to me first so that I can take pictures and keep a list of all participants) and for the first part of the lunch break. The maker will keep the box/bag/basket with the game pieces. Halfway though lunch, all of the mats will go in a bag and all participants will have a chance to randomly choose one. This should give everyone an opportunity to find their new mat’s maker, personally thank them for their creation and pick-up the game pieces (while also avoiding the problem of pieces getting separated from their game in the bag and helping to keep the bag a manageable weight).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Speedy Gonzales!

There are all speeds when it comes to rug hooking. Some people are fast, some are slow, and others just go with the flow...hooking regularly with their weekly group. Regardless of the pace at which the hooking is completed....it is a whole other set of rules for finishing. Many people hook steadily for days or weeks on a project, only to have it sit rolled up under a bed or in a closet, patiently waiting to be "finished" (pressing, binding, basting, etc.) -- but not everyone! ;-)

I was pleasantly surprised to receive an e-mail from Patricia Truesdale this week. Patricia was the first person to purchase a Gossip pattern, and most definitely the first person to finish one -- and in less than 3 weeks! ;-) Congratulations Patricia...your purse is beautiful!

If you are hooking the Gossip pattern, Patricia did have a couple of ideas... First, she did the top-stitching on the tabs before sewing them in place. Second, she purchased the red bamboo for her handles at the dollar store (sold in bundles of four 4' lengths for only $1) and cut it down to the correct size.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

In Stock...

I forgot to mention that the paper patterns are now back in stock. If you would like to place an order, please send me an e-mail.

New eyes....

Sometimes when I see something again after a long time of not noticing it or not looking at it, it's almost like looking at it with a new pair of eyes. I notice things that I previously may have overlooked, new parts become my favourites, and something that I may have loved at first, now seems ordinary. This is how I feel about my pillow tops. I took some pictures and pasted them below...

I have only ever sewn together one hooked pillow before...and it's likely that the trouble I experienced at that time is the reason why I have delayed finishing these two pillows until now ;-)

For these two, I serged around the outside, as close as my serger would allow (about 3/4" from the last row of hooking). After finding some wool for the backs, I cut a piece about the same width as my pillow (including the 3/4" of unhooked backing on all sides) and 1 1/2" longer than the length. I then ripped this piece of wool in half before ironing (fusible knit) interfacing onto the wrong side of both pieces of wool. That was as far as I could go...I had to ask my mum to sew in an invisible zipper to join the two pieces (I have never learned how to sew in a zipper, but I promise I will learn when I get a new sewing machine ;-) ). The zipper is sewn into place about 1 1/2" from the edges. The zippers were too long, but the shorter ones for pants are too short (trust me!). I am eventually going to glue a new end and cut the excess off.

With the back face down, I placed the "top" on top, with the hooking face-up. Since my hooking is not perfectly square, I trimmed the excess wool (so that the pillow top and back are the same size and shape). Next, I flipped both pieces over and pinned them together, before attaching them by sewing around the hooking with my zipper foot...getting as close to the hooked loops as possible without catching any loops in the stitches.

I am now ready to whip the two pieces together. Since I have so much backing and wool fabric along the border, I am not going to use any cording -- I don't think that I need it. Instead I am going to roll/fold it forward and baste it in place prior to whipping. I also trimmed the wool material in the centre seam allowance (where the zipper was sewn in), since it will be too bulky when whipped.

I am travelling all week for work...so I hope to get the whipping done in my hotel rooms at night. I will let you know how it works out and post pictures when I can.

How do you finish your pillows? I am interested to learn other techniques....

Thursday, February 08, 2007

It's a bird! It's a plane! ....

…it’s a U.F.O. Like every craftsperson I know, I have a number of unfinished objects hiding around my place. They’re in drawers, bins, baskets and closets. I used to think that I only had two unfinished rugs, but I recently rediscovered a third. I also have three unfinished pillows (only one still has hooking to be done, the other two just need to be sewn together), one portrait requiring laser surgery on her eyes, three portraits yet to be started (of my remaining three grandparents), a HUGE 9’ by 12’ (yep, that’s feet, not inches!) room size rug that I have had for about 5 years, and an antique pattern.

It would be foolish to think that I will finish all of these projects this year…but my goal for the month of February is to at least finish two pillows, and maybe a third. The wool for the backs is picked out, and I have yarn ready to whip one of them. I didn’t get a chance to take daylight pictures of my pillow tops (each hooked at least 2-3 years ago!), but I will post some this weekend.

After the pillows it will be all purses, all the time for a while. I have a great idea for a summer purse hooked with nylons, and I have been dreaming of owls lately (and it’s not just because I have a pair of owl pyjamas, either ;-) ). I think there will be an owl purse in my not too distant future….

Oh, I almost forgot….the paper patterns are back in stock for those of you wanting one. It’s never too soon to get started on your Christmas gift making ;-) Happy hooking!

Monday, February 05, 2007

I didn't die (of stagefright)!

Wowee! What a crazy busy day on Saturday in the city-- I think that I am still recovering.

The hook-in in Toronto was a great time. Lots of beautiful rugs, gorgeous wools, yummy treats and friendly people. The talk went fairly well -- it is definitely a switch from teaching workshops (and I don't think that I have presented in front os so many people since my university days!) Thank you everyone for receiving me and my work so warmly – it’s a miracle that I was able to fit in my car for the ride home with my head so inflated ;-)

It was so nice to see the purses people brought that they had hooked themselves..."my children and grandchildren". One of my favourites was one that Wendie Scott Davis designed and hooked…

Wendie had a great idea to attach the pieces of plastic canvas (for the base) together with duct tape. Not only will this make them a unit, the tape will also help to prevent the cut edges from poking through your trimming fabric. Great idea Wendie! ;-)

One thing that I realized I forgot to mention during the talk was about making sure that you reinforce any closures. That is, stitch around your Velcro or your magnetic snap, securing the lining to your backing. If you don’t….you will find that the stitches holding your lining in place will soon be over-stressed and start to come apart.

For those of you who placed an order for the paper patterns…I dropped them off at my printer at today at lunchtime….and I will pop them in the mail as soon as I possibly can – hopefully in the next couple of days. If you want to place an order (especially those of you who happened upon me when I was sans pen)….just send me a quick e-mail (fisheyerugs@hotmail.com) and I will add your name to the list.

I went to visit the Textile Museum on Friday afternoon…for the first time since I was in high school. It’s funny, I often think of going when I am down in the city, but some how it never seemed to happen. Right now they have a really great exhibit of beautiful textiles and embroideries from India and Pakistan, called Colour & Light. If you have a chance to check it out, I am sure that you will be inspired to create something colourful…