Monday, July 27, 2009

time for a break

If you'd asked me last Thursday morning when I would be finished hooking my new purse, I would have definitively said "by the end of the weekend". Instead, it's now Monday....and I've only spent a couple of hours hooking since then.* In fact, I'm still on the first side.

Consequently, I'm starting to feel a little bit like I'm before paralyzing panic sets in, I'm going to elect to take a bit of a blog holiday this week. I will return soon, and when I do I'll (hopefully) have pictures to share of a couple of finished bags....and a brand new purse brochure. Have a great week!

* Instead I've been shopping in the city, picking up my folks at the airport, playing Mexican dominoes, going to a baby shower, watching The Wrestler (I found it depressing), looking at hundreds of photos from my parents' trip to Africa (I will try to post some soon - amazing!), and eating and sleeping (of course!)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

the inspiration....

I am always intrigued to see the source and inspiration for an individual's creative work. Whether it be the natural landscape that was the subject in a painting, the figure that was the basis for the sculpture, or the doodle that lead to the design of a rug.....I love to look at "A" and try to imagine how it resulted in "B". Sometimes the route is more obvious that others.....but I find them all interesting none-the-less.

Although I didn't get any hooking done last night (went out with friends instead)....I did remember to scan this page from one of my journals. [You can click on the picture to enlarge it big enough to read the brief article, if you're curious...]

I would love to own a mirror like this one - but in the meantime I'll be content with the purse design that it inspired.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bullseyes - Day Three

I am the type of girl who works best with a deadline. I blame it all on my mother - I've inherited it from her. I've told myself and others that I'm going to finish off two new purses by the end of July....and if I can just maintain my current momentum, I think it's totally doable.

I hooked some more last night.....and I've gotta say that I'm really loving this new design. It's so simple....and there is lots of room for playing around with colour. I've also enjoying the marblized wools that I'm hooking into the background.

Since I seldom pay attention to “how much” wool I use, I really had no idea if I had enough of my marblized wool for the background. How do you know if you have enough wool? Here's what I do....

I assemble what I think will be an adequate amount of background wool. I divide each piece into 4 equal pieces (by cutting notches) , and rip off 1/4 of each of them. I cut up all of the torn pieces of wool (=1/4 of all of the wool)....and begin hooking. If I am able to hook 1/4 of my piece (or 1/2 of one side of a purse), before cutting any of the remaining wool, then I'm pretty sure that I will have enough. If I don't have enough to hook 1/4 of the area, I add some more wool to the mix. I check again at the 1/2 way mark, making sure that at least half of the area has been hooked before cutting any more wool (i.e. 1/2 of the original amount). And, because sometimes you tend to pack more (or less) and pull your loops higher (or not), I check again at the 3/4 mark. There is nothing worse than nearing the end of your project and realizing that you don't have enough wool, so the sooner you know that you won't have enough, the sooner you can correct the problem and start blending in the new additions....
P.S. I keep forgetting to take a picture of the inspiration piece - I will try to do that again tonight...

Bullseyes - Day Two

This purse is turning out to be quite muted.....but I sorta like it like that. It's a real switch from the last one - now named Skeleflora (Wendie deserves credit for the name - she's always got good ideas). I think it will be another great everyday design....

I'm really loving how quickly it's hooking up - using leftover strips and slubby bits for everything other than the background is helping speed things is the simple design. Choosing the colours for the "buttons" seems to take the most time. I started pulling out a selection of strips that I'd like to include (a few each of teals, some greens, golds, browns, darker violets, etc.) and have them sitting on top of my frame. Rather than rooting through all of my bins each time I hook a new circle, I just look to the small pile on my frame. Fewer choices leads to faster decision making! ;-)

I was a little worried about the background being a little too dull for the grape handles I'd chosen, so I added in a couple of brighter bits to see if this might fix the problem. My initial reaction was dislike, but I left them in overnight to see how they looked in the daylight. They are now gone.

I still haven't quite decided what to do about the handle.... I seem to waver between the original grape and the brown. What do you think?

You can really see the handful of brighter strips in the above photo - they are not there anymore ;-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bullseyes - Day One

Another grey weekend….with a few scattered showers and a couple of glimpses of the sun, has come to an end. This summer has been so un-summerlike. One good thing about the weather is that I haven’t been faced with the “too hot to hook” problem, and I’ve been getting more hooking done than is usual for me in the summer months. Hooking seems to have replaced my usual summer activities of camping and spending time at the lake. I haven’t yet pitched my tent, and I don’t think I’ve even been down to our lake in the last month or so….maybe even longer.

I procrastinated starting my newest purse on Friday and again on Saturday, using knitting to fill the time instead. [I’ve casted off the bottom edge of my February Lady sweater, and have begun knitting on the 2nd sleeve. Now that I’m finally able to try it on properly, it’s obvious that the first sleeve is an inch or two too short, so I will need to take care of that before I’m all done. I really love how it’s turning out, and I’m sure that it will fast become a wardrobe staple this Fall – if not sooner, the way the weather has been!]

On Saturday, I happily wandered around the annual Muskoka Arts & Crafts Summer Show. It is always great to see so many creative people in one place. There were definitely lots of lovely things to see, but nothing that I couldn’t live without (that fit within my limited budget). Mostly I was holding out for the potter that I saw there last year, but in the end I realized they did not attend this year (I guess I should have done my homework first). Of course, since I got home, I've thinking about all of the beautiful things that I wish I’d bought…

Sunday was such a dull day that I had the urge to just stay in bed all day with a good book….but I resisted. I originally had a very different plan for my next purse, but the more I thought about my idea, the more I realized that it would be a big challenge – perhaps a bigger challenge than I had time for right now. Instead, I drew another idea that’s been brewing for a while….

I will take some pictures of the source of inspiration tonight and post with tomorrow's progress picture(s).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Skeleflora - day seven and day eight

Well, after much procrastination and delay, the hooking is finally complete! I did get a little bit hooked on Tuesday night - before I got fed up with my lack of significant progress...

Once again, I've been reminded about how much more hooking I can get done when I'm not trying to watch TV at the same time. Now that CBC Radio 2 Drive is on until 7pm on weekdays, I've been putting the radio on when I get home from work. (I'm so happy that Rich Terfry is back from holidays ;-) ) Tonight it made a huge difference.....and I was cruising right along, listening without the impulse to lift my head to see what they're talking about. Even with switching to TV later in the evening, I was able to finish off the second half (of the second half)....

I've decided to delay the sewing together until after I have my other purse I can finish them at the same time (and be more efficient with sewing the linings, etc.). Plus, I really need to get started on my next purse, and I don't need any distractions. Ultimately I'd like to have the second one hooked by the end of the month....and although I think it's an attainable goal, I will have to boogie. I'll keep you posted as always....

I know my posts have been a little brief this week....but my theory that some is better than none (and I'm trying to avoid that...). Last night I took a night off from almost everything, lay about on the couch and then went to bed early. Sometimes I just need to do that....and then I'm good to go for a few months of my regular schedule (of getting more accomplished in the evenings). I hope it works again this time.... ;-)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just hooking...

Instead of my normal evening routine of blogging and emailing, I'm
hoping to get lots of hooking done. With any luck I'll be finished
hooking this purse by tomorrow night - fingers crossed!

Monday, July 13, 2009

a room with a view

Whoosh! I can't believe how quickly the weekend went seems like one minute I was frantically trying to get organized to leave on Friday, and a few minutes later, I was on my way home again - only it was Sunday!

Wendie and her husband, Rick, were perfect hosts. There was lots of chatting, laughing, knitting, reading, eating, relaxing, and sleeping....and a little bit of walking, sunning, boating, drinking. The only pictures I took were these ones, taken from the balcony outside "my room", the same morning I woke to the call of the loon. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't make time for my first swim of the summer (this year is going to be one of the latest I can remember)...but the rest of the weekend was so great, it more than made up for this small omission.

One other thing that I didn't do was hook. Not a single loop was pulled, but that's just fine. We were far too busy doing everything else. I made some certain progress on my February Lady sweater....

and I'm pretty confident that I'll be wearing it this Fall - or maybe even this summer, if the cooler weather prevails!

For the curious, the yarn is Cascade 220 (100% Peruvian Highland Wool) in colour 7807 - a nice purple base colour, overdyed with the following recipe....

I'm really happy that I kept (and found) notes on my dyeing methods, colours, and quantities. It can only serve to help me when it comes times over-dye all of the skeins of green I bought a months or so ago to knit another sweater - but that's a post for another day....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Away for the weekend

I'm so excited to be leaving momentarily for Wendie's cottage. I know
we're going to have a terriffic weekend....and I'll be sure to tell
you all about it when I get home. Have a great weekend - fingers
crossed that we all get to see the sun ( and better yet a clear blue

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Feeling a little February in July....

....and not because there's snow! (the sun is finally back and today was quite warm)

Wendie and I were chatting on MSN today, and eventually the conversation fell to our February Lady Sweaters. Mine has been sitting in the basket for several months - abandoned after I discovered a mistake a few rows back....and she just frogged hers. I know that it will be Fall again before we know it, and I also know that when it's all finished that I will wear it it was really time to pull it out, rip it back and re-memorize the two basic pattern rows. A perfect distraction from the craziness of my day.

Since I got home from work today, I've accomplished the first (and successfully picked up all of the stitches!) and half of the second task. I'm off to to memorize the second row right now...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


There's been a flurry of interest in workshops and teaching in the last few months.....and I've been remiss in updating my schedule. I've added a few things tonight, and there are a few more for Fall 2010 that will be added just as soon as they are confirmed.

Looking at the list makes me feel very excited about what's to come....albeit a little nervous about how I'm going to fit it all in with my regular life (and my job!). I surely won't be bored ;-)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Organizing My Dye

Once I started using Majic Carpet and Pro Chem dyes, I slowly acquired all available colours of each brand. (Pro Chem has since added a slew of colours to their line...but back then there were only 26 known to me). I always have a hard time trying to match the name with the resulting colour of to help guide me about what the various colours actually look like, I dyed a sample piece of each of the colours using a consistent measurement of dye (1/8 tsp of dye on 1/12 yard of Dorr natural). I think I've mentioned before that this was the best use of dyeing time ever - it's helped me a lot and I still refer to it almost every time I dye. I just wish that I'd kept up the practice with the new colours I've purchased since that time....

I keep all of my dye in two red Coke crates (a little taller than the little jars, leaving some room for storing bags of citric acid, swatches, glauber salts, etc.)....and so I'm always looking at their lids. To help speed up the process of finding a certain colour, I cut small pieces off my swatch set and glued them to their respective lids. These original lids were all white, so writing on them was easy.

When I started ordering my dye direct from Pro Chem, their jars come with black lids. I bought some round stickers and wrote the number and name of each colour on each jar. When I dye - and pick up jars with wet gloves - some of the labels start to lift off. Over time, some of these same labels have disappeared or worse yet, drifted onto other jars. Just as I was starting to feel exasperated, I remembered the silver Sharpie I'd received as a bonus a while back. It worked wonderfully and I was able to write directly on the black lids. It still doesn't solve the problem of a lack of swatches though....but at least I know what number I'm picking up!

Whenever I empty one of my dye jars (after rinsing it out the the dye bath), I immediately recycle the bottom of the jar and then set aside the lid. Not only can I easily keep track of what I need to order, I also can re-use my same mini-swatches....and the lids take up a lot less room that keeping whole jars!

How do you organize and store your dyes and dyeing equipment? Do you have any tips to share?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Skeleflora - day five and day six

I hooked like a fiend on the exclusion of almost everything else. When I finally called it a day, I couldn't believe how much I managed to get done. I finished off the first side and hooked about half of the second side - in one day! A full day, mind you....and so the next day my thumb was really quite tender, so I hooked just a bit -- only the two brown skeletons on the left side got done.

Since it's already so late in the day, I'm going to give my thumb another recovery day and focus on my PST return instead (yuck!)

First Side

Second Side

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Skeleflora - day four

I didn't get nearly as much hooked last night as I was hoping. I think there were a few reasons for this:
  1. too much watching, not enough listening (In Treatment is wonderful...and I'll be sad when it ends later today)
  2. too comfortable on the couch (I think I'm going to haul out the floor frame today...and try sitting in a chair for a while)
  3. my thumb hurts (the one that works under the frame - and the same one I hurt a couple of weeks ago....hopefully Advil will help with this one!)
Back soon with another update....have a great weekend!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Skeleflora - day three

Well I've decided that watching "In Treatment" and hooking on my new purse are a great way to spend an evening! ;-) I think that if I can get a full evening's worth of hooking done tonight, I might be able to finish the first half before bed....

I've already decided that I'm not going to bother hooking a flap on this one.....and instead of using the leather buckle (since I don't have one in stock that's brown), I'm going to just use the magnetic closures to secure it.

Wendie asked about whether or not I've already chosen the handle colour....and the answer is yes! I knew already before I started hooking that the handle would be brown - very similar to the brown used in the flower skeletons. I'm also thinking that I will trim the opening in a similar brown, too.

Now that I've finally started hooking again, I can't wait to get this purse finished and onto the next one. In fact, I've already started hooking my next purse (in my mind, of course) while I work on this one. Do you plan and/or fantasize about future projects like this - when you're working on something else entirely?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Skeleflora - day two

I hooked some more on my newest purse last night. I knew on day one that I didn't want to continue the tealy turquoise background across the whole bag, but I wasn't really sure what to do. (I'd already deviated from my original plan by hooking the turquoise in the way that I did).

I really love the coral/turquoise colour combination and scarlet/jade, too. Since I'm (mostly) working out of my bins of cut strips....and I don't use a lot of either coral or scarlet, I had to do a bit of a modification....and like our forebears, just made do with what I already have.

I'm happy with the way it's turning out, and I think it makes a more dramatic statement than some of my other bags. One funny thing about the summertime is that I tend to be drawn to stronger colours than usually appeal to me during the other 10 months of the year. Weird, eh?

Lately I've been noticing that my photography skills have a lot of room for improvement. Part of me - the part that wants a new camera - is convinced that it's my camera's fault....but deep down inside I know that most of it is caused my being hasty. I often find that I have to choose between being in focus and having accurate colours.....and my choice varies each day. I took a couple of pictures this morning - one was taken outside (overcast) and the other one was taken indoors. I think the colour in the indoor picture is more true...

Does anyone have an camera recommendations in the under $500 category? I need to be able to take close-ups of rugs, and I'm a big fan of Canon (but will consider others). Thanks in advance for any advice you'd care to share....

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

visitors a plenty...

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians. We're pretty lucky to live in such a great country, eh? ;-)
• • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Back at the beginning of December 2008, I installed Google Analytics on my blog. Prior to this, the only way I knew if anyone was reading my blather...was if they told me. I don't have any real goals I'm trying to establish with my blog. There's no number of visits I expect to receive or anything like all comes down to my natural curiosity. I'm curious about where people come from (46 countries so far, but most people come from either the US or Canada...and strangely enough, slightly more from the US than Canada) and how they find me (35% direct - from a bookmark or typing my address into their browser, almost 50% are referred from other sites and blogs - thanks guys!, and about 16% come from search engines like Google).

Speaking of search engines, Analytics also reports on what keywords people have used to bring them to your site or blog. Here are some of the more amusing (and curious) inquiries that have brought people here...

fish eye balls for earrings
arrived late for meeting
worm in fish eye?
worms in rugs
cheap fish rugs
artest "henry pom"
rugs with eyes
my little pony rug
"sick with the flu"
curry hills sheep
fish eye injection
green stuff over the fishes eyes what is it
little pony eye

Clearly some of these people did not find what they were looking for on my blog....but I hope you do! ;-)

I'm off to do some hooking on the new purse, while I start watching season I of In Treatment. I've really been enjoying season II on Sunday mornings....and it will be good to get caught up on everything that happened last season. Back soon with a progress report.