Tuesday, November 27, 2007

on the newstand...

The next time you're standing in line at the grocery store, check out page 11 of the Winter 2008 issue of Canadian Home & Country magazine. The page is filled with ornaments hooked by Micheline Mann. At $32 a pop, it is refreshing to see the time and energy that goes into the creation of hooked items being reflected the price. On the rare occasion that I actually see rug hooking for sale, I typically come across prices that appear to undervalue the considerable effort and skill invested in the piece. Not only does this undervalue the creator and their work, but other hand hooking, as well.

If you click on the above link, you can also see some of Micheline's hooked rugs, too.

Friday, November 23, 2007


If you're anything like me, you feel as though you must own absolutely anything and everything ever written about rug hooking. When I first started rug hooking, I bought every book I could find about our craft. This wasn't too hard, since there weren't many books available. Lately though, there seem to be more and more new ones coming out all the time - which is great!

Here are a few new ones I've added to my bookshelf recently...

I met Linda Rae Coughlin at Deanne's Symposium last month, where she was one of the speakers. She features quite a few series of hooked rugs in this book, including all of Patty Yoder's Alphabet of Sheet rugs, the Art Cards, the Circus Train (I think!) and quite a few others. It is interesting to see multiple pieces hooked by the same person, or on the same theme, together in one place....something not really covered in the same way in other books I've seen.
Apparently she had too many rugs to fit in one book, so a second book was born...

I'll bet there are few rug hookers alive who haven't heard of Jesse Turbayne. She's back with another book of rugs...a companion to her book released last summer. There are quite a few Canadians featured in this volume. I was very flattered to discohttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifver my work included in this book, too. Both the alphabet rug I hooked for my nephew Wyatt and the rug of AJ were completed early in my rug hooking adventures.

Happy hooking this weekend. Myself, I think I'll continue knitting on my clapotis...I'm probably the last person to knit one.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Wish it was mine with a snap of my fingers...
(photo shamelessly stolen from the Snap Dragon Frames site)

When I was at Dorr last week, I got the chance to see one of these frames in action. It is truly great - and I want one! If you're in the market for a new frame, I encourage you to check them out. The pictures don't really do them justice. The top section is all real wood - cherry and poplar - and beautifully finished.

You just lay your backing on the top and reach underneath to pull down each of the 4 levers - snapping them into place...and your backing is tight as a drum. To release and move your backing, just snap each of the levers back to the starting position and lift it off...no pulled loops.

I didn't let myself consider adding this frame to my collection at the time (I already have 3 frames). It was only later, when Cathy suggested that I could sell one of my other frames, that I started to get excited. I will definitely be picking up one of these babies the next time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

just in time...

This is what I woke up to see this morning. I'm so glad that we made it home before we had to deal with winter.

Believe it or not, the photo wasn't modified - it just looks like it's black & white.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

beauty everywhere...

What a fabulous couple of days! Shelburne was just as expected: lots of beautiful rugs, gorgeous wool and friendly faces.

Although there were considerably fewer rugs this year (reportedly only about 450 vs. 900+ last year), the quality of the show did not suffer one little bit. There was no shortage of lovely things to look at - that's for sure ;-) The work was mounted in a more pleasing, if not artistic, display....and it seemed to me to be easier to take it all in. I took heaps of pictures - at least until the battery on my camera died (and of course, the spare was at the motel!)...and I have tried my best in the absence of Photoshop....

Imagine our surprise to discover Cathy's rug front and centre when we entered the round barn (and most deservedly so!) If you have seen her Tower & Turrets of Queen's University, you will know the picture below doesn't do it justice...

Wendie - I took pictures of your faces on display....

The weather has been great, as well. Yesterday and today were both mostly sunny days and made for some pleasant driving. We're keeping our fingers crossed that the snow waits until we're home again before it starts blowing...

We had a delicious supper last night at Pauline's. It was so yummy we decided to return there again tonight! It is definitely going to be added to the list of must-go places for my annual pilgrimage to Shelburne.

I'm in a rush to finish and head off to bed. It will be an early start tomorrow. More pictures to follow in the coming days...

Friday, November 16, 2007

we're here!

We're staying in Lebanon for the night tonight. The drive was long, but relatively uneventful. There was a little bit of snow through New York, and surprisingly more in the mountains in the south part of Vermont. We were glad to see the end of the snow once we got off the mountains.

We've been doing a little shopping so far, taking advantage of no sales tax in New Hampshire...but we're saving ourselves for Dorr tommorrow. We're planning on an early start to the day and on being the first ones in when it opens at 9 (it's about 30-40 minutes drive). So we're off to bed. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


My bags are packed and in the car. I'll be heading out of town in about an hour. I'll be stopping along to way to visit my friend Dayle and (not so little) baby Evan, in Toronto. Then, it's off to Cathy's for supper.

I'll be bringing my laptop with me, and plan to do some posting while I'm gone. I can't wait to see all of those beautiful rugs. Oh, and some new wool will be nice, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

dangerous discovery

When I was a kid, one of my favourite treats was Turkish delight. We would buy it in little chunks at the department store in Davenport, and eat it straight out of the paper bag before we even got home (and sometimes before we'd left the store!). Over the years I have bought Turkish delight whenever I happen to see it - not the "Big Turk" variety, but the stuff that usually comes in purple wrappers.

When we were in Halifax last month, I discovered these jumbo Cadbury's Turkish delight bars at Pete's Frootique. They are delicious! We consumed two of the bars during our trip and two others came home with me for my sisters. They were delighted with their gifts (pun intended!)

The other day,I was thinking that it would be a good idea to try and order some for Christmas. Before I started searching online, I checked out our local candy store, the Nutty Chocolatier, yesterday. Imagine my surprise (and later horror) to discover they carry these oh-so-yummy chocolate bars. I can see the future and it does not look good for my new (smaller) pants. ...some rules will definitely need to be set about the circumstances under which I will allow myself to buy and consume these chocolates. And soon.

When I wasn't busy savouring my chocolate (yes, I bought some yesterday!), I was busy working on the runner. I finished off the whipping last night, and had time for another quick pressing. I'm really happy with the way it turned out, and I think there will be more colourful, geometric rugs in my future - they're a lot of fun and pretty quick to execute. The dyed yarn worked well, and I'm sure I'll be doing that again and again - it's so much easier than blending several yarns and threads together and gives a more even finish, too. (pictures will follow when I'm home in daylight hours ;-) )

In total, I used just under 20g (less than half) of a skein of Ultra Alpaca light to whip around the rug (about 9', if my mental math is correct). At $5.85 for a skein, it was pretty inexpensive. This yarn is nice and soft, but a little bit hairy, though - so I might try a different yarn the next time around.

I will be visiting my LYS today and getting some feedback, so I will be sure to pass along Karen's suggestions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

pictures at last

I miss my Photoshop, that's for sure. Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2007

happy monday!

First up, there will not be any pictures today folks - and it's not because I didn't take any! Apparently the new operating system (Leopard) I installed on Friday is incompatible with my version of Photoshop...so I can't modify, crop and reduce resolution in my normal way. I'm sure that I can do something similar in iPhoto, but I need some time to play around first.

The owl purse was finished and delivered. It looks so, so much better with the hand-sewn trim - I can't believe the difference. I imagine the Ultrasuede will likely be staying in the drawer for a while now...as I switch allegiance to wool.

I successfully dyed some yarn to whip my squares runner. I don't know too much about dyeing yarn, but here's what I did... (please let me know if you think I need to adjust my method - all help is appreciated ;-) )

I started off with 2 skeins of natural coloured Berroco Ultra Light Alpaca (50% Alpaca/50% wool), soaked in some warm water and Jet Dry. I squeezed out the excess water and lay one skein out on a clear plastic garbage bag.

For attempt #1, I used 8 colours of dye (712-Juniper, 729-Evergreen, 725-Forest Green, 719-Grasshopper, 68-Paprika, 349-Fushia, 808-Raspberry, 306-Turkey Red). In separate containers, I used 1/64 tsp of dry dye and the equivalent amount of citric acid in about 30-40 ml of boiling water. Poured each one on in sections and rubbed it in. then I folded it up in the plastic bag, making it small enough to fit in my microwave, and cooked it on high for 5 minutes. The results were surprising. There was very little movement of dye and very little runoff when I rinsed it. The overall colour was a little lighter than I wanted, so I mixed things up a bit for the second skein.

For attempt #2, I used 6 colours of dye (713-Olive Drab, 714- Mallard Greet, MC Moss Green, 306 Turkey Red, 808-Raspberry (+GS), 351-Bright Red (+GS)). I used more dye - 1/32 of each colour and the equivalent of citric acid in the same amount of boiling water (30-40mL). I also added Glaubber salts (GS) to a couple of the reds. The additional 4/64 tsp (or 50% more) dry dye gave a more medium colour, which was closer to what I was looking for...

I squeezed out the excess water between a couple of old towels and hung it up to dry. Several hours later, I was running out of patience and broke out the blow dryer to get rid of the last bit of dampness. A few minutes later I was winding it into a ball. Last night I whipped for a while, and I'm already a third of the way around!

Hopefully I will play around with my computer tonight and have some pictures tomorrow....

Friday, November 09, 2007

quick comment on comments...

I do appreciate your comments and questions and I try to respond in the comments section of the same post, so please check back there. Thank you!

still here

Well, I've been a bit lazy with my posting this week...sorry! I've been a little busy playing around with my new computer at work. It's been fun, and I'm thinking that my eyes should be adjusted to the (much) bigger screen by sometime next week. If you're in the market for a new computer, I've been using Macs for the last 8 years or so and Ican't say enough good about them. Meow, meow.

I've also been knitting on the Christmas scarves. I did a quick count and I think that I need 9 or 10 to give as gifts. I'm more than halfway there (not counting the washing and blocking, of course).

I abandoned the green #8 cut strip scarf...and instead hooked one with #6 on the same 12mm needles. It worked out a lot better (sorry, no pictures yet). From choosing the wool, to cutting, to knotting, to knitting, and fringing, the project was completed in the same evening. Gotta love that! I was a little worried that it would be a bit bulky, since I like to loop my scarves around my neck....so I just decreased some stitches in the middle section to make it a little narrower. It worked out alright.

I have vowed that I will not purchase ANY more yarn to knit these scarves. Consequently it's getting down to some pretty slim pickings. I'm sure that I'll be raiding my wool fabric stash to knit more strip scarves before too much longer. It semi-defeats the purchase of using up the yarn - but at least I'm not adding to the problem buy purchasing more. Right?

· · · · · · · · ·

Bye bye Ultrasuede, hello wool. Hand-sewn wool trim can give a much better finish than the machine-sewn Ultrasuede...and I have finally acquiesced. As much as I love the durability and feel of the Ultrasuede, the hassle of attaching it is too much to bear sometimes. I've finally worked up the nerve to rip out the top trim off on the owl purse (I just realized that I hadn't posted a picture of the completely finished purse - sorry!). I was not very happy with the way it sewed together. After using the purse for the week I was East, I knew that some modifications were necessary.

The Ultrasuede is all off now, the plan is made and wool is cut out. I'm still waiting for my sewing machine to come home....so I'll be sewing it together at my folks tonight, I hope. I'll be sure to take some pictures of the new finishing. Next week, the purse will be going to it's new home with AJ - but I'll still be able to see it regularly ;-)

Have a great weekend everyone! It looks like it will be good hooking weather ;-)

Monday, November 05, 2007

ooops! I forgot....

Here's the greyscale copy of the runner photo. I am so happy to see the light bits, and the dark bits, too ;-) There's a few muddy parts, but overall not too bad...

Speaking of light and dark....I have a love-hate relationship with time time of year. I LOVE waking up and it being light outside already. I HATE driving home in the dark. I know that it's better now than in another month or so, when the only time it's light outside is when I'm at work...but I sure miss the long summer days.


I hooked like a fiend on Friday and I'm happy to report that I finished the runner (and had it pressed) before bedtime. I am still trying to decide on what to use for whipping....and have almost convinced myself that I should dye a hank of wool with various reds and greens - trying to not have too much overlap of colours (avoiding too much browny-grey). I'm thinking that I will just cook off the skein in the microwave. Does anyone have any experience with this? In any case, here is the runner B4 whipping....

Dimensions: 17.25" by 39.5"

I've now turned my attention to knitting scarves. Unfortunately I've been coming up against numerous obstacles along the way. Here is what I accomplished last night - and haven't already decided to abandon... (two other projects didn't make the cut)

I over-dyed some kid mohair on Saturday morning to use together with the Colinette yarn I splurged on this Spring to knit this. The mohair is actually more of a navy colour than it appears in the photo above. I'm happy with the way it's turning out but unfortunately there isn't anywhere near enough yardage to finish the scarf. Once I finally admitted this out loud, I set the knitting aside until I can dye some more - and see if it matches. (Dyeing without a recipe is not always a good thing ;-) )

For someone who doesn't really call herself a knitter, I seem to have a lot of yarn. I bought this stuff several years ago, and I'm finally putting it to work. I like the little shiny bits peeking through - I just hope there's enough wool to make it a decent length (hence the shiny stuff every 3rd row!)

Several years ago I was at Shelburne at the same time as Heather Ritchie. One of the many cool things she had in her classroom was a mat she was knitting using very wide strips on very large needles. I haven't forgotten about that, and when sitting right beside the piles of leftover strips (from the runner), I procrastinated away by knitting some up. The strips are #8 cut on 12mm needles. There are only 7 stitches on the needles, and I've pulled all the knots to one side as I knit. The scarf is a bit heavy - if I had larger needles, I'd try those....or maybe a #6 would work on the same needles. It works up quickly and is quite addictive...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

the artful rug hooker 2008

What are you doing next October? If you want to join together with other rug hookers and be inspired, you should think about signing up for Deanne's 2nd Symposium. I'll be there!
I received an e-mail from her this week and it's already two thirds full, so you'd better hurry. All of the details can be found here. Aside from the actual Symposium, there is lots to see and do in Nova Scotia...and lots of yummy seafood, to boot.

welcome to november

A pinch and a punch for the first of the month! That's what my childhood best friend Ruth and I would say (and do!) to one another when we were little. October was a busy month - filled with lots of posts. I will try my best to maintain the same level of activity this month...

I am right on target to finish my runner. If I hadn't decided to add the extra 6", I could have finished the hooking last night. I've just got two more moves on the frame left to go (and then one more row of border around the first half...). I'm not sure what it is (inherent laziness, supreme efficiency or general dislike) that stops me from shifting my working around on my frame too much. It's not because it's hard or time consuming - I use a gripper frame. All I know is that I seem to take extra time lining everything up "just so" before I tug the backing into place...just so I won't have to readjust it. Weird. And silly.

I did snap a couple of quick pictures this morning....but they're a bit dark (the light is so crappy at this time of year). I will wait and (hopefully) take better ones this weekend, once I've beaten it into submission on the Elna.

I also want to try converting the picture files to black and white to check out the value distribution over the whole area. Have you ever tried this? I've really been trying to add more lights and darks to my work...and it's a challenge, for sure. The last time I've added my own work in show and tell section of the R.U.G. sack, the design motifs of the owl and flowers were barely recognizable....

Although I have used a lot of different colours and wools, they have all been very close in value to one another. I'm looking forward to being able to measure my success (or not) with my latest piece. I'll post some pictures of that, too.