Saturday, March 28, 2009

looking for something to do this weekend?

I've got a few suggestions - and some of them can even both be enjoyed from the comfort of your home....

• Download the first 20 episodes of The Book of Negros from Between the Covers either directly from CBC or from itunes. I'm really enjoying it - and can't wait for new episodes to be available (there are 5 new episodes each week). If you haven't tried hooking to books on tape, I highly recommend it.

• Tune into the Songwriter's Circle on one of my favourite radio stations: CBC Radio Two on Sunday afternoon (3pm where I live, click here for your region). It's being hosted this year by Hawksley Workman, (who sat next to me on the bus when we were in high school....and he is awesome, if you're not familiar with his music)

• Visit Fabricland for their 50% off members only sale - for 50% off everything in the store not already on sale. If you buy the cheetah print Gingher sewing shears, please don't tell me. In the process of finding a link, I just found out they're discontinued, so maybe I'll have to treat myself after all...

• Celebrate Earth Hour, tonight at 8:30pm. Is more explanation really necessary?

What are your plans or recommendations for the weekend?

Friday, March 27, 2009

planning the work...

I've got three events happening in the next two months....and when I'm not busy freaking out about how I'm going to get everything done, I'm actually able to convince myself that I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. Of course, such serene moments occur infrequently and are almost always short-lived.

While I've been travelling the last few days, I haven't been able to do a lot of the jobs that need doing...but I did accomplish something (besides stressing myself out) -- I made up a master job list. There are all sorts of ways to organize a "to do" list....and I've tried almost all of them at some time or another. When I was making up my newest list, I quickly jotted down a couple of headers: "things to make" and "things to do", without much thought. It was only later that I realized the main difference between the two categories are that the first list is filled with jobs that take a long time to do - making things take time - while the second list contains a lot of quick things (phone calls, printing, etc.) that just need to be done.

I should be home in time for supper on Saturday night....and my plan for the rest of the weekend will be crossing off as many things from my list as I can. I'll let you know how I make out...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

note to self

Sprinting to the finish is not always good. It can mean pain. It can mean disappointment. It can mean unnecessary delays. Stop. And think. First.

Do you notice anything a little "off" in the preceding photo?

I wish I had heeded my own advice towards the end of the day on Sunday. Here's what happened instead....

Everyday Carré
is the second new purse I've created using the same basic shape. While sewing the new purses together, I've been trying hard to keep careful notes and pictures of all of the various steps - to help me when I'm creating the instruction booklets for their assembly. Although this is the second such lining I've sewn together, I didn't really keep very good notes when I sewed the first lining (the rest of my notes were pretty good until this point ;-) ). I ended up guessing at the seam allowance I'd accounted for - and I'm a terrible guesser. In the end, the finished lining was just a little smidge too small to fit inside my purse. Since the top edge is on the bias, I wondered whether or not I could give it a little tug to stretch it out a bit (I only needed about 1/4"). It was not much later that I heard a loud rrrrrrrip! I dropped the lining like a hot potato, in my lap, and stared in shock at what I had just done. How could I be so stupid? I was so looking forward to having this purse finished, and now I was at a loss for what to do...

Rather than make another foolish, spur-of-the-moment decision, I thought that it was best to just sleep on it. If I were keeping this purse for myself, I likely would have just added a patch - but I can't contemplate doing the same thing to someone else. I didn't have enough of the same fabric to replace the damaged piece, so today I visited my local quilt shop and picked out a few new batiks. The one I'd originally used is long gone, so I'm afraid I'll be starting again from square one - just as soon as I'm home again. (I'm leaving again on a work road trip for 4 days...and won't be home until Saturday night. I'll try to post from the road.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

....and baby makes 22 (if I can count!)

When all of the birthday festivities were wrapped up, I turned my attention to finishing Everyday Carré. Back soon to share details....

Friday, March 20, 2009

The funniest thing I've heard today...

"I think this is the road I went on to get somewhere..." said by my 5 year old niece, on our way to dinner, just now. She's so profound!

I might be on to something....

AJ gave me the latest issues of Toronto Life and Fashion. I quickly flipped through the later last night before drifting off, and laughed out loud when I saw this...

My sister Sandra has jokingly called me the "trendsetter" for the last few response to my wearing ponchos and flower pins months ahead of the trend. Now, apparently purses with flaps are all the rage...hmmmm....

I've decided to take some pressure off coming up with a third design for my newer purse style, since all that was being created was a lot of frustration and unhappiness. Instead, I'm going sew Everyday Carré together this weekend and get to work on writing up the instructions. I'm hoping that as soon as I relax about it, the ideas will start coming again...

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

what are you doing in November?

I've spoken about it before, but in November I'm going to be teaching a 3-day purse workshop at Hooked in the Mountains in Shelburne, Vermont. If you'd like more information, Mary Lee has created a new web-site with all of the details about the various classes being held.

Everything about these classes is great: the setting, the food, the inspiration, the comraderie...the list goes on. If you want to read more about some of my more recent visits to Shelburne, click on the "Shelburne" label over on the left (under looking for something specific?) <--

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

tonight's sky

...just arrived home from my sister's, where we enjoyed cake with my mum for her birthday. Shortly after we finished, the phone rang and someone told us that if we went outside right now, we'd be able to see the space shuttle flying over Emsdale. So we all made a mad dash for the door, and saw what looked like an over-sized fire fly zooming behind the trees. It was lucky that we were told what to what to look for, because I would never have guessed it otherwise ;-) Was anyone else able to catch a glimpse?

Later, when I was dropping AJ off at home, I looked up in the sky and couldn't believe all of the stars. I don't think that I've ever seen so many stars - except for in the summertime. On top of this, we've been having such warm, spring-like weather the last few days, it's pretty easy to feel like summer is right around the corner. I can hardly wait to go swimming in the lake.

• • • • • • • •

I haven't posted any hooking stuff for a couple of days because I haven't been doing any. I spent much of last night searching high and low for a picture that I thought I'd clipped to put in one of my scrapbooks. I can almost picture it in my mind - but not in nearly enough detail for it to prompt the next purse design that I want to create. When I had looked everywhere that I might possibly have tucked such a clipping, I began to doubt that it was a clipping that I was looking for, and so I resorted to looking through two years of Selvedge, every Kaffe Fassett book I could find (there were 6), and another stack of magazines. It seems the more I stressed about it, the fuzzier the image became in my mind. I finally gave up and (mostly) accepted that one day it will just show up. Not doubt it will happen when I've forgotten why I wanted it in the first place! I hate it when things like this happen - it makes me feel like I getting old. It's disturbing to feel as though you are losing your mind and becoming forgetful.

I am going have to try a different plan...and I'm hoping to get something down on paper in the next day or two. I really want to get hooking - I've been missing it the last few days.

In the meantime, because I think that pictureless posts are missing something (no pun intended) are some of the strips I used in the squares purse. They're just draped over the arm of my couch...but I was reminded how much easier and faster it is to use leftovers that are pre-sorted. I had stopped and pulled a bunch of strips out of my bins, making sure that each was long enough - before I started hooking them semi-randomly. It was much faster than choosing individual strips one-at-a-time (and from 5 different baskets) as I hooked.

Monday, March 16, 2009

my new crush

It came out of the blue...and just when I least expected it.

Last week some friends were going to see Bryan Adams perform in Barrie, and when one of the group had a dental emergency, I was invited to join them at the last minute. I was a little worried that I might not know enough of the songs - I only have one of his albums and it's a "best of" from 15 years ago that I bought for a penny at Columbia House (plus shipping, of course!) - but I love seeing live music and going to concerts, and so I jumped at the chance to escape from the craziness of my week....

The show was AWESOME - and I knew all of the songs, save two. Even though he's pushing 50, Bryan really rocked. I don't know if it's because I'm getting older or what, but he was hot. I can hardly wait to see him again, and in the meantime, I want to rush out and buy this (see sneak peaks on youtube here, here, and here). The live versions are so much better some how.

He's doing a bunch of acoustic shows in the US next month and in Quebec this summer....and I'm really hoping that he adds some shows closer to where I live. The rock show was great, but I think an acoustic show would be even better. If he comes to a city near you, you should run all the way to the box office and buy your ticket....just don't gloat ;-)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

printing labels

A week or so ago, I posted about some new labels I'd created for the purses I'm making. A couple of people wanted to know more about it....

While I really try to limit the amount of shopping I do at Wal-Mart, ever once in a while, I run out of other (convenient) options. Such was the case a few weeks ago when I was looking for some new slippers for my dad, and I didn't find what I was looking for in any of the other stores in town. I didn't find them at Wal-Mart either...but when I was there, I took a quick walk through the fabric section to scan for wool. (It's only happened once before, but I did actually find 90% wool for sale there at only $5/m.)

Instead I found this package...

There are 6 sheets of 8.5"x11" fabric fused to paper in the package for $14.97 or so. It comes in a couple of different fabrics (I chose the twill).

I've used t-shirt transfers before for labels, but there are a few things that I don't really like about them. Mostly I don't like the texture and feel of the finished product (plastic-ey); the edges of the transfer are always a little rough and globby after ironing; the colour is never quite right; and you need to reverse your image when printing (I'm always afraid it won't work or I'll forget and ruin my sheet).

I was very happy with the fabric sheets - you simple feed them into your ink-jet printer, allow to dry completely after printing, peel off the paper and rinse under running water for 30 seconds. You print the same as if you were printing on paper - the only problem is that you might need to help feed it into your printer (since it's so thick). I would recomment that you leave at least a 1/2" margin - since some ink residue, dirt, etc., clung to the front and back edges of my fabric.

The colour does fade a bit with the washing, but even so, I don't anticipate going back to the old way any time soon.

it's hip to hook squares least I hope so! ;-) I first started hooking these minature squares many years ago, and made this pillow top...

Two or three years later, I needed to whip up a quick demo for a purse workshop....and the squares fit the bill....

A couple of Christmases ago, I hooked a variety of checkerboards for gifts, and one used the same squares....

It was only a matter of time until I'd visit this favourite pattern again. I've been wanting to create another purse with a more geometric design and I thought the squares would work well on my new shape. After a fairly self-indulgent weekend, I'm happy to report that the hooking on my latest purse, Everyday Carré, is now complete!

Not only are these squares a great way to use up leftovers, there's really something almost hypnotic about hooking them. Once the simple hooking pattern grid is memorized (this is what keep the squares in line), it's easy to just get lost in the sea of colours...and just play with beautiful wool.

Friday, March 13, 2009

feeling behind

I had great plans for this week. It's a busy time of year for me at work and I was hoping to get caught up, and maybe even a little ahead on hiring for the summer. I was planning to get my new squares purse mostly hooked, so that I could start on the assembly this weekend. I was going to get caught up on paperwork. Doing my taxes was on the list, too. Oh, and continuing on with my daily blogging (I could hardly believed that I'd pulled it off for more than a week!) Plus, going to the gym. Instead, this is all I have to show for my week...

Yep. 17 loops, 3 tails. I won't go into all of the nitty gritty details about what caused this to happen, but I will say that I'm looking forward to getting back on track this weekend. Since I feel behind on practically everything: work, housekeeping, laundry, hooking, exercise, e-mail, blogging, and won't be hard to see and feel progress in at least a few areas. In fact, I'm going to go and get started right now - I'm going to spend the rest of the night hooking ;-)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just what I needed....

After a bit of a long, busy, worrisome day...seeing my latest issue of Selvedge in the mailbox tonight helped me to perk up a bit. I know that I've raved about this magazine more than once I won't bore you with my gushing again, but I will recommend that you check it out.

I leafed through it quickly....and I just know that I'll be calling it a night early and curl up in my cozy bed to really feast on its pages - it's the same thing I've been doing for the last two and a half years, whenever a new Selvedge arrives ;-)

Monday, March 09, 2009

attaching the handle

Thank you for all of the pom love - you're all so sweet ;-) A couple of people asked about how the handles attached to the purse, and it couldn't be easier...

All of the Grayson e. pieces are pre-punched, so that you can easily sew them in place. I use upholstery thread for this task, and find that a blunt (tapestry?) needle helps to find the holes a little easier.

Until now, I've always hooked around the tabs (i.e. attached them directly to the backing and then proceeded to hook, or else left an empty, unhooked space where they could be attached during final assembly). I liked how the overall surface was flat, since the thickness of the tab is about the same as my hooked loops. Since I had to attach the tab right on top of a seam, with this project, I was a little more hesitant to use my same methods. Plus I wasn't entirely sure of the final I waited and just sewed them on top of my hooking. In the end I found the extra foundation (provided by the dense hooking) makes for a more stable construction. I'm sure that I'll be using this method again, and again, in projects such as this one...

(yes, I was able to be productive yesterday, in spite of losing a whole hour ;-) )

Sunday, March 08, 2009

finished pomegranate purse

I'm feeling a little behind on my plan for the day, what with losing a whole hour and everything....but it is Sunday, after all, so it's a perfect day to tie up lose ends and pluck away at things.

I can hardly believe it, but it's finally finished! I love the shape of this new purse, and I'm looking forward to making a few more using this basic construction, but adding a flap, and playing around with different closures. In fact, I'm going to be starting a new one this afternoon - right after I fix myself some lunch! ;-)

Of course, I'll be writing up the pattern, but it won't be available for a few more weeks yet. I have a self-imposed deadline of having it (and hopefully one or two more) ready in time for the Belleville Hook-In on April 18th. Naturally I'll be blogging all about it when the time comes...

The pictures pretty much speak for themselves. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Saturday, March 07, 2009


I was up fairly early this morning, considering I was up late last night working on the pom purse. I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce while still in my pyjamas - and felt like I was turning into my mother (and not in a good way! ;-) ). She is famous for flitting (we call it mitting") around the house in her nightgown.

The pom purse is practically ready to go, except the lining still needs to be sewn into place (which will be done today!) I'd bought some printable fabric earlier in the week and hadn't had a chance to experiment with label-making. I finally got around to doing that today - not wanting to rush through the steps, only to be disappointed in the end.

Several years ago, I happened upon an old Singer hand-operated pinker at an auction. It looks quite similar to a wool cutter, except for the fact that it only cuts one strip at a time and the blade is pinked - there's even an adjustable guide! It's certainly great to be able to use these old tools...and to know that they were so well made that they will last for at least as long as you need them.

I knew that it would be a lot easier to sew the label to the lining before it's attached to the rest of the I exhibited a little willpower and made myself wait. So often I am too eager to cross nagging jobs off my list and I keep plowing ahead, even though I know that it would be much easier if I just waited for a new piece, part, tool... Does this happen to anyone else? I am trying to "curb my enthusiasm"....but there's still more room for improvement.

I will try to take some proper pictures of the finished purse and post tomorrow. Right now I'm off to my folks to celebrate my dad's 65th birthday...

Friday, March 06, 2009

on the bookshelf....

When I was away last week, I visited several search of books, magazines, Godiva (have you tried their new chocolate pearls? Definitely the most economical way to eat Godiva....since a tin can last a long while - if you only eat a couple at a time!)...and the odd Starbucks.

While I've been making a concerted effort to limit the amount of "stuff" that I buy and bring home to my (over-flowing) nest, I did come home with a few books. A couple of them were ones that I'd been eyeing for a while...and I could resist no longer. One of these is Masters: Art Quilts.

(of course, after looking at this price, I'm already wishing that I'd waited and just ordered it on-line...)

Featuring the work of 40 quilters, this book is filled with eye candy and inspiration. It is always interesting to be able to study a number of pieces created by the same artist...and there are lots of pictures to look at (up to a dozen or so pieces by the same artist). I find books like these never really collect too much dust - they can be picked up at any time, and something new can be found.

...I think I've been enjoying it all the more because it's an art form other than rug hooking. I'm feeling a little over-exposed in the hooked rug department lately. Did you know that the Welcome Mat now has over 3,500 photos? I feel as though I've looked at almost every one in the last few days...and I'm feeling a little numb.

P.S. I was going through my referrals and I've added a few new blogs to the list <--

Thursday, March 05, 2009

M.P. by O.P. (Diane's Leaving Home)

I always love receiving pictures of people's finished purses - it's great to see so many variations. Diane Stout sent in these pictures today...

I made the "Leaving Home" purse, but instead of using wool fabric, I used chunky wool yarn in bright colors. The flowers are red, yellow, orange, purple, hot pink, bright blue, and white; the leaves are lime green; and the background is dark charcoal. I used black plastic pre-made handles.

I just have to tell you that wherever I go, complete strangers stop me and ask about my purse! When I'm out and about, I can count on at least three people complimenting me on it. As a matter of fact, I just got back from the store, and when I started up my car, the lady who got out of her car next to mine pointed out my purse through the window, and mouthed, "I love your purse!".

Diane: I'm not surprised at all of the attention - your purse looks fabulous! The black background really sets off the flowers. ;-)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Making Chai Lattés

Peggy left a comment, asking for my "recipe". I'd hardly call it that - I use a super easy, cheater's method.... I buy the Tazo concentrate (available in 1L Tetra pak, at Starbuck's or your local grocery store, for sometimes a little less). And, I use a milk frother (I bought mine at Homesense or Winners - the original glass broke, so I'm using just the beaker part of an old French Press since it's practically the same - it just lacks a handle).

Pour about 1.5" of cold milk in glass beaker. Heat milk until it's super hot, but not yet boiling - the hotter it is, the better it will froth (exactly 2 minutes in my microwave). Meanwhile, fill mug 1/3 full with concentrate (the carton says equal parts, but I find that pretty strong)...then heat up in the microwave (about 1 minute). While concentrate is heating, plunge the milk, quickly and repeatedly, until there is sufficient froth. Pour milk on top of the concentrate, holding back the foam with a spoon. Scoop out the foam and place on top. Sit, relax and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Grayson e. and Me!

It was love at first sight when I saw my first pair of Grayson e. leather handles. In fact, I haven't made a purse since that hasn't used the Grayson e. hardware. I think they complement one-another quite well.

The Grayson e. handles and clasp are a key component in my most recent purse designs (including the pom purse and a couple of others that are waiting to be hooked)....and I've been thinking about selling the handles for a while now. I finally decided that it was time to take the plunge.

My first order arrived today...and it felt like Christmas!

I will be bringing the handles with me when I come to speak at the Belleville Hook-In on April 18th...and I'll also be flogging my wares at a couple of other upcoming rug hooking events. Once they're finalized, I'll be sure to share the details - over in the new "On the Road" section, on the left.

home sweet home

I'm so glad to finally be home. It was a great trip away. Busy, but good.

Before I left Kingston this morning - and after I stopped for some treats at Pan Chancho - I made my pilgrimage to see my old house. I lived here, at 236 William Street, for three years while I was going to Queen's...and even stayed in the house by myself one summer when I worked at Fort Henry. There are lots of great memories wrapped up in this was much more of a home than many of the "ghetto" houses.

My friend's parents bought the place as an investment (which paid off, since both of her brothers went on to go to Queen's, too)...and eventually sold it a few years ago, after everyone had long graduated. A lot of effort went into fixing up the house, the summer before we moved in - refinishing all of the hardwood floors, re-doing the kitchen and bathroom, painting, etc. We even planted flowers in the garden.

It saddens me to see it look so neglected - but I still can't seem to stop myself from checking on it each time I'm in town. I've managed to convince myself that the lace curtain on the front door (no visible in this photo) is the same one that was brand new when we moved in, some 17 years I guess some things have stayed the same.

Home at my place, more things have stayed the same. I left my pom purse and all of the necessary supplies out on the table, in hope that the fairies might work their magic. But it looks just the same as it did when I left... I'm hoping to get back to work on it later tonight.

Something that is new, is that after a very (very!) long wait, I now have high speed at home. If you've been reading my blog since the beginning, you'll know that there have been many false promises of service...but it's finally happened! Not only will this mean that will have better access to the internet, it should also result in more frequent and regular posts. I won't promise to be as reliable as Gene (that would be destined for failure ;-) ), but I'm looking forward to being more spontaneous...

Is there anything better than sipping a Chai latté while surfing from the comfort of your own couch? I don't think so, at least not today! ;-)